Second Group Read Discussion of Dune

Howdy folks!  It is time for the second group discussion of  Dune.  This group read is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  The questions this week were crafted by The Little Red Reviewer.  Everyone’s discussions will be posted here:

Please note that if you have not read this work there will be spoilers in my discussion. Now for the questions:

Was Liet’s identity a surprise?  who do you think he really works for?

I think I missed something about Liet.  If I remember correctly, after he aided Paul and Jessica, he didn’t live much longer in part two since he was left in the desert to die.  And I wasn’t too surprised that he was a leader of the Fremen.  It is hard to oppress people and to get them to fully support the new government, especially when the new leaders only want to exploit your people and land.

What do you think of the Fremen culture?  is this a culture you think you’d enjoy spending some time with?

There are some aspects of the Fremen culture that intrigue me.  Their bond and sense that they need all to survive is interesting and somewhat foreign to me.  Living in a large city has definitely made me notice more and more how many people only care about themselves and no one else.  For the most part the Fremen respect everyone.  Even the chap that Paul had to fight.  The challenge was done according to the rules and the rest of the group accepted the result of the fight.  It would be interesting to visit a culture like this.

However, I don’t believe I would like to live there permanently.  From a strictly selfish reason, I am more of a loner.  I like my quiet time and I don’t like the rigid confines of their society.  And I understand that living in our current society has given me the opportunity and freedom to become a loner.  Having said all that, if I was a character in the book and I had to choose a place to live, it would be with the Fremen.

What do you think of Count Fenring’s unusual verbal mannerisms?  

At first I had a hard time with his verbal mannerisms and I’m still now sure of the intent.  Does he speak this way to set himself apart from the action and to say that he is above others?  Is he mocking the Baron?  Is he bored and thinks the Baron is a buffoon?  I didn’t understand the reason behind his speech pattern.

This is a far future empire with very little in the way of computerization. Information is often passed down orally, and schools (such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit) have formed to train young people in memorization and information processing.  What are you thoughts on a scifi story that is very “low-tech”?  Does that sound like a feasible future? a ridiculous one?

I had heard that the society in Dune was very “low-tech” before I cracked the book open.  And when I started to read the book I wondered how this society would function in the future.  However, once I got engrossed in the novel, I had completely forgotten about the low-tech aspect of the novel.  I think since Herbert is succeeding in creating such a well-crafted story, I just didn’t give it a second thought.

The center portion of the book is still pretty dialog heavy, but what I’ve noticed is the subtlety of the dialog. Things left unsaid are often more important than things that are said.  What do you think of that as a stylistic choice? does it make the dialog more interesting? less interesting? 

I started to notice this and I thought to myself, was the first part like this and I was missing something.  But I think the second part is more about what is not spoken than what is spoken.  Personally I like it.  It adds to the suspense if the other party of the conversation will figure things out.  I like these mental duals and challenges.  It’s fun to see how the characters will respond.  Herbert is building a lot of suspense for me.

Dune was written in the 60’s. Does it feel dated to you? How does it compare, writing style-wise, to more contemporary science fiction you’ve read?
 If you’ve never read this book before, where do you think the storyline is headed?  

To be honest, I’ve been reading The Castle of OtrantoHeart of Darkness, and I am currently in the middle of Frankenstein, while reading the first and second part of Dune so Herbert’s writing is a relief.  It doesn’t seem dated at all for me.  I haven’t read much science fiction so I really can’t compare it.  But I don’t know if I really judge a book by its writing style.  If the story is well told with believable characters and plot, then the writing style is a nonissue for me.

It seems that Herbert is setting up a colossal fight between Paul and the Fremen against the Baron and his cohorts.  As of now, I am unsure of how the emperor will fit into the whole shebang.  Also, I have a feeling that all of this will not be worked out in this book.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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53 Responses to Second Group Read Discussion of Dune

  1. Dune is certainly on my list of the 100 best books ever written.

  2. TBM says:

    I’m surprised by how much I am enjoying it! And I was shocked when I found out that it wasn’t on my 1001 list. I thought it was considered a classic. Not sure why it wasn’t on my list. I’m enjoying this one much more than I, Robot, which is on the list. I liked I, Robot, but this one is so so so good.

    • Carl V. says:

      I love I, Robot!

