A LETTER FROM BRIAN HERBERT & KEVIN J. ANDERSON
Dear Dune Fan,
For 35 years, fans like you have helped keep Frank Herbert's DUNE alive -- it is as popular today as ever.
When we set out to create a prequel trilogy to DUNE based on many of the notes and papers Frank Herbert left behind at his death, we were pleased to see the excitement and enthusiasm this generated among the fans. A lot of rumors and speculations passed through the fan community, and we apologize for not getting in touch directly with you before this. (After all, we've had a 750-page manuscript to write!)
We are in the process of creating an official DUNE web site (click here), the sole purpose of which will be to disseminate up-to-date information on new DUNE projects as well as activities relating to the works of Frank Herbert. We will premiere the new artwork for the "Prelude to DUNE" trilogy, add photographs, scheduling updates, and promotional appearances. Though the site won't be formally launched for another month, feel free to check it out for a sneak preview of forthcoming DUNE events.
For starters, though, we wanted to provide some of the most prominent DUNE fans with the attached information about HOUSE ATREIDES and the rest of the "Prelude to DUNE" trilogy. The "Afterword" (which will appear in the novel) tells how this project came to be, and our thoughts on the creation process. You are free to pass along this information as widely as possible, so long as you do so *free of charge* and include the Warning below.
Thank you for your continued interest in DUNE.
Kevin J. Anderson
"DUNE" is a registered copyright and trademark which is owned by The Herbert Limited Partnership. Any unauthorized use or reproduction thereof or the establishment of web or other electronic sites that seek to profit from "DUNE" or the works of Frank Herbert are expressly prohibited and The Herbert Limited Partnership will enforce all of its rights and remedies. The only official "DUNE" website is http://www.dunenovels.com.
========================= WARNING =========================
The PRELUDE TO DUNE Trilogy
Bantam Books purchased the rights to a prequel trilogy to DUNE, written by Frank Herbert's son Brian (an acclaimed science fiction novelist in his own right) and internationally bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson. These novels will be based in part on Frank Herbert's unpublished notes as well as conversations he had with his son.
This is believed to be the largest single science fiction contract in publishing history. Agents for the deal were Robert Gottlieb and Matt Bialer of the William Morris Agency, and Mary-Alice Kier of the Cine/Lit Agency.
The trilogy HOUSE ATREIDES, HOUSE HARKONNEN, and THE SPICE WAR is an immediate prequel going back to the heart of DUNE's readership, to the core characters and situations that made this the best-selling science fiction novel of all time: The love story of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica, their first battles with Baron Harkonnen, the planetologist Kynes sent to the desert world of Dune to investigate the precious spice and the sandworms and the Fremen . . . and the power-hungry Crown Prince Shaddam, who would do anything to secure the Imperial throne.
The first novel, HOUSE ATREIDES, is completed and will be published in hardcover in October 1999. Brian and Kevin are currently editing the manuscript for HOUSE HARKONNEN. UK rights to the trilogy have already been sold to Hodder & Stoughton (who will publish in England this September), French rights to Editions Laffont, Italian rights to Montedori, and abridged audio rights to BDD Audio.
For more than a decade there had been rumors that I would write another novel set in my father's Dune universe, a sequel to the sixth book in the series, CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE. I had published a number of acclaimed science fiction novels, but wasn't sure I wanted to tackle something so immense, so daunting. After all, DUNE is a magnum opus that stands as one of the most complex, multi-layered novels ever written. A modern-day version of the myth of the dragon's treasure, DUNE is a tale of great sandworms guarding a precious treasure of melange, the geriatric spice. The story is a magnificent pearl with layers of luster running deep beneath its surface, all the way to its core.
At the time of my father's untimely death in 1986, he was beginning to think about a novel that carried the working title "DUNE 7," a project he had sold to Berkley Books, but on which there were no known notes or outlines. Dad and I had spoken in general terms about collaborating on a Dune novel one day in the future, but we'd set no date, had established no specific details or direction. It would be sometime after he completed DUNE 7 and other projects.
In ensuing years I thought about my late father's uncompleted series, especially after I concluded a five-year project writing DREAMER OF DUNE, a biography of this complex, enigmatic man -- a biography which required that I analyze the origins and themes of the Dune series. After long consideration it seemed to me that it would be fascinating to write a book based upon the events he had described so tantalizingly in the Appendix to DUNE, a new novel in which I would go back 10,000 years to the time of the Butlerian Jihad, the legendary Great Revolt against thinking machines. That had been a mythical time in a mythical universe, a time when most of the Great Schools had been formed, including the Bene Gesserit, the Mentats and the Swordmasters.
Upon learning of my interest, prominent writers approached me with offers of collaboration. But in tossing ideas around with them I couldn't visualize the project coming to fruition. They were excellent writers, but in combination with them I didn't feel the necessary synergy for such a monumental task. So I kept turning to other projects, avoiding the big one. Besides, while Dad had sprinkled many provocative loose ends in the fifth and sixth books of the series, he had written an afterword for CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE that was a marvelous dedication to my late mother Beverly Herbert -- his wife of nearly four decades. They had been a writing team in which she edited his work and acted as a sounding board for his overflow of ideas . . . so with both of them gone it seemed a fitting conclusion to leave the project untouched.
