Dune (novel)

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Dune-Frank Herbert (1965) First edition.jpg
First edition cover
Author Frank Herbert
Audio read by
Cover artist John Schoenherr
CountryUnited States
Series Dune series
Genre Science fiction [1]
PublishedAugust 1965
Publisher Chilton Books
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Followed by Dune Messiah  

Dune is a 1965 science fiction novel by American author Frank Herbert, originally published as two separate serials in Analog magazine. It tied with Roger Zelazny's This Immortal for the Hugo Award in 1966, [2] and it won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. [3] It is the first installment of the Dune saga, and in 2003 was cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel. [4] [5]


Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. While the planet is an inhospitable and sparsely populated desert wasteland, it is the only source of melange, or "the spice", a drug that extends life and enhances mental abilities. Melange is also necessary for space navigation, which requires a kind of multidimensional awareness and foresight that only the drug provides. [6] As melange can only be produced on Arrakis, control of the planet is thus a coveted and dangerous undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the factions of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its spice. [7]

Herbert wrote five sequels: Dune Messiah , Children of Dune , God Emperor of Dune , Heretics of Dune , and Chapterhouse: Dune . The first novel also inspired a 1984 film adaptation by David Lynch, the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune and its 2003 sequel Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (which combines the events of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune), a series of computer games, a board game, songs, and a series of followups, including prequels and sequels, that were co-written by Kevin J. Anderson and the author's son, Brian Herbert, starting in 1999. [8] A new film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020.

Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-life nomenclature of plains and other features on Saturn's moon Titan. [9] [10] [11]


The Oregon Dunes, near Florence, Oregon, served as an inspiration for the Dune saga. USA Oregon Dunes.jpg
The Oregon Dunes, near Florence, Oregon, served as an inspiration for the Dune saga.

After his novel The Dragon in the Sea was published in 1957, Herbert traveled to Florence, Oregon, at the north end of the Oregon Dunes. Here, the United States Department of Agriculture was attempting to use poverty grasses to stabilize the sand dunes. Herbert claimed in a letter to his literary agent, Lurton Blassingame, that the moving dunes could "swallow whole cities, lakes, rivers, highways." [12] Herbert's article on the dunes, "They Stopped the Moving Sands", was never completed (and only published decades later in The Road to Dune ) but its research sparked Herbert's interest in ecology.

Herbert spent the next five years researching, writing, and revising. He published a three-part serial Dune World in the monthly Analog , from December 1963 to February 1964. The serial was accompanied by several illustrations that were not published again. After an interval of a year, he published the much slower-paced five-part The Prophet of Dune in the January – May 1965 issues. [13] [14] The first serial became "Book 1: Dune" in the final published Dune novel, and the second serial was divided into "Book Two: Muad'dib" and "Book Three: The Prophet". The serialized version was expanded, reworked, and submitted to more than twenty publishers, each of whom rejected it. The novel, Dune, was finally accepted and published in August 1965 by Chilton Books, a printing house better known for publishing auto repair manuals. [15]

Herbert dedicated his work "to the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'—to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration."[ citation needed ]


Duke Leto Atreides of the House Atreides, ruler of the ocean planet Caladan, is assigned by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV to manage the harvesting of melange on the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is a harsh and inhospitable desert planet, and is the only source of melange, or "the spice", an extremely rare and valuable substance that extends human life and enhances mental capabilities. Leto is aware that this assignment is a trap of some kind, but he cannot refuse. Shaddam sees House Atreides as a rival among the other Great Houses in the Landsraad, and conspires with House Harkonnen, the longstanding enemies of House Atreides, to destroy Leto once he arrives on Arrakis. Leto's concubine Lady Jessica is an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit, an exclusively female group that pursues mysterious political aims and wields physical powers that appear superhuman. Though Jessica had been instructed by the Bene Gesserit to bear a daughter as part of their breeding program, out of love for Leto she bore a son, Paul. Paul is trained in warfare by Leto's aides, the Mentat assassin Thufir Hawat and elite soldiers Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck to prepare for Arrakis. Jessica also trained Paul in what Bene Gesserit disciplines she can, and his prophetic dreams interest Jessica's superior, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Leto, Jessica and Paul travel with their household to occupy the stronghold on Arrakis formerly held by House Harkonnen. Leto learns of the danger involved in harvesting the spice, which is protected by giant sandworms, and negotiates with the planet's native Fremen people, seeing them as a valuable ally rather than foes.

