The SciFri Book Club Reads Dune

Friday, August 1st, 2014

NPR’s SciFri Book Club has started discussing Dune:

Join sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson and astrobiologist and theoretical physicist Sara Imari Walker as they help kick off the club with an introduction to Herbert’s “Duniverse.”

Kim Stanley Robinson asks the first discussion question:

What do you see in the book that is a funhouse mirror reflection of our world right now?


  1. Andreas says:

    Oil = Spice
    Middle East = Dune
    Al Queda = Freemen
    Bin Laden = Paul Atreides

    Bin Laden modeled himself and his strategy on Paul Atreides.
    Only it didn’t quite work out for him.

  2. If Bin Laden had modeled his strategy on Paul, he would have tried to unite the Arabs under him as Mahdi and initiate a widespread series of strikes on oil extraction and refining industries in the Middle East (he who can destroy the oil controls the oil) until the 1st world gave in to his demands.

    This doesn’t actually work due to the modern, real world Middle East not being a very good mirror to the fictional Arrakis in a wide variety of ways, from population density to urbanization to the presence of alternative sources of the commodity in question.

    Bin Laden’s goals are also materially very different from those of Paul.

  3. Purpleslog says:

    When I used to read Robb’s Global Guerrilla stuff I would think to the line from Dune (book? Movie? Both?) that was something like: “Who can destroy a thing, controls a thing”. I haven’t read Dune since 1983. I think I will read it again.

  4. Isegoria says:

    “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.”
    — Paul-Muad’Dib to the Guild navigators, at his confrontation with the Emperor Shaddam IV.

  5. William Newman says:

    “Bin Laden modeled himself and his strategy on Paul Atreides.”

    They did seem to draw from common sources, but that’s not at all the same thing as the later one derivative modeling itself on the earlier derivative. Similarly lots of things draw on Northern European history and traditions and myths and superstitions, and some also borrow from each other, but not all. _Dungeons and Dragons_ did borrow from Tolkien, but it also borrowed from _Chainmail_, and (judging from its reputation and from my very old memories of skimming the _Chainmail_ rulebook) that was mostly directly based on Northern European history and tradition, not routed through some influential riff on it like Tolkien.

    Captain Hook did do the pirate thing earlier, but the Dread Pirate Roberts was not necessarily based on Captain Hook.

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