The Spice Melange, commonly referred to simply as ‘the spice’, is a naturally produced awareness spectrum narcotic that has formed a fundamental block of commerce and technological development in the known universe for millennia. It also played an important role in travel and cultural development.
By the time House Atreides arrived on Arrakis melange had become the single resource that was capable of creating or destroying the empire. Consequently, as a Arrakis was the spice’s only source, the planet had gone from being a distant, poor, and unimportant desert world to a greatly prized fief, and management of the spice mining operations were considered a prestigious but difficult task.
During the days of the Corrino Empire, the spice was the rarest and most valuable commodity in the known universe. It was said that it was so valuable that one briefcase full of spice would be enough to purchase an entire planet.
Great Houses of the Imperium were often considered rich and influential if their ruling members could afford to consume melange regularly, or, worse still, stockpile it. However, stockpiling melange was generally considered to be a very risky and dangerous endeavour, since the Emperor, the Bene Gesserit, the Bene Tleilax, the Spacing Guild, and rival Great Houses could potentially regard such stockpiles as a threat to their position within the Imperium, as well as a threat to their supply.
Effects on those who consume melange are outlined below:
-Mind altering: it could awaken dormant parts of the human mind and encourage expanded sensory perceptions. In some humans (notably the Bene Gesserit, Guild Navigators, and some members of the Atreides bloodline), heavy doses led to powerful abilities that include prescience.
-Health benefits: taken regularly it increased life expectancy and fortified over all health levels (in many cases life expectancy was tripled).
-Addictiveness: the spice had narcotic properties, thus increasing demand and creating a large and hungry market for it. An individual’s addiction to the spice would worsen the more they consumed it.
-Physical effects: sustained use of the spice led to human eyes being discolored so that the entire eye would be stained blue – so called Eyes of Ibad. Extensive exposure to the spice created a huge physical dependency that could radically alter the entire body.