Sunday, October 7, 2012

Frank Herbert's "Dune" (novel): Life on a parched desert world

Cover of the novel Dune by Frank Herbert
This was my third attempt at reading this book. I distinctly remember that on each of the two earlier occasions, I gave up within first few dozen pages -  because I found names in the story impossible to spell! This time I had no such difficulty. Only difference between then & now is: I now have some experience reading sf; then I was new to the genre. So if you are a genre novice who discovered sf relatively late in life & cannot relate to the book everyone praises, may be try it a few years down the line. This also makes me wonder if I'll still like the stories I then loved!

While the story has a couple of scenes I found very silly (a completely unnecessary knife duel near the end, a 3-4 year old supremely endowed girl happily fighting on the battlefront of a dirty war), I generally liked the book.

While there are a lot of issues this book of epic scope deals with, one of the most memorable, if macabre, part for me was: the water is so precious & scarce on this desert world of Arrakis that a part of the funeral rituals for the dead involves extracting the water from the dead body for later community use!

There are any number of summaries of this book on the net; so I'll skip that part.

Fact sheet.

First published: (as novel) 1965.
This is a fix up novel, based on author's 2 earlier works: "Dune World" (Analog, December 1963 - February 1964 in 3 parts) & "The Prophet of Dune" (Analog, January-May 1965 in 5 parts).
Rating: A. 
Winner of Hugo Award 1966 in novel category.
Winner of Nebula Award 1965 in novel category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Frank Herbert.