Exclusive: Dune audiobook narrator Scott Brick talks all things Arrakis

We spoke to longtime Dune audiobook narrator Scott Brick about the franchise, its many adaptations, little-known facts about author Frank Herbert and more.
Dune audiobook narrator Scott Brick on the movies, Frank Herbert and bringing Arrakis to life
Dune audiobook narrator Scott Brick on the movies, Frank Herbert and bringing Arrakis to life / Winter is Coming

Right now, Denis Villeneuve's visionary movie Dune: Part Two is demolishing the box office like a sandworm after spice. First published in 1965, Frank Herbert's seminal story has long been a beloved fixture in the science fiction space, but now it's breaking into the mainstream in a way that's exciting for long-term fans and newcomers alike.

Audiobook narrator Scott Brick has been on the ground floor of the goings on around Arrakis for over 20 years. He narrated Herbert's original Dune novel back in the early 2000s, along with dozens of other Dune stories by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson over the following years. Suffice to say, few people have spent as much time on Arrakis as Brick these past two decades.

We had the opportunity to speak with Scott Brick at length ahead of the release of Dune: Part Two about his many memories working on the book series, why Villeneuve's adaptations are succeeding where others haven't, little-known secrets derived from his time working on the Frank Herbert biography Dreamer of Dune, and more. Watch the full interview above, or read on for some excerpts:

DANIEL ROMAN for Winter Is Coming: Hi Scott, and welcome! So you've been narrating the Dune books for quite a while now, right? How many of them have you done?

SB: More than 20 years. I gotta be honest, I lost track [of the number of books]. I would say it would be at least 25... I think we just did 26. The 25th one I narrated was actually the biography of Frank Herbert that Brian [Herbert] wrote called Dreamer of Dune. So, I count that in the canon... you can't really know the story of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica without know the story of Frank and Beverly.

DR: Okay, I'm going to have to ask you about that later in the interview, because you've made me curious. But before we get into that, for people who might not be familiar with your work narrating the series, can you walk us through your journey with Dune?

SB: Well, I first read the books just as a fan when I was in college... at some point in the '80s, because I remember going in and getting a copy of Chapterhouse: Dune. I'm in this B. Dalton bookseller and the manager hands it to me and he says, "Enjoy it. It's gonna be the last one ever." Because Frank had just died.

And I remember thinking, "Does it have to be the last? Couldn't his family pick it up?" You know, that's happened before. And lo and behold, 15 years later — this would have been around 2001 — I had started a career as an audiobook narrator and I was approached by this company, who were going to record the latest prequel. This would have been the fourth prequel, the beginning of The Butlerian Jihad trilogy, the one set 10,000 years before Dune. And they said, "But we also want to do the original that Frank wrote... would you be willing to do that?" I was thought I was getting punk'd. Would I be willing? Oh, yeah, sure. Where's the cameras?

I can't believe I did this but I was brand new, you know, still wet behind the ears and nobody in this industry... and yet I said I won't do it unless I can speak with the author of The Butlerian Jihad, the prequel. I said, Brian [Herbert] is taking over for his father along with Kevin J Anderson, I can't do the original without knowing how Frank pronounced these words. I don't want to guess, I can't guess. And as bold a request as this was the next thing I know a day or two later, I'm talking to Brian on the phone and he faxed over his father's handwritten notes about pronunciations. I'm looking at this and I'm giddy as a school kid because I'm like, holy crap. I got Frank Herbert's notes coming out of my fax machine... and I still have it. The thermal paper faded years ago, but I xeroxed it before it did.

That began a 20, 25 year project where every time we've worked on a new Dune book [we added to the notes]. The original I wanna say had 598 pronunciations — words, names, phrases, that Frank had either said aloud on recordings that he made when he was alive, or if not, we were able to infer the pronunciations based on the ones he did leave. So, we were able to essentially create the language of Dune and we've added to it and, but it's gone from, I think 598 words for the original to well over 2000 words now.

