Hairy Ticks of Dune

Home of the Orthodox Herbertarian Jihad

“Only One Mistake”: The Infidelities of Kevin J. Anderson

Here are those email messages that passed between Kevin J. Anderson and SandChigger starting in October 2006. Content has not been edited except as follows:

  1. Email and other addresses have been removed; where deemed relevant, they have been replaced with names in parentheses;
  2. Code and formatting specific to emails has been deleted or replaced with the equivalents used on this website.

Click here to jump straight to the infamous “only one mistake” quote and here for the “critical darlings” one.

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From: (SandChigger)
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Date: Sat Oct 14, 2006 05:56:24 PM JST
Subject: Greetings from SandChigger

Hello, Kevin. Thank you very much for the email. Sorry my reply hasn’t been as prompt as yours was!

I’ve read about the Amazon incident in several places now. It’s sad and it’s unfortunate, but that’s the way people are. Evidence to the contrary, though, I like to think that the people who matter (the ones who actually think about things; showing my prejudices here!) will take opinions accompanied by statements like “I don’t even need to read this book to know how bad it is” for what they’re worth (nothing at all).

I personally have never doubted the existence of “The Notes” (or the outline), but I think part of the problem is the secrecy currently surrounding them and the fact that it is unclear to the rest of us what exactly Frank Herbert wrote in them (and in what detail) and what you and Brian have had to extrapolate. (Take, for example, Erasmus. Statements by you and Brian in interviews seem to indicate that you came up with much of this character on your own. Was there mention of an “independent robot” in the notes or outline, as a major character?) In this sense, it would be nice if the Herberts decide to release the notes in some form in the future.

I also think that the fact the new books are being promoted as based on Frank Herbert’s notes is one cause of the “beef stroganoff” phenomenon. This isn’t just any series by any author. To the extent that true Dune fans are like drug addicts, they’ll do anything for just one more fix. For many, not reading is simply not an option!

There’s no way to argue against the value of having brought new fans to Dune. That is definitely a good thing. However, I have noticed (on the boards at least) a difference in the conception of the Duniverse among those who have entered through the new books. I hope I am just being overly pessimistic when I worry that the differences in style might dissuade new (younger?) readers from continuing and reading all of the originals.

The unexpected kindness of the offer of a copy of your book truly touched me. I would be a cad to refuse! I will be returning to the States for the holidays, so I’ll save you the overseas postage and give you the address of my aunt who manages things for me while I am out of the country: [Address removed —SC].

I realize that you have a very busy schedule and only limited time to respond to email, so I will try not to impose on your kindness too much! Again, thank you for taking the time to repond.

—Ron (SandChigger)

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Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 23:48:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: Dune stuff
To: (SandChigger)

Hello, Sandchigger,

I was starting to wonder if you had disappeared! I’m still working about 12 hours a day on my final edit of SANDWORMS and just taking a brief break here, so I can address some of your comments directly.

I’ve read about the Amazon incident in several places now. It’s sad and it’s unfortunate, but that’s the way people are. Evidence to the contrary, though, I like to think that the people who matter (the ones who actually think about things; showing my prejudices here!) will take opinions accompanied by statements like “I don’t even need to read this book to know how bad it is” for what they’re worth (nothing at all).

I agree, but what I find disappointing is that the majority of the “rational” fans, the “people who matter,” let these bozos get away with it. If I were giving a talk, say, at a library or a conference and a nutcase started shouting that I was making up the existence of the notes — the rest of the audience would come down on him like a ton of bricks and shoo him out of the room. Not so on the discussion boards; the rational people pretty much remain silent and let the crazies rant on and on.

I personally have never doubted the existence of “The Notes” (or the outline), but I think part of the problem is the secrecy currently surrounding them and the fact that it is unclear to the rest of us what exactly Frank Herbert wrote in them (and in what detail) and what you and Brian have had to extrapolate.

I don’t really know what you mean about secrecy. We’ve published a book full of the notes and letters and chapters in ROAD TO DUNE; I’ve posted more of them on the dunenovels website. It makes no sense, however, to suggest that we post the “Dune 7” notes and outline before the books are even out! People who want to read the story will have to read HUNTERS and SANDWORMS. That would be like George Lucas posting the outline for Episode III before the movie actually came out.

