Spice: A Recent Discovery?

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georgiedenbro
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Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 03 Oct 2014 12:14

I'm going to suggest that the spice melange was a very recent discovery as of the time of Shaddam IV. While I think there is some evidence to suggest this, there is no hard proof.

1) We can accept that the Baron was so obsessed with extracting spice that he had no interest in anything else. This is an analogue to people in our era who began extracting oil swiftly and who had no concern or interest in what would happen 100 years down the road. But how could we accept that no one knew about the spice cycle prior to Pardot Kynes, or had any inclination about the relationship between spice and worms before that? It seems to me inconceivable that if the spice had been in supply for a very long time, given its importance, that scientists and other parties wouldn't have been all over Arrakis doing studies like Pardot did. Pardot appears to have been the first, and I take that to mean spice had only recently been on the galactic market. Even the Fremen didn't know about the spice cycle until Pardot taught them!

2) The BG, even as of 10,191, were still using a 'truth drug' for their truth trance and not the spice. Perhaps they hadn't updated their Truthsayer methodology yet to include the spice?

3) The factions in the Duniverse appear very concerned about the spice flowing smoothly, and there seems to be a lot of worry about disruptions. But if the spice had been around for a very long time, i.e. millenia, you'd think they would have already established a reliable system and wouldn't have to worry about basic logistics any more.

4) If the spice was so important, why is it that factions like the Bene Tleilaxu only began trying to synthesize it themselves after Paul's time? If we accept that Leto II was actively encouraging the BT to create it themselves, then why wouldn't they already have been trying that for thousands of years if spice had been known for all that time? I would suggest it's because spice hadn't been around for very long.

5) The people of the Duniverse seem perplexed by Paul's prescient abilities and we can probably take it for granted that a prescient of his power had never come before; the Guild Navigators were probably the strongest prescients previously. If the spice had been around for thousands of years, what are the odds that no one in all that time would have taken large quantities of it and had strong prescience? It seems more like the spice's full capabilities were only being discovered for the first time during Shaddam IV's reign.

6) Here's a passage from Dune:

Dune wrote:He thought of the filmbook Yueh had shown him--"Arrakis: His Imperial
Majesty's Desert Botanical Testing Station." It was an old filmbook from before
discovery of the spice.
Names flitted through Paul's mind, each with its picture
imprinted by the book's mnemonic pulse: saguaro, burro bush, date palm, sand
verbena, evening primrose, barrel cactus, incense bush, smoke tree, creosote
bush . . . kit fox, desert hawk, kangaroo mouse . . .


Granted that future tech may allow 'filmbooks' to last a very long time, but you'd think if Yueh had showed him an ancient relic from 5,000-10,000 years earlier that would have been mentioned. It feels more like "old filmbook" may mean centuries, but not millennia. I also never got the impression in Dune that the botanical testing stations were ancient, from thousands of years earlier; it just all seems to fit better that they were constructed fairly recently, maybe during Elrood's reign, but that the Harkonnens didn't keep them up so well.

These details all seem to point to me to the fact that spice was a fairly recent discovery and that research on it was only in its infancy. If the spice was so important that the entire galaxy was brought to its knees by Paul's threat to destroy it, then I really can't accept that no one ever bothered to learn simple facts about it like how it's created. We could believe that the Baron might have decided to not care about that, but I can't really believe that whoever had the Arrakis-fief before him didn't either.

The one fact that seems to go against my theory is that the Guild seems to think they won't be able to navigate anymore without spice; this would suggest that they don't have alternative drugs they can use. But is this a case of spice just being superior to the other drugs and them not being able to go back to the old ones, making their case the same as that for the BG? Or is spice really the only drug they can use? If the latter, it means that spice was around since before the BJ. There is one passage that can help with this, but it doesn't help much:

Children of Dune wrote:melange (me'-lange also ma,lanj) n-s, origin uncertain (thought to derive from
ancient Terran Franzh): a. mixture of spices; b. spice of Arrakis (Dune) with
geriatric properties first noted by Yanshuph Ashkoko, royal chemist in reign of
Shakkad the Wise
; Arrakeen melange, found only in deepest desert sands of
Arrakis, linked to prophetic visions of Paul Muad'Dib (Atreides), first Fremen
Mahdi; also employed by Spacing Guild Navigators and the Bene Gesserit.
-Dictionary Royal fifth edition


If Shakkad was a Corrino then it means this was post BJ, and therefore there was no spice before the BJ. If that is so, then it means the Guild did manage to operate prior to that without spice. If this wasn't a Corrino Emperor, i.e. it took place before the BJ, then maybe the Guild always used spice for Navigation right from the start.

