June 15, 2021

#08-097: Dune

color photo of a lonely area with sand dunes and grass, all below a very blue sky
These dunes in Oregon helped inspire the books

Note: When you gotta have spice, nothing else will do, so when House Atreides gains control of it, everyone comes gunning for them.

Get Ready: Part of the struggle in this story is between social classes. Do you think the "nobility" have an obligation to take care of the working class (here, the Fremen)?

Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel Dune is going to become a major film and a TV mini-series later this year.

Set far in the future, it takes place in a feudal intergalactic empire, which some have cited as a source of the "Star Wars" saga of George Lucas.

Paul Atreides, scion of the House Atreides, moves with his family to planet Arrakis, the only source of something called melange, but usually just referred to as "the spice." It is expensive, and grants youth, vitality, and an extended lifespan to its users.

The Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV sees House Atreides as a threat, and so conspires with another fiefdom, House Harkonnen, to destroy the Atreides family.

Paul's mother, Lady Jessica, deeply loves his father, Leto--so much that she gave birth to a son (Paul) against the orders of the mysterious and powerful order to which she belongs, the Bene Gesserit. This group wields great power in the empire, and Jessica has made enemies of them by her act of defiance.

Paul has been trained as a warrior, but his experiences on Arrakis change him. When the combined forces of Shaddam and Harkonnen capture Paul's father Leto, Paul and his mother flee to the desert, where the spice is harvested by the native Fremen people--and where it is guarded by ferocious giant sandworms. The Harkonnen cannot believe that Paul and Jessica could survive out there, and so presume they are dead.

There is a considerable amount of "Game of Thrones" style intrigue, but Paul's powers--the result of his mother being a Bene Gesserit--help him to cut through some of the lies. He learns in a vision that spice is an addictive drug, and that his mother, unbeknownst to her, is actually the daughter of his father's enemy, Baron Harkonnen.

Mother and son spend two years training soldiers among the Fremen, in turn learning the ways of the desert people. Paul has a son with a Fremen lover, and names him after his now-dead father: Leto II. Paul's powers grow until at last the Fremen consider him to be a long-awaited savior. (The Emperor and Baron Harkonnen hear rumors of this new leader.) He undergoes a ritual usually forbidden to males, the drinking of the Water of Life. He remains unconscious for several weeks, but awakes he with the power to see across time and space.

Through his powers, Paul learns of a plot by his enemies to destroy the Fremen, whose raids have been disrupting the spice trade. In the Emperor and Baron's attack, Paul's son Leto II is killed, and his sister Alia--who also has special powers--is captured.

Paul and the Fremen have managed to train the giant sandworms, and ride them to attack the capital as Alia assassinates the Baron. She escapes, and the Fremen handily defeat the Harkonnen and Emperor's troops.

At last, Paul faces the Emperor himself. He threatens to destroy the spice trade unless the Emperor abdicates, and after Paul prevails over the Emperor's champion in single combat, the Emperor does abdicate, and gives Paul his daughter's hand in marriage.

But the Fremen remain powerful, and Paul recognizes the threat they present, a challenge which will be played out in some of the book's five sequels.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(novel)

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. abdicate
  2. conspires
  3. disrupting
  4. fiefdom
  5. handily
  6. harvested
  7. intergalactic
  8. scion
  9. sequels
  10. vitality

  1. easily
  2. interfering with
  3. give up
  4. an heir
  5. a feudal estate
  6. spanning galaxies
  7. following works
  8. liveliness; vigor
  9. plots
  10. collected, like crops

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 15, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. i; 3. b; 4. e; 5. a; 6. j; 7. f; 8. d; 9. g; 10. h