1. Paul Atreides’s psychic powers are aided by a drug produced on Dune. Are drugs good or bad in Dune? Given the terrible effects many drugs have on people, are drugs portrayed responsibly in the novel? Should the way drugs are depicted matter to readers?
2. What are the dangers of charismatic leadership, according to Dune?
3. Some critics regard Dune as primarily a novel of ideas, emphasizing themes over plot and characterization. How compelling is the novel’s plot? Does it entertain, or does it simply provide a framework for Herbert’s ideas?
4. In science fiction, planets are often shown as having only one climate. There are desert planets like Dune, or snow planets, tropical planets, wet planets, and so on. Yet Earth has many climates, including deserts, ice caps, tropical forests, and oceans. How realistic is it to have an all-desert planet? Why do you think science-fiction authors depict planets with only one climate, when the planet they know best has many climates?
5. What explanation does Herbert offer in Dune for the planet having changed from one of lush vegetation to one covered by desert? What is he trying to tell people about their own world, Earth?
6. Is Paul a well-rounded character? Does he seem like a real person, or does he mainly serve to convey Herbert’s ideas?
7. Paul is the son of a noble family that has been exiled by the royal family. Is it believable that a futuristic civilization would resemble a medieval society, with nobles and an emperor?
8. What is the role of women in Fremen culture? Are they more or less liberated than the ones in the imperial culture represented by the Atreides family?
9. Why does Herbert give some characters the ability to see the future? Does this ability have anything to do with the planet Arrakis, itself? If Bene Gesserit women and space navigators have great psychic powers, why do they fear Paul? What is special about Paul’s ability?
10. Dune is a long novel filled with details about life on the planet Dune. Why does such a lengthy and complicated work appeal so strongly to readers? If you were the author, would you shorten the novel? What, if anything, would you cut out? Does the novel answer all your questions about life on Dune?