My best guess is that Shakkad was a Corrino, and that he was maybe Elrood's father or grandfather; and that the Guild did use non-spice drugs before, just like the BG, but seem now to believe that they can't do without the spice.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Oct 2014 14:02

It's always been my assumption that the Guild used computers to navigate before the BJ and gained their monopoly because they started using prescience after their computers were smashed and banned. That would have put the discovery of the spice right after the BJ, though.

It is hard to believe the spice wouldn't have been investigated but what with sandworms, corriolis storms and insane Fremen it would have been difficult. Also, the Guild and the Fremen wanted it kept secret.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 03 Oct 2014 14:08

Good point about the computers, that slipped my mind. But it still remains to be answered, as you said, whether the Guild used spice right after the Jihad or used something else until spice was discovered later.

I always felt that spice wasn't categorically different from other drugs, that it was just much more effective than the other awareness spectrum drugs. Its unique property seems to have been the geriatric effect, which would have little to do with Guild navigation unless for some reason it took 150 years for a Navigator to learn how to to do it right. The gist I get from Dune is that spice is the new "wanted resource", not that it suddenly allowed people to do all kinds of things they couldn't do before. I'd like to believe that the Guild had other drugs before the spice that worked ok, maybe not as effectively.

EDIT: Also, if the spice had been discovered at right around the time of the BJ, that would make the passage from Dune about the filmbook outrageously understated. Yueh somehow has in his possession a filmbook from the era of the BJ, 11,000 years old, and all they can say about this treasure from the past is "old filmbook"? That's as far back as our time was from the BJ, and by the time of Paul Earth is a long-forgotten fairy tale.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Oct 2014 14:21

Our only info on the subject:

Mankind's movement through deep space placed a unique stamp on religion
during the one hundred and ten centuries that preceded the Butlerian Jihad. To
begin with, early space travel, although widespread, was largely unregulated,
slow, and uncertain, and, before the Guild monopoly, was accomplished by a
hodgepodge of methods. The first space experiences, poorly communicated and
subject to extreme distortion, were a wild inducement to mystical speculation.

~Dune: Appendix II: The Religion of Dune

Thanks for being intentionally vague, Frank!
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 03 Oct 2014 14:44

Freakzilla wrote:Our only info on the subject:

Mankind's movement through deep space placed a unique stamp on religion
during the one hundred and ten centuries that preceded the Butlerian Jihad. To
begin with, early space travel, although widespread, was largely unregulated,
slow, and uncertain, and, before the Guild monopoly, was accomplished by a
hodgepodge of methods. The first space experiences, poorly communicated and
subject to extreme distortion, were a wild inducement to mystical speculation.

~Dune: Appendix II: The Religion of Dune

Thanks for being intentionally vague, Frank!


:lol:

Someone needs to do a seance and ask Frank some questions. :pray:

One fine point is that computer or AI-based navigation would still be clumsy and would require very precise and up-to-date data to function, and still would be subject to error based on random events. The INM's that are made later are not merely computers, but replicate the act of linear prescience. This means they are able to determine things about the destination and route without needing current scans or data about those places; they 'just know.' We assume the Guild was special because with prescience they could not only navigate without computers, but because they could do so with 100% accuracy, making their methods far superior to the "hodgepodge of methods". Due to this the Guild would most certainly have developed a monopoly with or without the BJ, but it was possibly currents within the BJ that led to humans trying to develop their mental skills in the first place.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Oct 2014 15:22

If we only knew if the Guild had some kind of prescience before the discovery of the spice, that would tell us a lot.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby zacher2005 » 04 Oct 2014 13:10

In the Road to Dune, they have a Dune bonus chapter where someone mentions the spice had only been around for 100 years.

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Oct 2014 13:28

zacher2005 wrote:In the Road to Dune, they have a Dune bonus chapter where someone mentions the spice had only been around for 100 years.


Wow, that would certainly back up my theory, if true. Do you have the book handy, and if so might you be able to find the quote?
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby zacher2005 » 04 Oct 2014 13:33

I don't have the book with me let me see if google helps.

