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Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert
Brian Herbert
Tor, 576 pages

Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert
Brian Herbert
Brian Herbert is the eldest son of SF giant, Frank Herbert. An honour student, he graduated from high school at 16 and married while a full-time student at UC Berkeley, where he received a BA in Sociology. His first two books were humour collections, Incredible Insurance Claims and Classic Comebacks. After that he moved on to novels, including Sidney's Comet, The Garbage Chronicles, Sudanna Sudanna, Man Of Two Worlds (with Frank Herbert), and Memorymakers (with Marie Landis).

Dune Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Dune: House Atreides
Bantam Spectra -- Dune Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox


"How do we approach the study of Muad'Dib's father?"
How does anyone approach the study of their father? It's a tough question, but even tougher if that father is the creator of the science-fiction classic Dune, Frank Herbert. He was a man who lived a life of adventure, traveled the North American continent, worked his hands in politics, but never abandoned a dream of writing. But how many know Frank Herbert, the man? None better than his own son, Brian Herbert. Dreamer of Dune is Brian's testament to Frank Herbert, father, activist and writer.

The biography captures an amazing account of the Herbert family's beginnings. It is a well-researched history and presents a vivid picture of turn of the century America and a Bavarian family's attempt to find their place in it.

On October 8, 1920, Frank Herbert was born. At age 5, he declared "I wanna be a author!" He would spend the bulk of his life attempting to achieve this dream. The chronicle moves through many touching moments as the young Frank experiences life events which will eventually be incorporated in his six Dune novels.

The true "story" of the book begins when Frank meets his soul-mate, Beverly Forbes. She would become his wife, business manager and life-long companion. Together they have two sons, Brian and Bruce. In the course of his youth, Brian watches his family move up and down the west coast, through Mexico and in and out of a variety of jobs as his father hopes to find the right locale to express his creativity. The early adventures of the Herbert family are short tales in themselves and are vividly recounted. There is plenty of hardship and heartache as the family struggles both financially and emotionally.

In the early 60s, Frank Herbert gets the idea for a story set on a desert planet. He feels that this is the "big one," but, after years of research and a maddening quest to find a publisher, the book seems to be a mediocre success. Yet the reader of the biography has a little inside knowledge, knowing that Dune is a sleeper hit.

When people start to realize what an incredible piece of literature it is, everything changes for the Herberts. The adventures Brian recounts after Dune's success are just as on par with the early family trials, but with a happier feel. From his self-sufficient Xanadu in Washington state to the Kawaloa Hawaiian retreat, Frank continues to create. The reader gets to experience the many aborted Dune film attempts and the joy Frank feels when David Lynch manages to bring the epic to the big screen. And through it all, Frank writes, expanding on his desert planet in way he never thought would be possible.

Many passages are written from the heart and the reader might even find themselves shedding a tear at some tragedies along the way. Though jumpy at times as anecdotes about Frank seems to throw the flow of the history, the biography still gets all the facts in, but makes them as interesting as an adventure novel.

Although Frank Herbert left a great legacy, there was so much more he wanted to do. Yet Dreamer of Dune is a fascinating chronicle of both a son's love of his father and as a working blueprint and insight into the mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest science fiction writers.

Copyright © 2003 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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