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Dune: Threat or Menace? To reread or retire.


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#1 thistlepong

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:48 PM

So, like, Dune is excruciating. Some books hold up really well on reread, but the gnomic chapter intros, prophetic dreams, inner thoughts, and lack of affect are combining with previous experience in a really unpleasant way.

Is that the second time you've read Dune? it's one of those books I'll always be in the mood to read again although I think I've onlu read it 3 or 4 times. I just wish the rest of the books in the series were as good I just can't get into them atall.

I've never been able to finish Dune and I've tried, like, three times. The writing style is the main offender and I just cannot get past some of the quirks.

Dune was one of my greatest reading disappointments...it is staggering to me that it's some supposed foundation...

The only possible thing I can say in its defense is that it was the 60's and it played some part in forming genre literature.

I'm sorry if I've contributed to making this thread into a Dune commentary.

I hate you for this post. Start a thread so we can argue about this.

And Ep... really? This you like?


I've been working my way through the Hugo winners for best novel, rereading where I must and otherwise reading some stuff I'd never have picked up. Then I hit Dune, which, at least this time through, feels like one of their shields. I think I singed the pages reading through it (cough) years ago. Whahoppen?

Anyway, spew your vituperative bile, peterbound.

#2 Tears of Lys

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:49 PM

Just speaking for myself... (of course. Who ELSE would I be speaking for?!) ... I find Dune to be a little difficult to read all the way through again, which is saying something since I reread things 50 or more times just for the sheer enjoyment of reliving the experience. There are parts I find totally awesome, like when Paul encounters the gom jabbar. Maybe it's just the kind of book you can only experience once.

That said, I can reread God Emperor of Dune more than once. I find I get more out of it every time.

#3 Triskan

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:52 PM

I appreciate the separate thread.

Full disclosure: I only just got around to reading Dune in the last few months finishing it in late 2012. I thought it sucked pretty hard. There were plenty of great ideas, but the execution was what threw me. Spice? Desert planet? Empire? Spice guild? KH? BG? AotK? Suits that spare water? Worms? Thopters? Thumpers? All of that stuff was fine if not cool or inventive. But it just didn't work. It was, as a novel, something that I would suspect that most professors would mark the shit out of w/ a red pen. It seemed like a nascent OK idea that publisher had not cleaned up or something.

#4 Shryke

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:04 PM

I've actually been meaning to reread this recently.

I read it like 10 years ago (and the next ... I think 4 books?) and was not super impressed. I remember some interesting ideas, but the whole thing was opaque and I thought hte prose and dialogue were pretty bad.

I've been conducting a project of "reread shit that's famous but I didn't like when I read it like 10 years ago" recently and Dune and LOTR and MS&T are at the top of the list. We shall see how it goes this time.

#5 tzanth

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:26 PM

Wow... I haven't read this since I was a kid but it was certainly one of my favorites back then. I'm sure I read it more than a few times... Opaque language? Really?

#6 Durckad

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:31 PM

Since I never actually finished the book (I made it like 3/4 of the way last time and got distracted by something else) I feel as if I don't have the authority to properly criticize the book. That said, I think the ideas in Dune are the best part and probably why the book is so well-regarded. It's full of a bunch of weird ass ideas that are incredibly cool. However, the execution is really lacking. The prose is... awful with the constant switching between POV's and the overwrought inner monologues.

Maybe that's part of the style and appeal of the book, but it did not appeal to me.

#7 Marcus Cicero

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:21 AM

I thought the characters were offensively uninteresting, though I agree with the previously expressed sentiments of admiration for the book's ideas.

#8 Errant Bard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:22 AM

I read it when I was in high school, reread it many times since, and I still think it's awesome. I don't get the "opaque language" thing either. The god emperor of dune, on the other hand, I remember being the first book I didn't finish, back then. Messiah, Children and the like were just dull.

#9 sToNED_CAT

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:15 AM

I agree with the posters who said the book had much more potential. The writing style and some illogical things bring it down, but it had a lot of excellent ideas and it was really original sci-fi. While some people seem the like the writing style (mostly the same that like New Wave sci-fi), I think the book would have been much better, if it was written in classic 50ties plain style. The basic storyline and world was very well done.

#10 Ser Scot A Ellison

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:47 AM

Dune and the Dune series are some of my all time favorite novels (excluding those books not written by Frank Herbert that don't actually exist). They are great idea books with interesting philosophical discussions. Chapterhouse: Dune was the first hardback first print I ever bought.

#11 Myrddin

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:48 AM

I re-read Dune a few years ago and then read both Messiah and Children in years following.

Is the writing different than current novels? Yes.
Are the ideas more original and deeper than most stuff being pumped out? Yes.
Do those ideas feel a bit diluted because so many books have ripped off those ideas in the last 50 years? Yes.

If you read Dune, just know that your'e reading a classic. Like Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Macbeth, and Beowulf.

Like Lord of the Rings.

Don't expect an engaging character study as written by Martin, or whomever. But much of what you're reading now is built on the shoulders of Herbert (and Tolkien, and Fitzgerald, and Shelly, and Shakespeare DeVere, and some long dead German dudes.)

