Book Review: Dune

Book Name: Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
First Published: 1965

Frank Herbert began researching and writing Dune in 1959. The idea for the novel originated from a magazine article he was writing on sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes near Florence, Oregon. He became involved in the ecological information about the dunes and how these sand structures influenced the animals and the town of people nearby and he ended up with far more raw material than was needed for an article. Instead of finishing and submitting the magazine article, the data and idea of the shifting sand ecologically became the seed for his novel Dune. It was the first ecological science fiction novel, embracing a plethora of sweeping, inter-related themes and multiple character viewpoints, a style of writing that ran through all Herbert’s novels

I will attempt to summarize the plot of Dune, but it is such a complex story that it is impossible to touch on all the concepts, the rich characters and the intrigue of this story.

Emperor Shaddam, head of House Corrino, has come to fear House Atreides due to the growing popularity of Duke Leto Atreides within the ruling Houses of the universe. Not wishing to do an overt attack since it would lead to a civil war, never the less, Shaddam decides to destroy House Atreides. He employs House Harkonnen and its Baron Vladimir who has been feuding with Atreides for centuries to trap and destroy his target. In order to remove Atreides from their home planet of Caladan where his royal navy protects him, Shaddam offers Leto Atreides control of the lucrative planet Arrakis, known as “Dune” for the vast desert it contains and for the “spice”, a prized drug that facilitates space travel, extended life and other benefits.

Leto Atreides accepts the Emperor’s offer and takes his concubine Jessica and son Paul with him to take charge of the planet. He is able to thwart the initial Harkonnen traps and complications while also building trust with the desert people of Arrakis known as the Fremen. However, when House Corrino’s troops ally in secret with House Harkonnen and are assisted by a traitor in the Atreides camp, the Atreides family is scattered and Duke Leto is killed.

Jessica and her son flee to the desert and are taken in by the Fremen. Jessica gives birth to a daughter named Alia, a full sister to Paul and becomes a Fremen Reverend Mother. As a Reverend Mother, she is able to protect her children as they live among the Fremen. Meanwhile, the spice in the air and water begins to effect Paul Atreides, evolving him into something that had been bred into his genes by Jessica’s Bene Gesserit religious order, but was not supposed to come to fruition in him, but instead to his progeny. Paul’s ability of prescience allows him to grow in influence among the Fremen. He and his mother teach the Fremen the fighting skills of the Bene Gesserit and the desert fighters grow to rival the warriors of both House Corrino and Harkonnen. He takes the name Muad’Dib (the mouse) among them and takes his place as their prophesied messiah.

Eventually, Paul Muad’Dib leads the Fremen to retake Arrakis and to force the Emperor’s hand. Using his power of prescience and his training of being a Duke’s son, he is able to avenge his father’s death, destroy House Harkonnen and wrest the title of Emperor for himself by holding the planet of Dune hostage. Paul Muad’Dib Ateides becomes the master of the known universe.

Honestly, I was afraid to read this book until I was in college. I had heard about it often and thought that I should read it, but it seemed wild and cruel to me, something that might shake my innocence. When I finally found the courage to crack open this Hugo and Nebula award winner, I was completely transported into a world of intrigue, sandworms, drugs, adventure, war, philosophy, and quotes that have become part of my vocabulary from that day forward. Perhaps fear is the little mind killer that we need to face after all? I know that I have not been the same since I read this novel.

Dune is a classic tale that draws from Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces for the first time in science fiction and on such a scale that it touches down into that basic core of mythos that we all spring from. Over the decades it has not dated itself, nor has the ideas and concepts at the core of the story. I believe that this is one of the science fiction classics that should be on everyone’s must read list, but it is not for children due to the violence and to the adult concepts it contains.

Iron Maiden’s song To Tame A Land:

He is destined to be a King
He rules over everything
In the land called planet Dune
Body water is your life
And without it you would die
In the desert the planet Dune

Without a stillsuit you would fry
On the sands so hot and dry
In a world called Arakis
It is a land that’s rich in spice
The sandriders and the ‘mice’
That they call the ‘Muad’Dib’

Dune Book CoverDune is not found by free download, but you can seek it out at your local public library or online at any book vendor of your choice. Chances are high that it will be there for sale in one form or another. Keep a copy in your digital or paper bound library. Dune is the first of a series of novels in the Dune Saga, not only by Frank Herbert, but continued by his son, Brian Herbert.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

This week’s writer’s links are more focused on writing, a little grammar, novels and publishing. Enjoy!

