Monday, November 12, 2007

Reading: Dune 7

I first discovered Dune, by Frank Herbert, when I was a freshman in high school. It blew me away. I finished reading it, turned to the first page and read it all again. It was rich. It was deep. It was intricate, fascinating, beautiful and horrible. It was like life but with a great sense of drama and poetry. I have reread Dune more times than I can count. I named my children after characters from the book. I read all of Herbert’s other dune books all 6 of them. I was sad when he died knowing that he had planned a 7th book but would never write it.

When Frank’s son, Brian, began writing prequels I read them. It was interesting to revisit some of Frank’s places and characters. But Brian’s Dune books were never as good, never as fantastic. So when Brian announced that he had discovered Frank Herbert’s original outline for Dune 7 I was intrigued and worried. I wanted to know how Frank planned on finishing his story. But I also knew Brian would never pull it off as well as his dad.

Well, Dune 7 came out, over two years as two volumes, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. I read them. I’m glad I did. But I am also disappointed in a way. There are events in the books that I know Frank would have made thrilling and intense, but Brian only makes it work. Reading Dune 7 wasn’t like reading a Frank Herbert novel in the same way that reading a screenplay is not the same thing as watching a great movie. I feel like I read an outline for Dune 7. Which is better than nothing. Sort of.

The series has its happy ending now. I would hope that Brian would let it go. But I know he won’t. There are too many Dune fans like me that keep buying his derivative work out of morbid curiosity. So I bet there is a “new” Dune book by next summer. The spice must flow… Maybe Frank will return as a blind prophet to decry what his decedents have done with his mighty empire.
Science Fiction is the defining literature of the 20th Century and Dune (the original) is probably one of the top 5 Science Fiction novels of all time. It is my pick for number 1 on that list.

1 comment:

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

Like yourself I've read all the Dune books, multiple times. While it is nice to have read enough to discover where Frank Herbert was going, the last two novels always had that "not quite Frank Herbert" feel of disappointment.

As for what comes next, look for "Paul of Dune" and "Jessica of Dune" andmaybe even "Duncan of Dune". They'll be milking this for sure.

BTW, you might enjoy "Dreamer of Dune", Brian Herbert's biography of his dad. It was a touching read, quite different from most biographies I've read.