JOIII: Your Dune novels have often been vilified by Frank Herbert purists. As a result, I’m sure you have had a number of irate emails, letters, or blog comments. How do you handle such negative reactions, and what advice do you have for writers who encounter the same?
KJA: Frank Herbert was a genius, one of the most brilliant writers ever to work in science fiction, and Dune is (in my opinion) the greatest SF novel ever. Those are awfully big shoes to fill, and even though Brian and I are putting forth all of our effort to make our novels worthy of the label, it’s not surprising that we can’t meet every reader’s expectations. A bit of a reality check is in order, however. Don’t misconstrue a lot of negative postings to mean there are hordes of angry purists. For example, for Paul of Dune, one guy posted attacking comments to 40 out of 42 five-star reviews on amazon, the same guy attacked 24 out of 24 four-star reviews, the same guy runs a hate site, and the *same guy* maintains a Twitter feed devoted solely to bashing our stuff. And when somebody posts with great vehemence how much they hated book after book after book, how can you take them seriously? Anyone who keeps reading the novels for the sole purpose of attacking them just has an axe to grind and is clearly biased.
In reality, our Dune books have garnered a great deal of critical acclaim, nominated or won many awards, received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, were included on numerous Best of the Year lists, one was named as a New York Times notable book, another was picked as the Favorite Book of the Year by the members of the Science Fiction Book Club by the largest margin in the history of the award. We have received thousands of fan letters since we’ve begun writing them, and we get 24 positive letters for every negative one—I can live with a 96% approval rating.
My advice to other writers who face similar situations (and many of them have spoken to me) is not to let a couple of sour notes detract from the vast majority of satisfied readers.
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