Is anything known about the averted extinction described below?

From a Golden Path in Dune question currently seeing activity

Is the Golden Path necessary? He tells Siona:

"Without me, there would have been by now no people anywhere, none whatsoever. And the path to that extinction was more hideous than your wildest imaginings."

I'd previously assume that since books were still being published Fandom didn't concern itself with the extinction that was averted during Leto II's lifetime. And we remain focused on the unknown one in the distant future. Which may or may not be the same way to go extinct. However, Leto II's comment seems oddly specific. His comments on his role in history seem mostly focused on making humanity want to spread out after he dies - not some crises his existence prevented directly or indirectly while he was alive.

Seemed like a good question post. Is anything known of the extinction that was hideous beyond anyone's imagination? (For example Frank Herbert commentary - or even Fanon known only to fans circa the 1970s.)

I don't think there is an answer but maybe I'm wrong.


1 Answer 1


Answer One (mostly) to that is in two pieces, located in two books. One:

Here was the unborn jihad, he knew. Here was the race consciousness that he had known once as his own terrible purpose. Here was reason enough for a Kwisatz Haderach or a Lisan al-Gaib or even the halting schemes of the Bene Gesserit. The race of humans had felt its own dormancy, sensed itself grown stale and knew now only the need to experience turmoil in which the genes would mingle and the strong new mixtures survive. All humans were alive as an unconscious single organism in this moment, experiencing a kind of sexual heat that could override any barrier.

And Paul saw how futile were any efforts of his to change any smallest bit of this. He had thought to oppose the jihad within himself, but the jihad would be. His legions would rage out from Arrakis even without him. They needed only the legend he already had become. He had shown them the way, given them mastery even over the Guild which must have the spice to exist.

in Dune, and the other:

The life of the prophet locks us into his vision, Leto thought. And a prophet could only break out of the vision by creating his death at variance with that vision. That was how it appeared in Leto’s doubled vision, and he pondered this as it related to the choice he had made. Poor Baptist John, he thought. If he’d only had the courage to die some other way … But perhaps his choice had been the bravest one. How do I know what alternatives faced him? I know what alternatives faced my father, though.

Leto sighed. To turn his back on his father was like betraying a god. But the Atreides Empire needed shaking up. It had fallen into the worst of Paul’s vision. How casually it obliterated men. It was done without a second thought. The mainspring of a religious insanity had been wound tight and left ticking.

And we’re locked in my father’s vision

A way out of that insanity lay along the Golden Path, Leto knew. His father had seen it. But humanity might come out of that Golden Path and look back down it at Muad’Dib’s time, seeing that as a better age. Humankind had to experience the alternative to Muad’Dib, though, or never understand its own myths.

Security … peace … prosperity …

Given the choice, there was little doubt what most citizens of this Empire would select

in Children of Dune.

My understanding is that Paul Atreides' failure at avoiding The Golden Path, but still unleashing "Muad'Dib's Fanatics" on the universe was the spark that would ignite ultimate religious war.

Answer Two - after some hard thinking - is probably buried in the two quotes from God Emperor of Dune:

“I point out to you, Marcus Claire Luyseyal, a lesson from past over-machined societies which you appear not to have learned. The devices themselves condition the users to employ each other the way they employ machines.”


She nodded gravely, prompting: “At one time…”

“The lxians contemplated making a weapon-a type of hunter-seeker, self-propelled death with a machine mind. It was to be designed as a self improving thing which would seek out life and reduce that life to its inorganic matter.”

“I have not heard of this thing, Lord.”

“I know that. The lxians do not recognize that machine makers always run the risk of becoming totally machine. This is ultimate sterility. Machines always fail … given time. And when these machines failed there would be nothing left, no life at all.

I believe the second... option is not the right answer, if we treat the quote from OP literally (humanity, extinct). However, it may be good to put it in here, to provide context for my original answer, now Option One. Because it is provides for the possibility of it happening during Leto's reign, while still guiding humanity onto The Golden Path. Because it also means it could happen by the time it's mentioned.

I also believe that the quote provided in the comments (from Siona's vision from the Test) is not the answer. Machines -in general - would be the demise of the humans EVENTUALLY, but not in the timeframe of the OP (between initiating The Golden Path and the "now" of the question).

  • There was the bit in God-Emperor of Dune where it would have been a disaster if he'd died away from water.
    – Spencer
    Aug 2, 2021 at 15:01
  • 1
    I'm reasonably sure this is wrong. The Fremen weren't an existential threat to humanity.
    – Valorum
    Aug 2, 2021 at 15:31
  • 2
    I think the key quote is "She would carry with her forever afterward the clear sights and sounds and smells. The seeking machines would be there, the smell of blood and entrails, the cowering humans in their burrows, aware only that they could not escape . . . while all the time the mechanical movement approached, nearer and nearer and nearer ...louder...louder!" - So the threat appears to be machine-based, not from the Fremen
    – Valorum
    Aug 2, 2021 at 16:01
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    @AcePL I suspect valorum is way too trigger happy with his down votes. "They needed only the legend he already had become." Definitely makes the case for unending jihad and that can easily be imagined getting out of hand to the point of extinction. Replacing Paul with a living God and stopping the jihad with total submission to Leto II is consistent with saving humanity already in that scenario. I accepted that answer. Aug 2, 2021 at 19:04
  • 1
    @lucasbachmann - maybe you were too quick to accept it. The more I think about what Valorum is talking about the more I see something in it. I will update the answer with the second proposition, but they are mutually exclusive so we need to choose one.
    – AcePL
    Aug 3, 2021 at 7:12

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