      It doesn’t surprise me that this isn’t on the list purely because science fiction is one of the least respected genres when it comes to people making these lists. Even fantasy usually does better, largely because of Tolkien and, more recently, J.K. Rowling. And Asimov is considered one of the true creators of golden age science fiction so it doesn’t surprise me that he ends up on the list, particularly because he also made so many scientific contributions and continues to have influence on science with some of the ideas his novels postulated..

      • TBM says:

        If that is the case, I may have to add some science fiction to the list since I’m trying to hit all major works in different genres.

        There were some really good stories in I, Robot. I really like the one called Liar and the one about the politician. I can’t remember the name of that story. But I found it interesting. What if a politician couldn’t put his/her own interests ahead of the public good?

  3. Carl V. says:

    I think the question about “Liet” has more to do with the title and how in the first part there was some reference to that name being a religious title (god?) and then it turns out to be Kynes and he turns out to not just be an Imperial planetologist who fell in with the Fremen but is actually the Fremen leader and the architect of their vision to change the face of Arrakis.

    I like my alone time as well and frankly that kind of closeness would get to me very quickly. I could see myself wandering off into the desert because of it and then getting eaten by a worm. LOL!

    I will be interested to see what everyone else thought of the Count Fenring part. So far it seems pretty consistent that the intent isn’t very clear and that the verbal mannerisms don’t work very well.

    I have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of suspense this book has held for me, especially since I already know large plot points in the story. Herbert has certainly impressed me in that sense.

    Story is what is important to me and quite honestly I don’t care if a novel feels dated as long as I am enjoying the story. In fact any dated feeling adds to the sense of nostalgia for me. That being said there are many science fiction classics that do indeed feel dated and so when you discover one like Herbert’s Dune you realize just what an amazing feat of creativity it is. I’m excited that you are reading all this classic fiction right now. I enjoy the classics (again, the ones with good stories). I don’t mind the different writing style. I look at people like Bram Stoker and Jane Austen and Edgar A.Poe and realize just how beautiful their command of language was and it is no surprise to me at all that their works have stood the test of time.

    • TBM says:

      I posted my answers before I read your post and then I was like, “Doh! That’s what she meant by the question with Liet.” And it made a lot more sense. Funny how some people can miss something that obvious about a reading question. 🙂

      I would probably wander off as well. But I would really, really hate to meet a sandworm.

      The Count part through me since the rest is so well written and then I encountered this guy and I was like what the?

      If I remember correctly, you liked the movie. What’s your opinion, should I try and track down a copy? I would like to see how all this comes together and such on the big screen, if you can count my TV as a big screen.

      I agree with you, if a book is good it is good. Doesn’t matter what decade or century it was written. And I don’t know if I’ve met someone before that lumps Bram Stoker, Jane Austen, and Edgar A. Poe in the same sentence. I’m impressed. I haven’t read Stoker yet, but that will change in a week or two. But I agree with you, the other two are great writers and prove your point completely.

      • Carl V. says:

        Either be impressed or weep for how strange I truly am! Ha! Dracula is my favorite novel of all time and so I don’t have a lot of perspective anymore about Stoker. I personally get so much out of it and see so many layers and discover something new each time I read it. And Poe has been a favorite since junior high. He is so skilled in what he does and his storytelling is so effective. He is a true master of the short story medium. As for Jane Austen, I am a sucker for period films and am a hopeless romantic and so I became a fan of her work from films first and have really enjoyed the novels. She too was an amazingly talented author.

        I don’t know what you’d think of the Dune film. It is incredibly dated, a product of the 80’s for sure. I think you might find it a big jumble, but on the other hand you would be filling in all the blanks so it might be an interesting experience for you. I am really interested in tracking down the miniseries once this is done because I’ve only seen it once and don’t remember much about it at all. I remember not liking Paul in it very much but I am not sure why. I did like his mother though and the Princess Irulan.

      • TBM says:

        I’m really looking forward to Dracula. And Poe is such an amazing writer. I admit that I am a fan of Jane Austen. I fall for her books each time. I get sucked into the will they or won’t they end up together each time. If only I could write like any of these writers.

        Funny that you say you remember not liking Paul much in the movie, but he is one of your favorites in the novel. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts after you watch the series. I have problems with Paul since he is so wise and such, but he’s so young. I have to stop picturing myself at that age and thinking, there’s no way he can know that much.

