I rejected “Dune” more than 15 years ago when I was a moody teen not yet fully emerged from the heavy Elven cloak of a powerful obsession with all things JRR Tolkien.
My dad and my brother swore by Frank Herbert, but I refused, and without ever cracking the cover of the first book. I did not want a rival epic series when I believed Tolkien the ultimate; but more importantly I didn’t want the “literary pressure”, so to speak. I “rebelled” against the repeated suggestions. I didn’t want to be told what to read.
And so I didn’t read “Dune”, despite the helpfulness of its being left on the bathroom counter, it and its sequels and prequels, for ages. I ignored it, then assumed the pattern of ignoring it in subsequent years, and eventually forgot the real reason for the shun.
I forget what prompted me decidedly to turn to “Dune” after putting it off for so long. Maybe it was the reading of “Ender’s Game” after a similar number of years that softened some of that long ago cemented teenage rebellion, and perhaps I find a part of me has matured at least enough to concede the power of some of these books?
Anyway, after all this time, here I am finishing up the final e-pages of “Dune” and beginning to feel the inner tremble of that dilemma — should I next dive immediately into the next book? Or should I play it cool, read something else to cleanse the mental palate and diversify my exposure before taking up another dose of Frank Herbert?
I currently have the works of Plato and Anton Chekhov and HP Lovecraft waiting for me, but they could feasibly wait yet longer …
I’ve been hearing readers sing Frank Herbert’s praises since I was a preteen, as I mentioned before. And somehow it was a still a wave of unexpected pleasure to take up the first few pages and discover this for myself. He has a way of describing complex working systems which leaves me in awe, a quality of imagination and intelligence which I’ve found I greatly admire in other writers such as Neal Stephenson. It points to an ability to truly envision and apprehend a thing or idea. He creates worlds.
I am a far less disciplined writer (and mind), having neither the patience to construct, nor the ability or drive to convey. Although the intensely logical and methodical reasonings of his characters have me gaining confidence that maybe I could reduce systems carefully to singular pieces and then reassemble …
“Dune” is simply amazing in its complexity of drama — the politicking, the excellently nuanced plots within plots within plots, the emphasizing of careful manipulation, the subtlest of maneuvers. Sure, there was violence and action. However, explosions and sieges and coups and other physical struggle ended up being far less interesting than the methodical political maneuvering, the philosophizing, the prescient abilities toward 4-dimensional awareness which hints at a roiling, boiling abstract of complexity bringing to mind mathematical attempts to describe turbulence.
I particularly appreciated the appendices, which delve more specifically into tangental subjects such as the terraforming of Arrakis and religious trending throughout the ages. Again, the complexity and the thoroughness of Frank Herbert’s universe: one has the feeling of having read part of a “History” instead of a novel; and therefore the next book avoids that fearful quality of a sequel — that therefore risked endeavor apt to collapse without proper preplanning. Instead it has the feeling of another piece of that History, being fully formed and needing only to be penned.
Frank Herbert, I owe you an apology for these many years’ neglect. You have yourself another fan.