Frank Herbert, Dune
Macmillan Audio | Published: May 2007 | ISBN: 978 1427201430 | Audio Run Time: 22:00 | MP3 | 256 MB
The word "classic" gets thrown around a lot; so much so that it has been rendered practically meaningless. Nonetheless, for any art form, there is a core selection of works that are "must-reads"; within science fiction, there are books or movies that any fan worth his salt must read or watch (or better yet, re-read or re-watch). These are works that set the standard; works by which everything else in the genre is measured; works which resist the vicissitudes of pop culture; works that remain eerily relevant regardless of the current real-world social or political milieu. In short, works that are "classics". One such work is Frank Herbert's science-fantasy epic Dune. Many would argue (myself among them) that it is the single work of science fiction which any literate person should read.
First published in 1965, Dune is set some 8,000 years in the future, in which all of humanity is in the sway of a feudalistic interstellar empire. Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, scion of the noble House Atreides, a youth on the run from powerful enemies, who must struggle to survive in the harsh deserts of the planet Arrakis. Despite being more than 40 years old, Dune reads as if it could have been written yesterday. Not only is it a fantastic story; it is rendered in clever and lyrical prose. Herbert imbues his story with a depth unmatched by any other created world (with the exception of Tolkien's Middle Earth). Dune hints at a rich history for Paul's civilization, including quotations at the head of each chapter drawn from supposed histories from their far future. There's even a map of Arrakis, and a detailed set of appendices covering the ecology and religions of the Dune-iverse.
Another testament to the lasting impact of Dune is the number of follow-up works associated with it. Herbert wrote five sequels before his death in 1986 (fine books, to be sure, but none were near as good as the original). Then there's the much-maligned, yet cultishly worshipped feature film adaptation directed by the eccentric David Lynch. The SciFi Channel produced two decent-but-not-fantastic miniseries (Frank Herbert's Dune and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune), and since 1999 Frank's son Brian Herbert has teamed with bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson to write several commercially successful sequels and prequels. The next of these (coming in August 2007) is Sandworms of Dune, a grand finale based on notes left by Frank Herbert, and set millennia after the events of the original novel. And there are more novels to come, as Herbert & Anderson set their eyes on expanding on Paul's years in exile, beginning with Paul of Dune (to be published, presumably, in 2008).
Meanwhile, to capitalize on the growing audiobook market, Audio Renaissance has launched an ambitious project to produce all-new recordings of Frank Herbert's six Dune novels - starting, of course, with Dune itself.
Published in May 2007, the unabridged Dune audiobook is a brilliant and worthy adaptation of Frank Herbert's masterpiece. It's narrated by the talented Simon Vance, with a dialogue read by several supporting "cast", including audiobook regular Scott Brick. The presentation is lightly accented with incidental music and windy desert sounds.
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