Years ago, we might have given a different answer, but after all the garbage and invective we’ve seen on the discussion boards, we have no intention of posting the outline so that the Talifan can go over it line by line and try to find anything we did differently from their own interpretation. That cartoon of me and Brian gang-raping Frank Herbert’s corpse was so vile that Brian cancelled all of his online activities and refuses to interact with fans via the internet. I nearly gave it all up myself.

(And this isn’t specific to Dune. The Star Wars talifan have driven virtually all Star Wars authors off of the discussion boards; same with Star Trek. I thought that the fans would like to interact directly with the creators; I make myself available very often throughout the year by attending conventions, book signings, doing interviews, answering questions. But the rest of the normal fans have let the rude and surly ones hijack their presence on the internet, basically ruining the area for the majority.)

Anyway, to answer your question — Frank’s outline was his map of where the story was going in “Dune 7,” what the major events were, where it culminated, what happened to some of the key characters. I like to use the comparison that Frank gave us driving directions, but Brian and I actually made the trip across country. (Or, to go back to our cooking metaphors, he left us a recipe for lasagna, but Brian and I bought the ingredients and spent the day in the kitchen cooking the meal.)

(Take, for example, Erasmus. Statements by you and Brian in interviews seem to indicate that you came up with much of this character on your own. Was there mention of an “independent robot” in the notes or outline, as a major character?)

We knew with the “Dune 7” outline where the story was going to go, what the major threat was, and how the characters would resolve it. That’s why it seemed obvious that we had to flesh out the Butlerian Jihad story before we could jump in and write Dune 7, because there was so much setup to do. Frank’s style was different, and he often had a tendency to drop in major events “offstage” without a lot of explanation or dramatization. (The entire destruction of Rakis happens between chapters, for example.) However, he had begun discussions with Brian about the two of them writing the Butlerian Jihad storyline, which probably would have been a lot of backfill information after the publication of Dune 7.

Brian and I created the specific character and characterization of Erasmus to fill a role that we needed in order to convey the story that Frank Herbert laid out. The outline for Dune 7 was about 20 pages long, I think, and from that we wrote 1400 manuscript pages. The basic events are Frank’s, but we did all the rest.

(And, yes, I’ve seen some of the complaining about Marty and Daniel being Erasmus and Omnius. Part of the answer is in HUNTERS and the rest will be in SANDWORMS. We’re following Frank Herbert’s plan, but you’ve only read the first half of the story so far. It reminds me of the people who read HOUSE ATREIDES and squawked because we introduced no-field technology there; once you read to the end of the trilogy, everything is completely taken care of and was planned from the beginning. In fact, Brian and I have been planning for Dune 7 since we began writing the HOUSE books, and everything has been leading up to HUNTERS and SANDWORMS.)

I also think that the fact the new books are being promoted as based on Frank Herbert’s notes is one cause of the “beef stroganoff” phenomenon. This isn’t just any series by any author. To the extent that true Dune fans are like drug addicts, they’ll do anything for just one more fix. For many, not reading is simply not an option!

Okay, but we’ve written eight Dune books so far. I can see if somebody was surprised at the first one and didn’t like it. But by now every Dune addict should know what they’re going to get when they pick up a Brian and Kevin Dune novel. Maybe they’ll love it, maybe they won’t, but it certainly shouldn’t be any surprise that they don’t read exactly like Frank Herbert. Fans have enough datapoints by now to adjust their expectations accordingly.

Again, I’ll go back to the Star Trek comparison. Personally, I don’t think “The Next Generation” has as much depth and resonance as the original Star Trek, but it has its own flavor and its own following. I didn’t watch Next Gen every week and complain that “Mr. Spock isn’t on it!” I’m quite certain that neither Brian nor I have ever stated that we believe ourselves or our works to be superior, or even equal, to Frank Herbert’s masterpieces. Nevertheless, we are extremely proud of what we’ve done and we’ve done our very best with each book. Even with all our other projects, we feel these novels are probably o[u]r lives’ work.

