Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Uses/Abuses of Power and Foresight

As a break from curriculum writing, I’m reading my favorite sci-fi book: Dune by Frank Herbert. I’ve read it a few times, so I decided to do something a little different. So I’m noting passages that deal with dynamics of power in multiple fields (politics, economics, religion, technology, thinking abilities, etc.). He also has a most intriguing take on chaos, consequences, and the potential shapes of the future. These are worth exploring more in depth, and I’m really gonna just do it.

Frank Herbert had an amazing grasp on the complex nuances of power dynamics, as he shows by how he has them play out in their multifaceted forms in “the Duniverse.” During a number of interviews in the 1960s through ‘80s, he stated that didn’t believe that power was merely a corrupting force, as in Lord Acton’s maxim that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Instead, according to Herbert, “Power is a magnet that draws the corruptible.” The entire Dune series shows how that principle plays out, to the max, and how generations and nations and schools of thought pass on a lust for power and the machinations thereof to those who follow them.

Meanwhile, I’m also noting passages in Dune on the practice of “prescience” by Paul and Jessica Atreides, and others, mostly from the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. These passages give a fascinating portal into Herbert’s perspective on destiny, determinism, free will, uncertainty, intended and unintended consequences, plausibility and possibility, etc. These aspects of systems thinking were also core subjects in what would eventually become known as strategic foresight or futurist studies. And, since one of the goals of my curriculum is to equip Kingdom enterprise futurists, I find Herbert’s mid-1960s “prophetic” take on foresight to be fascinating.

So, I decided to reward myself when I finally get my curriculum edited, and read the entire Dune series – including all prequels and sequels – in chronological order to see else I might pick up on the topics of uses/abuses of power and of foresight. Should be fun, both for the inherent interest and because it means I’ll be done with the project I started in 1991!

And to get ready for that happy day, I am preparing now, by putting together my reading list. And here it is.

Reader’s Chronological Guide to the Worlds of Frank Herbert’s Dune

The following list puts all books and short stories in the universe of Dune into chronological order, as best as possible. I started with the chronology and various trilogy/series titles found on the official Dune novels website and then added other specific details and versions into the chronology. So, this reader’s guide includes prequels and sequels to Frank Herbert’s original six-book series, as well as “inquels” (additional stories and deleted scenes that coincide with the timeline of an existing novel) and “midquels” (additional stories and novels that bridge the timelines found in two novels). Sometimes there are different descriptions available for the short stories, and it is difficult to determine whether a particular story should be viewed as an inquel or midquel, so those designations on short stories are still tentative until I can get the entire Duniverse read in order.

Short stories are found in quotation marks. Novels are in italics. The six novels and few additional stories by Frank Herbert himself are so noted. All other items written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Most links are to hardcover editions available on Amazon. For used copies, and especially out-of-print items, also check abebooks.

The Dune Saga

Series in the *Dune* Saga

1. Legends of Dune Trilogy

Dune Saga ~ Legends of Dune

“Hunting Harkonnens” – short story prequel to The Butlerian Jihad, found in The Road to Dune and also issued as a separate giveaway “chapbook” (booklet).

The Butlerian Jihad

“Whipping Mek” – a midquel short story that bridges The Butlerian Jihad and The Machine Crusade, found in The Road to Dune and also as a separate giveaway “chapbook” (booklet). Some of the chapbooks were issued with an audiobook CD of the story, and I have found both versions available on abebooks.

The Machine Crusade

“The Faces of a Martyr” – midquel short story that bridges The Machine Crusade and The Battle of Corrin, found in The Road to Dune.

The Battle of Corrin

2. Great Schools of Dune Series

Dune Saga ~ Great Schools of Dune

This series is currently in process, focusing on the roots of the Bene Gesserit, Mentats, Suk Doctors, Spacing Guild and Navigators, and Corrino Imperium. The storylines for this series (currently planned as a trilogy) begin 80 years after the Battle of Corrin.

