Children of Dune (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
The final novel in Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy is eloquent testimony to the inadequacy of the critical pejorative “science fiction.” “Speculative fiction” (or “SF”) is a better term to describe the stylistic seriousness and thematic range that places Herbert squarely in the ranks of the century’s most important thinkers and writers. A list of the novel’s plot elements is itself indicative: the controlled genetic evolution of the human species through selected breeding by the Bene Gesserit; imperial control of the universe through millenial manipulation of religion and the addictive drug, melange (produced only on the economically crucial planet Arrakis or “Dune”); regulation of an entire planet’s ecosystem by attention to its most minute components; the horrifying ramifications of cumulative genetic memory, resulting in mass possession of an individual, as parallel to mass worship of a messiah. These elements are subtly woven into a strong narrative fiber that compels our intellectual engagement in a complex tapestry of speculation, exploring connections among essential psychic phenomena: memory, dreams, visions, prophecy, and the “prevailing mystique” guiding every culture.
In the first two novels of the trilogy, Dune and Dune Messiah, Herbert described the achievement, by the Bene Gesserit, of...
(The entire section is 1705 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
America. CXXXIV, June 26, 1976, p. 570.
Book Week. May 9, 1976, p. K8.
Kirkus Reviews. XLIV, March 1, 1976, p. 272, and March 15, 1976, p. 336.
Library Journal. CI, June 1, 1976, p. 1312.
New York Times Book Review. August 1, 1976, p. 18.
Observer. October 3, 1976, p. 24.
(The entire section is 32 words.)