‘Dune,’ from Page to Screen

The story of the iconic SF novel gets told through two nonfiction accounts.

Britt, Ryan. The Spice Must Flow: The Story of Dune, from Cult Novels to Visionary Sci-Fi Movies. Plume. Sept. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780593472996. pap. $18. POP CULTURE

Britt’s (Phasers on Stun!: How the Making (and Remaking) of Star Trek Changed the World) engaging and timely book explores the history and complexion of the great Dune cosmos, from the classic novel by Frank Herbert to all of the various attempts to put the book on screen. It is wonderful, full of the fan joy and insider knowledge that readers want when they’re interested in learning more about the novels or the movies. The book begins with Britt discussing 2021’s Dune with Timothée Chalamet, the latest cinematic expression of the novel. From there, the book dives into looking at Herbert, even considering his characteristic beard and why it matters. The author also examines the novel’s sequels, explaining why the others aren’t as good and why people often skip them. The book highlights the importance of women in the novels, showing why it might not be Paul’s story after all. Britt’s writing hits the perfect balance of offering enough background to feel meaty but never stuffy. VERDICT This highly recommended book has the power to change the way everyday readers of Herbert’s classic novel experience it.—Jeremiah Rood

Evry, Max. A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune; An Oral History. 1984 Publishing. Sept. 2023. 560p. ISBN 9781948221290. $29.99. FILM

David Lynch’s 1984 Dune is simultaneously one of the most beloved and maligned sci-fi films ever made. Film journalist and debut author Evry, clearly a massive fan, has crafted a thorough exploration of this infamous movie. The book blends extensive new interviews into narrative chapters. The oral histories that follow make this work truly special. Evry spoke with dozens of actors and production personnel, and their conversations cover every possible aspect of the creative process, leaving no sandworm unturned. There are fascinating sections on design concepts, casting, fraught filming conditions in Mexico, massive sets, costumes, visual effects, soundtracks, merchandising, the initial critical reception, and the film’s enduring legacy. A terrific highlight compares controversial differences between Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name and the film. More than 500 pages, this book takes a deep dive into Dune, but the biggest takeaway is simple: despite any acknowledged weaknesses, the film was based on the most-popular science-fiction novel of all time and directed by one of cinema’s greatest visionaries. VERDICT The story behind Lynch’s Dune is both unique and indicative of the struggles faced when mounting an epic film production. A treasure trove for Dune and Lynch aficionados.—Peter Thornell

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing