Sharlotte Neely, Ph.D., is an award-winning professor of anthropology at Northern Kentucky University. A native of Savannah, Ga., she holds degrees in anthropology from both Georgia State University in Atlanta and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of the well-reviewed book Snowbird Cherokees and a consultant on the award-winning documentary film of the same title. Dr. Neely has a lifelong love of science fiction and is the author, as Sharlotte Donnelly, of Kasker, a novel of anthropological science fiction. She thinks Dune is the greatest SF novel of all time.
The Anthropology of Dune
from The Science of Dune
This is one essay from the anthology The Science of Dune
In this analysis of the bestselling science fiction adventure of all time, authors explore all aspects of Dune, including the fascinating scientific speculations ranging from physics and chemistry to ecology and evolution, from human psychology and mental potential to technology and genetics. Authors and experts examine what Herbert gets right and what he gets wrong, how lasguns might work and if Bene Gesserit and mentat capabilities are possible. The book also takes a look at whether the ecology of Dune is realistic or if it’s theoretically possible to get information from the future. Could humans really evolve as Herbert suggests? How can one build a windtrap or a stillsuit?
About the Author
Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D., is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., where he holds the dual titles of Investigation Scientist and Science Planning Engineer for the Cassini/Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan. There he has won numerous JPL- and NASA-wide awards for technical accomplishment. Dr. Grazier holds undergraduate degrees in computer science and geology from Purdue University, and another in physics from Oakland University. He holds an M.S. degree in physics from, again, Purdue, and he did his doctoral work at UCLA. His Ph.D. research involved long-term, large-scale computer simulations of Solar System evolution, dynamics and chaos—research which he continues to this day. Kevin is also currently the science adviser for the PBS animated series “The Zula Patrol” and for the Sci-Fi Channel series “Eureka,” as well as the Peabody Award–winning “Battlestar Galactica.” Commited to astronomical education, Dr. Grazier teaches classes in stellar astronomy, planetary science, cosmology and the search for extraterrestrial life at UCLA, Cal State LA and Santa Monica College. He has served on several NASA educational product review panels, and is also a planetarium lecturer at LA’s landmark Griffith Observatory. He lives in Sylmar, Calif.—and occasionally Mesa, Az.—with a flock of cockatiels and a precocious parrot.