Review of Dune By Frank Herbert

September 19, 2004
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Dune by Frank HerbertDune
By Frank Herbert; Read by George Guidall
16 Cassettes – 24 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
ISBN: 0788763334
Date Published: 1998
Themes: / Science Fiction / Politics / Space travel / Culture / Ecology /

George Guidall is a tremendous narrator. His nuanced performances continually make his audiobooks easy on the ear yet insistent – his performances demand attention. Matched with the Frank Herbert’s Dune… well, this is as good as it gets, folks. A detailed, meaningful, and entertaining piece of science fiction performed by a narrator with fine voice, excellent timing, and utmost attention to those very details… magnificent.

Dune is a masterpiece of world-building. In the novel, Frank
Herbert creates Arrakis, the desert planet that is also called Dune.
The natives of this planet are people called Fremen, a mysterious desert-dwelling people that the characters in this novel don’t fully understand, at least at the beginning. They are proud people, and though a family from the galactic empire rules them, they project an aura of power and resiliency. Arrakis is important to the galactic empire because it is the world where Spice is mined. Spice is of supreme importance in Herbert’s universe for a host of reasons I won’t list here.

The fully realized culture of Arrakis is merely backdrop at the beginning of the novel, which immediately takes up the story of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Atreides. The Atreides family takes over as the ruling family of Arrakis from a rival family called the Harkonnens. From the moment they arrive on Arrakis, the Fremen treat Paul in a special way, since Paul fits the description of someone for which the Fremen have been waiting a long time. The story follows Paul from his departure from his home planet to his arrival on Arrakis and his eventual survival in the desert, during which much about the fascinating culture of the Fremen is revealed.

Frank Herbert wrote a novel here that works on so many levels that it can be read several times. From one angle, you’ve got a novel about the effects of a Messiah on a culture. From another, you’ve got an ecological novel about survival in a desert and the ethical questions about whether to disturb that harsh but natural environment to make it more habitable for humans. Still another gives you a novel of brutal political intrigue as Harkonnen plots against Atreides (and vice versa) in the pursuit of the power that is ownership of the Spice. Each of these subplots is fully developed an intertwined with the others in this novel, which succeeds in every way in print and now succeeds again as an audiobook thanks to the wonderful performance of George Guidall.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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