Jack Laurence Chalker (December 17, 1944 – February 11, 2005) was an American science fiction author. Chalker was also a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for 12 years, retiring during 1978 to write full-time. He also was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.
Jack Laurence Chalker
Chalker in 2003
|Born||December 17, 1944|
|Died||February 11, 2005 (aged 60)|
Johns Hopkins University
|Occupation||Science fiction author, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Eva C. Whitley|
|Children||David W. Chalker, Steven L. Chalker|
He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of his books said that he was born in Norfolk, Virginia although he later claimed that was a mistake; he attended high school at the Baltimore City College. Chalker earned a BA degree in English from Towson University in Towson, Maryland, where he was a theater critic for the school newspaper, The Towerlight. During 2003, Towson University named Chalker their Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year. He received a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Chalker intended to become a lawyer, but financial problems caused him to become a teacher instead. He taught history and geography in the Baltimore City Public Schools from 1966 to 1978, most notably at Baltimore City College and the now defunct Southwest Senior High School. Chalker lectured on science fiction and technology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and numerous universities.
Chalker was married in 1978 and had two children, David, a game designer, and Steven (later Samantha), a computer security consultant.
Chalker's hobbies included esoteric audio, travel, and working on science-fiction convention committees. He also had a great interest in ferryboats; at his fiancee's suggestion, their marriage was performed on the Roaring Bull boat, part of the Millersburg Ferry, in the middle of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
Chalker joined the Washington Science Fiction Association during 1958, and during 1963 he and two friends founded the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Chalker attended every World Science Fiction Convention, except one, from 1965 until 2004. He published an amateur SF journal, Mirage, from 1960 to 1971 (a Hugo nominee during 1963 for Best Fanzine), producing ten issues. Another journal, Interjection, was published 1968–1987 in association with the Fantasy Amateur Press Association. Chalker also initiated a publishing house, Mirage Press, Ltd., for releasing nonfiction and bibliographic works concerning science fiction and fantasy.
Chalker's awards included the Daedalus Award (1983), The Gold Medal of the West Coast Review of Books (1984), Skylark Award (1980), and the Hamilton-Brackett Memorial Award (1979). He was a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award twice and for the Hugo Award twice. Chalker was posthumously awarded the Phoenix Award by the Southern Fandom Confederation on April 9, 2005.
Chalker was a three-term treasurer of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Chalker was also the co-author (with Mark Owings) of The Science Fantasy Publishers (third edition during 1991, updated annually), published by Mirage Press, Ltd, a bibliographic guide to genre small press publishers which was a Hugo Award nominee during 1992. The Maryland Young Writers Contest, sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, was renamed "'The Jack L. Chalker Young Writers Contest" effective April 8, 2006.
Chalker is best known for his Well World series of novels, but he also wrote many other novels (most, but not all, part of a series, or large novels which were split into 'series' by the publishers), and at least nine short stories.
Many of Chalker's works involve some physical transformation of the main characters. For instance, in the Well World novels, immigrants to the Well World are transformed from their original form to become a member of one of the 1,560 sentient species that inhabit that artificial planet. Another example would be that the Wonderland Gambit series resembles traditional Buddhist jataka-type reincarnation stories set in a science fiction environment. Steven Chalker announced that Wonderland Gambit might be made into a movie, but supposedly its close resemblance to The Matrix resulted in the project being canceled.
At the time of his death, Chalker left one unfinished novel, Chameleon. He was planning to write another novel, Ripsaw, after Chameleon.
On September 18, 2003, during Hurricane Isabel, Chalker passed out and was rushed to the hospital with a diagnosis of a coronary occlusion. He was later released, but was severely weakened. On December 6, 2004, he was again rushed to hospital with breathing problems and disorientation, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a pneumothorax. Chalker was hospitalized in critical condition, then upgraded to stable condition on December 9, though he did not regain consciousness until December 15. After several more weeks in deteriorating condition and in a persistent vegetative state, with several transfers to different hospitals, Chalker died on February 11, 2005, of kidney failure and sepsis at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
Some of Chalker's remains are interred in the family plot at Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. The remainder were distributed off a ferry near Hong Kong, the ferry between Hainan Island and the Chinese mainland, a ferry in Vietnam, White's Ferry on the Potomac River in Virginia on Father's Day 2007, and on author H. P. Lovecraft's grave in Providence, Rhode Island on December 17, 2005.
Besides the short stories included in Dance Band on the Titanic, Chalker wrote at least one other short story:
The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, or "Skylark", annually recognizes someone for lifetime contributions to science fiction, "both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late "Doc" Smith well-loved by those who knew him." It is presented by the New England Science Fiction Association at its annual convention, Boskone, to someone chosen by a vote of NESFA members. The trophy is a large lens mounted on a simple plinth.The award was inaugurated in 1966, the year after Smith's death. Fifty-one people have been honored in 49 years to 2015 (Hal Clement received the award twice, in 1969 and 1997).
