October 28, 2021

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Dune Reference Works

More in the Dune book series

The list of novels is by no means the complete list of Dune book series. There are several companion works avid readers can use to get a better understanding of Dune and its authors.

The Dune Encyclopedia

Written by Willis E. McNelly and released in 1984. The encyclopedia is a selection of essays that detail background of characters and places. Though McNelly was a close friend of Frank Herbert the work is not considered canon. This is confirmed by Herbert himself in the foreword. This was later confirmed by his son Brian and co-author Kevin J. Anderson when they wrote the first of the expanded Dune universe novels.

McNelly’s work is by no means trivial. It contains descriptions of the major languages used by the characters such as Fremen and Galach as well as the workings of technology and industry. In fact, considering how often the expanded series contradicts Frank Herbert’s original work I feel disdain at how they treat this encyclopedia. It would have been a better starting point if they had updated and corrected McNelly’s work before committing to writing 13 novels.

As it is considered non-canon The Dune Encyclopedia is currently out of print.

The Road to Dune

In 2005, between the Legends of Dune and two Sequel novels Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson released a collection of work together known as The Road To Dune. This companion book contains letters from publishers Frank Herbert received as to ‘improve’ his work. Back in the 60’s trade back novels were often as small as 20000 words. As a spoof there is a short novel written by the authors called “Spice Planet” which is written as though Frank would have followed the advice of publishers. Furthermore there also several short stories as well as missing chapters from Dune and Dune Messiah. The Road To Dune is an interesting reference work that shows just how difficult getting Dune published was. However, I think it is only worthwhile for die-hard Dune fans.

Dreamer of Dune

This is the official biography of author Frank Herbert as written by his son Brian. It was released in 2003 and was a finalist of the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Related Work. As it is non-fiction it is not part of the official Dune book series.

Dune and Philosophy

The non-fiction book Dune and Philosophy is Volume 56 in the long-running series Popular Culture and Philosophy. Dune and Philosophy: Weirding Way of the Mentat is edited by Jeffery Nicholas and is a relatively recent publication, first released in 2011. Despite the odd subtitle it focuses mostly on the character of Paul Muad’Dib. Considering his journey from Fremen hero to galactic despot that should come as no surprise. This volume contains 232 pages and is divided into five sections: Ecology of Muad’Dib, Politics of Muad’Dib, Ethics of Muad’Dib, Self of Muad’Dib and Heroism of Muad’Dib. Each sections covers parts of the Dune universe and relates how their existence is a reflection of our own world. Most modern philosophical teachings and how they relate to Dune are discussed. Dune and Philosophy is currently available on Amazon for $17.19.