  4. Redhead says:

    Having read this book a handful of times, I think this is first time that Fenring’s weird way of talking finally registered with me. I think he is trying to unnerve people he is talking to, and gage their response, the Baron says something about “static”, and it functions as that as well. Yes another example of hitting two birds w/one stone!

    I don’t know if I’d want to live with the Fremen. I have tons of respect for their way of life, they have to have a strict way of life because the conditions are so harsh. Like Carl though, I am very spoiled! I want fans, and clean water, and trees, and shade. But I agree completely with you, if I had to choose a Dune character to be, it would probably be a Fremen, because they are the most intriguing group!

    • TBM says:

      Good point about Fenring. I can see that he is trying to unnerve people.

      If I don’t have a hot shower and a cup of tea in the morning, no one would want to be around me!

      I would want to live with the Fremen since they seem like survivors and you know where you stand with them. They seemed more honest. I hate liars.

  5. Caroline says:

    The last part of your post made me laugh. So it’s a relief to read Dune after Frankenstein and the other books… What’s that telling me about Frankenstein… What holds me back from reading more sci-fi is my assuption that it is too high-tech, in this regard Dune is a pleasant suprise.
    No one mentions Caladan much, that sounds like a pleasant place. The same menatl abilities plus a nice green planet with a lot of water.
    Like you, I’m also a loner, and now that you mentioned this I realize it would be hard for many reasons to live among the Fremen not only because they are too fierce and there world has no trees and rain.

    • TBM says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I love Frankenstein and it is one of my favorites. But the writing style is different. Dune was a much easier read.

      The same thing has held me back from sci-fi. I was afraid that all of it would be so technical and way over my head. I’m pleasantly surprised and would like to read more science fiction. If anyone has suggestions I’m all ears!

      I can’t live without trees and rain. One of my bosses hates trees and wants them all to be cut down. We battle about this every time he mentions it. Why would you want a treeless world?

      • Caroline says:

        This strikes me as incredible (your boss, I mean). Is there anything more beautiful than a tree. I live in a city but our backgarden is like a park. I love it that I can hear the wind in the leaves and hear the rain on them… What a sad world that would be without trees.
        I know what you menat about Frankenstein, I just find books like Dracula, Frankenstein or … (I’m reading Balzac right now) much easier than Dune.

  6. Carl V. says:

    Actually I like Paul in the movie, I just remember not liking him as much in the mini-series. I have this vague memory that he was a bit whiny in the mini-series, but I could be confusing it with something else. The only real problem I have with Paul in the movie is the result of reading the book because in the book he 15 and he is much older than that in the film.

    I don’t have a big problem with his knowledge because they reveal several times that he has actually been in Mentat training (unbeknownst to him) all of his life as well as the Bene Gesserit training and all the other training he has obviously had from childhood in preparation to become the Duke one day.

    • TBM says:

      Now I’m following. I didn’t know there was a movie and a mini-series. I really need to catch up with Dune!

      Mentat training does sound impressive. Doesn’t sound like much of a childhood does it? Kinda reminds me of the movie The Queen. After watching this movie, I thought to myself that I would never want to be a queen and have every part of my life structured, even my free time.

  7. Meredith says:

    Edgar Allen Poe gives me nightmares.

  8. Caroline says:

    When I was 16 I bought the complete works of Poe and my mother was a little bit astonished. She started to worry serioulsy when I started to read only by candle light. 🙂 I haven’t read anything by him in a long time. Or Lovecraft. There were a few things in the Poe stories I did find creepy. Being buried alive.

    • TBM says:

      LOL…you read them by candle light. That would be kinda cool. I’ll have to give it a try. Did your mom try to stop you or did she just keep an eye on you?

      • Carl V. says:

        I’ve read by candlelight before, but only when the power was out. It was an interesting, and deliciously creepy experience. I need to do that this fall during RIP when I’m reading some scary stories.

      • Caroline says:

        She wouldn’t have tried to stop me. The flickering light does enhance the experience…

  9. Shelley says:

    Well, as I’m sitting her eating dark chocolate peanut M&M’s while reading the discussion posts, I’m guessing the Fremen life would not suit me either. I keep thinking, “Caladon, take me away!” That’s where I would want to be in this world of Herbert’s.
    I just thought that Fenring tries to portray himself as a harmless idiot even though he’s a ruthless killer. Still annoying though.
    I find it unusual that Dune is not on the 1001 list. I actually have a composite list with additions made in other publications of the book so the list I have on my blog is actually almost 1300 books, and it’s still not on the list.

