Spotlight – Frank Herbert Jr.

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Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken. – Frank Herbert

I remember as a senior in high school my English teacher, Mr. Mitchell, had us read the science fiction novel, Dune, by Frank Patrick Herbert, Jr.  When the teacher handed me my copy of the book my first reaction to it was how thick the darn thing was and we only had three weeks to read it!  I could have done in three days! It was that enthralling.

Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides. In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides displacing his sworn enemies, The Harkonnens. They take back their kingdom by force and, it is up to Paul to lead the natives of Arrakis in a battle for control of the planet and its spice. It is classic science fiction and won a Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Frank Herbert Jr. - Author of DuneDune’s author, Frank Herbert, is another story. Though he became famous for science fiction, he was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, short-story writer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer. Because of a poor home environment, he ran away in 1938 to live with an aunt and uncle in Salem, Oregon. In 1939 he lied about his age to get his first newspaper job at the Glendale Star. Herbert then returned to Salem in 1940 where he worked for the Oregon Statesman newspaper (now The Statesman Journal).  He began writing short-stories for science pulp magazines in 1952 and never looked back.  

Herbert began researching Dune in 1959.  The novel originated while writing a magazine article on the Dunes of Florence, Oregon. He became too involved and ended up with more raw material than he needed. Also, the article was never written but did plant the seed that led to Dune. In all, Dune took six years of research and writing to complete. The book was much longer than any commercial science fiction of the time and, it was rejected by nearly twenty book publishers. One editor prophetically wrote, “I might be making the mistake of the decade, but …”

The Chilton Book Company (known mainly for its auto-repair manuals) offered a $7,500.00 advance plus future royalties for the rights to publish the book. The rest is history. Frank went on to pen five total books based on Dune and each was a classic in its own right. Frank passed away in Madison Wisconsin in 1986.

This Week’s Podcast:

On the podcast this week we have three classic tales. A short story from the author of the Dune Series of novels, A true-crime tale from Scotland Yard and a listener’s tale about his foster grandmother. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.

The Calendar:

November 02 – David Larsen’s Marionette (HE #19)
November 09 – Old Rambling House (RAS #303)
November 16 – Suspense Week – (RAS #304)
November 23 – Thanksgiving Podcast Replay
November 30 – (RAS #305)

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