Herbert, Frank Patrick (1920-1986), American science fiction author, best known for his Dune Chronicles series. Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, and began his career as a journalist at age 17. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle from 1946 to 1947. During the 1950s he began writing science fiction, selling several short stories to science fiction magazines. In 1956 Herbert published his first novel, The Dragon in the Sea (also published as Under Pressure and 21st Century Sub), which introduced a theme prevalent in much of his work: the environment and its resources as the basis of a power struggle.
While working for the San Francisco Examiner for ten years, Herbert wrote what would become his most famous novel, Dune (1965). First published as a series of short stories in several science fiction magazines, the Dune manuscript was rejected by over 20 publishers before being accepted by Chilton, a publishing house best known for its how-to books. The book was an immediate success, especially among young-adult readers who found that its themes reflected their own interest in environmental science.
Since its publication, Dune has been translated into more than 14 languages and has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Herbert received two awards for Dune: the Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula award in 1965 for best novel, and the World Science Fiction Convention Science Fiction Achievement Award in 1966 for best novel (tied with And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny). American film director David Lynch made a movie adaptation of Dune in 1984.
Herbert’s Dune Chronicles, also dealing with ecology, continued with Dune Messiah (1970), Children of Dune (1976), God Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984), and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985). The chronicles describe the history of a desert-planet, including its environment, culture, and religion. The story is written as seen through the eyes of a superman, who leads the planet’s inhabitants toward control of their own world and the conquest of others.
Herbert’s other novels include Destination: Void (1966), The Santaroga Barrier (1968), and The Heaven Makers (1968; revised 1977). The Best of Frank Herbert (1975) presents a selection of his stories. Herbert was also the author of Without Me You’re Nothing: The Essential Guide to Home Computers (1981). At the time of his death, Herbert was working on a seventh Dune novel; it was completed by his son Brian, also a science fiction writer.