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The soon-to-be Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park. (Metro Parks Tacoma Photo)

There likely won’t be any sandworms, but that’s not needed to spice up this news: Tacoma, Wash., native Frank Herbert, best known for the hugely popular Dune science-fiction novels, is getting a namesake park in his home town.

Frank Herbert in 1984. (Wikimedia Commons Photo)

The Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners has approved naming an 11-acre waterfront site “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park,” and a winding pedestrian loop being built on the same site the “Frank Herbert Trail.” The public space is currently under construction on land that once housed the former ASARCO copper smelting operation, next to the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin.

The new Dune park is expected to open later this year. It is actually physically separate from the rest of Point Defiance Park. A pedestrian-bicycle trail will connect it to the main park to the west.

The name was chosen after a Metro Parks staff committee reviewed more than 500 recommendations submitted by the public — of which about 300 were tied to either Frank Herbert or Dune.

The Metro Parks Tacoma announcement of the name noted that Dune was the first best-selling science fiction novel with an environmental theme, and that, according to his son Brian Herbert, “Frank Herbert’s devotion to the natural world evolved from his Tacoma childhood and his recollection of the foul smoke that spewed from the stack of the former ASARCO smelter.”

The 1984 Dune hardcover re-issue and 1981’s God Emperor of Dune. (Frank Catalano Photo)

Metro Parks Tacoma Commissioner Erik Hanberg, also an author, helped promote the re-naming. “Frank Herbert won the most prestigious awards in science fiction. Geographic features on Saturn’s moon Titan are named after words coined by him. And yet, not many people know he’s a native of Tacoma,” he said. “His experiences in Tacoma shaped his appreciation for the delicate balance of nature, so it feels right to attach his name to a park that reclaims toxic land.”

A costume from the 1984 film version of Dune at MoPOP. (GeekWire Photo / Frank Catalano)

Dune was first published in 1965 and spawned five direct sequels, another Dune book series co-authored by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, a David Lynch-directed 1984 film, and a television mini-series. A new Dune feature film is in the works, to be directed by Dennis Villeneuve, best known for the science-fiction movie Arrival.

Dune itself is set thousands of years in the future and describes a harsh desert planet, Arrakis, which is beset with political intrigue and the only known source of highly valuable “spice,” or melange, which makes interstellar travel possible. And yes, there are sandworms.

Frank Herbert died in 1986 at 65 years old.

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