1999: Afterword from Dune: House Atreides

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1999: Afterword from Dune: House Atreides

Postby Hunchback Jack » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:31 pm

< We have this text because Hunchback Jack took the time and trouble,
Thanks Jack, you're the best!>

I never met Frank Herbert, but I knew him well through the words he wrote.

I read DUNE when I was ten years old, and reread it several times over the years; then I read
and enjoyed all of the sequels. GOD-EMPEROR OF DUNE, hot off the presses, was the very first
hardcover novel I ever purchased (I was a freshman in college). Then I worked my way through
every single one of his other novels, diligently checking off the titles on the "Other Books By"
and more. To me, Frank Herbert was the pinnacle of what science fiction could be --
thought-provoking, ambitious, epic in scope, well-researched, and entertaining -- all in the
same book. Other science fiction novels succeed in one or more of these areas, but DUNE
did it all. By the time I was five years old, I had decided I wanted to be a writer. By the time
I was twelve, I knew I wanted to write books like the ones Frank Herbert wrote.

Throughout college, I published a handful of short stories then began to write my first novel,
RESURRECTION, INC., a complex tale set in a future world where the dead are reanimated to
serve the living. The novel was full of social commentary, religious threads, a large cast of
characters, and (yes) a wheels-within-wheels plot. By this time, I had enough writing credits
to join the Science Fiction Writers of America . . . and one of the main benefits was the
Membership Directory. There, before my eyes, was the home address of Frank Herbert. I
promised myself that I would send him the very first signed copy. The novel sold almost
immediately to Signet Books . . . but before its publication date, Frank Herbert died.

I had avidly read the last two Dune books, HERETICS and CHAPTERHOUSE, in which Herbert had
launched a vast new saga that built to a fever pitch, literally destroyed all life on the planet
Arrakis, and left the human race on the brink of extinction -- that's where Frank Herbert left the
story upon his death. I knew that his son Brian was also a professional writer with several science
fiction novels under his belt. I waited, and hoped, that Brian would complete a draft manuscript,
or at least flesh out an outline his father had left behind. Someday soon, I hoped that faithful DUNE
readers would have a resolution to this cliffhanger. Meanwhile, my own writing career did well. I
was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and the Nebula Award, two of my thrillers were bought or
optioned by major studios in Hollywood. While I continued to write original novels, I also found a
great deal of success in dipping my toes into established universes, such as STAR WARS and X-FILES
(both of which I loved). I learned how to study the rules and the characters, wrap my imagination
around them, and tell my own stories within the boundaries and expectations of the readers.

Then in the spring of 1996 I spent a week in Death Valley, California, which has always been one of my
favorite places to write. I went hiking for an afternoon in an isolated and distant canyon, wrapped up in
my plotting and dictating. After an hour or so I discovered that I had wandered off on the wrong trail and
had several extra miles to hike back to my car. During that unexpectedly long walk, out in the stark and
beautiful desert scenery, my thoughts rambled over to DUNE. It had been ten years since Frank Herbert's
death, and by now I had pretty much decided that DUNE was always going to end on a cliffhanger. I still
very much wanted to know how the story wrapped up . . . even if I had to make it up myself.

I had never met Brian Herbert before, had no reason to expect he would even consider my suggestion.
But DUNE was my favorite science fiction novel of all time, and I could think of nothing I would rather
work on. I decided it would do no harm to ask. . . .

We hope you enjoyed revisiting the Dune universe through our eyes. It has been an immense honor to sift
through thousands of pages of Frank Herbert's original notes, so that we might recreate some of the vivid
realms that sprang from his researches, his imagination, and his life. I still find DUNE as exciting and
thought-provoking as I did when I first encountered it many years ago.

-- Kevin J. Anderson

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Hunchback Jack
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