Herbert, Brian 1947-
Herbert, Brian 1947-
Born June 29, 1947, in Seattle, WA; son of Frank P. (a writer) and Beverly A. (an advertising copywriter) Herbert; married; wife's name Janet, August 23, 1967; children: Julie, Kimberly, Margaux. Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1968.
Home and office—Bainbridge Island, WA. Agent—Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group, 41 Madison Ave., 36th Fl., New York, NY 10010.
Writer. Crowell Collier McMillan (book publisher), San Rafael and Stockton, CA, sales manager, 1966; Fireman's Fund America (insurance company), San Francisco, CA, and Seattle, WA, underwriter, 1968-73; Insurance Co. of North America, Seattle, underwriter, 1973-77; Stanley Scott & Co. (insurance brokerage), Seattle, broker, 1977-84; writer. Has also worked as inventor, carpenter, job printer, catalog sales person, and import shop owner.
Science Fiction Writers of America, National Writers Club, Planetary Society, L-5 Society.
Nebula Award nomination for best novel from Science Fiction Writers of America, 1990, for The Race for God; nominated for Hugo Award for Best Related Book, 2004, for Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert.
Sidney's Comet, Berkley (New York, NY), 1983.
The Garbage Chronicles, Berkley (New York, NY), 1985.
Sudanna, Sudanna, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1985.
(With father, Frank Herbert) Man of Two Worlds, Putnam (New York, NY), 1986.
Prisoners of Arionn, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1987.
(Editor) The Notebooks of Dune, Perigee Books (New York, NY), 1988.
The Race for God, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Marie Landis) Memorymakers, Penguin/Roc Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(Editor) Never as It Seems, 1992.
(With Marie Landis) Blood on the Sun, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: House Atreides, Bantam (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: House Harkonnen, Bantam (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: House Corrino, Bantam (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: The Machine Crusade, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Dune: The Battle of Corrin, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Frank Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson) The Road to Dune, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.
Hunters of Dune, Tor (New York, NY), 2006.
Timeweb: Book 1, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2006.
(With Kevin J. Anderson) Sandworms of Dune, Tor (New York, NY), 2007.
The Web and the Stars: Book 2 of the Timeweb Chronicles, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2007.
Classic Comebacks (humor), Price, Stern (Los Angeles, CA), 1981.
Incredible Insurance Claims (humor), Price, Stern (Los Angeles, CA), 1982.
(Editor) Songs of Muad'dib: Poems and Songs from Frank Herbert's Dune Series and His Other Writings, Ace (New York, NY), 1992.
Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
The Forgotten Heroes: The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of Dune Concordance.
Brian Herbert grew up in the shadow of his late father, Frank Herbert, who created the epic "Dune" science fiction series. Brian Herbert has managed to carry on his father's legacy by collaborating with Kevin J. Anderson to add more books to the "Dune" canon; he has also established a reputation of his own by writing science fiction with a satirical edge. His first books were nonfiction volumes based, he told CA, "upon humor files, which I kept at work in order to maintain my sanity while working for huge companies." His novels show a certain comic aspect as well. In his first, Sidney's Comet, an enormous "comet" composed of human garbage dumped in space is returned by higher powers. Herbert told CA that the book "is loosely biographical, based upon my work experiences in bureaucratic organizations, with a satirical and humorous point of view. It deals with people lost in huge organizations and with handicapped persons, who are discarded by society like garbage. While I am not handicapped, the hero of the story is. The Garbage Chronicles is a sequel to this book."
Sudanna, Sudanna depicts the inhabitants of a peanut-shaped planetoid, who for millennia have been controlled by a tiny computer and its holographic police force by means of countless strict rules. It is "a witty look at repression and the urge for individual freedom," assessed Larry Brown in the Rocky Mountain News. Reviewing the novel in People, Ned Geeslin noted the differences between Herbert and his famous father, notably Brian's black humor, and judged the younger Herbert a "expert at combining the exotic and the familiar into a believable fictional landscape peopled by characters we can sympathize with, however alien they first appear." Herbert commented that this novel, like his previous novels, is also "a social satire, as I tend to draw upon my sociology education."
In Man of Two Worlds father and son combine their talents to produce what a West Coast Review of Books critic deemed "a book to treasure." Character types and other elements familiar from Frank Herbert's writings reappear in a tongue-in-cheek look at human-alien relations, where the humans are the product of alien imagination come to life. The Herberts "are not content with merely displaying a clever idea," observed Ben Bova in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. "They show that the humans in the Dreens' story of Earth take over their own destiny and begin to shape the destiny of [the planet] Dreenor itself. The creatures begin to define the creators." A West Coast Review of Books critic called Man of Two Worlds "delightful," and stated: "A better example of a science fiction novel that pokes fun at the genre's more well-worn conventions without ever becoming unfriendly about it would be difficult to find." The collaboration was Frank Herbert's last book.
