Perhaps it was the production crew comprised of stellar voice actors and sound engineers that made L.A. traffic somewhat enjoyable. Or it was Dune itself, a masterpiece by Frank Herbert, that captivated me so thoroughly that I would take one-to-two hour walks—an unlikely and unusual exercise for those who know me—just to hear a bit more about the adventures of Paul Atreides.
Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto, is a boy of exceptional and extraordinary capacities. He is trained both as Mentat and Bene Gesserit; the former mimics supercomputer rationality, and the latter subjugates the body and the mind for superhuman perceptibility and composure. In other words, Paul is hyper-rational yet also hyper-aware of both his own and other’s emotions, bodily movements, and intentions—he is a god-like being.
Duke Leto Atreides of House Atreides is but one planet ruler in the Guild. He ruled the ocean planet Caladan but was then assigned by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV to supervise melange harvest on desert planet Arrakis. Melange is a spice, an addictive drug that opens and amplifies the mind’s observational capacities to the point of seeing into the future; it is Arrakis’s—no, the empire’s—most valuable commodity. The one who rules spices rules space.
But life on Arrakis is harsh and relentless. Water is scarce, more precious than precious stones. Frequent sandstorms can tear through powerful electric shields. But shields are not a good idea on Arrakis, anyways, because its harmonic hum can attract the most destructive force on this desert planet: sandworms. Sandworms larger than houses and spice factories can swallow large structures in one bite. If one senses a slow but powerful tremble in the sand, then one must better run—nothing can stop a sandworm.
And it is on Arrakis, a most merciless planet, where the engrossing events of Dune unfold. How House Harkonnen plans their revenge on House Atreides. How Paul Atreides rises not only as the next Duke but also as Muadi’Dib. How the Fremen, natives on Arrakis, plays in the mix between the two houses. How messianic prophecies and religious fervor operate and demand amongst desperate people. How the slightest gestures or facial shifts can betray a most insidious motive. Dune is just arresting and spellbinding work—a must, must read.