teen students wearing uniforms in library (generated by Firefly)

What do teens want to know about Dune

I’ve been invited to give some talks on Dune to students at a local junior high and high school, so this has me wondering: what do teens want to know about Dune? I’ve done plenty of talks on this subject, but typically my audience is adults, usually at university, so I want to make sure I’m pitching my presentation at the right level. I don’t want to talk down to them, but I also want to be accessible and get them interested in reading this epic science fiction text if they haven’t already. This is a pivotal time in their lives – what you read and listen to at this age can plant ideas and images in your mind that will follow you for a lifetime. If I can pique their interest, it’s effort well spent.

Considering my audience is therefore quite important. Admittedly, a lot of what I think I know about this age group is based on media coverage – they’re obsessed with their phones and social media, they have short attention spans, they tend to care about the environment and equity issues. But are they really all that different from myself and others who discovered it for the first time at that age? What’s going to hook them into wanting to read Frank Herbert’s Dune, which happens to be a lengthy book from the 1960s (probably ancient history to them)? Surely some of them have seen the new Dune film(s) – how do I use that as a jumping off point? And how many of them have attempted to read the source material and given up, and can I change their minds and convince them to give it another shot?

One hour isn’t much time at all to talk about Dune but it should be enough to give the students some food for thought. So far my plan is to touch on these topics: why Dune is still relevant today, the context it was written in, major themes, and why it has been so challenging to adapt it to the screen. What are the must-haves I should definitely cover in my talk?