Prisoners of Arionn focuses on the reactions of California's Bay Area residents when their section of the country is uprooted and enclosed by aliens for transport to a distant planet. One family in particular has its hands full staying sane under the circumstances: a psychotic mother, only under control when she remembers to take her medicine; a father who works three jobs and doesn't notice when the children are hungry; a controlling grandmother who becomes acting mayor; and an eleven-year-old daughter who tries to hold the family together. Described as a "novel of character" by Gerald Jonas in the New York Times Book Review, the book is an "unforgettable [guide] to a world gone awry in more ways than one." Some reviewers criticized the work for underdeveloped ideas, a patchy plot, and some weaknesses in characterization, but they also recommended it. According to Fantasy Review contributor Peter Brigg, "Herbert is actually creating a new mode," noting that the book is "between pop culture and sf; warmth and reality show through the awkwardnesses and flood a vividly imagined, confusing future." In Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, Tom Easton wrote that even with its faults, the book was "much better than [Sudanna, Sudanna] … Herbert remains as satirical as ever, but he has much more control over his material."
Herbert once commented in CA that his novel The Race for God "came from my concern over the long history of religious conflict in human history. Frankly, I'm angry about it and quite disappointed in human nature. Mankind, it seems, is capable of the highest, most exalted achievements and, at the other extreme, the most base, vile, selfish behavior imaginable. I see religious conflict in the latter category. People are too anxious to find differences between other people, cultures, and religions. The underlying message of The Race for God is this: Respect the beliefs of other people. Try to understand them. Reach out to them. Look for similarities, areas of agreement. If the various religions do not get along, if they do not end the senseless squabbling and killing, this planet will not survive. This is not merely a political/philosophical/historical message; it is an ecological message. War is a terrible polluter, ravaging the planet and its people, leaving only desolation, death, and despair. According to United Nations statistics, more than 150,000 people have died in a number of recent wars. Of that number, forty percent were civilians. Of the civilians, tragically, most were children. The welfare of children is a major concern of mine and is another reason I wrote The Race for God."
Herbert took on a daunting project when he agreed to work with Kevin J. Anderson, a best-selling science-fiction author, on a series of books set in the universe of Dune. Herbert had previously been approached by other authors who wanted to add to his father's canon of books, but never felt that the timing or chemistry was right. With Anderson, Herbert felt an instant sense of understanding. Shortly after agreeing to work with him, Herbert also found a safe-deposit box of his father's that had been missing for eleven years. It contained the elder Herbert's notes for a seventh volume in the "Dune" series, as well as several working manuscripts for Dune stories.
Rather than plunging into the climax of Frank Herbert's "Dune" saga, the collaborators started work on a story that took place before the original novel. The complex rivalries that take place in the Dune universe are carefully set up in Dune: House Atreides, Dune: House Harkonnen, and Dune: House Corrino. These novels were well received by reviewers and the reading public. A Publishers Weekly writer praised Herbert and Anderson for "admirably" meeting the challenge of continuing the Dune universe and noted that Dune: House Atreides stands on its own: "Though the plot here is intricate, even readers new to the saga will be able to follow it easily." The reviewer added: "The attendant excitement and myriad revelations not only make this novel a terrific read in its own right but will inspire readers to turn, or return, to its great predecessor." Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada also lauded Herbert and Anderson for their success "in capturing the epic feel and realistic detail that characterized Dune." Dune: House Harkonnen prompted Roberta Johnson to write in Booklist: "Despite its huge cast and complex story, the second ‘Dune’ series is proving to be exceptionally accessible and entertaining," and Cassada in another Library Journal review noted the book's "strong characterizations, consistent plotting, and rich detail."
Herbert and Anderson have continued using Frank Herbert's notes and their own imaginations to expand the "Dune" saga. In their fourth collaboration in the series, titled Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Herbert and Anderson explore the human struggles with machines that ultimately created the Dune world. Going ten thousand years back, the story finds most of humanity as slaves under the rule of Ominus, a machine that duplicated itself and created a robot army. In one of the last human strongholds, Xavier Harkonnen makes plans to do battle with the machines while various other characters fill out the plot of this prequel to Dune. Robert Johnson, writing in Booklist, noted that the authors "begin to reconstruct the galaxywide events that eventuated in the highly specialized societies of the ‘Dune’ novels." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the novel had "ideas aplenty." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a contributor commented: "Throughout, key revelations regarding the Zensunni Wanderers and their fight for freedom and other historical Dune elements lend an air of discovery to this fast-paced tale." Cassada, writing in Library Journal, called the novel a "compelling saga of men and women struggling for their freedom."
