The past few days I’ve been sort of re-reading (well, listening to my audiobook version) Dune by Frank Herbert. It’s been a while and, for some reason, it came almost as a surprise to me how much of a debt I owe to it.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first read Dune. I remember that I was in the first half of high school so somewhere between twelve and fifteen and probably not able to fully appreciate all of it. I’d read other books with equally detailed worlds but something about Dune obviously stuck with me. It just felt so … complete. If Middle-Earth is what comes to my mind for a fantasy universe; Dune would be the science-fiction equivalent.
Like I said, when it came to listening to it this week, I started picking up on some of the ways it had influenced my own writing. Our protagonists are similar, in that they’re both the heirs of an aristocratic family, although Ash doesn’t have any of Paul’s messianic qualities. What he does have is a small group of close friends/advisors/teachers in much the same way as Paul does at the beginning. I’m thinking that the decision of name that various families Houses came from Dune‘s Landsraad. The name of my main antagonist, Piter De Vries, is also a character appearing in the first third of Dune. And finally my original title, In My Father’s House, is the title of one of the fictional books quoted at the beginning of some chapters.
Now there are still plenty of differences between the two. To paraphrase something I read once, House Valerius is not just Dune with the serial numbers filed off. But it was still interesting to note what could be traced back to a book I first read more than twenty years ago.