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The Waves of Sand Roll On
April 22, 2010 2:11 PM   Subscribe

In 1957, Frank Herbert was a journalist and writer of short stories, on his way to Florence, Oregon to do an article about the U. S. Department of Agriculture's attempts to control sand dunes that were shifting. The USDA was searching for something to stabilize the dunes, and they came upon European beach grass. Herbert's research was for an article tentatively titled "They Stopped The Moving Sands." The article was never completed, but his research of dune stabilization lead to larger ecological matters, and eventually the novel Dune. This year marks the 45th anniversary that novel. The world of dunes, both fictional and real, has changed quite a bit in the years.

Though never completed, They Stopped The Moving Sands (select pages on Google Books) is now a section of The Road to Dune, a companion book to the Dune novels. The section includes the proposal from Herbert to his agent, as well as letters back and forth. Herbert casts the battle against the endless waves of sand in a larger scope, from The Horizon of Aten to the seemingly endless Peruvian dunes. Thomas Flippin of the Soil Conservation Service, director of the efforts to arrest the movement of the sands, commented that "the sand promises a slow death to everything it touches." As Herbert mentioned in "Dune Genesis" (Google Quickview / PDF), he saw the struggle over the environment as a key issue in future power struggles:
While this concept [of power structures, politics and the mistakes of (super)heroes] was still fresh in my mind, I went to Florence, Oregon, to write a magazine article about a US Department of Agriculture project there. The USDA was seeking ways to control coastal (and other) sand dunes. I had already written several pieces about ecological matters, but my superhero concept filled me with a concern that ecology might be the next banner for demagogues and would-be-heroes, for the power seekers and others ready to find an adrenaline high in the launching of a new crusade.
If not a full crusade, there was the mentality that dunes could be stopped and made into something more permanent. European beach grass was once used as the first of three stages of succession planting (abstract from a 1975 USDA article). Now, this foreign grass is classified as an aggressive invasive species in North America, as is one of the USDA's earlier choice for succession plants, Scotch Broom.

Oreagon Dunes National Recreation Area was established in 1963, and is now . Some residents one area carved out a community, and formed Dunes City, Oregon that same year. In Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve was established as a national monument in 1932, and later expanded into a national park and preserve in 2000-2004.

Elsewhere in the world, shrinking dunes are seen as environmental oases, the last locations for certain species. And ever-shifting dunes can hide armies for centuries, speaking in short to the archaeological potential for deserts and dunes of sorts.

Back to the fictional side: Frank Herbert created a world that Arthur C. Clark likened to The Lord of the Rings, spanning six novels in the "Classic Dune" (works written by Frank Herbert), eleven novels that expanded the universe, written by Herbert's eldest son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson, plus another six short stories written by the duo. The derivitive works of the Dune universe range from much-despised (see also: the comic book adaptation) to still loved, influential classic (note: earlier RTS games do exist).
posted by filthy light thief (101 comments total) 161 users marked this as a favorite

 
In short: happy Earth Day, to the Fremen and interlopers alike.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on April 22, 2010


There are only 6 books in my Dune universe.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:13 PM on April 22, 2010 [38 favorites]


We're definitely living in the era that proves, "Fear is the mind killer"...
posted by yeloson at 2:15 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This post reminds me why I love MetaFilter. Thanks for this.
posted by georg_cantor at 2:15 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


ah, what a coincidence. I just told a class full of symbolic logic students, who are staring at pages of symbolic proofs for the first time, that "Fear is the mind killer."
posted by reverend cuttle at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


I can't count the number of times that I wished we tested people for their humanity.
posted by khaibit at 2:19 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sting in a leather Speedo is the buzz killer.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This post would not be complete without a mention of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. A more surreal dune setting may not exist.
posted by hippybear at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the "expanded" money-spinner series, looks like they switched from titling them "Dune: An Actual Title" to the more traditional c'mon-people-time-is-money "Noun[s] of Dune" scheme.