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Oct 2014 13:37

My copy is in storage, I might go pick it up tonight so I can check this.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 04 Oct 2014 13:48

We need a PDF of RtD.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Oct 2014 14:02

Freakzilla wrote:We need a PDF of RtD.


Well whaddya know:

http://worldtracker.org/media/library/E ... 20Dune.pdf
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby zacher2005 » 04 Oct 2014 14:10

n/m

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby zacher2005 » 04 Oct 2014 14:12

"Until Dr. Yueh showed me the filmbook I thought we'd always had the spice," he said.
She smiled in spite of her fears. "Only for about a hundred years." And then she thought: But that is
always when you're almost-twelve. And she remembered that there was a time in her youth when
enthusiasm was less a word than a world and less a world than a universe.
Paul said: "Before they found the spice, Arrakis was just a place where they studied about plants and
things that grow where it's really dry."
"His Imperial Majesty's Desert Botanical Testing Station," she said. And she wondered: Where is Dr. Yueh

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 04 Oct 2014 14:25

Sweet!
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Serkanner » 04 Oct 2014 14:30

zacher2005 wrote:I don't have the book with me let me see if google helps.


Found it:

It is a deleted chapter from Dune. I also think it is a very early written scene.

PAUL & JESSICA (In hiding after the hunter-seeker attack)
What does it mean that you are Bene Gesserit, Mother?"
He has inherited my perceptivity, she thought, and said: "That is the name of the school where I was trained."
"I know that, Mother. But it means something different, too. When my father, the Duke, is bothered by
something you have done he says 'Bene Gesserit' like a swear word."
She couldn't suppress the smile that twisted her lips. "And what is it about me that bothers your father, the
Duke?"
"When you thwart him. I have heard him call you 'a Bene Gesserit witch.'"
Silent laughter shook her.
Paul's face remained sturdily somber. "Will you teach me the secret things you know, Mother?"
Jessica breathed a silent prayer to Sister Nartha and the oath of succession. I was careless and have a son
instead of a daughter, she thought. No! I was not careless. I knew how much my Duke wanted a son. But still it is a
son . . . of a Bene Gesserit witch.
"I will teach you some of the things I know," she said.
He stared at her, dissatisfied with the answer, then: "Now I know how my father, the Duke, feels about
you sometimes," he said.
She kept her wry feeling of humor from showing on her face, but still he sensed it.
"We are not amused," he said.
And suddenly she saw a veil parted into the future. If he lives he will be a great ruler, she thought. He has the
perceptivity, the quickness, the deep intelligence, but above all else, he has the dignity.
She spoke formally: "I am sorry if I have offended my son," she said. "I beg the prerogative of my
privacy."
"You had that without begging it," he said. A tiny smile twitched the corners of his mouth. "I beg the
prerogative of your indulgence."
She rumpled his hair, her eyes smarting with unshed tears. "Did you come here to protect me, darling?"
"Of course. My father, the Duke, has told me to protect you when he is away. I would do it anyway, but
all must obey the Duke."
"You are very right," she said. Then: "How will we know when it is safe to leave here?"
"I told Dr. Yueh that I would find you and close a door upon us until he signaled with our knock." Paul
turned, rapped on the wall—three raps, a pause, two, then three more.
"That was sensible of you." She turned away, clasping her hands tightly until she felt pain in her knuckles.
Death traps . . . deadly peril for her Duke and her son and she herself sought as payment to a traitor.
Which traitor? Who was the trusted lieutenant?
"If we are safe in this room, you should relax, Mother," said Paul.
She nodded, turned a smile of false brightness on him. "What have you and Dr. Yueh been up to?"
"We've been looking at a filmbook about our planet. Did you know that down in the desert they have giant
sandworms?"
"Yes, I read about them."
"They've killed a lot of dunemen—that's what theycall the spice hunters. And they've swallowed whole
spice factories."
"I imagine they're pretty horrible."
"And they have winds here that blow six and seven hundred kilometers an hour!"
"As hard as that?"
"And it blows sand that cuts right through metal and everything. And sometimes it gets so hot it melts
plastics, because of the friction."
She gnawed at her lower lip, thinking: What a hideous place!
Paul said: "The filmbook said this is the driest known terra . . . terraform planet."
"That's why we have to be so careful with water," she said.
"Oh, Dr. Yueh says this house has lotsof water. There's a big tank under it."
"But still we must be careful with water. It's so precious here. People even pay their taxes in water."
Paul piped up, "Dr. Yueh says there is a saying on Arrakis. 'Polish comes from the cities, wisdom from the
desert.'"
And she thought: Leto, where are you? You're in danger. But you know that, of course. And she felt a moment of
panic about the room around her. What if Lady Fenring's reassurance about this room were wrong? But,
no. Bene Gesserits didn't make that kind of mistake.
"I wish I could go after the spice with my father, the Duke," said Paul.
"He will send his men after the spice," she said. "He won't go himself."
"Not even once?"
"Perhaps. But the spice desert's much too dangerous a place for a boy."
"I'm almost twelve."
"I know, darling, but men need years of special training before they go out on the sand."
"I could learn."
"Maybe when you grow up."
"I'll study. Will you tell Dr. Yueh to get me all the books there are about our planet? I want books even
about the time before they found the spice."
"We'll get all we can find," she said.
"Until Dr. Yueh showed me the filmbook I thought we'd always had the spice," he said.
She smiled in spite of her fears. "Only for about a hundred years." And then she thought: But that is
always when you're almost-twelve. And she remembered that there was a time in her youth when
enthusiasm was less a word than a world and less a world than a universe.

