Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: DUNE

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The last few weeks have felt overwhelming. While I enjoy the time off around the holidays, I don’t enjoy that I am traveling so much. There are many reasons for this. I hate driving. I’ve reached an age where my back appreciates no beds other than my own. My separation from the gym makes my anxiety pool with zero outlets. Eating off my typical diet leads to a 5 to 10 pound weight gain that will need to be addressed come January. Clothes get tighter. I returned from Chicago six days ago. Yesterday I returned from Northern Ohio. Discomfort. That’s a good word to describe my holidays.

As a solid introvert, I lose control of my alone time while traveling. I like people. I like being around people, but it exhausts me. I need little recharging moments throughout my day. I peppered reading sessions throughout my 4-day trip to Chicago. Every day, I would sneak off for a couple of hours and read Dune. I had other books to read, like Treasure Island and David Copperfield. But I always picked Dune. Since my other two reading selections where snug on my Kindle, those books would have been more sensible reading choices. Dune was borrowed from my library was decidedly more bulky and less convenient for taking busses and the train around Chicago.

I picked Dune because it captivated me from page one. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I don’t like science fiction as a general rule. I wasn’t fond of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve struggled to put my finger on why I often don’t like this genre. My least wordy explanation is that lazy writers use the non-realistic setting to enable sloppy plots, although admittedly this wasn’t the problem with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

There were thing things that I loved about Dune. First, there wasn’t excessive creative license around what the creatures and characters looked like. Herbert seemed to save all his creative energies for developing classes of characters that come with specific sets of skills and abilities, the Bene Gesserit are an excellent example of this. I get the sense that sci-fi writers get carried away with describing the strange visuals of their creatures and then fail at adequate character development.

Second, Herbert revealed details around both these classes of characters and context information at an appropriate pace. The novel starts out with little to no description and jumps right into plot. He would mete out details and bits of back-story as he described action. This is one of the best paced novels I have ever read.

Third the political, ecological, and religious themes  are excellent. First, this is one of the first fictional books that I’ve ever read that considers the ecological implications on plot development. The interplay between religion, power, and politics resonates as being in line with our own history books.

I will be reading the sequels to this book. This is one of the few books that I just couldn’t put down once I started. I highly suggest that you give it a read.

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