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A Goodreads user asked Brian Herbert:

What was Frank Herbert like?

Brian Herbert He was a bundle of energy, a man who was incredibly goal-oriented, and who didn’t allow things to get in his way. He had a great, sonorous voice, and was the most interesting man in any room—so much so that people gravitated to him. Aside from what he wrote, he had a vast repertoire of fascinating stories to tell, about any number of subjects. In restaurants he would tell stories, and it seemed to me as if the people at other tables were all listening, and that their tables were drawing closer to ours. But that was when I was an adult, and he and I were the very best of friends. It was not always that way.

I’ve written at length in DREAMER OF DUNE (my biography of him) about his powerful personality, and my difficult relationship with him when I was a child. As adults, we became so close that we wrote his last novel together, MAN OF TWO WORLDS, but as a boy I had difficulty getting to know him. He was extremely complex, with a brilliant mind that seemed to be constantly absorbing information from all directions. It was a mind bursting with ideas and fascinating observations. There were brief times when I was a boy and he and I seemed to connect, such as when we lived in small Mexican villages, or when he would tell me things that made me think—such as his observation that human beings tend to look at things through filters, and often develop opinions based on incomplete, or biased, information. He also spoke of the myths under which we live, and I often heard him reading passages from his works to my mother, Beverly Herbert—such as scenes from his in-progress novel DUNE, when we were living on Potrero Hill in San Francisco in the early 1960s.

But as a child there were many times when I just didn’t understand what he wanted. I only knew for certain that he demanded absolute quiet in the household when he was writing, so that he could concentrate. He didn’t like interruptions, and kept the study door closed—when he had a study, that is. Sometimes we lived in houses that were small, and he had to write wherever he could. In San Francisco, his old roll-top desk was set up in the dining room, and that was where he used a typewriter to tap out the scenes in DUNE. Even then, when I was in my early teens, I had no idea that he was working on one of the great literary masterpieces of all time—a novel that went far beyond science fiction because of its emphasis on characters and on immense social issues.

He had an incredible loving side, and when my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 1974, he took heroic measures to extend her life. She was initially only given 6 months to live, but through his loving attention she lived for another 10 years. It was at the time of her diagnosis, when I was in my twenties, that I really began to get close to my father, and I saw aspects of him that had not been apparent to me as a child.

As a child, Frank Herbert was the smartest kid in school, and explained details from medical journals to other children about anatomy and human reproduction. This did not always go well with the parents of those children when they found out what he had been saying! But he always provided correct information. Just as he did years later when we lived in a Mexican village and he told the local nuns about the pollination of fruit trees. That went over much better than his earlier attempts, and Dad became something of a hero to the residents of the village. He even saved the life of the Catholic curate by giving him medical attention when the doctor was out of town.

There are many other aspects of Frank Herbert’s amazing personality, fascinating elements of the most brilliant mind imaginable. There is no short answer to this question.

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