    • TBM says:

      Hi Shelly. Dark chocolate peanut M&Ms sound divine.

      I can’t believe that Dune isn’t on my list or your extended list and yet many people claim that it is a sci-fi masterpiece and it is compared to Tolkien. What’s going on?

      • Shelley says:

        NPR is supposed to be coming out with a top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Dune will undoubtedly be on there, and I can’t wait to see what else makes the list. I’m a sucker for lists.

    • Carl V. says:

      I love dark chocolate peanut M&M’s. Mmmm….

      “Caladon, take me away!” I love that. Great reference.

  10. Pingback: Dune (round 2) – Susan Hated Literature

  11. TBM says:

    Hi Carl. Reading scary novels by candlelight sounds like a treat. But I worry that I’ll never sleep again!

  12. Carl V. says:

    Yes, there are some pretty powerful stories in the I, Robot collection. You should track down a copy of Robot Dreams and read the story titled…er…”Robot Dreams”. It is a pretty sock-you-in-the-gut story with Susan and a robot in it. Very good.

    I really enjoyed Asimov’s original Foundation Trilogy as well.

    • TBM says:

      I’ll have to check out the Foundation Trilogy and Robot Dreams. I’m curious about any sock-you-in-the-gut stories.

      • Carl V. says:

        It is a shame that story isn’t in the I, Robot collection, but he wrote it decades after all those stories came out.

        The Foundation Trilogy has some dated stuff in it, but by and large it is a very fascinating political, historical story with some religious stuff in it as well, or some ideas about religion anyway, and along the way you meet some very interesting characters. It has been a few years and I am really wanting to read it again.

  13. TBM says:

    Maybe we can read it at some point. It would be fun. Political, historical, and religious elements sound perfect for me. I’ve been enjoying this group read.

    • Carl V. says:

      Yes, the group read has been more fun that I even imagined it would be. Makes me glad I’m doing Way of Kings next month with that group (and I hope people from this group will join in). I’ll certainly want to do more of these after this.

  14. TBM says:

    I did request the Way of the Kings from the library. I’m still considering. I should know in a couple of weeks how far along I am in the move and if I’ll have time. I’m hoping that I will! I would love it if you host some more group reads!

  15. TBM says:

    Shelley that is great news about the NPR list. Can’t wait to see it and to see how many I’ve read. Thanks for sharing. I am also a sucker for lists.

  16. TheBlackTwig says:

    Are you in a book club now or been for a while already? I would love to be a part of a book club but can’t find one near here. Perhaps, I’m not looking more closely. I would definitely include this book in my list too. Thanks!

    • TBM says:

      Hi BlackTwig. I haven’t joined a book club recently. I was in one before and enjoyed it, but people moved away and the club fizzled out. For Dune, I joined Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for an online group read of Dune. It is my first time doing a group read online and it has been a lot of fun. And the book is a great read.

  17. shaz says:

    The thing that jumped out at me as I read your post was your spot-on observation that modern society allows people the freedom to be loners.

    I’m one of these people who have told the world “I want to be alone” and, aside from not having a date of Saturday night, I have suffered no ill effects. If I’d done the same thing a hundred years ago, I probably would have starved to death.

    Privacy is indeed a luxury.

    This is the first time I’ve ever done any sort of group read and I’m loving it! So interesting to read everyone’s thoughts. I’m not a big fantasy fan, but I’m thinking about joining the Way of the Kings read just for the interaction with other readers.

    • TBM says:

      I can’t imagine trying to live hundreds of years ago and being a loner. That would be a hard life to have to produce and grow everything you need. In today’s world, it is easier to be a loner if you so desire.

      I’ve been loving the group read and I am also considering the group read for the Way of the Kings. Hopefully I will be able to find the time since I’ve been loving the interaction and discussions.

  18. Carl V. says:

    Speaking of alone time, I found this article today (someone tweeted about it) and I thought it was really excellent.

