never have been published, and world literature would be the poorer for it.

When my father and I became close in my adulthood and we began to write together, he spoke to me often of the importance of detail, of density of writing. A student of psychology, he understood the subconscious, and liked to say that Dune could be read on any of several layers that were nested beneath the adventure story of a messiah on a desert planet. Ecology is the most obvious layer, but alongside that are politics, religion, philosophy, history, human evolution, and even poetry. Duneis a marvelous tapestry of words, sounds, and images. Sometimes he wrote passages in poetry first, which he expanded and converted to prose, forming sentences that included elements of the original poems.

Dad told me that you could follow any of the novel’s layers as you read it, and then start the book all over again, focusing on an entirely different layer. At the end of the book, he intentionally left loose ends and said he did this to send the readers spinning out of the story with bits and pieces of it still clinging to them, so that they would want to go back and read it again. A neat trick, and he pulled it off perfectly.

As his eldest son, I see familial influences in the story. Earlier, I noted that my mother is memorialized in Dune and so is Dad. He must have been thinking of himself when he wrote that Duke Leto’s “qualities as a father have long been overlooked.” The words have deep significance to me, because at the time he and I were not getting along well at all. I was going through a rebellious teenage phase, reacting to the uncompromising manner in which he ruled the household.

At the beginning of Dune, Paul Atreides is fifteen years old, around the same age I was at the time the book was first serialized in Analog. I do not see myself much in the characterization of Paul, but I do see Dad in Paul’s father, the noble Duke Leto Atreides. In one passage, Frank Herbert wrote: “Yet many facts open the way to this Duke: his abiding love for his Bene Gesserit lady; the dreams he held for his son …” Late in his life, Dad responded to interview questions about my own writing career by saying, “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak tree.” He often complimented me to others, more than he did to me directly. To most of his friends he seemed like an extrovert, but in family matters he was often quite the opposite, preferring to retire to his study. Frequently, his strongest emotions went on the page, so I often feel him speaking to me as I read his stories.

Once, I asked my father if he thought his magnum opus would endure. He said modestly that he didn’t know and that the only valid literary critic was time. Now it has been forty years since Dune was published in hardcover, and Frank Herbert would be pleased to know that interest in his fantastic novel, and the series it spawned, has never waned. An entire new generation of readers is picking up Dune and enjoying it, just as their parents did before them.

Like our own universe, the universe of Dune continues to expand. Frank Herbert wrote six novels in the series, and I have written six more in collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson. Kevin and I have four more Dune books under contract, including the chronological grand finale that millions of fans have been awaiting, Dune 7. Frank Herbert was working on that project when he died in 1986, and it would have been the third book in a trilogy that he began with Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune. In those novels he set up a great mystery, and now, almost two decades after his death, the solution is the most closely guarded secret in science fiction.

By the time we complete those stories, there will be sixteen Dune novels, along with the 1984 movie directed by David Lynch and two television miniseries—“Frank Herbert’s Dune” and “Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune”—both produced by Richard Rubinstein. We envision other projects in the future, but all of them must measure up to the lofty standard that my father established with his own novels. When all of the good stories have been told, the series will end. But that will not really be a conclusion, because we can always go back to Dune itself and read it again and again.

Brian Herbert

Seattle, Washington

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