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Creator / Frank Herbert

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"A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating."

Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American Science Fiction writer.

While he was a prolific writer, he's best known for his Dune series. The first novel won the first ever Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and became a seminal work for the science fiction genre. The series was later reprised by Frank's eldest son Brian.

He passed away from a massive pulmonary embolism while recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer on February 11, 1986 in Madison, Wisconsin at age 65.

Works with a page on this wiki:

Other works by Frank Herbert include:

  • The Dragon in the Sea
  • The Eyes of Heisenberg
  • Hellstrom's Hive
  • The Green Brain
  • The Santaroga Barrier
  • Soul Catcher
  • The White Plague
  • WorShip series:
    • Destination: Void
    • The Jesus Incident (with Bill Ransom)
    • The Lazarus Effect (with Bill Ransom)
    • The Ascension Factor (with Bill Ransom)

Tropes in his other works:

  • Advanced Ancient Humans: The punchline of the short story "Occupation Force" is that the aliens who just landed in Washington DC are just checking up on a colony they founded... roughly seven thousand years ago.
  • And I Must Scream: The Heaven Makers features the Chem, an immortal and near-invulnerable race. Because of these two traits, the only punishment the Chem can inflict on a Chem criminal (no matter what the crime) is to isolate them from the rest of the Universe, with full life-support. How often this has been done, and what tends to happen to such (although it's said that their near-invulnerability gives them immunity to mental health problems as well as physical ones — although boredom is a constant threat, and by an effort they can commit suicide), is not revealed.
  • Arcology: Hellstrom's Hive features a society that patterns itself after social insects and has constructed a tunnel city beneath a small valley in Oregon that contains roughly 50,000 individuals. Special farming and recycling techniques are used to help conceal the Hive's existence from the outside world.
  • Baby Factory: In Hellstrom's Hive, the insect-like humans of the Hive have a practice of slicing off most of the body above the waist and below the knees and using the remainder for breeding purposes. He later revisits this theme with the Axlotl tanks of the Bene Tleilax, for whom the Hive novel could almost be read as a very old origin story.
  • Bee People:
    • In Hellstrom's Hive, although the Bee People are fully human, they emulate hive insects to an extremely disturbing extent.
    • In The Green Brain, the insects of the Amazon Rainforest have been taken over by a disembodied brain fed by legions of ants. Their goal is to destroy human habitation in the Amazon.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The insect-like society depicted in Hellstrom's Hive has females who are little more than breeding machines.
  • Brain Uploading: In Destination: Void, the entire purpose of the apparently impossible, deliberately crippled interstellar colonization mission is determined by the crew to be to force them to create (because they are doomed to die if they don't), beyond the reach of the disaster that would likely ensue, an artificial intelligence beyond the capacity of a human brain. This is done by first building a physical analog of a human brain, but with several times the complexity, then once it has displayed the necessary capabilities, uploading the mind of one of the creators into it, and parts of the personalities of the others. This results in the creation of a god, like in all Frank Herbert books.
  • Can't Stop The Signal: In "Committee of the Whole", a man uses the broadcast of a U.S. Senate hearing to describe a cheap, easily built laser that could cut the Earth in half like a ripe tomato. He then spends several pages trying to justify distributing information that could allow any madman to destroy the planet. He later admits he had distributed the information far and wide earlier.
  • Cool Starship: The WorShip series, starting with Destination: Void, includes a ship which becomes self-aware and omnipotent. It refers to itself as Ship.
  • Decontamination Chamber: The Dragon in the Sea has a post-World War III Cold War where nuclear subtugs are sent to covertly steal oil from underwater wellcaps, sometimes in radioactive zones. The subtug's decontamination chamber uses high-pressure detergent sprays to wash the oil off an ABG suit.
  • Expendable Clone: All of the main characters of Destination: Oblivion are expendable clones, basically a living simulation to iron out all the kinks in the mission before sending out "real" people. They're not meant to survive. This isn't a spoiler: the audience finds this out at the very beginning of the book. The characters take a lot longer. This goes for the WorShip series as a whole; clones will be sent on the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs, and if there's ever a shortage in supplies or necessities, clones will be the first to suffer.
  • Gendercide: In The White Plague, a molecular biologist driven mad by the death of his family creates a virus that targets women.
  • Gender Rarity Value: In The White Plague, a geneticist is driven mad when his wife and twin daughters are killed by an IRA bomb, so he takes revenge on the world by creating a disease which is carried by men but fatal to women. By the end of the book, a new set of customs is revolving about the status of women, with an odd combination of worship and slavery. (Basically, society expects that the women will have multiple children by multiple men, but the women can choose whom they want to procreate with so long as they aren't exclusive. Spinsterhood is not an option for a human race that came close to extinction.)
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: In The Santaroga Barrier, the drug Jaspers increases the comprehension and understanding of anyone who consumes it.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: The Dragon in the Sea depicts tense underwater combat 20 Minutes into the Future between nuclear submarines.
  • Hive Mind:
    • Hellstrom's Hive works both as a strange way to live and as a supersystem entity with its own goals. It's interesting that at the beginning of story even some of its own components used in such "anomal" activity are unaware and some can't believe this.
