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One begins to see Herbert’s essential themes…

“…one begins to see Herbert’s essential themes. One of his central ideas is that human consciousness exists on—and by virtue of—a dangerous edge of crisis, and that the most essential human strength is the ability to dance on that edge. The more man confronts the dangers of the unknown, the more conscious he becomes. All of Herbert’s books portray and test the human ability to consciously adapt. He sets his characters in the most stressful situations imaginable: a cramped submarine in Under Pressure, his first novel; the desert wastes of Dune; and in Destination: Void the artificial tension of a spaceship designed to fail so that the crew will be forced to develop new abilities. There is no test so powerfully able to bring out latent adaptability as one in which the stakes are survival.”

– Timothy O’Reilly in Frank Herbert (Recognitions)

Originally published by Frederick Ungar, October 17, 1983. The whole critical biography of Frank Herbert (216 paperback pages) is also available online at oreilly.com.

Illustration by Erik Shoemaker.