Summary Herbert: “Dune”

What we liked:

  • World-building is superb: Economy, politics, fantasy tropes are handled as part of the world-building
  • Death and world-building even surpasses “Lord of the Rings” for some of us, it is deeper than “Game of Thrones”
  • Complexity reminded us of books like “Lord of the Rings”
  • Very original
  • Characters have prescience, can guess at the future; very good at analysing people
  • Plot twists or surprises still possible
  • Chapters start with other pieces of writing that expanded the story
  • Great quotes
  • Deviates greatly from other sci-fi novels, daring world-building
  • Barren desert planet comes alive through the narration, has its own ecosystem
  • Lack of water can be found everywhere: language, traditions, culture, world-building, also showcases the otherness of Paul
  • Paul is a force of his own, ‘hero’ of his own making, always has plans and tries to change things for the better, son of a politician and one can see that, reasonable depth
  • Fremen culture based on Islamic cultures; Herbert researched it well (depiction also partly problematic), daring, 2020 movie excludes the term “jihad”; Fremen cool, highly capable people, more than stereotypes
  • Paul has special abilities which are part of the world-building, awareness of his fate
  • Some of us will read the sequels, others won’t
  • Worms really cool

What we discussed:

  • Motivation of the Doctor a bit weird and not convincing, simple hostage dilemma not that convincing
  • Pacing of the plot could be better, beginning extensive, ending rushed
  • Some characters a bit blunt: Paul sometimes your average fantasy chosen one
  • Duncan Idaho and Gurney felt interchangeable for some, Harkonnens: paper cut villains, creation of characters is a weakness
  • Paul more active than the other characters; focalization influences how the evil guys are perceived
  • Not very immersive character-wise, Paul pretty cool, used to a different narration (YA more immersive)
  • Paul the hero in the first book, but it is more complex than that in the sequels
  • Chosen one business based in different myths, not an Arthurian hero, also loads of tropes
  • White saviour figure highly problematic, but the novel is very old and the Fremen are not a stereotypical depiction, still cultural appropriation problematic, Paul goes native, but still the Fremen consider him their messiah
  • DNA, breeding, genes; feels very problematic; people just bodies to be bred; people as tools à create superhumans (breeding computers); eugenics dimension highly problematic in the sequels
  • Gender binary annoying
  • AI ban weird, fear of computers unexplained
  • Aircrafts weird, why no weapons in it?! Illogical! Tactics weird. Why swords/close combat and no pistols? (Evil computers weird explanation.) Future going full feudal weird!
  • Late stage sci-fi society going feudal cool, but explanations could be better
  • Hard to get into the book, partly struggling during the read
  • Not telling the reader but Paul knows it, is annoying

The best article (according to Marthe) which addresses some of the issues with the novel (SPOILERS): https://www.tor.com/2019/03/06/why-its-important-to-consider-whether-dune-is-a-white-savior-narrative/

Marthe is also reading all the sequels (currently Dune #5) and will publish a little review here when she is done!

Thank you for the great meeting and managing to read that big book in time!

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