Frank Herbert: Unpublished Stories, by Frank Herbert
Unpublished Stories is a collection of 13 short stories written by Frank Herbert and never published during his lifetime, only two of them sci-fi, which was published in 2016. One can see the focus of Herbert on the characters, on their motivations and their inner thoughts, the way their actions affect the whole.
The collection consists of:
- The Cage - a soldier is sent to a psych ward after a head injury where he is tortured by a sadistic caretaker under the threat of pinning some mental illness on him
- The Illegitimate Stage - a couple of play stage professionals are hired to materialize a play written by a wealthy sponsor, then start to form a bond with the hapless woman
- A Lesson in History - a husband experiences the tension of remembering his war days and his mistress then, while having to hide all signs from his wife
- Wilfred - a story about the total psychopathic transformation of a man and the bafflement of society around him
- The Iron Maiden - a young soldier begs for advice from his more experienced friend on how to woo the girl he is in love with
- The Wrong Cat - a woman is terrorized by a murderous madman
- The Yellow Coat - a cowardly man becomes stronger from pushing through danger and trauma, but no one believes it
- The Heat's On - a fireman investigates a strange series of deaths by fire
- The Little Window - an unexpected event shakes the owner of a shoe shop and his nephew from their complacency
- The Waters of Kan-E - a story of survival in the Polynesian ocean
- Paul's Friend - another story about survival at sea
- Public Hearing - a scientist explains to helpless politicians that their armed power has become obsolete when everyone can build a world destroying weapon
- The Daddy Box - an alien device starts fixing humanity by starting small
Even without any actual connection to Dune, there is evidence of the seeds of the novel in many of the stories within. For example in A Lesson in History, there is the idea that a woman can discern the thoughts of a man from tiny disparate actions and gestures. In The Yellow Coat a man's psyche is transformed by adversity. In Public Hearing the weapon described is very similar to a Dune lasgun, while The Daddy Box features a way to change a society by tackling the basics of the family unit.
The stories are short and the collection is not a big book. If you are interested in how Frank Herbert's mind worked, this is something that is worth reading, without any of the stories inside being really that special. I enjoyed the book, but without my interest in the author I would not probably have recommended it to anyone.
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