    • In The Santaroga Barrier the hive-mind is composed of linked unconscious parts of participants' brains and does not show great intellectual capability. Though not actively hostile, it's very dangerous as it's prone to paranoid overreaction in self-protection. Even despite the fact that its own components don't like this at all.
  • Humanity Came From Space: The punchline of "Occupation Force" is that the aliens who just landed in Washington DC are just checking up on a colony they founded... roughly seven thousand years ago.
  • Inn of No Return: In one short story, a honeymooning couple on their way to Vegas become trapped in a hotel which imprisons gamblers. Although it doesn't actively attempt to kill them, no-one has ever left.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Moon Base in Destination: Void. The Earthling is the 7th Voidship, and all six previous ones have been destroyed on orders from Moon Base. Every crew member has been brainwashed in such a way as to, should the proper orders be given, play their part in the destruction of the ship. And Moon Base gives those orders like crazy. There are multiple redundant switches to blow up the ship. The ship is designed to fail, and directives for recovering from that failure are deliberately suicidal, with almost everyone involved sure they will result in the destruction of the ship. The intent is not to kill them, but to put them in a situation where they have to solve the real problem they were sent to solve — or die.
  • Nerves of Steel: In The White Plague, a character takes great pain and care to describe the titular illness in its every gory, incurable, detail, knowing that no one trying to cure the white plague can possibly do so. The reason this character has such intimate knowledge of the plagues effects is because she's dying of it.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: The Dragon in the Sea has a future in which oil is so scarce that submarines are sent into foreign territory to secretly mine undersea sources of oil. Even though it's only a Space Cold War above the surface, Hot Sub-on-Sub Action ensues under the water.
  • N-Word Privileges: In The Santaroga Barrier, there's a black guy who's in a relationship with a white girl and is called a "damn nigger" by her father. He claims it was done in an affectionate way and wasn't worse for him than someone using the words "blondie" or "redhead" but adds that you may have to be black to understand this reasoning. (The story is set in a kinda utopian community, which is also a Town with a Dark Secret.)
  • Pheromones: In Hellstrom's Hive, key workers in the eponymous Hive can release pheromones that affect the emotions of other members of the Hive, as well as human intruders.
  • The Plague: The White Plague, unsurprisingly, involves a virulent, engineered plague that only affects women.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: In Man of Two Worlds, a shapeshifting alien is captured by humans and is confined to a cell with only a small drain being the way out. He laments the fact that he can't simply destroy his own mass so that he can become small enough to fit through the drain. Too late does he realize that he could have just turned into a snake and slithered down the drain, without having to bypass the law of conservation of mass/energy.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: In Hellstrom's Hive, secret agent is fed hormones that cause him to smell like the mutated members of the title organization, thus causing them to accept him as one of them. He infiltrates the Hive and causes a great deal of damage, until the hormones start to wear off and the members start to smell that he's an outsider.
  • The Stakeout: The beginning of Hellstrom's Hive has a secret agent staking out the title location while posing as a bird watcher. He's hunted down and killed by hive members.
  • Submarine Pirates: Played with in The Dragon in the Sea, which depicts a future in which oil is so scarce that submarines are sent into foreign territory to secretly mine undersea sources of oil. These are government submarines however, rather than pirates. This trope only applies because it's a Space Cold War and none of this is happening officially.
  • Sub Story: The Dragon in the Sea depicts tense underwater combat 20 Minutes into the Future between nuclear submarines.
  • Synthetic Plague: In The White Plague, a genetically engineered disease kills women over large areas (it's spread by men acting as unwitting carriers).
  • Touched by Vorlons: In "The Featherbedders":
    • It's a reason why telepathic Slorin only rely on polymorphing to infiltrate societies they are parasitizing upon.
      A nudge from the Slorin mind-cloud helped, of course, but this carried its own perils. The nudged mind sometimes developed powers of its own — with terrifying results.
    • And then the creatures parasiting on their civilization need to take care...
      Next time you find a blob of something jes' lyin' in a field, you leave it alone, hear? [...] It was you made him so dang strong, pokin' him that way. Slorin aren't all that strong 'less'n you ignite'em, hear?
  • Town with a Dark Secret: In The Santaroga Barrier, the residents of the town are secretly addicted to an Applied Phlebotinum drug called Jaspers.
  • Weirdness Censor: In the short story, "The Featherbedders":
    ...he was well within the seventy-five percent accuracy limit the Slorin set for themselves. It was a universal fact that the untrained sentience saw what it thought it saw. The mind tended to supply the missing elements.
  • Wetware CPU: In Destination:Void, the Voidships are also guided by an OMC - Organic Mental Core (Herbert did despise euphemisms for crimes against humanity, but he could churn them out with the best of them).
  • What We Now Know to Be True: The Dragon in the Sea was set on a futuristic submarine where vacuum tubes are a plot element. A named but unspecified 'effect' was used to justify their not having been replaced by transistors.
  • The Worm That Walks: In The Green Brain, humanity has reduced nature to just a few zones in the Brazilian rainforest. Nature fights back by evolving a race of bugs that can, in large quantities, imitate human beings. The story opens with one such Worm That Walks managing to con its way past the border guards so that it can enter and attempt to infest a clean zone.