Escape Artists


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Author Topic: From the sands.. [might contain a few tips to writers]  (Read 10305 times)


  • Guest
on: January 04, 2007, 11:48:41 AM
Well, I just can't help myself. Dune is nowhere near a short story with 13 books and counting (<rant type="preemptive">Yes, I both count canon and non-canon, and for those of you who wish to discuss that, there are plenty of open threads on the dunenovels forum in which I even participate</rant>).

So, 13 books and in my opinion the greatest science fiction novel-series ever written. But what makes it so good? Is it the story, is it the imaginary work of the author, or perhaps something as insubstantial as the readers imagination.

Well, here's my view on it, but first a bit of history. I've approximately read all 13 books way too many times (+20 in all, for each book, though I don't get tired of them at all) and what I experienced at least the first 10 times for the first six books (by Frank himself, of course) was that each time I read it, I discovered something new about the books, the universe, or some new layer to the book - like a social layer, a political layer and every other sort of imaginable layer. This is part of what I like about Frank's works because that's true for all of his work, even the work not involving Dune in any way (it also seems to have passed onto his son, although not as much of it - but still an amount greater than most writers have).

To put it simply: Frank made a universe different than ours but the same as hours, just far far far into the future (approximately 22000 years before the first book starts, according to Dr. Attila Torkos, the Hungarian translator of Dune who made a time line which can be found on I'm not saying that a book has to be 22000 years into the future, or that it has to be an entire universe created from ours. I'm just saying that to write something good, you have to be there and take the reader with you, so to speak. And that's what Frank manages so well.

So, for all of you writers out there - that's all you have to do. So good luck with that..


  • Peltast
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Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 05:01:19 PM
I didn't read all 22 Dune novels, I think I read 4... but was under the distinct impression by book #4 that the author of the sequels was likely a different person than the writer of original book. Different style, way different quality.  Made me think of the quip "I wonder if L. Ron Hubbard's writing style will change now that he is dead?"   ;D


  • Hipparch
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Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 05:13:58 PM
Very cool, Ryuujin. 

I actually went on a quest last year to re-read the whole series.  I'd read them up through Chapterhouse: Dune when I was, oh, maybe fourteen -- which was exactly the wrong age.  You can't get most of it at as a teenager.

This time I made it through 4.2 of them -- I was a little of the way into Heretics of Dune before getting distracted by something shinier.  I have to agree with Michael that the first book is totally different than any of the ones after it.  And I think it's far better.  It's an action novel, with all the poliics and intrigue and religious weight, but absolutely full of duels and battles and assassinations and imprisonments, too.  The later novels are...well, there's usually something that happens once or twice in each of them, but for the most part they're talking heads.  They're significant and the character depth is real, but they're not nearly as much fun.

Perhaps I should pick them up again sometime and finish pushing through.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


  • Guest
Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 05:24:56 PM
Lets just get one fact straight: Frank Herbert wrote the six following books:
Dune (two-book series),
Dune Messiah,
Children of Dune,
God-Emperor of Dune,
Heretics of Dune,
and Chapterhouse of Dune.

His son Brian Herbert (after finding the script for the 7th book after Frank died in 1985) decided to write first 3 "Prequals of Dune" along with Kevin J. Anderson (author of many notable sci-fi novels himself):
The Butlerian Jihad,
The Machine Crusade,
and The Battle of Corrin.

He then proceeded to write the "Preludes of Dune":
House Atreides
House Harkonnen
and House Corrin.

Continuing his father's legacy, he has now written:
Hunters of Dune,
and is in the process of writing Sandworms of Dune.

Depending on how well these sell, they plan on writing other books - Paul of Dune, Jessica of Dune and possibly one more in the series 'Of Dune'. Other that that they have mentioned in brief that they would love to continue the series with other books both BG, AG, BE an AE (Before Guild, After Guild, Before Emperor (the god-emperor Leto III) and After Emperor (same emperor as before)).

Other than that, Frank Herbert have written some short stories which is in the Duniverse but does not have any focal connection to the canon-series.

There's also been written a lot of fan-fiction, and even published one which some canon-only people think is the true ending after Chapterhouse of Dune.

