Sandworms of Dune

Monday, July 16, 2007



Sterling E. Lanier (1928-2007) 

Note: This was announced earlier, but Brian wrote the following special appreciation.

I am saddened to learn of the passing of Sterling E. Lanier.  He was a giant among editors who will forever be remembered as the man who had the courage to publish my father's classic novel Dune, a work that was turned down by twenty-three other book publishers.  It is to Mr. Lanier's credit that he saw the genius of the novel, and that he fought to make certain it was published in book form.

Between 1963 and 1965, Analog magazine did serialize the unpublished novel, under the titles Dune World (Book I) and Prophet of Dune (Books II and III).  In 1965, Sterling E. Lanier, an editor with Chilton Book Company and a science fiction writer himself, contacted Frank Herbert's agent, Lurton Blassingame.  Lanier had read the Analog installments, and when he finally got his hands on a complete copy of all three manuscripts, he wanted to publish them in a single hardcover edition.

In the buy of an editor's lifetime, the literary coup of coups, the farsighted Lanier offered a $7,500 advance (plus future royalties) for the right to publish Dune World and Prophet of Dune in hardcover.  His offer was accepted.  Lanier said there were a number of loose ends in the story and rough transition points between the sections requiring more work.  He wanted the entire work expanded.  When he discovered that my father had drawn a map of the planet Dune, he asked for a copy, for inclusion in the book.

Lanier proposed a simple title: Dune, which he liked for its power and mysticism.  For the cover art, he wanted to use John Schoenherr, who had done such a fine job for John W. Campbell on the Analog covers. Chilton was best known as the publisher of a series of automobile repair manuals, leading Dad to quip that they might rename his work How To Repair Your Ornithopter.  (Ornithopters were the birdlike flying craft of the planet Dune).  At least Chilton had experience printing large books.  Their auto repair manuals were huge. 

Over the decades since then, Dune and its sequels have sold millions of copies, and have made publishing history.  We are grateful to Sterling E. Lanier for his contribution to the literary legacy of Frank Herbert. Without the courageous intervention of Mr. Lanier, my father's genius might never have been fully recognized, and the science fiction community would have been much poorer as a result.  

-- Brian Herbert
   Seattle, Washington


Back to Sandworms Blog Index
Previous Entry (July 15, 2007)

Next Entry (July 21, 2007)

Home Page | Legends of Dune | Prelude to Dune | Classic Dune
Dune News | Interviews & Articles | Scheduled Appearances | Publication Dates
Author Biographies | Scrapbooks | Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright 2007 The Herbert Limited Partnership