Dune by Frank Herbert
Paul Atreides is just fifteen years old, and small for his age besides, but he’s not to be dismissed. Paul is bright, well trained, and the heir of House Atreides. Paul’s father, Duke Leto, is an exceptional leader who commands the loyalty of his subjects with ease, thus earning him the respect of his noble peers. Consequently, the Emperor has assigned Leto a new task: control of Arrakis, or “Dune,” a desert planet that is home to the “spice,” a substance that allows for many things, including interstellar travel. The only thing standing in his way is House Harkonnen, hastily characterized as a family of red-haired, pouty-lipped, extremely cunning sadists.
Frank Herbert’s Dune is now considered a masterpiece of science fiction, but if its setting were only slightly altered, it would be universally considered a monumental work of fantasy. It certainly offers everything a... Read More
Frank Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, and educated at the University of Washington, Seattle. He worked a wide variety of jobs — including TV cameraman, radio commentator, oyster diver, jungle survival instructor, lay analyst, creative writing teacher, reporter and editor of several West Coast newspapers — before becoming a full-time writer. Here’s the Dune website.
Dune — (1965-2012) After Frank Herbert’s death, books in the Dune series have been written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Publisher: Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud’dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family — and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction. Frank Herbert’s death in 1986 was a tragic loss, yet the astounding legacy of his visionary fiction will live forever.
Dune by Frank Herbert
“EPIC! One of my favorite books of all time. By the way, Dune is terrific on audio.” —Kat Hooper
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert’s 1965 Dune was an overwhelming success, winning awards and selling millions of copies. Little did readers know, however, that it was only the beginning of the Family Atreides saga. Picking up events roughly a decade after Paul’s ascension to Emperor, Dune Messiah is the story of his descent from power. Herbert knocks the hero he created off his pedestal, so readers should be prepared for many changes in the story — and not all are for the better.
Dune Messiah continues the saga of the Atreides family in epic, soap-operatic fashion. Paul, having expanded his power to over much of the known universe since becoming Emperor in Dune, is nevertheless helpless to prevent the religious fanaticism and destruction caused by his Fremen followers, drawing the hatred and ire of the opposition in the process. Chani, now his concubine, is unable to con... Read More
Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
Based on the polar nature of the first two books in the DUNE series, Paul’s ascension in Dune and his descent in Dune Messiah, not much would seem left to be told in the House Atreides saga. Publishing Children of Dune in 1976, ten years after Dune, Frank Herbert proved there was still more to tell, telling a solid but not spectacular tale that has some big shoes to fill if it is to live up to the success of Dune Read More
God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert
Given the coarse, operatic nature of Dune’s two sequels, I was reluctant to continue the series. I thought Leto II’s rise to power was an appropriate place to leave off in the cycle despite the three sequels Herbert penned. After reviewing Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, however, someone told me that the first three novels were in fact just stage-setting for the fourth, God Emperor of Dune, and if I was to truly appreciate the series I needed to continue. Continue I did, and though I still think Dune Read More
The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
As one would expect, Dune prequel The Butlerian Jihad, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, doesn't match the original but it's unfair of course to compare this work (the single book or the entire trilogy) to the original DUNE series, which well deserves its place in science fiction history. One of the ways to somewhat neutralize the natural temptation of readers to compare is to delve so far back into the history of DUNE that you are working from an almost clean slate, which is what Andersen and Herbert do with their newest prequel trilogy, set several millennia previous to Dune's world. If it doesn't hold up to the original, how does it stand as its own novel? Th... Read More
The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
As everyone knows by now, this isn't Dune. The first LEGENDS OF DUNE prequel, The Butlerian Jihad, wasn't, nor will The Machine Crusade be. The problem isn't that The Machine Crusade doesn't match up well against Dune, it's that it doesn't match up well against its predecessor, The Butlerian Jihad, which itself was mostly solid rather than excellent. The Machine Crusade is a bit of a step backward for this series.
As in The Butlerian Jihad, characterization continues to be pretty shallow, with several characters once again making transitions of behavior that really haven't been earned by the story. And some characters are simply skimped on.