Dune: The Machine Crusade continues the exploration of the "Dune" universe. This time, Herbert and Anderson present Harkonnen and Vorian Atriedes leading the Army of the Jihad against the machines. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Despite the flaws, ‘Dune’ fans will still enjoy the sweeping philosophical power that surfaces, invoking the senior Herbert's remarkable vision." Roberta Johnson, writing in Booklist, commented: "Organizing a dozen plotlines takes time, so sit back and enjoy the nearly 700-page ride." In a review in the Library Journal, Cassada referred to "the authors' richness of detail and fidelity to the spirit of the original novel."
The Army of the Jihad appears to be close to winning their battle with the machines in Dune: The Battle of Corrin. However, the lead machine Omnius has one last, desperate plan that involves wiping out humans via biological warfare. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, commented that the authors "vividly depict the plagues' effects." He noted that the book presents a clear understanding of the various motivations that drive the characters in the original Dune and concluded that this book is, "as before, a job well done."
Herbert and Anderson also collaborated on The Road to Dune, which includes an alternate novel (Spice Planet) based on Frank Herbert's original notes for Dune, letters between Frank Herbert and his editor, and the original article by Frank Herbert that inspired the creation of Dune. In addition, it contains short stories in the Dune universe written by Herbert and Anderson and unused chapters from Dune and Dune Messiah. In his review of the book for Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation, Jonathan Cowie mentioned that the duo's short stories "sit a little uneasily … within the collection and might better … [have] been more appropriately published in a separate work." He later added that overall "there is much within The Road to Dune that Dune aficionados will derive benefit. Indeed those who read SF for more than passing enjoyment of individual works … will welcome this collection and the effort that Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have made to realise this volume."
Herbert is also author of Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, in which the author chronicles his father's life, from his tough time as a boy, to his failed first marriage, his struggles to become a successful writer, and his ultimate success with his science fiction masterpiece Dune. The biography includes numerous family photos and a bibliography. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Dreamer of Dune as "a fascinating picture of this furiously energetic, driven, determined, sometimes childlike genius." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "This moving, sometimes painfully obsessive biography is an impressive testament of family loyalty and love. A must-read for Herbert fans."
In another departure from science fiction, The Forgotten Heroes: The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine, Herbert provides a historical look that honors the work of the Merchant Marines. Herbert's own father was a veteran of the Merchant Marines, and the author provides an in-depth look at this group's efforts and achievements during World War II. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "convincingly renders the merchant marine's wartime service as a triumph of production, persistence, and heroism." History: Review of New Books contributor Allan Arnold wrote: "The account of merchant mariners' heroism in World War II has been told many times before, but Herbert, having only recently learned about it, writes about it with great passion, and general readers who are unfamiliar with the subject will likely be moved to sympathy."
Herbert began a new series with Timeweb: Book 1, in which he presents a story of environmental activists in space who seek to save planets plundered by various intergalactic merchants. In her review in the Library Journal, Cassada noted that the author shows his "skill as a convincing storyteller with a talent for creating intriguing alien species and admirable heroes."
The Web and the Stars: Book 2 of the Timeweb Chronicles is Herbert's 2007 sequel to Timeweb. In Harriet Klausner's Review Archive, Klausner called the book an "interesting space opera focusing on a galactic war between two economic giants while the environment that enables interstellar travel is disintegrating." If the Timeweb (which makes interstellar travel possible) continues to corrode, ultimately, the galaxy (and everything in it) will perish. Interstellar travel is provided by the Aopoddae (better known as pods or podships)—sentient organisms controlled by the Parvii race. Humans are killing podships in their war with the Mutatis, which prompts the leader of the Parviis—Woldn, the Eye of the Swarm—to cease all travel among the Human and Mutati worlds, dumping all Human and Mutati cargo and passengers into space. The podships were destroyed by order of Noah Watanabe, a Human seeking to save the remaining Human worlds being destroyed by the Mutatis. Noah also seeks to save the Timeweb and galaxy from destruction.