I grew up idolizing and admiring the work of Frank Herbert. I read and studied all of his novels, not just the Dune books. I learned many things about writing and plotting from those novels. I never met Frank Herbert, though. I sold my first novel, RESURRECTION, INC, in the mid-1980s, and I managed to get Frank’s home address so that I could send him the very first signed copy of my first novel. But between the time I sold the book and when it could be published, he passed away.

Now, given the chance to work with his notes and write Dune novels with his son is one of the most exciting things ever to have happened to me. When I was asked to present Frank Herbert’s Hall of Fame induction trophy, I was very thrilled.

I hope I am just being overly pessimistic when I worry that the differences in style might dissuade new (younger?) readers from continuing and reading all of the originals.

Yes, you’re being overly pessimistic. I have received literally thousands of letters from fans of my STAR WARS novels, saying they decided to read the Dune prequels because they liked my writing, and then continued through all of Frank’s chronicles. Before HOUSE ATREIDES, sales of the original Dune books had dwindled to a steady but low level, year after year; with the release of our books, though, the sales of all the originals more than tripled. People are reading the whole series.

You’re obviously a dedicated Dune fan, and so am I. We’ve both read the original chronicles very closely and enjoyed their mastery. One thing you must keep in mind, though, is that *a lot* of people gave up on the Dune books. GOD EMPEROR, HERETICS, and CHAPTERHOUSE are very difficult novels for many readers, and Frank retained only about 10% of his audience through to the end. Rather than writing our new Dune novels to please the small group of the elite, we have instead recaptured and revived interest among that 90% who loved the first DUNE and not the others. I’ve also received stacks of letters from fans who tell me they had given up after God Emperor, but once they read the prequels, they went back and read the series all the way through.

I’m disappointed if somebody doesn’t like our novels, but I respect their opinion and they’re entitled to it. However, our work has put a big spotlight on the whole Dune universe and brought it to the well-deserved forefront of science fiction again. By comparison, if you look at the classics of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, they are almost forgotten already, only a decade or so after those authors are gone.

Whew, now I’m more exhausted than I was when I supposedly took a break! I’ll send out your copy of HIDDEN EMPIRE in the next week. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

KJA

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Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 13:55:03 +0900
From: (SandChigger)
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: More Dune stuff

Hello, again.

(Trying to show that I can reply somewhat more promptly as well!?) Yes, I started a reply after your first and then had a few 12-plus-hour days of my own.

I think the problem with online interaction is that it’s still (in some ways) a new medium and we haven’t had time to develop the necessary rules...or at least such rules as exist haven’t become as ingrained as those which help regulate face-to-face interactions. The fact that there are few direct repercussions for bad behavior (like being shooed out of a room of people who want to hear someone speak and discuss things) merely exacerbates the problem. One reason why “rational” people may not leap to others’ defense online may be that they don’t want to become targets themselves. Or, more importantly, they may have past experience of such “battles” and realize that, given current conditions, there is really very little point in engagement. My motto in these things is “Argue too much with an idiot and you may become one yourself!”

As for the “secrecy” surrounding the notes and outline, I didn’t mean to suggest that they be released before the novels! Only that it would be interesting to study them later. (Another thing I hope you and Brian have held onto is your drafts. I think they would be fascinating from the point of view of research on the process of collaborative writing.) My area of specialization is linguistics, but I dabble in literary analysis as a hobby. (One of the classes I teach is English Composition for Senior Thesis. While I am not their official academic advisor, I usually end up advising the students on argumentation and methods of analysis as well.) In the long term, I think people will want to see the notes because of their value to studies of Frank’s, your and Brian’s works; wanting to compare the outline to what you have produced from it is not soley a “Talifan” motivation!

I’ve often wondered why Brian has such a minimal Net presence. I can understand his decision, but can’t agree with it. (But, of course, don’t deny him his right to it.) Byron and I have crossed swords a bit on the DN BBS on the subject of Wikipedia; my position is that, for all its problems, it is still a worthwhile endeavor and a potentially valuable resource; that engagement is a far more defensible position than retiring from the field. And complaining about it. (Not too far from “if you don’t like it, don’t read it or biatch about it”, I guess, eh?) I’m glad that you have chosen a different path. Because I think you’re right that fans do want to interact with authors. Even non- or not-yet-fans! ?

Thanks for the answers and additional information on Erasmus et al.

