Search the Collection:

Artwork copyright . Barbara Black. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Dune, Frank Herbert, and WA State

"There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace – these qualities you find always in that the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush of the pattern of its leaves." –from Dune by Frank Herbert.

The author Frank Herbert and his famous science fiction novel Dune (1965) are both strongly connected to Washington State. These artworks from Washington’s State Art Collection share some of the ideas and landscapes of Dune, a world whose natural beauty, power, and resources shape civilization and collective consciousness.

Dune is set in a distant future world with interstellar travel and settlements in thousands of planets. It explores themes of politics, religion, psychology, human evolution, and planetary science and ecology.

Frank Herbert was born on October 8, 1920, in Tacoma, Washington. He spent his youth exploring Tacoma, Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. At age 9, he rowed a cedar boat from Tacoma to the San Juan Islands on his own. When he got tired, he hitched a ride with a barge. At 14, he swam across the Tacoma Narrows. At 17, he sailed from Tacoma to British Columbia with a friend. Herbert also wrote for local newspapers, befriended local Salish people, and learned about Zen from Japanese-American neighbors. All of these experiences contributed to Dune.

Frank Herbert had a deep respect and love for nature. Dune has a strong and critical environmental voice that came from Herbert’s own life in 1950s Tacoma. The area was known for its towering copper smelters and industrial pollution, and Herbert described its “air so thick you could chew it”. One of the messages in Dune is that something had to be done to save the Earth.

"Life – all life – is in the service of life. Necessary nutrients are made available to life by life in greater and greater richness as the diversity of life increases. The entire landscape comes alive, filled with relationships and relationships within relationships." –from Dune by Frank Herbert.