In her review of the book for SciFi.com, Cynthia Ward maintained that "Herbert weaves his plots and counterplots skillfully." She also concluded that his prose, however, is "less skillful. Prosaic and stiff, it slows readers down and sometimes trips them up." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that, although the pace improves in the second half of the book, "ideas are spread too thin and most characters drawn too broadly." On the other hand, a Library Journal critic praised the book's "believable alien and human characters and a vividly imagined far future." "With its Demolio superbombs, transluminal podships and galactic-expressway Timeweb, The Web and the Stars features no SF extrapolations that would surprise an SF reader of 1965, the year of Dune's debut, or an SF-media fan of 2007. For print-SF newbies without prose sensitivities, The Web and the Stars is an accessible, enjoyable novel," contended Ward.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, mid-December, 1987, Tom Easton, review of Prisoners of Arionn.
Booklist, August 19, 1999, Roberta Johnson, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 1987; August, 2000, Roberta Johnson, review of Dune: House Harkonnen, p. 2074; August, 2002, Roberta Johnson, review of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, p. 1886; February 15, 2003, Roberta Johnson, review of Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, p. 1032; August, 2003, Roberta Johnson, review of Dune: The Machine Crusade, p. 1925; May 1, 2004, Roland Green, review of The Forgotten Heroes: The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine, p. 1529; August, 2004, Roland Green, review of Dune: The Battle of Corrin, p. 1871.
Bookseller, December 9, 2005, review of The Road to Dune, p. 35.
Fantasy Review, July-August, 1987, Peter Brigg, review of Prisoners of Arionn.
History: Review of New Books, fall, 2004, Allan Arnold, review of The Forgotten Heroes, p. 11.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1999, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 1180; July 15, 2002, review of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, p. 1000; January 15, 2003, review of Dreamer of Dune, p. 126.
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 109; January, 2000, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 51; June 1, 2000, Barry X. Miller, review of audio version of Dune: House Atreides, p. 228; September 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Dune: House Harkonnen, p. 118; September 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, p. 96; March 15, 2003, Roger Berger, review of Dreamer of Dune, p. 84; September 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Dune: The Machine Crusade, p. 95; March 15, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Timeweb: Book 1, p. 67; December 1, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of The Web and the Stars: Book 2 of the Timeweb Chronicles, p. 105.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 11, 1986, Ben Bova, review of Man of Two Worlds.
Military Review, July-August, 2005, Richard L. Milligan, review of The Forgotten Heroes, p. 103.
New York Times Book Review, August 2, 1987, Gerald Jonas, review of Prisoners of Arionn.
People, May 6, 1985, Ned Geeslin review of Sudanna, Sudanna.
Publishers Weekly, November 17, 1997, Judy Quinn, "Bantam Pays $3m for ‘Dune’ Prequels by Herbert's Son," p. 11; August 30, 1999, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 57; September 9, 2002, review of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, p. 47; February 10, 2003, review of Dreamer of Dune, p. 166; February 10, 2003, Melissa Mia Hall, "Legacy of a Dune Dreamer," interview with author, p. 167; August 11, 2003, review of Dune: The Machine Crusade, p. 262; September 24, 2007, review of The Web and the Stars, p. 48.
Rocky Mountain News, June 3, 1985, Larry Brown, review of Sudanna, Sudanna.
Wall Street Journal (central edition), October 8, 1999, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. W10.
Washington Post Book World, January 23, 2000, review of Dune: House Atreides, p. 13.
West Coast Review of Books, Volume 12, number 5, 1987, review of Man of Two Worlds.
Dragoncon,http://www.dragoncon.org/ (December 5, 2000), "Brian Herbert."
Dune: The Official Web Site,http://www.dunenovels.com/ (August 3, 2001).
Harriet Klausner's Review Archive,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (March 7, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of Dreamer of Dune.
January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (December 4, 2000), Linda Richards, "The Sons of Dune: An Interview with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson."
Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation,http://www.concatenation.org/ (March 7, 2008), Jonathan Cowie, review of The Road to Dune.
SciFi.com,http://www.scifi.com/ (December 12, 2007), Cynthia Ward, review of The Web and the Stars: Book 2 of The Timeweb Chronicles; (March 7, 2008), Byron Merritt, "Brian Herbert Looks Back at the Legacy of His Father in Dreamer of Dune."
Seattle Times.com,http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ (October 5, 1999), William Tuttle, "Herbert's Son Expands the ‘Dune’ Universe."
Space.com,http://www.space.com/ (July 31, 1999), Michele Rosen, "An Interview with Brian Herbert."