Are you new dune-curious after the glorious debut trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming adaptation? Well, Mashable has you covered.
If you are already well acquainted with the melange spice and know the difference between stilgar and a nursing suit, you will not learn much here. But dune is a vast and sometimes confusing science fiction universe, and newbies may want to understand what they’re getting into before they see how Villeneuve brought it to life.
So without further ado, let’s take a trip to Arrakis.
Excuse me? Arrakis?
The dune In Villeneuve̵
Why is dune such a big deal?
dune is both the title of a book published in 1965 and the name of the book series that followed author Frank Herbert, although technically he never finished the story before his death in 1986. Decades later, Herbert’s son Brian formed a creative partnership with science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson, and indeed together did finish what Frank started.
That is a whole, wild story in itself. By the time the elderly Herbert, who had pancreatic cancer, died of pulmonary embolism shortly after surgery, he was already working on his next Dune story. But it was a solo effort, and when Frank suddenly died, the future of the series went with him. At least everyone thought.
A decade later, Brian learned from the real estate attorney that there were previously unknown lockers in St. Louis on his father’s behalf. There, under all the notes, Brian found an outline for “Dune 7”. Soon after, he found another 1,000 pages of reference material. And so he teamed up with Anderson to continue and ultimately complete his father’s vision.
The two didn’t just write “Dune 7”, which eventually split into two books. Hunter of the dune (2006) and Sandworms of the dune (2007). They also fleshed out the “Duniverse” as a whole with prequel trilogies and spin-off books about the noble houses featured in the original series, the various factions vying for influence, and the distant history that led directly to the events of dune.
The older Herbert’s work has long been recognized as essential science fiction. The fantastic ideas of the story are as vivid and colorful as JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth. But dune is also notable for the way his story comments on how our social construction, scientific development, and governance practices would develop in different circumstances.
Much of this has to do with Frank Herbert’s views on human evolution and survival, his personal politics, and his understanding (and yes, appropriation) of various religious beliefs and traditions. But this is a conversation that is best started after you’ve understood and understood it dune.
Is the duniverse real The big?
Oh yeah, it’s really big. The first books cover a relatively short period of time, but the entire series spans tens of thousands of years. And I don’t mean that the books only refer to ancient events. There is an entire trilogy that takes place 10,000 years before the events of dune. There are also several time jumps in the main series (which can be pretty irritating when you don’t know they’re coming!).
You see They see, dune is not a space age story of aliens living in a “galaxy far, far away”. In fact, the story takes place tens of thousands of years of humanity Future, long after the “Butlerian Jihad” led to the total ban on all “thinking machines” (also known as computers), which changed the course of technological development. In the time since then – and well before the first book began – we’ve figured out how to survive and then thrive in our lives without AI.
Much of that survival depends on increased human numbers to replace computers. The first book doesn’t go into that in great detail, but there are different factions in Duniverse that rely on organic matter (like the spice) or just some really intense, lifelong training to bring different skills to the table that usually present are relegated to a computer.
Mentats, for example, are human computers that improve their understanding through the use of sapho juice, an addictive substance. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood has now become a powerful force in dunesocial, political and religious spaces, the members of which submit to a life of intense physical and mental conditioning so that they have superhuman abilities.
The details of each group are too much to go into here. Part of Dune’s magic as a series is the slow unfolding of its world. In the books, at least, you only get to know the universe better when those different parts become important to the story. To avoid spoilers, I’ll skip the thorough review.
Roger that. Then what is it? dune, the book, Over?
To understand what dune The point is, we have to go through the setup of the story and here we come back to Arrakis. The desert planet where there is so much strife and death dune – but also the continued prosperity of humanity – is the only place you can find the spice melange, a kind of super drug. But it’s also much more than that.
The spice (as many point to it) offers users a number of benefits, including longer lifespan and improved physical abilities. For some people, it also releases awareness, the ability to see into the future. This last characteristic makes the spice an essential asset for the Empire. Only those people who are gifted with foresight have the ability to master space travel and become navigators for the space guild.
Arrakis, where the spice is harvested, is a fairly hostile environment. It’s not raining at all. The local Fremen, who survive by living underground and wearing moisture-retaining “still suits”, are not exactly friendly to outsiders either. Stilgar, whom I mentioned in the intro, is the leader (“Naib”) of a Fremen tribe that is important to the bigger story.
Most importantly, harvesting spices on Arrakis involves a deadly game of avoiding the sandworms. These massive creatures live deep beneath the sand, but they are drawn to the surface by the very vibrations created by spice harvesters. When a sandworm shows up, you want to be far away.
The many types of risk Arrakis presents are not enough of a deterrent for the Empire to look for alternatives. That is how valuable the spice is to the people of dune. It’s important for interstellar trading, but it’s also an expensive luxury item enjoyed by those who can afford to keep their habit up.
These factors make Arrakis the most valuable area in known space. The harvesting process is managed by a combined government apparatus that includes the Spacing Guild. the Landsraad, a political body made up of all the noble houses of the empire; and the Padishah Emperor, sovereign ruler of the known universe who has the final say on most matters.
So. In Landsraad, the houses of Atreides and Harkonnen are bitter rivals. When the first book begins, Duke Leto Atreides is preparing to move his family to Arrakis – a group to which Leto’s son and sole heir Paul is a crucial part. They are moving because the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV gave House Atreides control of the spice harvest, an operation previously controlled by House Harkonnen.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is obviously not too happy with this turn of events. So the transfer of power to Arrakis is already very difficult. The events that unfold from there, including the arrival of the Fremen in history, are the whole substance of dune. But that’s the basic idea of how things start.
Hasn’t there already been one? dune Movie?
dune actually got adjusted for the screen a couple of times. The best-known version is certainly the 1984 film adaptation by director David Lynch – yes, that Twin peaks Guy. The dune is extraordinarily strange and takes a lot of liberties with Herbert’s story.
If you’ve seen Lynch’s movie and think this is it dune is think again. Many of the broad strokes follow the path described in the book, but Herbert’s work does not have any of the strange sonic weapons that Lynch introduced, and various characterizations are much clearer in the context of the ongoing plot.
This wasn’t the only adjustment, however. As early as 2000, Syfy (or the then famous sci-fi channel) released the three-part miniseries. Frank Herbert’s Dune. This version of the story came much closer to Herbert’s novel than Lynch’s. It followed in 2003 Frank Herbert’s Children of the Dune, another three-part miniseries that adapted the second and third books in the series.
The Sci-Fi channel customizations are strong in their own way. They’re not quite as polished as you’d expect from our current “golden age of television”. There were clearly budget constraints that add more soap opera to the whole thing. But the miniseries also do a great job of capturing Herbert’s intricate stories, and they’re still well worth watching today – though it might be better to wait until after this Villeneuve dune if you want to remain untouched.
There was also another notable attempt at adjustment dune for the screen. The French-Chilean cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky set about developing a film version as early as the 1970s. It ultimately didn’t happen, but the failed production eventually became the subject of an excellent 2013 documentary titled Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Last but not least, the documentary is proof of the difficulty of adapting Herbert’s original work for the film. dune is an incredibly dense novel, rich in detail and character development, but extremely challenging to adapt to any other format.
We just have to wait and see how Villeneuve’s interpretation fares in his new version dune hits theaters on December 18, 2020.