Frank Herbert's Dune

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Atomkilla, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Jul 26, 2003
    Indeed. Furthermore, I think Herbert was actually extremely good to his female characters all things considered, and especially for a male Science Fiction writer of his era. I found most of them to be three-dimensional and believable in both their characterization and their motivation, and even secondaries like Gaius Helen Mohaim and Lady Fenring were capable, cunning, and, as much as is possible in such a rigidly feudal society, independent. He's pretty open about his examination of masculine and feminine themes in the text, and I actually think it's entirely possible to conclude that the women come off looking better than the men, and even that Dune can be read as a feminist work.

    (Essay no one asked for in 3... 2... 1...)
    [spoiler:8b1aa6fc52]Lady Jessica was perhaps the most capable, multifaceted character in the entire novel, and her motivations, to me, were much as Tagz lays out-- trying to find a way to balance the path and position she's worked her entire life for with her overriding devotion to the love and family she never expected to find, a conflict not unfamiliar to the rising tide of professional women emerging into the workplace at the time Herbert was writing or even to those in the modern era. Even when forced to choose family, the more traditional path, she doesn't protect Paul as a doting, broken mother but as a woman bent on preserving the last remnant of the family and the life she loved (and, one should note, as one of the most formidable ass-kickers in a book populated with the cloak-and-dagger equivalent of Dragon Ball Z). Jessica's motivation to me wasn't Paul alone-- she was a survivor, driven by love of family, preservation of dignity, and freedom of personal choice.

    Chani was a Fremen through and through, fierce and free-spirited but dedicated to the observance of the ways and the protection of her family and her people. That is her core motivation, and once Paul becomes a central part of that family and the vanguard of those ways, he of course falls under that umbrella. Her Fremen background does often cast her in a more orthodox or even primitive feminine role, but in other ways Sietch life is far more egalitarian than the structure of the Faufreluches, and Chani rides the waves of change kicked up by Paul deftly (if uneasily) and is crucial in shaping the way that events unfold.

    Irulan was by far the weakest female character in the book (intentionally), but even she was motivated not by Paul but by what he represented or a role he happened to be in. She had been groomed from birth by her father the Emperor and the Bene Gesserit to be the perfect princess, to think only of placing herself as a wife and future empress to secure her bloodline's continued power. The whole point of her character was to nab a man in a position like Paul's, but even then, it wasn't Paul that she was after as much as it was what could be gained by securing him. Without ambitions of her own beyond the shallow role imparted to her by the traditions of the institutions that had shaped her, she was ultimately left with nothing.

    Paul was undoubtedly the driving force of the novel, but he was often, as I hope I've made at least a decent case for already, more of a macguffin than he was a character. As the protagonist and narrative locus of the story, it only makes sense that he was the male half of most of the male-female gender explorations in the book, but one could just as easily point out that the men in Paul's life are just as devoted, and often, not as well-characterized (like Tagaziel says, dude WAS a frickin' messiah. It's okay for the world to revolve around them every once in awhile). AS a character, though, let's consider the man who would become the Kwisatz Haderach: Here was a young prince whose father (like his father before him), thanks to all his masculine hubris and foolish honor, stepped into an arena where he knew he was outmatched and was destroyed for it, set upon by the machinations of the patriarchal Faufreluches class system. He escaped only thanks to his mother's instruction in the feminine ways of the Bene Gesserit, and he survived only through her continued protection and instruction and the social groundwork lain by the Sisterhood. It was largely thanks to Chani's grounding and influence that he integrated so well into Seitch Tabr and managed to map out the beginnings of the Golden Path, and it was only through Paul's deft (Herbert might say feminine) sidestepping of masculine, alpha-dog Fremen traditions that he ascended to become leader of the tribes. In all the most important ways, Paul was shaped, guided, and anchored by women, and Herbert is overt about his messianic nature lying in his ability to see down both feminine and masculine avenues.

    By contrast, most of the novel's most admirable men, skilled and intelligent though they may have been, were either destroyed, duped, or left rudderless by the Harkonnen invasion, or were lockstepped by honor, hatred, or tradition into foolish courses or ultimately dead-end roles. Under the instruction of his father's officers alone, Paul would still have been a fine Duke and a formidable man, but he also would have been a very dead one.[/spoiler:8b1aa6fc52]

    tl;dr: Women rule Dune and Yamu needs to familiarize himself with the thesaurus entry for "role."
  2. Dude101

    Dude101 Vault Fossil

    Aug 3, 2005
    The prequels get a lot of hate but I actually really enjoyed them. I agree that the machine prequels are stupid. I read the first two and mostly liked them but the third one was very hard for me to finish.

    For me the Brian Herbert stuff lacks the deeper meaning Frank was able to invoke. Brian is still writing more Dune books BTW I've read / attempted to read most of them but I can only recommend the first three prequels if you feel you need more. The others can be upsetting sometimes if you have an emotional connection with the originals because they feel so hollow. They are decent books though.

    Chapter House Dune was not very good.
  3. Tagaziel

    Tagaziel Panzerkatze Orderite

    Dec 10, 2003

    I read the essay.

    If I was a woman, I'd ask you to impregnate me.

