You thought you had to wait until October. Then you thought you had to wait until December. Now you’re waiting until, well, maybe still December? Maybe later? One thing is for certain, you are going to need something to fill that Dune-shaped void in your life. These are the books to read while you wait. But what’s that, you say? You’re not just looking for any space opera, you’re looking for that PARTICULAR space opera that’s going to satisfy the exact reason why you’re looking forward to Dune? Fear not! Our recommendations are sorted by why you’re excited to see Dune!
By Julia Bergen
If you’re excited to see Dune because:
Dune seems really cool:
You should read: Dune: The Duke of Caladan by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Whether you love the world of Dune, or you’ve never read a Dune book but are intrigued by all this talk of gigantic sandworms, sci-fi witches, and space daddies, read Dune: The Duke of Caladan while you wait for the Dune movie. This prequel was written by Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert’s son, and science fiction legend Kevin J. Anderson. The saga tells the story of Duke Leto Atreides’ rise to power and is the perfect setup for the Dune movie.
And if you are interested in Oscar Isaac’s beard: DEFINITELY read The Duke of Caladan. Space Daddy FTW.
You love crazy space monsters:
You should read: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
The sandworms in Dune are definitely some of the creepiest monsters in SF, and their connection to the spice is shrouded in mystery. While you wait to see sandworms on the screen, you can dive into the mystery of the creature discovered by a xenobiologist during what was supposed to be a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet.
You love vintage SF set on a desert planet:
You should read: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burrows
First serialized in 1912, waaaay before anyone actually knew what Mars was like, Burrows based his fictional Mars off of scientific ideas of the time. So, his Mars is a desert, populated by Tharks with green skin and six arms and more humanoid Red Martians.
You love dudes fighting in suits in space:
You should read: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
If you’re most looking forward to seeing how Villeneuve envisions the stillsuits necessary to survive on the desert planet Arrakis, and to see some sweet suit fight scenes, calm you suited bloodthirst with a book about genetically perfected superhumans wearing futuristic body armor battling it out in a Hunger Games-esque competition for the solar system’s best job opportunities.
You love space politics:
You should read: Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
This book has been referred to as “Game of Thrones in space,” and it’s totally accurate. Five families own the corporations that control the Moon which, like Arrakis, is an extremely harsh place for humanity to survive. There’s feuding families, there’s backstabbing, there’s brilliant worldbuilding for days.
No, like, you REALLY love space politics:
You should read: Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot
We got you. You need even MORE space politics in your science fiction. That’s no problem. Just check out Unconquerable Sun, a gender-swapped retelling of Alexander the Great in space. Princess Sun is the daughter of a powerful queen who built up the greatest republic ever seen. Now she’s come of age, and must out-maneuver her political rivals to preserve her mother’s legacy.
No, seriously, you LIVE space politics:
You should read: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Oh, so you’re one of those, huh? No judgment, just book recommendations here, my friend. And you definitely need to feast your eyes on the Hugo Award-winning A Memory Called Empire, which should give you all the space politics you could possibly want. An ambassador arrives at the center of the Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor has died. Now she must solve his murder by untangling the webs of subterfuge he weaved.
You love space politics, but not as much as you love love.
You should read: Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
If you can’t wait for Dune’s space politic glory, but you’re also looking forward to cute scenes between Leto and Jessica, and Paul and Chani, then as soon as it’s on sale you need to get your hands on this romantic space opera. A prince marries for political reasons but finds himself solving a murder mystery alongside his new husband with the fate of the empire at stake. It’s got all the classic romance tropes (only one bed, we have to huddle together for warmth, etc.) plus massive political maneuvering in space. This book isn’t on sale until February 2nd, which in theory will be after Dune is in theaters. But “in theory” means about as much as a Harkonnen’s promise in 2020, sooooo….
What are you reading while you wait for Dune? Something not on this list? Let us know in the comments!