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Promotional poster for "Dune"

Few fictional creatures are as iconic or as synonymous with their franchise as the giant apex predators of the desert world of Arrakis in the classic novel Dune. Author Frank Herbert imagined the sandworms’ life cycle in incredible detail, and the desert where these behemoths live and hunt continues to be a relevant allegory for our own world and our struggles with sustainability. Within this setting, large-scale climate effects unfold over decades and generations, but individual motives are often influenced by immediate threats and short-term goals. While the sandworms, wastelands and geopolitics of Arrakis have endured as triumphs of fiction, however, one important aspect of Herbert’s universe has remained unexamined: the biology, sociology and ethics of reproduction as depicted in the novel. With a new silver-screen adaption coming to theaters this fall, now is the time redress that oversight.

PREDICTING REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY: CRYPTIC FEMALE CHOICE

The main plot starts with the leader of the Bene Gesserit, a pseudoreligious, all-female eugenics organization, assessing the heir to a planetary dukedom. The child, Paul Atreides, is the son of another Bene Gesserit... see more