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Arrakis - Dune - Steampunk Planet?

Something that has occurred to me that I wonder if others might also share in agreement, at least some insight. For those of you who may have read Frank Herbert's Dune chronicles, would you not agree that his novels were, in fact, Steampunk in nature? Considering that the first novel itself seems to create a picture of a retro-futuristic world in the year 10,191 that seems to be a combination of 1890-meets-1910, that made me start to wonder if indeed Dune could be, well, Steampunk literature.

What say ye?


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 28th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
I say having had this read to me as a bed time story as a child.


Its it own thing and I love it but it is not steampunk .
Dec. 28th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
To the extent that it eschews computers? Yes. To the point where it could be visualised as having a steampunk aesthetic (thank you, David Lynch)? Yes. But IMO there is still too much high technology in it (e.g. hand-held laser weapons, the personal energy shields) and too much pure sci-fi (Guild navigators, the Spice) and mysticism (the Bene Gesserit) to truly be steampunk.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 28th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
I concur, I've always seen Dune in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia and more traditional/pulp sci-fi. The machinery is just far too modern. Besides, I always saw the imperial planets' aesthetic as more medieval/Renaissance than Empire/Victorian.
Dec. 28th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
To add for not point other then I have to do it


Ok I'm done now.

Dec. 28th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Dec. 28th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
I'll go with "no" also. The movie presented an aesthetic that could be adapted for steampunk (meaning, a steampunk dune could be very cool) the novels (at least books 1-4) weren't particularly steampunk in description. The society was fuedal in nature. They tech was highly advanced and they had atomic energy and space folding through mental powers. Nothing that screams steampunk inherently.
Dec. 28th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
Good question
I don't know that I have a definitive answer, but I'll chime in anyway. According to at least 2 magazines that have done Steampunk issues (one American, one Australian and no, I don't recall titles, my wife showed them to me) the aesthetic is in the general category of Steampunk. However, while you could argue the laser and energy shields and psionics are not steampunk, I would argue, why can't they be? It is what we make it after all?

Besides, I like the idea of a little magic mixed with my science and all that as well, so why not a handheld aethyr laser. Just my thoughts, even though they aren't in Dune.
Dec. 28th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Good question
Thank you!!

I was beginning to feel as if a gang of Steamthugs were assaulting me with brass pipes! :(
Dec. 28th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
I don't really know...I've always thought it was more sci-fi (well...this is having being influenced by the 1980's (I think) film, then reading it, then seeing part of the Sci-Fi special...gah...you're making me want to read it again).

And I'll have to agree with what mobiboros said: The quality of technology seemed more sci-fi than steampunk.

On a random note: House Harkkonan rules...
Dec. 28th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say it was more sci-fi than steampunk since steampunk is mainly a subgenre of sci-fi. I'd say dune was more golden age sci-fi. It has more in common with flash Gordon than Captain Nemo. And honestly the books don't really paint a very well defined aesthetic. You could argue the movie had sone steamy elements but you can't really say the books were steampunk stories. Their fuedal politics stories set in a space opera setting more than anything.

(no subject) - haruka_yamamura - Dec. 28th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 28th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Also, no offense to everybody, and I know that I'll get murdered for this: But not everything is steampunk. Sorry.

I understand that a lot of things hold the appeal, aesthetic, and background of steam/diesel/clock/thingamajig- punk, but one thing that I've noticed is that sometimes when people hold an interest in something, they start seeing it anywhere. I liken it to GLBT scholars alleging that seemingly every great character in literature is GLB.
Dec. 28th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to murder you. I agree. Not everything is steampunk. And it shouldn't be. Not every story fits the aesthetic or themes of steampunk.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 28th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
Sorry but I have to completely disagree with your statement Its politics resemble the noble/mercantile power blocs of the Renaissance in reference to an historical period outside the ream of the Victorian period.

From a historical standpoint, from a global perspective, isn't that a bit historically blind? That would imply every single governing entity on the earth was exactly the same as Victorian England during the Victorian Age. All you need to find is just ONE place on earth with a noble/mercantile power bloc that existing during the same time period and then your statement would be inaccurate.

And how anti-technological would you say the Fremen were in Paul Maud'Dib's introduction of the wielding modules, granted that they themselves being technological were not driven by the Steampunk-pure definition of steam/gear but by sound?

Sorry, your statement was a bit harsh, so I had to respond in kind.
(no subject) - mobiboros - Dec. 29th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_nordic_one - Dec. 29th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - piraterogue - Dec. 29th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - the_nordic_one - Dec. 29th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dr_fidelius - Dec. 29th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_nordic_one - Dec. 29th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - prof_folderol - Dec. 29th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 28th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
Regardless of if it is or isn't... I still love those books
Dec. 28th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm going to have to weigh in with the no's. The setting in the Dune stories is simply far too heavily entrenched in the mid-to-late 20th century conception of advanced science sci-fi for it to be steampunk. It's definitely an example of post-steam and post-pulp science fiction.

Mind you, a steampunk version of Dune would be quite interesting, though it would run into some infrastructure issues in terms of the dry climate. You'd have to devote a lot of your precious water to power generation.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - the_nordic_one - Dec. 29th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - forfaxia - Dec. 29th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shoomlah - Dec. 31st, 2009 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 28th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
I'm going to have to go with a strong, firm "no" on this one.
Dec. 29th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
'No' on the book but the 1984 movie had some interesting quasi-Victorian/Steampunk styling here and there with costumes and props.

I distinctly remember considerable 'discussion' in the press about the 'Victorian' aspects (mostly negative) and in particular the phrase "Old is New" being used: a concept quite applicable to today's Steampunk movement.

Dec. 29th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
for Flavor their awesome...

Im going to say yes BUT... Maybe not definitive SP literature but damn good regardless...

Laser gun = death ray / Focused sunshine projector
force field = projected Aether field
Space flight = Aether ships
Psyonics do good anywhere in my mind.

All just how you name it. hmmm a giant clockwork sandworm? the floating fat man using some kind of steam powered helicopter attachment? focused sonic emitters? Atomic weapons... maybesomething like the super steam thing from steam boy?

lots of good potential in those books/movies in my mind.
Dec. 29th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
@ the nordic one - yes, no, maybe so, but I do know for sure that I must go and re-watch the movie, stat. Thank you for the reminder about this fun and funky film. It will probably make more sense to me now than it did when I was a preteen...
Also? Sting in a red leather diaper-thing always makes me happy. He wasn't so very Steampunk-looking (oh, the exposed skin! Naughty and improper), but I still, um, loved it. :)
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