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Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson based their sequels to original Dune series on research material composed by Frank Hebert before his death.

Are there any sources that describe how much material was found and what it contained?

Anything that can help to evaluate how true both authors kept to the original vision.

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    I don't have a quote but I remember reading about a 'few floppy disks' and a notebook found in a vault. My personal gut estimation yields that they blew up their findings a hundred times given the notion that these novels have a totally, utterly different reading experience.
    – aquaherd
    Nov 14, 2011 at 19:43
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    Being the great disappointment that they are, they cannot possibly be true to the original vision of Frank Herbert.
    – Dima
    Nov 14, 2011 at 22:07
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    @aquaherd But a 'few floppy discs' can hold TONS of text.
    – user1027
    Nov 15, 2011 at 0:15
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    @Dima: I wouldn't be too sure. I found the last three "non-trilogy" novels by Herbert quite a disappointment after the trilogy. There was nowhere near the same level of attention to the complexities of the plots and schemes that the trilogy had.
    – Tango
    Nov 15, 2011 at 4:19
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    They didn’t exactly find any notes or manuscripts, but a little ziplock baggie with some powder that Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson ingested. They didn’t just see the ideas which Frank left behind, but all possible ones which they then just chose the worst of. Nov 25, 2021 at 14:29

4 Answers 4

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I started with the Brian Herbert wikipedia article's references section. There are a lot of sources here but here are the ones I think are the most significant.

First there's this archived blog post by Kevin J. Anderson where you could see those disk :

To the left, I'm posting copies of the actual IBM diskettes containing the files, with the labels "Dune 7 Outline" and "Dune 7 Notes" in Frank Herbert's own handwriting.

Dune 7 outline disk Dune 7 notes disk

And lower on the blog post you could read :

When Frank wrote HERETICS and CHAPTERHOUSE he obviously intended to complete the story. He had planned an entire epic that tied his chronicles back through his whole projected history.

Frank Herbert wrote a detailed outline for "Dune 7" and he left extensive "Dune 7 notes," as well as stored boxes of his descriptions, epigraphs, chapters, character backgrounds, historical notes -- over a thousand pages worth.

Second there's this interview with Brian Herbert

Q: Did Frank Herbert leave you any notes to guide you in writing these prequels?

A: When dad died he was using a yellow highlighter on Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune. That's all I knew. Then I got a call from an estate attorney who asked me what I wanted to do with two safety deposit boxes of my dad's. I didn't know they existed. So we went down there, and in them were the notes to Dune 7 -- it was a 30-page outline. So I went up in my attic and found another 1,000 pages of working notes. As far as filling in these stories, Dad would say for example, "Between Dune and Dune Messiah it's been eleven years and billions of people were killed in the jihad." That's very enticing. So we're staying right on the Frank Herbert thread of his story line.

The others references are almost the same, except that they all mention getting the notes box in the garage instead of the attic.

Finally, in this interview, there is a passage concerning the possibility of releasing the outline or the notes.

[Q:] Is there any chance to see Frank Herbert's outline for "Dune-7" (we mean the notes) or some other articles devoted to "Dune"? Are you going to publish them anyway? If so, may we have your comments on it?

[A: ] We’ll probably include some notes or correspondence in THE ROAD TO DUNE -- but if we publish the notes and outline, then people will know the whole story! We want readers to get all the details from the published novels.

But the content of the now released The Road to Dune don't mention anything about that, so we could guess they wont publish it since they wrote the books and I don't see any argument to publish it (from their point of view).

So they started from a 30 pages outline and wrote 2 book of 700 pages each. There's also the notes, but we could imagine must of it was background material and they also wrote all the prequels books. So, we could imagine they stayed inside the parameters defined in the outline and notes, but there was some larges blank spaces to fill.

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    This gives some good hints about the extend of notes.
    – OliverS
    Nov 15, 2011 at 9:16
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    We want readers to get all the details from the published novels. Translation - money. Nov 29, 2015 at 17:23
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    secondary translation: we don't want people to know how far afield from the outline we traveled and get even more hate mail
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:35
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To get an idea of how it does differ one should look at The Dune Encyclopedia, at the single Dune entry not written by Frank Herbert prior to his passing:

Herbert himself wrote the foreword for the Encyclopedia (dated November 1983), which noted:

Here is a rich background (and foreground) for the Dune Chronicles, including scholarly bypaths and amusing sidelights. Some of the contributions are sure to arouse controversy, based as they are on questionable sources ... I must confess that I found it fascinating to re-enter here some of the sources on which the Chronicles are built. As the first "Dune fan," I give this encyclopedia my delighted approval, although I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold.

