Dune Discussion Question: Week #3

The third discussion question for this summer’s SciFri Book Club selection, “Dune.”

Welcome to week #3 of the SciFri Book Club reads Dune! This week’s discussion question comes from Ira. He asks:

Is Arrakis (Dune) actually Earth projected thousands of years into the future?
Frank Herbert drops a couple of hints that make Ira think this might be the case. First, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam arrives on Paul’s home planet of Caladan early in the book to test whether the Duke’s heir might be “human.” “And where else would humans originate except on Earth?” Ira asks. Could all of the humans in the “Duniverse” have originated on Arrakis before spreading out across the Imperium?

Later in the novel, Dune’s planetary ecologist Kynes mentions plants living on Dune that are also familiar to us Earthlings. On Paul’s first tour of Arrakis, Kynes mentions that the planet’s desert people—the Fremen—will often rub the juice of the creosote bush into their hands to prevent perspiration (part of their scheme to retain moisture in the desert). Creosote, of course, is a real plant we find here on Earth.

The time period during which Frank Herbert wrote Dune could also be a kind of clue, Ira suggests. In the late 1960s, there was “a paradigm shift in thinking about the environment,” he says. “I think Herbert wanted readers to think that this could be the fate of the Earth if you weren’t careful.”

So what do you think? Is Dune Earth? Did Dune have water, and then lose it?

Respond in the comments below and check out what your fellow Book Club members are saying on our RebelMouse page.

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About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.