Just signed up a few minutes ago. Glad to be here. Glad there is a website strictly devoted to original Dune.
Here's my Dune history in brief. I read Dune for the first time, like many other folks, while I was a teenager — a freshman in highschool, I think, perhaps earlier. I was very intrigued by it. In particular, I had a deep appreciation for the themes of the strictest training and education regimens as a means of realizing hitherto unknown human potential. Mentats, Reverend Mothers, Sardaukar, Fremen — they all captured my imagination with the intensity they all brought to the perfection of the post-technological human. However, I was young, and I admittedly didn't quite understand Dune. I believe Dune is incorrectly summed up and marketed toward younger audiences as a "coming of age" adventure novel, when it is much more than that. In fact, these coming of age and adventure elements are wholly repudiated after the first book, which few people, I believe, really understand. By "repudiated," I don't mean left out; I mean that after reading Dune Messiah it is clear that Dune is a parody of the standard sci-fi/fantasy trope of the Chosen One and good's ultimate triumph over evil. If you think Dune is the "BEST BOOK EVER," as so many Amazon reviewers exclaim, and that Dune Messiah and subsequent books are boring — well, I have to say that you are precisely the mindless supplicants who ruin the universe and bring disgrace upon House Atreides, as personified in Dune 2 through 6.
Back to being less contentious.... While I was still puzzled and ambivalent toward Dune, I read House Atreides when it first came out. Though Dune was largely over my head, I found House Atreides to be an insult to my intelligence, and at that time I had very little experience with difficult and meaningful literature. I can actually recall feeling bad for the authors while I read it. I very much wanted to stop reading the book, but I went ahead and finished it out of pathos, really, for the authors, and pathos for my parents who wasted $25 on a really bad book. I thought that Brian Herbert must be painfully embarrassed as his fraudulence and lack of any writing ability was on full display to the world. Only recently did I realize they continued to shamelessly pump out book after book after book. Now I don't feel too bad for Brian Herbert anymore.
In any case, I renewed my ambition to read the Dune cycle a couple times through college. I read Dune Messiah three or four times, and my interest always petered out after that, only grazing the surface of Children of Dune once. This must've been around the time the second installment of the Sci-Fi miniseries came out, and I got a snapshot glimpse of the plot of Children and assumed it wasn't worth reading.
Now I'm in my mid-twenties, have a Master's in liberal arts, and have decided to work through the Dune cycle once and for all. Currently, I'm midway into God Emperor of Dune and I'm liking it the most out of all the other books. I think Herbert was right to start again with a whole new cast, only retaining Leto and Idaho. I was getting somewhat tired of the original cast, constantly hearing about Gurney's baliset skill, Stilgar's tunnel-visioned Fremen customs, and so on. I find God Emperor to be intriguing so far, because, unlike the first trilogy, which functioned mainly as an allegory of our own history — the bureaucratization, corruption, and crisis tendencies in government, religion, and economics — one firmly rooted in classical sociology and social Darwinist ideas, God Emperor is an attempt by Frank Herbert to really speculate on a possible future for humanity that, for the first time, achieves self-consciousness and uses a knowledge of its own history to obviate the "inevitabilities" of history. Thus we have Leto's "Golden Path." I'm not far along enough in the novel to say whether or not the Golden Path is, in the final analysis, just as catastrophic as Muad'Dib's jihad, but it is intriguing nonetheless. It is perhaps telling that Leto only manages to achieve the lasting peace of the Golden Path through complete autocracy and rigid military control over the galaxies. Maybe God Emperor is Herbert's critique of communism in its contradictory promise of utopia by way of total subservience to state and military. Not sure yet.
There's lots to say about Dune, but I should cut it off there. Thanks for welcoming me here.