Science Fiction Planets Frank Herbert's Arrakis or Dune

About the planet Arrakis described in the book Dune by science fiction writer Frank Herbert.



Location: Somewhere in the Galactic Empire; Dune is the third planet in the Canopus system.

Discoverer: Unknown. Dr. Pardot Kynes, however, was the world's first planetologist and the first person to study the unique ecology of Dune.

Book: Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert, together with its two sequels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.

Description: Dune is a desert world, where water is so precious that the native Fremen--the free tribes of Dune, the dwellers of the void--wear stillsuits to recapture the moisture that their bodies give off, and use stilltents to recapture the moisture in their breaths. Arrakis has no free water as such, although artificial underground catch basins have been built by the Fremen to gather a store of water gradually. Even the water from the dead is squeezed out and returned to the community. The planet is mostly barren, with little plant or animal life; the climate is hot, as might be expected, with blowing sand and dust common climatic conditions. Arrakis is the only source of melange, or spice, mildly addictive when taken in small quantities, severely addictive in larger quantities; spice may produce or enhance telepathic abilities and definitely contributes to long life when taken regularly. Spice is a byproduct of Dune's unusual ecology, at the heart of which are the shaihulud, or sandworms, immense creatures that grow as long as 1,300 ft. The sandworms prowl the endless waves of sand, feeding on sand plankton and avoiding water, which is poisonous to them. Through a roundabout process, the sand plankton become sandswimmers, which in turn become sandworms, completing the cycle. During the initial stages of the cycle, any existing free water is used up or trapped, and the action of the sandworms creates more sand and grit to add to the mounds already extant. Into this exotic background, Herbert weaves his story of Paul Atreides, later called Muad'Dib by the Fremen, to whom he becomes a prophet and semimythological leader when he overthrows the rule of the empire. Paul, the son of an assassinated nobleman, is accepted by the Fremen as one of their own; his two children attain almost superhuman status in the third book of the series. A fourth novel and a movie are promised in the near future.

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