    I actually want to buy the last book, Sandworms of Dune, to finish reading. Frank Herbert's books got increasingly weird further in the cycle, Chapterhouse being a good example.
  4. Dude101

    Dude101 Vault Fossil

    Aug 3, 2005
    I've read it and it's not bad. The trouble is you need to have read some of the prequels to follow something significant that happens. I can't be more specific because that would be spoilers.
  5. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    I probably never will read the dune books, since I'm not the biggest consumer of books in the first place and since I have no incentive to look into my possible enjoyment of one or multiple Dune books.

    In the meantime I very much enjoyed the movie however. The original? Good heavens no. The definitive fan version of course. I think any Dune fan might want to take a look at this piece of work. It's both more coherent as a movie and more closely tied to the original book.

    If you have trouble retrieving it from the internet, (As is warranted with fan edits) I can assist through PM.
  6. Dead Guy

    Dead Guy Senate Board Director oTO Moderator Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Nov 9, 2008
    Yeah, I forgot to put something in there, the House prequels aren't really all that bad. But I felt they were more like adventure stories, Duncan Idaho's fabulous swashbuckling adventures on Ginaz and Ix and the story of the automated vagina. But it was 10 years since I read them and I don't remember them very well. In contrast to Dune, cometo think of it! Hoo boy.

    Sandworms ending is possibly worse than the Chapterhouse ending imo, though I barely finished Chapterhouse in the first place because ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
    [spoiler:9d0b7d95d9]Especially the ultimate recycling of everything ever when they bring back everyone as Gholas, and then everyone is a Super Hero! WEEE! Miles Teg, bam bam fix everything but dies noooo. Paul the freaking root of it all guise, no it's not him who's the McGuffin personified and destined to solve this impossible situation through, err, literal Deus ex Machina? Anyway, it's actually this other guy who has acquired an even better form of prescience or whatever it was. And regardless of that, they're already kind of saved by that chick who takes your brain to another dimension. Give me a break.[/spoiler:9d0b7d95d9]
    I guess Sandworms and whatever the one before it is called are pretty exciting, like the house novels (and the machine novels too, really) but they just don't stack up. They're shallow and Brian keeps having to save himself through plot twist after plot twist, and I don't think they're as juicily explained as the sand trout twist, for example (which isn't a get-me-out-of-this-mess thing anyway). Maybe I'm just biased.
  7. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Aug 16, 2010
    Picked up the first book again, too. Gotta try to find the others after that, I guess.
  8. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010
    It took me some time, but I've finished the first book.
    I like it, though I wasn't always satisfied with the style of writing. I try to comfort myself that it's translator's fault.

    I will proceed to read the rest of Frank's novels....hopefully.
  9. Daemon Spawn

    Daemon Spawn Old Warrior of the Wastes

    May 15, 2003
    I realize I'm a bit late to the thread, but I'm going to answer anyways, because I've read the entire series twice through

    (I haven't read the entire thread, saw the Orson Wells clap gif, going to read through the entire thread at my leisure.)

    The original Dune is good enough as a stand-alone in its own right and if you don't enjoy it you can stop there.

    After that, it is a measure of how much time you have on your hands as well as how much you enjoyed the original. Without tremendous enjoyment of the original work I would not recommend dedicated reading of the rest of the series.

    -The "trilogy" of the first three will either turn you away or lead you deeper into the world.
    -The fourth - God Emperor - is almost a stand-alone story.
    -Some avid readers will say the two best books in the series are the last two by Frank - Heretics and Chapterhouse.

    After these essential readings then you can choose to delve into the interpretations of his son Brian.

    Sorry if I'm merely repeating what others have said, but I'll read through the thread and amend my response accordingly. But this is the unbiased opinion of one who has read through the entire series twice.

    Happy readings.
  10. Daemon Spawn

    Daemon Spawn Old Warrior of the Wastes

    May 15, 2003
    Follow-up Post:

    Yamu's combination post and essay was fantastic. Very accurate on all observations and analysis. (well-written too for what it's worth)

    I see that for the most part my recommendations are in line with the majority consensus here. However I would like to restate that the last two that Frank wrote - Heretics and Chapterhouse - are more crucial to the series than any besides the original. While they both contain some cheesy gimmicks such as super-abilities and super-senses, it does not detract from what they bring - the sense of evolution and progress that the human race ever strives to achieve. Both books delve deeper into the mysteries behind the universe and the motivations behind the groups bent on grasping the power left behind by Paul and his son. After the original Dune, these two final works by Frank are my favorites in the series.

    The works by Brian and Kevin Anderson are adventure novels by comparison and should be treated as such.
  11. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010
    I have decided against reading the rest of the series for now. Not because I dislike the first book (I actually quite like it, but it took me some time to "digest" it), but because of time constraints.
    I will not be able to enjoy them in a proper way for the time being.
  12. Idiotfool

    Idiotfool Still Mildly Glowing

    Apr 12, 2007
    Out of curiosity - why are you reading a translation?
  13. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    Because English is not my first language, and I can't get an English version around here.
  14. doc frank

    doc frank First time out of the vault

    Mar 7, 2013
    Thanks for this topic I know what I'm reading next.
  15. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    Did you guys know that Frank Herbert actually likes the movie?

    "They've got it. It begins as Dune does. And I hear my dialogue all the way through. There are some interpretations and liberties, but you're gonna come out knowing you've seen Dune."
  16. CthuluIsSpy

    CthuluIsSpy A Smooth-Skin

    Dec 20, 2011
    Read the First book. I have not read the other books by him nor his son, but I can say that the First one is definitely worth it. It doesn't have any cliff hangers either, so you can just read that one and not worry about the rest.