Paul said: "Before they found the spice, Arrakis was just a place where they studied about plants and
things that grow where it's really dry."
"His Imperial Majesty's Desert Botanical Testing Station," she said. And she wondered: Where is Dr. Yueh?
Haven't the guards destroyed that seeker yet? And what other dangers must we face when we leave this room?
Paul pulled at his chin.
How like Leto he is when he's serious, she thought. And she suddenly realized that Paul was talking just to
distract her, to take her mind from her worries.
"His Majesty had many creatures brought here," said Paul. "And plants. They have a mutated form of wild
buckwheat that people eat here."
"Eriogonum deserticole," she said. "That's the botanical name for the wild buckwheat."
He studied her face. "You know all about Arrakis, don't you?" he said.
She looked on him fondly, warming her love of him at his effort to distract her. "I know some things about
our new home. They brought
the plants and animals here to condition this place for humans. Most of the new ones came from Earth.
The dry climate plants are called erophytes. I have a filmbook about useful xerophytes. I'll see that Dr.
Yueh has it for you tomorrow."
Still, he studied her face. "Don't worry, mother. The guards will take care of the dangers outside. Pretty
soon they will come for us. I'll protect you until then."
She put an arm around his shoulder, turned to the tall reach of filter glass that faced the southwest. Out
there, the sun of Arrakis had moved well on toward sunset.
Paul put his hand over hers on his shoulder.
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Sandrider: "Keith went to Bobo's for a weekend of drinking, watched some DVDs,
and wrote a Dune Novel."

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Oct 2014 14:53

Yep, I just found it too, had it on copy and was about to paste when I saw your post. Amazingly, this passage is an older version the passage I quoted from Dune about the old filmbook. Frank apparently had the intention, when he sent the book for publication, that spice be 100 years old, and that the Arrakis biological testing stations were not set up to study spice, but just to study the desert environment. We can't be sure why this scene got deleted, but maybe it's because Frank wanted to give away fewer details, and to allow Yueh to have an extra scene instead of it being a Jessica scene?

But if this scene was in the book and didn't make the final cut, that would mean that many of the other portions of the book would have had the implicit premise that spice was a recent discovery, and would still have that premise even with this scene deleted. I doubt Frank rewrote the whole book due to one scene's deletion.

This is probably as close as we'll get to an answer for now. Thanks for the Road to Dune head's up!
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 04 Oct 2014 16:50

Yeah, this argument has been around for a long time (see here, for example, or here), and the Road to Dune chapter supports it pretty conclusively.

At the same time, the fact that FH deleted/rewrote the scene may indicate that he changed his mind. Personally I think he noticed that a recent discovery led to story difficulties wrt the Guild/interstellar travel, and that he therefore decided to leave it vague.

There are definitely clues left in the final version of the book to the idea. For example, if you combine the Arrakis: His Imperial Majesty's Desert Botanical Testing Station filmbook that dates from before discovery of the spice (you all seem to take this to mean that Paul's copy was that old, but it could simply be a reprint of a much older book, so it's not all that conclusive by itself) with the fact that the Atreides take over a Harkonnen harvester, "Old Maria," that "came in with the first team of Imperial ecologists" (who surely must have been the people who wrote that filmbook), it's hard not to conclude that the discovery was quite recent: given the wear and tear of Arrakis, even the hardiest equipment surely can't have lasted more than a couple of hundred years at most.

