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Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert

Overview
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune
Dune (novel)
Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel...

and its five sequel
Sequel
A sequel is a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, or music that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work...

s. The Dune saga
Dune universe
Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history...

, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, and the intersection of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

.
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Quotations

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Without coming fully awake, Rhin felt his presence beside her, experienced a primitive demand for his protective masculinity. She nestled against him, murmured, "its so hot. Doesn’t it ever cool off?"

"I only believe in certain kinds of hell," she said, and again she was looking at him, the green eyes steady."To each his own, eh?""You said it; I didn’t."

It wasn’t the kind of answer he'd expected — too subtly penetrating and leaving too much uncommitted. He reminded himself that it was difficult to control uncommitted people. Once a man had invested his energies, he could be twisted and turned at will... but if the man held back, conserved those energies...

A person cries out against life because it's lonely, and because life's broken off from whatever created it. But no matter how much you hate life, you love it, too. It's like a caldron boiling with everything you have to have — but very painful to the lips.

Is it possible this triviality is a code of some sort? the Brain wondered. But how could it be ... unless there's more to these emotional inconsequentials and this talk of a God than appears on the surface? The Brain had begun its career in logics as a pragmatic atheist. Now doubts began to creep into its computations, and it classified doubt as an emotion.

"A slave is one who must produce wealth for another," the Brain said. "There is only one true wealth in all the universe. I have given you some of it. I have given your father and your mate some of it. And your friends. This wealth is living time. Time. Are we slaves because we have given you more time to live?" :A novel expanding four short stories, first published in serial form between May 1958 and February 1960

Encyclopedia
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune
Dune (novel)
Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel...

and its five sequel
Sequel
A sequel is a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, or music that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work...

s. The Dune saga
Dune universe
Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history...

, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, and the intersection of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

. Dune itself is the "best-selling science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel of all time," and the series is widely considered to be among the classics in the genre.

Biography


Frank Herbert was born on October 8, 1920, in Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, southwest of Seattle, northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to...

, to Frank Patrick Herbert Sr. and Eileen McCarthy Herbert. He graduated from high school in 1938, and in 1939 he lied about his age in order to get his first newspaper job at the Glendale Star.

A temporary hiatus occurred during his career when he served in the U.S. Navy's Seabees for six months as a photographer during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 until he was given a medical discharge. He married Flora Parkinson in San Pedro
San Pedro, Los Angeles, California
San Pedro is a port district of the city of Los Angeles, California, United States. It was annexed in 1909 and is a major seaport of the area...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in 1941. They had a daughter, Penny (b. February 16, 1942), but divorced in 1945.

After the war he attended the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

, where he met Beverly Ann Stuart at a creative writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 class in 1946. They were the only students in the class who had sold any work for publication; Herbert had sold two pulp
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 adventure stories to magazines, the first to Esquire in 1945, and Stuart had sold a story to Modern Romance magazine. They married in Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

 on June 20, 1946. They had two sons, Brian Patrick Herbert
Brian Herbert
Brian Patrick Herbert is an American author who lives in Washington state. He is the elder son of science fiction author Frank Herbert....

 (b. June 29, 1947, Seattle, Washington) and Bruce Calvin Herbert (b. June 26, 1951, Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, California, United States. The 2010 census reported a population of 167,815. Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's Wine Country and fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont and 26th...

).

In 1952 Frank Herbert's first science fiction story, "Looking for Something," appeared in Startling Stories.

Frank Herbert did not graduate from college, according to his son Brian, because he wanted to study only what interested him and so did not complete the required courses. After leaving college he returned to journalism and worked at the Seattle Star
Seattle Star
The Seattle Star was a daily newspaper that ran from February 25, 1899, to August 13, 1947. It was owned by E.W. Scripps and in 1920 was transferred to Scripps McRae League of Newspapers , after a falling-out within the Scripps family...

and the Oregon Statesman; he was a writer and editor for the San Francisco Examiner's California Living magazine for a decade.

His career as a novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

ist began with the publication of The Dragon in the Sea
The Dragon in the Sea
The Dragon in the Sea , also known as Under Pressure from its serialization, is a novel by Frank Herbert. It was first serialized in Astounding magazine from 1955 to 1956, then reworked and published as a book in 1956...

in 1955, where he used the environment of a 21st century submarine as a means to explore sanity and madness. The book predicted worldwide conflicts over oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 consumption and production. It was a critical success but not a major commercial one.

