Legendary ‘Dune’ Illustrations by John Schoenherr (9 pictures)

Frank Herbert is purported to have said that John Schoenherr was “the only man who has ever visited Dune.”


Well, thanks to Schoenherr’s work log, we can pinpoint the exact date of his first trip. Fifty years ago today – on August 7, 1963 – he was commissioned to make a cover and 18 spot illustrations for Parts 1, 2, and 3 of “Dune World” which was to be serialized in Analog Science Fact and Science Fiction starting with the December 1963 issue.

Schoenherr’s illustrations are among the most celebrated of science fiction artworks; he showed that science fiction art could be mature and painterly, worlds away from the lurid pulp exaggerations the genre had cultivated since its inception. The first artist to tackle the desert planet Arrakis, his Dune illustrations in particular have become archetypes by which Frank Herbert’s universe is visualized.

 Schoenherr was born in New York City in 1935, studied at the Art Students’ League, and graduated from the Pratt Institute in the late 1950s. After initial sales to magazines such as InfinityAmazing, and other pulps of the day, he found a home in the pages of Astounding (later renamed Analog), arguably the most important magazine in the history of science fiction, under the reign of science fiction’s ur-editor, John W. Campbell.

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