Dune

By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Book description

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a…


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Why read it?

39 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Dune is a sci-fi story that really makes you think in the abstract and it poses a lot of deep questions about leadership. While Dune is a tough read with strange protagonists, its worldbuilding is what sucks you because it’s so richly detailed. It’s an immersive book, and I consider it the sci-fi equivalent of Lord of the Rings for setting the standard for sweeping space operas. I read Dune before self-publishing my most recent book, and it made me want to retool the way resource control worked in my book’s universe.

Dune is one of my all-time favorite imagined worlds – a complex and intricate interstellar society set in the far future. The story centers on the character of Paul Atreides, born into a powerful family and tasked with overseeing the inhospitable and dangerous planet Arrakis – the only planet that produces a drug called melange or “spice.” The drug, which has the capacity to extend life and heighten mental abilities, is not only coveted, but is the basis for a whole host of social, economic, and political feuds. Control of Arrakis and the drug itself is considered the pinnacle of…

I had thought that science fiction rather than pure fantasy would not appeal to me, but this novel changed my mind. It rammed home the message that the world created by the author dictates the challenges faced by the characters, and plays as strong a role in the story as the adventures and the characters themselves. Like my favourite fantasy novelists, Frank Herbert had delivered an imaginative world peopled by strong characters. As with many of the great fantasies the threats come not just from other characters but also from the world itself, in this case the giant sandworms protecting…

I fell in love with Dune because of the worms. Never before had I read a science fiction/fantasy novel in which the world was as deeply thought out and as much a part of the story as the humans themselves. I wanted to know how Arrakis and its worms came about as much as I wanted to know what would happen to the characters. 

That package of people and place fired my imagination, and each time I re-read the story [8 times and counting], I discover something more. To me, that is the hallmark of a truly great book.

From Acflory's list on exploring what it means to be human.

Dune is universally recognized as one of the greatest, if not the greatest science fiction book of all time. It heavily influenced Star Wars and many space operas after it (but for some reason, the “magic” in it has been rarely replicated). There are few science fiction books that have the depth of lore that Dune has; it’s almost Lord of the Rings-like. I’m especially thankful for it because so much probably doesn’t exist in the genre without it. If you’re just starting your science fiction journey, it’s a great place to start. But be prepared to dig in…

Dune was the first science fiction book that I read cover to cover in my teens. Its story and character development fascinated me. The book concentrated on a teenage boy, Paul Atreides. He was born at the end of a centuries-long genetic breeding program which was designed to develop a super being. Paul and his family move to the world of Dune where the Spice is harvested. The Spice is a natural compound that extends life and causes humans to develop additional physical and mental powers. The Spice begins to change Paul sending him into an unknown future. This book…

This was one of the early books I read that really cemented my love of science fiction and fantasy. I usually don’t like to dive into long books, but the story he crafted draws you in and keeps you there so you don’t notice how big the book is. I also liked the way he used political intrigue and treachery along with all the battles. It inspired me to weave these same elements into my own writing style. 

From Richard's list on superversive fiction.

Again, this book is in most ways clearly SF—space travel, zappy ray guns, force fields—but the sandworms are straight out of Kaiju movies or dragon stories. The force field technology means that the most important fights are hand-to-hand with bladed weapons, and Herbert’s protagonists are the prophesy-believing tribesmen who live close to the land and hold fast to their ancient traditions. And it’s also full of mystical, high-flown metaphysical philosophy, most of which I could happily crib for use in a fantasy novel. In short, it’s not really SF, it’s Lawrence of Arabia with lasers and witches.

I first got introduced to the character Paul Atreides and the book Dune when I was 23 years old. Back then, I had little understanding of food politics, ecology, and the lengths that people are willing to go to control both of these resources. Today, as I reread the book for the second time, some 30 years later, I recognize that the book’s food themes are more relevant today than ever before. Paul’s journey as the person who eventually controls the spice is a lesson to all who are interested in food politics and diplomacy.

An Emperor behind the scenes, machinations, Houses instead of families, politics, and war define a reality of conflict, sacrifice, and intrigue. This book is foundational for many of the ideas borrowed by more recent science fantasy writers, me included.

Dune builds slowly both in terms of the universe and the main character, but it taught me that fantasy/sci-fi is far more than elaborate costumes, unexplained superpowers, or the monsters beneath the surface. I learned that human motivations and avarice could be far more compelling than the cover of any book.

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