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Gil Ramon says:

I won’t spoil any of the critical details that will be addressed in the movie, but you should understand the universe this story takes place in. The first book, published in 1965, the 1984 film and the SyFy miniseries go into some Universe and historic details, but the subsequent books do a better job in expanding it.

DUNE takes place around 20,000 years into our future. Humanity has spread to thousands of worlds and evolved in many different ways. The entire saga covers 34,000 years in 6 main books.

The most critical point to know is that all planets are dependent on a single commodity needed for interstellar travel and which has helped in the physical and mental evolution of humans, called the Spice. Spice is produced by those gigantic worms seen on the trailer and those worms only live in one planet, Arrakis.

Arrakis (aka Dune) is that desert planet on the trailer. The sand dunes of Arrakis are supposed to be miles deep of loose sand where the worms can move freely without coming to the surface. Vibrations attract them and they come and swallow whatever is making the vibrations. Arrakis/Dune is so dry that the "native" people of the planet, called the Fremen, have to wear the black weird suits you see on the trailer. Nobody can survive the desert without those suits. The Fremen’s name for the worm is Shai Hulud.

Whoever controls the Spice, controls all planets.

Spice has several positive and negative side-effects. The most negative side-effect is that it is highly addictive. The positive effects are many; it increases the human lifespan to about 200 years, it increases the senses and intelligence of the consumers greatly, it provides many people with spectacular capabilities ( think of the Force in Star Wars) and it can even help some people evolve to super-humans where these people develop the ability to fold space and transport ships from one planet to the other.

As with Game of Thrones, the DUNE universe is controlled by an Emperor and several Great Houses/Families. The Emperor and the Houses control the production and flow of Spice and the houses are always competing for a bigger share of the pie.

There are two main organizations that are outside the direct control of the Emperor and the Houses; they are called the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the Guild.

The Bene Gesserit sisterhood are basically witches that have manipulated humanity through a breeding, genetic and mystic program; the creepy lady with the box is the Reverend mother of the Bene Gesserit. They are manipulative witches and have their own agenda

The Guild is a very weird organization. They hate the Bene Gesserit, but are needed by all Houses, the Emperor and even by the Bene Gesserit. They are the Interstellar pilots of all the ships in the Empire. In the book they are humans that have evolved to a level where you cannot recognize them as human anymore. They are also very powerful and are the ones that can navigate space and bring ships from one planet to the next almost instantly. I'm not sure how they will be presented in the movie, though.

There is a third group, called the Mentats, that has developed superhuman brain capabilities and have replaced computers as “thinking machines” or computers/AI and are used by everyone in the Universe.

Also, martial arts have evolved so much that they resemble magic; called the Weirding Way. You see a lot of sword fighting on the trailer as those shimmering shields you see in the trailer, have made bullets and energy weapons obsolete; so humanity has returned to hand to hand combat. The only thing that penetrates those shields are slow moving weapons, like swords and knives.

Another reason why you do not see a lot of the typical AI and Technology in Dune is that thousands of years before this story, there was a huge war between humans and AI/Robots. Humans won that war and banned a lot of the types of the technology we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies and shows. Some technology remains, like the shields, the anti-gravity ships, etc, but it is a small amount compared to what we are usually used to seeing in Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

Dune is so old that it has influenced almost all the scifi we know and love. This includes, Star Wars, Stargate, Interstellar, modern Star Trek, and many others. For example, the owners of Dune almost sued and forced George Lucas to re-write many parts of Star Wars as he copied Dune without their permission.

I hope this helps.

Here is a YouTube channel of Quinn where he summarizes Dune’s universe into a 5-minute video.

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