I looked it up on Wikipedia and found a link to a Dune timeline that's defunct but preserved on the Wayback Machine site:
I haven't read any of the later books, nor have I read the original Herbert ones in decades. I was just trying to find some commonality to the 'Verse, and the absence of an inhabited Earth was the only possibility that presented itself other than the psi powers.
This is not a credible site, since it's infested with the retconned KJA/BH "prequels/sequels/interquels" stuff that DIRECTLY contradicts the BASIC established tenets that Frank Herbert set down in the 1960s. It was retconned in the Butlerian Jihad trilogy (a KJA/BH travesty that had robots and cymeks fighting a holy war where the original Frank Herbert novels made it plain that it was opposing camps of HUMANS fighting a holy war of IDEAS and PHILOSOPHY regarding computers/"thinking machines"), and in that trilogy Earth was nuked. This did not happen in the FH novels.
As for aliens, I thought the Guild Steersmen were aliens. Are they just heavily engineered humans? Anyway, if sandworms exist on Arrakis, there must be a whole ecosystem there; obviously no single species can survive in isolation. At the very least, there are sand plankton.
The Guild Steersmen are humans who mutate when exposed to the spice gas that expands their consciousness in such a way that they can find safe passage (using foldspace technology) so as to not come out in the middle of a solid object, for example, when emerging from foldspace. My impression is that one either has the genes that allow for this mutation or one doesn't. It's the Tleilaxu that deliberately genetically engineered themselves to be Face Dancers (able to alter their physical appearance at will). Genetically, however, the Tleilaxu are still considered human.
Yes, of course there's a whole ecosystem on Arrakis. The only weak point I've ever considered of the way the planet was conceived in FH's mind is the oxygen content of the atmosphere. I really don't get how there could be enough, given the extreme scarcity of photosynthesis going on.
And don't give me that "not part of his vision" line. The stuff I've written for Star Trek wasn't part of Roddenberry's vision either. All that matters is whether something is good or bad. Purism is an illegitimate basis for determining quality.
Read the KJA/BH books and come back and tell me it's not crap. Since I've read them and you haven't - AND I've corresponded with Kevin J. Anderson about them and you haven't, I think I know just a wee bit more about this particular situation than you do.
BTW, Christopher, if you knew of a group of Star Trek fans who hated your ST books and weren't shy about saying so, would you write blog posts sneering at them and calling them "Talifans" (combination of Taliban and fan)? Would you be as openly disrespectful to Gene Roddenberry's basic ST tenets as KJA has to Frank Herbert?
Herbert was in the process of writing the final Dune novel when he died. Given the clues we have of the way the story should have gone from the cliffhanger ending of the previous book, KJA/BH decided "to hell with FH; we'll do our own thing and retcon it into the story that EVERYTHING FH wrote in his original six Dune novels is just an in-story propaganda piece and doesn't count because only OUR books are real Dune!"
Would you do that to Gene Roddenberry? I'm not talking about something like inventing new characters or changing a style of uniform for one of the Starfleet sub-organizations. I'm talking about something as basic as saying the Prime Directive never existed, or that Vulcans are really like Ferengi and everything Roddenberry and authors he signed off on ever wrote about Vulcans was in-story propaganda and therefore NOT real and NOT valid.
I don't think so. I think you have more integrity than that. Even if you somehow acquired sole rights to all of Star Trek, you wouldn't violate Roddenberry's vision to such an egregious extent.
Purism is NOT an "illegitimate" basis for determining quality, if it's obvious that the quality is meant to completely spread metaphorical solid organic human waste material all over the original creator's work.