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Oregon coastal city celebrates being ‘Dune’ birthplace

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area served as inspiration for Frank Herbert’s acclaimed 1965 novel “Dune.” The city of Florence is celebrating that inspiration ahead of a hotly anticipated new movie based on the bestseller. [Mail Tribune/file photo]

A city on the central Oregon coast is celebrating its link to an acclaimed science-fiction book about to become a movie.

Ahead of the premiere of “Dune,” the $165 million interplanetary drama based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 bestseller of the same name, the city of Florence, its movie theater and its library system are holding events highlighting how the Oregon dunes inspired author Frank Herbert to write his award-winning novel, according to a press release from the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce.

A key inspiration for the book — which included a rich ecology on the dune planet of Arrakis in the year 10191 — was a 1957 trip to Florence for a magazine article about the struggle between nature and humanity on the Oregon dunes.

"Sand dunes have been known to swallow whole cities, lakes, rivers, highways,“ Herbert reportedly wrote his agent.

According to Meg Spencer, executive director of the Siuslaw Public Library, the magazine article never materialized, “but the awe of the Oregon dunes became the inspiration for ‘Dune.’”

The novel’s story of interplanetary fiefdoms and the fight for control of a desert planet became the first Nebula award winner in 1966, and has sold roughly 20 million copies — not to mention numerous sequels and prequels.

Herbert’s family donated to the library district rare items from his collection including art, books and movie memorabilia, which will be on display at the Florence library and the City Lights Cinemas movie theater in Florence through Nov. 4.

Special showings with special introductions from Herbert’s grandson, Byron Merritt, and the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative will be held this weekend at the Florence theater. For more information, see citylightscinemas.com/dune-celebration/.

The movie premieres in theaters nationwide Thursday, Oct. 21, and will be available for 31 days on the HBO Max streaming service. See dunemovie.com.