In fact, it seems pretty clear that at one point in the writing, FH intended this group of ecologists, who were on Arrakis before discovery of the spice, to be Pardot Kynes' team (he is described as the "First Planetologist of Arrakis"). But again, that would complicate the backstory wrt the Fremen and Harkonnens. So we're left with these unformed connections, suggestions that never quite take shape, and which might potentially contradict details in the final text.

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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Serkanner » 04 Oct 2014 17:01

georgiedenbro wrote:Yep, I just found it too, had it on copy and was about to paste when I saw your post. Amazingly, this passage is an older version the passage I quoted from Dune about the old filmbook. Frank apparently had the intention, when he sent the book for publication, that spice be 100 years old, and that the Arrakis biological testing stations were not set up to study spice, but just to study the desert environment. We can't be sure why this scene got deleted, but maybe it's because Frank wanted to give away fewer details, and to allow Yueh to have an extra scene instead of it being a Jessica scene?

But if this scene was in the book and didn't make the final cut, that would mean that many of the other portions of the book would have had the implicit premise that spice was a recent discovery, and would still have that premise even with this scene deleted. I doubt Frank rewrote the whole book due to one scene's deletion.

This is probably as close as we'll get to an answer for now. Thanks for the Road to Dune head's up!


You're welcome .. I knew I had a pdf of it somewhere.

From all the times I have read the books it has never even crossed my mind the discover of the spice melange could be a recent one. I have always assumed that the Guild needed the Spice, and could use only the spice, to fold space. And the knowledge about the spice must be at least 11k years old.

The statement that people were not familiar with the spice explaining is must be recent is a wrong one in my opinion. Spice is a very rare commodity, very expensive and because it is of a vital necessity to the guild, reason enough to keep its existence protected. The ones that know are the very wealthy and powerful which the Atreides weren't really until Leto started his charm offensive. In other words: I don't think it is too far fetched to believe the Guild kept the existence of the spice a secret ... even to the most powerful ones.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Frank changed his mind about the "age" of the spice. It is in my view perfectly possible he decided to enhance the mystique of the spice during the many editing phases of the novel. ( unlike some other "writers" we are all to familiar with )
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Oct 2014 18:15

Serkanner wrote:The statement that people were not familiar with the spice explaining is must be recent is a wrong one in my opinion. Spice is a very rare commodity, very expensive and because it is of a vital necessity to the guild, reason enough to keep its existence protected. The ones that know are the very wealthy and powerful which the Atreides weren't really until Leto started his charm offensive. In other words: I don't think it is too far fetched to believe the Guild kept the existence of the spice a secret ... even to the most powerful ones.


One didn't need to be rich like the Harkonnens to afford some spice, even local merchants and Houses Minor could afford some for personal use, maybe not enough to produce a serious addiction. Duke Leto didn't need to become a threat to the Emperor to be able to afford spice, being a House Major and controlling an entire planetary fief (and maybe a few colonies, who knows) would have been easily enough. Contrast with the Harkonnens and Guild, who not only could afford it for personal use but could stockpile it as well.

I don't think the Guild could have kept it secret, too many powerful factions knew. Its geriatric properties were discovered by the Emperor's court chemist, and so at the very minimum the top nobility, the Guild and the BG would know about it. But consider this: How could melange become the most valuable spice on the market without everyone knowing about it? The way to maximize profits on it would be to let everyone know about it, not to keep it a secret. Besides, CHOAM would probably have insisted on publishing details about melange in order for it to be traded, at the very least so they could get their cut.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Freakzilla » 06 Oct 2014 12:25

I think it was in widespread use but only in very limited quantities. A little sprinkled on food for the geriatric properties.

The idea that FH originally intended to have the discovery of spice recent but later changed his mind has the ring of truth to it.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby Lisan Al-Gaib » 06 Feb 2015 18:00

I think there is a way to ally those both opposing facts: importance of spice and why everything looked quite recent in Book (The harvesters, the botanical stations and so on....) .

