Earlier this week I mentioned that I had joined Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for a read-along of Dune. This book is divided up into three books. Each week we will read one of the sections and then discuss the novel. On Thursday I received the following questions. For those of you who have not read Dune there are spoilers in the conversation below so if you plan on reading the novel beware. Also, for those of you who have read the work, I would love to hear your thoughts about the work.
Here is week one’s discussion.
1. What, if any, preconceived ideas did you have before you started reading Dune and how has the first section measured up to those preconceptions?
I had a couple of preconceived notions about this novel during my younger days. First and foremost, I thought that since it was science fiction, a genre I really didn’t read unless for school back then, it would be boring and too complicated for me. I had this opinion about most science fiction novels. Also I thought it would be way over my head. Many claim that this work is the best science fiction novel and since I didn’t read science fiction much I didn’t think I would be able to follow the story or find myself engrossed in the story.
Lately, my view of science fiction has change greatly. To be blunt, I stopped being close-minded and stubborn and starting delving into the genre. And to my surprise I found that I really like it. This is great news since now I have a whole genre of books that I haven’t read and can look forward to reading!
After reading the first book, I am so embarrassed about my opinions back then. This book is fun, entertaining, exciting, and extremely clever. I can’t wait to find out what is going to happen next. The character development is great. The writing is excellent. I now understand why so many people love this novel.
2. What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?
Actually I thought this device was ingenious. Because you know it is coming, but you don’t know when and how. And then you find out the real reason why he agreed to be a traitor, to save his wife from torture, and you feel for him. Then he tries to do the right thing at the end. The whole situation must have been agonizing for him and if I was put in this situation, well to be honest I don’t even want to think about that.
Also, this device was entertaining because everyone is trying to figure out who the traitor is and is accusing innocent people and there I was sitting in my chair wanting to shout, “You’ve got it all wrong! Can’t you see you fool!” It heightened the suspense for me.
3. What was your favorite part of this first section? Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
I am really enjoying how the spice trade and the environment are playing such big roles in the book. I’ve studied history all my life and I’ve learned that greed is one of the drivers of human nature. Look at the exploration of the New World. One of the reasons explorers set out was to find a different route to get spices, among other things, and to break the monopoly of certain countries and trade routes. Once people in Europe discovered spices that could mask the taste of bad food, either from being old or spoiled since they did not have the appliances and techniques that we have now, they were hooked. Spice became precious and once it became precious, it became worth a lot of money. So much blood was spilled in this pursuit. And the intrusion into the New World wreaked havoc on the indigenous populations and the environment. I am enjoying how Herbert is incorporating this into his work.
At first, the character of Paul kind of annoyed me. But the revelation at the end, while it didn’t make me like him more, I am finding that I want to learn more about him. How will he deal with this new knowledge that he is a Harkonnen and that the Baron is his grandfather? The same Baron who killed his father. This twist at the end of book one worked for me. I am a sucker for cliffhangers!
4. Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you? Why or why not? Thoughts.
This is a difficult question to answer. All along I felt that something big was going to happen. I felt that the author was leading up to Paul’s role. Was he the Kwisatz Haderach? But that seemed too simple. Also Herbert already gave away who the traitor was, so would he also lead us down the same type of path about Paul. Would he be completely obvious again? However, even though I knew something unexpected about Paul would be revealed, I didn’t realize what it would be. Thinking back on it now, it makes sense. Maybe there were clues. And I am excited to find out if others picked up on things that I missed.
5. Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book. Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring? Just share what you are thinking thus far.
So far I am loving the novel. I’m enjoying the ease that Herbert shows at creating complex storylines and characters that are enjoyable and easy to follow. I’m curious to find out about more twists to the plot and how will the characters react. Now, it is time to start Book Two!