Consciousness Altering Books: Dune by Frank Herbert

I have always been moved by legends, myths, folklore, and ancient scriptures, finding such material wondrous to contemplate. Seeking escape from an unwanted world, my thoughts often turned to other worlds where my spirit felt freer or more at home.

Joe’s Writers Club’s Consciousness Altering Books aims to bring timeless suggestions concerning books that can literally change your life.

I came to realize why we are here… To be inspired and or transformed by stories from the other side of mythic firelight, and to be grateful for the heroes in those tales. Where they go and what deeds they do, and the masters of creative fiction who bring them to us. They have much to offer, and since boyhood, I knew I wanted to be one of those firekeepers.

Are you seeking creative inspiration or distraction?

Is your creative obsession hungry for words, worlds, and wonders?

I have written a million words, and I’ve learned that fiction can forever transform a “real world” by transporting you to an “unreal world.” Even if just for a little while…


My favorite stories always take place far from the world I know. Dune is one of those. Set thousands of years into the future and far out in deep space, Dune brings the reader as far out as it gets. In that distant epoch humanity has evolved into specialty schools and exists in a universal imperium. Baleful A.I.s have come and gone, leaving dogmatic rules about thinking machines, and so human development has partially replaced mechanical design as a cultural priority. Yet there are many machines and those people who are on the way to becoming more than just human. The water-rich world of Paul Atreides yields to the desolate rain-less world of his imperial fiefdom, where his family will be tested by the empire and an ancient rival. Watch the boy become a man among the universe’s hardest people, the Fremen of Dune, source of the most valuable substance mankind has, the Spice. 
Dune, Frank Herbert
I love Dune. There is no way to overstate it. I’ve called it “Shakespeare In Space”, with a dash of wormhole Laurence of Arabia. A masterpiece, and I would call Dune that, is able to continue to give us subjects to talk about, sort of a deeper-you-look-the-deeper-it-goes kinda of thing, Dune is like this. I will not focus on the series, which is mostly excellent, but rather keep my eye on the first book. 
Dune is a vision into a universal imperium where interplanetary travel and colonization was something achieved in the remote past. So the empire’s dealings are all very formalized and traditional, and so too are their motives. Money, power, rivalries, vendettas, and the conquests of love and hate, all very human factors which plugin as fantasy. Dune does this well, but I found such things to be secondary to Dune’s transcendental sci-fi world-building, or as I like to call it, planet-scaping. What I mean by planet-scaping is that, though other sci-fi intellectual property addresses terror forming, planetary colonization, or even outposts at the fringe of what is “known” space, Dune deals with it a monumentally different way. 
The Spice mentioned earlier comes from Dune, which is the only place it is to be found in the whole universe. The Spice cannot be synthesized or replaced by any other substance, its effect on mind and body as well as it’s industrial use for space travel make it Supreme among all commodities in the known universe. 
Subjects of land value, hydraulic despotism, resource scarcity, and overreaching authoritarianism are recurring and profoundly explored. There is also the planetologist’s dream of bringing a garden paradise to Dune, where the desert is endless and infested by enormous sand worms who challenge any activity that human pursue on the planet’s surface. 
Any writer who is building their own world of fiction needs to read Dune for what is explored concerning this. Having read (studied) Dune and it’s sequels many times I learned much about the building, and the rebuilding of worlds. There is richness to the planetscapes, and so the characters, that will benefit those who wish a deeper window into cosmic otherness. Check it out asap. 
Also, if you haven’t yet, check out the trailer for the new Dune movie due out later this year.

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