Can I get an email alert when Slave Girls of Dune comes out? I miss that whole John Norman thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Earth day post done right. Props.
posted by absalom at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2010


There are only 6 books in my Dune universe.

Any talk of there being more than 6 Dune books is the work of bloody Harkonnens.

Shai-Hulud protect us from Pinky and the Brian.
posted by kmz at 2:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are only 6 books in my Dune universe.

In mine there are two.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


As far as I am concerned there's one. And NO movies.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


Yay, what a cool post. I just added Sand: The Never Ending Story to my must-read list earlier today.
posted by everichon at 2:25 PM on April 22, 2010


I've long believed that the Lynch Dune captured the Spirit, but completed missed the story. The miniseries got the story right, but was soulless.
posted by khaibit at 2:28 PM on April 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


BTW, beyond the video games, the 1979 Avalon Hill Dune is still treasured by hardcore board gamers.
posted by kmz at 2:28 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


There are a lot of fascinating deserts and dunescapes throughout the world, and desert ecosystems / dune formation really deserves a focus of their own, so I skimped on searching for more in that area. Thanks to all who add more in that realm.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2010


I've resisted re-reading God Emperor of Dune because I know it'll never be as good as I thought it was when I first read it as a wee lad.

Also, Jockey's Ridge State Park, one of my favorite places in the world, is the closest you can get to Arrakis on the East Coast.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still boggled by the fact that the first publisher for Dune was Chilton, the automotive press. All the same, I still can't get a decent repair manual for that beat-up '190 ornithopter that's rusted all to hell in my front yard...
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


As far as I am concerned there's one. And NO movies.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:25 PM on April 22 [+] [!]


Epony... well, I guess Alia's not very saintly in the later books.

I know people like to rag on Frank Herbert's Dune sequels but to me they are essential to understanding Herbert's vision. The first book is a tale only half-told. Without Dune Messiah, Dune is just a standard messiah tale with only hints of the darkness to come. DM is where we see the tragic consequences of deification, one of the main points Herbert was trying to make.

Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune expand upon the ideas of destiny and godhood even more. And Heretics and Chapterhouse are just good rollicking fun filled with awesome characters.
posted by kmz at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson Sting in a leather Speedo is the buzz killer.

[insert your own sand worm joke here]
posted by mattdidthat at 2:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading The Road to Dune can provide much insight into Herbert's development. You can sense a titanic undersea collision in Herbert wherein the notion of a crafted ecological force slammed into his fascination with the spiritualism and traditions of the MidEast as reflected in the stories which would be expanded and built together into The Godmakers. That short novel contains many of the dry, precious seeds of what we would know as the Herbert themes: the merging of technology and the mystic, sudden crisis, human breeding programs, tradition thrown aside in favor of transcendence, but not until the idea of beating out (though eventually adapted to living with) the sands did Dune take shape. I often wondered if that was where his "The sleeper has awakened!" moment emerged.

Most of his non-Dune works afterwards bore this peculiar stamp, even oddballs like The White Plague. The Bureau of Sabotage is Paul endlessly turning his back upon prophecy, just as is Orne declaring himself a graduate of the Ordeal of Dogma and Ceremony. The Dosadi Experiment again touched on the theme of crushing ecological pressures in a small niche as a crucible for superhuman development. Hellstrom's Hive is a darker vision of what the Bene Gesserit might do if they worshiped social insects over the Übermensch. Like melange, this complex, never-static, always-recognizable flavor was in nearly everything he touched.

Unfortunately, the Herbert Son & Co. sequels, prequels, and off-to-the-sidequels are the Ajidamal of the Honored Matres to melange was to the Sisterhood: stimulating and violent, but without the spice insight or, as posterity may find, the longevity provided by the real thing.
posted by adipocere at 2:47 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've resisted re-reading God Emperor of Dune because I know it'll never be as good as I thought it was when I first read it as a wee lad.

