Yet another DUNE question

Just what the hell IS a Face-Dancer?

I keep on thinking its some guy with a nervous tic.

In the Dune universe, the Tlielaxu are the biological manipulators par excellence. They can restore life to dead bodies, clone people, and create Face Dancers.

In the actual Dune canon (minus the manure-sucking prequels…I stopped reading them after I finished House Atreides, so if this is explained a different way in there, ignore me), Face Dancers are never explained other than as mimics, agents who can make themselves look like another individual to the point that by visual recognition alone, they can’t be told apart even by intimates. They’re generally used as spies and secret agents by the Tlielaxu, who share the onus of a general suspicion and disdain from the rest of the galaxy with the Ixians (the techonological gurus).

In the Dune Encyclopedia, which is not officially canon, it’s explained in more detail that the Tlielaxu manipulate an embryo to allow for a certain freedom of body change, making the vertebrae to be articulated more loosely so as to change height, causing certain membranous enclosures already naturally in place to be moved to different places and allowing them to be inflated (to emulate breasts, body fat or whatever), and altering the genitalia to allow for mimicry of either sex, although this leads to the Face Dancer being a sterile neuter. Their hair follicles are replaced with heat sensitive filaments which change color as blood is forced to or forced from the capillaries in the scalp by conscious control of the Face Dancer.

The later books (notably Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse:Dune) imply that there’s more to the Face Dancers than meets even the knowledgeable eye, as well.


Damn smilies…