I recently reread Dune when the 40th anniversary unabridged version came out. Once again I was floored by the shear scope of Frank Herbert’s beginning of the masterpiece series of Science fiction. Herbert began this EPIC undertaking in an age where Science fiction writer’s generally did not produce such massive tomes, much less a series of them in the same world. Needless to say, this Anniversary edition pleases just as much as the original did, and helps fill in some details that were lost in the original editions.
As a piece of literature, this work is a critique on the nature of man’s essence and self-definition, both as a spiritual being and as an agent or pawn of power and the political process. Human institutions, whether they be religious or scientific or corporate are melded into archetypal character foundations, Like the religious Bene Gesserit, or the atheistic/logical Mentats, or the corporate, profit minded CHOAM conglomerate, and they are played off against each other in a fashion that leaves us the impression that all have failed to come up with ultimate answers for humanity.
And, of course, there is the unmistakable Messianic motif in the story, and While he wins out in the end over the other specialized human traits, we are still left in the grips of doubt as to whether Mua’dib can even have the ultimate answer.
In contrast to Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, Dune does not show us the spiritual answer but leave us to our own devices of imagination to come to terms with many facets of the human condition. Also in contrast to Heinlein, Herbert does not lampoon or parody, but keeps his archetypal characters deadly serious.
I would recommend this book to any reader, regardless of their genre preferences. This book simply transcends genre!
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