We knew with the “Dune 7” outline where the story was going to go, what the major threat was, and how the characters would resolve it. That’s why it seemed obvious that we had to flesh out the Butlerian Jihad story before we could jump in and write Dune 7, because there was so much setup to do.

This is one of those things that isn’t exactly “obvious” to me. Your statement that Frank

had begun discussions with Brian about the two of them writing the Butlerian Jihad storyline, which probably would have been a lot of backfill information after the publication of Dune 7

tells me that Frank’s original plan was to do the Jihad story after “Dune 7”. I don’t think anyone seriously expected (or wanted) you and Brian to consciously try to imitate Frank’s style, but in this case couldn’t you have followed his lead and original intentions? (If that reads as accusation, believe me that’s not how I intend it. It’s an honest question.) Did anticipation of fan reaction play some role?

Okay, but we’ve written eight Dune books so far. I can see if somebody was surprised at the first one and didn’t like it. But by now every Dune addict should know what they’re going to get when they pick up a Brian and Kevin Dune novel. Maybe they’ll love it, maybe they won’t, but it certainly shouldn’t be any surprise that they don’t read exactly like Frank Herbert. Fans have enough datapoints by now to adjust their expectations accordingly.

I agree, but I don’t think that the books not “read[ing] exactly like Frank Herbert” is the issue with most of us; at least I know it isn’t for me. I have read and enjoyed the works of a wide variety of authors; different styles do not bother me. (Wasn’t there a collection of shorts once by several different authors all telling the same story in their own way? I remember reading something like that, back when we were in our mid to late teens or so [we’re only a year apart in age, as you probably noticed if you looked at my profile], and enjoying it...but obviously not enough to remember the title?! I really hate getting old!) One thing that does bother me is the apparent inconsistencies with the original books....

TAZ/Superman has said on the BBS that you and he have gone over the books and found no errors. (Meaning serious errors of continuity.) The question he is currently avoiding (bit of POV there) is how to reconcile the differences, in story terms, in the depictions of how Leto and Jessica came to be together. Even the DN FAQ says only that the version in “House Harkonnen” is consistent with Frank’s original notes, placing what is in the notes above what was already published in “Dune”. Did Frank include any sort of explanation? Or did he intend to go back and change the original passage in later editions of “Dune”. (I guess this is the main question for this message.)

Another thing involves the issue which is the hardest to broach with the actual author of a work...the style of writing. It seems obvious to me that you and Brian elected to use a simpler style aimed at the general reading public of our well-patinated Age. My biggest concern here is that you may have underestimated the level of ability a bit. Was it in fact a conscious decision, a result of discussion between you, or simply the way things evolved? This is one reason why I am interested in reading other books by both you and Brian. As I wrote in my comment on your blog, my opinion of both of you as writers is currently based entirely on the new Dune books.

Whew, now I’m more exhausted than I was when I supposedly took a break! I’ll send out your copy of HIDDEN EMPIRE in the next week. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Sorry about that! It wasn’t my intention to add to your burden. But thank you again for the book. (Now I won’t have to worry about bringing back or finding something to read over the holidays!)

My regards & best wishes to you and your family,

—Ron/SandChigger

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Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 14:50:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: more Dune
To: (SandChigger)

Now it’s my turn not to reply promptly. If you’ve been reading the blog, you know I’ve been inundated trying to get two 700-page book manuscripts off my desk in the same week. I’ve been putting in an average of 50-70 hour weeks since last January, seven days a week, and I’m really exhausted.

I think the problem with online interaction is that it’s still (in some ways) a new medium and we haven’t had time to develop the necessary rules...or at least such rules as exist haven’t become as ingrained as those which help regulate face-to-face interactions. The fact that there are few direct repercussions for bad behavior (like being shooed out of a room of people who want to hear someone speak and discuss things) merely exacerbates the problem.

That was basically my point. I think the fans need to do a better job of policing their own and keep the real jerks in line if they want authors like me and Brian (or writers of Star Wars, Star Trek, or anything you can think of) to participate in the forums and interact directly. Instead, they’ve let a handful of undesirables hijack most of the discussions, and the authors have deserted the forums in droves. The few have ruined it for everybody. (And again, I’m not just referring to Dune fans — this is a phenomenon that seems to go across the board.)

