Note: Dr. McNelly passed
away on April 7, 2003.

We often get questions about the old DUNE ENCYLOPEDIA (1984), which has been out of print for many years. I've seen fans pay outrageous prices for used copies on e-bay; others want to know if it will ever be reprinted, while still others ask about discrepancies between the ENCYCLOPEDIA and the other novels.

The ENCYLOPEDIA was a major undertaking, compiled by DUNE fan and scholar, Dr. Willis E. McNelly, who was also a friend of Frank Herbert's. At 526 oversized and dense pages, the ENCYCLOPEDIA is a remarkable and ambitious effort, not to mention a great deal of work! While Frank Herbert allowed Dr. McNelly to put together and publish the book, and approved the final version, he never entirely embraced it for his own work in the Dune universe. It's not "canon," for those who care about such things. Frank's own introduction states "I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold."

Because we were drawing from Frank's own notes and outlines, we did not use the ENCYLOPEDIA, but rather followed the original author's vision. And so, after HOUSE ATREIDES was first published, this created some confusion among fans who tried to reconcile the two works. Dr. McNelly issued a joint statement with us, saying,


"Some fans may have noticed apparent inconsistencies between DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES (1999) and THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA (1984), compiled by Dr. Willis E. McNelly. To clear up any confusion that might exist, the authors think it is important to explain that THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA reflects an alternate "DUNE universe" which did not necessarily represent the "canon" created by Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, writing with Kevin J. Anderson, IS continuing to establish the canon of the DUNE universe. This is being done with the full approval of the owner of the DUNE copyright, the Herbert Limited Partnership.

"While Frank Herbert himself considered THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA interesting and entertaining, he did not refer to Dr. McNelly's derivative work while writing any of his DUNE novels. Likewise, in writing their DUNE novels (beginning with DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have exclusively used, and will continue to use, Frank Herbert's original notes as well as their own imaginations, and not THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

"We hope that the millions of DUNE fans will continue to enjoy all of the works written in Frank Herbert's marvelous universe."

Dr. Willis E. McNelly
Brian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson


Even so, THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA is a great work, enjoyable for its imagination and all the effort Dr. McNelly (and his helpers) put into it. The account of the Butlerian Jihad years is quite different from the prequel novels, but still interesting. Dr. McNelly passed away in 2003.

At some point, we may undertake the gigantic project of compiling an accurate and expanded encyclopedia, but for now you will have to read the books themselves and glean the details from there.


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