Amidst the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Imperium delegation’s arrival to the Atreides home world of Caladan, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), has a practical question. “How much did it cost them, traveling all this way for this formality?” he asks his Mentat Thufir Hawat at the start of Dune. And then Thufir, played by Stephen McKinley Henderson, does something weird. He doesn’t whip out a palm pilot or consult his calculator watch. He instead rolls his eyes into the back of his head for a couple of seconds and then produces an answer: “Three Guild Navigators, a total of one-point-four-six-million-sixty-two Solaris roundtrip.” Director Denis Villeneuve nor his co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth explain what any of those words mean in the script, or why Thufir does that weird thing with his eyes. And viewers easily chalk it up just another weird thing in this unfamiliar world.

But the backstory is coming later this year in the Max television series Dune: Prophecy, created by Diane Ademu-John and produced by Legendary Pictures. Based in part on the 2012 novel Sisterhood of Dune, written by Frank Herbert‘s son Brian Herbert and co-author Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: Prophecy portrays the founding of the Bene Gesserit, the religious order whose manipulations lead to the eventual birth of Paul Atreides, the Kwisatz Haderach.

The first trailer for Dune: Prophecy gives viewers a look at the major players, including Emily Watson and Olivia Williams as sisters Valya and Tula Harkonnen, ancestors of the tyrant Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. The trailer goes heavy on the palace intrigue, with Valya and Tula sneaking around corners amongst glimpses of sword master Keiran Atreides (Chris Mason) and the Fremen Mikaela (Shalom Brune-Franklin).

Both women are members of the Sisterhood of Rossak, yet Valya and Tula also see that association as a path to restore the impoverished House Harkonnen to its former glory. They will achieve that goal by transforming the Sisterhood of Rossak into the Bene Gesserit, an order that will shape the future of the universe. Key to the Bene Gesseret’s birth are tensions within the house of Emperor Salvador Corrino, portrayed by Mark Strong in the show. Emperor Salvador has managed to establish power after his grandfather Faykan Butler helped win a century-long war between humans and AI. Known as the Butlerian Jihad, this conflict reestablished the primacy of humanity, outlawed computers, and made technology an object of suspicion.

Without computers, humans had to evolve, with some such as Thufir Hawat becoming mental computers or “Mentats,” people who could do complex and exact calculations in their heads. The absence of modern 21st century technology even reordered much of the universe’s professional class, with doctors likewise belonging to a guild that trains acolytes from childhood. And without advanced digital systems to chart paths through space, humanity had to use the precognitive powers provided by the spice melange to make advanced calculations even possible. Thus space navigators’ reliance on the spice by extension made Arrakis, the only planet that produces spice, the center of the galaxy.

As the above description suggests, the Butlerian Jihad is arguably the most important event in the world of Dune, and yet none of it gets brought up in either of Villeneuve’s Dune movies. Yet the above trailer confirms that Sisterhood of Dune takes place in the same century as the Jihad (or right after it ends), with the series being set “10,000 Years Before Paul Atreides.” This means that the machines are already in the past when the series begins, but the precarious state of House Corrino’s power suggests that the new normal isn’t settled yet. As Valya and Tula change the Sisterhood of Rossak into the vastly powerful Bene Gesserit, Dune: Prophecy will not only further enrich the hit movies, but also depict humanity embracing religion in the absence of technology. It’s an origin story for why everything is… kind of weird by the time Paul and Duke Leto are stomping around.

Dune: Prophecy comes to Max in late 2024.

The post Dune: Prophecy Will Explore a Key Part of the Universe Not Seen in the Movies appeared first on Den of Geek.

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