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Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson – The Road to DuneThe Road to Dune is, like all of the Dune books since Frank Herbert's untimely death, a book by his son Brian Herbert and his writing partner Kevin J. Anderson, but based on some of the tons of material Frank left behind, and thus based in the Dune Universe. I leave it to the fans to decide if Brian's and Kevin's writings are canon, and to what degree.

This is a book of three parts – first off the mark is a rendering of the 'original' Dune novelette (or, at least, that's the length it came to here) called 'Spice Planet', that Brian and Kevin partially pieced together from chapters Frank left behind, and partially wrote based on his outline and notes. It is a recognizable setting and story line for everyone who has read Dune, albeit with differences to Character and Place names, with a simpler storyline, and with significantly fewer layers and complications than the book that was finally published. I think that, if it would have been published in this short form, and with this level and quality of content, then Dune would be forgotten by now, and so would, conceivably, be Frank, which would be a great loss to Science Fiction in my opinion.

The second part of the book is only Frank's writing, containing correspondence and chapters which were cut for length when first Dune, and then Dune Messiah, were serialized. These chapters were never restored, and are thus published here for the first time. As Brian and Kevin point out, though, they were cut by Frank, and should thus not be considered canon (although I doubt that there is much here that would contradict anything else in the saga). The original correspondence, concerning an article on Dunes, the danger of Dunes near inhabited areas, and new ways of controlling them (a proper journalistic approach, long before Frank became famous) made me smile. The assumption is that this is where it started; that this served as inspiration for the story about a world made up mostly of Dunes, that this research and writing was the lynchpin that, eventually, gave us Dune.

The final part consists of 4 short stories by Brian and Kevin, set in the Dune universe, and filling in some parts that the main books don't cover. These very in quality and importance, from the rather engrossing and stand-alone 'A Whisper of Caladan's Seas', which plays during Dune; to the other 3 stories playing during (and in-between the books on) the Butlerian Jihad, and really only make sense together with those books (by Brian and Kevin, again).

Whilst this is a reasonably entertaining book for everyone who knows Dune, or who has read at least part of it, it is, in my opinion, really aimed at fans of the series, at completists, and to some degree at scholars who work with Frank's material. Especially the last part feels a bit extra to specification, and really only there to showcase further bits Brian and Kevin have written, and to pad the material stemming from Frank's writing to book length. By no means essential - get it if you're a fan of Dune and want the extra bits.

Title: The Road to Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Author: Brian Herbert
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Publisher URL: http://www.madaboutbooks.com
Publication Date: 2005
Review Date: 090105
ISBN: 0340837462
Price: UKP 7.99
Pages: 380
Format: Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Space Opera

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