Harkonnen forces, joined by the Emperor's ferocious Sardaukar troops in disguise, attack the Atreides. Leto is betrayed by his personal physician, Suk doctor Wellington Yueh, who delivers a drugged Leto to the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and his twisted Mentat, Piter De Vries. Yueh, however, arranges for Jessica and Paul to escape into the desert, and they are presumed dead by the Harkonnens. Yueh replaces one of Leto's teeth with a poison capsule, hoping Leto can kill the Baron during their encounter, but Harkonnen narrowly avoids the gas, which instead kills Leto and De Vries. The Baron forces Hawat to take over De Vries' position; while he follows the Baron's orders, Hawat works out how to undermine the Harkonnens. After fleeing into the desert, Paul realizes he has significant powers as an accidental result of the Bene Gesserit breeding scheme, inadvertently caused by Jessica bearing a son. He foresees futures in which he lives among the planet's native Fremen, and has a vision where he is informed of the addictive qualities of the spice. Paul and Jessica are accepted into the Fremen community of Sietch Tabr, and teach the Fremen the Bene Gesserit fighting technique known as the "weirding way". Paul proves his manhood and chooses his Fremen name of Muad'Dib. Jessica opts to undergo the ritual to become a Reverend Mother by drinking the poisonous Water of Life. Pregnant with Leto's daughter, she inadvertently causes the unborn child, Alia, to become infused with the same powers in the womb. Paul takes a Fremen lover, Chani, and has a son with her, Leto II. Two years pass, and Paul's powerful prescience abilities have manifested, which lead the Fremen to consider him their Mahdi (messiah). Paul recognizes that the Fremen can be a powerful fighting force to take back Arrakis, but also sees that if he does not control them, their jihad could extend to the entire universe. Word about this new Fremen leader Muad'Dib reaches both Baron Harkonnen and the Emperor as spice production falls due to increasingly destructive Fremen raids.

The Baron decides to replace his more brutish nephew Glossu Rabban with his shrewd nephew Feyd-Rautha, hoping to gain favor with the Fremen. The Emperor suspects the Baron of trying to create troops more powerful than the Sardaukar to seize power, and sends spies to monitor activity on Arrakis. Hawat uses the opportunity to sow seeds of doubt in the Baron about the Emperor's true plans, putting further strain on their alliance. Gurney Halleck has reunited with Paul and Jessica. Believing Jessica to be the Atreides traitor, Gurney threatens to kill her, but is stopped by Paul. However, Paul had not foreseen Gurney's attack, and believes he must increase his prescience by drinking the Water of Life, which has always been fatal to men. Paul falls into unconsciousness for several weeks after drinking the Water, but when he wakes, he has clairvoyance across time and space—he has become the Kwisatz Haderach, the goal of the Bene Gesserit breeding program. It is also revealed that Jessica is the secret daughter of the Baron Harkonnen. Paul senses that the Emperor and Baron are amassing fleets around Arrakis to quell the Fremen rebellion, and prepares the Fremen for a major offensive against the Harkonnen troops. The Emperor arrives with the Baron on Arrakis, and their combined troops seize a Fremen outpost, killing many including Leto II, while Alia is captured and taken to the Baron. She remains defiant, putting her trust in her brother and revealing that Muad'Dib is Paul. At that moment, Paul and the Fremen, riding giant sandworms, assault the capital, and Alia assassinates the Baron and escapes. Paul and the Fremen quickly defeat the Harkonnen and Sardaukar troops. Paul faces the Emperor and threatens to destroy spice production forever unless the Emperor abdicates the throne. Feyd-Rautha attempts to stop Paul by challenging him to a knife battle, but Paul gains the upper hand and kills him. The Emperor reluctantly cedes the throne to Paul and promises his daughter, Princess Irulan's, hand in marriage. As Paul takes control of the Empire, he realizes that while he achieved his goal, he is no longer able to stop the Fremen jihad, as their belief in him is too powerful to restrain.


House Atreides
House Harkonnen
House Corrino
Bene Gesserit

Themes and influences

The Dune series is a landmark of soft science fiction. Herbert deliberately suppressed technology in his Dune universe so he could address the politics of humanity, rather than the future of humanity's technology. Dune considers the way humans and their institutions might change over time. [1] Director John Harrison, who adapted Dune for Syfy's 2000 miniseries, called the novel a universal and timeless reflection of "the human condition and its moral dilemmas", and said:

A lot of people refer to Dune as science fiction. I never do. I consider it an epic adventure in the classic storytelling tradition, a story of myth and legend not unlike the Morte d'Arthur or any messiah story. It just happens to be set in the future ... The story is actually more relevant today than when Herbert wrote it. In the 1960s, there were just these two colossal superpowers duking it out. Today we're living in a more feudal, corporatized world more akin to Herbert's universe of separate families, power centers and business interests, all interrelated and kept together by the one commodity necessary to all. [16]

Herbert said Paul's messiah figure was inspired by the Arthurian legend, [17] and that the scarcity of water on Arrakis was a metaphor for oil, as well as air and water itself, and for the shortages of resources caused by overpopulation. [18] Novelist Brian Herbert, his son and biographer, wrote:

