Herbert's mastery of science fiction proves to be known and is drawn out most influentially throughout his library of various titles. In them, among the pages he sweeps with psychedelic philosophy and intergalactic societies ranging by the differentiated species he so creates, or given semblance of real life actualities, Herbert uses a number of concepts in every single work. Vying to keep his legacy in tact, and as organized as possible, most of his novels have been reorientated from short stories, or simply birthed a whole series of conceptual characters that make for some of the most intriguing realities yet put on paper.
That's not to say that these alone are his must-read works, not in the last bit. This is only to say and list only but a few of his most iconic works, some of which deal with humanity and colonization, others with existence and technology. Despite the fact that one is not a science fiction novel, they all share in common with this very premise: outward imagination and untimely themes that give rise to a whole list of idealized takeaways. I could talk for hours about the best Frank Herbert books, but instead I'll just dive right in.
If you don't already know what it is, then I suggest you delve into the confines of some facts about Dune you didn't know before proceeding. It's one of the best Frank Herbert books, but quite possibly may be considered one of the most iconic science fiction novels ever put to paper, drawing out many worlds of themes and concepts that have helped shape the genre into what it remains today.
We might not be there yet, but Dune is highly imaginative as it is reminiscent of our own seedy capitalistic tendencies, upon which we attempt to monetize every action possible, as is the case for the citizens of the sand-filled world of Arrakis, where Paul Atreides soon finds himself after his family gains stewardship over the planet. Blending concepts of religion, politics, ecology, and technology into one massive piece of fiction makes for an obvious Nebula Award winner and all-time classic of the genre, for which the Dune novels will forever hold.
The God Makers
Interestingly deemed a literary bridge between his Dune and ConSistency universes, Herbert's The God Makers takes readers down a joruney of epic proportions; showcasing a deep examination of the purest ideals in many concepts, like spirituality, war, death, and the meaning of immortality. It's probably one of the most insane science fiction books you could ever pick up, and an instant classic among the best Frank Herbert books.
Like most of his more readily known works, God Makers is an extension of his short story "You Take the High Road." In all efforts, one can consider this a melting pot of Herbert shorts, giving premise to an even more grandiose and spellbinding depiction of imagination, human severity, and the nature of existence. If you want to read something that will literally blow your mind, God Makers is the Herbert work for you.
Dragon in the Sea
Also known by some as Under Pressure, this classic of Herbert's embodies some of his most iconic presentations as ever before seen, one that presents a new-future earth that has seen the East and West plunging into the depths for amassing more oil. Thinning resources giving them alarm as the future wanes, the East develops highly sophisticated nuclear submarines that are capable of reaching many fathoms, sustaining amid hazardous seafloor conditions, and operating even in the most stressful of missions.
But, are they up to the task of reigniting the flame once bright and luminous, now dwindling in the face of the future? The Dragon in the Sea is one of Frank Herbert's best books and lends insight into the daunting, often mysterious ebon surface of the ocean as never before imagined.
Envisioning a future that is far, far away from the present, Direct Descent literally takes readers down to the very core of technological advancement and heightened futuristic concepts. It's a science fiction fan's dream come true, a Star Wars without lightsabers, and among the best Frank Herbert books ever written.
Perfect for children, the story revolves around knowledge and war, peace and control, power and disorder. Readers are attuned to the nature of this far future existence at the very start of the work, which showcases peaceful Activists must deal, begrudgingly, with the warmongers that step into their territory looking for knowledge and insight unbound. It's a combination of two stories involving these two sects, seeming to draw them into one utter perception of our following steps in the centuries to come.
Before diving in, read Val's randomly extensive review of one of the best Frank Herbert books, Soul Catcher. Added to this list merely for its intrigue and delight, the work is in fact one of the few Herbert novels that doesn't employ science fiction. In this classic revenge story, Charles Hobuhet is a Native American who's tormented by the rape and suicide of his sister at the hands of American lumberjacks.
To enact his overall bloodlust, though, Charles isn't solely taking lives. He wants to impregnate his victims with the fear of God, and in so doing he will then sacrifice them in the name of vengeance itself. This is what makes Soul Catcher, largely reminiscent of The Revenant, an unprecedented story of acceptance, betrayal and the underlings of the afterlife. Read this amazing story by Herbert to see just how far one man will go to bring about his own soul's forgiveness.
