Scott Timberg’s latest article about sf for the LA Times traces the origins of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune.
The novel was sparked when, in the late 1950s, Herbert flew to Florence, Ore., in a small chartered plane to write about a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to stabilize sand dunes with European beach grasses. The author was struck by the way dunes could move, over time, like living things — swallowing rivers, clogging lakes, burying forests. “These waves can be every bit as devastating as a tidal wave . . . they’ve even caused deaths,” he wrote his agent, beginning an article, “They Stopped the Moving Sands,” that was never published.
Timberg has a fresh quote from Kim Stanley Robinson, too, whom he praises saying, “Many consider Robinson’s trilogy about the terra-forming of Mars the best-realized exercise in the form since Herbert’s.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]