The Dune universe continues to expand. With Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation on the horizon, the saga’s caretakers have revealed more details about their upcoming graphic novels—along with a new book trilogy that should help get fans up to speed on Paul Atreides’ life before he ventured to Arrakis and changed the universe forever.
Dune series authors Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, the son of original Dune author Frank Herbert, announced a new trilogy of books in their ongoing series during a virtual panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The new series, starting with Dune: The Duke of Caladan, takes place one year before the events of Dune and explores the lives of Paul Atreides, his Bene Gesserit mother Lady Jessica, and Duke Atreides on the ocean planet of Caladan. The plan is to end the third book on the news that House Atreides is being relocated to Arrakis, so it directly sets up the events of the main story.
According to Anderson, the two of them had wanted to make a new Dune trilogy for a while but were busy working on the upcoming movie, and actually came up with the idea while the movie was being filmed. Their goal is for this new trilogy to be just as accessible for new readers as it would be for hardcore fans—to help audiences understand the characters and world before reading the first book or, perhaps, seeing the upcoming movie.
“We might be getting a lot of brand-new readers, so we didn’t want to do something that was in a very obscure timeframe. We wanted something that could be easily accessible and familiar to anybody who’d just read the first Dune novel,” Anderson said during the panel. “It’ll be a familiar way to get everybody right up to speed to reading Dune and seeing the film, so we felt this was the right time for bringing this story.”
But it’s not the only Dune project in the works—Anderson and Brian Herbert also discussed Dune: House Atreides, a 12-issue comic book prequel series based on the 1999 novel by Anderson and Herbert (with illustrator Dev Pramanik and colorist Alex Guimarães). It’s been developed in tandem with a graphic novel retelling of Frank Herbert’s Dune, which has divided the story into three parts; both are set to debut before Villeneuve’s adaptation comes out in December. Set decades before the events of Dune, Dune: House Atreides centers around ecologist Pardot Kynes (the father of Liet Kynes, played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster in the upcoming film) as he tries to enact his vision of terraforming the desert planet of Arrakis. But we also spend time with other iconic characters, like Leto Atreides and Duncan Idaho.
During the SDCC panel, Anderson said it was one of the first books he and Brian Herbert worked on together, and he and Herbert were excited to see how the younger versions of these iconic characters were visually represented (for example, Baron Harkonnen is a lot leaner than his Dune counterpart). House Atreides is actually part of a trilogy, the others being House Harkonnen and House Corrino (they’ve also gotten reprints in anticipation of the graphic novel series). No word whether they’ll be creating graphic novels based on the other books in the trilogy, though I’m sure it’s possible given everything else they have in the works. Herbert expressed joy at all the projects they have in development, including some computer games, but emphasized the importance of keeping the integrity of his father’s work alive.
“Dune, like our universe, is expanding, but we’re very conscious that we don’t want to expand it too far,” Herbert said. “We don’t want to come up with material that the hard-core Dune fans will not appreciate, because Dune above all is a very high-quality work, and we struggle to maintain that quality.”
Dune: The Duke of Caladan comes out on October 13, Dune: House Atreides is set to launch on October 21, and the first issue of the Dune graphic novel trilogy coming out on October 27.
Villeneuve’s Dune, which stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica and Zendaya as the Fremen warrior Chani, is currently slotted for December 18—though that could be subject to change because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
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