Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known—and feared—as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.
And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty...
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About the Author
In 1952, Herbert began publishing science fiction with “Looking for Something?” in Startling Stories. But his emergence as a writer of major stature did not occur until 1965, with the publication of Dune. Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune followed, completing the saga that the Chicago Tribune would call “one of the monuments of modern science fiction.” Herbert was also the author of some twenty other books, including The White Plague, The Dosadi Experiment, and Destination: Void. He died in 1986.
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Table of Contents
Books by Frank Herbert
THE BOOK OF FRANK HERBERT
DESTINATION VOID (revised edition)
THE DOSADI EXPERIMENT
THE EYES OF HEISENBERG
THE GREEN BRAIN
THE MAKER OF DUNE
THE SANTAROGA BARRIER
THE WHITE PLAGUE
THE WORLDS OF FRANK HERBERT
MAN OF TWO WORLDS
(with Brian Herbert)
The Dune Chronicles
CHILDREN OF DUNE
GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE
HERETICS OF DUNE
Books by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
THE JESUS INCIDENT
THE LAZARUS EFFECT
THE ASCENSION FACTOR
Books edited by Brian Herbert
THE NOTEBOOKS OF FRANK HERBERT’S DUNE
SONGS OF MUAD’DIB
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dune messiah / Frank Herbert ; with a new introduction by Brian Herbert.
p. cm.—(Dune chronicles ; bk. 2)
eISBN : 978-1-101-15787-9
1. Dune (Imaginary place)—Fiction. I. Title.
by Brian Herbert
Dune Messiah is the most misunderstood of Frank Herbert’s novels. The reasons for this are as fascinating and complex as the renowned author himself.
Just before this first sequel to Dune was published in 1969, it ran in installments in the science fiction magazine Galaxy. The serialized “Dune Messiah” was named “disappointment of the year” by the satirical magazine National Lampoon. The story had earlier been rejected by Analog editor John W. Campbell, who, like the Lampooners, loved the majestic, heroic aspects of Dune and hated the antithetical elements of the sequel. His readers wanted stories about heroes accomplishing great feats, he said, not stories of protagonists with “clay feet.”
The detractors did not understand that Dune Messiah was a bridging work, connecting Dune with an as-yet-uncompleted third book in the trilogy. To get there, the second novel in the series flipped over the carefully crafted hero myth of Paul Muad’Dib and revealed the dark side of the messiah phenomenon that had appeared to be so glorious in Dune. Many readers didn’t want that dose of reality; they couldn’t stand the demotion of their beloved, charismatic champion, especially after the author had already killed off two of their favorite characters in Dune, the loyal Atreides swordmaster Duncan Idaho1 and the idealistic planetologist Liet-Kynes.
But they overlooked important clues that Frank Herbert had left along the way. In Dune, when Liet-Kynes lay dying in the desert, he remembered these words of his father, Pardot, spoken years before and relegated to the back reaches of memory: “No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero.” Near the end of the novel, in a foreshadowing epigraph, Princess Irulan described the victorious Muad’Dib in multifaceted and sometimes conflicting terms as “warrior and mystic, ogre and saint, the fox and the innocent, chivalrous, ruthless, less than a god, more than a man.” And in an appendix to Dune, Frank Herbert wrote that the desert planet “was afflicted by a Hero.”
These sprinklings in Dune were markers pointing in the direction Frank Herbert had in mind, transforming a utopian civilization into a violent dystopia. In fact, the original working title for the second book in the series was Fool Saint, which he would change two more times before settling on Dune Messiah. But in the published novel, he wrote, concerning Muad’Dib:
He is the fool saint,
The golden stranger living forever
On the edge of reason.
Let your guard fall and he is there!
