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Exploding spaceships, a mad escape from thinking robots, boiling mud? Wow, that sounds like some great material for a short story. They are the basic elements of Hunting Harkonnens, the very first story in the entire Dune chronicle. And while the end result might not be the most exciting story, it is a great introduction to the basic ideas of this early Dune universe.

Every series has to start somewhere. And, of course, the Dune purist will say that Dune starts with Dune–the original series as written by the venerable master Frank Herbert is all there is. Full stop. Well, I don’t belong to that camp. I want to embrace the whole Dune universe, even if some of it doesn’t really fit nicely with the original novels. Remember, the events of Dune take place a very, very long time after the events of Hunting Harkonnens and the books of the Butlerian Jihad series. So, things that don’t agree with the original series can be dismissed as details lost in the mists of history rather than mistakes by the authors.

Hunting Harkonnens begins with the elder heir of the Harkonnen family, Piers, and his parents returning to Selusa Secundus after visiting some of their holdings on the planet of Hagal. (All familiar names to Dune fans.) Somewhere above the sparsely populated planet of Caladan, the Harkonnens are intercepted by a small fleet of thinking machines, neo-cymeks and the great Titan Agamemnon. Piers escapes to the planet’s surface where he eventually finds shelter with a small tribe of natives. The climax is quite exciting, but ultimately changes little in the Dune universe. Nonetheless, we now know a Harkonnen was stranded on Caladan long before the Atreides family arrived.

The most common criticism levelled at the Dune books and stories written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is that they aren’t well written. I have said so myself on several occasions. However, after rereading Hunting HarkonnensHuntingHunting Harkonnens Harkonnens with fresh eyes (and having, unfortunately, read some truly terrible books last year), I can honestly say I think Herbert and Anderson make a pretty good team. Sure, they aren’t at the level of the elder Herbert, or Issac Asimov or even Dan Simmons, but they are good writers. They have laid a good foundation for the first book (so far!) in the series The Butlerian Jihad.

Back about 20 years ago I fell in love with Dune. I don’t remember who introduced me to it, or why. It could have been one of my foster brothers, who got me reading great fantasy and sci-fi novels, or it could have been a chance purchase at the book store. Either way, the 25th anniversary edition of Dune found its way into my hands sometime around 1993. I was a young teen, and I think the book was a bit over my head at the time. But it still influenced me a great deal.

Over the years I’ve read Dune around 15 times. That is no exaggeration. My copy is well loved but still in good shape (I am very, very careful with my books). I’ve also read all of the sequels and prequels, with the exception of the last three books to be released (Road to Dune, Winds of Dune, and Sisterhood of Dune).

I was also lucky enough to find a copy of The Dune Encyclopedia (which gets less cannon with every new book released), Dreamer of Dune (the biography of Frank Herbert, Dune Pop-Up Panorama Book (without the free standing pieces) and The Notebooks of Frank Herbert’s Dune. I think I might have a comic book and a colouring book somewhere too.

So, one of my 2016 goals is to (re)read the entire Dune chronology. Right from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Hunting Harkonnens all the way to Hunters of Dune. I know that the newer books don’t compare to the genius of the original, but I love the universe so much. I can’t wait to immerse myself in it again.

Oh, and for the record, my favourite novel is Dune followed by God Emperor of Dune.

Miss Jade

jade rachel. 37. october 29 1978. scorpio. snake. welsh. lives in london. black hair. green eyes. tattooed. pierced. mother. daughter. sister. aunt. fiance. widow. lesbian. wiccan. hippy. geek. goth. ravenclaw

loves life, sex, bdsm, green day, enigma, enya, photography, cross-stitch, crafting, drawing, reading, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, tarot, astrology, egyptology, animals, starbucks, subway More?