Frank Herbert: Dune (1965) Book II Muad’Dib

It’s time for the second Dune readalong post. The readalong is hosted by Carl V from Stainless Steel Droppings,  The Little Red Reviewer and (slight change of the initial three) Grace from Books without any Pictures. This weeks questions have been sent by Redhead (The Little Red Reviewer). Check out the other links here.

I’m happy to report that I liked part II much better. There is far less dialogue and if there is, it is an exchange between two people and not purely an instruction of the reader.

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

I’m not totally sure about this question. I thought he died? I thought since he was a Fremen he also secretly worked for them.

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

They sound like a very proud and interesting people and reminded me a bit of the Tuareg or any other desert dwelling nomads. A lot of Dune is inspired by North African culture. But since I like rain and plants more than anything else in the world and as appealing as I think some of it sounds, thanks but no thanks, I wouldn’t want to live with them. Furthermore I’m not into duelling. A fierce fighting people isn’t the kind I would want to spend time with. One aspect that I liked is their patient attempt to re-green the desert. Their elaborate plans sounded very convincing.

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

I found it quite annoying and was trying to imagine how it would sound. I’m not sure what Herbert wants to tell us with this?

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?

This is precisely the reason why I thought from the beginning that it really is a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy blend. Considering the fact that resources are limited on earth, and very likely on other planets as well, low-tech seems a more viable way to go. These people are advanced in other ways. The mental faculties are far more developed and this would be something to wish for. Unfortunately, humans stay humans, and will, even with low-tech support only , try to exploit others. At least that’s how it is on Dune.

If you found the beginning of the book tough to get into, do you find that you’re having an easier time with the middle portion, now that all the “set-up” is complete?

Yes, it is far easier, as I said in the intro, there is much less dialogue in this part and finally people seem to talk to each other. At least to a certain extent. In part I the dialogue was meant for the reader to understand life on Dune, which is a highly artificial way of getting information across. Since a lot is “set-up” now, he did let go of this. The reading was more fluent and there was quite a bit of action. I liked the part when Paul and his mother are on their own. That part was quite gripping.

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? 

Any change in the dialogue form was a welcome change for me. I appreciate it much more the way it is handled here but it is still far from realistic. And whenever the parts are centered on the Baron, the dialogue is still heavy (meaning too much and artificial).

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?

I don’t know any new science fiction. It doesn’t feel dated, no. Maybe the strong Arabic element is dated. I have a feeling a contemporary writer wouldn’t use a word like jihad and would try to be more inventive in terms of cultural elements and not just pick from existing cultures.

If you’ve never read this book before, where do you think the storyline is headed?

I’m really not sure. I start to have a feeling that we will be left with a lot of open questions at the end of Part III. It’s epic, so that seems logical. I wonder if we will even get introduced to the Princess Irulan. I would like to read something about her. But – should anyone wonder – I will not go on reading this series. The moment I close part III, that’s it for me.