5 Things Paratrooping Can Teach You About Self-Publishing

Formatting Ebook . . . Tearing Hair Out

Why Writers Should Stop Being Scared and Take A Leap of Faith

Repotting Your Creativity

Three Easy Plotting ideas

5 Reasons to Write Your Scenes In Order

Six Things Meditation Taught Me About Freelancing

Surviving the Summer and Social Media

Where to Find Inspiration: 50 Quotes for Writers

Grammar Rules: Subject and Verb Agreement

Blog Organization with Scrivener

Scriverner ScreenshotScrivener is my writing program of choice. I started using it during the 2010 NaNoWriMo and I credit it with part of the reason that I made my writing goal that year. The company that developed the program offers it at 50% discount to all NaNoWriMo winners and I used my coupon to purchase it. I use the program to organize, research and write my novels, compile short stories and to organize my blogs.

For instance, No Wasted Ink has a Scrivener project (file) where I write all the posts for No Wasted Ink. When I write I leave both the binder and the inspector open to view and I have a word count feature set on the bottom of the page. I aim to make most of my posts a certain length and the word count feature helps with this goal. Sometimes I write the draft on my Neo or in my NEC MobilePro 900 and then transfer the text into a scrivener file, but I find Scrivener comfortable to draft short term projects in.

The Binder

The Binder holds my pending articles at the top in no particular order. I work on the book reviews, commentary or memoirs as the mood strikes me. Even if all I have is a vague idea for a blog post, I will title it and leave the file there to remind me of the idea. Sometimes I will leave a short document note in the inspector with details of the idea if the title is not enough to spark my writing. Once the post is completed, I move it into one of the item folders in the draft section depending on the type of article. For instance, all my book reviews will be in a certain folder once completed. This allows me to find them when needed.

The Inspector and Meta-Data

Once a post is begun I mark its status in the inspector on the right hand side of the screen. I will give it a label as to what type of post it is and I will check the status as to where in the process it is. The labels are customizable as to color and name in Scrivener. My labels read: book review, commentary, memoir. Below that is the status of the item. My status can be set first draft, done, and posted.


The only part of Blog planning that I do not do in Scrivener is the scheduling. For that I use a Filofax Crimson Malden leather binder in personal size with a Week on Two Pages insert. As I schedule the blog posts in WordPress, I write the dates into the filofax. I note if I’ve done the twitter marketing tweets for each post and the title of the post. I like keeping this information in the filofax since it has less chance of disappearing due to server crash and I like the feel of paper. I suppose that an electronic organizer such as google calendar would work as well, but I prefer the filofax notebook.


The advantages of using Scrivener to organize a blog is that all the posts stay in one place, yet are separate. The inspector tracks the post as it goes through the various stages of completion. I have a permanent storage of the post in case of blog failure or if I want to publish it elsewhere. It is easy to go back and double check what I have written in the past and what I have planned for the future. I found that I had trouble being this organized when I was using Word. I still own Word and use it, but most of my writing takes place in Scrivener.

Author Interview: Marva Washington

I’m always honored to feature a fellow GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society) member here on No Wasted Ink. Marva has published only one book, but I’m certain that it will not be her last.

I am Marva Washington, a proud member of a whimsical national club called Marvalous Marva. Don’t worry-I don’t take that description seriously. Our name simply lends itself to that word of course with one changed letter. I am originally from South Carolina but for the past thirty plus years, I have resided in the Los Angeles, CA area. My work, however is Carolina based because I have lots of childhood memories and unique stories. Bid Whist at Midnight is my first comprehensive and published work, but I hope it will not be my last.

When and why did you begin writing?

I fell in love with the written word after my eighth grade teacher discovered that even though I could read well, I did not comprehend and mentally process what I read. She worked with me for one full year and the light went on. During the summer break following that year, I “discovered” the public library and began to lose myself in great works. In ninth grade, another teacher discovered not only did I read well, but I could write as well. Thus began my limited writing “career”. My genre at that time was science fiction. I loved the Twilight Zone and that influenced my writing style. I wrote a short story a month. Most were only four pages of long hand, but my “fan” club eagerly awaited each new episode. I think they really liked the little romantic interludes thrown in with the science.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

As stated above, my teachers always played an encouraging part and when I began to get “A”s on written assignments and when some of them were chosen because of their originality to be read aloud for the class, I began to believe in my talent.

Share a little about the book, please.

The social changes of the 1960s wouldn’t have been possible without the support of college students and grassroots activists taking up the charge. Bid Whist at Midnight delivers a coming-of-age story of four young women caught up in the enormity of the Civil Rights Movement. It takes readers on a trip through time, back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and forward in time 20 years when three of the four women reunite and revisit one of the worse nights of their lives-the night of the Orangeburg massacre. What they find is that they are still haunted by guilt, but their reunion reminds them of the power of their friendship, allowing them to come to a place of forgiveness, love and a long-awaited farewell to a friend.

