KAMN Show #11: Dune

Welcome to Show #11!

This week, we discuss Dune, the 1965 Frank Herbert novel that continues to have an impact on the way people think about science fiction.

The Ninjas also cover the theatrical movie (several different versions of it), and the more recent SciFi Channel miniseries treatment of the book. Listen to their varied opinions on the creative interpretations.

Also, courtesy of Jesse Willis, SFF Audio has listed a large number of available audiobook options for Dune novels. Thanks, Jesse and Scott… the work you guys have done was in a way an inspiration for the creation of this show.

Books and movies mentioned:

Promos and Links:
Promo: Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing
Link: The Official Dune Website
Link: Wikipedia: Dune (novel)
Link: SparkNotes Study Guides: Dune


Related posts:


  1. Just listened in, and really enjoyed the show.

    I first read the first Dune books quite a while ago. I don’t recall exactly when, but it was before the Chapterhouse came out, and I think that was in 1981, so I’m guessing I read them in ’79 or ’80. I enjoyed the first 4, but got bogged down in Heretics and never finished it. Then Chapterhouse came out, and I decided I was going to read the whole series again, and continue all the way through. Once again, I got bogged down in Heretics, and have never to this day finished it, or started Chapterhouse.

    I went and saw the movie in the theater when it came out, having been a fan of (the first part of) the series. I was seriously disappointed in the movie. I thought the acting was pretty poor, the adaptation of the story didn’t work very well, and that there was a level of cheesiness that I found pretty offputting. The whole thing you discussed with Baron being all diseased and disgusting, for example, was just campy, and casting Sting was a big mistake.

    Because I was so disappointed in the movie, I’ve never mad an effort to see the miniseries. From your discussion, it sounds like I made the right choice….

    I’ve read a few others of Herbert’s books, BTW, and had mixed reactions to those. I enjoyed Whipping Star and The Dosadi Experiment, and I liked Destination: Void, but got stuck halfway through The Jesus Incident.

    (It sounds like I’m in the habit of abandoning a book half way through, but it’s acutally pretty unusual for me…. And most of these incidents were in high school, so if I were being fair, I’d give them a re-read, to see how much differently I respond today.)

    Anyway, returning to Dune, et al., I think that of the first 4 — the ones I actually read all the way through — God Emperor was my favorite.

  2. Wow, Great show guys! You Ninjas definitely Kick-Ass and do it so Mystically I’m really floored! I wish it had gone 2 hours! You really need to do a commentary track for the DVDs!

    On the book end of things, ya, Dune is just head and shoulders above 99% of SF out there (at least that I’ve read). Its such a dense wonderous achievemnent, and like you guys all said, even the secondary characters are all as smart as whips. I loved that aspect of it, wish it was more common. I worship the first Dune novel. One of the reasons I think Dune works as well as it does is that Herbert didn’t go with his first idea on Dune, which BTW was based on a non-fiction article he wrote about desert encroachment (and how to stop it). Herbert’s first idea was to make Liet Keynes the lead, and there was going to be no Paul in it at all. The story was to be the fight to terraform a desert world (originally it was going to be Mars). Think of this proto-Dune as kind of a Kim Stanley Robinson’s three colour Mars series that never materialized. I think Dune’s greatness comes from a source of greatness – like Tobias Bucknell wrote about in his column on “Original Source Creativity” the layering of ideas and detailed inpiration from history is what makes a great work great. (here’s a link to that MP3 column –



    Now my first reaction was that all three of your guys’ assessments of the Dune Miniseries was solid. I too thought of it as a filmed play due to all the “lighting” special effects – I got used to it, and ya the costumes, some of the acting and the sets sucked. Overall I still liked the miniseries but thought all the flaws you guys pointed out were absolutely on target. Especially the whining of Paul. Paul does not whine in the book. Paul is not a whiner in my universe. Myself, I wasn’t impressed with the “weirding way” (or is that the “wyrding way”) as depicted in the miniseries – the Bene Gesserit aren’t from the Matrix. Now unlike all three of you otherwise wise Ninjas I actually vastly prefered the Lynch concept of the wyrding way. Visually it works, and it allows for something interesting and DIFFERENT from regular technolgies we’ve seen or heard about – I’d have thought that would make a good story on its own actually). I like the payoff in the film for the wyrding way being tied into the voice too, but I also like the raining at the end of the film. One of the very few things Herbert never made very clear in DUNE was what the wyrding way looked like. So that’s not all John Harrison’s fault – the main thing that bugs me about the miniseries is that they called the miniseries “FRANK HERBERT’s Dune”, if anything should be called Frank Herbert’s Dune other than the book it should be the Lynch film. Lynch involved Frank Herbert in the movie – I’m basing this on two sources, a book about the making of the film (which is full of cool production details) and the interview cassette released by Waldentapes which has interviews with both Lynch and Herbert about the film.

