Vacationing on Arrakis

Beginning week four of my summer break and about two weeks ago (after catching up on overdue paperwork and furniture-moving) I opened a novel that I’d been meaning to read for at least the past two years, “Dune: House Harkonnen.” Thus, pretty much any free time (when I’m not driving, sleeping or working on the school website…) I’ve been spending in the world of Dune/Arrakis. I imagine for most people picking up and reading a novel isn’t a noteworthy experience, which makes sense. So I guess I’m writing about this, in part because because having the time to sit down and enjoy a good novel is… well, a novelty for me, but also because I haven’t just been casually reading a chapter here and there, but I’ve been plowing through the books. I finished “House Harkonnen” and immediately sprinted throughHouse Corrino and am 154 pages intoThe Butlerian Jihad.” It dawned on me when I was at my local Borders the next few novels in the series, in anticipation of finishing “The Butlerian Jihad,” that I was indeed vacationing in the world of Arrakis.

The last time I remember spending so much time vacationing in Arrakis was when I read the original six dune novels in the early 80s with my then-wife, Kim. I don’t exactly remember, but I imagine that it was probably another summer thing that got completely out of hand, in that then, just as now, we spent all of our times reading through these books. I was very proud of myself because I finished all six novels, observing that most people whom I knew were reading or had read the series generally gave up around book four, God Emperor of Dune, because as dense as all of the dune books were, it was especially difficult to get into the fourth book due to the fact that the main character was a giant sandworm with a 1,000 year life span who had vague memories of once being human. We were so into the books that I remember trying to wake Kim up from a nap and in her semi-conscious state she warned me remember to not walk with rhythm so as not to attract the attention of the deadly giant sandworms. Now that’s getting immersed into a great series of books.

Maybe it’s a sign that the most of the movies this summer (and this past year) either out-right suck or are pretty ho-hum. Or maybe it’s a sign the social life is completely on the skids. Having finished the three The Prelude to Dune novels, I’m planning on going through the three Legends of Dune novels and then I’d like to read the original six again, before doing the two new novels, Hunters of Dune and the yet to be released Sandworms of Dune,” which are set to climax the Dune saga. Oh yeah, when I was at my local Borders I also picked copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion andUnfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth (like I needed more summer reading material…). I still don’t know if I’m going to do a road trip in my new car or what other substantial thing I might do during this summer break. But I do know that I plan to spend a good portion of it skulking about and exploring the world of Arrakis/Dune. JBB

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.Frank Herbert


  1. G

    I remember my first experience with Dune . . . I took the first book on my honeymoon and was so enthralled with it, now 20+ years later I am wondering if my subconscious wasn’t escaping my honeymoon because it saw the writing on the wall before it was there . . .


  2. joe.bustillos

    You might have something there, G. Funny thing was that mine was a shared experience with my ex- albeit she bailed after book three while I read all the way to book six. In the acknowledgments of book six Frank Herbert dedicated the book to his wife who had just died of cancer and went into the genesis of his writing career beginning as something to do while he and his wife were forest-fire spotters spending unending days in spotters towers in Oregon. He always was an inspiration to me to become a better writer. JBB


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