You know, as I learned from creative writing teachers I respect, all fiction is derivative. There is no such thing as an original story. There are only newer storytelling techniques and different ways to rehash elements onto an arc.
For much of my life, I was a consummate science fiction fan, passionately dedicated to novels and completely dismissive of film.
The 30-year-old me denied that Star Wars even deserved the label science fiction. It bore no resemblance to the masterpieces I adored from the pens of Asimov, Clark, Bradbury, Heinlein, and of course Herbert.
Herbert’s Dune series is a multi-layered, nuanced masterpiece combining explorations of spirituality with history, sociology philosophy, and even economics.
Certainly, it shares some trivial surface similarities with Star Wars. But as quoted above, Star Wars is a comic book for the screen. It’s entertaining and interesting in places, but it can’t even approach the depth and sophistication of Dune.
For every point of similarity, one could mine vast differences.
Star Wars will rightfully go down in history as a blockbuster in terms of popular entertainment and a game changer in cinema.
But Dune will be forever acknowledged as a masterpiece of literature and scholarship.
And for what it’s worth, while I applaud efforts to film Dune, I fear that anything that would make us fans happy would dilute it to the point of triviality.