The ... Read More
The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
One steps into the LEGENDS OF DUNE series not expecting the achievement of Dune, an unfairly high standard, but a good read with maybe some flashes of Dune's complexity of character, plot, and philosophy. The first book of this trilogy, The Butlerian Jihad, failed in the latter two areas but the plot was a good enough read to overcome those flaws.
The second book, The Machine Crusade, was a step backward, with the same weak characterization, but this time not balanced by a strongly told story. The Battle of Corrin, unfortunately, continues the downward trend. As in the other books, characterization is almost uniformly shallow, which is tough to do since we’ve followed some of these characters over the course of several long b... Read More
Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Sisterhood of Dune is the latest installment by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in the add-ons to Frank Herbert’s classic DUNE series. To be honest, I gave up on the series after The Battle of Corrin — the third book in the opening LEGENDS OF DUNE group — after it continued a downward spiral from a solid if not inspiring book one (The Butlerian Jihad). I wish I could say Sisterhood of Dune recaptured my interest, but unfortunately I found many of the same problems that caused me to give up the earlier series.
The human race has won against the machines, but the Butlerians, led by Manford Torondo, are trying to fo... Read More
The Pandora Sequence — (1966-1988) With Bill Ransom. Publisher: Soon after the start, they went mad, the three powerful, disembodiem human brains that should have guided them for the 200-year journey to Tau Ceti. Could they manufacture a replacement before emerging from the Solar System into nothingness? Would the circuits reproduce the characteristics they needed, characteristics like conscience, love and guilt? Or would they end up with a zombie? A monster? A power-crazy fanatic? Or a genius? What they did build was fantastic, unguessable. Yet, looking back, it was always on the cards.
Destination: Void by Frank Herbert
Destination: Void was first published in Galaxy under the title Do I Sleep or Wake in 1965 before the first version of the book appeared in 1966. It was revised and partially rewritten for the 1978 publication, released before Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom embarked on the DESTINATION: VOID trilogy set in the same universe. Together these books make up the PANDORA SEQUENCE.
Destination: Void is set in a future where humanity has been experimenting with artificial intelligence. To achieve a truly conscious artificial intelligence without risking earth, a crew of (expendable) cloned humans are sent safely on a journey to one of the nearby stars under the care of a spaceship completely controlled by a computer overseen by a disembodied human brain. Although the reader is given reason to doubt the t... Read More
The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom
In Herbert’s 1966 novel Destination: Void, a story about an experiment to create artificial intelligence, a crew was sent out to space with only two alternatives: succeed or die. In the late 1970s, Herbert returned to the Destination: Void universe with a new novel co-authored by Bill Ransom. Herbert rewrote parts of the original novel which he felt were dated, and the new version was published in 1978, slightly before The Jesus Incident. According to Dreamer of Dune, Brian Herbert's biography of his father, the writing of this new novel was not without its challenges. They based the story on a shorter piece named Songs of a Sentient Flute. When the first draft was almost completed, copyright issues arose. The planet... Read More
The Green Brain by Frank Herbert
The Green Brain is one of the novels that Frank Herbert published following the release of Dune. It was first published as a novelette under the title Greenslaves in Amazing Stories in 1965. Apparently the title is a reference to the English folk song Greensleeves. It was released as a novel by Ace Books in 1966. My copy is one in a series of four Frank Herbert titles reissued by Tor in 2002, to coincide with the release of The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I read The Green Brain shortly after this publication became available and I think it is the only Frank Herbert book I didn't like when I first read it. This second re... Read More
The Eyes of Heisenberg by Frank Herbert
The Eyes of Heisenberg (1966) is set in a far future where humanity is ruled by a small group of biological immortals known as Optimen. They have lived for tens of thousands of years and regulated every aspect of life. Their life and health is preserved by carefully maintaining the balance. Genetic engineering has progressed to the point where the genetic sequences of a fertilized ovum can be manipulated by highly skilled doctors. This technique is used to keep the population within a narrow genetic bandwidth and decide who gets to have children. Parents have little say in this matter but they are not entirely without rights. When Lizbeth and Harvey Durant, a couple lucky enough to be selected for breeding, exercise one of these rights, to be present at the modifying of the genetic material of their child, it becomes apparent that there is a certain uncontrollable element to procr... Read More
The Santaroga Barrier by Frank Herbert
A couple of years back Tor reissued four of Frank Herbert's novels in absurdly cheap paperback format. For some of these titles it had been quite a while since they'd been in print and despite a poor quality of the paperbacks I snapped them up as soon as they were published. Thankfully Tor realized its mistake and reissued another four novels in a somewhat more durable format a while later. These first four reissues contained what I consider Herbert's best novel (The Dosadi Experiment) as well as the worst (The Green Brain). All four are quite different from his famous DUNE novels but in quite a few you can see him returning to themes he used in DUNE. The Santaroga Barrier is one of his more interesting novels. A deceptively simple story, really.