The author felt that heroic leaders often made mistakes . . . mistakes that were amplified by the number of followers who were held in thrall by charisma. As a political speechwriter in the 1950s, Dad had worked in Washington, D.C., and had seen the megalomania of leadership and the pitfalls of following magnetic, charming politicians. Planting yet another interesting seed in Dune, he wrote, “It is said in the desert that possession of water in great amount can inflict a man with fatal carelessness.” This was an important reference to Greek hubris. Very few readers realized that the story of Paul Atreides was not only a Greek tragedy on an individual and familial scale. There was yet another layer, even larger, in which Frank Herbert was warning that entire societies could be led to ruination by heroes. In Dune and Dune Messiah, he was cautioning against pride and overconfidence, that form of narcissism described in Greek tragedies that invariably led to the great fall.
Among the dangerous leaders of human history, my father sometimes mentioned General George S. Patton because of his charismatic qualities—but more often his example was President John F. Kennedy. Around Kennedy, a myth of kingship had formed, and of Camelot. The handsome young president’s followers did not question him and would have gone virtually anywhere he led them. This danger seems obvious to us now in the cases of such men as Adolf Hitler, whose powerful magnetism led his nation into ruination. It is less obvious, however, with men who are not deranged or evil in and of themselves—such as Kennedy, or the fictional Paul Muad’Dib, whose danger lay in the religious myth structure around him and what people did in his name.
Among my father’s most important messages were that governments lie to protect themselves and they make incredibly stupid decisions. Years after the publication of Dune, Richard M. Nixon provided ample proof. Dad said that Nixon did the American people an immense favor in his attempt to cover up the Watergate misdeeds. By amplified example, albeit unwittingly, the thirty-seventh president of the United States taught people to question their leaders. In interviews and impassioned speeches on university campuses all across the country, Frank Herbert warned young people not to trust government, telling them that the American founding fathers had understood this and had attempted to establish safeguards in the Constitution.
In the transition from Dune to Dune Messiah, Dad accomplished something of a sleight of hand. In the sequel, while emphasizing the actions of the heroic Paul Muad’Dib, as he had done in Dune, the author was also orchestrating monumental background changes and dangers involving the machinations of the people surrounding that leader. Several people would vie for position to become closest to Paul; in the process they would secure for themselves as much power as possible, and some would misuse it, with dire consequences.
After the Dune series became wildly popular, many fans began to consider Frank Herbert in a light that he had not sought and which he did not appreciate. In one description of him, he was referred to as “a guru of science fiction.” Others depicted him in heroic terms. To counter this, in remarks that were consistent with his Paul Atreides characterization, Frank Herbert told interviewers that he did not want to be considered a hero, and he sometimes said to them, with disarming humility, “I’m nobody.”
Certainly my father was anything but that. In Dreamer of Dune, the biography I wrote about him, I described him as a legendary author. But in his lifetime, he sought to avoid such a mantle. As if whispering in his own ear, Frank Herbert constantly reminded himself that he was mortal. If he had been a politician, he would have undoubtedly been an honorable one, perhaps even one of our greatest U.S. presidents. He might have attained that high office, or reached any number of other lofty goals, had he decided to do so. But as a science fiction fan myself, I’m glad he took the course that he did. Because he was a great writer, his cautionary words will carry on through the ages and hopefully influence people in decision-making positions, causing them to set up safeguards that will protect against abuses of power, both by leaders and by their followers.
As you read Dune Messiah, enjoy the adventure story, the suspense, the marvelous characterizations and exotic settings. Then go back and read it again. You’ll discover something new on each pass through the pages. And you’ll get to know Frank Herbert better as a human being.
October 16, 2007
EXCERPTS FROM THE DEATH CELL INTERVIEW WITH BRONSO OF IX—
Q: What led you to take your particular approach to a history of Muad’dib?
A: Why should I answer your questions?
Q: Because I will preserve your words.
A: Ahhh! The ultimate appeal to a historian!
Q: Will you cooperate then?
A: Why not? But you’ll never understand what inspired my Analysis of History. Never. You Priests have too much at stake to . . .
Q: Try me.
