Dune: 10 tips for beginners
Dune is a major epic from director Denis Villeneuve which is only an introduction to the vast cosmos of the legendary science fiction series, created by author Frank Herbert in 1965. The dense mythology of the franchise, drawing on the politics, religion, and ecology, can be intimidating to new readers, let alone viewers who haven’t read the original books.
The new film does a good job of grounding unknown fans in the basics of the world, but there is a lot more that could serve as useful advice for newbies to the world. Dune saga. With a sequel and potentially more movies on the horizon, now is the time for new readers and viewers to take some advice on the series to help them gain a deeper perspective.
One of the best science fiction novels of all time
The original novel Dune by Frank Herbert is widely regarded as one of the best science fiction novels of all time. Not only was it commercially successful, spawning several sequels and subsequent adaptations, it was also very well received by critics early on.
Dune won the Nebula award for best new novel in 1966 and also won the Hugo award in 1966 with another book, The immortal by Roger Zelazny. Its cultural influence has been substantial, beyond literature and film to music, art, and even served as the inspiration for the name of an area of Saturn’s moon, Titan, called Arrakis Planitia.
The 2021 film is a faithful adaptation
The fact that the 2021 Dune Denis Villeneuve’s film is only part 1 testifying to the fact that it is a faithful adaptation of the novel. Rather than condensing the entire narrative into two or three hours, the film mainly deals with the first half of the book and takes few liberties.
The film primarily follows the very linear narrative where House Atreides, headed by Duke Leto Atreides as in the book, is tasked with taking over Arrakis by the Emperor to oversee spice production. It’s a trap and the events unfold much the same as in the novel.
The 1984 movie isn’t as bad as people think
There are many differences between the 1984 Dune movie and the 2021 release. Some might think the biggest difference is in the quality, but David Lynch’s movie is better than some remember. Although a critical and commercial failure at the time, the film has grown into a cult film and is much more visually ambitious than the new release.
The film tries to adapt the entirety of the first novel, which comes with some complications. But David Lynch’s visual flair, unique soundtrack, and idiosyncratic style make him a must-have for fans of the Dune saga.
There are six books by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert wrote six books in the saga before his death in 1986. These include Dune and its five suites, Messiah of the dunes, Children of Dune, Emperor God of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapter room: Dune. The suites retrace the journey of Paul Atreides and his wife Fremen Chani, their children and beyond.
The sequels delve deeper into the complex web of politics, religion, and commerce presented in the first book. The sequels have largely not been adapted in any other form, although the first two sequels were adapted as part of the 2003 Sci-Fi TV miniseries.
There are over a dozen prequels and sequels
After Frank Herbert’s death, his son Brian Herbert and sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson continued the series, basing their novels on Frank Herbert’s detailed notes. The result was a detailed series of prequels and sequelae starting in 1999.
Some fans might be intimidated by the sheer number of books in the saga – well over a dozen. Perhaps the best approach for these books is to choose what is most interesting, as novels usually focus on different aspects of the world and traditions, such as the different houses and major events mentioned in the original.
The story takes place in the distant future
Dune may appear to take place in a secondary world, much like Star wars, but it is actually in the distant future of humanity. The first novel is set about 20,000 years from the present day, long after humanity left Earth and spread throughout the galaxy.
The history of Dune-The universe is divided between before and after the formation of the Space Guild, a powerful organization that controls most of the Galactic Empire. The book and movie are set in 10190 APG, After Guild, and the story continues far beyond that of the books.
While the books and movies are set in the future and feature space travel, the technology can seem somewhat archaic to new fans. It’s because of a major event in world history that hasn’t really received much live-action attention.
The key to understanding why there is a dire lack of computers, robots and ultra-advanced technologies in Dune is the Jihad Butlerian, a major cataclysm in the past where artificial intelligence turned against humanity and nearly destroyed it.
Paul Atreides is not the hero people think he is
Paul Atreides is presented in books and movies as The Chosen One, an archetypal hero much like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter. He’s actually closer to Anakin Skywalker in terms of history, and that’s the arc Frank Herbert wanted to explore.
Paul begins as the prophesied messiah of the Bene Gesserit and the hero of the Fremen, but during his journey becomes a despot who sows war across the galaxy. The books ask major questions about the role of these characters in the story and in tales like Dune.
Spice is everything
A good tip for understanding the world of Dune is to understand the spice, or the mixture as it is also called. The spice is everything in the story, and the galaxy literally wouldn’t work without it. Ingesting the spice, which has hallucinatory properties, allows mariners to guide ships through time and space, allowing all of galactic civilization to function.
Controlling the spice is the whole gamble of the saga, with production control over Arrakis, the only planet it exists on, House Harkonnen’s responsibility until the Emperor apparently penalizes them by giving it to House Atreides (although in fact it was a configuration to destroy House Atreides).
A major influence on Star Wars
Dune influenced much of the science fiction that followed, with Star wars being a clear example. Although Geroge Lucas never directly recognized the connection, the original 1977 film introduced a number of concepts in common with Dune, featuring a desert planet as its central location, a young hero with a grand fate, and a galactic empire ruled by an invisible emperor.
There are of course many differences and Star wars has many other influences from various sources in mythology and other fictions. But it is clear that one of the biggest influences on George Lucas in the creation of his films has been the epic novel by Frank Herbert.
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