Psychologist Gilbert Dasein is assig... Read More
The Heaven Makers by Frank Herbert
The Chem are a race of aliens unknown to humankind. Because they’re immortal, they’re bored. So, for entertainment, they broadcast drama TV from Earth. Fraffin is one of the most successful producers of human drama. Authorities from his home planet suspect he may be manipulating events on Earth, which is forbidden, so they send Investigator Kelexel to find out what’s going on. But Fraffin has a way of dealing with snoopy investigators. All he has to do is trap them by tempting them with Earth’s secret pleasures.
In actuality, Fraffin is indeed interfering with humans and creating his own dramas to boost his ratings. For his current project, which he’s been setting up for decades, he incites a well-respected man to brutally butcher his wife. Before being taken to jail, the man asks psychologist Androcles Thurlow to look after his daughter, Ruth, who is Thurlow’s ex-fiance. When Thurlow gets involv... Read More
Soul Catcher by Frank Herbert
Charles Hobuhet, an intelligent doctoral student in anthropology, is a Native American who holds a secret grudge against the Europeans who came to America, not only because of what they did to his race, but also because a group of them raped and killed his sister years ago. When Charles is stung by a bee and thinks he’s been given the title of Soul Catcher by the bee’s spirit, he believes he’s been tasked with a mission that will make the whites finally pay for their crimes. Renaming himself Katsuk, he kidnaps David, the young son of a wealthy high-status government official, and sets out on a journey with the boy — a journey that is supposed to end with the sacrifice of David. Thus David, an innocent boy, will be the payment for the white men’s sins.
And these sins are numerous. Not only did the whites steal the land from the natives, but the way they live on the land destroys it and they are oblivious... Read More
The Godmakers by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert’s The Godmakers is a novelized collection of four connected stories that first appeared in the pulp magazines between May 1958 and February 1960:
“You Take the High Road” (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1958)
“Missing link” (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1959)
“Operation Haystack” (Astounding Science Fiction, 1959)
“The Priests of Psi” (Fantastic Science Fiction Stories, February 1960)
The story takes place in a far future after humanity has spread to many habitable planets. However, a war has devastated communication between the planets and humans have lost contact with an unknown number of them. An intergalactic governmental agency called Rediscovery & Reeducation (R&R) finds these planets and tries to bring them back into the fold, reeducating as necessary to ensure that they’re ... Read More
Direct Descent by Frank Herbert
Direct Descent (1980) is by a fair margin the weakest novel by Frank Herbert I've read.
In the far future the whole of Earth's interior has been taken up by a gigantic library. Ships travel the known universe to collect information about just about everything and bring it back to Earth to archive it and make it available to the entire galaxy. The first and foremost rule of this organization is always obey the government whomever that may be — a rule meant to underline the library’s strict neutrality. But what if the government sends its warships at you? How can you defend yourself armed with archives full of useless knowledge and a policy of strict obedience?
Direct Descent is expanded from the short story “The Pack Rat Planet,” which first appeared in Astounding in December 1954. It is one of Herbert's earliest scie... Read More
The Dragon in the Sea — (1956) Publisher: In the endless war between East and West, oil has become the ultimate prize. Nuclear-powered subtugs brave enemy waters to tap into hidden oil reserves beneath the East’s continental shelf. But the last twenty missions have never returned. Have sleeper agents infiltrated the elite submarine service, or are the crews simply cracking under the pressure? Psychologist John Ramsay has gone undercover aboard a Hell Diver subtug. His mission is to covertly observe the remainder of the four-man crew — and find the traitor among them. Sabotage and suspicion soon plague the mission, as Ramsay discovers that the stress of fighting a war a mile and a half under the ocean exposes every weakness in a man. Hunted relentlessly by the enemy, the four men find themselves isolated in a claustrophobic undersea prison, struggling for survival against the elements… and themselves. A gripping novel by the legendary author of Dune.