Herbert began researching Dune in 1959 and was able to devote himself wholeheartedly to his writing career because his wife returned to work full time as an advertising writer for department stores, becoming the main breadwinner during the 1960s. Herbert later related in an interview with Willis E. McNeilly that the novel originated when he was supposed to do a magazine article on sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is located on the Oregon Coast, stretching approximately 40 miles north from the Coos River in North Bend, to the Siuslaw River, in Florence. The NRA is part of Siuslaw National Forest and is administered by the United States Forest Service...

 near Florence, Oregon
Florence, Oregon
Florence is a city in Lane County, Oregon, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 8,466.-History:The Florence area was originally inhabited by the Siuslaw tribe of Native Americans. Some state that the city was named for state senator A. B...

, but he became too involved in it and ended up with far more raw material than needed for a single article. The article, entitled "They Stopped the Moving Sands," was never written, but it did serve as the seed for the ideas that led to Dune.

Dune took six years of research and writing to complete. Far longer than commercial science fiction of the time was supposed to run, it was serialized in Analog magazine in two separate parts ("Dune World" and "Prophet of Dune"), in 1963 and 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers before finally being accepted. One editor prophetically wrote back "I might be making the mistake of the decade, but..." before rejecting the manuscript.

Chilton
Chilton Publishing Company
Chilton Company is a former publishing company, most famous for its trade magazines, and automotive manuals. It also provided conference and market research services to a wide variety of industries...

, a minor publishing house in Philadelphia known mainly for its auto-repair manuals, gave Herbert a $7,500 advance, and Dune was soon a critical success. It won the Nebula Award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

 for Best Novel in 1965 and shared the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 in 1966 with ...And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny
Roger Zelazny
Roger Joseph Zelazny was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for his The Chronicles of Amber series...

. Dune was the first major ecological
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 science fiction novel, embracing a multitude of sweeping, inter-related themes and multiple character viewpoints, a method that ran through all Herbert's mature work.

The book was not an instant bestseller. By 1968 Herbert had made $20,000 from it, far more than most science fiction novels of the time were generating, but not enough to let him take up full-time writing. However, the publication of Dune did open doors for him. He was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is an online newspaper and former print newspaper covering Seattle, Washington, United States, and the surrounding metropolitan area...

education writer from 1969 to 1972 and lecturer in general studies
Bachelor of General Studies
A Bachelor of General Studies degree is an undergraduate degree, offered by many universities in the Western World. It is very similar to a Bachelor of Arts or Liberal Arts degree, although there are often fewer requirements for studies in humanities and social sciences...

 and interdisciplinary studies
Integrative learning
Integrative Learning is a learning theory describing a movement toward integrated lessons helping students make connections across curricula. This higher education concept is distinct from the elementary and high school "integrated curriculum" movement....

 at the University of Washington (1970 – 1972). He worked in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 as social and ecological consultant in 1972. In 1973 he was director-photographer of the television show The Tillers.
By 1972, Herbert retired from newspaper writing and became a full-time fiction writer. During the 1970s and 1980s, Herbert enjoyed considerable commercial success as an author. He divided his time between homes in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and Washington's Olympic Peninsula
Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula is the large arm of land in western Washington state of the USA, that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Puget Sound. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous...

; his home in Port Townsend
Port Townsend, Washington
Port Townsend is a city in Jefferson County, Washington, United States, approximately north-northwest of Seattle . The population was 9,113 at the 2010 census an increase of 9.3% over the 2000 census. It is the county seat and only incorporated city of Jefferson County...

 on the peninsula was intended to be an "ecological demonstration project". During this time he wrote numerous books and pushed ecological and philosophical ideas. He continued his Dune saga, following it with Dune Messiah
Dune Messiah
Dune Messiah is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, the second in a series of six novels. It was originally serialized in Galaxy magazine in 1969. The American and British editions have different prologues summarizing events in the previous novel...

, Children of Dune
Children of Dune
Children of Dune is a 1976 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, third in a series of six novels set in his Dune universe. Initially selling over 75,000 copies, it became the first hardcover best-seller ever in the science fiction field...

, and God Emperor of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
God Emperor of Dune is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert published in 1981, the fourth in the Dune series. It was ranked as the #11 hardcover fiction best seller of 1981 by Publishers Weekly.-Plot introduction:...

. Other highlights were The Dosadi Experiment
The Dosadi Experiment
The Dosadi Experiment is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. It is the second full-length novel set in the ConSentiency universe established by Herbert in his novelette The Tactful Saboteur and continued in Whipping Star....

, The Godmakers, The White Plague
The White Plague
The White Plague is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert.-Plot:When an IRA bomb goes off, the wife and children of molecular biologist John Roe O'Neill are killed on May 20, 1996. Driven halfway insane by loss, his mind fragments into several personalities that carry out his plan for him. He...

and the books he wrote in partnership with Bill Ransom
Bill Ransom
Bill Ransom is a science fiction writer born in Puyallup, Washington in 1945.-Early life and education:He began full-time employment at the age of eleven as an agricultural worker. He attended Washington State University on track and boxing scholarships, and the University of Puget Sound on a track...

: The Jesus Incident
The Jesus Incident
The Jesus Incident is the second science fiction novel set in the Destination: Void universe by the American author Frank Herbert and poet Bill Ransom...

, The Lazarus Effect
The Lazarus Effect
The Lazarus Effect is the third science fiction novel set in the Destination: Void universe by the American author Frank Herbert and poet Bill Ransom. It takes place some time after the events in The Jesus Incident.-Plot summary:...

, and The Ascension Factor
The Ascension Factor
The Ascension Factor is the fourth and final science fiction novel set in the Destination: Void universe by the American author Frank Herbert and poet Bill Ransom. It takes place about twenty five years after The Lazarus Effect...

which were sequels to Destination: Void
Destination: Void
Destination: Void is the first science fiction novel set in the Destination: Void universe by the American author Frank Herbert. A revised edition, edited and updated by the author, was released in 1978...

. He also helped launch the career of Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks
Terence Dean "Terry" Brooks is an American writer of fantasy fiction. He writes mainly epic fantasy, and has also written two movie novelizations. He has written 23 New York Times bestsellers during his writing career, and has over 21 million copies of his books in print...

 with a very positive review of Brooks' first novel, The Sword of Shannara
The Sword of Shannara
The Sword of Shannara is a 1977 epic fantasy novel by Terry Brooks. The first book of the Original Shannara Trilogy, it was followed by The Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara. Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and historical adventure fiction, Brooks began writing...

, in 1977.

Herbert's change in fortune was shadowed by tragedy. In 1974, Beverly underwent an operation for cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. She lived ten more years, but her health was adversely impacted by the surgery. During this period, Herbert was the featured speaker at the Octocon II science fiction convention at the El Rancho Tropicana in Santa Rosa, California in October 1978; in 1979, he met anthropologist James Funaro with whom he conceived the Contact Conference
Contact Conference
Contact is an annual interdisciplinary conference that brings together to exchange ideas, stimulate new perspectives and encourage serious, creative speculation about humanity's future...

. Beverly Herbert died on February 7, 1984, the same year that Heretics of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Heretics of Dune is a 1984 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, fifth in a series of six novels. It was ranked as the #13 hardcover fiction best seller of 1984 by The New York Times.-Plot introduction:...

was published. In his afterword to 1985's Chapterhouse: Dune, Frank Herbert wrote a moving eulogy for his wife of 38 years.

1984 was a tumultuous year in Herbert's life. During this same year of his wife's death, his career took off with the release of David Lynch
David Lynch
David Keith Lynch is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, which has been dubbed "Lynchian", and which is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound...

's film version of Dune
Dune (film)
Dune is a 1984 science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed at the Churubusco...

. Despite high expectations, a big-budget production design and an A-list cast, the movie drew mostly poor reviews in the United States. However, despite a disappointing response in the USA, the film was a critical and commercial success in Europe and Japan.

After Beverly's death, Herbert married Theresa Shackleford in 1985, the year he published Chapterhouse Dune, which tied up many of the saga's story threads. This would be Herbert's final single work (the anthology Eye
Eye (Frank Herbert)
Eye is a collection of thirteen short stories written by science fiction author Frank Herbert. All of the works had been previously published in magazine or book form, except for "The Road to Dune."-Introduction:...

was published that year, and Man of Two Worlds was published in 1986). He died of a massive pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream . Usually this is due to embolism of a thrombus from the deep veins in the legs, a process termed venous thromboembolism...

 while recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer refers to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors is adenocarcinoma, which arises within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arises from the islet cells and is classified as a...

 on February 11, 1986 in Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 age 65. He was raised a Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 but adopted Zen Buddhism as an adult.

Ideas and themes


Frank Herbert used his science fiction novels to explore complex ideas involving philosophy, religion, psychology, politics and ecology, which have caused many of his readers to take an interest in these areas. The underlying thrust of his work was a fascination with the question of human survival and evolution. Herbert has attracted a sometimes fanatical fan base, many of whom have tried to read everything he wrote, fiction or non-fiction, and see Herbert as something of an authority on the subject matters of his books. Indeed such was the devotion of some of his readers that Herbert was at times asked if he was founding a cult
Cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

, something he was very much against.

There are a number of key themes in Herbert's work:
  • A concern with leadership. He keenly explored the human tendency to slavishly follow charismatic leaders. He delved deeply into both the flaws and potentials of bureaucracy and government.
  • Herbert was probably the first science fiction author to popularize ideas about ecology and systems thinking
    Systems thinking
    Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish...

    . He stressed the need for humans to think both systematically and long term.
  • The relationship between religion, politics and power
    Power (sociology)
    Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

    .
  • Human survival and evolution: Herbert writes of the Fremen
    Fremen
    The Fremen are a group of people in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. First appearing in the 1965 novel Dune, the Fremen inhabit the desert planet Arrakis and are based on the desert-dwelling Bedouin and Kalahari Bushmen. In Herbert's novels, Arrakis is the sole known source...

    , the Sardaukar
    Sardaukar
    The Sardaukar are a fictional fanatical army from Frank Herbert's Dune universe, primarily featured in the 1965 science fiction novel Dune, as well as Brian Herbert and Kevin J...

    , and the Dosadi
    The Dosadi Experiment
    The Dosadi Experiment is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. It is the second full-length novel set in the ConSentiency universe established by Herbert in his novelette The Tactful Saboteur and continued in Whipping Star....

    , who are molded by their terrible living conditions into dangerous super races.
  • Human possibilities and potential: Herbert offered Mentat
    Mentat
    A Mentat is a profession or discipline in Frank Herbert's fictional Dune universe. Mentats are humans trained to mimic computers: human minds developed to staggering heights of cognitive and analytical ability.- Overview :...

    s, the Bene Gesserit
    Bene Gesserit
    The Bene Gesserit are a key social, religious, and political force in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. The group is described as an exclusive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain superhuman powers and...

     and the Bene Tleilax
    Bene Tleilax
    The Bene Tleilax or Tleilaxu are an extremely xenophobic and isolationist society in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. Genetic manipulators who traffic in biological products such as artificial eyes, gholas, and "twisted" Mentats, the Tleilaxu are a major power in the Imperium...

     as different visions of human potential.
  • The nature of sanity
    Sanity
    Sanity refers to the soundness, rationality and healthiness of the human mind, as opposed to insanity. A person is sane if they are rational...

     and madness
    Mental illness
    A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

    . Frank Herbert was interested in the work of Thomas Szasz
    Thomas Szasz
    Thomas Stephen Szasz is a psychiatrist and academic. Since 1990 he has been Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. He is a well-known social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, and of the social...

     and the anti-psychiatry
    Anti-psychiatry
    Anti-psychiatry is a configuration of groups and theoretical constructs that emerged in the 1960s, and questioned the fundamental assumptions and practices of psychiatry, such as its claim that it achieves universal, scientific objectivity. Its igniting influences were Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing,...

     movement. Often, Herbert poses the question, "What is sane?", and while there are clearly insane behaviors and psychopathies as evinced by characters (Piter De Vries
    Piter De Vries
    Piter De Vries is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is featured in 1965's Dune, the original novel in the science fiction series, as well as the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.In David Lynch's 1984 adaptation of the...

     for instance), it is often suggested that "normal" and "abnormal" are relative terms which humans are sometimes ill-equipped to apply to one another, especially on the basis of statistical regularity.
  • The possible effects and consequences of consciousness-altering chemicals, such as the spice in the Dune saga.
  • How language shapes thought. More specifically, Frank Herbert was influenced by Alfred Korzybski
    Alfred Korzybski
    Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski was a Polish-American philosopher and scientist. He is remembered for developing the theory of general semantics...

    's General Semantics
    General Semantics
    General semantics is a program begun in the 1920's that seeks to regulate the evaluative operations performed in the human brain. After partial program launches under the trial names "human engineering" and "humanology," Polish-American originator Alfred Korzybski fully launched the program as...

    .
  • Sociobiology
    Sociobiology
    Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

    . How our instincts unconsciously influence our behavior and society.
  • Learning
    Learning
    Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

    , teaching and thinking.


Frank Herbert carefully refrained from offering his readers formulaic answers to many of the questions he explored.

Status and impact in science fiction



Dune
Dune (novel)
Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel...

and the Dune saga constitute one of the world's best-selling science fiction series and novels; Dune in particular has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Nebula Award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

 in 1965 and sharing the Hugo Award in 1966, and is frequently considered one of the best science fiction novels ever, if not the best. According to contemporary Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

, Herbert's opus was "powerful, convincing, and most ingenious."

Dune is considered a landmark novel for a number of reasons:
  • Like Heinlein's 1961 Stranger in a Strange Land
    Stranger in a Strange Land
    Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and...

    , Herbert's 1963 novella and 1965 novel, Dune, represented a move toward a more literary approach to the science fiction novel. Before this period, it was often said that all a science fiction novel needed to be successful was a great technological idea. Characterization and great story took a distant second place.
  • Dune is a landmark of soft science fiction
    Soft science fiction
    Soft science fiction, or soft SF, like its complementary opposite hard science fiction, is a descriptive term that points to the role and nature of the science content in a science fiction story...

    . Herbert deliberately suppressed technology in his Dune universe so he could address the future of humanity, rather than the future of humanity's technology. Dune considers the way humans and their institutions might change over time.
  • Dune was the first major ecological science fiction novel. Frank Herbert was a great popularizer of scientific ideas; many of his fans credit Frank Herbert for introducing them to philosophy and psychology. In Dune he helped popularize the term ecology and some of the field's concepts, vividly imparting a sense of planetary awareness. Gerald Jonas explains in The New York Times Book Review
    The New York Times Book Review
    The New York Times Book Review is a weekly paper-magazine supplement to The New York Times in which current non-fiction and fiction books are reviewed. It is one of the most influential and widely read book review publications in the industry. The offices are located near Times Square in New York...

    : "So completely did Mr. Herbert work out the interactions of man and beast and geography and climate that Dune became the standard for a new sub-genre of 'ecological' science fiction." As popularity of Dune rose, Herbert embarked on a lecture tour of college campuses, explaining how the environmental concerns of Dune's inhabitants were analogous to our own.
  • Dune is considered an epic example of literary world-building. The Library Journal
    Library Journal
    Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians. It was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey . It reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and offers feature articles about aspects of professional practice...

    reports that "Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings
    The Lord of the Rings
    The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

    is to fantasy." Frank Herbert imagined every facet of his creation. He lovingly included glossaries, quotes, documents, and histories, to bring his universe alive to his readers. No science fiction novel before it had so vividly realized life on another world.


Herbert wrote more than twenty novels after Dune that are regarded as being of variable quality. Books like The Green Brain
The Green Brain
The Green Brain , initially published as Greenslaves, is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert.- Plot introduction :...

, The Santaroga Barrier
The Santaroga Barrier
The Santaroga Barrier is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. It is considered to be an "alternative society" or "alternative culture" novel...

seemed to hark back to the days before Dune, when a good technological idea was all that was needed to drive a sci-fi novel. And some fans of the Dune saga are critical of the follow-up novels as being subpar.

Herbert never again equalled the critical acclaim he received for Dune. Neither his sequels to Dune nor any of his other books won a Hugo or Nebula Award, although almost all of them were New York Times Best Sellers. Some felt that Children of Dune was almost too literary and too dark to get the recognition it may have deserved; others felt that The Dosadi Experiment lacked an epic quality that fans had come to expect.

Largely overlooked because of the concentration on Dune was Herbert's 1973 novel, Hellstrom's Hive
Hellstrom's Hive
Hellstrom's Hive is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. It is about a secret group of humans who model their lives upon social insects, and the unsettling events that unfold after they are discovered by a deeply undercover agency of the US government.-Inspiration:David L...

, with its minutely worked-out depiction of a human society modeled on social insects, which could be counted a major utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

/dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

.

Malcolm Edwards
Malcolm Edwards
Malcolm John Edwards is a British editor and critic in the science fiction field. He received his degree from the University of Cambridge. He is currently Deputy CEO at the Orion Publishing Group. Edwards resides in London with his wife, the CEO of a public relations company...

 in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is an English language reference work on science fiction.- Publication history :The first edition, edited by Peter Nicholls with John Clute and Brian Stableford appeared in 1979, published by Granada. It was retitled The Science Fiction Encyclopedia in the US...

wrote:

Much of Herbert's work makes difficult reading. His ideas were genuinely developed concepts, not merely decorative notions, but they were sometimes embodied in excessively complicated plots and articulated in prose which did not always match the level of thinking ... His best novels, however, were the work of a speculative intellect with few rivals in modern science fiction.

