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Everyone knows Frank Herbert's Dune.
This amazing and complex epic, combining politics, religion, human evolution, and ecology, has captured the imagination of generations of readers. One of the most popular science fiction novels ever written, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, winning awards, selling millions of copies around the world. In the prophetic year of 1984, Dune was made into a motion picture directed by David Lynch, and it has recently been produced as a three-part miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel. Though he is best remembered for Dune, Frank Herbert was the author of more than twenty books at the time of his tragic death in 1986, including such classic novels as The Green Brain, The Santaroga Barrier, The White Plague and Dosadi Experiment.
Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert's eldest son, tells the provocative story of his father's extraordinary life in this honest and loving chronicle. He has also brought to light all the events in Herbert's life that would find their way into speculative fiction's greatest epic.
From his early years in Tacoma, Washington, and his education at the University of Washington, Seattle, and in the Navy, through the years of trying his hand as a TV cameraman, radio commentator, reporter, and editor of several West Coast newspaper, to the difficult years of poverty while struggling to become a published writer, Herbert worked long and hard before finding success after the publication of Dune in 1965. Brian Herbert writes about these years with a truthful intensity that brings every facet of his father's brilliant, and sometimes troubled, genius to full light.
Insightful and provocative, containing family photos never published anywhere, this absorbing biography offers Brian Herbert's unique personal perspective on one of the most enigmatic and creative talents of our time. Dreamer of Dune is a 2004 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Related Work.
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Brian Herbert, the author of numerous novels and short stories, has been critically acclaimed by leading reviewers in the United States and around the world. The eldest son of science fiction superstar Frank Herbert, he, with Kevin J. Anderson, is the author of Hellhole and continues his father’s beloved Dune series with books including The Winds of Dune, House Atreides, Sandworms of Dune, among other bestsellers. Herbert graduated from high school at age 16, and then attended U.C. Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. in Sociology. Besides an author, Herbert has been an editor, business manager, board game inventor, creative consultant for television and collectible card games, insurance agent, award-winning encyclopedia salesman, waiter, busboy, maid and a printer. He and his wife once owned a double-decker London bus, which they converted into an unusual gift shop. Herbert and his wife, Jan, have three daughters. They live in Washington state.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Adventures in Darkest Africa
Frank Herbert's paternal grandfather, Otto, was born in 1864 on a boat while coming to America from Bavaria with other immigrants. As a young man, Otto met Mary Ellen Stanley, an illiterate Kentucky hill-woman. By the turn of the century the couple was living in Cairo, Illinois, with five sons.* Otto worked as a solicitor for a steam laundry there, and subsequently on the line in a bottling works. A restless, energetic man, he began attending meetings sponsored by the Social Democracy of America. This was a socialist group, founded and led by Eugene V. Debs. The SDA had a plan to colonize certain Western states, including the state of Washington, in order to dominate the politics of those regions. Eventually they hoped to alter the moral and economic order of the entire country. But the colonization idea was steeped in controversy, and socialist leaders, including Debs himself, came to feel that it was not the most efficient utilization of people and assets on behalf of the socialist cause. Political action in the cities and mill towns would produce better results, they thought.
Still, Burley Colony in Washington State was founded in 1898 by "the Co-operative Brotherhood," an SDA splinter group that pushed forward with the colonization plan. Burley Colony was on Burley Lagoon at the head of Henderson Bay, just north of Tacoma. This was a shallow lagoon where whales were sometimes trapped when the tide went out.
The colonists were idealistic, advocating universal brotherhood, equal pay for all jobs and equal rights for women. They had mottoes like "Make way for brotherhood, make way for man" and "Do your best and be kind." They liked to say "ours" instead of "mine," and "we" instead of "I." Each colonist received broad medical insurance.
At its zenith, Burley was headquarters for an organization having 1,200 members all over the world--only a minority of whom actually lived in the commune. There were affiliated "Temples of the Knights of Brotherhood" all over the United States, including facilities in Seattle, Tacoma, Fairhaven (Washington), Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, Reno and Chicago. Contributions came in from powerful social organizations in Chicago, New York City and Rochester.
It was a short-lived colony, an experiment in socialist utopia that would last only a decade and a half. But at its height, the colony had a large church, community hall, library, schoolhouse, post office, sawmill, shingle mill, hotel and dining hall, general store, blacksmith's shop, dairy, laundry, and many other mercantile businesses. They printed a socialist newspaper and colony currency, in the form of coupons good for purchases at commune businesses. They had factories for the preserving of catsup and pickles, and a cigar factory--the largest in Washington State. The cigar factory produced Marine Cigars, selling for three to six cents apiece. They were excellent and popular, made of fine Kentucky burley tobacco, imported to the colony. Hence the colony's name: Burley. Cigar boxes and labels were produced locally as well.
Today the town of Burley, with only a few houses, a general store, a community hall and a post office, is but a shadow of its former self. Most of the buildings, including the mills, the hotel, and the cigar factory, are long gone. Many houses, built without concrete foundations, have decayed into the ground.