Whipping Star — (1970) Publisher: In the far future, humankind has made contact with numerous other species: Gowachin, Laclac, Wreaves, Pan Spechi, Taprisiots, and Caleban, and has helped to form the ConSentiency to govern among the species. After suffering under a tyrannous pure democracy, the sentients of the galaxy find the need for a Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab) to slow the wheels of government, thereby preventing it from legislating recklessly. BuSab is allowed to sabotage and harass the governmental, administrative, and economic powers in the ConSentiency. Private citizens must not be harassed, and vital functions of society are also exempt. Jorj X. McKie is a born troublemaker who has become one of BuSab’s best agents. Drafted for the impossible task of establishing meaningful communication with an utterly alien entity who defies understanding, McKie finds himself racing against time to prevent a mad billionairess from wiping out all life in the ConSentiency.
Hellstrom’s Hive — (1973) Publisher: America is a police state, and it is about to be threatened by the most hellish enemy in the world: insects. When the Agency discovered that Dr. Hellstrom’s Project 40 was a cover for a secret laboratory, a special team of agents was immediately dispatched to discover its true purpose and its weaknesses — it could not be allowed to continue. What they discovered was a nightmare more horrific and hideous than even their paranoid government minds could devise. First published in Galaxy magazine in 1973 as “Project 40,” Frank Herbert’s vivid imagination and brilliant view of nature and ecology have never been more evident than in this classic of science fiction.
The Dosadi Experiment — (1977) Publisher: Beyond the God Wall. Generations of a tormented human-alien people, caged on a toxic planet, conditioned by constant hunger and war — this is the Dosadi Experiment, and it has succeeded too well. For the Dosadi have bred for Vengeance as well as cunning, and they have learned how to pass through the shimmering God Wall to exact their dreadful revenge on the Universe that created them…
The White Plague — (1982) Publisher: What if women were an endangered species? It begins in Ireland, but soon spreads throughout the entire world: a virulent new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half of the human race dies off at a frightening pace and life on Earth faces extinction, panicked people and governments struggle to cope with the global crisis. Infected areas are quarantined or burned to the ground. The few surviving women are locked away in hidden reserves, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a cure. Anarchy and violence consume the planet. The plague is the work of a solitary individual who calls himself the Madman. As government security forces feverishly hunt for the renegade scientist, he wanders incognito through a world that will never be the same. Society, religion, and morality are all irrevocably transformed by the White Plague.
Man of Two Worlds — (1986) With Brian Herbert. Publisher: On the distant planet Dreenor lives the most powerful species in the Galaxy. All of the Universe is the creation of the Dreens, who possess the power of “idmaging”, turning their throughts into reality. They can create whole worlds, of which the wild, ungovernable planet Earth is one. But suddenly Earth is a threat, its people on the verge of discovering interstellar travel, and with it, of gaining access to Dreenor itself — a paradox within a paradox, not to be permitted. While the elder Dreens plan Earth’s destruction, a youngster, Ryll, embarks on an unauthorised jaunt across space. Forced for survival to merge bodies with an Earther whose mind is as strong as his own, he has to battle for control. And the future of all earthly life lies in the hand of a composite being, half wily, aggressive human, half naive adolescent alien, confused and far from home.
High-Opp — (2012) Publisher: A never-before-published novel by Frank Herbert, author of the international bestseller DUNE. EMASI – Each Man A Separate Individual! That is the rallying cry of the Seps, the Separatists engaged in a class war against the upper tiers of a society driven entirely by opinion polls. Those who score high in the polls, the High-Opps, live in plush apartments, with comfortable jobs, every possible convenience. But those who happen to be low-opped, find themselves crowded in Warrens, with harsh lives and brutal conditions. Daniel Movius, Ex-Senior Liaitor, rides high in the opinion polls until he becomes a casualty, brushed aside by a very powerful man. Low-opped and abandoned, Movius finds himself fighting for survival in the city’s underworld. There, the opinion of the masses is clear: It is time for a revolution against the corrupt super-privileged. And every revolution needs a leader.