Dune: A Stroll Through a Classic

Covid knocked me down, so I reread Dune.

I bought my copy of Frank Herbert’s classic back in the mid-90’s at my middle school book fair. It’s a safe bet that Dune, coupled with Star Wars, established my love of science-fiction. I remember tearing through the book in the days after I bought it.

It went into my all-time favorite category.

In the years after, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Ender’s Game joined that group and have yet to be unseated.

But what is it about Dune that holds the same appeal now as it did a quarter century ago? As I reread it I found something I had miss the last time I read it. Herbert relies so much more on dialogue and off page action than I had registered before. It almost felt like Shakespeare. Other than a few scenes where dialogue is interrupted by action, most of the major battles and combat is relayed to the reader through the thoughts and words of the characters.

This seems so opposite of most contemporary science-fiction, my own included, where action keeps the reader hooked and propels the plot along at breakneck speed.

I love reading something that makes me evaluate my own writing.

Do I rely on action too much?

How is my narrative? Sparse?

Is my dialogue comfortable and natural?

And that segues into another point I noticed with Herbert’s writing. The dialogue is natural. It flows. It feels like I could step in and speak with these characters without a hitch. I watched a wonderfully horrible B-movie a couple weeks ago and realized halfway through that all the characters in this far off system had never heard of an apostrophe.

Something so simple and yet so natural in dialogue.

Any way about it, I’m excited to see the new movie. I’m excited to see Hollywood finally do justice to a classic piece of literature. I don’t have my tickets yet, but trust that I’ll be there on opening night.

While we wait for the release, keep on reading, keep on enjoying nature, and keep on flying the Black.

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