A: Try you? Well, again . . . why not? I was caught by the shallowness of the common view of this planet which arises from its popular name: Dune. Not Arrakis, notice, but Dune. History is obsessed by Dune as desert, as birthplace of the Fremen. Such history concentrates on the customs which grew out of water scarcity and the fact that Fremen led semi-nomadic lives in stillsuits which recovered most of their body’s moisture.
Q: Are these things not true, then?
A: They are surface truth. As well ignore what lies beneath that surface as . . . as try to understand my birthplanet, Ix, without exploring how we derived our name from the fact that we are the ninth planet of our sun. No . . . no. It is not enough to see Dune as a place of savage storms. It is not enough to talk about the threat posed by the gigantic sandworms.
Q: But such things are crucial to the Arrakeen character!
A: Crucial? Of course. But they produce a one-view planet in the same way that Dune is a one-crop planet because it is the sole and exclusive source of the spice, melange.
Q: Yes. Let us hear you expand on the sacred spice.
A: Sacred! As with all things sacred, it gives with one hand and takes with the other. It extends life and allows the adept to foresee his future, but it ties him to a cruel addiction and marks his eyes as yours are marked: total blue without any white. Your eyes, your organs of sight, become one thing without contrast, a single view. Q: Such heresy brought you to this cell!
A: I was brought to this cell by your Priests. As with all priests, you learned early to call the truth heresy.
Q: You are here because you dared to say that Paul Atreides lost something essential to his humanity before he could become Muad’dib.
A: Not to speak of his losing his father here in the Harkonnen war.
Nor the death of Duncan Idaho, who sacrificed himself that Paul and the Lady Jessica could escape.
Q: Your cynicism is duly noted.
A: Cynicism! That, no doubt is a greater crime than heresy. But, you see, I’m not really a cynic. I’m just an observer and commentator. I saw true nobility in Paul as he fled into the desert with his pregnant mother. Of course, she was a great asset as well as a burden. Q: The flaw in you historians is that you’ll never leave well enough alone. You see true nobility in the Holy Muad’dib, but you must append a cynical footnote. It’s no wonder that the Bene Gesserit also denounce you.
A: You Priests do well to make common cause with the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. They, too, survive by concealing what they do. But they cannot conceal the fact that the Lady Jessica was a Bene Gesserit-trained adept. You know she trained her son in the sisterhood’s ways. My crime was to discuss this as a phenomenon, to expound upon their mental arts and their genetic program. You don’t want attention called to the fact that Muad’dib was the Sisterhood’s hoped for captive messiah, that he was their kwisatz haderach before he was your prophet.
Q: If I had any doubts about your death sentence, you have dispelled them.
A: I can only die once.
Q: There are deaths and there are deaths.
A: Beware lest you make a martyr of me. I do not think Muad’dib . . . Tell me, does Muad’dib know what you do in these dungeons?
Q: We do not trouble the Holy Family with trivia.
A: (Laughter) And for this Paul Atreides fought his way to a niche among the Fremen! For this he learned to control and ride the sandworm! It was a mistake to answer your questions.
Q: But I will keep my promise to preserve your words.
A: Will you really? Then listen to me carefully, you Fremen degenerate, you Priest with no god except yourself! You have much to answer for. It was a Fremen ritual which gave Paul his first massive dose of melange, thereby opening him to visions of his futures. It was a Fremen ritual by which that same melange awakened the unborn Alia in the Lady Jessica’s womb. Have you considered what it meant for Alia to be born into this universe fully cognitive, possessed of all her mother’s memories and knowledge? No rape could be more terrifying.
Q: Without the sacred melange Muad’dib would not have become leader of all Fremen. Without her holy experience Alia would not be Alia.
A: Without your blind Fremen cruelty you would not be a priest. Ahhh, I know you Fremen. You think Muad’dib is yours because he mated with Chani, because he adopted Fremen customs. But he was an Atreides first and he was trained by a Bene Gesserit adept. He possessed disciplines totally unknown to you. You thought he brought you new organization and a new mission. He promised to transform your desert planet into a water-rich paradise. And while he dazzled you with such visions, he took your virginity!
