• Direct Descent

  • By: Frank Herbert
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 2 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (405 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A library planet: The greatest treasure, the deadliest weapon.

Earth has become a library planet over the last several thousand years, a bastion of both useful and useless knowledge - esoterica of all types: History, science, politics - gathered by teams of "pack rats" who scour the galaxy for any scrap of information. Knowledge is power, knowledge is wealth, and knowledge can be a weapon. As powerful dictators come and go over the course of history, the cadre of dedicated librarians is sworn to obey the lawful government - and use their wits to protect the treasure trove of knowledge they have collected over the millennia.

©1980 Frank Herbert (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Direct Descent

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Asimov Did It Better

I am a highly plot driven reader, remembering the plot of just about every book I’ve ever read with very little difficulty. So it says a lot when I write, despite having read this book two times before (once in college and once a few years ago) I couldn’t remember the plot of the story. Perhaps the reason for that is that it feels so derivative. Direct Descent is two stories about a mammoth thousands-year-old library that really feels like it was written after Herbert read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation (written three years before this work was published in serial form). The whole thing really reads like an Asimov story instead of a Herbert one. Both stories in this collection have the same basic plot. The new galactic government has decided to shut down the library in their attempt to stop knowledge from being disseminated. In each case, the evil government operatives are outwitted by brilliant librarians. Asimov did it better.

Perhaps it is actually a good thing that this plot is so forgettable. Frank Herbert is one of my favorite authors of all time. His great books like The Godmakers and Whipping Star, and yes, of course, Dune, all deserve to be read a dozen or more times. But his “lesser” works like The Santaroga Barrier, The Heaven Makers, and the Green Brain (to name only three) both entertain me and make me think every time I reread them. I’d honestly rather forget a rare misfire like Direct Descent.

5 people found this helpful

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strident performance wore me out.

There's no doubt that Scott Brick is a talented performer. It's his strident performances that wear me out. Seldom in this performance does one hear a conversational speaking voice. I'd stopped listening to other books performed in the same manner. It's like listening to a forceful chiding for hours. This wears me out.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved it

I discovered Frank Herbert just before the new movie based on his book Dune came out. I read through those Dune books quickly and couldn’t wait to read more of his work! Never considered myself a sci-fi fan but it’s hard to disregard his genius!

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big ole libbies

This is really two short stories in the same setting, the first story is the best writing I've read from Herbert and the second one is okay. Scott Brick is always good but he is especially well suited for these.

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Wonderful

Every time I read Frank Herbert I am consumed by his amazing world building. This short story showcases Herbert’s unique ability to create a vision of society evolving in fascinating directions all the while maintaining realistic and very human cultures. I wish it was 20 hours long instead of three.

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discombobulated

The transition between the first part and the second part for me was a little rough. kind of just joined the flow trying to figure out where it's going to go and where it's coming from.

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a Charming sci-fi thriller

I Love The Way the story weaves in and out. It's an enjoyable way to pass a Saturday morning.

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An interesting twist of mind!

Herbert always had a most interesting twist of mind.
If you loved that in other stories you will appreciate it this short story as well.
A true hidden treasure of the author of Dune.

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Excellent!

Frank Herbert continues to be my favorite science fiction writer. And Scott Brick continues to deliver excellent narration. However many years later, a well written story, well told, is still enthralling.

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Old school simple science fiction

Although published in 1980, Frank Herbert's Direct Descent has that pre-60's feel of science fiction targeting a younger crowd. In fact, the tale, which consists of two separate stories, is an expansion of his 50's short story, Pack Rat Planet. The basic premise is that the galaxy is populated by many settled worlds and Earth has been relegated to a huge library that spends it time and effort collecting minutiae and streaming random bits throughout the galaxy. In both stories, outside forces want to either eliminate the library or take it over for exploitation. In both cases, the chief librarian manages to maintain the library's independence by avoiding the confrontational proclivities of younger hotheads and being a bit more subtle, but strategic.

Herbert plays with the notion that information is increasing exponentially and so organization and retrieval will become more critical. At the same time, he recognizes the importance of not ascribing value to specific pieces of knowledge since its relevance will change with changing conditions. Also, for a more juvenile audience, he amply displays the value of playing the long game.

The narration is well done with excellent character distinction. Pacing is smooth, but brisk making for a quick listen.

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  • Norma Miles
  • 05-25-22

"First rule, obey the government."

Two stories, essentially, the first set in the 81st century, the second several generations later, both set on the library planet housing the accumulated wisdoms and knowledge of the universe. It is dependent on the galactic governments for it's ongoing so as the first rule is to a large obey whatever the government orders. In both stories, when the decision had been made to end the library, a way had to be found to protect it without breaking the prime order to obey.

Narration is by the excellent Scott Brick, whose reading is well paced and modulated, though sadly not at his best as he sounds slightly downbeat and depressed. Still a fine pperformance, though.

Good, old fashioned (ideas rather than characterisation) S.F., Asimov style, visual and easy to read. Well worth a listen

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  • M. Buckley
  • 02-20-22

An enjoyable oddity for Herbert fans

This set of fragments feels like sketches for a book. Despite its incompleteness, it reflects Herbert's eclectic and fascinating interests, and will be a pleasure for his fans.