I reread the whole series every couple years, and always pick up a little more of what was swimming beneath the surface in Herbert's mind. The long arc is awesome, impenetrably deep, and always worth another read. God Emperor is the most difficult of the six to get anything out of, but also the most rewarding.
posted by fatbird at 2:50 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't really love Heretics or Chapterhouse. However, I'm pretty sure that's because I read the first four in a row in my teenage thinking-I'm-intellectual phase [still waiting for that to pass, dammit], and the latter ones really didn't fit the mold. I should try again.
God Emperor, I love.

Also, The Dosadi Experiment, I read enough times to break the spine and have the pages fall out. If you haven't checked that & Whipping Star out, they're well worth your time.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:51 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd rather not insert sand worm anythings anywhere, thank you very much.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:51 PM on April 22, 2010


just came across this yesterday - the man who envisioned Dune passed away on the 8th of April 2010

John Schoenherr, one of the finest science-fiction illustrators of the 1960s and 1970s—and the first artist to draw Frank Herbert's Dune and Anne McCaffrey's Pern—died Thursday at age 74. Herbert was so taken with Schoenherr's images that he referred to the artist as "the only man who has ever visited Dune."

I hereby hang my head and confess to buying "The making of Dune" simply because of Sting's photographs not because of that movie
posted by infini at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Put your hand in the Gom Jabbar. Trust me, it is awesome.
posted by boo_radley at 2:54 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


God Emperor, I love.

my teenage crush was Paul - I really liked the little quotes too before all the chapters...
posted by infini at 2:54 PM on April 22, 2010


oh and filthy light thief, that's an awesome post, thank you
posted by infini at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2010


I've long believed that the Lynch Dune captured the Spirit, but completed missed the story. The miniseries got the story right, but was soulless.

khaibit: That's pretty much a great way to sum up Kubrick and The Shining as well.
posted by komara at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2010


I'll never forgive myself for stalling out halfway through Chapterhouse last winter. I just couldn't do it anymore.

For penance, this year: three hail marys, one infinite jest, and a caro biography.
posted by gordie at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I was the only person to read Dune between El Paso and Albuquerque when I was a teenager. Wondering how to pronounce Bene Gesserit kept me awake at nights.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:59 PM on April 22, 2010


I am disappointed with the lack of a "Kwisatch Haderach" tag.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:02 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone who likes Dune owes it to themselves to read The Dosadi Experiment. The Whipping Star, by contrast, is junk, and it's not necessary to have read it to enjoy Dosadi.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy shit this is an awesome post. Thank god you posted it after 5pm EST or I would've been frantically ClickyGone-ing all day long.
posted by elizardbits at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2010


Speaking of sandworms, can we presume that Herbert heard of the Oregon giant earthworm: Driloleirus macelfreshi while he was down in the Oregon dunes?

In the drizzly woods beside Interstate 5 south of Portland, William Fender digs for a legend.

Three feet long. White. Lily-scented spit.

An earthworm.

posted by jamjam at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And oh, for way better Dune related books than anything touched by KJA and BH, there's the hard to find Dune Encyclopedia which is presented as an encyclopedia from within the Dune universe. It only covers the first four books and it's non-canon, but it's got great stuff. Sadly any legitimate copies are relatively expensive.

There's also National Lampoon's Doon which has fairly juvenile humor but often gets right Herbert's writing style. Also out of print, but can be found very cheap at used bookstores.
posted by kmz at 3:13 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Doon is great, much better than the summary makes it sound, it nails the OCD self-reference of the Herbert internal monologue.

