Wow. Just, fucking wow.
I knew that Dune was widely considered to be the science fiction equivalent of The Lord of the Rings. I also knew it was the highest selling novel of all time in the genre. What I didn’t expect was for the book to actually exceed so lofty a reputation.
Dune is a true epic, a tale of adventure, mysticism and politics underpinned by timely environmental issues involving our relationships with natural resources. While I could easily spend this entire blog post lavishing it with praise, it’s suffice to say that this particular piece of Hebert’s work is referred to as a literary masterpiece for a reason.
When I first opened the book and gave a casual flip thought its contents, I discovered an assortment of additional materials beyond the novel itself. These included detailed appendices, glossaries and maps all created to further flesh out some of the more complex concepts within the universe Herbert had created. To put it lightly, it made something of an impression.
I’m currently writing what I would consider to be a rather far-flung fantasy novel, set in a place and time very different to our own. Due to the scale of the project, it’s been difficult to manage all the lore involved, resulting in me putting together a compendium of sorts as a reference tool. I’m finding that it continues to grow with my chapter count, so much so that I’m inclined to include some of it within the final product. My exposure to Herbet’s work has helped me understand how these elements can be not only used to supplement the story, but also enhance it.
Dune has a compelling narrative. Paul Atreides’s rise into the legendary prophet Muad’Dib could have easily been stripped back into a simpler tale and still earned its place as one of the science fiction greats. But what really sets it apart, what pushes it into the upper echelon of the genre is the details. No matter how wild or alien some of its concepts may be, all of them make perfect sense within the universe in which the story is set. Nothing feels irrational, or unjust. It fits. The result is far more than an interesting read. It’s the creation of place, a brand new reality birthed into existence.