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I’m re-reading the original Dune series because another is soon to come. (This post is long and rambling… don’t read it)

Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson are writing the 7th book, part 1 of which is due out later this month. It’s been so long since I’ve read the originals that I didn’t think I would remember enough for it to make sense. How could they write such a book? Well, they started writing prequels that took place a generation before Dune based on Frank Herbert’s notes. Then they wrote more prequels that take place about 10,000 years before Dune, during the war with the thinking machines. Some time while that was happening another safe deposit box was turned up that contained extensive notes and outlines on the final book so now here they are. Why is it in two parts? Well, Frank Herbert’s style is like the other authors of his time which leads to short and dense prose and isn’t given to lengthy descriptive passages and dialog. Dune even back then was 500 pages which was twice the size of other sci-fi novels of the time. If Dune were written today it would have been well over 1000 pages. I think it’s safe to say that being written by modern novelists it needs to be two volumes.

Completing my re-read last week I still feel this is one of the most amazing books I have read. It builds a time and place so completely in politics, economics, ecology, and sociology. I can’t even imagine how much time writing all the notes and backgrounds and histories must have taken before even writing this book, and it is now clear to me that writing that history is how it was done, with the appendices being just a few of these tidbits. I also appreciated the references to events that would happen in future books, like when Paul was telling Jessica that he was only a seed for what was to come and that she (and the Bene Gesserit) wouldn’t understand it until she witnessed it. That’s a pretty clear reference to God Emperor of Dune and the form Paul’s son has taken. I used to think the other books were tacked on to capitalize upon Dune, and perhaps they were, but they were also done with a plan in mind for a good portion of it.

Some interesting parts that I didn’t remember from the first read had to do with the spice bringing about prescient workings of the mind in anyone who takes it, but only a mind trained to handle it or naturally capable of it can make use of that information. The average person’s mind rejects what it cannot understand.

The fremen over time, through the spice and breeding have become more sensitive to the effects. They have a subconscious communication going on with one another which you see when Lady Jessica thinks about a cup of spice coffee and a minute later it appears.

There is a set-up for Count Fenring being prescient or having the latent ability, being one of the discarded lines leading to the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul cannot sense him anywhere he can sense a time line even though he can see those around him. In Dune Messiah it is further explained that those of prescient ability cannot see one another. Their viewing of time and space causes a warping as well that blocks others from seeing them. They can see where one has been and one might be, but not the one itself.

I forgot that Paul’s goal was to avoid Jihad. He puts off choices as long as he can to avoid an outcome that is almost certain, while still trying to gain revenge on the Harkonnens. However, it is this revenge that leads to the jihad that he wishes to avoid by having to train the fremen to his needs and making them feel powerful and showing them a way.

It’s stated early in the book that the Bene Gesserit continuum over the generations is one of politics. I didn’t really understand that as a kid but now it makes perfect sense. They are in all the highest levels of politics through out the imperium and they guide things the way they want them to go when they can.

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