This realization focused within him in a sudden sparkflash computation, and in the clear brilliance of that illumination, the boy Pall understood a profoundness. His life, hitherto a child's plaything, devoid of direction–seemingly! Or had there in fact always been a plan–a plan within a plan within a plan (whatever that meant (whatever that meant (whatever that meant)))?–was now encompassed by a terrible purpose. He knew the meaning of the word terrible, and he knew the meaning of the world purpose. And therefore he understood deeply the meaning of "terrible purpose" Unless he, in the solitude of his deeply brain-filled mind, misunderstood this revelation, and was in fact confronted with a "terrible papoose." What could that mean?
posted by Sebmojo at 3:20 PM on April 22, 2010 [23 favorites]


The Pacific Northwest is Caladan.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surprisingly, they have a battered copy of the Dune Encyclopedia at the public library in my hometown, a tiny town in South Dakota. I probably checked it out once a month in sixth grade.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:23 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and another, from memory something like:

Jazzica looked at the thug - once she and her son had been disposed of, he would of course be killed. And the people who killed him, they too would be killed. And they in turn would be killed! Eventually no-one would be left in the galaxy!! That would be terrible! she thought, alarmed.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know people like to rag on Frank Herbert's Dune sequels but to me they are essential to understanding Herbert's vision.

Exactly. It should be noted that Frank Herbert first wrote Dune as a three-part story:
So, I did this magazine article [They Stopped The Moving Sands] and I started collecting material on the control of sand dunes. That lead me into ecological matters what we were doing to the planet. One day I woke up to the fact that I had a filing drawer fu ll and that I just couldn't do anything else but write that book. So I sat down and I plotted a much longer work than Dune.
...
I cut it up into three parts, and held out more than a third of it for the first book. I sat down and took about a year and a half putting it together, writing it. My reports from the New York market were very poor and my treatment by some of the publishers back there was just outrageous. Then I went back, even before I knew that Dune was being so successful, and wrote Dune Messiah, which was planned as a pivotal book, pointing both backward and forward, because I had a long range concept of the treatment of this messianic impulse in huma n society. I'm at work on the third and last one, which will probably turn out to be as long as Dune.
-- from an interview in 1973.

Do you know who else wrote their first big story in three parts? Yeah, George Lucas. Here's a list of 15 instances of Star Wars borrowing from Dune, and more discussion on Star Wars vs Dune.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:28 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I came to praise the AH '79 Dune board game, but I see KMZ beat me to mentioning it. It is easily one of the best games I've ever played (heck, it might even be the best), and if you enjoy serious strategy games and have five friends who feel the same it is well worth the cost of creating your own copy / buying one from e-bay.
posted by Jezztek at 3:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sting in a leather Speedo is the buzz killer.

This is such a dirty, ugly lie. Sting in that Speedo, and David Bowie in Labryrinth in those pants, were, um...formative experiences of my soon-to-no-longer-be-a-childhood.

Also Dune is pretty great.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 3:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like some. body. dipped into the spice!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2010


I skimped on searching for more in that area.
posted by filthy light thief


Including the dunes that are right in your (and my) neighborhood?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:47 PM on April 22, 2010


Sting in a leather Speedo is the buzz killer.

You take that back, or it's a time-out with the Gom Jabbar!

You would rather a synthetic speedo like Borat's?
posted by zippy at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2010


Great post, thanks. I first read Dune in my formative years and it's long been a favourite. Artw is right, the Pacific Northwest is Caladan.
posted by arcticseal at 3:50 PM on April 22, 2010


I sort of had the same problem with Dune that I've had with the Ender books and a couple other series: I like the main character so much and am so intrigued by him/her that, when their part in the story comes to an end, I lose interest in the rest. So I really enjoyed Dune, thought Dune Messiah was ok, became somewhat overwhelmed by Children of Dune and never got around to the rest of them.

Maybe I will someday, but I'm never reading the horrors of a post-Frank Dune universe. "Actually, they find out that thinking machines are pretty cool and everyone hangs out together forever. Plus Duncan Idaho is actually the coolest." Bleh.
posted by Errant at 3:50 PM on April 22, 2010


I ventured to Arrakis around the summer following 5th grade. My family went on vacation, I had already read through my selection of books, and my parents directed me to a copy of Dune purchased at an airport bookstore. I vaguely recall a somewhat shocked and surprised expression on my 6th grade social studies teacher when I met her for the first time toting along one of the books in the series.

