I own all six books in the Dune saga, and I more or less consider them an epic Science Fiction masterpiece. Dune is my yard stick by which I use to measure greatness of other SF novels. You may say what you want about Herbert, but his books pack more thought provoking ideas about philosophy, religion and life per page than any other work in the SF genre. They are incredibly smart, eloquent and while the plot usually moves at a glacial pace, each paragraph is loaded with mind blowing revelations, or interesting ideas. When I first started reading the book I actually thought that this was one of his earlier novels, and that the familiar themes ecology, eugenics, social conditioning were simply indicative of authors primary interests which were later expanded and fully fleshed out in Dune.

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Jan 17, Kirt rated it really liked it It involves the encounter between normal Americans in the "modern day" and a strange, cultish society that has been secretly living among them since the 19th century, the Hive. But they want to add human intelligence to the mix. Which leads to a very scary society. The average worker is controlled with various chemicals, which make them placid and truthful, and they of course have developed chemicals for increased fertility, including various aphrodisiacs, which are especially useful when sending breeder females out into Outside society.

For example, they know that insect appetite is ultimately destructive unless kept in check, and being intelligent, they intend to keep it in check themselves, by being very ecologically sound in their science, and recycling everything for food. This leads to another of their button-pushing habits: cannibalism. A dead worker is usually sent to the Vats to be recycled as food. The Hive is discovered by a particularly nasty secret Agency, an ultrasecret Cold War espionage arm of the executive branch, with all the callous attitude toward human life contrasted with the Hive desire not to kill unless in self-defense that one might expect from such an Agency.

This tilts your sympathy a bit away from the "normal" humans a touch. The idea, and I think Herbert pulls it off, is to make both sides equally sympathetic and unsympathetic in their own ways. The only thing about this book is the ending is kinda weak. It reaches a "stopping point" -- a sort of logical lull in the action -- and then just stops.


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