Dune is a modern-day conglomeration of familiar myths, a tale in which great sandworms guard a precious treasure of melange, the geriatric spice that represents, among other things, the finite resource of oil. The planet Arrakis features immense, ferocious worms that are like dragons of lore, with "great teeth" and a "bellows breath of cinnamon." This resembles the myth described by an unknown English poet in Beowulf , the compelling tale of a fearsome fire dragon who guarded a great treasure hoard in a lair under cliffs, at the edge of the sea. The desert of Frank Herbert’s classic novel is a vast ocean of sand, with giant worms diving into the depths, the mysterious and unrevealed domain of Shai-hulud. Dune tops are like the crests of waves, and there are powerful sandstorms out there, creating extreme danger. On Arrakis, life is said to emanate from the Maker (Shai-hulud) in the desert-sea; similarly all life on Earth is believed to have evolved from our oceans. Frank Herbert drew parallels, used spectacular metaphors, and extrapolated present conditions into world systems that seem entirely alien at first blush. But close examination reveals they aren’t so different from systems we know…and the book characters of his imagination are not so different from people familiar to us. [19]

Each chapter of Dune begins with an epigraph excerpted from the fictional writings of the character Princess Irulan. In forms such as diary entries, historical commentary, biography, quotations and philosophy, these writings set tone and provide exposition, context and other details intended to enhance understanding of Herbert's complex fictional universe and themes. [20] [21] [22] Brian Herbert wrote: "Dad told me that you could follow any of the novel's layers as you read it, and then start the book all over again, focusing on an entirely different layer. At the end of the book, he intentionally left loose ends and said he did this to send the readers spinning out of the story with bits and pieces of it still clinging to them, so that they would want to go back and read it again." [23]

Environmentalism and ecology

Dune has been called the "first planetary ecology novel on a grand scale". [24] After the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, science fiction writers began treating the subject of ecological change and its consequences. Dune responded in 1965 with its complex descriptions of Arrakis life, from giant sandworms (for whom water is deadly) to smaller, mouse-like life forms adapted to live with limited water. Dune was followed in its creation of complex and unique ecologies by other science fiction books such as A Door into Ocean (1986) and Red Mars (1992). [24] Environmentalists have pointed out that Dune's popularity as a novel depicting a planet as a complex—almost living—thing, in combination with the first images of Earth from space being published in the same time period, strongly influenced environmental movements such as the establishment of the international Earth Day. [25]

Declining empires

Lorenzo DiTommaso compared Dune's portrayal of the downfall of a galactic empire to Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which argued that Christianity allied with the profligacy of the Roman elite led to the fall of Ancient Rome. In "History and Historical Effect in Frank Herbert's Dune" (1992), DiTommaso outlines similarities between the two works by highlighting the excesses of the Emperor on his home planet of Kaitain and of the Baron Harkonnen in his palace. The Emperor loses his effectiveness as a ruler through an excess of ceremony and pomp. The hairdressers and attendants he brings with him to Arrakis are even referred to as "parasites". The Baron Harkonnen is similarly corrupt, materially indulgent, and a sexual degenerate. Gibbon's Decline and Fall partly blames the fall of Rome on the rise of Christianity. Gibbon claimed that this exotic import from a conquered province weakened the soldiers of Rome and left it open to attack. Similarly, the Emperor's Sardaukar fighters are little match for the Fremen of Dune because of the Sardaukar's overconfidence and the Fremen's capacity for self-sacrifice. The Fremen put the community before themselves in every instance, while the world outside wallows in luxury at the expense of others. [26]

The decline and long peace of the Empire sets the stage for revolution and renewal by genetic mixing of successful and unsuccessful groups through war, a process culminating in the Jihad led by Paul Atreides, described by Frank Herbert as depicting "war as a collective orgasm" (drawing on Norman Walter's 1950 The Sexual Cycle of Human Warfare), [27] [28] themes that would reappear in God Emperor of Dune 's Scattering and Leto II's all-female Fish Speaker army.

Middle-Eastern and Islamic references

Due to the similarities between some of Herbert's terms and ideas and actual words and concepts in the Arabic language, as well as the series' "Islamic undertones" and themes, a Middle-Eastern influence on Herbert's works has been noted repeatedly. [29] [30] In addition to Arabic, Dune derives words and names from multiple other languages, including Hebrew, Navajo, Latin, Chakobsa, the Nahuatl dialect of the Aztecs, Greek, Persian, East Indian, Russian, Turkish, Finnish, and Old English. [31]

As a foreigner who adopts the ways of a desert-dwelling people and then leads them in a military capacity, Paul Atreides bears many similarities to the historical T. E. Lawrence. [32] His 1962 biopic Lawrence of Arabia has also been identified as a potential influence. [33] Lesley Blanch's novel The Sabres of Paradise (1960) has also been identified as a potential influence upon Dune, with its depiction of Imam Shamil and the Islamic culture of the Caucasus inspiring some of the themes, characters, events and terminology of Dune. [34]

