Like many moviegoers, Dune was my favorite film of 2021. I loved the storytelling, the special effects and the fantastical world coming to life on the big screen (plus, I love a good on-screen monster and wow — the sandworms sure delivered!). The “un-adaptable” story was brought to theaters once before, by David Lynch in 1984, but director Denis Villeneuve is known for challenging source material, such as creating a sequel to the critically acclaimed film Blade Runner. Either way, after watching a movie adaptation like Dune, you might want to settle in with a good book. If you love immersive science fiction like Frank Herbert’s series, try checking out one of these books.
If you like the world building of Dune, then hard sci-fi novel The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu) is where you should start. Initially, the novel takes place during the cultural revolution in China, where the military makes secret contact with aliens, but the aliens have a different plan. The expansive and complex award-winning series explores the question of if we actually want to make contact with extraterrestrials, and why.
Into stunning visuals? Saga is a sweeping space opera about the birth of a new baby to two parents from different species. Inside this comic, you will find beautiful artwork by Fiona Staples and emotionally driven storytelling by Brian K. Vaughan, plus an interesting cast of characters. Ghost babysitters, talking cats, angsty royals with TV heads! While it is a sprawling story spanning much more than this first volume, it doesn’t feel too confusing to people unaccustomed to science fiction or comics. I recommend this as a good first comic for any adult wanting to dip their toes in.
Didn’t get enough sand in Dune? Well, you’re in luck, because this next pick is full of it. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is a classic in the climate sci fi (or cli-fi) subgenre. The year is 2026 and sandstorms have swept Mars for as long as we can remember. Four brave colonists are up for the adventure to terraform the red planet, creating hospitable living conditions for the first 100 people who may move there. If you want to think about what it means to adapt a dangerous and sandy landscape so human life can thrive, this is the book for you.
Speaking of climate emergencies, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells is a nonfiction book about how we are basically headed for the future of Dune. This book describes the inevitable dangers of global heating: an inhabitable planet, wars, economic strife — all because of the climate crisis. The most interesting sections of this book shows how environmental impacts will influence the socio-cultural and political impacts, just like in Dune. The book also features a periodic check-in with the reader, congratulating them for still reading despite the terrifying and anxiety-producing information.
And if you still can't get enough of the movie, The Art and Soul of Dune is all about Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 masterpiece, from costume and creature design to ambitious international film shoots. Written and compiled by the producer of Dune, Tanya Lapointe, this insightful and beautiful book is a perfect companion for the Dune-obsessed.
What would you recommend to people who loved Dune?