Dune endures, but why isn't it a phenomenon?

At The New Yorker, Jon Michaud explains why Frank Herbert’s space opera, Dune, endures despite failing to ender the public consciousness the way Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have. There are no “Dune” conventions. Catchphrases from the book have not entered the language. Nevertheless … With daily reminders of the intensifying effects of… READ THE REST

Two words: Hawkman Underoos.


Oh I dunno at our house whenever someone says ‘My plan…’ it’s always interrupted with ‘MY plan’ then the original speaker continues with ‘THE plan’.

Also iirc the protagonist of color in Starship Troopers was also replaced with a white guy in the movie.


Err, since this post doesn’t actually link to the mentioned New Yorker article, here it is: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/07/dune-endures.html

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Agree with @mwiik, catchphrases depend on your local subculture. “As the Fremen say, the best place to conserve beer is within your body,” always gets a laugh in my crowd. As does, “For he is the kwisatz haderach!” whenever somebody does something impressive.


Dune is my favorite SF book. It’s true that it has remained entirely outside of the mainstream, and even among SF nerds it’s not very high up on the list. I often use the “fear is the mind killer” mantra when I’m doing something potentially dangerous or risky. And I also like to say “I see the truth of it” when someone says something worthy of the remark, whether sarcastically or sincerely. Call me a hipster, but I would prefer if Dune remained in the rarified air of obscurity. I don’t think David Lynch’s version was terrible, but I would fear that a contemporary remake of it would suck all the soul out of it. There is a lot of potential in the book for a Hollywood orgiastic extravaganza of special effects, but the story is subtle and complex and would surely suffer from a mainstream adaptation.


This puts it where Lord of the Rings was before Peter Jackson: pregnant with cinematic possibility, but misshapen by prior efforts.

Wait, are we saying Lord of the Rings didn’t enter the public consciousness before Peter Jackson? What public are we talking about here?


both replaced the protagonist of color with a white dude.

In the anime, by white dude you mean “Japanese guy”, I think.

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“Catchphrases from the book have not entered the language.”

Frustrated because I can’t find a “we have Wormsign” clip from MST3K

edit: Yes, I realize it’s Moviesign, but it’s been so looong. I miss Joel.


Agreed. Dune, along with The Lathe of Heaven, and hopefully Riddley Walker are among the things that Hollywood should never again dare touch.

edit: Ah, but you know that because I say this, someone’s already figuring out a way to fuck one of them up in the not too distant future.

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They should give Alejandro Jodorowsky the money to make it. it was his idea in the first place to make it a film, he’s making movies again, and he’s brilliant. What more could we ask for?


It didn’t, really. Until the movies were made, if you mentioned, say, Gollum or Gandalf to the average person, you’d get a blank look.

And the animated version of EarthSea wasn’t horrible. It may not have been a very good adaptation, but that’s not the same thing.

Sting in a clamshell speedo. It just didn’t fit my vision of the story when I first read it back in junior high.

…Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[quote=“seyo, post:6, topic:3956”]Dune is my favorite SF book.[/quote]Every time I read it, I find something important I never noticed before.


I’m going to guess it’s because the book is famously difficult, which LoTR certainly isn’t, and to call Lynch’s film ‘flawed’ is being generous to it - although I personally like it.

I read the first three books and that was enough for me. I enjoyed them but don’t feel the need to delve further. Perhaps the sheer volume of books written by others dilutes the brand, too?

On the subject of LoTR, I actually greatly prefer Bakshi’s film (again, most certainly flawed), Jackson’s just rubs me up the wrong way, particularly his TTT, which I loathe.

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I’m not sure what sort of “average person” we are talking about – maybe people who don’t read books in general? Really, LOTR was hardly obscure before the movies – “Frodo Lives” was a pretty common phrase on T-shirts and graffiti for as long as I can remember (that is from the mid 1970s onwards). And references to LOTR were found all over the place – a commune near where I grew up even named itself Lothlorien (and somehow avoided getting sued by Christopher Tolkien)

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Given that The Lathe of Heaven is basically all about taking somebody else’s dreams and fucking them up, that’s strangely apropos.

I tried to read through Dune in my late teens but found the “Dune-speak” made the novel impenetrable during my first encounter with the world. Add to that the introduction of characters that I was apparently supposed to know the importance of even before reading the book and I quickly lost interest in the story. I suppose I could give it another look today, but it doesn’t seem that compelling of a story to warrant a second chance based on what I could glean from my short read and the craptastic 80’s movie.

Space Buddha overcomes fizzlapehudin and gnarfles the garthok to unite the Ooo-Ooo plunkins. Can’t see how this failed. Nope, can’t see it at all.


Well, except that a Japanese guy in a Japanese movie made for and by Japanese people is a not a minority member of that society, but rather a member of the dominant mainstream. And even in the West, East Asian people often do not face the same skepticism and discrimination as people of African or South American descent.

In the Earthsea books it’s an important, resonant, and intentional thing that the protagonists are people of color. Removing that element of their characters is sad and galling. Would Japanese audiences have found a POC Ged less approachable and sympathetic than a Japanese Ged? Would Western audiences? Possibly – which is why there’s something sad and frustrating about the filmmakers acquiescing to that potential prejudice, rather than standing against it by letting their characters remain people of color

There’s not enough in the movie (or books) for women to identify/celebrate - you can’t have a convention unless women are into it too. Otherwise its just another sanctuary of a thousand testicles.