Book review by Deane Barker tags: fiction, science-fiction

This is a classic of science fiction, clearly. By some accounts, it’s the greatest sci-fi novel ever written. I had been meaning to tackle it for years, but this took on increased urgency with the new film coming out (it was supposed to be this year, but the COVID pandemic has pushed back the release date).

I’m glad I read it, because it’s an important book. But it’s ponderous and Herbert’s writing is subtle. I’d often become aware that something important had happened, and have to trace back a few pages because I missed it.

Also, there’s a lot of world-building going on here. Herbert has constructed a vast mythology and ecology that keeps surfacing, seemingly whenever the plot needs it. There’s a glossary in the back that you’ll need to refer to, often. And whenever Herbert needs something to happen, he just kind of uses magic as a crutch.

There are something like 11 books, many finished posthumously by Herbert’s son. I just can’t imagine powering through 11 books like this, but so many people swear that the series is revolutionary and transformational.

I feel like this novel is really about anything other than science fiction – politics, religion, ecology, royalty, etc. A lot like Robert Heinlein in that respect. It would have just as easily been set today.

Book Info

Frank Herbert