I must admit that I am more than a bit curious to see the latest film version of the sci-fi classic Dune. Although David Lynch’s Dune is regularly panned, I enjoyed it with some reservations when it was first in theaters.
My first exposure to Frank Herbert’s long running saga was courtesy of my local library. I remember borrowing a well-worn copy of the first edition pictured above. And, although I thought that the series was initially brilliant, by book five of the original Frank Herbert books I lost interest.
For the uninitiated, the Dune saga was launched in 1965 when American writer Frank Herbert published Dune. The bestselling novel, set far in the future where intelligent computers have been banned, won the inaugural Nebula Award for best novel in 1965 and the 1966 Hugo Award.
When Frank Herbert died in 1986, his son Brian took over the series, co-writing prequels and sequels with Kevin J Anderson. The franchise is active with Brian Herbert and Anderson regularly releasing new books. Still, the original six books by Frank Herbert remain at the core of the Dune experience for most fans. The books in reading order are, Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), God Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984), and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985).
The Dune saga revolves around the spice melange, which is only found on the desert planet of Arrakis. Melange is a drug that lengthens life, heightens awareness, unlocks visions of the future and facilitates interstellar space travel. However, it is guarded by massive sandworms in a barren desert-style landscape.
Frank Herbert’s challenges in getting the original novel published are worthy of a book in themselves. After rejections from more than twenty publishers, Dune was finally picked up by Chilton Books which was known primarily for publishing car repair manuals for home mechanics.
Over the years, I’ve run across some later printings of the book’s first edition, but nothing that would fetch the $15,000 that first editions of Dune are getting these days.