[Update September 2011: I just acquired a Dune Novels newsletter distributed at ComiCon 2011. It gives a chronological reading guide to the various novels (but excludes the available short stories). The list in this newsletter’s catalog gives the most recent list of topics and confirms titles for the “Great Schools of Dune” trilogy. I have noted those below, but left some of my previous notes that may indicate other materials that may eventually appear.]

The Sisterhood of Dune – according to the Dune Novel site, release date is March 2012.

Mentats of Dune – in the process of plotting; set to be the next novel after The Sisterhood of Dune.

Navigators of Dune – no notes available yet on the status of this novel, other than that it is planned as the third in the Great Schools trilogy.

Earlier internet websites and forums suggested that this might be a series, and not just a trilogy. One specific title that was noted was, The Swordmasters of Dune. This appears to have been dropped, and replaced by Navigators of Dune.

3. House Trilogy

Dune Saga ~ House Trilogy

House Atreides. Be sure to note the separate afterwords by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Brian describes the finding of his father’s files of Dune character sketches, original notes, story outlines, etc., and Kevin describes his connections with the Dune series as a reader and how he became a co-author with Brian.

House Harkonnen

House Corrino

4. Dune Chronicles [“Classic Dune”] and Heroes of Dune

The label “Dune Chronicles” has been applied to the six novels written by Frank Herbert, and it is one he used himself on occasion, such as in his foreword to The Dune Encyclopedia, which was compiled by his friend, Dr. Willis, McNelly.

The “Heroes of Dune” series by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson focuses on midquels that bridge the volumes of the “Dune Chronicles.” Their series was originally set to be a quadrology, including The Throne of Dune, which was originally titled Irulan of Dune; and a fourth volume, Leto of Dune, which was provisionally titled The Golden Path of Dune, but was ultimately cancelled.

There are so many pieces to this series that I’ve split the visuals into three parts.

Dune Saga ~ Dune Chronicles and Heroes of Dune ~ Part 1

Dune by Frank Herbert. If possible, I’d recommend getting the Dune 40th Anniversary Edition, which has an afterword article by Brian Herbert. You might prefer The Illustrated Dune, with color and black-and-white artwork by John Schoenherr, who did the original series of cover art for Frank Herbert’s “Dune Chronicles” series.

Deleted scenes and chapters (inquels) from Dune are found in The Road to Dune. These were edited from the original short-story versions that were serialized in the renown Analog science fiction magazine.

“Wedding Silk” is an inquel short story that takes place during the timespan of Dune, and found in Tales of Dune (which is available only in a Kindle edition). Two additional short stories in this book appear to also be inquels for Dune. These are “Dune: Blood and Water” and “Dune: Fremen Justice.”

“A Whisper of Caladan Seas” (Short-Story, takes place during ‘Dune’) – found in The Road to Dune.

“The Road to Dune” is a short story by Frank Herbert found in a book of his collected stories called Eye. This is not the same as the book, The Road to Dune. This short story is presented as a sampling from “walking tour” written for visitors to Arrakis, with most illustrations by Jim Burns.

Dune Saga ~ Dune Chronicles and Heroes of Dune ~ Part 2

Paul of Dune serves as a midquel that bridges the events of Dune and Dune Messiah. This is volume #1 in the Heroes of Dune series.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert.

Deleted scenes and chapters from Dune Messiah (inquels) are found in The Road to Dune. These were edited from the original short-story versions that were serialized in the Analog science fiction magazine.

The Winds of Dune (originally titled Jessica of Dune) serves as a midquel that bridges the events of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. This is volume #2 in the Heroes of Dune series.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert.

Dune Saga ~ Dune Chronicles and Heroes of Dune ~ Part 3

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert.

Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert.

Chapterhouse Dune by Frank Herbert.

“Sea Child” and “Treasure in the Sand” – short stories for Chapterhouse Dune, found in Tales of Dune (which is available only in a Kindle edition).

5. The Grand Finale [i.e., Dune 7]

Dune Saga ~ The Grand Finale

This final duology that completes Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles was written by Brain Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson from “Dune 7” notes left by Frank Herbert himself.

Hunters of Dune.

Sandworms of Dune.

Other Dune Resources

Dune Saga ~ Other Resources

Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert by Brian Herbert. This biography took Brian five years to complete, and it offers a wealth of background details.

