As I rarely discard a book, it should thus come as no surprise that I have overflowing shelves of novels I’ve once read, enjoyed, savoured and then swore up-and-down-back-and-forth that I was going to re-read someday. Alas, it is someday. I’m spending whole of 2016 revisiting my book collection, digging back into books I read once, but that I haven’t read (or listened to) in at least four years. So, we’re about to find out what was worth reading… twice.
I was keeping one eye on Twitter this evening, dribbling in news from the Iowa Caucus results as the US election season kicks off, all while I finished reading the first of the three parts of Dune by Frank Herbert. As much as the the seeming insanity of the official kickoff of the political process begins down in the States, the idea that politics is anything but insane is probably just wishful thinking. Dune is even moreso.
Dune, as the first third of the story opens, is the story of spice. As an analog to our more familiar reality, spice is more rare than diamond, more useful than oil, more fought over than gold, and more dangerous to acquire than ambergris from an angry whale. It’s valuable, to put it simply. And the protagonists of the novel have just been handed control of the only planet in the known universe where it can be mined, a transfer of power that was bitter, twisted and not without a deep and dangerous conspiracy layered through it all.
In a couple hundred pages, the rich world of Dune has been sprinkled across the mind of the reader: vast cultures with hidden secrets, sprawling political dynasties willing to murder each other for power and money, ancient technologies with allusions to a deep and complex history spanning a galactic empire, and characters with such depth and emotional richness that it hurts your heart to see them fumble through the dangerous medieval schemes that are certain to destroy them all.
It almost makes Donald Trump seem tame.