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Jack L. Chalker

Jack L. ChalkerAKA Jack Laurence Chalker

Born: 17-Dec-1944
Birthplace: Baltimore, MD
Died: 11-Feb-2005
Location of death: Baltimore, MD
Cause of death: Kidney failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: SF author, wrote Well World series

Author and editor Jack Chalker is best known for his Well World series, especially his wildly successful Midnight at the Well of Souls. An extremely prolific author of both science fiction and fantasy, publishing at least two to four books a year, Chalker produced a multitude of other sagas and stand alone novels. In addition he was the founder of Hugo nominated Mirage Press as well as the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, and its convention Balticon. Chalker was a past columnist for Fantasy Review as well as Pulphouse magazine.

Chalker was born in 1944 in Baltimore. He was an early and avid reader, and had already amassed an impressive collection of books by the time he was in junior high, a feat financed by a variety of odd jobs. By the age 13 he had joined the world of organized sci-fi fandom, and he soon began writing and submitting sci-fi fan fiction. In 1960, when he was only 16 years old, he started his own amateur magazine, Mirage, later nominated for a Hugo Award. In 1961 he launched Mirage Press which came to specialize in nonfiction and reference books related to the sci-fi and fantasy fields. Chalker managed to keep Mirage going, albeit in scaled back form, right up until his final years. These later projects included producing the SF small press bibliography and supplements as well as the better known A Guide To Middle-Earth, which he put out in association with Random House.

After high school, Chalker entered Towson State College, where he received his B.S. for studies in history and English. He earned his M.L.A. from Johns Hopkins University where his focus was "the History of Ideas", or as he explained it, "I'm a certified expert on isms and ologies". This interest would also continue thorugh his life, emerging in the astute political and social insights incorporated into many of his novels. Chalker had hoped to study and practice law, but various obstacles forced him to abandon this dream in favor of teaching. For more than a decade, he taught history and geography at the high school and college levels, and later he lectured at the Smithsonian, the National Institutes of Health, and various other institutions.

During this time he remained active with Mirage Press and in science fiction fandom, even founding the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and its convention. He also served in the Maryland Air National Guard as an information officer, and was trained as a special forces Air Commando during the Vietnam War -- although his time "in country" was somewhere around four hours.

In 1976 Chalker published his first novel A Jungle of Stars, followed two years later by his bestselling Midnight at the Well of Souls. That same year, 1978, Chalker retired from teaching to write full time, and he married Eva Whitley. The couple eventually had two sons, David (1981) and Steven (1991). Eva shared his interest in the sci-fi fan scene, working numerous conventions, including roughly a dozen World Science Fiction Conventions. Chalker was also appreciative of all the effort that went into producing a con, apparently originating the term "Secret Masters Of Fandom" (SMOF) to describe all those devoted sci-fi fans that plan and run the conventions so that others can just show up and have fun. Other support for the sci-fi community came through his involvement in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for whom he was a three-term treasurer.

In addition to the world of science fiction Chalker took an active interest in conservation and enjoyed computers, consumer electronics, and travel as well as many other hobbies. He was an avid steamboat aficionado, logging some three hundred ferryboat rides around the United States and abroad. Another key Chalker interest was work of H. P. Lovecraft, about whom he wrote several books.

During his lifetime Chalker achieved considerable commercial success within his profession. Although he was sometimes chastised by critics for being "repetitive" or predictable in follow-up installments to his various series, Chalker himself saw it as a necessary evil within an industry that had become increasingly dominated by the tastes of chain bookstores and the types who run them. In short, as in the TV world, the cry was "give us another one like the one that sold so well."

While Jack Chalker's biggest accolades may have been the affection of his fans, and the ability to pay his bills without a day job, Chalker also earned an assortment of awards and prestigious nominations. Among these are the Dedalus Award (1983), The Gold Medal of the West Coast Review of Books (1984), Skylark Award (1985), and the Hamilton-Brackett Memorial Award (1979). In addition he was a four-time Hugo Award nominee and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award. His Midnight at the Well of Souls has sold over four million copies in North America and has been translated into some twelve different languages. His work as a whole has been translated into over twenty-five languages.

Wife: Eva C. Whitley
Son: David Whitley Chalker (b. 1981)
Son: Steven Lloyd Chalker (b. 1991)

    University: BS, Towson State College
    University: MA Liberal Arts, Johns Hopkins University

    Heart Attack 2003
    Risk Factors: Obesity, Smoking

Official Website:

Author of books:
A Jungle of Stars (1976, novel)
Midnight at the Well of Souls (1977, novel)
Dancers in the Afterglow (1978, novel)
The Web of the Chozen (1978, novel)
Exiles at the Well of Souls (1978, novel)
Quest for the Well of Souls (1978, novel)
And the Devil Will Drag You Under (1979, novel)
A War of Shadows (1979, novel)
The Return of Nathan Brazil (1980, novel)
Twilight at the Well of Souls (1980, novel)
Lilith: A Snake in the Grass (1981, novel)
The Devil's voyage (1981, novel)
Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold (1982, novel)
Charon: A Dragon at the Gate (1982, novel)
The Identity of Matrix (1982, novel)
Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail (1983, novel)
Spirits of Flux and Anchor (1984, novel)
Empires of Flux and Anchor (1984, novel)
Downtiming the Night Side (1985, novel)
The Messiah Choice (1985, novel)
Masters of Flux and Anchor (1985, novel)
The Birth of Flux and Anchor (1985, novel)
Children of Flux and Anchor (1986, novel)
The Shadow Dancers (1987, novel)
The Labyrinth of Dreams (1987, novel)
The Maze in the Mirror (1987, novel)
Pirates of the Thunder (1987, novel)
Warriors of the Storm (1987, novel)
When the Changewinds Blow (1987, novel)
Riders of the Winds (1988, novel)
War of the Maelstrom (1988, novel)
Masks of the Martyrs (1988, novel)
The Demons at Rainbow Bridge (1989, novel)
The Run to Chaos Keep (1991, novel)
The Ninety Trillion Fausts (1991, novel)
The Red Tape War: A Round-Robin Science Fiction Novel (1991, novel, with Michael Resnick and George Alec)
Echoes of the Well of Souls (1993, novel)
Shadow of the Well of Souls (1994, novel)
Gods of the Well of Souls (1994, novel)
The Cybernetic Walrus (1995, novel)
The March Hare Network (1996, novel)
The Hot-Wired Dodo (1997, novel)
Priam's Lens (1997, novel)
The Sea Is Full of Stars (1999, novel)
The Run to Chaos Keep (1999, novel)
Ghost of the Well of Souls (2000, novel)
Balshazzar's Serpent (2000, novel)
The Moreau Factor (2000, novel)
Melchior's Fire (2001, novel)
Quest for the Well of Souls (2003, novel)
Kaspar's Box (The Three Kings) (2003, novel)

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