Later on, as I made it through middle school, I picked up the computer game and had a rollicking fun time gathering the Fremen and defeating the Harkonnen for control of Arrakis.

I suppose it's time to pick them up and see if I enjoy them as much as my 11 / 12 year old self did.


...


Yeah...it was predestined I'd have to post something in this thread...
posted by Atreides at 3:54 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have found no book harder to start reading than this one.

Back in the day, I found the first hundred pages so unenjoyable that I uncharacteristically aborted reading it twice before I finally broke through the barrier and finally became immersed in the world of Dune.

Worse - - I thought the David Lynch movie was a pretty good (though necessarily cursory) adaptation.
posted by fairmettle at 4:05 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I yield to my leather-Speedo-loving clansmen and women. Far be it from me to scorn their Other Memories of awakening Stingchronicity.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I probably won't be able to find a source for this -- it's been a bad day for finding sources -- but I remember reading an interview with Herbert from sometime in the mid-70s where, amidst other ecological discussion, he had a lovely idea for a future economy where technologies were made to last -- like, seriously last: he envisioned a kind of guild of toaster makers, and getting a toaster from them would expensive, bespoke, and slow, but once you had it your toaster would last for generations.

There are obviously a million problems with this model but I just love the idea: "This, my daughter, is the ancestral toaster. Now comes your time, as was once mine before you, to plug it in and make English muffins with it."
posted by finnb at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


Aw thanks, IRFH. When I mutate into a giant despotic worm god, I will clone you. Promise.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 4:10 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ever wish a sandworm on a thumpin' idiot? I've always silently thanked Frank for that mental image, it's a stress reliever.
posted by Mblue at 4:11 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I had a dime for every time I'd heard that one...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:11 PM on April 22, 2010


necessarily cursory

"...according to the model supervisor of the film (in an interview from a visual effects magazine in French called "SFX"), the rough cut of the film runs for 8 hours and Lynch's original cut 5 hours."

Not a great cite, but I've heard this here and there since the film came out. I owned a book that was just about the production of the movie, and I think it is corroborated there.
posted by everichon at 4:18 PM on April 22, 2010


The Green Brain and The Dosadi Experiment are two of my favorite books ever. Thanks for this.
posted by Splunge at 4:18 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hat-tip to XKCD's limerickdb for this one...

There's a planet, Arrakis: it's dry,
There's melange (it's a spice, gets you high),
The plots and intrigue
Meet round Paul Muad'dib,
The sequels are poor - don't know why.

I've only ever read the first one, but I loved it - so many ideas, and crucially Herbert doesn't try to explain them in his narrator voice - he just lets you try to figure it out, which just adds to the immersiveness.

Also, is there an accepted pronunciation of Bene Gesserit? In my head, it's BEN-ay ges-SERR-it, but I'm willing to be corrected if Herbert said otherwise...
posted by ZsigE at 4:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Three feet long. White. Lily-scented spit.


Dune... Arrakis... The Spit Planet...
posted by Splunge at 4:25 PM on April 22, 2010


Previously
posted by theredpen at 4:34 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And oh, for way better Dune related books than anything touched by KJA and BH, there's the hard to find Dune Encyclopedia which is presented as an encyclopedia from within the Dune universe. It only covers the first four books and it's non-canon, but it's got great stuff. Sadly any legitimate copies are relatively expensive.

I've still got my copy and I love it. Willis McNelly, the author, tried to get it republished but died before that happened. BH seemed pretty disinterested in granting it any legitimacy, but all the pages on the Dune site that used to address the encyclopedia and assorted continuity screwups are gone, near as I can tell.

