Dune  - Frank Herbert, Simon Vance "He who controls the spice controls the universe"

Duke Leto Atreides along with his concubine, Jessica, and son, Paul, is leaving his homeworld of Caladan to rule over the profitable and highly desired world of Arakkis. But Baron Vladimir Harkonnen hates House Atreides and doesn't like how his House has been pushed out, so he plans a coup. Meanwhile, Paul begins to learn of his destiny and special purpose.

This book is a science fiction classic, and I've been recommended it many, many times. Finally, I broke down and borrowed the audiobook to get a glimpse at this great work.

The first thing I noticed when reading Dune was how detailed it was. Herbert really thought about how life would be on a desert world, and I was impressed and intrigued at his effort. I even believed it was possible to have such a desert world. In some ways, Arakkis is more real to me than even Tatooine (and I am a HUGE Star Wars fan!). The way the Fremen acted, the thought that sand is like water, the care for preserving moisture...all of these helped make Arrakis real and believable.

Secondly, Herbert doesn't cheapen his characters just to show off his stuff in the planetology or politics department. My favorite character was Jessica. Herbert didn't make Jessica some stupid sexy woman who is only in the story to boink the main character. I felt Jessica was well written, smart, and active. Plus, I really was impressed how Herbert made her proficient in the use of the Wielding Way, a psuedo-martial arts. Other notable characters are Duke Leto, Stilgar and Count Fenring.

But something else became obvious. The first section is slow and confusing. I wanted to give up so often, but didn't because of others cheering me on. After I got past the first part, however, the writing was somehow easier and more interesting. I was particularly interested in the big coup between the Harkonnens and the Atreides. But, around the time the story skips forward in time, I found myself drifting away. And the ending confused me and slightly bored me. So this uneven pacing and uneven interest does somewhat taint my impression of Dune...

Now, before I get splattered with tomatoes, I do have a reason why this might be that doesn't include "It's the author's fault". I listened to this on audiobook (albeit unabridged, so I can't blame it on the audiobook being abridged), so it's possible that I missed something while listening, perhaps while finding my place, resuming in the middle of a section or just toning out and not paying 100% attention. So I would like to one day read this in book format so that I can fill the gaps and see if the novel drifts off the same way I experienced on audiobook.

I also never really liked Paul. So many call him "older than his years", but I almost found him to be an impertinent, know-it-all twerp. Was it the audiobook again and my attention to it that is to blame or my perception of the book in general?

I don't like reading about four year olds that act much older than their age, so when I read about Alia, I cringed. I will admit, that Herbert had probably the best explanation for her worldly wisdom, but I still hate children like that and had to fight myself against hating Alia outright.

Although this book has a tough beginning to go through, it really does get more interesting. I also can't help but be awed at how well Herbert thought out Arakkis and the great characters Herbert filled his world with. The latter tends to be nearly unheard of in science fiction, hence the "Space Babe" and "Super Hero" male protagonist stereotypes that are flung around. I won't lie, I didn't like how slow it was, how much talking about everything that occurred, and how odd the ending is. And I wouldn't recommend anyone listen to this on audiobook as I did. I think I missed out on a lot of things (such as the appendices, which appear only at the end of the audiobook, and the glossary, which would have saved me many trips to Wikipedia). But I think anyone who likes science fiction should give this a try, if only to see a classic scifi novel. I can truly see why this is to scifi as Lord of the Rings is to fantasy.