In 2011, I posted this article on my futuristguy blog: Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Uses/Abuses of Power and Foresight. With it was my first version of a “Reader’s Chronological Guide to the Worlds of Frank Herbert’s Dune.” I have since updated it, now that the entire saga has been completed by co-authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. But, as a fan of Arrakis, I wanted to add images and links to other items I’d collected through the years. And that is what motivated the development of this blog, Dune Notes.
Here is the opening from that 2011 post:
As a break from curriculum writing, I’m reading my favorite sci-fi book: Dune by Frank Herbert. I’ve read it a few times, so I decided to do something a little different. So I’m noting passages that deal with dynamics of power in multiple fields (politics, economics, religion, technology, thinking abilities, etc.). He also has a most intriguing take on chaos, consequences, and the potential shapes of the future. These are worth exploring more in depth, and I’m really gonna just do it.
Frank Herbert had an amazing grasp on the complex nuances of power dynamics, as he shows by how he has them play out in their multifaceted forms in “the Duniverse.” During a number of interviews in the 1960s through ‘80s, he stated that didn’t believe that power was merely a corrupting force, as in Lord Acton’s maxim that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Instead, according to Herbert, “Power is a magnet that draws the corruptible.” The entire Dune series shows how that principle plays out, to the max, and how generations and nations and schools of thought pass on a lust for power and the machinations thereof to those who follow them.
Meanwhile, I’m also noting passages in Dune on the practice of “prescience” by Paul and Jessica Atreides, and others, mostly from the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. These passages give a fascinating portal into Herbert’s perspective on destiny, determinism, free will, uncertainty, intended and unintended consequences, plausibility and possibility, etc. These aspects of systems thinking were also core subjects in what would eventually become known as strategic foresight or futurist studies. And, since one of the goals of my curriculum is to equip Kingdom enterprise futurists, I find Herbert’s mid-1960s “prophetic” take on foresight to be fascinating.
So, I decided to reward myself when I finally get my curriculum edited, and read the entire Dune series – including all prequels and sequels – in chronological order to see else I might pick up on the topics of uses/abuses of power and of foresight. Should be fun, both for the inherent interest and because it means I’ll be done with the project I started in 1991!
And to get ready for that happy day, I am preparing now, by putting together my reading list. And here it is.
There are many Dune-related transmedia items I’ve not collected — action figures, pins, all existing versions of the DVDs, first editions, international items, and far more. I’ve gravitated toward the kinds of resources that help me pursue better understanding Frank Herbert’s perspective on power. Also, I’ve focused on media items compatible with American region formats for VHS, DVDs, and Blu-rays.
So, this site is an archive of items I’ve enjoyed having in my collection, and a lot of reference minutiae for my later studies as an amateur archaeologist of Arrakis. I hope you’ll enjoy the Reader’s Guide and other pages here!
NOTE: As with most of my media case study sites, I have launched when the structure is close enough to what I’d like it to become, plus I have enough details and images for it to be worthwhile for those who are interested in the subject matter. I have many pages of notes to synthesize, items to photograph, and details to add to the site as time allows. Where I expect to add more material — or there are important notes for readers — I’ve used bold-faced red type.