The trouble is, a fellow named Ed Kramer kept after me. An accomplished editor and sponsor of science fiction/fantasy conventions, he wanted to put together an anthology of short stories set in the Dune universe -- stories by different, well-known authors. He convinced me that it would be an interesting, significant, project, and we talked about co-editing it. All the details weren't finalized, since the project had a number of complexities, both legal and artistic. In the midst of this, Ed told me had received a letter from best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson, who had been invited to contribute to the proposed anthology. He suggested what he called a "shot in the dark," asking about the possibility of working at novel length, preferably on a sequel to CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE.
Kevin's enthusiasm for the Dune universe fairly jumped off the pages of his letter. Still, I delayed answering him for around a month, not certain how to respond. Despite his proven skills, I was hesitant. This was a big decision. By now I knew I wanted to be involved closely in the project, and that I needed to participate to such a degree in order to ensure the production of a novel of integrity, one that would be faithful to the original series. Along with JRR Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS and a handful of other works, DUNE stood as one of the greatest creative achievements of all time, and arguably the greatest example of science fiction world-building in the history of literature. For the sake of my father's legacy, I couldn't select the wrong person. I read everything I could get my hands on that Kevin had written, and did more checking on him. It soon became clear to me that he was a brilliant writer, and that his reputation was sterling. I decided to give him a telephone call.
We hit it off immediately, both on a personal and professional level. Aside from the fact that I genuinely liked him, I felt an energy between us, a remarkable flow of ideas that would benefit the series. After obtaining the concurrence of my family, Kevin and I decided to write a prequel -- but not one set in the ancient times, long before DUNE. Instead we would go to events only thirty or forty years before the beginning of DUNE, to the love story of Paul's parents, to the Planetologist Pardot Kynes being dispatched to Arrakis, to the reasons for the terrible, destructive enmity between House Atreides and House Harkonnen, and much more. Our concept quickly grew to three books, a trilogy.
Before writing a detailed outline, we set to work rereading all six Dune books my father had written, and I took it upon myself to begin assembling a massive DUNE CONCORDANCE -- an encyclopedia of all the characters, places and wonders of the Dune universe. Of primary concern to us, we needed to determine where Dad had been heading with the conclusion of the series. It was clear that he was building up to something momentous in DUNE 7, and without intending to do so he had left us with a mystery. There were no known notes or other clues, only my memory that Dad had been using a yellow highlighter on paperback copies of HERETICS OF DUNE and CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE shortly before his death -- books that no one could locate after he was gone.
In early May, 1997, when I finally met Kevin J. Anderson and his wife, the author Rebecca Moesta, new story ideas fairly exploded from our minds. In a frenzy the three of us either scribbled them down or recorded them on tape. From these notes, scenes began to unfold, but still we wondered and debated where Dad had been going with the series.
In the last two books, HERETICS OF DUNE and CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE, he had introduced a new threat -- the reviled Honored Matres -- who proceeded to lay waste to much of the galaxy. By the end of CHAPTERHOUSE, the characters had been driven into a corner, utterly beaten . . . and then the reader learned that the Honored Matres themselves were running from an even greater mysterious threat . . . a peril that was drawing close to the protagonists of the story, most of whom were Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers.
A scant two weeks after our meeting, I received a telephone call from an estate lawyer who had handled matters involving my mother and father. He informed me that two safety deposit boxes belonging to Frank Herbert had turned up in a suburb of Seattle, boxes that none of us knew existed. I made an appointment to meet with the bank authorities, and in an increasing air of excitement the safety deposit boxes were opened. Inside were papers and old-style floppy computer disks that included comprehensive notes for an unpublished "DUNE 7" -- the long-awaited sequel to CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE! Now Kevin and I knew for certain where Frank Herbert had been headed, and we could weave the events of our prequels into a future grand finale for the series.
We turned with new enthusiasm to the task of putting together a book proposal that could be shown to publishers. That summer I had a trip to Europe scheduled, an anniversary celebration that my wife Jan and I had been planning for a long time. I took along a new laptop computer and a featherweight printer, and Kevin and I exchanged FedEx packages all summer long. By the time I returned at the end of the summer, we had a massive 141 page trilogy proposal -- the largest that either of us had ever seen. My allied DUNE CONCORDANCE project, the encyclopedia of all the marvelous treasures of the Dune universe, was a little over half completed, with months of intensive work remaining before it would be finished.
As we waited to see if a publisher would be interested, I remembered the many writing sessions I had enjoyed with my father, and my early novels in the 1980s that had received his loving, attentive suggestions for improvement. Everything I had learned from him -- and more -- would be needed for this huge prequels project, which we were entitling "Prelude to Dune."
-- Brian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson:
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" page in each new book. THE GREEN BRAIN, HELLSTROM'S HIVE, THE SANTAROGA BARRIER, THE EYES OF HEISENBERG, DESTINATION: VOID, THE JESUS INCIDENT, and more and more 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
Start topics here about Dune that are not bloody likely to be screwed with by me.
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- Alien Overlord
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Here is a copy of the additional matter from the back of the first House book, detailing the chronology of events between BH & KJA. I have not been saving this information, but I though it would be a good idea to parse this things because IIRC the two of them have contradicted it in later years. I also think KJA has admitted elsewhere that he had not read all of Herbert's other books, like he says here.
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!
-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)
The Omphalos Umbrella Page
-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)
The Omphalos Umbrella Page