Author of “Dune” Series Dies
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Science fiction writer Frank Herbert, whose galactic epic ″Dune″ sold more than 12 million copies worldwide after being rejected by 20 publishers, has died at the age of 65.
Herbert died Tuesday at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, said nursing supervisor Mary Lang. Hospital spokeswoman Christine Chantry said Herbert’s family asked that no details be released.
The Tacoma, Wash., native discovered late last year that he had cancer, and had been going to Madison for treatment, said Jack Doughty, a friend who worked with him at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Examiner. The author returned to University Hospital about two weeks ago, Doughty said.
″Dune,″ another name for the fictional desert planet Arrakis that is the focus of galactic battle and intrigue because it is the source of a hallucinogen that prolongs life and is essential to space navigation, came out in 1965. It was the first book in what began as a trilogy and grew to six novels, and later was made into a movie.
″Dune,″ eventually translated into 14 languages, became a cult favorite.
Nearly 20 years after ″Dune″ appeared, critic John Clute wrote in The Washington Post that Herbert’s ″adroit mix of religion, ecology, space opera, Arabs, giant worms, longevity drugs, politics, dynastic wars, extrasensory power and sex showed just how exhilarating the science fiction romance of conceptual breakthrough could be.″
″Dune was full of new frontiers and energy and one thing else: a hero Paul Atreides ... who managed to found both a religion and a dynasty of his very own. Herbert’s subsequent installments in the ‘Dune’ series have been progressively more and more given over to sacredotal musings on Atreides, his prescience, his messiah-hood and his posthumous blueprints for running the galaxy,″ Clute wrote.
Herbert’s latest ″Dune″ novel, ″Chapterhouse: Dune,″ hit the best- seller list when it was published last year.
Although the movie version of ″Dune″ appeared to great expectations in Christmas 1984, it drew mostly bad reviews.
Before the success of ″Dune,″ Herbert wrote suspense stories and articles and worked as a reporter on several newspapers, including the Oregon Statesman and the old Seattle Star. He was the Post-Intelligencer’s education writer from 1969-1972, and quit to write novels.
His first novel, ″Dragon in the Sea,″ was published in 1955.
His agent, Ned Brown, of Beverly Hills, Calif., said papers were signed Tuesday to make Herbert’s novel, ″Green Brain,″ into a movie.
Herbert studied psychology at the University of Washington, but rejected introductory classes. Jungian psychology, which preaches that universal symbols transcending language are common to all cultures, formed the foundation of ″Dune″ and the novel ″White Plague.″
Herbert, who lived on Mercer Island, Wash., wrote more than two dozen books and was working on another novel about Dune with his son, Brian.