Tag Archives: Kevin J. Anderson

SANDWORMS OF DUNE – Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson (2007)

Sandworms Of DuneI think Frank Herbert’s Dune series has an imaginary scope rarely seen. Sadly, he died before he wrote the 7th and final book.

His son Brian and gun for hire Kevin J. Anderson decided to write that finale based “directly on Frank Herbert’s [30-page] outline, which lay hidden in two safe-deposit boxes for a decade.” They ended up writing two books, 500+ pages each.

If the ending is anything like that outline proposed, it turns out that Frank Herbert wanted the end of the Dune series to be about humanity’s material nature. The story echoes what so many other SF-writers wrote and still write: thinking, self-conscious robots, like any advanced self-conscious form of A.I., aren’t morally or ethically different from a biological human. It is electricity that runs through our nerves, we are robots ourselves, made of flesh: “moist robots”, as Dilbert creator Scott Adams coined it.

I thought the first of those two additional books, Hunters Of Dune, was quite enjoyable. Not really good, but I still liked it. It felt nice to be back in the Dune-universe, and I was curious about how the story would end. So I started Sandworms with a certain kind of eager anticipation: the conclusion to my favorite series. I knew it wouldn’t be a stylistical triumph, but at least I’d get closure. It turned out to be utter pulp, and it is the worst book I’ve read in a long, long time.

They should have just released a transcript of that 30-page outline: that would have done justice to the legacy of Frank Herbert. The fact that they opted for 1000+ extra pages leaves the reader with a constantly nagging “Was this particular plot thing their invention, or Frank’s?”   Continue reading

HUNTERS OF DUNE – Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson (2006)

Hunters Of DuneIt has been 2 years (almost to the day) since I finished the final Dune book Frank Herbert wrote. I consider the series as a whole to among the best things ever written. Not surprisingly, I was interested in how the story ends. Written about 20 years after the release of Chapterhouse Dune, this book continues the saga, as the first half of what should have been Dune 7.

Obviously it’s not nearly as good as the original series. Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson wrote two books of about 550 pages each, based on a 30 page outline Frank Herbert left.

The main negative remark about this first sequel is that it should have been about half its length, since this book has a lot of repetition. Heaps of it. It’s a much read criticism, and it’s very much true. The first 100 or so pages are not much more than a recap of the previous books, and in the new storylines there’s lots and lots of repeating too. On the other hand, this makes for an easy, fast read: occasionally skimming paragraphs or pages isn’t a big deal at all. Since most stuff is explained multiple times, it’s okay to miss a beat.

Another point of criticism is the fact that some of the characters behave as if they’re pretty dumb. A couple of times they find obvious solutions to a problem only years and years after we as a reader figured it out already. This is partly due to the writers stretching out the story, but should have been edited out. It’s annoying, since it deals a minor blow to the suspension of disbelief.

Finally, part of The New York Times-quote on the Wikipedia-page on Hunters of Dune is spot on: “by the end of Hunters, [Herbert and Anderson] have done little more than set the table for Sandworms of Dune.”

So… yes… as expected, this is Dune Light.

BUT, caveats aside, I must admit… I liked it, simply because it just felt really good to be back in the Dune-universe, as if meeting old, beloved acquaintances again after a long time. The work that Frank Herbert has done is so amazing that even a derivative of it still is entertaining and mildly interesting.

I’m looking forward to read Sandworms of Dune, so that – in a couple of months or years – I can finally start to reread the original Dunes aware of the full scope Frank Herbert had envisioned. I’m not interested in reading any of the prequels, nor any of those other books of what has become a franchise, but people who were in awe of Dune 1-6 should give Hunters of Dune at least a try.

originally written on the 5th of June, 2015


Click here for my other Herbert texts: long analyses of Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune and Heretics of Dune, and more regular reviews of Destination: Void, The Santaroga Barrier, Whipping Star, Soul Catcher & The Dosadi Experiment. I’ve also tackled Sandworms of Dune, and wrote about Villeneuve’s 2021 film Dune: Part One.

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