I’m not really big into science fiction. For most of my reading life, I’ve read fantasy. Harry Potter, The Night Circus, The Hobbit, Coraline… and most of my exposure to science fiction was with popular series like Star Wars and Doctor Who.
This year I decided I should read more books for fun, and my boyfriend lent me his copy of Dune. I knew that it’s a science fiction classic – and a lot of later works in the genre draw inspiration from it. I held this massive 800-page novel in my hand and got flashbacks to my War and Peace days. It felt like I would take at least a month to get through it, after all I only read during my commute to and from work.
I wasn’t really sure I’d like the book, being aware that there is some sort of nobility/empire politics and a lot of fictional science-y stuff. I was afraid it will go over my head. The book came with a glossary in the back, but I hate flipping back and forth just to understand one thing. And since it’s sci-fi, I thought there would be a lot of made-up words part of the world-building.
But I breezed through this book in two weeks!
I just kept reading. The House Atreides. The Harkonens. The Fremen. A Reverend Mother. Mentat. Guild Navigator. Crysknife. The Weirding Way. The spice melange. Arrakis. Everything made sense and I didn’t feel it necessary to refer to the glossary every time a new word comes up. The concepts were explained as part of the story, and they never felt forced or out of place.
It’s so dense but I wasn’t confused with what’s going on – I can’t say the same about the book I’m currently reading though…
The Buendia’s of Macondo need to use new names for their children. Goddamn.
Every once in a while, you read a book and you find yourself completely immersed in the world within it, no matter how different it is from your own.
The last time I found myself lost in a book was Good Omens when I read it the first time in 2017, and The Night Circus years before.
It doesn’t come down to how realistic it is, it’s how convincing is the world you’re in. I’ve read a few general fiction books and I had to stop after a few pages just because the storytelling was so bland and the characters felt flat. I felt no connection to the main character (even if she was supposed to be an Asian woman supposedly struggling with her identity).
Anyway, back to Dune.
Even when Duke Leto’s death was foreshadowed from the very beginning, I was still distraught when he died. And the way it happened too! *insert shocked Pikachu gif* Even when I knew that prick doctor was going to betray them for practically nothing but death to himself, I was still paying attention to his scenes up to the last.
In a nutshell, the story was beautifully written and I can’t believe I’ve put off reading this genre for so long.
After finishing the novel, I watched the 1986 film by David Lynch. My boyfriend warned me that I would be disappointed. He was right.
I understand that technology wasn’t so great in the 80’s, so I can’t hate on the Fremen eyes. They did what they could do with the tools they have. But the Weirding Way becoming some sort of microphone gun? The Baron becoming a caricature of common villains instead of some almost-creepy mastermind? And the weird cuts between scenes… if I didn’t read the book before watching the movie, I would have been lost.
And then there’s the ending. Are you serious? If there was a table in front of me, I probably would have tossed it over. It was so disappointing. I want justice for the book.
I hope the 2020 remake by Denis Villeneuve with pretty much an ensemble cast will not disappoint.