Hairy Ticks of Dune

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Answers Received

This is what I found waiting in the email this morning:

Q. Many fans of the original Dune novels have criticised your collaborative efforts as being inconsistent with the original novels by Frank Herbert. While some points are debatable at best, others seem to be clear inconsistencies, such as:

While I'll get to specifics in a moment, I have indeed heard some of the criticisms and so-called "inconsistencies" and yet most of them are clearly explained in the novels themselves upon a careful reading, or at the very least with a little bit of imagination -- and Dune fans should be well-versed in using their imaginations. I have yet to see any fan, even our harshest critics, point out a significant inconsistency. Considering the more than 8000 pages of published Dune fiction, Brian and I believe we have done a creditable job. For the few fans who continue to quibble, we appreciate your dedication and enthusiasm, and we understand why you want to hold us to the highest standards. However, there are significant errors and inconsistencies in the original Dune novels as well, and I'm certain that the careful readers have spotted plenty of them. Such things do not at all diminish *my* appreciation of Frank Herbert's literary greatness, but I wonder how such highly critical fans can stand it? Or is there a double standard at work here?

- There is only a single line in the original series that indicates the possibility that No-technology results in invisibility to the naked eye (For brief moments when they disgorged troops, no-ships were visible and vulnerable. [Chapterhouse]), yet there are numerous lines that indicate the ships are visible to the naked eye, perhaps the most prominent being
"The no-ship sat there creaking, a glistening steely ball whose presence could be detected by the eyes and ears but not by any prescient or long-range instrument. Teg's doubled vision made him confident that no unwanted eyes saw his arrival" in HERETICS. Why was the decision made in the Prequels to present all no-technology as truly invisible to the naked eye? (re: the secret attack in the Guildship made to look like an Atreides attack) (Tleilax Master B)

The technology developed by the Richesian inventor Chobyn in the HOUSE books took place thousands of years before no-field technology was introduced to the reader in HERETICS. Chobyn was killed and all records of his work were destroyed, and the technology was lost. There is nothing to suggest that these two are the exactly same technologies.


- It is revealed to us in HUNTERS that Scytale's body is failing prematurely. Yet in HERETICS it is indicated that Mirlat is very old based on the heavy cartilage build up in the jaw line. (For reference: Mirlat no doubt aspired to Abdl and Mahai. / Waff focused on the councillor's wide jaws where the cartilage had grown over the centuries as a visible mark of his current body's great age.) Based on this, it does not appear that this shortened life span occurred in serial ghola Masters in the original series. Where did this come from? Was this in Frank's notes or was this an original creation? (Tleilax Master B)

Just because one Tleilaxu Master is said to be old does not mean they all live to such a great age. My father-in-law is 82 years old; does that mean every human will live to 82? Frank Herbert also describes the Tleilaxu as being small-statured gnomish men, and yet Duncan Idaho (in CHAPTERHOUSE) disguises himself as a Tleilaxu man, so either Duncan suddenly shrunk, or there are some tall Tleilaxu, too. You can't take one data point and extend it to an entire race.


I can't answer the other questions about details in HUNTERS now because the other half of the story has not yet been published. It's like walking out in the middle of a movie and suggesting that all the plot threads weren't tied up.

- It is stated or implied several times that worms are the source of the spice on the no-ship even though this contradicts the main source of information on the worm life-cycle, the Ecology appendix to DUNE (spice comes from dried pre-spice mass exposed after spice-blows). What passage(s) from the original books do you base this interpretation on? Or is this from the notes?

In the original books Frank Herbert quite clearly makes the distinction that the worms spawned from Leto II's body are different creatures from the original worms on Arrakis. Pointing to details in the Appendix to DUNE is comparing apples and oranges.

Q. Is there anything in Frank Herbert's notes indicating that he planned to develop the character of Norma Cenva into the "super hero" we see in the Legends books and HUNTERS?

