Archive for November, 2016

Dune at 50(ish)

November 29, 2016

2015 marked the half-centenary of Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction novel that is so vast in scope it almost defies categorization, although the combination of psychodrama, political thriller, eco-fable and space-opera-cum-Western begins to hint at its complexity. Much like The Lord of the Rings – perhaps the only title it can be compared to, in terms of the scale and credibility of an entirely invented world – its iconic images are familiar parts of popular culture even to people who have never read it; unlike Tolkien’s novel, Dune has achieved this without the aid of a wildly successful movie adaptation. (David Lynch’s film version, released in 1984, was commercially unsuccessful and critically panned as being so confusing as to be virtually unwatchable, and Lynch himself regarded it as a turkey, going as far as to have it credited to ‘Alan Smithee’ – the pseudonym used by Hollywood directors when they wish to disown a film – in the TV releases.) Stillsuited Fremen warriors, the addictive and life-extending drug melange, or ‘spice’, the shaven-headed Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit and, above all, Paul Atreides with his blue-within-blue eyes riding a colossal sandworm across the endless Arrakeen desert – these are all recognizable to many internet users as memes, often turned into animated .gifs or image macros, or referenced in comics and animations.

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