I got all ranty about the Encyclopedia a while back, after "Butlerian Jihad" made me nuts. Penny Arcade was much more succinct than I could manage.
posted by mph at 4:47 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


DRemakeIY Avalon Hill 1979 Dune Game, scanned and cleaned up quite nicely, including the snazzy French full-color graphics. Also included: rule variants from various sources. Apparently the French version is still in print, so you can buy that copy and print your own copy of the English rules.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:07 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post brought back many fond memories. I started reading the Dune series in the 8th grade and got a bunch of my friends into it. (If they ever find this, hello Dominick, Cary, Rebecca and Jason!) One of those friends, last I heard, was in Hollywood doing CGI for his day job and writing comics on the side.

Thankfully, Herbert's son had not yet peed on his father's legacy yet so all we had were the first 6 books, a worn copy of the Dune Encyclopedia that our local (and one of the smallest libraries in the state) had, and the National Lampoon's Doon that Cary discovered in the teen sci-fi area of that very same library. We all took turns checking it out. Good times.
posted by Tacodog at 5:24 PM on April 22, 2010


I've read all the Frank Herbert Dunes about 3 times, and I love the Duncans, Leto Atreides II's transformation to the worm, and most of all Daniel and Marty.
posted by Flex1970 at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2010


More downloadables for the Dunanites, including versions of the script of (what I assume is) the 1984 film, amongst other fun tidbits.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:39 PM on April 22, 2010


Song of Dunes
posted by tellurian at 6:01 PM on April 22, 2010


Brilliant post. Thank you!!!
posted by zarq at 6:18 PM on April 22, 2010


Don't forget the 23rd Anniversary Re-edition (audio NSFW, Bene Gesserit).
posted by zippy at 7:01 PM on April 22, 2010


"my superhero concept filled me with a concern that ecology might be the next banner for demagogues and would-be-heroes, for the power seekers and others ready to find an adrenaline high in the launching of a new crusade"

Frank Herbert was a prophet after all.
posted by TSOL at 7:17 PM on April 22, 2010


Funny thing about the Dune Encyclopedia.... it used to be a rarity to find a single one, but these days tons of copies have cropped up on Amazon and the lists that Amazon books always appear on.

I was deep into a re-read not long ago, and ploughed through Dune, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune just like I did a decade ago. Then I got to God Emperor and it just wasn't a tenth as interesting as I remember it being. I dunno if I'm going to bother going back through Heretics and Chapterhouse, when the social themes stop being clear and the action and sex become more foregrounded.

The original Dune is still unique to me, in the sense that it's a science fiction novel that takes "science" to mean things like ecology, sociology and political science rather than laser guns and space ships (even though it has those as well).
posted by graymouser at 7:42 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somehow I bought a copy of Children of Dune from the book-gypsy (e.g. school-to-school book pedlar) that came through our elementary school, when I was in third grade. I have to believe now that (and especially since the earlier ones in the series were not evident, and only one copy was on offer) it was the gypsy's own discard rather than a book intended to be read by elementary school kids. Getting them that young, and out of order, was an impediment to comprehension. But my father, bless his heart, as an omnivore read them and said just enough encouraging things about them to get me interested.
posted by newdaddy at 7:59 PM on April 22, 2010


The same friend that got me to read three or four of the Dune books also got me to read the first Harry Potter book. I still think of him as a good friend, but sometimes he doesn't make it easy.
posted by NortonDC at 8:02 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dune has had a deep effect on me.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:44 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Read Dune for the first time when I was 15. It took me a month. I re-read it again many times, but it's been a while. I finally read the rest of the series in my early 20's and was instantly the only Dune geek I knew.

I even made a sculpture of God Emperor Leto II. His body's almost as thick as my forearm, and his face is about the size of my pinky-fingernail. I think it's in a box at my parents' house now.

