Why I Like It
Frank Herberts near-complete attempt at analysis of modern day society, not picking one area of focus, but instead trying and mostly succeeding in demonstrating how politics, religion, culture, and resources all come together in a grand tangled mess we call society. The action is less a focus, but still a critical component to things, emphasizing that even through all of this, ultimately the only thing that matters is life and death.
What a One-Star Review Thought
It is a shame that the majority of science-fiction is usually grouped into two very deplorable crowds. There is the ‘SF’ that leaps and bounds with cliché settings and strategic contrivances, cheap melodrama, and stifling comic-book characters. The other kind is a mish-mash of pseudo-philosophy, self-righteousness and mindless cosmic diatribes. Dune takes all the worst aspects of both groups and wraps them in a velveteen package.
What’s worse is Frank Herbert can’t write. At all times he is either 1. Spilling over in verbose, describing repeatedly things we already know and that serve absolutely no aesthetic or meaningful existence (most likely to fatten his ‘epic’) or 2. Infering so poorly to the plot as to cause the uninitiated reader to literally fling the book into the wastebasket and reel in frustration. By itself his writing is so abominable that it may as well have been written by Ayn Rand minus the political gauze. And if you want THAT you might as well go buy Atlas Shrugged instead.
When I finally did get to the good parts somewhere down the line (last 50 pages, give or take) I learned to accept, by a modicum, Paul’s lack of depth and meandering sensibilities (throughout the book, mind you), the empire’s recalcitrance in the last battle, the Bene Gesserit’s ‘secret agenda’, the all-powerful spacing guild, and melange, the sole miracle drug everyone wants but is too lazy to take the initiative. You honestly can’t make up some of these concepts. They hang by a tenebrous thread in the cadaverous closet of Mr. Herberts mind and mediocre prose does nothing to bring them to light. Much less epic stature.
if you want to experience what other, better, writers have done to refurbish this tepid genre and breathe new life into imaginative fiction check out the likes of Jack Vance, Robert Silverberg, Fritz Leiber, George R.R. Martin and Dan Simmons. These are TRUE visionary stylists who write engaging prose and powerful characters you can care about and love. Not like moldering semi-literate ideologues.