If you're fascinated by Frank Herbert's Dune novels, you'll definitely want to read Scott Timberg's latest article in the Los Angeles Times, chronicling the book's origins and legacy. Plus there's great commentary from Kim Stanley Robinson.
The novel was sparked when, in the late 1950s, Herbert flew to Florence, Ore., in a small chartered plane to write about a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to stabilize sand dunes with European beach grasses. The author was struck by the way dunes could move, over time, like living things — swallowing rivers, clogging lakes, burying forests. "These waves can be every bit as devastating as a tidal wave . . . they've even caused deaths," he wrote his agent, beginning an article, "They Stopped the Moving Sands," that was never published.
Despite his agent's indifference, Herbert dug in: He was fascinated by the project and superimposed the history of another sandy place — including Arabs and Islam's Mohammed — into an adventure novel originally called "Spice Planet."
Find out more via Los Angeles Times