Several people critical of Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert’s new Dune books have started to lampoon Anderson using the Twitter social networking tool.
Not everyone is happy about the way the author and Brian Herbert, son of the original author of Dune, Frank Herbert, have re-worked the series which many believe to be the greatest science fiction masterpiece ever written. Anderson maintains a Twitter account — @thekja — through which he posts updates about his life and his work.
“Would FH have accepted his McDune crap as canon? Probably not.”, wrote one of Anderson’s followers on Twitter recently. The follower, whose real name appears to be Ronald Craig but who tweets as @thekjanonfan (apparently meaning not a fan), also runs a website, the Hairy Ticks of Dune Blog.
The blog contains a variety of posts accusing Anderson of poor quality writing, and critics of his work on Amazon of being unfairly biased towards the new Dune books. Craig writes about the latest Dune book, Winds of Dune:
“The Winds of Dune … showing even more than its predecessor why Frank Herbert chose not to write about those interim “gaps” between his books … and, again, just how little Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert understand the fictional universe they are playing in.”
Another Twitter critic, @realdune, who brands himself the “Ghost of Frank”, has also recently started targerting Anderson on Twitter. “He left it unexplored for a reason, hack,” he said to Anderson this week on Twitter. “In 10 books, you have added NOTHING to the Dune saga.”
Anderson seems aware of the taunts. In a response to one Twitter post from another poster, he contended that many fans and reviewers didn’t think he was flogging a dead horse. “Frank Herbert left 15,000 years of history to explore,” he wrote.
And in another, he posts what he says is a correction for “a couple of fringe Dune fans”, saying The Dune Encyclopedia, a 1984 collection of essays written as a companion to the original series, was never accepted as canon by Frank Herbert.
There is also a protest group on Facebook. Dubbed the ‘Orthodox Herbertarians’, the group describes itself like this:
“This is a group for all of those that enjoy classic Dune, and do not accept the novels of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson as Dune. Orthodox Herbertarians Unite!!!”
However, the Kevin J. Anderson fan groups on Facebook have far more members.
Some other people on Twitter, aren’t so critical of Anderson. A number of fans are using the platform to interact with the author in a positive way. “Congrats to @TheKJA for publishing his 100th novel. Absolutely amazing. The hardest working man in SF,” writes one.
There is no doubt that Brian Herbert and Anderson’s decision to continue the Dune series after Frank Herbert’s death has angered many fans of the great series, and will continue to do so.
Personally, I don’t think the new books live up the original series — and how could they? Frank Herbert’s masterpiece is universally hailed as being a contender for the best piece of science fiction literature of all time. As a Dune fan myself, I also feel Brian Herbert and Anderson should have left the series alone.
However, this doesn’t mean fans of the original series should lower themselves or insult Anderson — who after all has devoted his life to writing science fiction — in a petty way. If we lose respect towards the authors who make up such an important part of our lives through their work, we’ll lose respect for ourselves as readers. And the authors don’t deserve such behaviour.
By all means, satirise Anderson if you feel you must, heavily critique his work and hold his quality to account. But do it in a way that shows you respect his courage for making the attempt to keep Herbert’s great vision alive. Give the guy some cred.
The ultimate course of critical action is also completely open to everyone. Simply write a better book yourself!