As for the “secrecy” surrounding the notes and outline, I didn’t mean to suggest that they be released before the novels! Only that it would be interesting to study them later.

But if I take your comment at face value, then there should be nobody even raising the issue until after the publication of SANDWORMS. That’s not the case. People have been complaining for years and accusing us of being “secretive.” Brian and I have held onto our drafts but, as I mentioned to you before, I don’t think we have very much incentive to publish our drafts and notes. (I’m not aware of any author who does that, anyway.) The finished novel is what we put forth for the readers, and we should be judged by that.

I’ve often wondered why Brian has such a minimal Net presence. I can understand his decision, but can’t agree with it. (But, of course, don’t deny him his right to it.) Byron and I have crossed swords a bit on the DN BBS on the subject of Wikipedia; my position is that, for all its problems, it is still a worthwhile endeavor and a potentially valuable resource

I don’t want to get into a discussion about Wikipedia. I do think it’s a great reference and I use it myself very often, and it has a lot of potential. However, once you’ve been the target of deliberate and repeated sabotage, your perspective changes. I just wish Wiki had an extra step of accountability, so that people can’t just sling mud under the anonymity of frequently changed screen names.

that engagement is a far more defensible position than retiring from the field.

Sure, but again see my comment above — I’ve been working 70-hour weeks on the books. Brian’s schedule is nearly that full. I could spend most of my time on the fan boards, discussion groups, trying to answer questions. That would quickly become a black hole of time, and my job is to write the books.

This is one of those things that isn’t exactly “obvious” to me. Your statement that Frank had begun discussions with Brian about the two of them writing the Butlerian Jihad storyline, which probably would have been a lot of backfill information after the publication of Dune 7 tells me that Frank’s original plan was to do the Jihad story after “Dune 7”. I don’t think anyone seriously expected (or wanted) you and Brian to consciously try to imitate Frank’s style, but in this case couldn’t you have followed his lead and original intentions? (If that reads as accusation, believe me that’s not how I intend it. It’s an honest question.) Did anticipation of fan reaction play some role?

It was more creative sense and common sense. If Frank had completed Dune 7 a year or two after Chapterhouse, he probably could have pulled it off. He had the momentum of his readers behind him, and he would have done it in his own way. Brian and I, though, are coming at the end of the story twenty years after Chapterhouse. Before House Atreides, the readership of DUNE had dwindled drastically and those who made it all the way through to Chapterhouse were a mere trickle. After the “House” books, many more people went back to the original chronicles and reread them, or read them for the first time. We received many letters from fans who had given up repeatedly on Heretics and Chapterhouse, but after reading further background in the House books, they tried again and it made sense to them. After the publication of the Jihad trilogy, those sorts of letters increased tenfold. As each book came out, more and more readers finished the Dune chronicles all the way through to the end of Chapterhouse.

Seriously, and I mean this as a very dedicated Dune fan, if we had not published the two prequel trilogies first and just started out cold with “Dune 7,” there really weren’t very many people still waiting around to see how the story ended. By tackling the challenge the way we did, HUNTERS has sold extraordinarily better even than any of our previous seven books. We had reawakened their interest.

Creatively speaking, it didn’t make sense to either Brian or myself to publish Dune 7 and resolve the great cliffhanger, “surprise, the long-awaited villain is somebody you’ve never heard of before.” I do not know how Frank would have written it or how much he would have explained (or if he would have changed his mind entirely — my understanding from Brian is that he rarely worked with an outline at all, and I believe the Dune 7 outline was written when he sold the three books (Heretics, Chapterhouse, and 7) to Berkely.) Believe me, we weren’t trying to torment Dune fans and drag out the waiting. We felt the impact would be far greater if we did the setup and established the necessary information, as well as continued to build momentum, as a setup for the grand climax.

TAZ/Superman has said on the BBS that you and he have gone over the books and found no errors. (Meaning serious errors of continuity.)

