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The Road to Dune audio book by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

01/01/2009. Contributed by Rod MacDonald

Buy The Road to Dune in the USA - or Buy The Road to Dune in the UK

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pub: Macmillan Audio. 12 CDs 14 hours. Price: $49.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59397-776-4). read by Scott Brick .

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This is one the avid 'Dune' fan will not want to miss. Read by Scott Brick, the favourite narrator of many audio book listeners, we are taken to the early days of the 'Dune' novels when Frank Herbert was struggling to get his work published. Yes, it's true, he didn't achieve instant fame. The road to success was a long campaign with many hurdles to jump and even a novel like this which has become one of the most recognised and lucrative works of Science Fiction took a long time to get accepted. Weary authors out there take note. This information can be encouraging in is much as it tells you that the best authors had to struggle to get success but it is also discouraging to think that if even they had trouble, what chance have I?

However, the correspondences between Frank Herbert and Analog magazine and also Chilton, the book publisher, are not the only offerings to be found in this audio book. There's much more besides including an article he wrote about sand dunes and also some missing chapters from the novels 'Dune' and 'Dune Messiah'. There are also four short stories written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

'A Whisper On Caladan Seas', 'Hunting Harkonnens', 'Whipping Mek' and 'The Faces Of A Martyr' are the titles of the four stories and all interesting connections to the Dune universe. Quite enjoyable stories they turned out to be and I was left thinking that a complete book of 'Dune' short stories would be a good idea, all separate entities in their own right but based within the Dune universe and with reference to the events of the main story.

By far the major part of 'The Road To Dune' is a novel of 60,000 words entitled 'Spice Planet'. It's written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson based on an original storyline by Frank Herbert for 'Dune' itself. It is important to understand that this novel is not an addition to the Dune universe already in existence. While it has some similarities to the original 'Dune' novel, it isn't the same and it doesn't really fit into the stream of events of 'Dune'. Rather, it is an alternate story perhaps showing a twin version of Dune but under-developed and without the depth and authority of the main story.

It can nevertheless still be read as a sort of prequel to 'Dune' itself and it is an exciting story, well told and well read. The House of Atreides and the House of Harkonnen appear as different names but they are both after the same thing and that's the spice on Duneworld. It is a story of power grabbing people, almost like the soaps 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty', but with a futuristic setting.

It is strange to think that instead of 'Dune', an alternate universe itself, we may have had another universe based on 'Spice Planet'. It's unlikely that this universe would have been so successful. In fact, Frank Herbert's Dune universe was in constant evolution right up until his death and even after this his writings and notes lived on to influence Brian and Kevin.

While 'Road To Dune' provides insight into the novel and its creation, it is also entertaining in its own right. Perhaps this may not be the best point for someone to delve into the Dune universe but it is certainly one the initiated would wish to add to their collection. As audio books go, it's not the best I've listened to but it is certainly not the worst.

Rod MacDonald

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This book has 23 votes in the sci-fi charts

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