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I Read Dune as a Sci-Fi Newbie, and Here's What You Should Know Before You Crack It Open

If I had by no means seen the primary trailers for Dune, had by no means change into completely besotted with Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya as a sci-fi energy couple, had by no means discovered myself weirdly intrigued concerning the concept of big sandworms, I in all probability would by no means have discovered myself on-line ordering a copy of the unique 1965 novel that began all of it. And I positively would not have discovered myself slogging by means of it weeks later, my mind tangled in knots over the difficult-sufficient-to-cry plots (inside plots, inside plots) and intricate world-constructing.

Dune has greater than earned its place within the science fiction pantheon; it is a masterpiece, do not get me improper. But for the primary 50 to 100 pages, you would be forgiven for eager to dig Frank Herbert out of his grave and beg him to clarify WTF is occurring.


The best technique to put it’s that Herbert will not be right here that can assist you learn his e book. He’s created this elaborate universe, and if you wish to come alongside for the journey, advantageous, however there are not any seatbelts, no security bars, and we’re not stopping for lavatory breaks. In different phrases, this e book feels impenetrable for the primary hundred pages or so, and cracking it open is like being thrown into the center of the ocean and advised to swim. He carelessly throws round terminology (melange, mentats, Bene Gesserit) and historic occasions (“Butlerian Jihad” stumped me for a very long time) as although you already know what they imply, and good factor, as a result of we’re already transferring on to the subsequent scene, please sustain!

The world-constructing in Dune is excellent and splendidly three-dimensional, to be clear. It’s simply that you must work out for your self what’s taking place, the place you’re, and what made this universe the way in which it’s. In that manner, Dune may be very totally different than the science fiction of in the present day, the place you do not usually open up a e book and assume you are going to be flailing round by your self for 100 pages. In reality, Dune is much less like up to date science fiction (targeted on futuristic know-how, house journey, extraterrestrials) than it’s like epic excessive fantasy, Game of Thrones set in an intergalactic empire, with essentially the most element lavished on household backgrounds, political maneuverings, and Herbert’s personal musings on philosophy and ecology.

“[Herbert] created this elaborate universe, and if you wish to come alongside for the journey, advantageous, however there are not any seatbelts, no security bars, and we’re not stopping for lavatory breaks.”

So why is that this e book nonetheless value studying, even by means of the labyrinth of plots-inside-plots and be taught-as-you-go world-constructing? Dune sucks you in like quicksand, that is why. If you may energy by means of the start (bookmark that glossary, since you’re gonna want it), the remainder of the e book is a mesmerizing mix of battle sequences, desert escape scenes, prophetic trances, and sandworm rides. There’s a darkish hero arc, some romance, and sturdy feminine characters following their very own storylines. Sometimes you overlook this e book was printed within the sixties as a result of it is nonetheless as unusual and fascinating now as I assume it was then. (One exception: the villain can also be the one queer-leaning character within the e book, which feels very outdated-faculty fantasy and not in a great way.) It’s a riveting world, when you get a deal with on it.


I’ve truly gone on to learn the subsequent two Dune books (Dune Messiah and Children of Dune; say what you need about this sequence, however the titles sing) and have resigned myself to the truth that I’ll be studying the subsequent three, TBD on the 14-ish (!) spin-offs. Dune is simply the beginning of a complete sprawling mythology, and I did not anticipate to be so enthralled again when I was 37 pages in, able to tear my hair out over how complicated all of it was. This e book is a problem, however you will not remorse taking it on.

Tips for Reading Dune

Dune is understood for being extraordinarily complicated, and it may be difficult to complete for these of us who aren’t used to this style or model of writing (and even some who’re). Here are some greatest practices I used to get by means of this e book and its sequels, as a relative beginner to the style.

  • The glossary is your new greatest good friend. Tab it. Bookmark it. Have it on velocity-dial. Flip to it any time there’s a phrase you do not know, and while you overlook that phrase and come throughout it once more 200 pages later, re-learn the definition. Since Herbert hardly ever defines phrases and occasions in-textual content, the e book’s glossary is the one assist you to’ll get. You can even use on-line glossaries and terminology guides in case your copy would not have a glossary included, and some are much more detailed and useful than the official one. Reading a abstract may additionally assist, however watch out for spoilers.
  • Don’t get too caught up within the particulars. Some readers may disagree, however in your first studying of Dune, I suppose crucial factor is to grasp the general plot and most important characters. There are tons of tiny particulars, epigraphs earlier than each chapter that will or could not make sense, philosophical tangents, and a whole bunch of years value of fictional historical past behind the primary plot, however making an attempt to grasp each final overwhelming element will burn you out. Focusing on the primary plot factors gave me a foothold within the e book’s universe, and as I received extra snug, all the opposite particulars began to soak in.
  • Prioritize understanding the phrases that come up essentially the most. When you are beginning this e book, one of the vital troublesome issues is determining which particulars are literally essential. In the primary three pages, for instance, we be taught concerning the Kwisatz Haderach, the gom jabbar, CHOAM, melange, Bene Gesserit, and the Landsraad, none of which is defined in depth, every of which appears equally essential within the first few scenes. In actuality, solely a few of those phrases are important to grasp the plot. When you are beginning this e book, I suggest trying up each time period the primary time you see it, however actually prioritize understanding the phrases that come up once more and once more. (Hint: “melange,” “Kwisatz Haderach,” and “Bene Gesserit” might be a few of them.)
  • Take notes if it helps. At the danger of creating this an excessive amount of like homework, some individuals discover it useful to annotate this e book or take notes to recollect essential definitions, individuals, or occasions within the plot. I did not do that on my first studying, however I suppose it might have helped me get a grasp on the e book extra shortly, or at the least saved me a lot of flipping again and forth from the glossary. It could be particularly useful for preserving monitor of the plot, like which characters find out about which plans and deceits and which characters do not, which was one thing I had a lot of hassle with.

Standout Quote

“‘You’re pondering I’m the Kwisatz Haderach,’ he mentioned. ‘Put that out of your thoughts. I’m one thing sudden.’ . . .

“‘If you are not the Kwisatz Haderach,’ Jessica mentioned, ‘what—’


“‘You could not presumably know,’ he mentioned. ‘You will not imagine it till you see it.’

“And he thought, I’m a seed.”

Read This If You Like. . .

Complex sci-fi and excessive fantasy books with worlds you will get misplaced in.

How Long It Takes to Read

I’m a quick reader, and I wanted about two weeks with this one. It’s lengthy (over 600 pages), dense, and difficult, so give your self loads of time to completely take up the twisting plot and intricate particulars of the world.

The Sweet Spot Summary

When Paul Atreides and his household are compelled to take cost the planet Arrakis (aka Dune) and its shops of valuable spice, they comprehend it spells their downfall. But as conflict breaks out in opposition to the evil House Harkonnen and Paul shelters within the desert with Dune’s native Fremen, he learns that his future might be span far past Arrakis, and might be darker than he may have imagined. Frank Herbert’s Dune ($12 for paperback) is the start of this epic sci-fi saga.

I Read Dune as a Sci-Fi Newbie, and Here's What You Should Know Before You Crack It Open

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