October 8, 1920, the world of science fiction took a turn for the better.
That's the day that sci-fi author Frank Herbert was born in Tacoma,
Washington. From that day on, the strange and fanciful world of Sci-Fi
Herbert was an inquisitive child who couldn't learn enough
about the world around him. From early on, he was a voracious reader
and carried around a Boy Scout pack filled with books. He loved to
read about the Rover Boys adventures, as well as the stories of H.G.
Wells, Jules Verne, and the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs. On his
eighth birthday, Herbert stood on top of the breakfast table at his family
home and announced,"I want to be an author."
maternal grandfather, John McCarthy, said of the boy, "It's frightening.
A kid that small shouldn't be so smart." When Herbert enrolled in
college only to learn that he had to take several required courses instead
of those that he was interested in, he dropped out. He went to work as
a professional photographer, a television cameraman, a radio news
commentator, an oyster diver, a jungle survival instructor, a newspaper
reporter, and an editor.
He was an early member of the environmentalist movement
before there was any organization, and he was interested in both ecology and
the management of earth resources. After working as a reporter,
writing about those topics for years, a new idea struck him. If he
were a science-fiction novelist, he could warn people about the dangers of
pollution without being restricted by facts.
set about writing his first novel, and he completed The Dragon in the
Sea (1956), which was moderately successful. He took the idea for
a new novel while he was writing a magazine story on government experiments
to control the shifting sands in the coastal town of Florence, Oregon.
What better setting for an alternate world, he thought. So, for the
next six years, he set about researching and writing it. Finally, in
1965, he published Dune (1965), his masterpiece about a desert
planet where people survive only because they have learned to conserve and
recycle every possible trace of moisture.
Dune was one of the first sci-fi novels to imagine
an entirely different world completely different from Earth. It
boasted different flora and fauna, geographical features, social classes,
and religious beliefs. It became a cult novel on college campuses
around the country and went on to sell about 12 million copies in 14
recognizing a good thing when he wrote it, wrote five Dune sequels,
including Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics
of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. All were international
bestsellers, as were a number of his other science fiction novels, including
The White Plauge and The Dosadi Experiment. He spent
much of the money that he made from his writing inventing various solar and wind
cooling systems for his home. He also served as a consultant in
ecological studies to various foundations, as well as to the countries of
South Vietnam and Pakistan.
Herbert, who once said, "I refuse to be put in the position of
telling my grandchildren: 'Sorry, there's no more world for you. We
used it all up,'" died on February 11, 1986, of pancreatic cancer.
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