I was a cynic, a doubter, a scoffer, a mocker, a belittler, a naysayer, a raised eyebrower, a pooh pooh-er even. In short: Deborah didn’t do sci-fi.
For no particular reason. Perhaps my Christian upbringing where even the existence of dinosaurs was a murky grey area I never got a straight answer to. If ancient terrestrial vertebrates were considered to be voodoo then aliens and robots and – gasp – alternative worldviews and explanations for reality were sheer devilry. So I read Little House on the Prairie books which we all know are one hundred per cent morally infallible.
I was thusly taken aback at the humanity and goodness of Herbert’s Dune. It is, above all, a story about family, the acceptance of unbidden responsibility and an identity you’re not sure you want. So there are killer sandworms, prescient Mentats and a strange female breeding-programme. But otherwise, it deals with normal, established, traditional themes and issues.
Yeah, my fearful, eternally guilty, seven year old self thinks I’m going to hell for reading it. But my wised-up, who gives a sh*t, today-self thought it was a rollicking good yarn and I pooh-pooh the sci-fi no longer.