I have a theory that Dune by Frank Herbert is the easiest book in history to find used. I have never paid more than a dollar for a copy of this book, and when I moved out of New York I found I had three copies. No idea why. I also don’t know why this book keeps showing up in used bookstores, but if you buy this one new for like 8 or 10 bucks, you’re a sucker.
As easy as it is to find a used copy of the book, it may soon become very easy to find a movie version of it; Dune has been adapted once into a film and once into a miniseries and now may be becoming a big screen feature once again. The rumors have been circulating for months, but things are starting to look more firmed up. Byron Merritt, the admin over the official Dune novel forums and a member of the Herbert family, has been dropping hints that lots of lawyering and deal making is about to come to fruition.
“We’re getting VERY close to a deal. Heard that news today,” he posted on Friday, following that up with, “Although only rumor, I’ve heard that "someone" at the studio wants Dune reallllly bad and has been a fan of the novel for "years." They’re not saying who this is (and it might just be hype) but I’m holding out hope that whoever this might be is a big enough fan that he/she will do the book justice. Supposedly it’s some director.”
I don’t know that I would want to be the guy tackling Dune anew. David Lynch’s version is pretty terrible, all things considered, if fascinating as its own weird overwrought thing. The Sci Fi Channel version is closer to the Herbert novel in terms of incident and character, but it’s flat and dead. The problem with Dune as a movie is that so much of it is internal; the characters aren’t given to huge actions or speeches, and that the magic of Herbert’s world is… Herbert’s world. I tend to think of Dune as one of the least cinematic books ever, and when I reread it a couple of years back I was utterly enthralled, but it never played out in my mind as a movie. Maybe I’m just too blinkered, imagination-wise. God knows I haven’t written anything but snark and film reviews in years, so maybe that portion of my brain died.
This, by the way, smells like it would be a post-strike project if ever there were one. You just don’t get a movie as big as Dune written, cast, set up and shot in under a year.
Meanwhile, Frank Herbert’s son continues to strip mine his father’s ideas and writing; he’s now working on a book set between Dune and Dune Messiah to be called Paul of Dune. I’d call it Maud’Dib of Dune, but I’m not the one working with literary lion Kevin J Anderson.