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Appendix III: Report on the Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes
On the surface it would seem that the Golden Path of Leto II was that plan and he was in charge, but he was not alive during the Arrakis Affair. Also one might think that it's Paul himself but Mr Herbert seems to indicate that it started before even Paul's birth.

The Lady Jessica was ordered to produce an Atreides daughter. The plan was to inbreed this daughter with Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, a nephew of the Baron Vladimir, with the high probability of a Kwisatz Haderach from that union. Instead, for reasons she confesses have never been completely clear to her, the concubine Lady Jessica defied her orders and bore a son.

This alone should have alerted the Bene Gesserit to the possibility that a wild variable had entered their scheme. But there were other far more important indications that they virtually ignored:

The Report is a scathing criticism of the Gesserit multi-generational plan and ends the book with the hair raising:

In the face of these facts, one is led to the inescapable conclusion that the inefficient Bene Gesserit behavior in this affair was a product of an even higher plan of which they were completely unaware!

In many years of (re)reading the original books I don't see an answer, did I miss it, or is there an answer in the subsequent works not written by Mr Frank Herbert?

  • In this instance I suspect that the BG are trying to blame their failure on external "planners" when in fact the failure was as a result of their own overconfidence. – Valorum Nov 27 '15 at 23:09
  • @Richard Hold on. This indicates the BG had no idea of what was really going on. Something was manipulating the entire situation. This is the problem, who? – Athena Widget Nov 27 '15 at 23:19
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    When I first read this, I assumed they were blaming a literal God. – Valorum Nov 27 '15 at 23:24
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    @Richard - I was under impression that Bene Gesserit didn't actually believe in literal God? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/108907/… – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 27 '15 at 23:41
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    I would suppose that Brian Herbert would say that Norma / the Oracle of Time was the master-planner. – Shamshiel Nov 27 '15 at 23:53
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If you look at the entirety of the Dune books from not just Frank Herbert, but also his son, one character in particular has an expansive capability in the higher order dimensions that surpasses Leto II's: Norma Cenva.

She has existed in the expanded Dune timeline from the beginnings of the Bulterian Jihad against Omnius (born 218 B.G), all through the Arrakis Affair (culminating 10,193 A.G.), and up until the final (2nd) battle against Omnius at the Kralizec (eliminated Omnius 15,263 A.G.). A total of 15,000 years.

After transforming in 174 B.G. then becoming the first Navigator in 88 B.G., she evolves and grows in powers far beyond a normal Navigator during her 15,000 years of existence. She is eventually revealed to be the Oracle of Time in "Hunters of Dune" that has been planning and guiding humanity until the final battle at the Kralizec. According to published canon, Norma is that higher level planner/power that Frank Herbert alluded to in his original novels.

"Hunters of Dune" and "Sandworms of Dune" were written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson based upon Frank Herbert's own 1,000 pages of notes and a 3 page outline (note the accepted answer says a 30 page outline but I listened to the interview, and Kevin states "a three page or maybe a two-and-one-half page outline"). There is considerable fan debate about how many of the plot details in those two books were originally from Frank's own ideas. It is not publicly known in those 1,000 pages of Frank's notes if Frank defined the Oracle of Time character or if Frank specified that Norma Cenva would fill that role.

  • Excellent, I was thinking of her, but was trying to see if there was a Frank Herbert solution. +1, But I'll reserve acceptance for a day or so, so others may chime in. – Athena Widget Nov 28 '15 at 0:01
  • Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune were written based upon Frank Herbert's own notes. So many of the elemental plot elements in those two books were likely Frank's. I do not believe its publicly known whether Frank's notes include the Oracle of Time character or that Norma Cenva would fill that role. – cybermike Nov 28 '15 at 0:07
  • Again, you read my mind, I wondered if she was a Frank Herbert creation. Until those notes are made public, we will have questions like this one. – Athena Widget Nov 28 '15 at 0:13
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    Have these notes been published anywhere for review? I'm of the opinion these "notes" are just a post-it with "Must write Dune 8. Need cat food." – heptapod Nov 28 '15 at 1:30
  • Frank's notes for "Dune 7" were over 1,000 pages plus a 3 page outline. See the SciFi.StackExchange.com link I added to the answer. – cybermike Nov 28 '15 at 1:47
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If we go with the Frank Herbert only books, we never get a direct answer. But I believe the answer is there. In Dune, right after Paul has his waking dream he thinks this:

He remained silent, thinking like the seed he was, thinking with the race consciousness he had first experienced as terrible purpose. He found that he no longer could hate the Bene Gesserit or the Emperor or even the Harkonnens. They were all caught up in the need of their race to renew its scattered inheritance, to cross and mingle and infuse their bloodlines in a great new pooling of genes. And the race knew only one sure way for this--the ancient way, the tried and certain way that rolled over everything in its path: jihad.

I believe the answer is "all of humanity itself". The entire race of humankind was feeling its mortality and created the situation necessary to move, expand, mingle the genes and insure survival. This would be the higher order force that created the crisis on Arrakis.

This is possible, as is mentioned in Heretics of Dune:

"Dangers," Taraza repeated. "The great mass of humankind possesses an unmistakable unit-identity. It can be one thing. It can act as a single organism."

I believe this is the source of the higher order plan. The entire collective consciousness of humankind.

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