“He who controls the spice controls the universe!” This iconic line echoes numerous times throughout Frank Herbert’s Dune. The spice (known also as Spice Melange) is the central plot device of the Dune franchise and the foundation for the entire Known Universe, with the entire franchise following factions vying for control over it. The spice, a secretion of the colossal sandworms roaming Arrakis, provides many abilities. However, there are many viewers who may have missed exactly why the spice was so valuable in the first place. Here is a list of all of the properties of the spice that make it such an infinitely valuable commodity.

Interstellar Travel

The most practical use of spice in Dune is for interstellar travel. In the vast lore of Dune, computers used to do hyperspace calculations. However, as is typical of AI, they rebelled against their creators and started a war. Afterwards, religious decrees forbade the use of AI under any circumstance. While it’s unlikely the Known Universe had to deal with artists and voice actors being replaced, this was nonetheless a massive barrier.

Through spice, however, individuals gained a level of awareness allowing them to do these calculations in their head. Because of this, spice is vital for even the most basic of utilities within this universe. As shown through other characters, this heightened intelligence also greatly aids in bureaucratic duties.

Extended Lifespan

The next major effect of the spice is extended lifespan. Taking enough of the spice for long enough would extend the lifespan of the user. Within the saga of Dune in the films and beyond, there are many who live for centuries on the spice. Because most would prefer to extend their lifespan, this is another reason for the spice being such a sought-after commodity as a symbol of status. However, as shown by the… appearance of the Guild Navigators, over reliance on the spice has its drawbacks.


Finally, the spice grants the power of clairvoyance. Taking the spice gave the user outright psychic abilities with the ability to see the past, present, and even the future. This has inevitably led to the spice being given deeply spiritual reverence, in keeping with Herbert’s commentary on religion. Furthermore, the spice is central to many organizations such as the deeply mystical and fanatical Fremen as well as the Bene Gesserit, the spiritual advisors of the Empire. This is also the source of the many prophecies surrounding Paul Atreides and his messianic status as “Muad’dib.”

What the Spice Represents

In the end, what the spice represents is power. It represents a central resource that, once controlled, grants the user leverage over other parties. Many have drawn parallels between the spice and oil, another vital resource for transport fought over in our world. Unfortunately, the spice is also an addictive narcotic, showing how dangerous it is to rely on these substances too much. In the end, much like the One Ring from fellow author Tolkien, the spice is a symbol of the alluring and destructive nature of power.

Dune Part One will be found on MAX.

Leave a comment