(L-r) TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, Chiabella James /

DR: Obviously, the exciting thing right now for a lot of Dune fans is Dune: Part Two is in theaters. Is there anything from the original Dune book you were especially excited to see in this new adaptation?

SB: For me, the most memorable moments of Dune — I've been able to go back and revisit it, years later after I did my version of the original, there were multi-voice versions where I got to play Duke Leto and Stilgar and a number of the roles — what I've always been struck at struck by in the Dune saga is his relationship with his parents. I could tell you this: Brian [Herbert] misses his parents tremendously, and as I said earlier, there would not be Duke Leto without Frank Herbert. There could not be Lady Jessica without Beverly, and both of them died too young.

I've always been struck by just... there's almost a wish fulfillment element to this whole saga. I wish I'd had more time with my father. I wish I could have more time with my mother. And to be honest, that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to seeing the family moments.

And I can't wait for the emperor. He has always been my favorite character, because when I grew up and I watched the [1984] film, that was José Ferrer and he's one of my favorite actors of all time. And if you guys who listen to the audiobooks haven't figured it out, whenever I get to play Shaddam, I'm just doing a bad José Ferrer impression. [Laughs] So I really can't wait to see the imperial family.

DR: They did some really cool things I think with the imperial family in Dune: Part Two.

SB: Well, you know the thing about it to me, Dune is just a fancy way of saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Because you know, we have this fallacy in our lives that we think if we had more money it would solve everything. If we had more time it would solve everything. You know if we had more health, it would solve everything. Bullshit. The fact of the matter is, look, there's still all of these internecine politics going on, this squabbling over land, squabbling over fortunes.

My god, the noble houses, the Harkonnens and the Atreides and just blood enemies... doesn't seem that much different from America and Russia. All the colonization in the imperium, all the colonization from Earth did, was export our basic problems with one another. And I think Dune is one of the best examples of that. Showing that... well, again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

FLORENCE PUGH as Princess Irulan in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

DR: You've mentioned Dreamer of Dune a couple of times. That's the biography of Frank Herbert, written by his son, Brian Herbert, that you narrated. Were there any particular insights into either Frank Herbert's life or the process of writing the Dune books that jumped out at you when you were working on that?

SB: I spent three years of my life as a freelance writer. I used to write for the comic book press, you know, Wizard Magazine, Comics Buyers Guide, Toy Fair, sci-fi magazines... and it was always a struggle. Always a struggle to, you know, not to pay the rent, but to enjoy a few luxuries now and again. And what I was struck by was how long Frank struggled. And Beverly, and of course the kids. I mean, when [Dune] was published, it was Chilton, was the only publisher who said yes. Chilton... who does automotive manuals. It's the only time anything that they published hasn't been, you know, for a '57 Chevy.

DR: That's a big swing for them as a publisher.

SB: It really was. And you know, they should be lauded for bringing Dune to the masses. What I was struck by was the fierce focus that Frank had at times, quite detrimentally to his family. I mean, his relationships suffered because he was just, "I'm gonna be in here. Don't bother me. I'm writing." It was sacrosanct, and then he worked really hard afterwards to, you know, repair these relationships. And when the money started coming in, things got a lot better.

I think it's a wonderful story that should give hope to a lot of struggling writers out there that their work has merit and their efforts are not in vain.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. You can watch the full interview with Scott Brick on the Winter Is Coming YouTube channel, where we get into more details about why Denis Villeneuve's adaptations succeed where past adaptations haven't, Brick's favorite books in the Dune mythos, and more details about his work on the series and Frank Herbert's life, including little-known details about his plans for a trilogy that would have ended with a seventh novel set after Chapterhouse: Dune.

An enormous thank you to Scott Brick for taking the time to swing by the site and talk all things Dune!

dark. Next. dune books. All 23 Dune novels, laid out in chronological canon order

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