Let me be clear at the outset: this is a good book, from a really good author.
Some of the reviews of this book make the mistake of viewing it as a children's book mixed with an adult's.
It is in fact another attempt to address the common Science Fiction theme of how to educate future generations as touched on in other classic works such as Ender's Game or Dune.
The essential question is:
"Adversity made our generation great.
How do we make our children's generation great without having to suffer similar adversity?"
In order to cover the author's idea of the answer to this question there is a lot of coverage of the education of one child in particular. This is essential to the plot and is interesting in how it shapes the adult the child becomes.
This is not hard Science Fiction, although there is very advanced technologly. It is soft Science Fiction as it is much more concerned with how a technology perilously close to magic in its application could affect humanity.
In the main the narrator does a superb job, her voice is pleasant to listen to and she does a convincing, if limited, range of accents.
My only niggle is that she pronounces the word 'primer' to rhyme with 'trimmer' rather than with 'timer'. It sounds ridiculous, but I found it so distracting that I almost gave the work 4 stars instead of 5.
However I did not as that would have been petty pedantry as the rest of the production is very well done.
For this review I am going to mostly ignore the fact that this is an audiobook: the production is first rate and in this case that means one can concentrate on the novel, not the actors.
How do you review a massive novel such as Dune?
I will let the reputation of the book assure you of its quality and literary value.
Bear in mind that this is the best selling science fiction novel of all time.
What I would like to explain is my opinion of why this novel is important.
Frank Herbert with this novel was the first science fiction author to create a properly believable world entire.
The level of detail is astounding, from the carefully worked out machinations of the various political forces in the universe to the equally meticulous ecological cycle of the planet Arrakis.
With such dilligence and the use of devices such as quoting from highly convincing yet non-existent books Herbert fully pulls off the trick of making the reader (or listener) accept the milieu of the novel without question.
This unprecedented feat accomplished Herbert then uses this fully realised background to achieve his second great accomplishment; soft science fiction.
Up until this point (1965) nearly all science fiction had been about the technology. For example two of the great previous SF authors, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke had always felt the need to explain how their fantastical devices worked.
This is known as hard science fiction.
Herbert by contrast says "okay, you believe in my universe. Now heres the important bit: the people".
In short this novel brings the hitherto neglected literary facets of character and human interaction properly into science fiction and the genre would never be the same again.
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