Also: Anybody know if I can download that Dune II game? I used to love that thing.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2010


Mister Moofoo, it's treated somewhat as "abandonware," and was linked in the OP (still loved link), which is a whole site devoted to the game. Abandonia also hosts the game, plus an unofficial patch, as well Super Dune II: Classic Edition, which is an update to Super Dune 2, which sounds to be a more difficult mod of Dune II. Home of the Underdogs has some more Dune games, including an emulator for Avalon Hill's boardgame.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:44 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dune 2 at Abandonia. I love that game so much... this post might prompt a re-visit of all things dune.
posted by glip at 9:47 PM on April 22, 2010


So I read Dune at like 16, read it several more times over the next few years, finally picked up Dune Messiah, liked it just fine, and... I don't know, it was an ending. I don't feel up to reading the rest of it. It was as satisfying as I think any ending in so complicated and well realized a science-fiction setting could be.

I'm not chancing the beautiful mystical thing it was for me being sullied.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:49 PM on April 22, 2010


Marvelously put together and interesting post. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 10:11 PM on April 22, 2010


necessarily cursory

"...according to the model supervisor of the film (in an interview from a visual effects magazine in French called "SFX"), the rough cut of the film runs for 8 hours and Lynch's original cut 5 hours."

Not a great cite, but I've heard this here and there since the film came out. I owned a book that was just about the production of the movie, and I think it is corroborated there.


Allow me to reiterate: necessarily cursory.
posted by fairmettle at 10:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And oh, for way better Dune related books than anything touched by KJA and BH, there's the hard to find Dune Encyclopedia which is presented as an encyclopedia from within the Dune universe. It only covers the first four books and it's non-canon, but it's got great stuff. Sadly any legitimate copies are relatively expensive.

I fondly remember diving headfirst into the DE multiple times during my 8th grade initiation into the mysteries of Dune. I think I actually managed to keep it checked out of the library for a whole summer before I had to return it. I'd love to have a genuine copy, but the Herbert estate is firmly against reprints. Good thing there's a searchable fan-made pdf of the whole thing.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:27 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that there was also another Dune game by Cryo (at Home of the Underdogs) with gorgeous pictures, color animations and an excellent soundtrack by Stéphane Picq (link to ad-riddled homepage) that has also been released as a CD.
posted by Glow Bucket at 12:17 AM on April 23, 2010


Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife -- chopping off what's incomplete and saying:

"Now it's complete because it's ended here."

-- "Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan
posted by and for no one at 3:31 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


The original Dune is still unique to me, in the sense that it's a science fiction novel that takes "science" to mean things like ecology, sociology and political science

Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars too, generally not done as well as Herbert but I find the lack of a mystical element refreshing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:59 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars too, generally not done as well as Herbert but I find the lack of a mystical element refreshing.

Hiroko and the radical Greens?
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:18 AM on April 23, 2010


Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars

I prefer the children's edition, One Mars / Two Mars / Red Mars / Blue Mars.
posted by ZsigE at 5:38 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Epic. Your post, I mean. Well done.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:41 AM on April 23, 2010


I have no opinion on the Dune books, but....

I grew up in West Michigan, a region geographically dominated by the stunning dunes of the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. To drive past the fields and forests of Michigan, walk up and down over dunes, and when you're so tired you can't climb any more, to arrive at the crest of the last, highest dune and see the Lake spread out and shining below you....
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


ugh, link fail. one of those two links should be this.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:11 AM on April 23, 2010


I "invented" avant garde music as a child before I ever knew it existed by combining an analog of the language manipulations of Samuel Beckett, and Dune's concept of the Fremen walk.
posted by idiopath at 9:04 AM on April 23, 2010


Hello, Tremors.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:09 AM on April 23, 2010


I have a very-well-worn copy of the AH board game which still gets pulled out by my gaming group from time to time. Most games we have we'll play on and off for a few years, maybe five years for the really good ones, then get tired of them, and they'll rarely be seen at the table again. We've been playing Dune for over 20 years.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2010


There are only 6 books in my Dune universe.

LOVED the first one and would happily rate it in my top five all-time sci-fi/fantasy reads. Skipped the second because someone said I didn't need to read it. Enjoyed the third, I guess, but now for the life of me, can't remember ANYTHING about it.

