If you enjoy reading science fiction, you've no doubt heard of Dune. Written in the 1960s by Frank Herbert, Dune is a futuristic tale about the politics that drive society on an interstellar scale.
The world of Dune unravels when the Atreides family is assigned to rule of the planet Arrakis by the Emperor of the Known Universe. Arrakis is a dry, desolate world where water is scarce. The planet is the only source in the universe of spice, which influences the political interest of the planet and the way its inhabitants live their lives.
Moving to Arrakis is a trap. The Emperor is threatened by the Atreides family, and the head of the family, Duke Leto. Leto's son, Paul, and concubine, Lady Jessica, end up fighting for survival across the unwelcome planet.
Paul discovers himself in a unique way as he moves through the desert with his mother. He is capable of seeing the future. As a young boy, Paul fights through his visions to become a messiah to the natives of the Arrakis. The boy we meet at the beginning of the story becomes a man driven by stories of prophecy and power.
Jessica is one of the most interesting characters in the story. She's a member of the Bene Gesserit, a group of females that have great influence on politics and the way the world moves. Her children are gifted with the powers she has attained. She watches her son grow to become more than she could have ever imagined. While she does help him realize his potential, I wonder if she would've hoped for a simpler life for him.
There are many, many more characters that bring life to Arrakis and beyond. Some will piss you off while others will make you cheer. They all have struggles of their own to deal with as they weave through the story of Paul Atreides and the universe of Dune (Duniverse?).
I loved that the world is in a post-computer era. Unlike most science fiction, there is a fear of artificial intelligence that has prohibited the use of computers. There are no robots and computers have been replaced by Mentats. It isn't how I imagine the far off future which makes it all the more interesting to me.
Some people might have issues with Herbert's borrowing from various languages, cultures, and religions, especially Arabic and Islam. I never found a problem with this because I imagined a world further evolved from where we are today. It doesn't seem unrealistic to me that these cultures and religions could've combined to make something new.
I found the book a little slow at the start. Perhaps it was because of a lot of terms that were new to me or the writing itself. By the end of it I was definitely a fan. The world feels immersive to me, the characters build slowly but surely. I closed the book wanting more, not because there wasn't enough, but because Herbert's world captivated me.
Dune is a story about the perils of heroism, the consequences of blind faith, political struggles, and humanity's potential future. It's a world packed with dynamic characters both terrible and great. It isn't perfect. No art is. But it is wonderful and well worth reading.