Frank Herbert, ‘Dune’

A brilliant book. The David Lynch movie does it no credit whatsoever, and it is a rather good movie. The book relies heavily on portraying the Fremen as Arabic/Islamic, but with a tendancy to imply that they are religious fanatics, prone to holy wars and idol worship. The portrayal of the Baron Harkonnen as gay is also particularly offensive. The politics of water is looked at with an oblique eye rather than head on. The turnaround from the Navigators guild restricting the supply of water on the planet to the fremen restricting the supply of spice to the guild is a nice touch, but does not say too much about the ethics of restricting essential materials for purposes of control. ‘The spice is life’ obviously equates spice with water, but ‘one who has the power to destroy a thing, controls that thing’ is about as close to ethical discussion as Herbert gets on the subject.
All of that said, Dune is a masterpiece of world building, from the ecology of the main planet right through to the interplanetary politics that surround it. A fantastic novel, but I do not feel the urge to read further into the series as I fear it will descend into franchise-like repetition, and I am pretty sure I do not agree with Herberts dubious morals and politics. A brilliant, wonderfully written missed opportunity.


~ by Snake Oil on August 3, 2009.

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