Frank Herbert: Science Fiction Author

An interview with Frank Herbert: science fiction author, yellow journalist, and a homesteading technopeasant.

| May/June 1981

By profession, Frank Herbert is a science fiction author — and quite a successful one at that. Indeed, many of his novels are regarded as classics in the field. What's more, a major film studio is well into a years-long project to convert Frank's Dune tales into a feature-length motion picture. 

Of course, Herbert has written other distinguished fiction as well, but a list of his literary achievements would hardly serve to sum up this unique individual. The Washington State author staunchly maintains that any person's life should consist of much more than his or her work role (even if that role is a prominent one). He puts a lot of energy into his "nonprofessional" time. In keeping with his beliefs, Frank's a devoted father, spouse, and family man. He's also an avid alternative energy experimenter who's created his own solar collector, windplant, and methane fuel generator, all on an Olympic Peninsula homestead. 

Equally important, Mr. Herbert is an outgoing social commentator who combines a strong sense of traditional values with a radical's zest for questioning (and even parodying) the basic assumptions of our culture. Staffer Pat Stone—after being sent out to Port Townsend, Washington to talk with Frank—had this to say about his encounter with the creator of the exotic, water-poor planet, Dune: 

"Interviewing Frank Herbert was both a truly enjoyable and sometimes frustrating experience. The man seems charged with energy. He has an active and impish sense of humor—we did a lot of laughing—and a warm, hospitable nature that truly touched me. At the same time, though, Mr. Herbert's answers often bewildered me with their unexpectedness. He obviously relished escaping any attempts to `pigeonhole' his ideas, and even mimicked my role as interviewer by taking my picture once while I was photographing him! I tell you, at times I felt like a bit character in one of his novels who attempts—usually in vain—to keep up with the words of the book's brilliant protagonist. " 

Frank Herbert's ideas concerning the serious problems facing our society today and how we might successfully deal with them are often challenging and present a strong counterpoint to the views of his fellow science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov. All of us here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS hope that you find the author/homesteader's concepts and anecdotes—as presented in the edited transcript that follows—to be as thought-provoking as we have. 

PLOWBOY: Mr. Herbert, a little voice in the back of my mind keeps telling me that many readers of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' will probably wonder why our do-it-yourself, ecology-oriented magazine is interviewing a prominent science fiction writer.

John Emmerton
2/21/2013 3:34:31 AM

We do not believe that our time is the best time ever. But it is our time and we owe it our prime duty and affection. - Dr. Richard Jones

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