It is unfair to say that because Herbert portrayed one gay character negatively that he was homophobic
. This is from "God Emperor of Dune
"It's perfectly normal for adolescent females and males to have feelings of physical attraction to their own sex
...it's part of our heritage
... I will tell you this only once. Homosexuals
have been among the best warrior
s in our history
, the berserker
s of last resort. They were among our best priests and priestesses. Celibacy
was no accident in religions. It is also no accident that adolescents make the best soldiers."
This was in the context of one character (Moneo Atreides
) addressing another (ghola
) who was 3500 years behind in evolution
, and had a problem with seeing two women kiss. So it's no mystery
which viewpoint Herbert thought was more advanced. And this was in a book published in 1981, before the aspects of history it touched on were well known, so you could say that on this, as on many other issues, he was ahead of his time.
The preceding is the original text of this writeup, my first ever, and is a response to Anacreon
's writeup. What follows is an attempt to provide a more complete biography
Science fiction is mainstream. Everything else is kind of an attendant time-bound piece of science fiction.
- Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert (ssn 549-26-9691) was born in 1920 in Tacoma, Washington, and lied about his age to land his first journalism job in 1939. Shortly afterward World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the US Navy as a photojournalist and lay analyst, during which time he was probably involved in propaganda dissemination and psyops. While he was at war, his first wife left him. When he returned he married Beverly Ann Stuart, who was also a writer and who would become the sounding board for much of his work until her death in 1984.
In 1952 Herbert sold his first SF story, Looking for Something?, and in 1955 published his first novel (Dragon in the Sea), in which he draws on his naval experience and which depicts a world war over dwindling oil reserves. Naturally this thesis was purely fantastical and subsequent events have shown that people are far too civilized to fight over energy resources.
Until 1969, he worked as a journalist (usually for Hearst publications) in addition to writing novels and short stories. From 1970 to 1972 he worked as a social and ecological studies consultant in Vietnam and Pakistan, and lectured at the University of Washington (despite having dropped out of that school after cutting classes for a year in 1947).
In 1972, he began devoting himself full time to the two things he will be most remembered for; writing fiction, and developing his Ecological Demonstration Project. The project, based on his Olympic Peninsula land, was Herbert's attempt to show that "one can live a relatively high quality of life without an enormous, irreplaceable energy drain." He grew his own rice, vegetables and wine grapes there, and used windmills and methane (from chicken manure) for energy.
In 1980, Frank and Beverly moved to Maui. In 1984, Ann died, and Herbert wrote for her a moving eulogy that was included in the introduction to Chapterhouse: Dune. In 1985 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent experimental treatment at the University of Wisconsin. He died on February 11, 1986, at the age of 65.