Frank Herbert

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Those who live are those who fight.
Victor Hugo
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Muad'Dib knew that every experience carries a lesson.

Frank Herbert (8 October 192011 February 1986) was an American science-fiction writer, most famous for his Dune novels.

See also: Dune (the series of novels), Dune (film), and Dune (TV miniseries).


  • Enormous problems arise when human mistakes are made on the grand scale available to a superhero... Heroes are painful, superheroes are a catastrophe. The mistakes of superheroes involve too many of us in disaster.
    • Herbert, Frank (July 1980). "Dune Genesis". Omni 2 (2): p. 72. ISSN 0149-8711.
  • I now believe that evolution, or deevolution, never ends short of death, that no society has ever achieved an absolute pinnacle, that all humans are not created equal. In fact, I believe attempts to create some abstract equalization create a morass of injustices that rebound on the equalizers. Equal justice and equal opportunity are ideals we should seek, but we should recognize that humans administer the ideals and that humans do not have equal ability.
    • Herbert, Frank (July 1980). "Dune Genesis". Omni 2 (2): p. 72. ISSN 0149-8711.
  • The scarce water of Dune is an exact analog of oil scarcity. CHOAM is OPEC.
    • Herbert, Frank (July 1980). "Dune Genesis". Omni 2 (2): p. 72. ISSN 0149-8711.
  • I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
    • Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear (Dune, 1965)

BuSab series

The Whipping Star (1969)

  • Where is the weapon with which I enforce your bondage? You give it to me every time you open your mouth.
    • "Laclac Riddle"; p. 68
  • You can say things which cannot be done. This is elementary. The trick is to keep attention focused on what is said and not on what can be done.
    • "BuSab [Bureau of Sabotage] Manual"; p. 87
  • Learning a language represents training in the delusions of that language.
    • "Gowachin Aphorism"; p. 111
  • Providence and Manifest Destiny are synonyms often invoked to support arguments based on wishful thinking.
    • "From The Wreave Commentary"; p. 136

The Dosadi Experiment (1977)

  • That is one of the Law's purposes, of course: to test the qualities of those who choose to employ it.
    • Gowachin Aritch to Jorj X. McKie; p. 68
  • Does a population have informed consent when a ruling minority acts in secret to ignite a war, doing this to justify the existence of the minority's forces? […] failure to provide full information for informed consent on such an issue represents an ultimate crime.
    • "From The Trial of Trials", p. 246
  • Does a population have informed consent when that population is not taught the inner workings of its monetary system, and then is drawn, all unknowing, into economic adventures?
    • "From The Trial of Trials", p. 252
  • Governments always commit their entire populations when the demands grow heavy enough. By their passive acceptance, these populations become accessories to whatever is done in their name.
    • Gowachin Mrreg to Jorj X. McKie; p. 297


The Green Brain

  • Rhin described him to herself as "brutally handsome."
  • Without coming fully awake, Rhin felt his presence beside her, experienced a primitive demand for his protective masculinity. She nestled against him, murmured, "its so hot. Doesn’t it ever cool off?"
  • the sare such fools, Rhin and Jimmy… so obviously attracted to each other, but fighting it.
  • "You don’t believe in original sin?" he jeered.
  • "I only believe in certain kinds of hell," she said, and again she was looking at him, the green eyes steady.
    "to each his own, eh?"
    "you said it; I didn’t."
    "is that right?"
    "yes! You said it!"
    "you're shouting," she said.
  • It wasn’t the kind of answer he'd expected - too subtly penetrating and leaving too much uncommitted. He reminded himself that it was difficult to control uncommitted people. Once a man had invested his energies, he could be twisted and turned at will... but if the man held back, conserved those energies...

The Godmakers (1972)

  • When a wise man does not understand, he says: "I do not understand." The fool and the uncultured are ashamed of their ignorance. They remain silent when a question could bring them wisdom.
    • earlier published in serial form between May 1958 and February 1960


  • A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You're there now doing the thing on paper. You're not killing the goose, you're just producing an egg. So I don't worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It's a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I've heard about it. I've felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I'd much rather go fishing. for example. or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, 'Well, now it's writing time and now I'll write.' There's no difference on paper between the two.
  • I think science fiction does help, and it points in very interesting directions. It points in relativistic directions. It says that we have the imagination for these other opportunities, these other choices. We tend to tie ourselves down to limited choices. We say, 'Well, the only answer is. . .' or, 'If you would just. . .' Whatever follows these two statements narrows the choices right there. It gets the vision right down close to the ground so that you don't see anything happening outside. Humans tend not to see over a long range. Now we are required, in these generations, to have a longer range view of what we inflict on the world around us. This is where, I think, science fiction is helping. I don't think that the mere writing of such a book as Brave New World or 1984 prevents those things which are portrayed in those books from happening. But I do think they alert us to that possibility and make that possibility less likely. They make us aware that we may be going in that direction. We may be contriving a strictly controlled police culture. B. F. Skinner worries the hell out of me. He is right out of Huxley. He is standing there like a small boy saying, 'Please let me have a world like this because I feel safe in it!' He is saying, 'I want to control it.' He may be very accurate in his assessment that our total society is going in that direction and that maybe he is opting for the lesser of numerous evils, in his view. But what kind of a society would that produce?
  • It is a wise man that does know the contented man is never poor, whilst the discontented man is never rich....
  • Kindness is the beginning of cruelty.
  • Religion often partakes of the myth of progress that shields us from the terrors of an uncertain future.
  • The proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.
  • The stakes in conflict do not change. Battle determines who will control the wealth or its equivalent.
  • To suspect your own mortality is to know the beginning of terror, to learn irrefutably that you are mortal is to know the end of terror.
  • Wealth is a tool of freedom, but the pursuit of wealth is the way to slavery.
  • The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.
  • The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.
  • All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.
  • All governments eventually lean further and further towards aristocracy.
  • If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.
  • To endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe. You cannot hire a wise man or any other intellect to solve it for you. There's no writ of inquest or calling of witness to provide answers. No servant or disciple can dress the wound. You dress it yourself or continue bleeding for all to see.
  • Ready comprehension is often a knee-jerk response and the most dangerous form of understanding. It blinks an opaque screen over your ablility to learn. The judgemental precedents of law function that way, littering your path with dead ends. Be warned. Understand nothing. All comprehension is temporary.
  • Life cannot find reasons to sustain it, cannot be a source of decent natural regard, unless each of us resolves to breathe such qualities into it.
  • Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. ...The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.
  • Bureaucracy destroys initiative.
  • Humans live best when each has a place to stand, when each knows where he belongs in the scheme of things and what he may achieve. Destroy the place and you destroy the person.
  • Blood is thicker than water, but politics are thicker than blood.

See also

External links

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