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I recently watched Denis Villeneuve's version of Dune. It is mentioned that the sandworms are always attracted to artificial vibrations. I remember the books also mentioning multiple times that shields are useless and that any sound/vibration that is unnatural to the desert will immediately attract worms.

But is it mentioned anywhere why the sandworms don't attack the cities in which the Atreides and the Harkonnen live? Since none of them are Fremen, they are certainly not used to adapting to the desert. It is also explicitly shown that they use shields for general security and enjoy the general comforts of life.

I find it extremely hard to believe that such a lifestyle would not attract a sandworm. It is implied that the unnatural rhythms are very disturbing to sandworms and lead them into a huge frenzy. How then have they not attacked any city for over 100 years? The very act of beginning to build a city should have made the worms destroy everything in the vicinity!

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    ISTR the inhabited areas are built in rocky parts of the planet. Nov 5, 2021 at 0:55
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    In the book, a relatively small sandworm smashes the rocky cliff under which Paul and Jessica take shelter before meeting the Fremen. Surely the rocky parts should have atleast had attempted attacks by bigger sandworms.
    – mustard
    Nov 5, 2021 at 1:04
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    @mustard it's not a relatively small sandworm -- it's a huge sandworm in the novel. The sandworms cannot travel in the rocky parts of the planet.
    – Andres F.
    Nov 5, 2021 at 4:00
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    @mustard In the first novel, Paul uses a nuclear bomb to blast through a rock wall, so I assume these rock structures protecting settlements or camps are pretty solid obstacles for sandworms. -- The use of a nuclear weapon was justified in that case as it was used against an obstacle which hindered Paul's travels (on a sandworm), not against humans. Of course, said sandworm was then used to attack humans, but that's fine, as long as you have family ties to the emperor - or gain them by marrying Irulan Corrino, daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV (not necessarily with her consent).
    – Klaws
    Nov 6, 2021 at 10:20
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    @EllieKesselman Yes. I don't have access to the original book right now, but here's some discussion on Reddit: reddit.com/r/dune/comments/itauvg/…
    – Klaws
    Nov 6, 2021 at 11:20

1 Answer 1

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The Shield Wall, a large natural mountain feature, protects Arakeen and Carthag, the two major cities on Arrakis from both worms and the storms that make life much more dangerous on the rest of the planet. The map included in the book refers to these relatively small safe areas as 'The Imperial Basin' and 'Hagga Basin'.

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    The polar regions are also relatively moist (for Arrakis), and the sandworms avoid them for that reason. Nov 5, 2021 at 1:12
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    I've only seen the new film once, but I think they made the shield wall a man-made construction in the film (just in case anyone is confused).
    – Darren
    Nov 5, 2021 at 14:47
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    @Darren I don't think so? Nov 5, 2021 at 16:34
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    @Darren As they’re passing over the Shield Wall (the massive mountains), Thufir says “Shield Wall. Protects the city from the weather. And the worms.” But you can see a man-made wall off in the distance as he’s saying it, and the next shot is a closer up view of that man-made wall, so I can see how someone who hadn’t read the book (or seen the Lynch movie) would think he was referring to the man-made wall.
    – Mike
    Nov 5, 2021 at 20:20
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    @Mike I have read the book and I still think they were referring to the man-made wall. Needs another viewing though.
    – Darren
    Nov 5, 2021 at 22:11

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