Books That Shaped Our Lives

Chris Brown 

Former Hiebert Library staff member & believer that Han shot first

Dune by Frank Herbert

“The spice must flow.”

I have read Frank Herbert’s Dune series multiple times since first picking it up in seventh grade.  I have always been interested in books that have a message or meaning to them.  This science fiction opus, published in 1965, had religious, political, and environmental messages. Oh, and it also had dangerous giant sandworms that produced the most valuable substance in the universe; spice or melange.

The hero of the book is Paul Atreides, next in line for ruling House Atreides, and a messianic figure. His family leaves their home planet to manage the desert world of Arrakis, commonly known as Dune. His family falls victim to an attack from another House and as a result he becomes the rebel and religious leader, Muad'Dib.

Much of the universe in Dune is focused on order and control, whether it's the CHOAM Corporation, who determines the economic and political power of all the Houses, or the BeneGesserit's Reverend Mothers, a religious order with a secret breeding program to produce their own superman. Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib brings chaos to these systems and gives aid and power to the powerless.

As a young teen obsessed with Star Wars, Dune showed me an alternative science fiction universe that was more Machiavellian. It was a story about the sometimes corrupting power of religion and wealth. It taught me that even the most desolate and harsh environments are worth preserving. Dune not only entertained me with a great hero story, but provided a lesson in caring for and respecting other cultures.

The other Dune books in the series flesh out more of these themes and spans centuries. It's truly epic, truly worth the time and effort to read.