Edited by Myrddin, 22 January 2013 - 11:12 AM.


#12 PetrusOctavianus

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:08 PM

Great world building and lots of good ideas, but I disliked most of the characters, and the books too often degenerated into philosophical/political/religious essays, especially God Emperor, which was where I gave up on the series.

Edited by PetrusOctavianus, 22 January 2013 - 03:15 PM.


#13 Lummel

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

The ecology of it I think is great, there seemed to be a whole systems thinking thing going on to that I really enjoyed. On the otherhand the internal dialogue technique was for me very Clunkersaurus Rex.

I suppose overall I found it flawed, if you can cope with or over look it's weaker elements then there is plenty to enjoy, it seems to me to be classic big ideas SF. Equally I can quite understand that some readers may find the weaker aspect dominate the reading experience for them.

#14 Eponine

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:01 PM

I'm not a fan of historical genre concepts reading, so for me, Dune was "good" on some objective levels, but simply not very enjoyable. Part of it was the feeling that the author was trying to get me to feel a connection to the characters but failing. With old sci-fi, I usually don't mind the plain style or need to feel any more of a hook into often simplistic characters, as Anguy mentioned. The plot and the sci-fi elements are enough, so long as they're interesting in some way.

Is it worse to try to make interesting characters and fail than not to try? I don't know, from an artistic value standpoint, but as a reader, it was always in my way as a source of annoyance. And overall, it made the SFF elements less "believable" to me. You can tell me flat out that some crazy weird things are true in your story, and I'll believe you most times. You can convince me into the world through characters and worldbuilding, great. But if I start doubting the veracity of the characters as characters, I lose belief in the world as well. Because I "believe in" Bilbo Baggins, I can believe that he's a hobbit who lives in a world full of dwarves, elves, giant spiders and dragons. I mean, of course he does. And because I never really "believe in" Paul or Jessica or Leto, I always see spice, worms, etc. as being fictional constructs.

So it's not really a book I can say is "bad", just that I didn't enjoy reading it.

#15 ShowOverBooks

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

For fans of the series - I strongly recommend the Prequel series. Fascinating insight into the origin of most of the key institutions/structures of the setting. As well as coverage of the war against the machines.

I enjoyed them greatly.

#16 Mlle. Zabzie

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:36 PM

I haven't reread Dune in years. I remember really liking it in highschool. I've read it more than once, but I don't think I've reread it since i was 18 or so. I'm not so sure it would hold up on a reread, though I might try it just to see what would happen.

#17 thistlepong

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:39 PM

I haven't reread Dune in years. I remember really liking it in highschool. I've read it more than once, but I don't think I've reread it since i was 18 or so. I'm not so sure it would hold up on a reread, though I might try it just to see what would happen.


Was I even eighteen? I may have finished it in one long sitting. I was engrossed. At this point, though, I wouldn't recommend the reread. I'll keep the thread posted as I go, though.

I re-read Dune a few years ago and then read both Messiah and Children in years following.

Is the writing different than current novels? Yes.
Are the ideas more original and deeper than most stuff being pumped out? Yes.
Do those ideas feel a bit diluted because so many books have ripped off those ideas in the last 50 years? Yes.

If you read Dune, just know that your'e reading a classic. Like Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Macbeth, and Beowulf.

Like Lord of the Rings.

Don't expect an engaging character study as written by Martin, or whomever. But much of what you're reading now is built on the shoulders of Herbert (and Tolkien, and Fitzgerald, and Shelly, and Shakespeare DeVere, and some long dead German dudes.)


Yah, I' accustomed to moving backwards and dusting off where this comes from or where that intersected an author. I also managed to grapple with Dune early in my SF life. Like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not that the style is different. It's really not. He uses some smerps and deploys a ten dollar word here and there, but the language is otherwise plain. If anything's jarring it's the unmarked shifts from perspective to perspective. Since they're resolved almost immediately, it ends up being merely annoying that they're unmarked. Perhaps what you mean is that nowadays the perspective shift would be apparent because it would appear different when read; the characters would be realized in ways that highlighted a shifts from lens to lens.

The ideas were engaging the first time. There's just nothing new the second time. I remember everything and, if I didn't, he's telling me explicitly what's going to happen three or four different ways. Ultimately that may be my big issue. It was an indelible book that's now suffering due to it own staying power.

#18 Errant Bard

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:05 AM

For fans of the series - I strongly recommend the Prequel series. Fascinating insight into the origin of most of the key institutions/structures of the setting. As well as coverage of the war against the machines.

Aside from the fact that they were written by two hacks after the death and against the wishes of Franck Herbert, I was always told they were bad beyond imagination. Are you maybe joking?

I know that if they are anything like the Amber "prequels" then they don't exist as far as I am concerned.

#19 felice

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:53 AM

Are you maybe joking?


In combination with the Book Cover thread (not to mention the username!) I assume trolling.

#20 ShowOverBooks

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 04:42 AM

Aside from the fact that they were written by two hacks after the death and against the wishes of Franck Herbert, I was always told they were bad beyond imagination. Are you maybe joking?

Not joking. They are good.