The environment of the desert planet Arrakis is similar to the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf, as well as Mexico. The novel also contains references to the petroleum industries in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf as well as Mexico. [35] The Fremen people of Arrakis were influenced by the Bedouin tribes of Arabia, and the Mahdi (messiah) prophecy originates from Islamic eschatology. [6]

Gender dynamics

Paul's approach to power consistently requires his upbringing under the matriarchal Bene Gesserit, who operate as a long-dominating shadow government behind all of the great houses and their marriages or divisions. A central theme of the book is the connection, in Jessica's son, of this female aspect with his male aspect. In a Bene Gesserit test early in the book, it is implied that people are generally "inhuman" in that they irrationally place desire over self-interest and reason.[ citation needed ] This applies Herbert's philosophy that humans are not created equal, while equal justice and equal opportunity are higher ideals than mental, physical, or moral equality. [36] Margery Hourihan called the main character's mother, Jessica, "by far the most interesting character in the novel" [37] and pointed out that while her son approaches a power which makes him almost alien to the reader, she remains human. Throughout the novel, Jessica struggles to maintain power in a male-dominated society, and manages to help her son at key moments in his realization of power. [37]


I am showing you the superhero syndrome and your own participation in it.

Frank Herbert [38]

Throughout Paul's rise to superhuman status, he follows a plotline common to many stories describing the birth of a hero. He has unfortunate circumstances forced onto him. After a long period of hardship and exile, he confronts and defeats the source of evil in his tale. [39] [40] As such, Dune is representative of a general trend beginning in 1960s American science fiction in that it features a character who attains godlike status through scientific means. [41] Eventually, Paul Atreides gains a level of omniscience which allows him to take over the planet and the galaxy, and causes the Fremen of Arrakis to worship him like a god. Author Frank Herbert said in 1979, "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes." [42] He wrote in 1985, "Dune was aimed at this whole idea of the infallible leader because my view of history says that mistakes made by a leader (or made in a leader's name) are amplified by the numbers who follow without question." [43]

Juan A. Prieto-Pablos says Herbert achieves a new typology with Paul's superpowers, differentiating the heroes of Dune from earlier heroes such as Superman, van Vogt's Gilbert Gosseyn and Henry Kuttner's telepaths. Unlike previous superheroes who acquire their powers suddenly and accidentally, Paul's are the result of "painful and slow personal progress." And unlike other superheroes of the 1960s—who are the exception among ordinary people in their respective worlds—Herbert's characters grow their powers through "the application of mystical philosophies and techniques." For Herbert, the ordinary person can develop incredible fighting skills (Fremen, Ginaz swordsmen and Sardaukar) or mental abilities (Bene Gesserit, Mentats, Spacing Guild Navigators). [44]

Zen and religion

Early in his newspaper career, Herbert was introduced to Zen by two Jungian psychologists, Ralph and Irene Slattery, who "gave a crucial boost to his thinking". [45] Zen teachings ultimately had "a profound and continuing influence on [Herbert's] work". [45] Throughout the Dune series and particularly in Dune, Herbert employs concepts and forms borrowed from Zen Buddhism. [45] [46] The Fremen are Zensunni adherents, and many of Herbert's epigraphs are Zen-spirited. [47] In "Dune Genesis", Frank Herbert wrote:

What especially pleases me is to see the interwoven themes, the fuguelike relationships of images that exactly replay the way Dune took shape. As in an Escher lithograph, I involved myself with recurrent themes that turn into paradox. The central paradox concerns the human vision of time. What about Paul's gift of prescience-the Presbyterian fixation? For the Delphic Oracle to perform, it must tangle itself in a web of predestination. Yet predestination negates surprises and, in fact, sets up a mathematically enclosed universe whose limits are always inconsistent, always encountering the unprovable. It's like a koan, a Zen mind breaker. It's like the Cretan Epimenides saying, "All Cretans are liars." [36]

Brian Herbert called the Dune universe "a spiritual melting pot", noting that his father incorporated elements of a variety of religions, including Buddhism, Sufi mysticism and other Islamic belief systems, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Hinduism. [48] He added that Frank Herbert's fictional future in which "religious beliefs have combined into interesting forms" represents the author's solution to eliminating arguments between religions, each of which claimed to have "the one and only revelation." [48]


Tim O'Reilly suggests that Herbert also wrote Dune as a counterpoint to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. In his monograph on Frank Herbert, O'Reilly wrote that "Dune is clearly a commentary on the Foundation trilogy. Herbert has taken a look at the same imaginative situation that provoked Asimov's classic—the decay of a galactic empire—and restated it in a way that draws on different assumptions and suggests radically different conclusions. The twist he has introduced into Dune is that the Mule, not the Foundation, is his hero." [49]

