Recently someone posted something on FaceBook about the Litany of Fear. Subsequent comments showed that several people were aware of its origin in the Frank Herbert novel Dune.
I read Dune in high school although the paperback copy I have has a printing date of 1975. The original copyright date is 1965. For a science fiction novel, it’s stood the test of time. Perhaps most interesting from our current perspective is Herbert’s use of Arab traditions and language in the story. The only knowledge I had at that time was pretty much that the Arabs were the bad guys during the Crusades and they kept alive Western knowledge during the Dark Ages. And they invented algebra.
Many of the terms and traditions that Herbert gives the heroic Fremen of Dune are straight out of the Arab world. His vision of the Fremen’s world Arrakis is the Arab’s desert writ large.
I met Mr Herbert once. In the spring of 1976 I saw a small notice in the newspaper that he would be appearing at a local bookstore to sign copies of his new book, Children of Dune. I had read not only Dune, but the sequel, Dune Messiah, several times and was excited to find out what was in store next so I went.
As I entered the bookstore, I saw Mr Herbert sitting there next to a stack of Children of Dune books. They were all hardcover! I never bought hardcover! My paperback copy of the original Dune had been $1.95! I couldn’t even imagine what these cost. I had been working my steady job at Mervyn’s since the previous fall so I had some money but I never thought I should spend it on hardcover books when the paperbacks were cheaper and had the same words in them.
With the bravado of youth I walked up to the author and asked him where I could find the paperbacks. He gently told me that the hardcovers were the only ones available. So I gulped and bought one. $8.95!! He asked me my name and inscribed it to me with the date. There was no one else in the bookstore. He was sitting there with a glass of wine. He offered one to me and invited me to sit down and chat but I was so flustered and anxious to start reading the book, I declined both and left almost immediately.
Before leaving, I did ask him if the story had been plotted from the beginning as a trilogy and he said yes. Of course, once the series became successful, other sequels were written and after his death, Herbert’s son wrote some more. Who can blame them?
I still have that hardcover book.