Mein Kampf …, My Struggle – Chapter 04
Düne Messias …, Dune Messiah
The romantic view of Shields is perpetuated by Frank Herbert’s Dune books and numerous Dune movies like those of David Lynch. That romanticism fosters many misconceptions about Shield tech.
In such popular Shield-based mythology as that …
If the beam of a directed-energy weapon hits a Holtzmann field, it can result in sub-atomic fusion and a nuclear explosion. The center of this blast is determined by random chance; sometimes it will originate within the shield, sometimes within the weapon itself, and sometimes both.
With the widespread use of shields, anyone of even minimal importance wears a body shield to protect against criminals, assassins, and accidents. Such practice makes the use of projectile weapons and thrown blades partly obsolete. The only effective combat method is the deft use and careful precision of a handheld dagger moved slowly enough. New styles of fencing and knife fighting develop to take advantage of this one small vulnerability.
By the time of Muad’dib, when thinking machines have long ceased to be a threat, the shield has been adopted for use in personal defense. These shields are form-fitting energy fields which permit penetration only by objects that are moved below a preset velocity. As one would be unable to breathe within a shield that did not permit atmospheric gases to penetrate it, man-portable shields have a relatively high penetration velocity, approximately six to ten centimeters per second. However, shields for starships and planetary installations can and often do have extremely low penetration velocities, as artificial life support technologies are utilized while the shield is active.
Thus, using directed-energy weapons in a shielded environment results in military and environmental catastrophe, though at least one commander (Duncan Idaho) used this phenomenon deliberately as a discouragement to his enemies.
On Arrakis, a shield never lasts long because of the planet’s conditions. A shield could only remain active for short periods because its harmonic vibrations would attract a sandworm. Unlike a sandworm attracted by a thumper or other means, a sandworm attracted by a shield would be even more dangerous than normal, as something specific in Holtzmann energy infuriates them.
The Holtzmann Shield is a potent literary device. It makes some directed-energy weaponry impossible against any worthwhile opponent, and also proves traditional projectile-based firearms and missiles ineffective, adding to the feudal atmosphere, and enforces the usage of mêlée weaponry despite other more advanced technology.
Although popular representation in the Dune films shows full-body coverage with the fields, the books also describe a half-shield version which does not entirely cover the body.
A small, humming half-shield appeared, a rectangular blur in the air that adjusted to its wearer’s movement, swinging to protect vulnerable areas: Hunters of Dune, page 78.
Duncan parried upward, but the teenage Bashar reversed his feint and turned it into a real attack, punching the blade against the half shield: Hunters of Dune, page 79.
This parochial is introduced as a rare and ancient Ginaz discipline which Duncan Idaho trains the rejuvenated Bashar Miles Teg to use. Their use also reappears in the prequel trilogy where he trains against Duke Leto who is using a half shield.
Leto spun to cover his vulnerable spots with a shimmering half shield: House Corrino, page 259.
Duncan jabbed with his knives, dancing on the fringe of the half shield’s protection, but Leto deftly parried with short sword and dagger: House Corrino, page 260.
He switched off his half shield, and the Swordmaster proudly sheathed his two blades, then helped the Duke to his feet: House Corrino, page 261.
Aside from these three examples, it is unclear who else uses them [i.e. half-shields], although it is implied that many Swordmasters may know how to.
The Half [shield] originated in the first novel, “Dune” where Feyd Harkonnen (wearing a full shield) fought a slave gladiator who used a half shield, which was seen as a disadvantage.