Q. You've stated that Mohiam being Jessica's mother was a Frank Herbert idea but that other aspects of the surrounding story were created by you and Brian. Were the rape scene and Mohiam giving the Baron the fattening disease in revenge based on anything in Frank Herbert's notes?

Q. What were the inspirations for the following two characters: Kailea Vernius and Mephistus Cru? (Chanilover)

Q. How much (and if so what parts) of the books came from Brian's personal conversations with his father. It has been stated that Frank and Brian discussed writing something on the Butlerian Jihad together; what ideas came from those conversations, and what did you and Brian add to those ideas. (Omphalos)

I'm not going to go into specific details on which ideas, or which part of an idea, came from Frank Herbert conversations, or his notes, or from me, or from Brian. In my opinion, that would only become an endless spiral. They are all DUNE books, they are all canon, and the authors are clearly listed on the cover, so readers know who typed the actual words.

Q. How do you and Brian check for consistency before you publish? Who checks the facts? How are those people cross-checked? With something as huge and complex as the Duniverse, have you ever considered some form of peer review? If so, why did you decide against it? (Omphalos)

Indeed, the Duniverse is very intricate and complex (8000 pages so far, as I mentioned above). Brian and I read each manuscript from 10-14 times through, and the manuscripts are also checked by four test readers, two editors (one of them an original editor of Frank Herbert's Dune novels), a PhD Dune scholar, an English professor, two copy editors, and two proofreaders, all of whom are familiar with the Dune novels. That constitutes quite a rigorous review, and far more than virtually any other published novel receives.

Q. What is your view on "canon" in a fiction series? Is it simply a matter of copyright ownership, or is there more to it? The HLP has explicitly stated that the new Dune novels are canon. One could argue that only the original author can have a right to say what is canon and what is not. Do you think the HLP should govern what is canon, and do you think that one of the authors also being a member of the HLP represents a conflict of interest? (Schu)

Gene Roddenberry created the original STAR TREK, and he died sometime during the third season of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. I don't believe anyone has ever suggested that the episodes of NEXT GENERATION produced after his death, or DEEP SPACE NINE, or VOYAGER, or the last four STAR TREK films are *not canon* just because the original creator was no longer around.

Frank Herbert was always a great supporter of Brian's writing, assisting him with his solo novels (SUDANNA, SUDANNA, THE RACE FOR GOD, etc.). Frank Herbert's last published novel, MAN OF TWO WORLDS, was a collaboration with Brian, and because he enjoyed the experience of working with his son, he suggested that the two of them consider writing further DUNE novels together, "passing the torch" as it were (much as Anne McCaffrey has recently brought in her son Todd to continue writing "Pern" books). The first project they talked about doing together was to tell the story of the Butlerian Jihad. When Frank was diagnosed with a very aggressive pancreatic cancer, his time was far shorter than anyone expected. It is my understanding that he spent much of his last months finalizing the story for THE ASCENSION FACTOR with Bill Ransom. The last work he wrote was an article on writing for the Writers of the Future contest, from his hospital bed at the University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

There is simply no question that Frank Herbert approved of Brian's desire to work in the Dune universe, and the ten members his literary estate also wholeheartedly support the decision. The heirs of Frank Herbert are the only ones who decide canon or what is best for the Dune legacy. There can be no "conflict of interest" with yourself.

Even our harshest detractors must admit that the publication of the new Dune novels has been an overwhelmingly good thing for Dune -- the sales of Frank Herbert's original Dune novels have increased more than 300% since the publication of HOUSE ATREIDES, bringing millions of new readers to the universe. Six of Frank's long out-of-print works have finally been rereleased (the most recent, HELLSTROM'S HIVE, just out last month). SOUL CATCHER has just been optioned by a film maker, and there is other new interest in Frank Herbert properties. None of these things were possible before the renewed prominence of the Dune chronicles.

