Dune is undoubtedly the most iconic science fiction book of all time. Dune is to Sci-fi what The Lord of The Rings is to fantasy fiction.
Because of this, it’s one of the first science fiction books that people tend to read as an adult. Although there are further entries into the Dune universe, Frank Herbet sadly passed away before he was able to complete his entire story.
This can lead readers to look for something else to whet their appetite. However, it can be difficult to find novels with the same scope in terms of plot and quality writing.
Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides, heir to one of the most powerful trading houses in the known universe.
When his family is ordained to take control of the Desert planet Arrakis, he is thrown into a series of deadly and forced to brave the desert alone.
Although Dune only takes place on a singular planet for much of its 188,000-word count, it is a rich story with incredible characters and an epic plot.
If you love Dune, then you’ll want to check out some of the other iconic reads throughout the history of science fiction literature, these include Leviathan Wakes, Hyperion, Neuromancer, The Three-Body Problem, and Foundation.
Check out our list of 5 books to read after Dune.
Themes In Dune
Dune takes place in the far future, after humankind has left earth and colonized the stars.
Interstellar space travel is made possible through the substance ‘spice’ which also doubles as a hallucinogenic stimulant.
The dominion, trading, and dynamic qualities of spice highlight a key theme within the novel—the concept of power and how this can be achieved through resources.
Much of the novel revolves around houses warring for the dominion of Arrakis—and in turn—dominion over spice.
Another key theme of Dune is the idea of fear and the human spirit as our species evolves throughout time.
This is most prevalent with the mantra repeated throughout the novel ‘I must not fear, fear is the mind-killer.’
How a human is able to control their mind and emotions in order to endure is a key theme that characters have to contend with.
Another theme again is the concept of religion, and how this can be used for good or for evil (If you like stories with themes of religion, check out Books Like The Rook).
Although the religion(s) in Dune are not the same as what we see in the world today, they share some similarities and within the novel, Herbert explores how religion is used as a weapon and as a source of hope for humanity.
The last theme that’s important to highlight is the idea of technology and humanity. In the Dune universe, as technology has expanded and evolved—so too have humans.
Dune poses many questions as to how technology could be used in the future, and how this will alter our collective human experiences.
Books Like Dune
1. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
In the wake of Dune, there have been countless science fiction stories that have attempted to grapple with complex themes.
In 1989 Dan Simmons released Hyperion, which is the first novel of the Hyperion Cantos, a series of science fiction novels that follow a similar structure to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
If you’re looking for another novel that explores rich themes to do with far-future technology and humanity, then this might be a great choice for you!
Like Dune, the Hyperion Cantos is one of the most iconic and important works of science fiction that has stood the test of time.
- Sci-Fi Classic: A classic sci-fi novel that has been loved by fans for years.
- Multiple Characters: A wide range of characters to enthrall you.
- Prose Style: A Fairly old prose style that can be hard to follow at times.
Themes: Religion, War, Wealth, Art, Technology, Time.
2. Neuromancer by William Gibson
Although very different from Dune in terms of setting, Neuromancer is a great book to pick up if you want to read more about speculative technology (see also “Books Like Senlin Ascends – 5 Gripping Reads To Add To Your Collection!“).
Neuromancer is often seen as the first ‘cyberpunk’ novel, taking place in an urban, far-future setting where technology has almost completely merged with humanity.
It leans a lot heavier into technology as a theme, but like Dune, it explores how humanity can evolve to live with (or in spite of) these new advancements.
- Genre-Defining: The first Cyberpunk novel, making it unique and important.
- Technology-focused: Perfect for readers who want to read more about future technology.
- Scope: Lacks the universe-wide scope compared to something like Dune.
Themes: Technology, Crime, Humanity, Cyberpunk.
3. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A Corey
Leviathan Wakes is the first novel in The Expanse series by James S.A Corey. In many ways, you can see this series as ‘epic science fiction,’ as it features a huge cast of characters spread across space.
This story takes place in the far future where humanity has managed to colonize our solar system, including the Moon, Mars and the Asteroid Belt.
Leviathan Wakes is a great choice if you’re looking for something that has the same kind of scope as Dune. It is the first novel in a much longer series that will take you on an incredible space journey.
It straddles the line between space opera and military, so there’s something to love no matter what kind of science fiction fan you are.
- Sci-Fi Epic: The first in a huge, epic series.
- Prose: Easy prose that will get you hooked.
- Realism: Lacks some of the fantastical elements of other science fiction literature.
Themes: Technology, Humanity, Capitalism, Power.
4. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
If you’re looking for an incredible hard science fiction novel that shares common themes with Dune, then this is a great choice for you.
Cixin Liu creates a tale that is set against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and sees humanity come into direct contact with aliens.
One of the most unique aspects of Cixin Liu’s writing is his understanding of scientific problems and concepts, and the way he explores these problems within an exciting plot and intense, speculative worldbuilding.
In short, this is a great novel to pick up if you loved the more philosophical aspects of Dune.
- Philosophical Questions: The book deals with philosophical questions as well as science fiction.
- Depth: The first book in a deep, rich science fiction series.
- Pacing: Slower paced than some of the other novels on this list.
Themes: Humanity, Extraterrestrial Life, Culture, Technology, Philosophy.
5. Foundation by Issac Asimov
To finish our list, we’ve made sure to include Issac Asimov’s masterpiece. The Foundation Series is one of the most influential science fiction series of all time, and a perfect thing to read after Dune.
Much like Frank Herbert’s vision for the future, Foundation sees humanity spanning across the galaxy in an Empire that is soon doomed to collapse.
Foundation becomes an incredible mix between intense plot, thrilling action and some of the most comprehensive worldbuilding you’re likely to find in the genre.
If you liked the epic qualities of Dune, then this is going to be a great series for you to sink your teeth into.
Also, Asimov is one of the most important voices in science fiction and speculative fiction, so he’s an important one to tick off your list if you want a more balanced understanding of the genre.
- Epic: The first story in an epic masterpiece.
- Influence: Asimov is one of the most influential science fiction authors ever.
- Older Style: Features an older prose style that could be challenging for some readers.
Themes: Empire, Humanity, War, Hope.
So there you have it! That was our list of the 5 best books to read after finishing Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune!
We hope that this list has given you a good range of different voices from across science fiction, from some older classics to more contemporary novels (If you liked this, check out Books Like A Little Life) that deal with our ever-changing understanding of science and technology.
The bad thing about finishing Dune is that you can no longer read it again for the first time, the positive thing is that you now have an entire universe of science fiction literature to explore!
We hope that this guide has helped you to pick your next book. If you still have some questions about any of the content discussed in this article, keep reading for our short FAQ section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dune A Hard Read?
Dune is considered to be a difficult read by some due to its age and rich prose.
Dune makes use of an omniscient narrator, meaning that it switches between different perspectives frequently. This can be difficult to follow for some readers.
Why Is Dune So Iconic?
Dune is one of the most influential books in the science fiction genre. Its bleak, but rather intriguing vision of far-future humanity has captivated the minds of readers and writers since its publication in the 1960s.
Is Dune Finished?
The first Dune novel is finished and can be read as a standalone novel, however, some of the later novels in the series were not written. Frank Herbert sadly passed away before he was able to complete the entire story.
Should I Read All The Dune Books?
Most fans would suggest that you read each of the Dune novels, even though some of the later ones change in terms of plot and quality.
The most important Dune book to read is the first, as this is the most influential and complete in the series.
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