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What made Frank Herbert such a good Sci-Fi Writer

March 15, 2013

Dune Image

Often the things we like and value most in life have an inexplicable quality, something that eludes close investigation. I have found this to be the case with the stories of Frank Herbert. I have read a fair amount of science fiction. It is a genre I sometimes like, though there are few current science fiction writers I like. But even of the stuff I like, most I could express quite easily what it is I like about it.

Not so with with Frank Herbert. All I know is that I find the stories captivating. It is not the subject matter itself. For I have read the sequels and prequels to Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. And they are missing the quality that makes the Frank Herbert Dune novels so good. Having purchased some of his other books second hand recently, exasperated at not being able to find another writer to turn to. I have just read through one of them, The Eyes of Heisenberg. And I tried to put some thought into what the quality is it has, which gives it such a distinctive and great style.

A few things I discovered were as follows:

  1. Intriguing plot development of unfolding the story. Not in a linear fashion, but things being revealed along the way, giving it the satisfaction of a jigsaw puzzle when completed.
  2. A great insight into power struggles in the world described. Strategical plans of various groups come into conflict in a way that develops logically and gradually throughout the story, reaching a resolution in the finale or climax of the story.
  3. Great insights into the thoughts of the main characters, alongside the events that are happening. As a result, you really feel these events are happening to these people. Making it so captivating.
  4. Very intelligent handling of the interactions between men and women. Both men and women are portrayed well and have their own thoughts and mode of being. But never in a cliche, gender-role-fulfilling manner.

So there are a few things I have learned, or discovered, about what I think makes the writing of Frank Herbert of such a good quality. It still has much more on top of this. There is much of the inexpressible remaining, regarding the atmosphere whilst reading it. Regarding the felt reality of the characters and their world, while reading it.

I will continue to read and continue to learn. To one day write a story of my own successfully in this style would be my goal.

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