I first read Dune when we were filming Stand By Me. I remember that I loved it, even though I’m sure that most of it went over my head. I think about “I will not fear. Fear is the mindkiller…” and “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience” all the time. I imagine that reading Dune again, as an adult, will open some portals in my tiny little brain that weren’t accessible when I was 12.
My son, Ryan, recently read the entire series for the first time. He loved it, too, and has been talking about it so much, I decided that I’d finally reread it … but then I got stuck in this decision process that I’d illustrate with a Sheldonesque flowchart if I wasn’t lazy. It basically went like this: Should I get it as an eBook? That’s convenient and I can sync it across all my different devices. But maybe I should get it as an actual book, because actual books are beautiful, and I feel like Dune is something that I’d want on my bookshelf. But if I want to read it in bed, there’s that whole “risking the wrath of Anne when the light wakes her up” situation. Maybe I could listen to it as an audiobook! But I have so many story ideas in my head right now, my mind tends to wander when I listen to anything. So maybe an eBook is the way to go, but … and so on.
So it was a whole thing and I ended up not making a decision.
Then, yesterday, I picked up a bunch of mail from my manager’s office, and holy shit there was this package from Penguin Random House that contained the Penguin Galaxy Edition of Dune! Look at how beautiful this is:
It has an introduction by Neil Gaiman, titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Science Fiction”, which is amazing. So it turns out that, I chose not to decide, but still I made a choice … with a little help from whoever is writing the events of my life.
The reread begins today. Maybe I can find some inspiration and solace in a work of science fiction, before the world is engulfed in flame.
41 thoughts on “the spice must flow”
That IS a beautiful book. I might have to pick one up to put on my son’s book shelf. He’s 3. I’ve already started stocking it with classics. Hitch Hikers Guide… Narnia… Shanara… Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep… A few Scalzi books… and, of course, a couple writings I have by one Wil Wheaton 😉
The universe made the best decision for you for many reasons (this book design=so handsome).
Additionally, it will be better while calming the mind to go to sleep.
BTW — am starting week two on the orange goggles an hour before bed thingie to help sleep/recalibrate my body to society’s sleep patterns/get ANY sleep I can, by god! I had first heard about them here on your blog. This and the whole light box thingie. I’m hoping it works, but if not at least it was a good try.
Regular light looks so weird if you take them off before turning off the lights — so …. blue….
Anyway, thanks for the suggestion.
Also, I have decided I’m going to make 2017 better through the sheer force of my will. If it turns out worse than 2016 (gah!) we will know THAT theory doesn’t work … ?
when you say your son read the entire series, do you mean the original 3-4 books, or the 18+ books that are out now? a couple years ago i started reading them and finally read every. single. one — and it took me about a month per book, but it was worth it. i love having the entire arc of the series in my head now, not just the pop-cultural bits that everyone knows. so if you’re going to read it, read them all. that’s my vote.
also, i vote to read the ebook version, because we live in the future and we CAN.
I’m glad you mentioned the other books. This may be sacrilegious to say, but I think I have enjoyed Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s books more than the originals.
This post makes me happy. I love Dune, a lot. I agree that you should read the whole set, but FFS do NOT read any of the extras before you read the original 6. Then I’d recommend the sequels, then the recent (in-universe recent) prequels and midquels, then the distant past prequels.
I’m hoping you heard someone has acquired the rights to Dune. So, Muad’Dib willing, someone will make an adaptation that really does it justice. The ’84 movie had good actors and impressive visuals, but took too much license. The Syfy miniseries-es also had decent actors and wasn’t a bad adaptation in general, but was hampered by budget.
My dream is that it’s a series on HBO. Like GoT, they do at least one season per book (and that could be flexible) and throw giant piles of money at it and do it right.
OMG. I just read that the project could be directed Denis Villeneuve. The wife and I saw Arrival earlier this year and holy crap that’s a good, actual science fiction movie. Please Universe, please let this happen.
I can’t help but disagree on your reading order. I really feel that the lore is enhanced by a chronological read. Distant prequels, house series, main series, finale. The finale desperately requires the distant prequels to fully appreciate, and it’s awesome having the whole epic span unfurl.
I’m wicked late to this conversation, but my own preferred reading order is Frank’s original 6, the Butlerian Jihad trilogy, then the final 2 books that Brian and Kevin Anderson wrote. Skip the House trilogy, they’re almost entirely superfluous (there’s basically 2, incredibly insignificant pieces of information that are actually relevant to the events in the concluding volumes. The rest is altogether unimportant, and a good deal of it is kind of silly). And I can’t speak to the quality of the rash of more recent, interstitial books (one on Paul among the Fremen before he becomes Emperor, another on Alia growing up, and I think even more I’ve paid little attention to) – I feel like dwelling on parts of the timeline that Frank deliberately skipped over is unnecessary, so I’ve never read them.