The latter Mr. Herbert et. al. later commented:

THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA reflects an alternate "DUNE universe" which did not necessarily represent the "canon" created by Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, writing with Kevin J. Anderson, IS continuing to establish the canon of the DUNE universe. This is being done with the full approval of the owner of the DUNE copyright, the Herbert Limited Partnership.

Obviously Frank Herbert knew, collaborated with, and approved of the McNelly work but not the later works. The later works started playing with:

... things like wheels within wheels, relationships within relationships.

House Corrino

But worst, the later works lack that dense compact form of Frank Herbert's writing. You get a great deal of information from his prose that some have referred to as dense writing.

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    I clicked that link hoping for something related to dense writing but the word dense isn't even on the page Nov 14, 2019 at 8:27
  • @GordonBennett This seemed to capture the 'dense' aspect of Frank Herbert's writing to me (and the word dense IS mentioned): "His ideas were genuinely developed concepts, not merely decorative notions, but they were sometimes embodied in excessively complicated plots and articulated in prose which did not always match the level of thinking, so that much of his writing seemed dense and opaque." Nov 25, 2021 at 10:29
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Well I hardly believe that Omnius, Erasmus and the Titans would be the product of Frank Herbert's mind.

The two Facedancer "god" or kind of Kwisatz Haderach, Daniel and Marty is a logical consequence of the original Dune universe as they collect personalities and it leads to the same result where Paul and Leto got by inherit their ancestors memorial. So there are at least two way to became Kwisatz Haderach and Scytale claimed that the Bene Tleilax had created their own one.

Substitute Daniel and Marty with Omnius and Erasmus doesn't fit to the line of original Dune I think it is a total misunderstanding of Frank Herbert's way of thinking. The happy end of the story is as the other. Frank Herbert never give us so simple solutions.

I am quite sure that Anderson's books are not based on Frank Herbert notes.

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    So because you don't like some characters, you're certain that the sequels ignored the 30 page outline and 1000 pages of notes completely? That seems like a pretty big leap.
    – Beofett
    Nov 5, 2012 at 14:56
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    It has nothing to do with personal taste. The BH+KJA story makes 180 degree turns in some places in the Duniverse and are contrary in style and content to anything FH would have ever written. Whether one likes these changes or not, is a matter of personal opinion.
    – Bgs
    Mar 3, 2015 at 10:44
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    I agree. While I enjoyed the Butlerian Jihad triology I felt it was a totally wrong interpretation. As a kid when I read Dune I imagined the Butlerian Jihad to be a political and philosophical or religious movement. Not a literal war against robots. Mar 29, 2019 at 22:41
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    Paul Atreides doesn't have access to other memories, that was only for his sister Alia (born on Dune and awakened during their mother Jessica's spice agony to become a Reverend Mother), and his children who had his genetic ancestry for prescience and whose mother was addicted to the spice and whose pregnancy occurred with sufficient spice to cause it. That others have other memory is odd to me --- it should only occur when a pregnant female has access to sufficient spice and suitable genetic markers. Presumably Ghanima shared the secret of hypnotic trance to avoid the dangers of abomination.
    – WillAdams
    Jun 29, 2019 at 15:52
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    @WillAdams You've got to be kidding me. One of crucial points of kwisatz haderach was having all memory of ancestors - male and female.
    – Mithoron
    Oct 2, 2019 at 0:38
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What was written by BH & KJA as the Butlerian Jihad is based entirely on a single paragraph in "God Emperor of Dune": and there FH specifies that line of future history had been completely averted by the Golden Path. It was a might-have-been, not a "was" or "will be". Other repeated specific FH references to the Butlerian Jihad, right from the beginning in "Dune", emphasize thinking machines as crutches for the human mind. In God Emperor, humans before the Butlerian Jihad were said to adopt a "machine attitude" A specific lesson from "past over-machined societies" FH mentions is "the devices themselves condition the users to employ each other they way they employ machines." Finally, also from God Emperor, "The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines ... Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments." This is consistent with the Dune Encyclopedia. In contrast, does any of this sound like the Butlerian Jihad described by BH & KJA?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! You have a great setup, but it ends weak because you gloss over how the Butlerian Jihad is depicted by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson.
    – DavidW
    Nov 13, 2019 at 18:53

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