A Masterclass in Worldbuilding: A Review of Dune, by Frank Herbert.

Leo Carr

Science fiction is one of the most popular genres of both literary and cinematic varieties, and one of the predecessors of today’s science fiction is the series Dune

The first book of the Dune series, half of which was recently made into a highly successful movie, takes place in the far future, where humanity has expanded into space, colonized around a million planets, containing a range of valuable resources. The most valuable of these resources is Melange, a drug that grants a longer life, resistance to disease, and prescient visions, thereby allowing for an economy that spans multiple solar-systems. 

The book is written from many different perspectives, but the main character is a boy named Paul, who is the son of Duke Leto Atreides. House Atreides, one of the noble houses of Dune, has just been granted control of Arrakis, the only planet where Melange, or spice as it is also called, can be found. 

Dune has some of the best world-building that I’ve ever read, with many factions, all with conflicting interests, competing against each other. Frank Herbert, the author, drops the reader in the middle of a strange universe with no context as to what is happening and leaves you to figure out what’s going on. 

There is a glossary in the back of the book for those who don’t want to learn as they go, but I greatly enjoy the process of figuring out meanings in contexts.  This is one of my favorite parts of Dune: you experience the world without any exposition, and you figure out what is going on as you go. This can be a negative for some readers who prefer to always understand what’s going on, but for me, navigating the vast world of Dune has been an incredible experience. 

Overall, I enjoyed Dune a ton. So much so that I’ve been reading the rest of the series and the various side series, and I’m currently on Book 20. I hope that this article inspires you to give Dune a try; it’s a great series to read if you’re looking for an epic fantasy series.