One of the most iconic science fiction books is hands down Dune by Frank Herbert. The novel is credited for popularizing science fiction books and after reading it, it is easy to see why. Keep reading for a short summary and why you should read this classic novel!
Duke Leto Atreides of House Atreides, the ruler of Caladan, is being relocated to serve as ruler of Arrakis. He is moving his whole house to Arrakis which includes his concubine Jessica and son Paul as well as the people that serve him. Where Caladan is rich in water, Arrakis, also known as Dune, is a desert planet where water is scarce and thus very important. The planet’s main export is spice and it is vital to the Guild who control space and maintains the balance between the Houses.
The move is forced upon Duke Leto from Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV who is conspiring with House Harkonnen to kill House Atreides. While the Duke knows this, he willingly goes into the trap and faces it head on. Soon after the family lands on Arrakis, the family comes under attack as one of their own has been compromised. Duke Leto’s plans to befriend the natives of Arrakis, the Freman, and fight back against House Harkonnen.
The betrayal catches House Atreidas by surprise and Paul and Jessica are captured by the enemies. Around this time, Paul learns the truth of what he really is and how his mother has trained him to be something that he wishes he wasn’t. To survive on Arrakis, Paul and Jessica have to learn to live like the Freman as they fight House Harkonnen and the Emperor.
Dune Paved the Way for Future Sci-Fi Novels
That short summary leaves out a lot of important stuff that transpires in the book. Herbert has thoroughly planned this novel out and a lot is going on. It is hard to discuss all of it and the best way to experience it is to read the novel. Dune itself is complex but the characters and their history is another thing entirely.
The novel may be a science fiction novel but it is so much more than that. It focuses on topics such as climate change, humanity, and politics. Herbert deliberately suppressed technology in the Dune universe so he could discuss the other topics mentioned.
Published in 1965, the book went on to win the Hugo Award in 1966 and won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. It received favorable reviews and is considered by critics one of the best science fiction novels ever written. Twenty years after publication, the book topped the New York Times Best Seller list and Children of Dune, the third book in the series was the first hardcover best-seller in the science fiction genre.
Herbert’s Dune is a classic novel that made the mainstream media take notice of science fiction novels. His world building and warning about climate change at a time when it wasn’t common knowledge make him one of the best writers oh his time. Even if J. R. R. Tolkien wasn’t a fan of Dune, it still holds up as one of the best works of fiction of all time!