Critical reception

Dune tied with Roger Zelazny's This Immortal for the Hugo Award in 1966, [2] and won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. [3] Reviews of the novel have been largely positive, and Dune is considered by some critics to be the best science fiction book ever written. [50] The novel has been translated into dozens of languages, and has sold almost 20 million copies. [51] Dune has been regularly cited as one of the world's best-selling science fiction novels. [4] [5]

Arthur C. Clarke described Dune as "unique" and wrote, "I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings ." [52] Robert A. Heinlein described the novel as "powerful, convincing, and most ingenious." [52] [53] It was described as "one of the monuments of modern science fiction" by the Chicago Tribune , [52] and P. Schuyler Miller called Dune "one of the landmarks of modern science fiction ... an amazing feat of creation." [53] The Washington Post described it as "a portrayal of an alien society more complete and deeply detailed than any other author in the field has managed ... a story absorbing equally for its action and philosophical vistas ... An astonishing science fiction phenomenon." [52] [53] Algis Budrys praised Dune for the vividness of its imagined setting, saying "The time lives. It breathes, it speaks, and Herbert has smelt it in his nostrils". He found that the novel, however, "turns flat and tails off at the end. ... [T]ruly effective villains simply simper and melt; fierce men and cunning statesmen and seeresses all bend before this new Messiah". Budrys faulted in particular Herbert's decision to kill Paul's infant son offstage, with no apparent emotional impact, saying "you cannot be so busy saving a world that you cannot hear an infant shriek". [54] After criticizing unrealistic science fiction, Carl Sagan in 1978 listed Dune as among stories "that are so tautly constructed, so rich in the accommodating details of an unfamiliar society that they sweep me along before I have even a chance to be critical". [55]

The Louisville Times wrote, "Herbert's creation of this universe, with its intricate development and analysis of ecology, religion, politics, and philosophy, remains one of the supreme and seminal achievements In science fiction." [53] Writing for The New Yorker , Jon Michaud praises Herbert's "clever authorial decision" to exclude robots and computers ("two staples of the genre") from his fictional universe, but suggests that this may be one explanation why Dune lacks "true fandom among science-fiction fans" to the extent that it "has not penetrated popular culture in the way that The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have". [56] Tamara I. Hladik wrote that the story "crafts a universe where lesser novels promulgate excuses for sequels. All its rich elements are in balance and plausible—not the patchwork confederacy of made-up languages, contrived customs, and meaningless histories that are the hallmark of so many other, lesser novels." [57]

On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed Dune on its list of the 100 most influential novels. [58]

First edition prints and manuscripts

The first edition of Dune is one of the most valuable in science fiction book collecting, and copies have gone for more than $10,000 at auction. [59] The Chilton first edition of the novel is 9.25 inches tall, with bluish green boards and a price of $5.95 on the dust jacket, and notes Toronto as the Canadian publisher on the copyright page. Up to this point, Chilton had been publishing only automobile repair manuals. [60] Other editions similar to this one, such as book club editions, exist.[ citation needed ]

California State University, Fullerton's Pollack Library has several of Herbert's draft manuscripts of Dune and other works, with the author's notes, in their Frank Herbert Archives. [61]


Early stalled attempts

In 1971, the production company Apjac International (APJ) (headed by Arthur P. Jacobs) optioned the rights to film Dune. As Jacobs was busy with other projects, such as the sequel to Planet of the Apes , Dune was delayed for another year. Jacobs' first choice for director was David Lean, but he turned down the offer. Charles Jarrott was also considered to direct. Work was also under way on a script while the hunt for a director continued. Initially, the first treatment had been handled by Robert Greenhut, the producer who had lobbied Jacobs to make the movie in the first place, but subsequently Rospo Pallenberg was approached to write the script, with shooting scheduled to begin in 1974. However, Jacobs died in 1973. [62]

Pre-release flyer for Jodorowsky's Dune Jodorowskys Dune.jpg
Pre-release flyer for Jodorowsky's Dune

In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights from APJ, with Alejandro Jodorowsky set to direct. [63] In 1975, Jodorowsky planned to film the story as a 10-hour feature, set to star his own son Brontis Jodorowsky in the lead role of Paul Atreides, Salvador Dalí as Shaddam IV, Padishah Emperor, Amanda Lear as Princess Irulan, Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Gloria Swanson as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, David Carradine as Duke Leto Atreides, Geraldine Chaplin as Lady Jessica, Alain Delon as Duncan Idaho, Hervé Villechaize as Gurney Halleck, Udo Kier as Piter De Vries, and Mick Jagger as Feyd-Rautha. It was at first proposed to score the film with original music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Henry Cow, and Magma; later on, the soundtrack was to be provided by Pink Floyd. [64] Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, a British artist who designed covers for science fiction periodicals, Jean Giraud (Moebius), a French illustrator who created and also wrote and drew for Metal Hurlant magazine, and H. R. Giger. [63] Moebius began designing creatures and characters for the film, while Foss was brought in to design the film's space ships and hardware. [63] Giger began designing the Harkonnen Castle based on Moebius's storyboards. Dan O'Bannon was to head the special effects department. [63]

