Frank Herbert’s Dune novels form one of the most popular science-fiction series produced in the United States. Dune, first in this series, was translated into fourteen languages and became an international best-seller.
Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, on October 8, 1920. He decided to become a writer on his eighth birthday, but the road to a successful career was neither short nor straight. He began writing as a journalist in Southern California. After a brief marriage and service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he returned to journalism and began publishing short fiction. In 1945, Herbert spent a year at the University of Washington, where he met his second wife, Beverly, with whom he had two sons, Brian and Bruce. A decisive event in Herbert’s career was meeting Ralph and Irene Slattery in 1949. These two psychologists with broad intellectual backgrounds stimulated and encouraged Herbert’s creativity. His first science-fiction story, “Looking for Something,” appeared in 1952.
In 1954, as a speech writer in Washington, D.C., Herbert did research for Dragon in the Sea (now usually known as Under Pressure), establishing a pattern that typified his science fiction: His best work is characterized by carefully researched details that make his imagined worlds seem complete and real. This first novel appeared serially in Astounding Science Fiction beginning in 1955. Also while in Washington, D.C., Herbert witnessed at first hand the uses and abuses of power, notably by attending the 1954 Joseph McCarthy hearings to seek out communists. Political power became a central theme in his fiction.
Dune appeared in 1965, winning for Herbert both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for science fiction. Though parts of the novel had appeared in Astounding...
(The entire section is 754 words.)