In 1905, Otto and Mary, now with six sons, and Otto's younger brother, Frank, took a train from Illinois across the Great Northern route to Washington State and thence through recently opened Stampede Pass to Tacoma. From Tacoma it was a short steamboat ride across the narrows to Gig Harbor, followed by a six-mile trip by horse-drawn stage to the colony through thick virgin forests. Otto and his brother each took a small government land grant just outside of Burley and set about making themselves part of the community. With his brother's assistance, Otto built a two-story log house, and ultimately the Herberts bought property inside Burley itself--land that curved around the lagoon.
Burley, called "Circle City" by locals because of the arrangement of buildings in a half-circle around an artesian well, had undergone a dramatic economic change shortly before the arrival of the Herberts. Through an amendment to the articles of incorporation of the colony, private ownership of land and industry was permitted. The Brotherhood remained in control, with profits going in equal shares to members. But this was no longer the socialist utopia originally envisioned by its founders. It was a curious amalgam of socialism and capitalism, and would last only eight more years before falling apart entirely.
But even with the departure of the Brotherhood in 1913, a community remained, with many former co-op members staying in the area. The land of this valley was dark and fertile, excellent for farming. Other former co-op members logged, operated dairies and raised poultry. For many years Burley remained the center of intellectual and social activity for the county.
There were three Frank Herberts in my family. The first, Otto's brother, eventually gave up his land near Burley and went on the circus and vaudeville circuit as "Professor Herbert," becoming a well-known performer of strongman feats, gymnastics and daredevil acts. The next Frank Herbert, known as "F. H." in ensuing years, was Otto's third son, born in December, 1893, in Ballard County, Kentucky. F. H. in turn had a son, Frank Jr., who would become my father and one of the world's best-known authors.
In Burley, Otto, Mary and their children prospered and increased family real estate holdings. For many years Otto operated a general store, "Herbert's Store." The establishment carried, in the words of an old-timer, "everything from tires to toothpicks." It had hay, grain, cow-feed, chickenfeed, clothing, medicines, dishes, hardware and most everything else imaginable, piled high to the ceiling. It was not a "green grocery," as it sold no fresh produce. The locals grew their own vegetables and fruit, and canned them. Credit slips hung on the wall behind the cash register.
Otto's sons worked with him in the store, and when they grew up they formed "Herbert Brothers," which operated the family store, a gas station, an auto and electrical repair shop, a stage line, and a logging business.
A stern, stocky little man, Otto was the undisputed ruler of his household. He named all six of his sons, and it is said that he did so without input from Mary. The boys were raised with stern "German discipline," as my father called it later, the same sort of attention he would in turn receive from his father.
* * *
At 7:30 in the morning on October 8, 1920, Frank Herbert, Jr., was born at St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma. It was his mother's nineteenth birthday, and he would often joke in later years that he never forgot her birthday.
F. H. and his wife, Eileen, were living in Tacoma at the time of their son's birth, but at every opportunity they visited Burley and the extended family there. Fond memories were formed in this little town on a lagoon, and these halcyon times would have a lasting impact upon young Frank Herbert. At the time of Frank's birth, his father was operating an auto-bus line between Tacoma and Aberdeen to the south--an offshoot of the family's successful stage line that ran between Burley and Gig Harbor.
The business became unprofitable, however, and by 1923 F. H. was working in Tacoma as an electrical equipment salesman. A stint as an automobile salesman followed. Then he became a motorcycle patrolman for the recently created Washington State Patrol. He had the "Mount Rainier beat," from East Pierce County to the base of the mountain. He was paid $30 a week.
By 1925, family trips to Burley became easier. A modern car ferry transported them from Tacoma to Gig Harbor, and from there they drove to Burley on a fine new highway for motor vehicles.
Frank's mother, Eileen Marie (Babe) Herbert, was a McCarthy. She was one of thirteen children, most of whom were girls. "They were beautiful red-haired Irish colleens," my father would tell me many years later. Babe's grandfather, the eldest son of an eldest son, was in a direct Irish royal line of succession that could have given him Blarney Castle in County Cork, which they called "Castle McCarthy."
But under British rule, such a lineage became meaningless to Babe's great-grandfather. He was an Irish Catholic rebel, operating in County Cork and elsewhere in the mid-nineteenth century. The rebels made an attempt to overthrow British rule, but police action crushed the insurrection. The McCarthys fled their homes in Ireland, just ahead of pursuing British authorities. The family went to Canada, and then to Wisconsin in the United States, where Babe was born. Her father, John A. McCarthy, was a mining engineer.
In The White Plague, a novel published by my father many years later, he wrote about one of the stories his maternal grandfather, John A. McCarthy, used to tell at the dinner table. Here is the passage from the book, with actual names substituted for fictional ones:
* * *
"All of this for seven hundred rifles!"
That had been the McCarthy family plaint during the poor times. (Frank) had never lost the memory of Grampa (John's) voice regretting the flight from Ireland. It was a story told and retold until it could be called up in total recall...The McCarthy silver, buried to keep it from piratical English tax collectors, had been dug up to finance the purchase of seven hundred rifles for a Rising. In the aftermath of defeat, Grampa (John's) father, a price on his head, had spirited the family to (Canada) under an assumed name. They had not resumed the McCarthy name until they were safely into the United States, well away from the thieving British.
* * *
Frank Herbert's earliest memory went back to 1921, when he was around a year old. He was at his Grandmother Mary's house in Burley, and he recalled walking straight under a wooden dining room table covered with a white tablecloth.
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