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Jack L. Chalker 

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A Short Explanation From the Author:

    I used to answer every single letter from a reader (who wasn't nasty) personally. It's something I still would love to do, but the volume got so great that, between writing the books and answering the mail, my sons were beginning to ask their mother who I was and she was having trouble remembering herself. As a result. I've been forced to this, which contains the answers to many of the most asked questions. So, unless you gave a compelling reason for requiring a personal answer (in which case you will receive an email reply if you left your Internet address) this is what you must content yourself with. Sorry but what can I do? Oh—I know it's not the best photo, but.... See the one in Grolier's SF CD for a better one. I don't have the rights to it. To skip this and get back to the, click here.

The Most-Asked Questions:

(1) Where do you get your ideas?
A: K-Mart Idea Sales. 

(2) Why do you live in Maryland when you could live in southern California or Florida?
A: How can anyone live in regions where you can't get Old Bay Seasoning, crab soup, and fresh oysters off the dock? Besides, I figure there's something wrong with a climate so boring it induces people to get up before noon and even jog. And no rolling blackouts here!

(3) Will there be more (a) Well World novels (b) Four Lords novels [c] Dancing Gods novels?
(a): Maybe. Depends on if I get a really good idea and somebody wants to publish it. (b): No. (c): The last Dancing Gods novel hass yet to be written. Del Rey canceled the series saying nobody was buying it and no one else so far has been interested. If and when they are, we'll finish it up!

(4) What do you do for a living?
A: I write novels and other things.

(5) Can you get me copies of books of yours that are out of print?
A: No. For first editions, try the SF/F out of print booksellers and prepare to part with at least one arm and one leg. I do not have surplus copies lying about. Most of my older stuff is now out of print but you can generally find it at good prices on such web sites as and even eBay. 

(6) Which SF writers do you particularly like to read?
A: Eric Frank Russell. James White, some Phil Farmer, early Raymond F. Jones, early Heinlein, Jack Vance, and others too numerous to mention. I do not read SF as much as I used to. It's too much like a busman's holiday. 

(7) Do you play role playing games?
A: No. Why should I spend my free time doing for nothing what I get paid to do? On the other hand, I have a college age son who keeps me tuned in.

(8) What SF movies do you like?
A: Forbidden Planet, This Island Earth (MST3K notwithstanding), the even numbered Trek movies, several George Pals, all 5 Quatermass, and the first two Star Wars. O.K.? 

(9) If I send you something to autograph, will you?
A: If it's a copy of one or more of my books, not all of them, and is accompanied by a return mailer (postpaid), sure I will. If not accompanied by return mailer and postage, it will be eaten. If you have too many, bring them to a convention I'm at. No, I don't autograph blank slips, checks, or stickers, and certainly no books without me in them. Send them to me via Priority Mail (or equivalent) care of The Mirage Press, Ltd., P.O. Box 1689. Westminster, MD 21158 USA. Drop me an email to let me know it's coming, too! Otherwise things tend to get lost.

(10) Will you read my manuscript or help me with my writing?
A: And you also get free doctor advice, free legal advice, etc.? Do you know how much they charge you at Clarion? And, yes, I am also a professional editor but I accept no unsolicited manuscripts. I have no incentive, economic or otherwise, to collaborate with anyone, either. If you got what it takes, you'll make it. If you don't, Shakespeare couldn't help you.

(11) What is your real name?
A: Jack Laurence Chalker. Yes, my real first name is Jack. It is not a nickname. My grandfather was Stonewall Jackson Hopkins. My upstate New York father wouldn't go for that, so.... Of course, I'm happy he didn't insist on naming me for his father, who was Clarence Elmer Chalker....

(12) Any chance of doing some of the books as ebooks?
A: First, people don't read novels off screens, and they don't have a tendency to shell out real money for books when they don't retain anything physically for their money. Also, electronic means (including net sales) are only to old readers; nobody new discovers you that way (why do you think they pay so much for those covers?) I remain to be convinced this is profitable. Want to prove me wrong? The Three Kings series, has been available as published in an online form via a pay site at as well as in good looking, solid hardcovers and later mass market paperbacks. See which one you like reading best. And I do have a true ebook out there: And the Devil Will Drag You Under is available from It has not been selling like a house afire....

(13) You write so much. Is there a list of all you've done?
A: Glad you asked that question...  Just click on the link below! 


Back Up to Top  An Informational Listing of
Jack L. Chalker in Word & Deed
A Bibliographical Reference with Commentary

Back to home page Who is Jack L. Chalker?
Concise Biographical Notes for the Interested
Back Up to Top 

Born: 12/17/44, Baltimore, MD (although all bios and even Who's Who say Norfolk so who am I to argue with Who's Who?). It's a self-perpetuating error that has grown too large to be worth correcting. I really don't mind since I have roots and tons of family in Norfolk, anyway. 