Honestly, while I believe Brian and Kevin that their books are based on notes written by Frank, I do not believe he would have written any prequels at all – he would have found a way to incorporate inside his own version of volume 7 the reveal of what the “Face Dancer” couple that Duncan sees at the end of Chapterhouse are. I have no idea whether it would have been as engaging and readable as the Butlerian Jihad trilogy ended up being (I actually mostly like that series, even if the writing style is quite different from Frank Herbert’s), but it would have been much more efficient. 😉
A loooong multi-years/seasons Dune series on HBO? Oh dear Odin yes PLEEEEEASE give us this!…
Points for Rush. That is all. 🙂
I came here looking for this comment (or to post my own). That is all 🙂
Husband loves Dune, although you guys are only a few months apart in age and grew up doing the exact same stuff, so I’m never surprised when the same likes occur. I DID however get to see Rogue One last week, and it was the first Star Wars movie that has ever made me want to watch the first Star Wars. People have attempted to force me and I’ll I’ve done is just fall asleep. I’m missing the nostalgia, so …. uh… yeah.
Also, seconded what that other guy said… Arrival is a great fucking movie.
I first read this when I was twelve, and stuck in the hospital for a couple of weeks. It not only solidified my love of SF, but set me off on my career, in some ways. I REALLY wanted a film version, and decided I wanted to play Paul, so when I heard about casting for Lynch’s film, submitted my headshot and resume.
Obviously, I didn’t get it, but the experience led to a brief career as an actor on TV and in film as a teen, and eventually to my other work. I feel an ongoing fondness for the book as it’s own work (and the first two sequels at least), and also for motivating me towards something in my life.
The Bene Gesserit clearly got that book to you, Wil. Plans within plans.
Silly me, I thought this was going to be about Christmas cookies and gingerbread men 😊
That is a beautiful reprint! I recently reread Dune after many years. In my 20s I woukd reread the entire original series every year without fail. I can’t not speak highly enough of this work of art. After hearing you talk of it I am digging out my copies to finish rereading he entire series again. Thank you Wil, for taking the time to talk about this fantastic book!
A word of warning, the audiobook for “Dune” is awful. Absolutely awful. Among other sins, they change actors who read the part of Baron Harkonnen in different chapters. In one he has a rich baritone, the next, he’s a shrieking old man. It is awful.
Also, here’s the edition you wanted to get:
And by entire series, you mean, the entire series written by Frank Herbert. Goes without saying, right?
I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the audiobooks. I love audiobooks but I had t stop listening after just a few minutes.
When first I read Dune there were no other books – yes I’m that old. I found it boring. Twenty years later, and the movie, I read it again and realized that it was not a book for pre-teens.
Hardcover is the right choice, which it seems was made for you. Whether you believe or not the Creator apparently is still watching out for you. And He chooses great books.
Dune got me through many difficult situations: “I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me.” Not a profound insight into the novel, but it got me through many situations, including (and especially) dentist appointments…
I’m going to suggest that you stick to the Frank Hebert works, and read two supplemental pieces he was involved with before considering whether you want to read the money grabs by his son. Look for https://www.fictiondb.com/author/frank-herbert~frank-herbert-eye~1591760~b.htm with the illustrated walking tour of Arakis, and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dune_Encyclopedia The Dune Encyclopedia. The encyclopedia especially has the style and feel of Thank Hebert’s Dune universe, which the new books really don’t capture – they have taken to modern styles and tropes, losing Frank Hebert’s texture and feel.
I heartily agree. Frank Herbert’s books were stunning; what followed was a bland, uninspired money-grab. YMMV, but I hated to be done with the first six books in the series, found the seventh to be interesting, and the eight to be a woeful disappointment.
WOW! This Recent Blog Addition was a GREAT READ!
First off… whether you Consciously chose those words “I chose not to decide, but still I made a choice” or Not… You Quoted My FAV Musician, Drummer/Percussionist AND Lyricist of ALL TIME, Neil Peart of RUSH! He used almost those EXACT WORDS for the Song “Free Will” off the “Permanent Waves” album from 1979/1980
Second… I TOO worry SO MUCH About the world “Being Engulfed by Flames” because we will SOON have a FLAMING IDIOT for President!
I am close to 52… and I have Three Grand Kids that I ADORE! I Never had Kids of my own, so they are really “STEP Grand Kids”.. but we are SO close that never enters into it… But for being 12, 10, and 9… they are ACUTELY Aware of what is going on Politically in our Country AND out World and they too are concerned about the near future… All we can do is FIGHT the FIGHT for Ourselves and those we Love!
And HOPE that The Universe is MUCH MORE Intelligent then we know and will “Intervene” on our Behalf.
And if NOT… then WE must be the “SPICE that FLOWS”!
Dune is my favourite everything. The 1984 movie turned me on to both David Lynch and Dune (two years later when everyone else was jonesing to go see Top Gun I was begging my parents to take this 14 year old to see Blue Velvet), and my love for both has only grown in the decades (sigh) since.