Over the years, as you might expect, I’ve received many comments and questions from fans pointing out supposed errors. Most of the “errors” have obvious explanations if people would just read the books a little more closely. (Some complained that we used no-field technology in House Atreides, long before the technology was introduced in the Dune universe — but if they had read the rest of the trilogy that question is fully explained and is, in fact, a major part of the story. Or, DUNE states that Duncan’s sword was “first blooded on Grumman” and that he uses a sword to battle for House Vernius on Ix in HOUSE CORRINO. Well, we spent pages in several chapters emphasizing that Duncan isn’t using *his* sword in Corrino, but is using the Old Duke’s sword. How Duncan gets his own sword in service of House Atreides and how he uses it during the War of Assassins is a large part of the story in the forthcoming “Paul of Dune” trilogy.)

Other supposed errors require a little more subtle thinking, but the answers are there if you just look for them. (In the opening of Dune, Irulan’s “Manual of Muad’Dib” states that Paul was born on Caladan, but in House Corrino he’s actually born on Kaitain and then christened on Caladan; it’s been established repeatedly that the Bene Gesserit manipulate history and propaganda. Irulan writing the various biographies of Paul and building his legend to make him an even greater figure is another of the key storylines in “Paul of Dune.” Or, another question is why didn’t Gurney recognize Liet-Kynes in the banquet scene in DUNE if they had spent some time together as smugglers on Salusa Secundus? When Liet first saw Gurney, he was just a kid, under an assumed name, on a completely different planet. Gurney sees him decades later, halfway across the galaxy, under totally different circumstances. I suppose it’s freakishly possible that somebody might have been recognized in that scenario, but it sure doesn’t strike me as likely.)

To date, I have heard of only one mistake that doesn’t have an explanation for a careful reader, or at least one with an open mind. (And, no, I’m not going to tell you what it is!) There are errors and inconsistencies in the original Dune chronicles, too. That doesn’t mean I think any less of Frank Herbert as a genius and it doesn’t make me post vitriolic comments and accusations on the bulletin boards that Frank Herbert was “the Dummy of Dune” or “the Antichrist.”

how to reconcile the differences, in story terms, in the depictions of how Leto and Jessica came to be together — Did Frank include any sort of explanation? Or did he intend to go back and change the original passage in later editions of “Dune”. (I guess this is the main question for this message.)

Frank wrote the dramatic scene (of Jessica being brought to Castle Caladan and a suspicious Duke Leto putting the knife to her throat) many years after the publication of DUNE. From my reading of the notes and files, it seems likely that Frank wrote that scene when he was working with David Lynch to flesh out the character background. Since we assume he knew what he was doing, and since it was a great scene, that is how we depicted it in House Atreides.

Without rereading the whole novel to answer your question (see the “I don’t have the time!” paragraph above), only one sentence in the whole novel DUNE deals with how Jessica and Leto came together — “Not since the day when the Duke’s buyers had taken her from the school had she felt this frightened and unsure of herself.” So, “the Duke’s buyers had taken her from the school” — Frank contradicted nine words out of a 195,000 word novel? If that’s what gives you heartburn and keeps you up at night, then I’m sorry, my friend, but you need to get a life! <g> And if including that never-before-published scene, written by Frank himself, turns you off to our entire series of prequels, that just seems unreasonable to me. (Sorry if that sounds snippy, but it’s very frustrating for me after all the incredible work and sweat and attention we put into writing these novels for somebody to nitpick about something so inconsequential.)

Another thing involves the issue which is the hardest to broach with the actual author of a work...the style of writing. It seems obvious to me that you and Brian elected to use a simpler style aimed at the general reading public of our well-patinated Age. My biggest concern here is that you may have underestimated the level of ability a bit. Was it in fact a conscious decision, a result of discussion between you, or simply the way things evolved?

I’ll apologize in advance if this answer sounds defensive, but it’s rather hard not to be offended by the way you pose your question. As I read it, you’re basically asking, “Did we patronize Dune readers and ‘dumb down’ our writing so they could understand it?”

I’ve published 94 novels, 42 of which have been national or international bestsellers. My writing style is the way I write, developed over the course of writing almost ten million words. Never did either Brian or I consciously attempt to write in a certain style or to a certain level; in fact, we consciously *didn’t* attempt to imitate Frank Herbert, but to write the novels with the prose that comes naturally to us as a collaborative team. A writer’s style is something inherent to the creative process, and I don’t think you *can* just copy the way another author does it.

