Thoughts Spurred by the Recovery of the Dune Encylopedia
Posted by Jason on September 3, 2010
This is a comment I originally posted on this article at tor.com. The article, in brief, points out that the incredible–and incredibly neglected–Dune Encyclopedia has emerged online. If you haven’t already, go download it now. Now! I’ll wait.
Alright. So anyway, the mention of the canonicity (or lack thereof) of the Encyclopedia set off more than a little nerd rage for me, and I spilled the below thoughts and memories. It occurs to me that I might have been a bit unfair. But then, only a bit.
I came here to say more or less what’s been said. I consider the Encyclopedia to be more canon–or at least truer to the original works–than the horrid schlock now clogging SF shelf space.
I remember that I bought House Atreides when it first appeared, and was incredibly enthused at the idea of new Dune material. I breathlessly read the introduction, with its mention of Herbert’s newfound Dune 7 notes, and became even more excited.
Then I read the rest of the book.
Even before House Harkonnen appeared in print (which, by the way, I never even wasted my time reading), I and several friends wrote letters to Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson urging them to leave well enough alone and just publish the extant Dune 7 materials with no attempts at reworking them. None of us ever received a response.
Fast forwarding a number of years, I forced myself to read Hunters and Sandworms of Dune. I was even willing to, grudgingly, forgive them for splitting the book in two, thus destroying what would have been an absolutely beautiful chiastic structure to the Dune series as a whole. I figured I could manage to look past the hokey additions and dig down enough to find the diamond of authentic Frank Herbert in the pile of offal.
I was wrong.
If anything, I found more references to Herbert & Anderson’s novels than to the last two authentic Dune novels. I only wish that they would have listened to the voices of the fans–and artistic merit–instead of their wallets.
As a postscript, the webcomic Penny Arcade did a strip some years back which neatly summarizes my views on the “new” Dune books. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find it.