Inspiration? Sure. One can have worse role models than the Fremen. I don’t know about solace, though, unless it’s the solace of knowing that all things pass, or that powerful people generally fall prey to that power, or their lust for more. In these interesting times I’d opt for Terry Pratchett myself.
Gods, I last read this as a teen, when I was still living with my parents (my dad had the entire series on his bookshelf). Alas, in German. Now I think a (re-) first read of the original language version is in order. After I finish “Leviathan Wakes” that is. Real book AND audio book that one, btw. I get motion sick very easily, especially in busses, so audio books allow me to continue with the story while I’m commuting with public transport.
@ Kevin: Thanks for the warning on the audio book version of Dune. Much appreciated.
If the Penguin Galaxy edition isn’t expensive enough, this edition has been on my wishlist for a while:
Over at Tor, Emily Asher-Perrin is doing a Dune reread, which you might enjoy along with your reread: http://www.tor.com/series/rereading-frank-herberts-dune/
What a coincidence! I’m having a winter of Dune, myself. On Heretics now. Just beautiful writing.
I believe 2017 is going to be America’s personal gom jabbar test. Here’s hoping we prove that we’re human. Enjoy the read Wil!
I first read Dune when I was 12. Only got about 50 pages in though. Then I tried again when I was 14 or 15 and loved it, but never got around to the sequels. I was 18 or 19 when I stole the whole series (original 6 books) from my dad’s bookshelf and took them off to college, where it took me a couple of months to finish them.
I loved book one, two was okay for a sequel, three was weird, but closed the loop nicely. Four was unnecessary, five was completely irrelevant. By the end of six I was coming to see five and six as a completely separate series which was good enough in itself.
I’ve read one and two a couple of times since then. One is still extremely good, two is still an okay sequel. (In a similar way, Terminator 2 is still a brilliant movie, while one is still a good prequel).
is beautiful. I wish I could afford it. There are many many other books I need to buy though. Books I haven’t read 6 times already.
Will, I wish you luck on your Journey to Arrakis.
I remember “water for the dead”. I still buy print books (although I mostly read ebooks because of my eyes). I believe in books.
Because of the recent political catastrophe, I’ve been trying to pick what I’d take, you know, if I had to flee. One banker’s box worth. Or one. But it’s too hard. They’re like friends. So I hope it doesn’t come to that…
That’s so cool. You were meant to re-read it now!
How cool to get that in the mail at that moment in your decision making process. You are definitely thought of warmly.
I read DUNE for the first time right after the original STAR WARS came out in ’77. I can say in all honesty it changed how I view the Universe. I generally read through all the original books every 18 months or so, but I’m woefully off that schedule these days. Considering current events, it might be the perfect time to start up and enjoy the escape so desperately needed right now.
I’m sure you’ve heard that rights to the book have been acquired by Legendary and a new film is in very early planning stages, this time headed up by Denis Villeneuve. While I loved the “look and feel” of Lynch’s version (almost exactly how I had envisioned it while reading), it’s lack of faithfulness to the original story was a huge turn-off. Similarly, SyFy’s attempts—while faithful to the story–were marred for me by the “Planet of the Hats” costuming and cheesy sets.
I hope Legendary can pull off a faithful adaptation, and if successful, produce the entire series.
I usually recommend only the original Dune with a suggestion of the first 2 sequels. I caution everyone about how it gets weird with God Emperor and then degenerates into barely coherent softcore porn.
If anyone needs any more Dune background, Wikipedia is usually better written than a Kevin J. Anderson novel.
Btw, Wil, did you hear anything about a new line of Next Generation 3.75inch figures? Funko had them slated but Reaction has gone back to Super 7 who who knows at this point?
You truly are the Kwisatz Haderach.
What a coincidence! I just bought a couple of books for some relatives for Christmas from this penguin series and they are beautiful! The Left Hand of Darkness just leapt out at me on the bookstore shelf with it’s bold split typeface. So cool!
A classic Rush Lyric: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” 😉
I bought a 50th anniversary special edition of “Dune” through the Folio Society last year. It’s a massive, hard-cover version with new art work that came in its own case and was accompanied by a poster. It’s interesting that Frank Herbert got the idea for the novel while flying over the sand dunes of beachfront Oregon in a helicopter. I’ve ignored the 1984 movie version, but the novel is still a classic of contemporary science fiction.
Hi Wil, hope all’s well 🙂 I think Neil Gaiman’s foreward title “What We Talk About When We Talk About Science Fiction” is a riff on the title “What I Think About When I Think About Running”, which is a semi-autographical book by the author Haruki Murakami.
Thanks for getting me back in to board gaming with Tabletop some four years back btw, I’ll never forget it.
I see this post is from months ago, but I cannot help but laud your decision. Dune is my favorite science fiction book, and I think, with good cause. I know you have finished it, but I echo the sympathy of your observation that the book might be a good read for this time, and indeed it is. We should all read it and contemplate humanity’s faith in the iconic individual.
Comments are closed.