Stephen: I'd very much suggest that you take up at least the canon series if you think 13 books are a bit too much. They're GREAT.
And I would have to disagree with you regarding the fact that teenagers can't get most of the books - I did, and I haven't turned out all too badly.


  • Extern
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Reply #4 on: January 06, 2007, 07:09:23 PM
The set of books by Brian Herbert set in the Butlerian jihad period are abysmal. The hurt me on some pretty basic levels. This vastly intelligent computer is an idiot and that is a conceit I have never found enjoyable. I will say that amazingly the Brian Herbert books set just before Dune on the other had are really quite entertaining and worthy additions to the series.

The book Dun itself is amazing of course and I reread it every few years.

Never be so enamored with your own cleverness so as to stop and watch it.


  • Pseudopod Tiger
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Reply #5 on: January 06, 2007, 07:21:14 PM
i feel like im missing out!  I have not yet read dune, and although i DO plan to, i do not currently have the time to read for fun (evil school readings!)
im TRYING to read A Briefer History of Time (much easier to understand) but i find i dont have as much time as i used to.
maybe i'll pick up Dune over the summer

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


  • Matross
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Reply #6 on: January 06, 2007, 07:28:32 PM
dune was one of the ferst "proper" books i read
fine stuf
was thare not a rumer the mr Herbert niked it?

card carying dislexic and  gramatical revolushonery


  • Peltast
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Reply #7 on: January 06, 2007, 09:31:42 PM
was under the distinct impression by book #4 that the author of the sequels was likely a different person than the writer of original book. Different style, way different quality.

I was, of course, referring to books said to be written by "Frank Herbert".  The sequels have a whole different voice to them.  But I am glad someone likes them.  I am always hesitant to read the "in the style of" or "in the universe of" novels--I have a stack here waiting to be read... the Heinlein Glory Road sequel, the Little Fuzzy sequels, "variable star" (finished by Spider Robinson but credited to Heinlein).  It is a shortcut to fame, and sometimes a sequel needs telling, but sometimes it is just "Terminator III" from a writer who didn't have the talent to make his own world, so he borrowed someone else's imagination. 

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #8 on: January 06, 2007, 10:52:46 PM
I think the problem with the series is that after the first book you did have to start pushing to get through it.

When I was reading the first book, I would look at the clock and see it was two in the morning. I'd say, "crap, I wanted to get to sleep by eleven. I'll just read this little bit and then I'll stop for tonight." Next time I looked at the clock it was four.

With each book that happened less.

I had borrowed the first four books from a friend and wanted to read straught through then and send them back, but it got harder and harder.

By the third I was looking at my clock every 10 minutes and was getting plenty of sleep. The fourth is one of only three books in my life that I didn't finish. It was just too much pushing.

I've never been without the pile of books next to my bed and I've never been tempted to put any of the Dune books back into that pile.


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Reply #9 on: January 21, 2007, 06:17:09 AM
I read "The Six" over the course of several years.  My wife refers to them as "the ugly/scary worm books."  She had to look at the cover when I read them before bed.  It is obvious that they were written by a genius.  Herbert is a master of philosophy, theology and politics but I felt like I got bogged down in them and only kept reading so that I could finish the series.  The problem may be that I was no more impressed by Herbert's writing and brilliance by the end of Chapterhouse than I was at the end of the original Dune. 

If you are interested in reading these you would be wise to stop after the fourth book.  Life is too short.  When you get to book 5 come back here and we will give you the ending. 


  • Guest
Reply #10 on: January 22, 2007, 12:19:16 PM
Well, I somewhat agree that the 5th and 6th books could have been spared. But read by themselves, they have their merits - however, they are part of a series, that's for sure.


  • Matross
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Reply #11 on: January 23, 2007, 10:44:16 PM
IMHO Dune is THE Sci Fi book, in the same way that LordOTRings is THE fantasy book.

Children of Dune was where the series lost it.  That said I've read a few of the Brian books and loved them.  If you can get past the "this book has to be really good because it says Dune on the cover" and instead read it as a pulp Sci Fi, they are actually really good.