Doesn't somebody turn into a God?
posted by philip-random at 12:53 PM on April 23, 2010


I just finished Chapterhouse a few days ago. It's pretty compelling, although not generally a page-turner. Herbert's got so many long threads that he's trying to pull together, or maybe not even trying. They're just there, and he considers them for a moment before going on to something which seems completely unrelated. Still, the entire series is so EPIC and thought provoking.

Just think what Mefites that return from the scattering will be like.

Stellar post!
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 1:16 PM on April 23, 2010


Doesn't somebody turn into a God?

oh dear god, satan, get thee behind me...
posted by infini at 1:18 PM on April 23, 2010


Back the good old days (B.S.W.) of fandom, Dune was the archetypal "they're making a movie of. . . " SF novel. The first copy of Dune I ever bought was in 1969 +/- a year or so, and even that one had "Soon to be a motion picture!" splashed on the front cover. Only fifteen years off.

Over the years, Dune's film rights option status got to be a bit of joke, until of course S*** W*** showed Hollywood that there was money to be made off of SF after all, unleashing crappy film versions of all sorts of SF novels and stories, backlogged for decades.

Oh, well, you know the old saying: "If you walk without rhythm you won't attract the worm."
posted by Herodios at 3:56 PM on April 23, 2010


my o level physics teacher read it in class whenever she gave us assignments to do. Thats when i first saw it. I feel like running out to find a well thumbed copy now
posted by infini at 4:17 PM on April 23, 2010


My dad gave me this one sometime in the 70's.

I read the next 3 books, out of politeness.

Still, the whole Dune thing is right up there with Asimov's Foundation stuff or The Lord of the Rings.

I'd put Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun in that crowd too.
posted by Max Power at 6:42 PM on April 23, 2010


OKAY OKAY HOLD ON.

Someone posted a picture earlier with a caption like "put your hand into the Gom Jabbar, you'll love it" or somesuch.

You can't put your hand into a Gom Jabbar-- it's a needle tipped with poison. The person to be tested puts their hand into a "Pain box"--a device that creates the sensation of pain through nerve induction.

From the folds of her gown, she lifted a green metal cube about fifteen centimeters on a side. She turned it and Paul saw that one side was open - black and oddly frightening. Paul slowly put his hand into the box. He first felt a sense of cold as the blackness closed around his hand, then slick metal against his fingers and a prickling as though his hand were asleep...

"What's in the box?"

"Pain." He felt increased tingling in his hand, pressed his lips tightly together. How could this be a test? he wondered. The tingling became an itch... The itch became the faintest burning... It mounted slowly: heat upon heat upon heat... . The burning! The burning! He thought he could feel skin curling black on that agonized hand, the flesh crisping and dropping away until only charred bones remained.


The idea is that if you withdraw, if you can't transcend the pain with your thinking, you are less than human, and you get the poky-poky with the Gom Jabbar.

Hand --> pain box
Gom Jabbar --> neck

OKAY, I FEEL BETTER NOW.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:31 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can't put your hand into a Gom Jabbar-- it's a needle tipped with poison. The person to be tested puts their hand into a "Pain box"

Yes, I believe that was the whole point of the joke. The picture appears to be a screencap of an English-subtitled version of the David Lynch movie, which I assume is a non-English language dub, since the original Lynch movie has nothing approaching such a mistake. (There's valid reasons to criticize the Lynch movie, but that's not one of them.) Either this is the result of a bad English->[language?]->English translation, or is intended to appear as such.

(An additional hint, if neither the gom jabbar confusion nor the misspelling "Gom Jibbar" tipped you off: I'm pretty sure that the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam doesn't say anything remotely like "Trust me, it is awesome" to Paul in either the book or the Lynch movie.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:08 PM on April 23, 2010


yeah, you're right, Mohiam is too stuck-up to say something like that.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:28 PM on April 23, 2010


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