Dalí was cast as the Emperor. [63] Dalí later demanded to be paid $100,000 per hour; Jodorowsky agreed, but tailored Dalí's part to be filmed in one hour, drafting plans for other scenes of the emperor to use a mechanical mannequin as substitute for Dalí. [63] According to Giger, Dalí was "later invited to leave the film because of his pro-Franco statements". [65] Just as the storyboards, designs, and script were finished, the financial backing dried up. Frank Herbert traveled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production, and that Jodorowsky's script would result in a 14-hour movie ("It was the size of a phone book", Herbert later recalled). Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship. Jodorowsky said in 1985 that he found the Dune story mythical and had intended to recreate it rather than adapt the novel; though he had an "enthusiastic admiration" for Herbert, Jodorowsky said he had done everything possible to distance the author and his input from the project. [63] Although Jodorowsky was embittered by the experience, he said the Dune project changed his life, and some of the ideas were used in his and Moebius's The Incal . [66] O'Bannon entered a psychiatric hospital after the production failed, then worked on 13 scripts, the last of which became Alien . [63] A 2013 documentary, Jodorowsky's Dune , was made about Jodorowsky's failed attempt at an adaptation.

In 1976, Dino De Laurentiis acquired the rights from Gibon's consortium. De Laurentiis commissioned Herbert to write a new screenplay in 1978; the script Herbert turned in was 175 pages long, the equivalent of nearly three hours of screen time. De Laurentiis then hired director Ridley Scott in 1979, with Rudy Wurlitzer writing the screenplay and H. R. Giger retained from the Jodorowsky production; Scott and Giger had also just worked together on the film Alien, after O'Bannon recommended the artist. [67] [68] Scott intended to split the novel into two movies. He worked on three drafts of the script, using The Battle of Algiers as a point of reference, before moving on to direct another science fiction film, Blade Runner (1982). As he recalls, the pre-production process was slow, and finishing the project would have been even more time-intensive:

But after seven months I dropped out of Dune, by then Rudy Wurlitzer had come up with a first-draft script which I felt was a decent distillation of Frank Herbert's. But I also realised Dune was going to take a lot more work—at least two and a half years' worth. And I didn't have the heart to attack that because my older brother Frank unexpectedly died of cancer while I was prepping the De Laurentiis picture. Frankly, that freaked me out. So I went to Dino and told him the Dune script was his.

—From Ridley Scott: The Making of his Movies by Paul M. Sammon

1984 film by David Lynch

In 1981, the nine-year film rights were set to expire. De Laurentiis re-negotiated the rights from the author, adding to them the rights to the Dune sequels (written and unwritten). After seeing The Elephant Man , De Laurentiis' daughter Raffaella decided that David Lynch should direct the movie. Around that time Lynch received several other directing offers, including Return of the Jedi . He agreed to direct Dune and write the screenplay even though he had not read the book, known the story, or even been interested in science fiction. [69] Lynch worked on the script for six months with Eric Bergen and Christopher De Vore. The team yielded two drafts of the script before it split over creative differences. Lynch would subsequently work on five more drafts.

This first film of Dune, directed by Lynch, was released in 1984, nearly 20 years after the book's publication. Though Herbert said the book's depth and symbolism seemed to intimidate many filmmakers, he was pleased with the film, saying that "They've got it. It begins as Dune does. And I hear my dialogue all the way through. There are some interpretations and liberties, but you're gonna come out knowing you've seen Dune." [70] Reviews of the film were not as favorable, saying that it was incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the book, and that fans would be disappointed by the way it strayed from the book's plot. [71]

2000 miniseries by John Harrison

In 2000, John Harrison adapted the novel into Frank Herbert's Dune , a miniseries which premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel. [16] As of 2004, the miniseries was one of the three highest-rated programs broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel. [72]

Further film attempts

In 2008, Paramount Pictures announced that they would produce a new film based on the book, with Peter Berg attached to direct. [73] Producer Kevin Misher, who spent a year securing the rights from the Herbert estate, was to be joined by Richard Rubinstein and John Harrison (of both Sci Fi Channel miniseries) as well as Sarah Aubrey and Mike Messina. [73] The producers stated that they were going for a "faithful adaptation" of the novel, and considered "its theme of finite ecological resources particularly timely." [73] Science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and Frank Herbert's son Brian Herbert, who had together written multiple Dune sequels and prequels since 1999, were attached to the project as technical advisors. [74] In October 2009, Berg dropped out of the project, later saying that it "for a variety of reasons wasn't the right thing" for him. [75] Subsequently, with a script draft by Joshua Zetumer, Paramount reportedly sought a new director who could do the film for under $175 million. [76] In 2010, Pierre Morel was signed on to direct, with screenwriter Chase Palmer incorporating Morel's vision of the project into Zetumer's original draft. [77] [78] By November 2010, Morel left the project. [79] Paramount finally dropped plans for a remake in March 2011. [80]

