Frank Herbert (Dune)

imageAmerican science fiction author Frank Patrick Herbert, Jr. Was born October 8, 1920 in Tacoma, Washington. Because of a poor home environment, he ran away from home in 1938 to live with an aunt and uncle in Salem, Oregon. Heenrolled in high school at Salem High School (now North Salem High School), where he graduated in 1939. In1939 he lied about his age to get his first newspaper job at the Glendale Star. He returned to Salem in 1940 where he worked for the Oregon Statesman newspaper (now Statesman Journal) in a variety of positions, including photographer. He served in the U.S. Navy’s Seabees for six months as a photographer during World War II, then he was given a medical discharge. He married Flora Parkinson in San Pedro, California in 1940. They had a daughter, Penny (b. February 16, 1942), but divorced in 1945.

After the war Herbert attended the University of Washington, where he met Beverly Ann Stuart at a creative writing class in 1946. Herbert had sold two pulp adventure stories to magazines, the first to Esquire in 1945, and Stuart had sold a story to Modern Romance magazine. They married in Seattle, Washington on June 20, 1946 and had two sons, Brian Patrick Herbert (b. June 29, 1947, Seattle, Washington) and Bruce Calvin Herbert (b. June 26, 1951, Santa Rosa, California d. June 15, 1993, San Rafael, California, a gay rights activist who died of AIDS). In 1949 Herbert and his wife moved to California to work on the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Here they befriended the psychologists Ralph and Irene Slattery who introduced Herbert to several thinkers including Freud, Jung, Jaspers and Heidegger; who familiarized Herbert with Zen Buddhism and also influenced his writing.

After failing to graduate from University He returned to journalism and worked at the Seattle Star and the Oregon Statesman. He was a writer and editor for the San Francisco Examiner’s California Living magazine for a decade. Herbert also started reading science fiction, his favourite authors were H. G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson and Jack Vance and His first science fiction story, “Looking for Something”, was published in the April 1952 edition of Startling Stories. In 1954 He wrote three more for Astounding Science Fiction and Amazing Stories and In 1955 he published Under Pressure in Astounding Science Fiction which was issued as The Dragon in the Sea, and explored sanity and madness in the environment of a 21st-century submarine and predicted worldwide conflicts over oil consumption and production. Herbert also worked as a speechwriter for Republican senator Guy Cordon.

In 1959 Herbert began researching for the epic novel Dune. The idea originated from a magazine article he wrote on the Oregon Dunes near Florence, Oregon which gradually evolved into the novel Dune, which was eventually completed after six years of research. The magazine Analog published it in two parts “Dune World” and “Prophet of Dune”. After being revised it was eventually published in hardback by the Chilton Book Company and became a critical success winning the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and sharing the Hugo Award in 1966 with …And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny. Dune was the first major ecological science fiction novel, which embraced a multitude of sweeping, inter-related themes and multiple character viewpoints in the story.

From 1969 until 1972 Herbert worked as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s education writer and lectured in general studies and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Washington (1970–1972). He also worked in Vietnam and Pakistan as social and ecological consultant in 1972 and was director-photographer of the television show The Tillers. By 1972, Herbert retired from newspaper writing and became a full-time fiction writer enjoying considerable commercial success. He divided his time between homes in Hawaii and Washington’s Olympic Peninsula; his home in Port Townsend, which was intended to be an “ecological demonstration project” where he wrote numerous books and pushed ecological and philosophical ideas. He also continued his Dune saga, following it with Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God Emperor of Dune. Other highlights were The Dosadi Experiment, The Godmakers, The White Plague and the books he wrote in partnership with Bill Ransom: The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor which were sequels to Destination: Void. He also helped launch the career of Terry Brooks with a very positive review of Brooks’ first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. In October 1978 Herbert was the featured speaker at the Octocon II science fiction convention at the El Rancho Tropicana in Santa Rosa, California. In 1979, he met anthropologist James Funaro and they created the Contact Conference. Sadly in 1984, his wife of 38 years Beverly Herbert died,

Heretics of Dune was published in 1984 and David Lynch’s film version of Dune was also released in 1984 with an A-list cast including Kyle Maclachlan, Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart and Sting and a big budget becoming a critical and commercial success in Europe and Japan. After Beverly’s death, Herbert married Theresa Shackleford in 1985, and also published Chapterhouse: Dune, which tied up many of the saga’s story threads. His final novels the anthology Eye was published that year, and Man of Two Worlds was published posthumously in 1986 after Herbert sadly died of a massive pulmonary embolism while recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer on February 11, 1986 in Madison, Wisconsin age 65. However His legacy lives on and he has influenced many authors and film-makers and his epic Dune novels remain popular. Beginning in 2012, Herbert’s estate and WordFire Press have released four previously unpublished novels in e-book and paperback formats: High-Opp (2012),Angels’ Fall (2013),A Game of Authors (2013), and A Thorn in the Bush (2014).

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