Dune is the epic story of a boy named Paul Atreides. His family moves to the desert planet of Arrakis to manage the most powerful substance in the universe... the spice melange. At least, that's the beginning of the first book. The whole series spans six books, but the first one is the best and most accessible. Frank Herbert's writing style and imagination are unique and unmatched.
I first read Dune for a book report in 7th grade. I just picked it up off a library shelf and thought "this looks interesting..." Little did I know it would become my favorite book of all-time. One of the great things about Dune is that I can read it every year and still find something fresh and new about it. There were many things I didn't pick up on the first time around. Dune is a story and a world with true depth, yet this depth avoids becoming obtrusive or inaccessible... this is something that the vast majority of other fictional worlds severely lack.
There are six books in the Dune series. I strongly recommend reading at least the first one. Here they are, linked to Amazon.com:
Dune Dune Messiah Children of Dune God Emperor of Dune Heretics of Dune Chapterhouse: Dune
I say attempts because the first two have severe problems... But, after seeing the third, there is hope!
Director David Lynch made this movie in 1984. It's the better of the two cinematic attempts at portraying Dune (the first book), and it's generally pretty good... but there are quite a few discrepancies, omissions, and some huge unthinkable sins. How Frank Herbert could have allowed this (yes, he was still alive back then) is beyond me. Weirding modules and the ending of this movie are both horribly wrong and aren't true to the spirit of the book at all. Even so, this movie isn't all THAT bad and it's quite watchable. The first half hour or so of it is particularly well done. This mini-series was made in 2000 by the Sci-Fi channel and they hyped it quite a bit. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to expectations. I had high hopes, given a 4.8 hour running time and a director's promise to remain true to the book. There were a lot of scenes from the book, but there was a definitely feeling of quantity over quality. The worst part was the way the characters were portrayed. Unspeakably bad! They should've cast real actors! Paul and Leto (William Hurt) had especially horrible performances. Also of note were the poor CGI effects, obviously fake sound stage backgrounds, weird fashion designs (silly hats), and needlessly butchered dialogue. I don't recommend this mini-series to anyone. This mini-series was made in 2003 by the Sci-Fi channel. Unlike their first mini-series, they actually did a pretty good job with this one! It consisted of three parts which were two hours each. The first part covered the book Dune Messiah, while parts two and three covered Children of Dune. They got off to a bit of a slow start with the first part but the second and third parts were really good. The actors were wonderful - they really fit the characters well. This mini-series strayed from the books on occasion, but overall it was surprisingly faithful. I hardly saw any irritating deviations from the plotline or original dialogue, except maybe that the first part (Dune Messiah) seemed to go by really quick. Alas, this mini-series is probably very confusing for those who haven't read the books... But I'd rather have it be relatively inaccessible than be a watered down, corrupt version of the books.
Several computer games have been made based on Dune:
Dune: An obscure but really good adventure / real-time strategy game. Rather easy to finish. Beautiful graphics. Great soundtrack!!!
Dune 2: From Dune 2 doth all RTS begin! This was the first real-time strategy game for the PC and it was truly a great game.
Dune 2000: Don't waste your time. This game was crap - it was like playing Red Alert with a Dune theme thrown on top.
[and, most recently, a 3D RTS whose name escapes me that I didn't try but heard wasn't very good]
There is a movie soundtrack available at Amazon.com for the Dune movie and I like it very much. Some people complain about Toto and the fact that they sneak in a guitar over the orchestra sometimes. My feelings are:
- Toto did a surprisingly good job with this movie soundtrack and I think it's great. It fits the mood of the movie perfectly and is some of the best sci-fi music ever made. "Trip to Arrakis" is a particularly good track - wow!
- I hate everything else I've ever heard by Toto.
- I think the guitar is 80's-sounding but it's used in very strict moderation and actually adds to the musical quality.
- I hate 99% of 80's music.
I don't know if the mini-series music has been released as a soundtrack, but from what I heard while watching the mini-series... it wasn't that great. Update: The music was improved in the second mini-series, but I'm still kind of doubtful that it could stand on its own as a pleasant listening experience.
If you want to hear some great music sampled directly from the original Dune game, check out my Dune MP3 page.
Here are some good Dune sites I've found on the web: (please inform me of any broken links)