Dune: A Masterclass of Science Fiction


Front cover of the novel

Dune is often celebrated as one of science fiction’s crowning works, a masterwork of human emotions, thought, and science, written by Frank Herbert in 1965. It has since won numerous awards, including the Nebula Award, and received a positive reception since then. Dune is, in the words of Robert A. Heinlein: “Powerful, convincing, and most ingenious.”

Set in the far future, humanity has spread over the far reaches of the galaxy and has evolved into a massive feudal empire, with numerous houses vying for power and control. Within this vast power struggle, one house stands out: the noble and proud Atreides, a small but regal house. By the command of the galactic emperor, the Atreides’ must leave their homeworld of Caladan and journey to the fierce desert world of Arrakis, covered in shifting sands and home to monstrous storms and wildlife. And upon the barren, desolate world the Atreides’ have been given lies a trap, which will cast ruin and destruction upon the noble house. This is the story of that great house, of how they fell and rose from the ashes, how they attained the unattainable and changed the course of the universe forever.

Dune is written in the form of a great chronicle, following the major characters that are present throughout the fall and rise of the Atreides. Set upon Arrakis, the story is full of action, adventure, introspective moments, and interesting scenes. It is a complicated storyline to follow, sometimes even requiring re-reading, but a rewarding one nonetheless. A diverse setting and an ingenious cast of characters themselves help the book realize its true potential as a moving and gripping novel.

Dune is a fairly complicated book, with elements perhaps unfathomable to some. Thus, a fallback of the book is that it may be extremely difficult to understand at first and is sometimes so vague and incorrigible, especially on the first read. This is most prominent nearing the end of the book, where the story and words move so quickly and events flash by in brief sentences or words, that one barely comprehends the important happenings in the book. This can be a burden to readers wishing to understand the book completely, as certain elements can seem as if glossed over or not explored deep enough.

In conclusion, Dune is a good read, complicated and difficult to understand, but ultimately rewarding. Herbert’s strong ecological themes and the sublime psychological examinations of the human character and that which can and should be accomplished in the human future make Dune worth a study. Stripped to its bones, it makes a powerful and long-lasting statement about the nature of humanity and its accomplishments, the tour de force of a strong will, and how nature as a whole should be treated.