The Road to Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson includes correspondence that led to the publishing of Dune, and many deletions and rough draft versions of material from Dune Trilogy #1. They also wrote an extended two-part story, “Spice Planet,” based on one of Frank Herbert’s earliest drafts of what eventually became the story of Dune.

Dune: An interview with Frank Herbert and David Lynch – cassette tape, with some great material from Frank Herbert on his views about power. From the description on the cover: “Author Frank Herbert and film director David lynch discuss the making of “Dune,” the motion picture, followed by Frank Herbert’s dialogue on beliefs, values, and his writing.” [Added October 26, 2015: This interview is also available online via YouTube, split into four parts: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.]

Chaos Theory, Asimov’s Foundations and Robots, and Herbert’s Dune: The Fractal Aesthetic of Epic Science Fiction by Donald E. Palumbo. A very expensive and hard-to-find volume, but full of VERY intriguing material! From the publisher’s website: “Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert remain two of the most popular and influential science fiction writers of the 20th century. Each is a master structuralist whose works succeed in large part through the careful mirroring of concepts at every narrative level. While the fiction of Herbert and Asimov has attracted scholarly attention, science itself is a crucial element that is almost completely ignored in critical assessments of science fiction as literature. Because the works of Asimov and Herbert are grounded in scientific premises, an appreciation of their literary structure depends on an understanding of the scientific concepts informing them. This book examines Herbert’s Dune series and Asimov’s Foundation trilogy and robot stories from the perspective of chaos theory to elucidate the structure of their works.

“Chaos theory is the study of orderly patterns in turbulent, dynamic, or erratic systems. The order of these systems stems from the interdependence of numerous interlocking events or components. These may take the form of fractal structures, in which similar but not necessarily identical structures are replicated across the same scale and increasingly smaller scales. This book argues that in drawing upon apparently chaotic natural and scientific systems, Herbert and Asimov created fractal narrative structures in their works.”

Dune and Philosophy, edited by Jeffery Nicholas. A book of essays, with this description from the back cover: “Frank Herbert’s DUNE saga, the most widely read science-fiction story of all time and of all time to come, presents us with a cosmos in which fanaticism knows no mercy and history is made by the interplay of ruthless conspiracies. What happens when genetic manipulation creates a godlike messiah? Must the overthrow of a brutal dictatorship generate more problems than it solves? Does our reliance on valuable resources – oil or addictive spice – place us at the mercy of those who can destroy those resources? Can we resurrect the dead by rebuilding persons from a few of their bodily cells? DUNE AND PHILOSOPHY ambushes the Duniverse from all directions. Those anxiously admired or fondly hated characters – Paul Atreides, Baron Vladimir Harkkonen, Duncan Idaho, The God-Emperor Leto II, the Bene Gesserit witches – speak once more in this fearless philosophical sifting of life’s timeless questions.”

The Science of Dune: An Unauthorized Exploration into the Real Science Behind Frank Herbert’s Fictional Universe, edited by Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D. A book of essays, with this Product Description as found on on Amazon: “Delving into the world of Dune, this guide offers fascinating scientific speculation on topics including physics, chemistry, ecology, evolution, psychology, technology, and genetics. It also scrutinizes Frank Herbert’s science fiction world by asking questions such as Is the ecology of Dune realistic? Is it theoretically possible to get information from the future? Could humans really evolve as Herbert suggests? and Which of Herbert’s inventions have already come to life? This companion to the Dune series is a must-have for any fan who wants to revisit this science fiction world and explore it even further.”

The Dune Encyclopedia: The Complete Authorized Guide and Companion to Frank Herbert’s Masterpiece of the Imagination, edited by Dr. Willis McNelly. From the front cover: “Containing all the people, places, history, geography, ecology, battles, births, creatures, customs, sciences, arts, languages, background, everything that is in the books and much, much more!”

The Notebooks of Frank Herbert’s Dune. This is a book of quotations drawn from throughout the six novels in the “Dune Chronicles” written by Frank Herbert himself. The book is edited by Brian Herbert, and features illustrations by Raquel Jaramillo.