‘National Lampoon’ Published a Full-Length ‘Dune’ Parody Novel

‘National Lampoon’ Published a Full-Length ‘Dune’ Parody Novel

Unless you’ve been living in a cave made of sexually-suggestive popcorn buckets, you’re probably aware that Dune: Part 2 is currently the biggest movie in the country. Audiences everywhere are lining up to see a three-hour sci-fi epic all about a future world in which Willy Wonka battles goth-y mutant perverts for control over a planet full of psychedelic cinnamon. But just think how much more money it would have made if Austin Butler had been forced to wear Sting’s silver winged Speedo from the original ‘80s Dune.

Even prior to its newfound popularity, Dune has been a prime target for pop-culture parodists, most recently in shows like Futurama and South Park — the latter revealing that Tom Brady’s poop is the highly-sought “spice melange.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Dune was first parodied nearly four decades ago. Back in 1984, shortly before the David Lynch adaptation was released in theaters, hit-or-miss humor magazine National Lampoon published a full-length paperback novel satirizing Frank Herbert’s bestselling Dune series. 

National Lampoon’s Doon focused on, not Paul Atreides, but “Pall Agamemnides” who journeys to the planet Arruckus and fights the villainous Baron Hardchargin. Bizarrely, much of the novel is seemingly food-themed; instead of sand, Arruckus is covered in sugar. Why? Because it’s a dessert planet. Also, instead of spice, they are mining beer. And instead of sand worms, there are giant monstrous pretzels, like some kind of cross between Dune and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

While you might think that National Lampoon's Doon is merely a hastily-thrown together cash grab with parody names pulled from the waste basket of Mad Magazine’s offices, the book impressively attempts to replicate Herbert’s style of prose. Take this passage: “He pointed to a range of mountains rimming the horizon in the distance. ‘Lets go. There. We’ll travel by day, stay close to these rock-candy outcroppings. We must move like the Freedmenmen do, in irregular rhythm, so as not to attract the pretzels.’” Or how about the scene in which Pall tries beer for the first time: “The narcotic effects of the beer had begun to work on him. A vaporous plume rose from his stomach into his head. He felt a pleasing lightness, as though his brain were newly supported by a gossamer cloud of well-being.”

Written by Ellis Weiner, who went on to work for Spy magazine and The New YorkerDoon followed in the literary parody tradition established by National Lampoon’s founders Henry Beard and Douglas Kenney. In 1969, the pair released the Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings. If you think that the Bilbo character isn’t called “Dildo” you’re sorely mistaken.

Although National Lampoon's Doon may seem like a relic of the past, once Hollywood runs out of Dune books to adapt, who knows, perhaps one day we’ll get a movie featuring $200 million CGI pretzels.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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