I was fifteen years old the first time I read Dune. I had been an avid reader since I was eight years old, when I began reading novels in the third grade. I read the books that inspired me over and over again, I read all kinds of things, but at that point in my life I read mostly fiction, and with that said, at the age of fifteen, I found Dune to be somewhat dense, and challenging.
I had taken that first copy from the carousel of the library at the alternative high-school I was attending. I read it, perhaps not as carefully as I should, but as carefully as I could, and I went to see the motion picture when it came out later that year.
I found David Lynch’s adaptation to be one of the worst movies ever made, and with that Dune passed from my thoughts for a time.
In the summer of 1988 I was visiting a friend in Montana, and I picked up a copy of Dune from the bookstore in Bigfork. I needed something to read on the bus ride home to Minneapolis.
Four years later I was able to engage the book in a completely different way, after the first two pages I was hooked. I was nineteen years old, and in the intervening years I had learned enough and grown enough to understand what Frank Herbert was getting at.
Dune changed my life.
I would read it and all six books in the original Dune series, eight times in sum, as well as everything else Frank Herbert wrote on my quest to absorb his wisdom.
He was a giant.
I have given away dozens of copies of Dune throughout my life, and recommended it to more people than I can count, always with the words this book will change your life.
Many of them came back to me to tell me that it did.
Frank Herbert wrote science fiction, but he wrote science in his fiction had less to do with spaceships and laser beams (though it had those things), and more to do with the science of politics, religion, ecology and psychology.
What is most significant about Frank Herbert’s writing is this: he opens a window for the reader on what it means to be human, and he asks open ended questions about the range of human potential, in a way that allows the reader to believe in those possibilities for themselves.
Frank Herbert is inspiring.
He makes the reader believe that we can do more, be more, see more of the world than our sense sallow…if we are disciplined, if we are attentive to the world around us, and if we cultivate within ourselves the desire to live a life without fear.
He died thirty-four years ago today, when he passed a heroic light left the world.
Given First – 2020.02.11