Dune (novel series)

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First edition cover of Dune.

Dune is either a novel series about the future direction of human civilization, or the title of the first novel in that series. Frank Herbert created the Dune series beginning in 1965, with the publication of the first novel. The story universe of the series is a metaphor for the geopolitical state of earth in 1965, at the height of the Cold War and what Herbert saw as the exploitation of the Arab lands for their wealth of oil and their developing resentment of same. A film adaptation made by Paul Lynch and a SyFy miniseries was made in 1984 and 2002, respectively, as well as a miniseries derived from Children of Dune in 2003. It will get a politically-correct live-action film adaptation in 2020.

Novels in the series

The six "classic" novels in the Dune series are:

  1. Dune, the original.
  2. Dune Messiah.
  3. Children of Dune.
  4. God-Emperor of Dune.
  5. Heretics of Dune.
  6. Chapterhouse: Dune.

Frank Herbert died in 1986. But his son Brian has decided to write more novels for the series, either alone or in collaboration with other authors.[1]

Chief Metaphors and What They Stand For

Spoiler warning
This article contains important plot information
  1. The planet Arrakis, commonly called Dune, represents the modern oil-rich Middle East. This planet is the sole source of:
  2. The spice called melange, an obvious metaphor for oil. Dune is a desert world inhabited by:
  3. The Fremen, who, with their Arab names and desert customs, are supposedly descended from transplanted Arabs of Earth and still practice a mixture of Islam and Zen Buddhism called Zensunni..
  4. The Emperor of the Known Universe is a metaphor for the United States of America.
  5. The Spacing Guild is a metaphor for "hidden commercial interests" who, according to prevailing liberal thought in the 1960s and today, are the actual powers behind the government of the United States.
  6. The Combine Honnette Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM) could be a metaphor for the original Standard Oil Trust, or the "Seven Sisters" family of oil companies during the period in which Herbert began writing.
  7. House Harkonnen, the "siridar-barons" of the planet Geidi Prime, are supposedly descended from Romanovs. They are actually a metaphor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  8. House Atreides, the "siridar-dukes" of the planet Caladan, are supposedly descended from the ancient Mycenaean kings Agamemnon and Menelaus. Why Herbert chose to include a metaphor for modern Greece is difficult to say. It could be a reference to the fact that, during the Cold War, Greece was the only Western-thinking nation in what is geographically Eastern Europe. This relates to the sense of honor and character that the Atreides show in the face of the corrupt Landsraad, the "parliament" part of the government in the books.
  9. The Bene Gesserit is an almost-certain metaphor for the Roman Catholic Church, with heavy emphasis on nuns.

As the story arc begins, the Spacing Guild instructs the Emperor to remove House Harkonnen from its position of management of Arrakis and install House Atreides instead. But that transfer is a sham, because another part of the plan is to reinstall House Harkonnen by force, using Imperial troops wearing Harkonnen uniforms to accomplish this. But the dishonest powerbrokers fail to reckon with young Paul Atreides, the then-current Marquess (duke's son) of Caladan who escapes an obvious attempt at summary execution, falls in with a Fremen tribe, unites all the Fremen into an army (similar to the deeds of Lawrence of Arabia), and manages not merely to end foreign domination of Arrakis but actually to make Arrakis the seat of a new, Fremen-ruled Empire.

The succeeding installments in the series chiefly concern various intrigues against the new Empire and the stories of succeeding Emperors and "Mothers Superior" of the Bene Gesserit as they struggle to gain or hold supremacy.

Spoilers end here.

Film Adaptations

  • Dune (1984) - Directed by David Lynch
  • Dune: Part One (2021)
  • Dune: Part Two (2024)
  • Dune: Messiah (2026)


  1. The Herbert Limited Partnership, The Official Dune Website, April 9, 2007.