‘In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.’
When I first read this sentence, over fifty years ago, I could not envisage that I would be drawn into a world which could hold my attention for so long. I’ve just reread the trilogy and it still holds much of its initial appeal.
The trilogy is set in the distant future on the desert planet of Arrakis. Arrakis is the source of spice (melange), the most valuable substance in the galaxy. Why? Spice is a mind enhancing drug which enables interstellar travel. Control of the trade is critical. The first novel opens as Duke Leto Atreides, his concubine the Lady Jessica and son Paul are about to travel to Arrakis (Dune). Not long after they arrive, the Duke is poisoned but Lady Jessica and Paul manage to escape into the desert. What follows (in the trilogy) is a multi-generational story of prophecy, adaptation, and survival.
One of the most important features of the trilogy is the interrelationship between the people and the environment. Dune was not always a desert, and some would like to see the desertification reversed. Is it possible? And at what cost? Moving from ecology to people: lineage is critical. Paul Atreides and his descendants are key.
The first book in the trilogy provides the world, the foundation for the remaining two books. While there is an inevitability in what follows, those books are important. Mysticism, a Messiah, and (naturally) self-interest all have a part to play.
I finished the trilogy and will start the second Dune trilogy soon.
‘You wonder how one could presume to educate such a person as yourself? You, with the knowledge of a multitude held there in your memories? That’s just it, you see! You think yourself educated, but all you are is a repository of dead lives. You don’t yet have a life of your own. You’re just a walking surfeit of others, all with one goal—to seek death.’