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‘No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero’
Arrakis, or Dune, is a planet of nothingness – its torched wastelands are home to a fierce nomadic people, and under the endless deserts stalk gargantuan sandworms the size of starships. It is a place where water is sacred – ‘a substance more precious than all others’ – where to shed a tear is the most taboo of all sacrifices. And yet the planet is also humanity’s sole source of ‘spice’, the mysterious, addictive substance that underpins the workings of the galaxy-wide Padishah Empire. To control Arrakis is to control all. And it is across its vast expanses and in its arid caves that Frank Herbert’s epic adventure of political subterfuge and messianic deliverance is played out, a story that has become the best-selling science-fiction novel of all time, and is considered by many to be the genre's greatest work.
Original appendices included as follows, including the ‘Terminology of the Imperium:
Even now, half a century since it first appeared in 1965, Dune is certainly still ‘the one – it continues to top readers’ polls as the greatest science fiction novel of modern times. Many would say of all time. Before Star Wars, before A Game of Thrones, Frank Herbert brought to blazing life a feudalistic future of relentless political intrigue and insidious treachery, a grandly operatic vision – half-Wagner, half-spaghetti western – of a hero discovering his destiny. Characters include elite samurai-like warriors, sadistically decadent aristocrats, mystical revolutionaries, and, not least, those monster worms, which barrel along under the desert surface with the speed of a freight train, then suddenly emerge from the sand like Moby Dick rising from the depths.
Once settled on Arrakis, Duke Leto hopes to bring a more humane government to this forlorn planet. He initially sends his master at arms, Duncan Idaho, to form an alliance with the native Fremen, who, encased in still suits that recycle all their body fluids, can survive in seemingly impossible conditions. Others in Leto’s close circle of advisors include the logical, Mr Spock-like ‘Mentat’ and assassin Thufir Hawat, the troubadour swordmaster Gurney Halleck, and the sensitive Dr Wellington Yueh. However, Baron Harkonnen – one of the most repulsive villains in literature – has plans of his own for the Atreides household. To escape Harkonnen traps-within-traps, Lady Jessica and Paul must eventually flee into the desert, where they will gradually discover what her son calls his ‘terrible purpose.’
Like David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia – the modern work of art Dune most resembles – Herbert’s novel exhibits epic sweep while remaining, at heart, the intensely moving story of a young man caught up in a myth. To become a hero, let alone a messiah, is to cut oneself off from all others; to watch friends sink into worshipers; to loose forces that may be impossible to control; ultimately, after sowing the wind, to reap the whirlwind.
Frank Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1920. He took his first newspaper job at the age of nineteen. After serving in the US Navy as a photographer, he studied briefly at the University of Washington. His first science-fiction story, ‘Looking for Something,’ was published in the pulp-science-fiction magazine Startling Stories (1952), and his first novel, The Dragon in the Sea (1956) was serialized soon afterwards. He began work on his most famous work, Dune, in 1959, which was serialized by Analog magazine between 1963 and 1965. Finally published as a book, with modifications, in 1965, Dune won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Hugo Award in 1966, and Herbert went on to write five popular sequels. Herbert wrote for a number of newspapers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, lectured at the University of Washington, and served as an ecological consultant in Vietnam and Pakistan. He published many other science-fiction novels, such as his WorShip series and the ConSentient novels, but Dune, which was made into a film in 1984 (two years before Herbert’s death), and into a television series in 2000, remains his most enduring work.
Sam Weber was born in Alaska, and grew up in Deep River, Ontario, Canada. After attending the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Sam moved to New York to pursue illustration and attend graduate school at The School of Visual Arts. His previous work for The Folio Society includes Lord of the Flies (2009) and Fahrenheit 451 (2011). His illustrations for Dune were painted in oil on board, with the black-and-white chapter headings in ink and charcoal on paper.
Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic. After earning a PhD in comparative literature from Cornell University, he joined the Washington Post in 1978. He is the author of four collections of essays and literary journalism: Readings (2000), Bound to Please (2005), Book by Book (2006), and Classics for Pleasure (2007). His other works include a memoir, An Open Book (2003), and the critical biographical study, On Conan Doyle (2011), which received a 2012 Edgar Award. He is currently at work on a study of popular fiction during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.
Brian Herbert was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1947, the elder son of Frank Herbert. His biography of his father, Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert (2003), was a finalist for the Hugo Award. Keeping alive the fantasy world which Herbert Snr created, he has collaborated with Kevin J. Anderson on numerous prequels and sequels to the Dune novels, which have regularly featured on the New York Times bestseller list. His other novels include Sidney’s Comet (1983), Sudanna, Sudanna (1986), Man of Two Worlds (1986, co-authored with Frank Herbert), The Race for God (1990), and Ocean (2013), which he co-authored with his wife, Jan Herbert.
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Review by Badbrute on 11th Apr 2015
"Beautiful. The Sam Weber illustrations are what initially drew me to this edition of a book I'd read many times. As expected, the quality is superb. Book arrived this morning, with free poster wrapped..." [read more]