Dune and its sequels comprise one of the best-selling science-fiction series of all time. Dune won the Nebula Award in 1965 and tied as the winner of the Hugo Award in 1966. A 1974 Locus poll voted Dune the best science-fiction novel of all time. The book is assigned reading for courses in a wide array of fields, including philosophy, psychology, English, and ecology.
Dune has achieved notoriety for several reasons. First, it was one of the first science-fiction novels to apply high literary standards to the genre. Before the 1960’s, most of the best science-fiction stories were based on interesting scientific or technological premises and were plot-driven. After the 1960’s, writing style and characterization became equally, if not more, important. Second, Dune was one of the first great “soft” science-fiction novels. Herbert intentionally minimized the technobabble when he wrote the Dune books so he could concentrate on the characters rather than on their technologies. Third, Herbert created a world with its own unique history, languages, religions, customs, geography, ecology, and economic, social, and political systems, comparable to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia.
Herbert’s other writings also won critical acclaim. His only mainstream novel, Soul Catcher, was nominated for a National Book Award, and the French edition of Hellstrom’s Hive won the Prix Apollo.