2020 film by Denis Villeneuve

In November 2016, Legendary Entertainment acquired the film and TV rights for Dune. [81] [82] Variety reported in December 2016 that Denis Villeneuve was in negotiations to direct the project, [83] which was confirmed in February 2017. [84] In April 2017, Legendary announced that Eric Roth would write the screenplay. [85] Villeneuve explained in March 2018 that his adaptation will be split into two films, with the first installment scheduled to begin production in 2019. [86] Casting includes Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, [87] Dave Bautista as Rabban, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen, [88] Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, [89] Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam, [90] Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, [91] Zendaya as Chani, [92] Javier Bardem as Stilgar, [93] Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, [94] Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, [95] David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, [96] Chang Chen as Dr. Yueh, [97] and Stephen Henderson as Thufir Hawat. [98] Warner Bros. will distribute the film, which will be released on December 18, 2020. [99]


In 1993, Recorded Books Inc. released a 20-disc audio book narrated by George Guidall. In 2007, Audio Renaissance released an audio book narrated by Simon Vance with some parts performed by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, and other performers.

Cultural influence

Dune has been widely influential, inspiring numerous novels, music, films (including Star Wars ), television, games, and comic books. [100] It is considered one of the greatest and most influential science fiction novels of all time, with numerous modern science fiction works such as Star Wars owing their existence to Dune. [6] Dune has also been referenced in numerous other works of popular culture, including Star Trek , The Kingkiller Chronicle , and Futurama . [101] Dune was cited as a major source of inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki's anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). [102]

Real world extraterrestrial locations have been named after elements from the novel and its sequels. Dune was parodied in 1984's National Lampoon's Doon by Ellis Weiner, which William F. Touponce called "something of a tribute to Herbert's success on college campuses", noting that "the only other book to have been so honored is Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ," which was parodied by The Harvard Lampoon in 1969. [103]



There have been a number of games based on the book, starting with the strategy adventure game Dune (1992). The most important game adaptation is Dune II (1992), which established the conventions of modern real-time strategy games and is considered to be among the most influential video games of all time. [117]

The online game Lost Souls includes Dune-derived elements, including sandworms and melange—addiction to which can produce psychic talents. [118] The 2016 game Enter the Gungeon features the spice melange as a random item which gives the player progressively stronger abilities and penalties with repeated uses, mirroring the long-term effects melange has on users. [119]

Rick Priestley cites Dune as a major influence on his 1987 wargame, Warhammer 40,000 . [120]

Space exploration

The Apollo 15 astronauts named a small crater after the novel during the 1971 mission, [121] and the name was formally adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1973. [122] Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-world nomenclature of plains and other features on Saturn's moon Titan. [9] [10] [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Children of Dune</i> Novel by Frank Herbert

Children of Dune is a 1976 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, the third in his Dune series of six novels. It was originally serialized in Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 1976, and was the last Dune novel to be serialized before book publication.

Vladimir Harkonnen fictional character from Dune

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is a fictional character from the Dune franchise created by Frank Herbert. He is primarily featured in the 1965 novel Dune and is also a prominent character in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The character is brought back as a ghola in the Herbert/Anderson sequels which conclude the original series, Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007).

Paul Atreides fictional character from Dune

Paul Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Paul is a prominent character in the first two novels in the series, Dune (1965) and Dune Messiah (1969), and returns in Children of Dune (1976). The character is brought back as two different gholas in the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson novels which conclude the original series, Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007), and appears in the prequels Paul of Dune (2008) and The Winds of Dune (2009). According to Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert's son and biographer, House Atreides was based on the heroic but ill-fated Greek mythological House Atreus.

<i>Dune</i> (1984 film) 1984 film

Dune is a 1984 American epic science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch and based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as young nobleman Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed at the Churubusco Studios in Mexico City and included a soundtrack by the rock band Toto, as well as Brian Eno.

Shaddam IV fictional character from Dune

Shaddam IV of House Corrino is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe in Herbert's 1965 novel Dune. Shaddam's accession to the throne is chronicled in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999-2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and he later appears in the prequel series Heroes of Dune (2008–2009).

