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  • A mother and her son trek across an endless desert.

  • Wearing special skin-tight suits to dissipate heat and recycle moisture, the travelers aren’t worried about dying of thirst.

  • Their fears are much greater.

  • The pair try to walk without rhythm, letting the vibrations of their footsteps blend into the shifting sands.

  • But soon, the sound of the desert is drowned out by a louder hissing.

  • As a mound of sand races towards them, the pair’s unnatural gait turns into a sprint.

  • The two clamber into a nearby rock face, as a sandworm 400 meters long bursts from the desert floor.

  • This is the world of "Dune."

  • Written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965, "Dune" takes place in a far-flung future, where humanity rules the stars in a giant feudal empire.

  • This medieval motif goes beyond just the government.

  • Unlike most interstellar sci-fi, Herbert's humans conquered the stars without any computers.

  • Following an ancient war with robots, humanity has forbidden the construction of any machine "in the likeness of a human mind."

  • But rather than stifling their expansion, this edict forced humans to evolve in startling waysbecoming biological computers, psychic witches, and prescient space pilots.

  • Members of these super-powered factions are regularly employed by various noble houses, all competing for power and new planets to add to their kingdoms.

  • But almost all these superhuman skills rely on the same precious resource: the spice.

  • This mystical crop also known as "melange" is essential for all space travel, making it the cornerstone of the galactic economy.

  • And it only grows on the desert planet Arrakis, a dangerous and inhospitable world whose native inhabitants have long rebelled against the empire.

  • Arrakis, also called Dune, is the setting for Herbert’s novel, which follows Paul of the noble House Atreides.

  • The book begins with Paul’s family being assigned control of Dune as part of an elaborate plot by their sworn enemies: the sadistic slave drivers of House Harkonnen.

  • The conflict between these houses upends the delicate political balance on Arrakis.

  • Soon, Paul is catapulted into the middle of a planetary revolution, where he must prove himself capable of leading and surviving on this hostile desert world.

  • But Arrakis is not simply an endless sea of sand.

  • Herbert was an avid environmentalist, who spent over five years creating Dune’s complex ecosystem.

  • The planet is checkered with climate belts and wind tunnels that have shaped its rocky topography.

  • Different temperate zones produce varying desert flora, and almost every element of Dune’s ecosystem works together to produce the planet’s essential export.

  • Herbert’s world-building also includes a rich web of philosophy and religion.

  • Paul’s mother Jessica, is a member of the Bene Gesserit, an ancient cult of spice-assisted psychics.

  • Sometimes called "witches" for their mysterious powers, the Bene Gesserit have operated as a shadow government for millennia in an effort to guide society towards enlightenment.

  • Similarly ancient are the Mentatshuman computers capable of processing incredible amounts of data.

  • While the Mentats are bastions of logic and reason, their results are not mere calculations, but rather, streams of constantly shifting possibilities.

  • However, no group is more central to "Dune" than the Fremen.

  • Natives of Arrakis, they are the keepers of the planet’s many secrets.

  • Paul’s journey takes him deep into the Fremen’s exclusive brotherhood, where he must prove himself trustworthy in a series of increasingly deadly challenges.

  • All these factions have deep histories that pervade the text, and Herbert also incorporates that sense of scale into the book’s structure.

  • Each chapter begins with a quote from a future history book, recalling elements of the events that are about to unfold.

  • The book also contains in-universe appendices that further explore the Empire’s history; alongside a glossary of words like "Gom Jabbar" and "Shai-Hulud."

  • Dune’s epic story continues to unfold over a six-book saga that spans millennia.

  • But every story of Arrakisfuture begins here: as Paul pursues a path that is dangerous, demanding, and always on the verge of being consumed by the oncoming storm.

  • For all our science fiction fans out there, we think you will love Octavia Butler.

  • And if you are inspired enough to put pen to paper, check out this video on building fictional worlds.

A mother and her son trek across an endless desert.

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B2 US TED-Ed dune herbert desert paul planet

Why should you read “Dune” by Frank Herbert? - Dan Kwartler

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/10/10
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