Q: Such heresy does not change the fact that the Ecological Transformation of Dune proceeds apace.
A: And I committed the heresy of tracing the roots of that transformation, of exploring the consequences. That battle out there on the Plains of Arrakeen may have taught the universe that Fremen could defeat Imperial Sardaukar, but what else did it teach? When the stellar empire of the Corrino Family became a Fremen empire under Muad’dib, what else did the Empire become? Your Jihad only took twelve years, but what a lesson it taught. Now, the Empire understands the sham of Muad’dib’s marriage to the Princess Irulan!
Q: You dare accuse Muad’dib of sham!
A: Though you kill me for it, it’s not heresy. The Princess became his consort, not his mate. Chani, his little Fremen darling—she’s his mate. Everyone knows this. Irulan was the key to a throne, nothing more.
Q: It’s easy to see why those who conspire against Muad’dib use your Analysis of History as their rallying argument!
A: I’ll not persuade you; I know that. But the argument of the conspiracy came before my Analysis. Twelve years of Muad’dib’s Jihad created the argument. That’s what united the ancient power groups and ignited the conspiracy against Muad’dib.
* * *Such a rich store of myths enfolds Paul Muad’dib, the Mentat Emperor, and his sister, Alia, it is difficult to see the real persons behind these veils. But there were, after all, a man born Paul Atreides and a woman born Alia. Their flesh was subject to space and time. And even though their oracular powers placed them beyond the usual limits of time and space, they came from human stock. They experienced real events which left real traces upon a real universe. To understand them, it must be seen that their catastrophe was the catastrophe of all mankind. This work is dedicated, then, not to Muad’dib or his sister, but to their heirs—to all of us.
Muad’dib’s Imperial reign generated more historians than any other era in human history. Most of them argued a particular viewpoint, jealous and sectarian, but it says something about the peculiar impact of this man that he aroused such passions on so many diverse worlds.
Of course, he contained the ingredients of history, ideal and idealized. This man, born Paul Atreides in an ancient Great Family, received the deep prana-bindu training from the Lady Jessica, his Bene Gesserit mother, and had through this a superb control over muscles and nerves. But more than that, he was a mentat, an intellect whose capacities surpassed those of the religiously proscribed mechanical computers used by the ancients.
Above all else, Muad’dib was the kwisatz haderach which the Sisterhood’s breeding program had sought across thousands of generations.
The kwisatz haderach, then, the one who could be “many places at once,” this prophet, this man through whom the Bene Gesserit hoped to control human destiny—this man became Emperor Muad’dib and executed a marriage of convenience with a daughter of the Padishah Emperor he had defeated.
Think on the paradox, the failure implicit in this moment, for you surely have read other histories and know the surface facts. Muad’dib’s wild Fremen did, indeed, overwhelm the Padishah Shad-dam IV. They toppled the Sardaukar legions, the allied forces of the Great Houses, the Harkonnen armies and the mercenaries bought with money voted in the Landsraad. He brought the Spacing Guild to its knees and placed his own sister, Alia, on the religious throne the Bene Gesserit had thought their own.
He did all these things and more.
Muad’dib’s Qizarate missionaries carried their religious war across space in a Jihad whose major impetus endured only twelve standard years, but in that time, religious colonialism brought all but a fraction of the human universe under one rule.
He did this because capture of Arrakis, that planet known more often as Dune, gave him a monopoly over the ultimate coin of the realm—the geriatric spice, melange, the poison that gave life.
Here was another ingredient of ideal history: a material whose psychic chemistry unraveled Time. Without melange, the Sisterhood’s Reverend Mothers could not perform their feats of observation and human control. Without melange, the Guild’s Steersmen could not navigate across space. Without melange, billions upon billions of Imperial citizens would die of addictive withdrawal.
Without melange, Paul-Muad’dib could not prophesy.
We know this moment of supreme power contained failure. There can be only one answer, that completely accurate and total prediction is lethal.