The One Book That Made Me Take the Long View of the Future: God Emperor of Dune | #SciFiSunday

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Excellent piece from Kate Heartfield up on

Contrary to the stereotype, many teenagers think about the future a lot. It is, after all, the stage when you’re meant to decide the main course of the rest of your life. For an earnest, politically-minded kid, that translates into: How will I serve humanity? Can an individual even make a lasting difference?

God Emperor of Dune gave me one resounding, booming version of yes, in response to that question. It’s taken me a few decades to figure out precisely why it’s such a bad yes, but that in itself is useful. It’s an entire series of books about What Not to Do.

Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence that Frank Herbert intended the books to be a cautionary tale. In 1982, he told Bryant Gumbel on NBC that his message was “Don’t trust leaders to always be right.” Herbert’s prescient tyrants—Paul and Leto Atreides—use their own charisma and humanity’s history of messianic religion to create unspeakable horrors.

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