Remembering Chapterhouse as Dune Returns to Film

dune

Because of the movie I think like for a lot of people Dune has been on my mind again.

Chapterhouse: Dune was the first science fiction book I ever read because it just happened to be a book my parents had on a shelf. They weren’t Dune readers either but it was just one of those books that your parents had on the shelf because they picked it up during travels and thought you’d read it, someone gave it to them, or in my mom’s case it may have looked cute on a shelf. It looked like this:

chapterhouse dune frank herbert

It was an eye opener to a kid who had at this point read a lot of classic novels, some thrillers, comics, and fantasy books. At the time I had decided I might not be a science fiction reader because to kids no time was more important than the now and if did move across the timeline, the future was unknown and something that may be scary, and fantasy always felt like like the past, a long time ago and somewhere far, far away.

This is also perhaps the most odd of the Dune books, unique because of the novels’s ending and that Herbert would pass away the year after it was published.

I think historically Chapterhouse hasn’t been viewed always as fondly as some earlier installments but I’ve always been a supporter of it, undoubtedly partly because of my relationship with the book but also due to that aforementioned weirdness.

It’s also a rare ending that doesn’t feel like the typical series wind down where reader hopes are usually regulated to merely reading a book that doesn’t adversely effect their experience of the series overall and instead Chapterhouse feels as rich and as full of possibilities, and in the best way, unfinished when you are done with it. It’s also so far removed from the first book that you don’t just feel like you’ve ended a journey but instead are in the midst of the beginning, middle, and ends of many.

I’m on Goodreads, just joined, and one of the first things I saw was new people reading Dune, especially young people, and especially young women, some digging it and and some hitting a wall. Their interest almost certainly piqued seeing Zendaya and Chalamet in the film’s trailer, I think many ran into a rough transition coming from what is, let me tell you, a vibrant, active, and huge young romance readership into reading what is in comparison a dense Frank Herbert science fiction novel which was probably never written for them in mind when considering its 1960’s science fiction magazine origins

And it got me pumped to be honest. While I’m not part of the young romance/chick lit (what they themselves call it) readership, I always like seeing people reading and when people are enthused about anything in a very pure way that doesn’t have the element of bad faith arguments mostly faux-politically charged and truly hateful with nothing else to do people using all forms of entertainment discussion as their proxy war field of choice online and on social media. Indeed most of this huge base and the fiction they read is delightfully positive, open, and so enthusiastic. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air.

sexy zendaya dune chani

As I’ve aged I’ve tried to avoid what I have observed from both adults of childhood and my own current contemporaries where they hit a certain age and anything that happens after that just isn’t part of their world. Movies, music, books, tv, basic common knowledge of the world gives way to a life that no longer takes anything in and lives almost entirely in nostalgia. I’ve always viewed it as a stage of dying in some way.

They lose intellectual curiosity. Hell they even lose the much more fun, dumb curiosity. So even if I find that I don’t like something I do try to give new things a chance and the best part is you get younger opinions and eyes on older material you may love and I find criticisms of those things to be both interesting and at times educational. You’d be surprised what the generation after you thinks of things that you view as unimpeachable classics and I typically find those opinions to be a positive sign of society progressing.

I got to Dune young, middle school age, and would not describe the Herbert novels as inviting to most people. Some people are very successful at writing a series of events, put it in between a front and back cover, and calling it a book. Frank Herbert wrote novels and they are somewhat dense especially considering (again) its
magazine origins. It’s not what I would call a hard or complicated read but if you’re used to reading books exclusively written for children or the current oddly named YA market (or maybe the actual age of a young adult has changed) then it is a level up to someone writing science fiction about adult themes. Dune and The Hunger Games were not written for the same people at the same time in their lives. And, while I love it, yes, it could just be boring.

On the personals, the first edition of Dune (which is published by Chilton – yes the car guide publisher!) was the first book I bought when I came to an age of having expendable FU income (which wasn’t really the case at the time but I was still young and dumb lol) and decided to collect books and have a library of stuff I love. It’s not my favorite novel or series and Herbert is not my favorite author but it was the book that introduced me to science fiction and it felt apt.

It introduced me to a world of and words like facedancers, mentats, Honored Matres, Bene Gesserit, and gholas. Words that don’t really mean anything until this guy put them down on this paper.

And I think this is where it all connects. Dune and my own mantra. This was my introduction to the literature of ideas and ever since I always wanted to learn about and live in the current and future world.

By the way, I was able to be a +1 at a press screening for the movie. I’m not sure it’s for everybody, and Dune never really was for everybody, but I more or less loved it. I’m not sure if that’s helpful but in comparison I really hate the 80s Lynch film, it’s one of my least favorite movies of all time, and I’ve always been fairly confident in this film because Denis Villeneuve hasn’t miss yet with any of the movies he has directed, which includes large projects like Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, which is one of my favorite movies of this century thus far.