Dune: Sci-Fi Before It Was Easy

*Deep breath* Okay. Let’s do this.

Out of all the books I’ve read in the last two years, Dune is the one I’ve had the most trouble reading. I first picked it up well over a year ago now and I’ve only just managed to make myself finish it. It was a very strange book that I found difficult to get through. The whole time I was reading, I felt like I was missing something.

Then I finished it. And I still feel like I’m missing some important information.

Dune stars Paul Atreides, the heir to a galactic noble house. His father, the duke Leto, has been charged with the planet of Arrakis, Dune, a harsh desert planet where every drop of water is precious, which was previously ruled by the enemies of the Atreides family, the Harkonnen. Now, Paul must adapt to his new life on a hostile desert filled with enemy spies, giant sandworms, and with almost no water to speak of.

Also, he’s kinda psychic and can see the future. Just a bit, though. It’s weird.

Alright, let’s get the positives done first: the world-building in this book is pretty good. Arrakis is an incredible setting! Watching how everyone works around giant sandworms while mining spice and how they use sci-fi suits to capture and maintain all the moisture they can is super interesting!

I also love how weird this book is! This is a book filled with scenes that can best be described as ‘drug trips’ and I love it! It’s genuinely bizarre!

Unfortunately, the story itself is only just okay. The characters are likable and memorable, yes. But this book forgets to take a very crucial step: establishing context.

This book throws a lot at you, especially at the beginning, without much or any explanation. It gives you sci-fi tech, psychic magic systems, space gibberish terms, it throws all that at you with only context clues to guide you towards figuring out what it all means. What the hell is a benegezerat? Well, you won’t know until near the end of the story, even if you pay super close attention.

Then there are some things that are never explained. How does the galactic government work? Why do houses Atreides and Harkonnen hate each other so much? Why is the spice so valuable? These questions and more are all vital to understanding the narrative being told in the story itself. Yet it is never explained to the audience! Not once!

It feels as though this book got distracted by its world-building and forgot to leave out certain important details. That, or the author just thought ‘eh, fuck it, they’ll figure it out’. Either way, it makes getting into the book pretty difficult. This is quite possibly the least newcomer friendly novel I have read in my entire life.

Also, the pacing is super weird. The first third is super slow, then it breaks out into ultra-fast speed right at the last minute, rushing through the plot. Then it slows down again for the next part, then speeds the fuck up and rushes at the finale in the final third. It’s all over the place! Have fun with the whiplash!

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book or not. It is a half decent story, with great worldbuilding and good characters, but it’s just so damn hard to get into! If you think you can get past that learning curve, then I’d recommend checking it out. If you don’t have the patience for that, than you might be better off reading something else.

That, or waiting for the movie to come out in 2021. That oughta be interesting.

2 responses to “Dune: Sci-Fi Before It Was Easy”

  1. Amongst my group of Sci-Fi people Dune is the thing that threatens to tear us apart. Some say it’s the ONLY good sci-fi ever and all other Sci-Fi is garbage in comparison. Others (me) think it was too slow and dense.


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