DUNE 7 BLOG
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame
Book signing with (l to r), Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Elizabeth Anne Scrborough (hiding), Paul Park, Brian, Kevin, and Connie Willis.
Kevin and Brian with DUNE and CHILDREN OF DUNE producer, Richard Rubinstein
Bill Ransom and wife Jill.
Kevin, Frank Herbert's sister Pat, Brian, and Jan.
-- Photos by Byron Merritt
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame
On Saturday, June 17, Frank Herbert was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame at a special ceremony held in the Science Fiction Museum, just beneath the Space Needle in Seattle.
Rebecca and I flew up for the event, and many members of Frank Herbert's family also attended, including Brian and his wife Jan, their daughters Kim and Julie, and Penny's son Byron (who is in charge of the Dunenovels message board), as well as Frank Herbert's sister Pat. Bill Ransom and his wife Jill were also there, and as our special guest Richard Rubinstein -- the producer of the DUNE and CHILDREN OF DUNE miniseries -- also came for the event.
On Saturday afternoon, Brian and I did a book signing in the Science Fiction Museum alongside Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Elizabeth Anne Scarborough, Paul Park, Connie Willis, and Neil Gaiman. Later, we went to dinner with Richard Rubinstein, then arrived back at the museum for the main event.
Neil Gaiman, of SANDMAN fame, was the toastmaster. Other Hall of Fame inductees that evening were legendary SF artist Frank Kelly Freas, George Lucas, and Anne McCaffrey.
I was asked to give a speech and present the award to Brian, on behalf of the Herbert family. Accepting the honor, Brian gave a great talk filled with anecdotes from Frank Herbert's life.
The following is the text of my speech.
I was told to keep this brief, 2 - 3 minutes, to talk about Frank Herbert -- a man whose DUNE Chronicles span 2500 pages. In fact, it was the very size and scope of the original DUNE that caused Frank Herbert so many problems. At the time, nobody had ever heard of a science fiction novel more than 500 pages long! Nearly twenty publishers rejected it. One said "Nobody can seem to get through the first 100 pages without being confused and irritated." Others cited "wearying conversations," "bursts of melodrama," and the sheer size of the material. One visionary editor -- but not visionary ENOUGH -- said, "It is just possible that we may be making the mistake of the decade in declining Dune by Frank Herbert."
When digging through Frank's papers, Brian Herbert and I found his original outline for something called "Spice Planet," which was a science fiction adventure, a skinny book, about two rival families trying to harvest valuable "spice" on a desert planet while fighting sandstorms and giant worms. Ironically, if Frank had written that novel, he probably could have gotten it published without any difficulty. But he knew he had something more.
Frank Herbert was one of the first to see the real potential in science fiction -- that it could be more than just a space adventure, but could address issues of religion and philosophy, ecology, economics, addiction, monopolies, and complicated politics. He persevered. He wrote to his agent, "This is going to be a salable property. I can feel in my bones that Dune is going to be a money maker for whoever publishes it."
It was -- the resulting book is now the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. Frank's CHILDREN OF DUNE -- edited by David Hartwell -- was the first SF novel ever to hit the New York Times bestseller list.
But for those of you who associate Frank Herbert only with DUNE, you are missing out on some epic masterpieces. Frank also wrote mind-blowing classics such as HELLSTROM'S HIVE, THE WHITE PLAGUE, THE GREEN BRAIN, and THE JESUS INCIDENT with Bill Ransom, to name but a few.
He was a man with ideas as big as the universes he created.
I never met Frank Herbert. I know him only vicariously through his novels and by the Hugo-nominated biography DREAMER OF DUNE, written by Brian Herbert (someone who purportedly knew the man) and by working directly with so many of his notes and manuscripts. It has been my greatest honor to play in that sandbox with his son Brian, and I am very pleased to be here to help induct Frank Herbert into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
Copyright 2007 The Herbert Limited Partnership