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There are a few books that truly become more impactful as they age, and Frank Herbert’s Dune - lauded as the novel that brought science fiction into the mainstream - is one of those books. It tells the story of the far future and a human race changed by technology. Space travel allows for the colonization of worlds, but the great leap forward in scientific knowledge is accompanied by one big step backward in culture. Politics have retrogressed to the Dark Ages, with a system of fiefs and titles like those of the feudalistic system. In this world, Paul Atreides grows up as the son of a duke, who has only recently come into possession of a new planet that was previously owned by a rival family. What follows is a story filled with intrigue and suspense. What happens to Paul’s family? Will Paul grow to take hold of his father’s title? What will happen next? The story is fast-paced and thrilling, providing an ample supply of science fiction fun.
The most exciting part of this book, however, is how developed the fictional universe of Dune really is. Frank Herbert’s magnum opus puts on display fully-fledged political systems, religions and even ecosystems. This does bog the book down in the beginning since there’s just so much coming in at once, but it makes the entire reading experience much better by the end. You feel a sense of immersion in the story, as if you really knew the characters and the world around you. But there’s still more to Dune. The book is not just a sci-fi adventure, but a truly thought-provoking read. The only other novel I could compare it to is 1984 by George Orwell. It’s just that good. Frank Herbert actually got his inspiration to write this novel after visiting some sand dunes in Oregon, where the Department of Agriculture was trying to plant grasses on the crests of the dunes to stop the dunes from migrating onto roads and highways. This led Herbert to research more about environmentalism and natural restoration, which becomes another big theme of this novel. But he doesn’t stop there. He continues to ask some of the most essential questions of our time: What will artificial intelligence look like in the future? What will religion look like in an increasingly scientific world? As technology develops, how does power shift? To be fair, Dune contains a good amount of fantastical elements too (the classic giant space worm and telekinesis) but that doesn’t mean it addresses these problems any less.
All-in-all, I would wholly recommend Dune for its awesome sci-fi story and its literary relevance to our world. But if you still aren’t interested, there’s a new movie based on this book scheduled to release in 2021, so you could always check that out if you want. Whatever you do, I hope you stay safe and keep reading! - Nihanth P. (Sunset Teen Advisory Council)