Fremen Fictional group of people in the Dune franchise created by Frank Herbert

The Fremen are a group of people in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. First appearing in the 1965 novel Dune, the Fremen inhabit the desert planet Arrakis, which is the sole known source in the universe of the all-important spice melange. Long overlooked by the rest of the Imperium and considered backward savages, in reality they are an extremely hardy people and exist in large numbers. The Fremen had come to the planet thousands of years before the events of the novel as the Zensunni Wanderers, a religious sect in retreat. As humans in extremis, over time they adapted their culture and way of life to survive and thrive in the incredibly harsh conditions of Arrakis. The Fremen are distinguished by their fierce fighting abilities and adeptness at survival in these conditions. With water being such a rare commodity on the planet, their culture revolves around its preservation and conservation. Herbert based Fremen culture, in part, on the desert-dwelling Bedouin and San People.

Arrakis Fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series

Arrakis —informally known as Dune and later called Rakis—is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert. Herbert's first novel in the series, 1965's Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and it is sometimes cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history.

Lady Jessica Fictional character from Dune

Lady Jessica is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. A main character in the 1965 novel Dune, Jessica also plays an important role in the later installment Children of Dune (1976). The events surrounding Jessica's conception, her birth and her early years with Leto are chronicled in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The character is brought back as a ghola in the Herbert/Anderson sequels which conclude the original series, Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007).

Alia Atreides fictional character from Dune

Alia Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Introduced in the first novel of the series, 1965's Dune, the character was originally killed in Herbert's first version of the manuscript. At the suggestion of Analog magazine editor John Campbell, Herbert kept her alive in the final draft. Alia would next appear as a main character in both Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976). The character is brought back as a ghola in the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson conclusion to the original series, Sandworms of Dune (2007).

Chani fictional character from Dune

Chani is a fictional character featured in Frank Herbert's novels Dune (1965) and Dune Messiah (1969). Known mainly as the Fremen wife and legal concubine of protagonist Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides, Chani is the daughter of Imperial Planetologist Liet-Kynes and his Fremen wife Faroula, and later the mother of the twins Ghanima and Leto II Atreides. The character is resurrected as a ghola and appears in Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's novels which complete the original series.

Princess Irulan fictional character from Dune

Princess Irulan is a fictional character and member of House Corrino in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. She first appears in Dune (1965), and is later featured in Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976). The character's birth and early childhood are touched upon in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and she is a principal character in the Herbert/Anderson series Heroes of Dune (2008–2009). Irulan has also appeared in all film and television adaptations of Herbert's Dune works.

Count Fenring

Count Hasimir Fenring is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is featured in the 1965 science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert, and is also a key character in the Prelude to Dune trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. He later appears in the 2008 novel Paul of Dune.

<i>Dune: House Harkonnen</i> novel by Kevin J. Anderson

Dune: House Harkonnen is a 2000 science fiction novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. It is the second book in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy, which takes place before the events of Frank Herbert's celebrated 1965 novel Dune. The Prelude to Dune novels draw from notes left behind by Frank Herbert after his death.

<i>Dune</i> (franchise) American science fiction media franchise

Dune is a science fiction media franchise that originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert and has continued to add new publications up to 2017. Dune is frequently cited as the best selling science fiction novel in history. It won the 1966 Hugo Award and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel, and was later adapted into a 1984 film and a 2000 television miniseries. Herbert wrote five sequels, and the first two were presented as a miniseries in 2003. The Dune universe has also inspired some traditional games and a series of video games. Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-world nomenclature of plains and other features on Saturn's moon Titan.

<i>Dune: House Atreides</i> novel by Kevin J. Anderson

Dune: House Atreides is a 1999 science fiction novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. It is the first book in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy, which takes place before the events of Frank Herbert's celebrated 1965 novel Dune. Bantam Books made a $3 million deal for the novels in 1997. The Prelude to Dune novels draw from notes left behind by Frank Herbert after his death.

<i>Paul of Dune</i> novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Paul of Dune is a 2008 science fiction novel written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Released on September 16, 2008, it is the first book in the Heroes of Dune series and chronicles events between Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) and Dune Messiah (1969), as well as between Dune and its 2001 Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson prequel, Dune: House Corrino.

Organizations of the <i>Dune</i> universe Wikimedia list article

Multiple organizations of the Dune universe dominate the political, religious, and social arena of the fictional setting of Frank Herbert's Dune series of science fiction novels, and derivative works. Set tens of thousands of years in the future, the saga chronicles a civilization which has banned computers but has also developed advanced technology and mental and physical abilities through physical training, eugenics and the use of the drug melange. Specialized groups of individuals have aligned themselves in organizations focusing on specific abilities, technology and goals. Herbert's concepts of human evolution and technology have been analyzed and deconstructed in at least one book, The Science of Dune (2008). His originating 1965 novel Dune is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history. Dune and its five sequels by Herbert explore the complex and multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology and technology, among other themes.

We've a three-point civilization: the Imperial Household balanced against the Federated Great Houses of the Landsraad, and between them, the Guild with its damnable monopoly on interstellar transport.


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Further reading