Saturday, December 3, 2022

[Review]—Frank Herbert's "Dune" is a Still Relevant Today

I finally managed to pull off the inconceivable. I have finished reading Dune by Frank Herbert, which I started reading in March of this year. Technically speaking, I began reading Dune in my early years—roughly thirty years ago. I recall that shortly after the broadcast premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, someone told my father that Patrick Stewart appeared in David Lynch's Dune. As a result, we rented the film on VHS. My father detested it, but I enjoyed it—enough to seek out the book and read a little over half of it before getting bored or perplexed by the plot. Please remember that I was a little child, so the narrative was perhaps a bit complex.

Many people have recommended that I read the Dune books over the years, but I didn't get interested until I saw Denis Villeneuve's overrated film version at the end of 2021. Soon after, I purchased the movie tie-in paperback edition intending to read it in January 2022, but that plan was put on hold when my grandma died. I didn't begin reading the book until March 6. One could ponder: Why did it take eight months to read Dune? I had to put my personal reading on hold to review ARCs for this blog. When I finally got around to rereading Dune, it only took me a couple of days. 

Since practically everyone is likely familiar with at least the story's general premise, I won't give a storyline summary. The narrative is simplistic at best, but the work as a whole is world-building at its finest. Frank Herbert had a vivid imagination that allowed him to envisage a diverse spectrum of civilizations on various planets, each with its own complex historical backdrop. I see entirely why Dune is hailed as a classic work by science fiction fans, but I also grasp why other readers could find the plot to be dull. The names and languages are difficult to pronounce, which is why there is a glossary and appendices at the back of the book.

Dune is a large book, albeit not quite as long as I had recalled. It didn't take me very long to read the book once I had the time to sit down and open it. Even though it was first published in 1965, the political, religious, and social commentary are more current than you might imagine. Replace "spice" with "oil," and you'll get the concept.

Back in the day, I would have probably given Dune a two-star rating; now, some 30 years later, I award the book five stars—not that it merits that grade; for the plot itself, it deserves four stars, and it deserves an additional star for the elements of world-building. ╍★★★★★

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