As the author of the world-famous Dune series, as well as numerous other science fiction novels, Frank Herbert (1920-1986) has long been regarded as one of the most acclaimed masters of the genre.
Frank Herbert: The Works is a comprehensive critical biography documenting the literary achievements – and sometimes stupendous disappointments – which comprise the legacy of this colossal figure who has for so long dominated the science fiction stage. Herbert’s most famous and compelling works, including Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Whipping Star, Destination: Void and The Santaroga Barrier, are recast in an original compositional and intellectual perspective that establishes the hidden interrelationships and ideological connectivity woven throughout his entire oeuvre. A new understanding of the deeper significance which riddles his most well-known works emerges from the context of his less renowned fiction and non-fiction alike, as well as from consideration of the times and places in which he worked. Answers to innumerable questions which Herbert’s legions of fans have been pondering for decades are offered here, along with extensive supporting arguments and documentation. What emerges is a new synthesis and appreciation for the expansive mind of a truly original American writer and artist.
Among the problems tackled in this volume are these: How was Herbert influenced by the 1960s counterculture in San Francisco? How did he assemble the disparate pieces that synergized into Dune? What are some of the technical shortcomings of Dune? How did Herbert begin to model an extended spectrum of consciousness within his other novels, including Destination: Void and The Santaroga Barrier? Was Herbert at heart more of a scientist or a mystic? How prescient was he concerning the modern threat of terrorism? How did Herbert envision the interface between spacetime, energy, matter, and the mind? Did he see government as a dangerous, power- and control-seeking force determined to keep people down, or as an inevitable emergent property of social interaction that expresses a collective subconscious will? How might Frank Herbert have written the last volume of his Dune series had he lived? What is the connection between Paul Muad’Dib and the John F Kennedy assassination? How did private family relationships shape what Herbert could and couldn’t write? What lessons may be drawn concerning the involvement of a brilliant author in the adaptation and appropriation of his work by Hollywood? What would Frank Herbert think of the modern conservative movement?
In recent years the kind of freedom of imagination that Frank Herbert once typified and embodied has seemed to have been incapacitated and pruned by new limits both internal and imposed from without. The spirit of Project Apollo, for example, that formerly captivated the world, is now forgotten or sneered at by today’s youth. Who now envisions the infinite possibilities all around us as Frank Herbert once did? But maybe we can take heart that in this reassessment of his accomplishments new minds will find inspiration once more. Understanding more clearly how Herbert thought about the problems and promises filling the world around him, maybe they will make the great leap of insight and recognize within their own souls the possibility of greatness, and say to themselves: I can accomplish what he did, too! Then may they venture not into the territory which Herbert forever staked out as his own, but scatter boldly into the open arms of a universe of boundless potential. For the only real risk we face, in the final analysis, is trying to prevent any and all risks from challenging us to fulfill our human potential.
As Frank Herbert himself once wrote: “Surprise me, Holy Void!”