Willis E. McNelly Interviews Frank Herbert, Author Of Dune, 1969

Some readers might be interested in this taped interview with the American science-fiction author Frank Herbert, recorded at his home in rural Fairfax, California, on the 3rd of February, 1969. The person who carried out the interview was Willis E. McNelly, a close friend and admirer, who went on to become a professor of English literature at California State University, Fullerton, and a passionate advocate for genre fiction. Also present was Herbert’s second wife, Beverley, who had put aside her own writing career to support the itinerant journalist as he laboured on his most famous book, Dune, during the early 1960s (the story appeared in various guises before a full novel was published in 1965)

McNelly gained some fame among sci-fi fans with the appearance of The Dune Encyclopedia in 1984, a collection of “in-universe” essays which served as a companion piece to the burgeoning series of Dune books. Despite receiving the author’s blessing, the hefty tome was later removed from publication at the insistence of Herbert’s son, Brian, who launched a run of somewhat inferior sequels to his father’s works in 1999.

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2 comments

  1. Two of Herbert’s books previous to ‘Dune’ are far superior. “Dragon in the Sea’ and ‘Destination Void’ are fine as stand-alone novels (although ‘Void’ has at least one or two sequels, which can be disregarded as being far less interesting). ‘Dune’ similarly suffers from the fashion for ‘Son of Dune’ syndrome, in the same way as Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars novels did – the first two were great but imagination then went on a fast downwards spiral.

    1. Oh yes, the sequels got worse and worse. Dune Messiah was good, Children of Dune was passable, God Emperor of Dune was authorial indulgence, Heretics of Dune was poor, and after that I just stopped. I tried the son’s books but couldn’t get into them at all.

      Of course, Herbert also gave us his awful Irish book which came close to killing any liking I had for his works.

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