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Nicholas Whyte
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Frank Herbert


Dune by Frank Herbert, is a classic scifi novel which has spawned a considerable number of sequels and quite a few imitators. The story is centred around Paul Atreides, son of Leto, Duke of the planet Caladan. The Atreides have a long emnity with the evil Harkonnen family, and at the start of the story the galactic emperor has decreed that the two families should exchange homeworlds, so that the Atreides get Arrakis, source of the spice vital to the workings of the empire, and so of immense wealth. A just reward for moral behaviour? - no, Leto sees clearly that it is a trap, which may mean the end of the Atreides family.

Indeed Paul and his mother Jessica have to escape to the inhospitable desert of Arrakis, which is occupied only by the secretive and dangerous Fremen population. Until now the Fremen people have been considered to be of little importance in galactic affairs, but that is about to change.

Although Dune is clearly in the science fiction category, it is nothing like the space opera that this suggests. Technology plays a minor role in the story, and much of what happens is more akin to magic. The book can be confusing, with the constant intrugues between different factions, and it's the sort of book which may need to be read several times to make sense of it - but it's such a classic work that this is worth the effort.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews