For anyone who wants to learn more about Frank Herbert’s life and philosophy, I recommend picking up Timothy O’Reilly’s biography of Frank Herbert. O’Reilly’s book is an intellectual biography of the man, his influences, and his thought process. He also interviewed Herbert for the book. It’s available for free on Tim O’Reilly’s website.
My first reaction upon finishing Sandworms of Dune was that, unlike Hunters of Dune, it at least it has a plot. In Hunters of Dune, we learned that the Ominous Threat™ is actually the Thinking Machines from the Butlerian Jihad. This reveal came out of nowhere. The struggle between man and machine is a classic sci-fi trope, but it’s not a theme that appeared at the forefront of the Dune saga. In fact, in Dune, it appeared that humanity had solved the problem thousands of years before by replacing computers with Mentats.
I had mixed feelings about the direction Frank Herbert took the Dune saga after God Emperor of Dune, but the cliffhanger at the end of Chapterhouse Dune piqued my interest. Unfortunately, Frank Herbert passed away before he could finish the story. Nearly 20 years later, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson wrote Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune in attempt to wrap the story up. They claim to have developed the story based on a draft outline left by Frank Herbert in a safe deposit box. Unfortunately, the book carries on some of the worst writing instincts of the pair’s House trilogy, including the meandering plot lines and thin characters. Continue reading ““Hunters of Dune” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson”
As with Paul of Dune, I came into this book with low expectations, so Winds of Dune did not have to work too hard to surpass those. As others have noted, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson tend to repeat themselves quite a bit, reminding readers of basic plot points that they probably still remember. Moreover, this book has a weaker narrative structure than even Paul of Dune. It loosely follows Bronso of Ix, Paul Atreides’ former friend and leader of the rebellion against Paul’s empire. The plot straddles three separate time periods: just before Dune, several years after the jihad starts, and just after Dune Messiah. Continue reading ““Winds of Dune” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson”
I had the benefit of reading many negative reviews about this book before I decided to read it. My expectations were so low that I found myself enjoying it far more than I’d expected. To be clear, this book is not high literature. It’s not nearly as deep or rich as any of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. Nevertheless, it provides a fun and even sometimes interesting backstory for Paul Atreides. Continue reading ““Paul of Dune” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson”
In the late 1990s, over a decade after Frank Herbert’s untimely death, his Brian and Kevin J. Anderson decided to pick up the Dune saga where he left off. Well, almost. Instead of writing a direct sequel to Chapterhouse Dune, they decided to start with a prequel to the original Dune. The three books – House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino – form a loose trilogy exploring the major houses of the Dune franchise. Despite the titles, the books aren’t exclusively, or even primarily, about the titular Houses, but rather cover a range of events before the original Dune.
I’ve talked about David Lynch’s Dune movie and the Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune miniseries, but the most ambitious Dune adaptation never made it off the page. Jodorowsky’s Dune chronicles Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to bring Dune to the big screen during the 1970s. He failed, but, as the documentary argues, that failure had an enormous on science fiction in cinema. It’s certainly a fascinating look at what might have been, even if I’m not convinced a Jodorowsky Dune would have been faithful to the novel. Continue reading ““Jodorowsky’s Dune””
Dune has often been called the science-fiction equivalent of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but compared to that oeuvre we have almost no scholarship about the development of the Dune saga. Certainly nothing like Christopher Tolkien’s fantastic History of Middle-earth series exists. Fortunately, The Road to Dune helps to remedy that, at least partially. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson provide an earlier draft of Dune, deleted chapters, as well as letters from Frank Herbert to his publisher.
Chapterhouse: Dune continues directly from Heretics of Dune. However, where Heretics seemed like an overly long prologue, Chapterhouse starts to provide push the characters in interesting ways. There’s more conflict, both internal and external. While the Bene Gesserit finally confront the Honored Matres, some of the characters are forced to make difficult decisions. Overall, this is far from my favorite of the Dune saga, but it’s a vast improvement over Heretics and left me wanting more. Continue reading ““Chapterhouse: Dune” by Frank Herbert”
Heretics of Dune is where the Dune saga starts to falter. The book is set 1,500 years after Emperor Leto’s reign and the Scattering of humans into the far reaches of the galaxy. The story focuses on the Bene Gesserit, which is an interesting choice. The Bene Gesserit have been a mainstay of the series since the beginning, but they’ve always functioned as antagonists or secondary characters. As the book starts, the Bene Gesserit discover that the humans who went off during the Scattering are returning, but that they’re not the same.