D. A. Houdek

Deb Houdek Rule

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"Star Wars" is "Dune"

 by D. A. Houdek

I wrote this on the Heinlein Forum bb in 1997.

The Star Wars trilogy is really just a modified, flashier version of DUNE.

The Novels:

Dune by Frank Herbert

Star Wars by George Lucas

The Movies:

Dune (Sci-Fi Channel Mini-series)

Star Wars

The strongest presentation for each story is the original--for Dune it's the book, for Star Wars it's the first movie (later renamed Episode IV: A New Hope)


We have Luke in the role of Paul Atreides, the young man of destiny, both tied to desert planets. They are the kwisatz haderach. Luke's future is in his genes ("The Force is strong in my family.") and as unavoidable as Paul's was to him. Like Paul, Luke has to learn and explore his odd new role as a being unlike other humans. Both Paul and Luke had to come to terms with being parts of worlds that those around them couldn't see and didn't understand.

The Rebels are the Fremen fighting the Empire and the Emperor. Darth Vader is the Baron, the outward symbol of evil. The Baron as Paul's grandfather is Vader as Luke's father, the necessary, unbreakable link between the good and the evil, as well as the necessary warning to Luke/Paul of the dangers of following the path of evil to the dark side of the Force.

Duncan Idaho is Han Solo, and Leia is Alia. Will, in later sequels, Leia be tortured and unable to cope with her Jedi powers as Alia was hers?

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Though superficially Star Wars is a glitzy space opera with a simple good guys battling bad guys theme, the whole focus of the trilogy comes down to one moment—and it's a deeper, more intense, thing that shooting off lasers and making things go boom. The key moment in Star Wars is on the 2nd Death Star, when Luke is wavering on the dark side of the Force as he fights Vader. The moment he realizes what's happening to him, when he looks at his artificial hand and at Vader's severed artificial hand, everything before crystalizes and Luke, at that crux moment, decides the entire future of the galaxy. Paul has this same crux moment when he sees the banner of House Atreides in the future over all the worlds, and battles. Both Paul and Luke committed to their own golden path and shaped the futures of their universes.

Jabba the Hut is actually Luke's son shifted back in time after he's taken on the sandworm skin, ala Paul's son, Leto, who evolves into a sandworm.

The first film had a decided homage to Dune, in the shot of the sandworm skeleton that C3PO walks past. The modified effects of that critter in the hole in the sand did rather resemble the sandworms in the movie version of Dune, didn't it?

And a response I wrote to the debate that followed:

Alia played a fairly significant role near the end of the 1st Dune book. It's in the 2nd book that her similarities to Leia are easier to visualize because she's older (and hung up on the Duncan Idaho/Han Solo character). However at that point she's losing her grip. The Leia/Alia comparison is probably the weakest I make (ever notice their names are almost anagrams of each other?), however, there they are; both sisters of the guy with the power and both with that power themselves. Leto's sister in the 3rd book may make a better Leia parallel. She also married one of the Duncan Idaho clones.

None of the characters in either story, Dune or Star Wars, is an _exact_ carbon copy of the other. I merely point out many parallels between them.

With the Duncan Idaho character and Han Solo, it's their appeal to the females in which I find the similarity. Duncan and Han both are rather roguish and brazen amidst casts of characters who are serious and restrained.

As for the defining moment for Luke and Paul...
"And he could look ahead--the most terrifying direction--to see where it all pointed.
"I'm a monster! he thought. A freak!
" 'No,' he said. Then: 'No. No! NO!' " (from DUNE)

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That was Luke's moment too, as he looked at Vader's severed mechanical hand, looked at his own black-gloved mechanical hand and saw what he was on the verge of becoming. The very words from Dune could be inserted into Star Wars without editing. Paul's path, however, was more involved than Luke's. Star Wars, movie-style, has the crux moment, the decision, then it's over. Paul fought his path for longer—remember when he decides to call himself Paul Muad-dib, rather than just Muad-dib, in an effort to deflect the path before him? Then, again, Paul faces another related crux point when (2nd book or 3rd) he chooses his "Golden Path."

An epiphany provide by Geo is the parallel to Jessica — Obi Wan Kenobi is Jessica. She's the one who raised the kwisatz haderach and trained him in his powers, as did Obi Wan to Luke. They had the guilt of having plans go astray and the consequences affecting their entire universe.

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