Picks and Pans Review: Heretics of Dune

updated 05/07/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Frank Herbert

Followers of Herbert's Dune series will be relieved to discover that the masterful sci-fi myth builder has refused to let sleeping worms lie and has added another chapter to his epic. In this fifth and apparently far-from-final novel in the series, trouble is brewing on the tiny, desert planet of Arrakis, where an overspecialized, fragmented society is in a headlong rush toward apocalypse. Even the planet's godlike sand worms are in trouble. Meanwhile the Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood of mystical seers, are still acting like space-age equivalents of the Greek Fates, attempting to dictate the future of humanity (in Herbert's cosmology, through selective breeding and the manipulation of religions). Herbert's plotting is grand scale; small battles and large philosophies fill his universe. But it is well balanced by his attention to detail, and his character development creates people as memorable for their human qualities as for their otherworldly accessories. When Teg, the Bene Gesserit's military guardian, is visited on. his farm, for instance, Herbert writes that "His family had been here only three generations but their mark was on the place. His mother's touches had not really been changed in many rooms. 'It's safe to love land and places,' Teg said." Heretics of Dune should at least keep Herbert fanatics content until this December, the scheduled date for release of the movie based on the original 1965 novel, Dune. (Putnam, $16.95)

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