Film adaptations


A film of the novel, Dune
Dune (film)
Dune is a 1984 science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed at the Churubusco...

, was directed by David Lynch
David Lynch
David Keith Lynch is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, which has been dubbed "Lynchian", and which is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound...

 in 1984. Although panned by many fans and film critics, Frank Herbert was pleased with the movie. It has done well on video and DVD.

The Sci Fi Channel
Syfy
Syfy , formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel and SCI FI, is an American cable television channel featuring science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal, a...

 produced a commercially successful 2000 television miniseries called Frank Herbert's Dune
Frank Herbert's Dune
Frank Herbert's Dune is a 2001 3D video game based on the 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries of the same name. The game was not a commercial or critical success, and was the last product by Cryo Interactive, which went bankrupt shortly after the game's failure.As Paul, the son of the Duke Atreides's...

. The Dune saga continued with a sequel miniseries in 2003 entitled Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, which combined the novels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.

A new feature adaptation of Dune is in development at Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

, who hope the remake will be a "tentpole film," and potentially lead to a new franchise based on Herbert's series.

Continuation of the Dune series


In recent years, Frank Herbert's son Brian Herbert
Brian Herbert
Brian Patrick Herbert is an American author who lives in Washington state. He is the elder son of science fiction author Frank Herbert....

 and author Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin J. Anderson is an American science fiction author with over forty bestsellers. He has written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and with Brian Herbert is the co-author of the Dune prequels...

 have added to the Dune universe
Dune universe
Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history...

, stating that they in part used notes left behind by Frank Herbert and discovered over a decade after his death. Brian Herbert and Anderson have written two prequel
Prequel
A prequel is a work that supplements a previously completed one, and has an earlier time setting.The widely recognized term was a 20th-century neologism, and a portmanteau from pre- and sequel...

 trilogies
Trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

 (Prelude to Dune
Prelude to Dune
Prelude to Dune is a prequel trilogy of novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in Frank Herbert's Dune universe....

and Legends of Dune
Legends of Dune
Legends of Dune is a prequel trilogy of novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in Frank Herbert's Dune universe.* Dune: The Butlerian Jihad * Dune: The Machine Crusade * Dune: The Battle of Corrin...

) exploring the history of the Dune universe before the events within Dune, as well as two post-Chapterhouse Dune novels that complete the original series (Hunters of Dune
Hunters of Dune
Hunters of Dune is the first of two books written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson to conclude Frank Herbert's original Dune series of novels....

and Sandworms of Dune
Sandworms of Dune
Sandworms of Dune is the second of two novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson to conclude Frank Herbert's original Dune series of novels. They have stated that it is based on notes left behind by Frank Herbert for Dune 7, his own planned seventh novel in the Dune series...

) based on Frank Herbert's own Dune 7 outline.

Further reading

  • Allen, L. David. Cliffs Notes on Herbert's Dune & Other Works. Lincoln, NE: Cliffs Notes, 1975. ISBN 0-8220-1231-6
  • Clarke, Jason. SparkNotes: Dune, Frank Herbert. New York: Spark Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-58663-510-7
  • Grazier, Kevin R. The Science of Dune. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books
    BenBella Books
    BenBella Books is an independent publishing house based in Dallas, Texas. Founded by Glenn Yeffeth in 2001, BenBella specializes in non-fiction books on popular culture, health, and nutrition, along with books on science, politics, psychology, and other topics....

    , 2008. ISBN 1933771283
  • Herbert, Brian. Dreamer of Dune : The Biography of Frank Herbert. New York: Tor Books, 2003.
  • Levack, Daniel JH; Willard, Mark. Dune Master: A Frank Herbert Bibliography. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1988. ISBN 0-88736-099-8
  • McNelly, Dr. Willis E. (ed.) The Dune Encyclopedia. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1984. ISBN 0-425-06813-7
  • Miller, David M. Starmont Reader's Guide 5: Frank Herbert. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont, 1980. ISBN 0-916732-16-9
  • O'Reilly, Timothy. Frank Herbert. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1980.
  • O'Reilly, Timothy (ed.) The Maker of Dune. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1987.

External links




Biography and criticism

Bibliography and works