Dune Universe

Dune is a science fiction media franchise that originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert and has continued to add new publications. 

Dune is frequently cited as the best selling science fiction novel in history. It won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and the 1966 Hugo Award, and was later adapted into a 1984 film, a 2000 television miniseries, and a 2021 film.

Herbert wrote five sequels, and the first two were presented as a miniseries called Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune in 2003. Dune has also inspired some traditional games and a series of video games. Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-world nomenclature of plains and other features on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Frank Herbert died in 1986. Beginning in 1999, his son Brian Herbert and science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson published a number of prequel novels, as well as two sequels which complete the original Dune series

The political, scientific, and social fictional setting of Herbert’s novels and derivative works is known as the Dune universe, or Duniverse. Set tens of thousands of years in the future, the saga chronicles a civilization which has banned all “thinking machines”, which include computers, robots and artificial intelligence. In their place, civilization has developed advanced mental and physical disciplines as well as advanced technologies that adhere to the ban on computers. Vital to this empire is the harsh desert planet Arrakis, the only known source of the spice melange, the most valuable substance in the universe.

Due to the similarities between some of Herbert’s terms and ideas and actual words and concepts in the Arabic language, as well as the series’ “Islamic undertones” and themes, a Middle Eastern influence in Herbert’s works has been noted repeatedly.


The Dune saga is set thousands of years in humanity’s future. Faster-than-light travel has been developed, and humans have colonized a vast number of worlds, but a great reaction against technology has resulted in a ban on any kind of “thinking machine”, with the creation or possession of such punishable by immediate death. Despite this prohibition, humanity continues to develop and advance other branches of technology, including ESP and instruments of war.

At the time of the first book’s setting, humanity has formed a feudal interstellar empire known as the Imperium, run by several Great Houses that oversee various planets.

Of key interest is the planet Arrakis, known as “Dune”. Entirely a desert planet with nearly no precipitation, it is the only planet where a special life-extending drug, melange or “the spice”, can be found.

In addition to life-extension, melange enhances the mental capacity of humans: it enables humans known as Mentats to perform complex calculations without the aid of computers, allows for the mutated Spacing Guild pilots to navigate folded space and travel the distances between planets, and creates the visions and powers of the Bene Gesserit, a religious group that secretly seeks to control the direction humanity takes.

Melange is difficult to acquire not only due to the harsh environment of Arrakis, but also the presence of giant sandworms that are drawn towards any movement on the sands of the planet. Control of Arrakis, its spice production, and the impact on humanity’s development become the centerpoints of a thousand-years long conflict that develops through the series.

The Dune universe, set in the distant future of humanity, has a history that stretches thousands of years (some 15,000 years in total) and covers considerable changes in political, social, and religious structure as well as technology. Creative works set in the Dune universe can be said to fall into five general time periods:

  • The Butlerian Jihad. During this time, the earliest of the Dune ages, a great war was waged against the Thinking Machines. Eventually, the humans were victorious, and eliminated all thinking machines from the universe. Henceforth, a major taboo was placed against the construction of such machines. Instead, the Mentats were formed, a class of human-computers.
  • The Corrino-led Imperium. The next several thousand years see the creation of a vast human-ruled interstellar empire, ruled by the Imperial House Corrino, as part of the feudal system that has also developed. The Landsraad and the Spacing Guild also seize some of the power, and share it among the Imperium. This is perhaps the most stable time in the history of the Dune Universe.
  • The rise of the Atreides. The Corrino ruled over this vast empire for many thousands of years, until, in 10,193 A.G., the current Padishah Emperor, Shaddam Corrino IV, was overthrown by Paul Atreides, who seized command of the Imperium and declared himself Emperor. The Imperium was now under Atreides control.
  • The reign and fall of the God Emperor. Leto Atreides II, Paul’s son, takes over from his father, and sets the Universe on the Golden Path, becoming the benevolent tyrant of the universe. Leto prevents most space travel and keeps humanity under lock and key. The God Emperor, as he is known, is eventually assassinated and this causes The Scattering, an event in which the entire empire is thrown into pandemonium and disarray and the system breaks down.
  • The return from the Scattering. Years pass after the Scattering, over the course of which humanity has reveled in its new freedom and expanded, under controlled, into the universe. The Old Empire is currently, like before, under the command of several powerful factions; with power devided between the Ixians, the Bene Tleilax and the Bene Gesserit. The Spacing Guild is practically non-existant, as machines have been devised that do not require Guild Navigator assistance.

Excerpt from Wikipedia.

Planets in the Dune Universe
Houses of the Dune Universe
Institutions in the Dune Universe
Influence and impact on real world

Dune has been widely influential, inspiring numerous novels, music, films, television, games, and comic books. It is considered one of the greatest and most influential science fiction novels of all time, with numerous modern science fiction works such as Star Wars owing their existence to Dune. Dune has also been referenced in numerous other works of popular culture, such as Star Trek, Chronicles Of Riddick, The Kingkiller Chronicle, and Futurama. Dune was cited as a major source of inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984).

Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-world nomenclature of plains (planitiae) and complexes of valleys (labyrinthi) on Saturn’s moon Titan. Planet names used to date include Arrakis, Caladan, Giedi Prime, Kaitain, Salusa Secundus, and Tleilax. The Hagal dune field and other sites on Mars are informally named after planets mentioned in the Dune series. The city of Tacoma, Washington, Herbert’s birthplace, dedicated part of Point Defiance Park as the “Dune Peninsula” to honor the writer and the series.

Excerpt from Wikipedia.

Video games and computer games
  • Dune (1992) from Cryo Interactive/Virgin Interactive
  • Dune II (1992), Westwood Studios
  • Dune II, an unlicensed online multiplayer MUSH active in the early 1990s
  • Dune 2000 (1998), Intelligent Games/Westwood Studios/Virgin Interactive
  • Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001) by Intelligent Games/Westwood Studios/Electronic Arts
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune (2001) by Cryo Interactive/DreamCatcher Interactive, based on the 2000 SciFi Channel miniseries
  • Dune Wars mod for Civilization IV
  • Dune Wars: Revival for Civilization (2015)
  • Behind the Dune is an unlicensed online flash single player game first released in 2016. The game is based on Dune (1992) by Cryo Interactive/Virgin Interactive
  • Treachery.online is a digitized version of the 1979 Dune board game.
Board games, role playing games and collectible card games
Board games
  • Dune (1979), Avalon Hill, republished by Gale Force Nine in 2019.
  • Dune (1984), Parker Bros
  • Dune: Imperium (2020), Dire Wolf
Role-playing games
  • Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium (2000), Last Unicorn Games
  • Dune: A Dream Of Rain (2004), Evil Twin Games
  • Dune: Adventures in the Imperium (2021), Modiphius Entertainment
Card games
  • Dune (1997), Five Rings Publishing Group/Last Unicorn Games
Film och TV
  • Dune (1984 film), David Lynch, Dino De Laurentiis Corporation/Universal Pictures
  • Dune (2021 film), Denis Villeneuve, Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000), 3-part miniseries, Sci-Fi Channel (today Syfy), based on novel Dune
  • Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (2003), 3-part miniseries, Sci-Fi Channel (today Syfy), based on novels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune
  • Sandworms of Dune (1978), Frank Herbert, Comprised of portions of his Dune trilogy melded with connective text by Herbert.
  • Dune (1984)
  • Dune: Spice Opera (game, 1992)
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000)
  • Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001)
  • Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (2003)
External pages