The Santaroga Barrier
One of the absolute best Frank Herbert books, this extremely impactful and stunning look at the science behind utopian psychology and the premise of financial interests under this realm, Santaroga Barrier envisions an alternate universe in which exists a world of wonder — or decay... it all depends on the reader.
Interesting enough to strike your fancy, Barrier lends credit to a multitude of past themes, ranging from the counterculture of the 1960s, the use of psychedelic drugs, xenophobia, and rising capitalist interests. It's an intriguing look at the literal barriers drawn up between that of our various cultures and time periods, giving credence to the idea that nothing quite exists as the "nowness" in the present. Herbert himself stated that the novel is multi-dimensional, in that one reader can see it as a dystopia, while another will view it as a utopia. As I said, it all depends on the reader.
While most contend with the obvious ideology that Frank Herbert's Dune warned of the rise of artificial intelligence, I tend to look at Destination: Void for that terrifying futuristic observation. It's not only one of the best Frank Herbert books, it launches readers into the twisting and descending story of the colonization of Pandora, in addition to an unnatural form of artificial intelligence named Ship.
Followed by two extremely powerful sequels of ascending suspense, Destination: Void highlights some of the negatives that come with proliferating artificial intelligence, but it also proves to show believe in the same context. You are first met by what is called a "rogue consciousness," that which destroys an island on earth, effectively sending us reeling into the stars for not just a new home, but answers as well. Here, adopted amongst space travel, the OMC (Organic Mental Core) is born, wherein the following quests give rise to one of Herbert's most astounding series.
The Jesus Incident
Following the initial driver of the series, both of which being two of the best Frank Herbert books, Jesus Incident picks up from where Destination left off — except, readers are still unsure as to the exact number of years between them. The planet, now coined "Pandora," is the essential salvation of all and must be protected at all costs,
Ship, a sentient-god character, gains the ability to manipulate both time and space, thereby leading his many minions to learn the prowess of WorShip, their way of creating a relationship with the being. In so doing, readers also learn that in between tales the crew of the ship has evolved into a multicultural bag of various personalities and backgrounds, all of whom are directly challenged by Jesus Lewis. He's a biological engineer from Lab One, entailing to not only destroy the kelp inhabiting Pandora's seas, but to also broaden the cloning labs so as to embody ritualistic ownership over the planet. Will he succeed, or can Ship save the newly colonized world?
The Lazarus Effect
Third in the Destination series, The Lazarus Effect continues the trials and tribulations from The Jesus Incident. Despite it being hailed as one of his most prominent novels, Herbert shares the title of author with Bill Ransom, an exceptional poet who adds another layer of perfected sci-fi to the mix. Detailing a rather unprecedented form of assimilation for the planet Pandora, giving rise to the argument that the future of space colonization is influenced by artists and scientists, Herbert's Lazarus Effect explores the far future of intergalactic existence.
Originally published in 1983, this book examines the perils that await the kelp and humankind with the mutations performed by Jesus Lewis, which were detailed extensively in the previous work. Ship is still missing, and the kelp still remain helplessly on the brink of extinction, but Avata is no longer passive in one of the best Frank Herbert books. The following book, Ascension Factor, delves more deeply into the kelp and the underlying ways in which humanity must strive to prosper.
First among a variety of stories that would be set in his ConSistency universe, Whipping Star gives credit to the cultural boundlessness of his inner works. In a time where humanity has brought about intergalactic union through the use of ConSistency as a governing body over the range of species, reckless abandonment soon follows.
As it's one of the best Frank Herbert books, there's no denying that the twists in this story will keep you on the edge of your seat. Jorj X. McKie is one of his most interesting and troubled characters that utilizes any number of sabotage to receive his wants as needed. When it comes to saving the known universe from total annihilation, can his expert skills and impeccable troublemaking do the trick?
Instead of being one novel associated to the grandiose imaginations enacted by Herbert, Eye is a collection of short stories. Inside, readers will discover 13 tales of science fiction wonder, each packed with its own level of suspense, insight, and overall portrayal of sci-fi in general.
One such addition, claiming its seat among some of the best Frank Herbert books, "The Road to Dune" is an immediate classic of the author that cannot be ignored. With 13 various works inside, fans of science fiction will have plenty of world to delve into in Eye.