Bid Whist at Midnight is a strong romance novel in its own right, but it gains its legs in its social commentary looking back at the ‘60s and the cultural concerns facing black people at the time. It is a historical and sociological study of a volatile period in American history that provides a view and a voice not previously written.

What inspired you to write the book?

In February 1968, a significant year because of the instability in the United States, a civil rights demonstration led by black college students attending South Carolina State College and neighboring Claflin College, turned deadly and resulted in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Two years later, a similar demonstration erupted in Ohio that simply became known as Kent State. To this day, a lot is known about Kent State while the Orangeburg Massacre still occupies an obscure branch in history. Since writing the book, there has been increased awareness and interest in the massacre. Making this incident known was a great part of what inspired me to write the book. We learn from the past so that we will hopefully not repeat mistakes in the future. If the Orangeburg Massacre was not covered up, Kent State may not have happened.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My goal is to write with clarity so that the reader will have a wonderful experience following the story and complexities such as time shifts and multiple story lines which is characteristic of this book. Characters sometimes create unplanned paradigm shifts, but those simply challenge the author to delve more deeply into character development and enrich their stories.

How did you come up with the book title?

That was the easiest part. Bid Whist is a card game that was extremely popular at State. As explained in the book, entire social cliques were created around the game and it bonded the characters originally during their school days. So their reunion is built around the game. It had to begin at midnight because of extenuating factors which are revealed in the book as they play.

Is there a message in the novel?

As alluded to previously, many readers expressed great surprise upon learning about the Orangeburg Massacre. Others are learning about unique sociological and cultural complexities surrounding Afro-Americans. The book transcends racial lines in that readers of all ethnicities have recognized universal traits that have no racial boundaries. Similar to what the Bill Cosby Show did.

Are the book experiences based on actual people or events?

I am a “product” of the 1960s so have personal knowledge of events and a real feeling for the era to include prominent social movements and of Viet Nam from a military perspective. The characters are composites of people I have known over the years. Places are real but the circumstances are purely fiction. The massacre is a historical event, but the stories and interactions of the characters on that evening are fictional.

What authors have most influenced your life?

My school teachers including my mother and my faith had the most influences on my life. As far as my writing, I love works by certain authors and hope to emulate their talents. I enjoy and admire James Michener, Sheldon Leonard, Earl Stanley Gardner, Margaret Mitchell, Toni Morrison and Rod Serling.

What writer would you have chosen as a mentor?

I wish I could have been mentored by James Michener. He was a prolific writer and I have read most of his fictional epics. He incorporated history into all of his works and did a massive amount of research prior to writing. He included lots of background information and grew into his stories slowly while pulling the reader along as he built each plot and scenario.

Who designed the book cover?

The publisher has an in-house graphic arts department, so they designed the cover and did the art work.

Do you have any advice to other writers?

Do your homework first. Either read books or take classes that can guide you through the entire writing process. Before you begin consult outside sources which can help you make wise decisions on everything from the genre to your choice in a publisher. It does not mean that you will not make mistakes; it just means that you may make less expensive ones. You must be self-motivated because there is no “boss” looking over your shoulders urging you to fill those empty pages. Commit to it and take it seriously. This is your profession and it reflects you even if you are writing at the behest of family members who simply want a history or for the public at large because you have something bigger to relate. Do not insult your reader with shoddy work. Believe in your work as you face nay-sayers and non-supporters. Tell yourself that others have undergone this process, so can I. Most of all have fun. Holding your bound completed copy provides the greatest satisfaction on Earth.

Are there any final words you’d like to express to your readers?

These two simple words cover a lot of ground-Thank You!! You gave me the confidence to move forward and put the work out to the public. You have given me countless referrals to readers and book clubs who are now beginning to read the book and you continue to stick by me giving me the inspiration to attempt another future publication. Thank you for all of it.

Bid Whist at Midnight Book coverMarva Washington
Los Angeles, CA
Publisher: iUniverse

You may purchase Ms. Washington’s book at:

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

This week’s writer’s links are more focused on writing, novels and publishing. I hope you enjoy them!

20 Principles of Good Writing

The Shakespearean Guide to Entrepreneurship

Social media and the art of being interested

Why Aren’t E-Reading Devices Smarter?

How Much Should You Pay To Publish Your Novel?

Working Through Illness

20 Synonyms for “Type”

Are You Charging Accordingly For Your Freelance Writing Skills?

The Impulsive Writer’s Productivity Secret: 3 Reasons to Write What You Want

21 Ways to Add Magic to Your Brand and Stand Out as a Creative

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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