Let’s Review: Dathu Ro
It’s time for another “Let’s Review” blog, where I look back at pages from our Archive and discuss the thought process behind their conception and/or the stories behind their creation! I usually do these on Tuesdays, but I decided to reflect on my birthday this week, so it got moved to today. Since most of the U.S. being under a freaking heat wave, I can’t help but think about something overwhelmingly hot… like a monster sand worm living in the unimaginable heat of a desert planet.
Similar to when I talked about competent guards, today’s Let’s Review is more about a general concept than a specific page. That general concept is Dathu Ro, the titanic sand worm who lives beneath the dunes of Zicuri Ro. Dathu Ro is heavily influenced by the shai-hulud of Frank Herbert’s DUNE, and many people who see the chapter cover for Issue 15 assume that we must be paying direct tribute to that work. The answer to that assumption is both yes and no.
Yes. Obviously. Thanks to Dune’s impact on science fiction it’s damn near impossible to have a desert world without some form of sand worm. It’d be like having a fantasy setting without elves in the forests or dwarves in the mountains. You’d feel there was something missing, even if you couldn’t figure out what it was. We even went with a three syllable, exotic-sounding naming scheme for our sand worm.
No. Of course not. We don’t think every sand worm is a direct tribute to the shai-hulud, and certainly not ours. We made certain there were enough differences in the core concept of Dathu Ro so it would be clear that our sand worm was very much our own. For example, there is only Dathu Ro on Zicuri Ro. It’s the great sand worm’s name, not the name of his species. The Zicuri do not harvest materials from Dathu Ro like the Fremen do with the shai-hulud, nor is Dathu Ro responsible for mind-and-body-altering substances.
I think Dathu Ro is somewhere perfectly in between. Yes, it’s clear that sci-fi sand worms are a direct influence of DUNE, but ours is different enough from those iconic beasts that it stands on its own. Like putting elves in the forests of your fantasy setting, but doing your very best to make them unique. Your elves. Dathu Ro is our titanic sand worm.