HOUSE HARKONNEN was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, one of the first science fiction novels in history ever to be so chosen. Over half of our Dune novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, and they have won numerous critical and readers’ choice awards. I’ve been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and missed the Hugo ballot by one vote. Brian’s been nominated for the Hugo.

I’m disappointed if you don’t like our writing style, but I can certainly accept it. I don’t like every writer’s style; for instance, I have never been able to get through Ursula LeGuin, China Mieville, or Iain Banks, all of whom are critical darlings. But my style is my style; it’s the way I tell stories, and it has served me very well in both the critical and the fan arenas. Sorry if it isn’t your cup of tea, and I’d be curious to see if you have the same reaction to “Seven Suns” (which should even now be waiting at your aunt’s house in Ohio). But I certainly don’t dumb down my writing because I think Dune readers are gullible and stupid.

Well, sorry for the long soapbox there. It’s practically the length of a short story! I very much respect the fans of Dune, and I consider myself one of the biggest ones. I would never do anything less than my very best, because Dune itself demands it.

KJA

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Date: Mon Jan 08 12:09:23 2007
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
To: (SandChigger)
Subject: RE: RE: cute titles for Seven Suns

So...should we recommence our email exchange? A few new questions have come up...as always!

Sure...I thought you might have been ticked off or something because I never heard a response after my last answers.

Use the [ISP name removed —SC] address though. MySpace mail is terrible.

KJA

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Date: Tue Apr 24 13:07:30 2007
To: (Kevin J. Anderson).com
From: (SandChigger)
Subject: Questions for the aborted email interview...

Kevin,

You made it clear yesterday that further exchanges would be a waste of both your time and mine, but I am going ahead and sending these questions along since the thing had already achieved some momentum on the BBS. You can ignore them or answer at your leisure, as you choose. (I have indicated the source for questions not my own, and have edited as I saw fit.)

—SC

[Email interview questions snipped here for redisplay elsewhere. —SC]

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Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 14:06:32 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: Re: Questions for the aborted email interview...
To: (SandChigger)

[Email interview answers snipped here for redisplay elsewhere. —SC]

Date: Thu Apr 26 06:47:07 2007
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)
From: (SandChigger)
Subject: Re: Questions for the aborted email interview...

Kevin,

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.

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Date: Thu Apr 26 08:27:17 2007
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)
From: (SandChigger)
Subject: Sorry to bother you again (last time)

Kevin,

Omphalos on the DN BBS wants to contact you and asked for your email address. I didn’t think it proper to give it out without your permission so I asked if it would be alright for me to send you his; here it is:

[Omphalos’ email address removed —SC]

If you don’t want to contact him directly and thus reveal your address, could you have Byron contact him and act as intermediary.

—SC

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 19:37:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: Re: Sorry to bother you again (last time)
To: (SandChigger)

I will contact him — again, making myself available to my critics <g>. (His questions were quite courteously phrased, so I have no idea if he’s as tough as you are...)

thanks for the cautionary filtering.

KJA

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This next message was in response to the bullshit about him not having an electronic file copy of the first sample chapter of Sandworms of Dune, which they originally released in podcast form (only). At some point I offered to transcribe the damned thing myself and send it to KJA. While I don't remember now exactly how long it took to transcribe, I’m almost certain it was no more than an hour. (The McDune chapters are short, after all!) —SC

Date: Thu May 17 08:26:53 2007
To: (Kevin J. Anderson).com
From: SandChigger (SandChigger)
Subject: SW1 transcript

Kevin,

NOW you have an electronic copy. No more excuses.

SC

This is Kevin J. Anderson. I’ll be reading for you the first chapter of Sandworms of Dune, by Brian Herbert and myself, based on Frank Herbert’s last outline. This is the chronological grand climax of the Dune Chronicles, the second half of the story begun in Hunters of Dune. In the introduction to Hunters, Brian and I described how this project came about. If you haven’t yet read Hunters, you’re coming in at the middle of the story, so you may encounter some spoilers.

While I’ve done many readings and talks at various science-fiction conventions, I’m not a professional voice actor. Regardless, I hope you’ll enjoy this sneak preview.

Sandworms will be published this August.