Education: Baltimore City public schools, B.S. Towson State College [now Towson University], graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University. Although I have a strong science background, my degrees are in history and English. My graduate specialty is the "History of Ideas," which is to say I'm a certified expert on isms and ologies. I have taught history on the high school and college levels, and am or have been a lecturer at the Smithsonian, The National Institutes of Health, and numerous colleges and universities, mostly on science fiction and technology subjects. 

Occupations: Aside from the usual kid occupations, I've been a professional typesetter, a sound engineer for outdoor rock concerts, an audio and computer reviewer, free-lance editor, a publisher (founder and now sole owner of The Mirage Press, Ltd.), a book packager, an Air National Guard Information Director, new and used book dealer, and teacher as mentioned above. I was a special forces Air Commando during the Vietnam war period but never served west of Amarillo (note, however, that no Viet Cong penetrated east of Albuquerque while I was there). I was, however, in the war—my TDY duty tour in Vietnam lasted a bit over 4 hours, but I got the ribbon and combat pay. Since 1978 I have made my living solely by writing, although Mirage Press continues in business, doing a CD ROM of my big reference work, The Science-Fantasy Publishers, with Mark Owings, and annual supplements to same. 

Family: Married Eva C. Whitley on the ferryboat Roaring Bull in the middle of the Susquehanna River in 1978; 2 sons, David Whitley Chalker, b.1981; Steven Lloyd Chalker, b.1991. To see Dave's self-designed and very elaborate (and pretty weird) web page, click HERE. Also inhabiting the house is Mavra Chang, the Valley Girl of Pekingese, and Valentine Pussycat, a homicidal attack cat that is slow to learn proper behavior.

Memberships: Sierra Club (life member), National Parks & Monuments Association, Amnesty International, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The National Aquarium, Maryland Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Smithsonian, Maryland Historical Society, Washington Science Fiction Association, American Film Institute, American Legion, many others, with varying degrees of activism. I have long been active in and supportive of conservation and historical preservation causes. I'm also a past 3-term treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I am a registered Democrat and two-time unsuccessful candidate for office. I am also a Kentucky Colonel and an Honorary Mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, among other things. This information is given not as advocacy to my readers but basically to show you where the "real" Jack L. Chalker is coming from, which, I know, is not the political image I tend to have from people who read and don't quite understand my works. 

Awards include the Dedalus Award (1983), The Gold Medal of the West Coast Review of Books (1984), Skylark Award (1985), Hamilton-Brackett Memorial Award (1979), others of varying importance. 2 time John W. Campbell Award nominee, no wins. Hugo nominee 4 times, 0 wins (but, hey, Spielberg finally got an Oscar and Hitchcock never did so who knows?). 

Continuing Interests and Avocations: Ferryboats, travel, national arks and monuments, consumer electronics, politics, history, space program, printing and publishing, boo collecting, auctioneering, old time radio and classic TV, computers. This one is a Chalker-built PIII/1000 Chalker built system running, yes, Windows XP Pro if you care, and also around is a Sony Viaonotebook computer that I take with me when I travel. My wife uses a VAR built P4/1.6gig machine and my oldest son has a VAR built Celeron system while my younger has his own home built Celeron. Lately I've been weirdly writing my books in Adobe FrameMaker, a high end dtp package but it's comfortable, being EMACS based like my old DOS wp, Borland's Sprint. Yes, I know how to program but consider it in the same thrilling vein as being asked to inventory sand grains in Libya. I am frequently on Compuserve in the Windows Support and graphics sections (not in the SF section there--too huge). You can also email me (I answer mail that isn't nasty) at .

For those wondering, that is me in Faces of Science Fiction, and my satellite dish, and my oldest son (who's 16 now), and my dog, but it's not my house. The photo was taken with my old house at the photographer's back. She wanted the dish more than the house in the picture; it seems I'm the only US SF author she photographed who owned one. Now you'll never see that house; I moved to a much larger one further into the mountains. I still have a dish, though, whose input I can watch from the indoor Jacuzzi. Decadence is wonderful. Incidentally, not only is that not my house, but my son's now far older and my beloved little puppy dog in the photo, Hoy, died Nolacon weekend (1988). He could not be replaced, but his successor wais Mavra Chang, a sable Pekinese who was Dave's dog. Mavra vanished just after Torcon 3 in 2003 at age 15 and was never seen or heard from again. The newcomer is Steve's dog, Boomer, a tan and white beagle who wants to be everybody's friend but has yet to win over the cat, but who is very different from our previous dogs. Steve worships him, so what can we do?…. 

Content © 1984-2004 by Jack L. Chalker. All rights reserved including electronic. Permission is granted to distribute this in electronic or print form so long as there is no charge to the receiving party for it and that nothing is added or subtrac ted from the entire text including this copyright notice. All other rights and all exceptions are reserved under the Universal, Pan American, and Berne copyright conventions and all other applicable conventions. The Mirage symbol, created by David Prosser, is © 1962, renewed 1990 by Jack L. Chalker.
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Web version last updated December 9, 2000.
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