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DUNE Engineers - Part Two

Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson talk about THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD

By Chris Wyatt     October 06, 2002

Last week we spoke to Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson about their decision to partner on a new series of books based on the late Frank Herbert's legendary DUNE novels. This week we chat with them about the new release DUNE: THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD

"In many ways DUNE: THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD is a book that DUNE fans have been waiting for," says Herbert. "This book covers a period in the DUNE universe that was very influential."

"We've had fans ask us if we were ever going to cover the 'Butlerian Jihad'," confirms Anderson. "Its funny...it was such a small mention in the [original DUNE] book, but it really has captured the fans imaginations...and ours too."

DUNE HOUSE ATREIDES by Brain Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

For those new to the DUNE universe, the 'Butlerian Jihad' involves a war between humans and "thinking machines" (i.e. artificial intelligences) who attempt to enslave humanity.

"Frank Herbert decided that the reason you don't see any robots or a heavy reliance on computers in the original DUNE was because there had been this conflict," explains Anderson. "The last time that humanity had put its faith in machines it resulted in a bloody war. Now we're telling that story."

In the book, the thinking machines, assisted by a group of long-lived once-human cyborg "cymeks" called the "Titans", attack remaining human dissenters who call themselves "the League of Nobles". The thinking machines are governed by a kind of intelligent hive network called "evermind". Evermind and its soldiers control most of the "synchronized worlds", but their power is being threatened by the nobels.

Anderson, who has long been a DUNE fan, loved the idea of writing this detail-oriented backstory to Frank Herbert's universe.

"It's a big challenge because you know that DUNE fans will be very critical," notes Anderson. "If you make a mistake, they'll find it. It's a little bit daunting, but it's a fun challenge. We take the references from the original novels and have to, using Frank Herbert's notes, build a story out of them. It's like putting together a creative puzzle."

In THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD readers learn more than just the details of the noble's "great revolution". The war with the thinking machines is also the eventual cause of the rift between the House Atreides and the House Harkonnenthe two great families who are at war during the original DUNE series.

"The betrayal between the two houses has long been the cause of speculation among fans," notes Herbert. "Now that story's being told."

DUNE: THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

In addition, the novel goes into the origins of the Spacing Guild, the origins of the human-computer Mentats, and even the origins of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood (the religious order that DUNE hero Paul Atreides' mother and sister belong to).

"We packed a lot in there," laughs Anderson. "We can't wait to see what fans are going to think."

For more information about Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson's DUNE novels, check out the December issue of CINESCAPE Magazine.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at feedback@cinescape.com.

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