Twenty-One Years After the Escape from Chapterhouse

[Remainder of transcript snipped. —SC]

Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 18:34:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Subject: Re: SW1 transcript
To: (SandChigger)

You have waaaaaay too much time on your hands.

Since this is just a sneak preview, done by us as a treat for the fans, it shouldn’t make any difference if we do it as an audio file or as a text file. Then again, why should I be surprised that you’ve found something to be dissatisfied about. *sigh*

Date: Tue May 22 08:37:05 2007
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)
From: SandChigger (SandChigger)
Subject: Re: SW1 transcript

At 6:34 PM -0400 5/21/07, (Kevin J. Anderson) wrote:

You have waaaaaay too much time on your hands.

And I’m surprised you have any at all for email, what with having to write — what is it now, 20? — “chapters” before the end of the month.

Since this is just a sneak preview, done by us as a treat for the fans, it shouldn’t make any difference if we do it as an audio file or as a text file. Then again, why should I be surprised that you’ve found something to be dissatisfied about.

I realize the pre-release chapters are a bonus, that you all are under no obligation whatsoever to make them available. I just don’t see why you didn’t make Chapter 1 available in both formats from the start. Choice, options...remember them?

And I really don’t get the excuse about not having a computer version of the file. As I asked on your MySpace blog: what did you read from when making the recording?

If there were (are?) some “extenuating circumstances” that prevent making a text version available, then why not just say so? Lame excuses certainly don’t help your credibility any.

*sigh*

Deep breaths now and stay calm. I’ve only just started.

Seaworms? (snort)

—SC

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Subject: Another “contradicting eight words out of 200,000” thing?
From: (SandChigger)
Date: November 2, 2008 1:03:36 AM JST
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)

Hiya. I do hope you and Rebecca are well.

I find myself in another one of those “gives me heartburn and keeps me awake at night” situations. I’m dying to know how you’re going to retcon Paul traveling to both Ecaz (twice, no less) and Grumman given that, three or four years later, both he and his father seem to think the move to Arrakis will be his first trip off Caladan. As Frank Herbert wrote in Dune:

The Duke looked at him [=Paul]. “This will be your first time off planet,” he said.

Come on, Kevin, be a mensch and share the joy!

Warmest regards,

Ron

Subject: Re: Another “contradicting eight words out of 200,000” thing?
From: (Kevin J. Anderson)
Date: November 2, 2008 2:47:52 AM JST
To: (SandChigger)

Your complaints have been incessant, but that one is even sillier than most. It doesn’t seem possible you could ask such a question having actually read PAUL OF DUNE, which is about the inaccuracies and liberties taken in Irulan’s purported histories of Muad’Dib. This is addressed several times in the novel, but most specifically to your question, see pp 102-103:

One morning she went to Paul’s Imperial office to talk with him, holding a first-edition of The Life of Muad’Dib. She dropped the deep blue volume on his desktop, a plane of polished Elaccan bloodwood. “Exactly how much is missing from this story? I’ve been talking with Bludd. In your accounts of your life, you left out vital details.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Your publication has defined my life’s story.”

“You told me you had never left Caladan before your House moved to Arrakis. Whole parts of your youth have been left out.”

“Painful parts.” He frowned at her. “But, more importantly, irrelevant parts. We’ve streamlined the story for mass consumption, just as when you wrote that I was born on Caladan and not Kaitain. It sounds better that way, doesn’t it? We eliminated unnecessary complications, cut off unnecessary questions and explanations.”

She could not hide her frustration. “Sometimes the truth is complicated.”

“Yes, it is.”

“But if I tell a part of the story that directly contradicts what has been published before —”

“If you write it, they will believe it. Trust me.”

Come on, at least TRY to look for an answer before railing about the books. Rest assured, though, that Brian and I will keep writing the novels, and keep writing them, for as long as it takes until you are completely satisfied. You give us the incentive to keep the series going for many years to come.

Subject: Re: Another “contradicting eight words out of 200,000” thing?
From: (SandChigger)
Date: November 2, 2008 2:47:52 AM JST
To: (Kevin J. Anderson)

So your position really is that the entire narrative text of Dune and all of Frank’s books was also written by Irulan?

Simple question, simple answer: Yes or No.

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