Tuesday, August 7, 2007


George Lucas' hit movie Star Wars came out that year (1977). The film was shocking to me, for all the similarities between it and my father's book, Dune. Both featured an evil galactic empire, a desolate desert planet, hooded natives, strong religious elements, and a messianic hero with an aged mentor. Star Wars' Princess Leah had a name with a haunting similarity to Dune's Lady Alia of the noble house Atreides. The movie also had spice mines and a Dune Sea.

I phoned my father and said, "You better see it. The similarities are unbelievable."

When Dad saw the movie, he picked out sixteen points of what he called "absolute identity" between his book and the movie, enough to make him livid. He thought he saw the ideas of other science ficiton writers on the screen as well, including those of Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Ted Sturgeon, Barry Malzberg, and Jerry Pournelle.

Still, Frank Herbert tried to be upbeat. He and the other science fiction writers who thought they saw their work in Lucas' movie formed a loose organization that my father called, with his tongue firmly placed in his cheek, the We're Too Big To Sue George Lucas Society. Through humor, dad tried to mask the pain.

--Brian Herbert, from his biography of Frank Herbert, "Dreamer Of Dune".