    Couple more points… the comparison bewteen the two “fear is the mindkiller” sequences was absolutely 100% gold. And finally, one thing that always bugged me about the Lynch version and the miniseries is that nobody has made an ornithopter look like an ornithopter. An ornithopter is an aircraft that gets its forward propulsion from the flapping of wings (the ORNITH – in ornithopter comes from the ltain for “bird” – putting “ornith” on a prefix makes it “bird-like”) an ornithopter is a heavier-than-air aircraft that is propelled by the flapping of wings. I wanted to see some damn brid shaped wings on these shuttles. It sucks that the Lynch production team couldn’t get the things to work for the film but the useless turds who did the miniseries – who always insisted they weren’t just copying the Lynch film DIDN’T make even an attempt to give me flapping wings. Okay I better calm down.

    Now I see all the points both Summer and Joe made about the original Dune movie – but like David I found those things endearing. Like David I saw the movie first, and watched it dozens of times over as a youth. In fact a friend had a copy of the extened TV edition on tape (back in the 1980s) which differs somewhat BTW from the recently released extended cut and I loved that even more. All in all and I don’t say this lightly, I think Lynch’s Dune is the very best film adapted from a science fiction novel. I fucking love it.


  3. I’m curious how many other Dune fans have read a book called “The White Plague”, another Frank Herbert book.

    It’s more technothriller than science fiction, at least in my mind. Well, I guess science thriller may be more like it. I haven’t read it in a long time, but I recall liking all but the resolution and ending.

  4. GaryZero says:

    Great job, I can hear Joe again, yah!! I would have to side with Dave on the original movie of Dune being the best. But I admit I never read any of the books. I did see the miniseries and either it was a bad time and I was tired or it really was as bad as most Scifi exclusives are on the weekend.

    You guys have inspired me to at least read or listen to the first book though. Something even my favorite writer Kevin J. Anderson couldn’t get me to do. Speaking of Kevin you have to read his Saga of the Seven Suns series, its fantastic.

    So do you guys take requests for things to cover?

  5. Summer-

    Yes, I read The White Plague. Enjoyed it quite a bit, as I recall. What I remember of the science now seems to make little or no sense, but with appropriate suspension of disbelief, it was a pretty good thriller….

    I think I followed it up with another good plague book called The Fourth Horseman by (IIRC — too lazy to Google) Alan Nourse(?).

    Heck, you could do a whole episode on plague books, now that I think about it. Add in The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams of Watership Down fame. Throw in Outbreak (which isn’t SF, but fits in the plague theme, and BTW gave me a pretty deep fear of Ebola).

    There’s an excellent near-future plague thriller called The Cobra Event that I’ve recommended to a number of people who aren’t SF fans. (The thing that’s scary about that one is that at the end, the author explains that all of the technology used by the bad guy is available now, but none of the stuff used by the good guys/epidemiologists.)

    Finish up with the The Andromeda Strain and The Stand, both of which have books and movies to compare and contrast…

  6. Hmm. My post above got me thinking. The near-future cross-genre introduction-to-SF book might be an interesting topic for a show. I know a lot of people who don’t like SF, but who I think could be seduced, if you will, given the right material.

    I mentioned The Cobra Event above, which would be a good SF intro for a Tom Clancy or Robin Cook fan. The Terminal Experiment by Robert Sawyer won the Nebula Award, but is another example where a mystery fan, or a medical thriller fan might feel right at home.

  7. FYI The White Plague is the only non-dune Frank Herbert boook released as an audiobook. There was a two cassette abridged audiobook back in 1986. You can still find copies on eBay (including some still new ones in my ebay store). Just plug in ISBN: 0886461677 in a search.

  8. Good work guys covering Dune. And its good to see so many people so passionate about this work. We discuss SF novels in our podcast but we’re topic focused so we don’t go into any great detail on the individual books themselves.

    I’d like to see you guys tackle Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. Have you given any thought to it?

  9. Great episode but then again I knew the material pretty well unlike some of the other shows so I got more out of it. The book was always hard going, the movie was fun but obviously flawed and the extended movie was just too long and ruined (if that is possible) the movie. The mini-series were ok but they are never going to be sitting on my DVD shelf:)

    I still remember the p**s being taking out of DUNE on a satirical comedy show on UK telly back in the day. A spoof of a film review tv show were running a competition for people to write in and explain the movie. David Lynch was awarded third place for his entry:)

    Love the show and looking forward the discussion on Logans Run.

  10. The events of Dune took place 25000 years in the future. The 10000 year time one of you mentioned was the current year, ~10000 AG–10000 years after the founding of the Spacing Guild.

Speak Your Mind