Or, Parody, Where is thy Sting?
An Atomic Moo Book Review of the Ellis Weiner Classic!
Dune (Frank Herbert, 1965) is hardly a gripping yarn. It’s a slow plod through a bizarre, techno-baroque landscape. The language is florid and strange. The characters mumble, misunderstand one another and say things that no ordinary person would ever say, such as “My son is human“, or “Mood’s a thing for making love! Now defend yourself for truth!” I appreciated it chiefly as an adventure novel and an allegory on oil politics, with the hero as a T. E. Lawrence figure.
Dune is always walking the thin line between serious and silly. Prophecies and poison and knife fights determine the fate of the universe. The hero rides a giant sandworm through the desert with his overbearing mother in tow. Everything is ponderous and severe, with no levity at all. This is one of the most popular science fiction novels of all time!
Naturally, a book so puffed-up with self importance needs deflating, so Thank The Maker for Doon (Ellis Weiner, 1984), a parody novel in the tradition of Bored of the Rings. Doon is less a parody of Dune than an improvement. It’s half as long, but all the key scenes are there, and the plot is easier to follow. The jokes are fired off at machine-gun speed, aiming high, middle and low, so even if a few of them miss there’s a laugh on every page. No, I’m not going to spoil them.
Let me not leave the wrong impression: Herbert’s Dune is brilliant! It takes genius to make something worth making fun of! Doon is such a spot-on parody that the author obviously loves the original, and knows it well enough to really skewer it good! There’s nothing mean-spirited about Doon at all. You’ll never feel bad for laughing, except at the part where the fetus asks its mother for more beer.
Doon has been out of print for decades. Happy hunting!