Expanded Dune
This article or section refers to elements from Expanded Dune.

The Dune Encyclopedia is a reference text compiled and edited by Dr. Willis E. McNelly in 1984. A total of 43 people contributed articles to the work.

The book was based on the first 4 books of the original Dune saga by Frank Herbert, namely Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God Emperor of Dune. At the time it was written, The Dune Encyclopedia was promoted as the "official" Dune chronology. Dr. McNelly was a personal friend of Frank Herbert, who wrote the foreword for the Encyclopedia.

Despite the Encyclopedia being the official reference text for the Dune universe, some of the information contained therein was contradicted by Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune.

Rumors existed that Herbert himself contributed to the Encyclopedia. However, if this were true, he wrote under a pseudonym, as his name only appears on the foreword.


The Encyclopedia was printed only once as paperback in 1 June, 1984 by Berkley Books, an imprint of Putnam (the publisher of all of Frank Herbert's Dune novels). The Dune Encyclopedia was also released in hardcover by Putnam Adult a month later, 13 July 1984

In 1999, Dr. McNelly stated that he had proposed to Frank Herbert that they collaborate on a Dune prequel novel, expanding upon the Butlerian Jihad story presented in The Dune Encyclopedia. He noted, "FH and I had discussed writing it together and he agreed with my general plot outline, completed first chapter, and so on but his untimely death prevented us from continuing."

After Herbert died, his estate took over all licensing and copyright on Dune material. As a result, The Dune Encyclopedia has been out of print for more than 20 years, and is highly sought after by fans.

Many of the ideas in The Dune Encyclopedia go directly against the later prequel and sequel trilogies written after Frank Herbert's death by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert's son) and Kevin J. Anderson, which they state complete the original series. Brian Herbert and Anderson have also stated that when writing these books, they drew on Frank Herbert's own notes, left behind after his death. In response to questions over why the new post-Frank Herbert Dune novels conflicted with The Dune Encyclopedia, the book was declared non-canon on the official Dune website (see below).

Foreword by Frank Herbert

"Here is a rich background (and foreground) for the Dune Chronicles, including scholarly bypaths and amusing sidelights. Some of the contributions are sure to arouse controversy, based as they are on questionable sources. Others round out long speculation. Specialists have had their field day here with problems geological, biological, astronomical, and mystical, with pronunciations, major biographies, histories and accounts of little-known figures. The range of topics is catholic: cf. from games for amusement to games of life and death (Cheops or Pyramid Chess to "The Assassins' Handbook").

"The history of the Financial Synod which spawned CHOAM gets its first airing in these pages. In fact, many secrets hidden in the Dune Chronicles are answered here. How did Irulan first gain and then arouse the displeasure of Ghanima? Who was Jehanne Butler and why does the Butlerian Jihad carry her name? What are the hidden origins of the Spacing Guild? Where did spice-trance navigational techniques develop? What was Leto II's private opinion of Holy Sister Quintinius Violet Chenoeh? Does Cheops have something in common with the three-body problem?

"I must confess that I found it fascinating to re-enter here some of the sources on which the Chronicles are built. As the first "Dune fan", I give this encyclopedia my delighted approval, although I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold."

List of contributors

Joan Bouchelle — J.B.

Edgar L. Chapman — E.C.

Judith A. Clark — J.A.C.

Michael Clayton - M.C.

Grace W. Eckley — G.W.E.

Greta Eisner — G.E.

Peter Facione — P.F.

J. L. Germain — J.L.G.

J. H. Gervais — J.H.G.

Stephen Goldman — S.G.

Lee Granell — L.G.

Jane Hipolito — I.H.

William Hornaday — W.H.

Wesley D. Ives — W.D.I.

Edward M. Jennings — E.J.

Alan Kaye — A.K.

Dorothy Kilter — D.K.

Gillian Kitrick — G.K.

Linda R. Levy. — L.R.L.

Gregory Lichtenberg — G.L.

Victoria Lustbader — V.L.

Michael W. McClintock — M.M.

Willis McNelly — W.M.

Douglas J. McReynolds — D.M.

Walter E. Meyers — W.E.M.

Frederic H. Miller — F.M.

Myron Orleans — M.O.

Charles A. Povlovich — C.A.P.

John Quijada — J.Q.

Julia Reed — J.R.M.

R. Reginald — R.R.

Thomas E. Roberts — T.R.

John A. Ryan — J.R.

Roger Schlobin — R.S.

Maureen A. Shifflett — M.S.

Ray C. Shiflett — R.C.S.

Joyce Tally - J.T.

Stephen Tobias — S.T.

Michael Tolley — M.T.

Robert Trowbridge — R.T.

John A. Turner — J.A.T.

Christine Watson — C.W.

Carl B. Yoke — C.Y.

Letter regarding the Encyclopedia

This is a letter written by Dr. Willis McNelly, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson, regarding the Dune Encyclopedia [1]:

"THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA reflects an alternate "DUNE universe" which did not necessarily represent the "canon" created by Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, writing with Kevin J. Anderson, IS continuing to establish the canon of the DUNE universe. This is being done with the full approval of the owner of the DUNE copyright, the Herbert Limited Partnership.
"While Frank Herbert himself considered THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA interesting and entertaining, he did not refer to Dr. McNelly's derivative work while writing any of his DUNE novels. Likewise, in writing their DUNE novels (beginning with DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have exclusively used, and will continue to use, Frank Herbert's original notes as well as their own imaginations, and not THE DUNE ENCYCLOPEDIA.
"We hope that the millions of DUNE fans will continue to enjoy all of the works written in Frank Herbert's marvelous universe."

A letter written by
Dr. Willis McNelly,
Brian Herbert, and
Kevin J. Anderson

Fan Reactions

Some fans have taken the forward and the letter above to mean that The Dune Encyclopedia is an "in-story work of fiction, written shortly after the time of Emperor Leto's death.

The Dune Encyclopedia was also used as the sourcebook for the Dune computer games, developed by Westwood Studios. It was here that Westwood got the name "House Ordos", which first appeared in Dune II, one of the first-ever Real-Time Strategy games, although the crest used is actually that of House Wallach recoloured. The Dune Encyclopedia displays Ordos's crest as being bones making an 'x', rather than a snake coiled around a book.

External links

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