Q. Are you still convinced that writing and publishing "Dune 7" after the House and Legends books was the right decision? (Sunnypuck)


Re: You (Questions of a more personal nature)

Q. What specific goals or motivations did you have in taking on the task of writing stories in the Duniverse? (Crysknife)

First and foremost, as a Dune fan, I wanted to see the completion of the story that Frank Herbert had obviously left unfinished. This was before finding any of the notes or outlines. Seeing so many other potential stories just waiting to be told, Brian and I also wanted to bring more of the Dune universe to many readers, both old fans and new ones. Personally speaking, I am very pleased to have brought Frank Herbert's great work into renewed prominence not only in the science fiction community but in the overall publishing world as well.

Q. You've mentioned listening to music while you work on your blog. Could you explain a bit more about how music influences your writing? (Poey)

I love many different types of music, and I have always been inspired by the imaginative visions, particularly of progressive rock (Rush, Kansas, Dream Theater, and more recently Tool, Coheed & Cambria, Frameshift) -- much of that music is itself inspired by science fiction and fantasy. I also listen to movie soundtracks, which evoke certain moods while I'm writing. In particular for Dune work, I've found Brian Tyler's soundtrack for "Children of Dune" to be excellent, and the Toto soundtrack for the David Lynch "Dune" as well as the work of James Horner and Hans Zimmer.

Q. Have you been to the UK and did you like it? (Chanilover)

I've been five times, I think, and I liked it very much. I've done a couple of book-signing tours in England and Scotland, and my "Seven Suns" novels do very well over there. My wife and I are spending the month of September on a signing tour in Australia, too. the comments.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy. where to start. Please, someone please, point out to me where it says that the new worms with Leto's pearls have a completely different spice cycle. ....sigh....

I posted this on the dnBBS, I'll repost it here--he contradicted his own canon with his answer to my Scytale question:

uhhh, what? Wait a minute. First off, Duncan was a child (or maybe young man), not a fully grown adult when he disguised himself as a Tleilaxu Master--that's how he could pass as a Master. There is absolutely not evidence in the canon, at all, that there were some Masters that were tall as regular powindah-by your own admission they were gnomish, correct? Your grandfather didn't engage in genetic manipulation did he? Well, the Tleilaxu did, to deliberately create the gnomish image, it was essential to creating this image for their Ascendancy! The BG themselves say that the BT could manipulate themselves to any image they wanted, yet they chose this despicable image. This explanation only works in natural populations that DO NOT deliberately manipulate their genes to create different physicals appearances. Sorry, this one is still not resolved.........

Second, you have just contradicted your own canon. KJA told us that the reason the Masters bodies were failing is because they did not manipulate this aspect because they relied on serial gholas and they believed that these genetic "accidents" were God's Will, correct? So now you are telling me that this is just a Scytale thing, just a product of the natural variation between Masters? That Mirlat just lived for centuries, but old Scytale was just not a Master that lives particularly long? What happened to the explanation that Masters did not genetically manipulate for longevity?

7:33 PM, April 25, 2007 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I posted this somewhat jokingly on the dnBBS, but I am actually pretty seroius about it. I think I am just about ready to throw in the fucking towel. I surrender. Nobody really gives a shit anymore that these glaring errors occur in the book, and I am beginning to think that what Freakzilla posted may be correct---controversy=publicity. Maybe he is correct, maybe they have these errors in there deliberately to insight more activity out of people like you and I--it keeps the boards active and creates more buzz over their work. I have to do some seroius soul searching, but my posting on inconsistancies days are probably just about over...I just HAVE to find something more constructive to do with my time. That's not to say that I won't keep active on discussing the Duniverse, as it is one of my passions. But arguing over inconsistancies that apparently nobody gives a shit about anymore (re: shadout, jlacivita, and others recent posts)is becoming more of a source of personal frustration---just spinning our wheels in the mud :(

8:39 AM, April 26, 2007 

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