Skylark recipientsExiles at the Well of Souls
Exiles at the Well of Souls is the second book in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker. Originally intended to be one book, the story was split into Exiles and Quest for the Well of Souls forming a duology.Ghost of the Well of Souls
Ghost of the Well of Souls is the tenth and final novel in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker. It concludes the narrative begun in The Sea is Full of Stars.Midnight at the Well of Souls
Midnight at the Well of Souls is the first book in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker, first published as a paperback in 1977. Over a million copies of the original printing were sold, and reprints have continued for decades. It came in #18 in the 1978 Locus Poll Award for best science fiction.Quest for the Well of Souls
Quest for the Well of Souls is the third book in the Well of Souls series by the American author Jack L. Chalker, and completes the Wars of the Well World duology begun with Exiles at the Well of Souls. A foreword by Chalker indicates that Quest and Exiles were originally conceived as a single book, but due to the decision to split them, Quest was written to be readable as a standalone novel.SMOF
SMOF (also spelled smof) is an acronym which stands for "Secret Master(s) Of Fandom" and is a term used within the science fiction fan community. Its coining is generally attributed to long-time science fiction fan and author Jack L. Chalker.SMOFcon
SMOFcon is an annual convention that focuses on the organisation of science fiction conventions. The first SMOFcon took place in 1984, and most have taken place in the United States.
SMOFcon typically attracts 100-150 attendees, and usually occurs in the first weekend of December, though other dates have been known. The content includes formal and informal sessions covering insights from events held in the previous year, information about the latest trends from the community and external experts, reviews of previous events and feedback to bidders for upcoming events, with a focus on learnings that can be widely shared.
A significant number of SMOFcon attendees are also Worldcon organisers and the programme usually includes sessions about the most recent Worldcon and on bids for future Worldcons.
The name of the convention is derived from the word SMOF (also spelled smof), which is an acronym which stands for "Secret Master(s) Of Fandom" and is a term used within the science fiction fan community. Its coining is generally attributed to science fiction author Jack L. Chalker.Southwestern Senior High School (Baltimore, Maryland)
Southwestern Senior High School was a public high school located in Baltimore, Maryland. Ruff Endz band members David Chance and Dante Jordan attended. Current Engineering Education leader, Clifton Martin also attended this great institution. Southwestern Senior High School opened in September 1971 and closed in June 2007. The building sat vacant for one year before the city leased the school to the SEED School of Maryland boarding school. The main classroom building was torn down along with the library and cafeteria. The building has been replaced with dorms and portable classrooms.Swordsmen and Supermen
Swordsmen and Supermen is an anonymously edited anthology of fantasy stories by Robert E. Howard and others, with a cover by Virgil Finlay. It was first published in paperback by Centaur Press in February 1972. The anonymous editor has been identified by bibliographers Jack L. Chalker and Mark Owings and by critic Roger C. Schlobin as the publisher, Donald M. Grant.The book collects five novelettes and short stories by various fantasy authors, with a general introductory note and introductory notes on the authors and stories prefacing each story. The stories are "swashbuckling fantastic yarns" both from the pulp era of the 1920s and 1930s and the period in which the book was published.The Identity Matrix
The Identity Matrix is a science fiction novel by American writer Jack L. Chalker, published in 1982 by Timescape Books. The work focuses on the body swap and enemy mine plot devices, as well as a background conflict between two powerful alien races.The Return of Nathan Brazil
The Return of Nathan Brazil is the fourth book in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker.The Sea is Full of Stars
The Sea is Full of Stars is the ninth novel in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker.The Web of the Chozen
The Web of the Chozen is a novel by Jack L. Chalker published in 1978.Twilight at the Well of Souls
Twilight at the Well of Souls is the fifth novel in the Well of Souls series by American author Jack L. Chalker. It is a science fiction novel. Twilight at the Well of Souls concludes the narrative begun in the fourth book, The Return of Nathan Brazil.Well World series
The Well World series is a series of science fiction novels by Jack L. Chalker. It involves a planet-sized supercomputer known as the Well of Souls that builds our reality on top of an underlying one of greater complexity but smaller size. The computer was built by a now-extinct race, the Markovians, who developed the Well of Souls with the goal of creating a new species that would transcend their own.
The Well World is the planet that houses the Well of Souls, and it exists within the original Markovian reality. Its surface was used as an experimental site where the Markovians tested their species designs before sending the successful ones into the new universe to populate planets. Humans are one of many such designed species who now live in the "real" world. During the time period of the novels, the Well World has been abandoned and left on its own for an unknown length of time.
The books mainly follow a mysterious character known as Nathan Brazil, who has an (initially) unknown connection to the Well World. The books are adventures that follow Brazil and a changing cast of secondary characters through a series of visits to the Well World over a period of hundreds (and millions) of years.