The spice is probably a known commodity for more than 10.000 years, but only due to its effect in enhancing awareness. So, it was never given much importance, and the Spacing Guild could buy it or smuggle it as they wanted. I would say that the discovery of its geriatric proprieties not happened more than 200 years, and it was the cause for spice becoming important for the interplanetary high classes. That's what changed the game for Arrakis and the universe. I believe if had happened long time ago, the cities would be greener, the local elites would be more consolidated and the Fremen would probably extinct.
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JasonJD48
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby JasonJD48 » 06 Feb 2015 19:13

Lisan Al-Gaib wrote:I think there is a way to ally those both opposing facts: importance of spice and why everything looked quite recent in Book (The harvesters, the botanical stations and so on....) .

The spice is probably a known commodity for more than 10.000 years, but only due to its effect in enhancing awareness. So, it was never given much importance, and the Spacing Guild could buy it or smuggle it as they wanted. I would say that the discovery of its geriatric proprieties not happened more than 200 years, and it was the cause for spice becoming important for the interplanetary high classes. That's what changed the game for Arrakis and the universe. I believe if had happened long time ago, the cities would be greener, the local elites would be more consolidated and the Fremen would probably extinct.


I think you may have something. It seems to me that the Guild must have had Spice for longer than a couple of centuries. It is obvious the the Imperium is built around the Guild as a monopoly for travel, the political tripod of the Emperor/Landsraad/Guild does not seem like a recent development, nor does CHOAM with the silent Guild partnership. We know the BJ was 10 millennia before Dune so computers are out of the question. That said, it may very well be that at-least as a public phenomenon, it could be a lot more recent. Perhaps before recently, it was only the Guild and BG that used it.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby georgiedenbro » 06 Feb 2015 19:21

I definitely agree that the geriatric effect couldn't have been known for more than 100-200 years. Nothing in the story would make sense if it had been around for a long time. I have no objection to the idea that the Guild used it for space travel long before that and kept the knowledge to themselves, although we might ask how no one noticed 200 year old Navigators kicking around. I still wonder, though, that in all that time the BG would never have learned of the water of life, and that they wouldn't have active agents among the Fremen who would have been the ones mining the stuff. UNLESS we are saying that the Guild were mining the spice AND the BG knew nothing about it? That's a hard sell, but I guess it's possible.

In the end it doesn't matter that much whether spice was used previously to pilot ships or whether the Guild & BG used inferior drugs to do the job; I think the important part is that it had only recently come to the attention of the nobles, as you said, and therefore changed the playing field in the Empire forever.

Jason, since one of the major (but underplayed) themes in Dune is mind-altering narcotics, I think it's a safe bet there were plenty of other enhancement drugs that came before, just none at potent as spice. We do know, at least, about the BG poison used for truthtrance.
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Re: Spice: A Recent Discovery?

Postby JasonJD48 » 06 Feb 2015 19:33

georgiedenbro wrote:I definitely agree that the geriatric effect couldn't have been known for more than 100-200 years. Nothing in the story would make sense if it had been around for a long time. I have no objection to the idea that the Guild used it for space travel long before that and kept the knowledge to themselves, although we might ask how no one noticed 200 year old Navigators kicking around. I still wonder, though, that in all that time the BG would never have learned of the water of life, and that they wouldn't have active agents among the Fremen who would have been the ones mining the stuff. UNLESS we are saying that the Guild were mining the spice AND the BG knew nothing about it? That's a hard sell, but I guess it's possible.

In the end it doesn't matter that much whether spice was used previously to pilot ships or whether the Guild & BG used inferior drugs to do the job; I think the important part is that it had only recently come to the attention of the nobles, as you said, and therefore changed the playing field in the Empire forever.

Jason, since one of the major (but underplayed) themes in Dune is mind-altering narcotics, I think it's a safe bet there were plenty of other enhancement drugs that came before, just none at potent as spice. We do know, at least, about the BG poison used for truthtrance.


I think it had to have been used by the Guild, and as you say, the BG would have found out. As far as people seeing old Navigators, I always took it that it was really rare to see them in person and even so, with the mutations, how would they know how old they are. I don't have a problem saying that there were other drugs the BG could have used, but they seem like Spice is a very big part of their order, I have a hard time believing that dependency formed so quickly.

There's a lot to say that the Spice was new, but there's a good deal to indicate the opposite as well, which is why Lisan's theory makes some sense. The alternative being that FH back-tracked and that's why there's inconsistency, he was a great author, but he wasn't perfect.
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