Do you remember the first fictional character you fell in love with?
Sure, they might only be the product of someone else’s imagination, but that doesn’t mean we can carry a torch. Am I right?
I’ve had a few fictional loves over the years, but my first is still my favorite: Paul Atreides of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Oh, Paul, you can still make my heart go all wobbly (*shhh* don’t tell my husband…okay, he already knows, and he’s resigned to it).
I first fell in love with Paul as a young teen. My mom had a wonderful library full of science fiction and fantasy. I picked up Dune and fell in love from the first page.
When we first meet Paul, he’s a fifteen year old boy who is both unusually gifted and fairly ordinary. His family takes an assignment on the desert planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune, which is the only source in the universe of the precious spice, a drug which can, among other things, allow some to see the future.
When his family is betrayed by a rival House, Paul flees into the desert with his mother and begins the transformation into the man he least wants to become but cannot escape. The Mahdi, or Kwisatz Haderach, is a messianic figure who can see all possible futures and is tasked with saving humankind.
Over time, Paul accepts his fate as the Prophet, defeats his enemies and ascends the throne as Emperor. At the same time, Paul unleashes a bloody war that rages across the universe because the war is the lesser evil of the two fates he has seen for humankind. Ultimately, he wants all people to be free to seek their own fates, not be locked into the futures he sees.
I loved not only Paul but the whole Dune universe (Duniverse?). I’d never encountered an imaginary universe that felt so real. Reading Dune was like falling through a hole in the page and landing on Arrakis.
And, when I did, I hitched a ride on the nearest sandworm and headed straight for Paul.
Who’s your first fictional love?
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