The Road to Dune

ISBN: 0765353709
ISBN 13: 9780765353702
By: Frank Herbert Brian Herbert Kevin J. Anderson

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Reader's Thoughts


Primarily interesting as it gives an 'alternate vision' of what could have been for one of the most seminal works in science-fiction ever. Fun, but clearly doesn't achieve the original. I found other parts intriguing but not gripping enough to justify my interest completely.


A biography of the life of Frank Herbert and how he came up with Dune. I would rather just read the Dune books than read about him making the Dune books!

Randy Mccallum

What a fantastic book. There is a great story that serves to explain how the idea of Dune came out and then a novella that is the precursor to Dune. While not everything is the same as the book it gives you a great idea of how ideas developed throughout the process. There are also a few stories about how the book came to be published and John W. Campbell's influence on the Dune universe. There are also several short stories that fill some gaps in the Dune universe. Unfortunately it's been a while since I've been to Arrakis and Caladan so the later short stories in the book didn't hold a lot of resonance for me. I will probably re-read the series and then come back and end up giving this book five stars since the stories will mean more then. Wonderful insight into Frank Herbert, the writing process, and the publishing process. How many publishers said "We may regret not publishing this book (Dune), but...?"


I have to rate this book by halves.The first half, Herbert's proto-Dune novel 'Spice Planet' (which I keep calling 'Spice World'), has some novelty because you can see glimpses of the later work, but as a whole is really terrible, and I could only make it through the first 60 pages or so. 1 star for that half.The second half covers some of the writing process for Dune as well as cut chapters and excised passages from the first few novels, and this is my reason for buying the book. It may be apocryphal, but it's insightful and interesting reading. Mohiam comes off as almost sympathetic at times - I'd never expected that! 5 stars for the second half.

Roger Bailey

As an author creates a work of fiction it is normal to do a lot of revising. Entire sections and chapters may be removed or added. It is also not uncommon for others to get into the creative act and that was the case with Dune. Frank Herbert's agent, editor and publisher made demands about revisions. They demanded that chapters be removed and the ending changed and so forth. After Herbert's death a lot of this excised material along with many notes were found in his papers. It was enough to show that Dune could have been a lot different. This book is a compilation of some of that material. Some of it has been rewritten and filled out by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and some of it is as Frank Herbert left it. Now, the decisions about what was to be removed was based on the opinions of not only Frank Herbert, but also his editor, agent and publisher. I am not one who thinks that all opinions are equal. If, for example, my doctor recommended surgery I would not seek a second opinion from my plumber. There is much to be said for the professional opinion, but how much is it worth when it is about a work of fiction? Well, it certainly determines what gets into print, but are there things that do not get into print but should? It seems to me that the opinion that really counts when it comes to a work of fiction is the opinion of the ultimate consumer, the reader, and that these professional opinions are valuable only insofar as they predict the opinions of the end consumer. Bearing that in mind, as an end consumer myself, my opinion is that a lot of these out takes are better than the final product. By the way, the book also contains some original Dune universe short stories by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson which are also far from shoddy.


Dune, yet not Dune. No Leto or Paul but mélange permeates the story.

Dave Bara

I enjoyed reading this a few years back. The novel BH and KA created out of Frank Herbert's original outline was pretty interesting, though it was much more of a traditional space opera than Dune ended up being. Thank goodness we didn't end up with "House Linkham" though...db


This book has not had many very good reviews, but some people found parts of it interesting. As I picked it up brand new on CD for $2 and can resell it for more than double that, I thought I would give it a try.Overall, I have to agree with most peoples opinion. The letters and extracts from Frank Herbert, to and from, people such has John W. Campbell and Jack Vance were very interesting. These document a lot of the story of how Dune was conceived, written and marketed. The novella 'Spice Planet' is an early draft version of Dune. A lot of the plot elements are there, but the names are different and most of the subplots and politics are missing. Still, it's fascinating to read if your a Dune fan. The other short stories were all written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Andersen and really had nothing to do with the rest of the book. It would have been much better if the length was cut in half and these 'new' stories were dropped.


I really liked the 'Spice Planet' (Duneworld) novel this book opened with. It wasn't nearly as long or complex (or good) as Dune, but had a lot of similar (and similarly exciting) material, but was set much more like a 50s/60s pulp sci-fi novel in complexity and length. I also enjoyed the letters between Frank Herbert and his agent, editor, and publishers which gave a very interesting insight into his goals in writing and the process of the writing of Dune. After that I thought the quality and cohesiveness of this book started to fall. There were many scenes and chapters edited out of early drafts of Dune (and Dune Messiah), and then several short stories by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, based on outlines and background envisioned by FH. The cut scenes were mildly interesting--especially the ones that had been cut from the later drafts of Dune--some of the early cut scenes didn't make much sense, or add anything to the original novel. I think the short stories would have made more sense in a short story book on their own, or in the writings nearest to which they occur (e.g. BH and KJA's 'Butlerian Jihad'). That being said, they didn't ruin the book... just seemed tacked on (like the excerpt of the then-forthcoming 'Hunters of Dune') in my opinion. I'm under the impression that there were other short story precursors to Dune that FH wrote... I think they would have fit marvelously in this collection. This book has piqued my interest in reading the FH biography, which I'll have to pick up at a used book store.


This book is more of an historical document for fans of the great Frank Herbert. It gives you insight into how he created and refined his masterworks. The book includes two parts. Part one is all about how Frank created, which is an awesome but short read. Then we have the long part two, which is a straight dump of cutting room floor material and old drafts of the Dune series. This material, frankly is just not easy to read. Granted, it is fascinating to see that Mr. Herbert created in one huge swoop that grand story of Dune. So read ABOUT it. But don't actually READ the rough drafts unless you a real dedicated trooper. Good luck!

David Hughes

Absolutely ghastly first draught and associated short stories from the classic sci-fi novel, mangled and made strident by the author’s notably untalented son. Occasional excerpts and letters from Herbert pater provide a glimmer of lucidity that only accentuates the gruesomeness of the rest. For Dune freaks and masochists only.

D. Clark

I give full props to the collection. I love behind the scenes. Although the story might have been dry at times, and the pace traditionally slow, it didn't lack imagination or originality. Dune was one of the first books that got me into Sci-Fi. I believe they have masterfully represented the traditional genre - heavy descriptions, slow but steady pace, somewhat impartial author-voice, etc.


I found this very interesting. Lots of insight into not only Frank's Dune World and the creation of the first novel, but also into the publishing process in general. The alternate version of Dune is an engaging story that truly is an apocrypha to the Dune canon. I loved the insight into the relationship between Jessica and the Duke.

Ethan I. Solomon

I only got to read this once before I foolishly lent it out and never got it back. I can't say enough about this book. Being given a "behind-the-scenes" look at Herbert and his work was a real treat, not to mention the included short-stories that blew my mind away. especially Herbert's original take on the Dune universe, which reads like an exercise in writing by perhaps one of the most gifted writer's to have ever put an idea down on a page.


One of the Dune RPGs was my very first computer game, back in 1992. I own the VHS 1984 movie and the DVD miniseries. To put it mildly, I really like the series. Yet it's been over a decade and a half since I last read the whole series back to front and since that time Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson (whose work I admire) have written seven move books in the series with two more planned. So I've decided to reread the entire series again.This book was quite fun to read because (amongst other things) it showcased Frank Herbert's original draft of Dune. Apparently, Frank Herbert wrote the story. He then took the manuscript, tossed it into a box and rewrote the entire thing from scratch. Reading the original version, with differently named characters, changed character motivations, and completely different plot points, was just a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the book and I reccomend it to any other Dune fans.

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