    • TBM says:

      Hi Carl! That is a fascinating article. This part of the article was the scariest for me: “The constant flow of relationships and noise around us often distracts us from the most important thing in our lives: our heart and soul. The fear of solitude, the inability to disconnect, the lack of training in meditation, and the difficulty associated in looking deeply into our heart and soul means that we rarely do it. In a world where virtual relationships exist around-the-clock, the discipline to search our heart is rarely developed.”

      What happens when a society does not know their own hearts and souls?

  19. Carl V. says:

    “What happens when a society does not know their own hearts and souls?” Unfortunately one of the easiest answers is to say “look around”. But I am more of an optimist and tend to believe that in the midst of all the bad things our there that there are many, many good things.

    One of the more fascinating points about this article is the idea that there are a lot of good things that are available because of all this social connectedness, but the big message is one of balance. I do think it is increasingly easier in this day and age to be “on” all the time and not take time to connect either with yourself, with your faith, etc. Quiet time, time to think, time to listen, time to rest and just “be” is so underrated and is the easiest thing to push aside because of all the (often satisfying) distractions that we have to choose from. I think part of the reason I am such a night owl is that desire to just have some ‘me’ time, but if I was truly living a balanced life I would find a way to get that time, and make sure my wife and daughter have it to, without having to resort to shorter nights of sleep to get it.

    • TBM says:

      Balance. I would love to know how to incorporate this into my life. There are days that I feel I’m being pulled into so many different directions and I feel guilty for saying leave me alone so I can have time to myself. I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I feel we live in a society now that people know they can get in touch with us and there is always someone or something that wants our attention.

      You stay up late for alone time and I get up early for alone time. Sounds like we both need balance.

      If you figure out a magical formula I hope you will share it, but then more people may want your attention.

  20. Carl V. says:

    Honestly I think the ‘magical formula’ is something we will both have a hard time doing, and that is choosing to get off the internet and stay off it for scheduled down time just to a) be with family and friends and be able to focus entirely on them, and b) do the same for ourselves and not feel guilty about it.

    Years ago in marriage and family class they talked to us about the importance of “cultivating” a relationship and how in order to do that you really had to schedule time to be with that person, not just wait for that illusive “mood” or “inspiration” to take you, not to settle for the lie of “spontaneity”. The truth is if you don’t “make” time to do something you’ll be jostled around by whatever is grabbing your attention at the moment. I live that way entirely too much and haven’t always done so. Its time to regain some control over that.

    • TBM says:

      This is a very true statement: The truth is if you don’t “make” time to do something you’ll be jostled around by whatever is grabbing your attention at the moment. That is something to live by.

  21. Caroline says:

    Oh… I missed an interesting discussion. I have become very good at saying no to all sorts of things but still, I get up very early to be totally alone for an hour or so. People never understand why I don’t get up and go straight to work.

    • Carl V. says:

      I have been getting up early lately as well just to have some quiet time before actually setting about the business of getting ready for work. One of the things I need to practice doing in that time is not using it all for being online, though, and actually use some of it to just be quiet, think, listen, pray. It would help if I would get off my butt and start walking again in the morning. That time is always good thinking time.

      • TBM says:

        It is hard Carl to avoid the temptation. My walks in the morning have started to help me have real quiet time.

      • Shaz says:

        One of the reasons why I don’t mess with facebook and twitter is that, for my own peace of mind, I need to disconnect for extended periods of time. Of course, not having Internet access at home really helps makes that lofty goal doable. 🙂 Sadly, I’m too easily distracted by TV, DVDs, games, books, etc. Odd, I say I want to be alone, and then do all these things to keep from actually experiencing solitude.

        I need to start morning walks again as well. I tore a ligament in my knee back in March and now that it’s finally healed up, it’s too blasted hot to walk anywhere!

    • TBM says:

      I know many people who get up at the last possible second and then head straight to work. And there have been mornings when I have done this. But I enjoy some quiet me time before heading off to my job. Also, I don’t know how it is with you, but the alone time here early in the morning is so quiet and peaceful. Such a nice way to start the day.

  22. TBM says:

    Hi Shaz. I also don’t have a facebook account. It seems like so many people get sucked into it. And yes there are so many distractions, TV, Movies, ect. Why are we so afraid of solitude and to be alone with our thoughts? I often wonder what would have happened if TV existed when Jefferson and Adams lived. Would they have found the time to start a new country?

    I’m glad to hear that your knee is better. Hopefully cooler weather will come early this year!

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