December 30th, 2004

December 30, 2004

Posted at 7:15 PM by Steven Chalker

I don’t know how to start off, but Dad is going from Carroll Hospital Center to University Speciality(? [which was formerly Deaton]). The doctors expect him to be out of the nursing home in several months, and his car is being sold. (I get dibs on his cell phone! No, just kidding.) I know that Dad’s book, Chameleon, will not be published, however that could be proved wrong. We are also moving to a one-story house with no stairs for Jack’s comfort. So, just a summary: He is permanently disabled but not fully retired. However I think Chameleon might be cancelled and his latest book published will be his last published. Care to sign the guestbook?  

December 18th, 2004

December 18, 2004

Posted at 7:14 PM by Steven Chalker

Click here to donate to the Chalker Family Emergency Fund 

December 15th, 2004

December 15, 2004

Posted at 7:14 PM by Steven Chalker

Jack is awake! (Click here to learn more) 

December 10th, 2004

December 10, 2004

Posted at 7:12 PM by Steven Chalker

How Jack Chalker’s Surgery Went, and Click here if you still want to leave Jack a “Get Well Message”, because Mom or Dave is reading all of them (except mine) tomorrow at 12pm. Please do it before 11:45am EST, thank you! 

December 9th, 2004

December 9, 2004

Posted at 7:11 PM by Steven Chalker

Taken from Mom’s (Eva Whitley) LiveJournal:

We went in to visit Jack today and talk to the doctor about the trach. (This would be doctor number 4, in as many days.) This guy was very optimistic. Basically, if we agree to the trach, it would NOT be permanent, it could be pulled out when Jack was better, Jack might be transferred to a nursing home about 15 miles away but it would be a short-term thing and he’d be coming home. The gastric bypass surgery could wait until Jack is recovered and could give his consent and it would be his decision at that point. I am more wildly optimistic at this point than I have been in days, I feel like I have been given a great gift. We also had a consultation with the hospital social worker who had information for use on the choices in nursing homes for post-op trach weaning, a range of services for Jack (physical therapy, occupational therapy, maybe even counseling) to help him. There are risks to the surgery, but then I had similar risks when I had my hysterectomy last year and that went swimmingly. (In at 6 am Monday, out by 2 pm on Wednesday, I could have stayed another day but ugh! ick! hospitals!) 

The surgery is tomorrow morning at 11AM so keep your prayers/good wishes/thoughts coming!

December 7th, 2004

December 7, 2004

Posted at 7:10 PM by Steven Chalker

This is not Jack Chalker, this is his son Steven. Dad has had problems lately with his leg and yesterday he went into the hospital. This evening Mom (Eva Whitley) and me went into his room and he was sleeping. He is in Fair Condition according to the nurse, but I have bad news: He has congested heart failure. His heartbeat has been moderating between 50 bpm and 90 bpm but mostly in between 50 and 65. This does mean that his new book will be delayed but I have the feeling he will not die. Everyday I will be updating his condition and keep you posted. Click here to leave a “Get Well Soon” message/comment for Jack and I’ll see to it he’ll get all the messages from his fans. I’ve already got two.

July 29th, 2004

July 29, 2004

Posted at 7:06 PM by Jack Chalker

Now you see why I don’t do a blog. They’d throw me out for inactivity. I’m spending from now through the end of August finishing a book that’s long overdue so I can go to the World SF Convention in Boston with a relatively clear conscience. Health wire, I’ve been better but I’m getting older, and I really think I don’t have a lot of problems that winning the lottery and losing 90 pounds wouldn’t go a lot to curing.

     Those who know me and those who have followed my comments here and elsewhere probably know that I’d love to spend some time here commenting on politics, but until I get ahead on my other writing there’s only a little that I can spare the time to cover. I do note that I was pretty well right on Iraq, and I have no idea how the heck the folks in Washington are going to get us out now that they’ve gotten us in and used up the entire army (I sure hope we don’t need them elsewhere), blown up the place, caused over 900 casualties of some of our best and brightest young people and permanently crippled over 3000 more with no end in sight (and let’s not even discuss how many “liberated” Iraqis are going) while making us hated and reviled even in countries that are our theoretical friends. I can understand attacking those who attack you, but we get created by folks in Afghanistan and we respond by declaring war on Iraq? Sure, Saddam was a Hitler-like scuzzball, but I’m afraid he wasn’t alone in this and in fact he was a good buddy of Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney until he misunderstood some signals and attacked oil supplies in Kuwait. And Osama was a good guy to the Reaganites so long as our mutual enemy was the USSR. So while Iraq is a crippled hole, Iran is building nuclear bombs, North Korea has both the bombs and the missles, and we’re slammed by the Wassabis in exile in Afghanistan and so we attack Iraq? Uh huh. All because the neocons in Washington have this weird theory of how to make the world in our image in a view as rigid and as wrong as the old communists. In fact, they remind me of that mind-set; every time the world view is proven wrong, you just come up with an alternate universe that says it’s not really wrong. In the meantime, it’s not their kids who die. Like Cheney in the Vietnam era, they have “better things to do.” Those who have followed me all these years know I can respect conservatives, liberals, you name it, but I can’t abide hypocrites.

     So, see why I haven’t done much here with this? Remember, I had a heart attack last year. I need to keep things from blowing up inside.

     But I have a prediction. We are not only not safer than we were before this war, we’re in a much more dangerous position. We are already giving up our liberties in the name of security, and we’ll have neither. And, at this point, it won’t matter who wins in November….

      And the worst part is, I haven’t been wrong on this stuff yet.

      See you in Boston, or here when something awful happens or the book is done.

March 31st, 2004

March 31, 2004

Posted at 7:04 PM by Jack Chalker

Yes, you’re right, it’s been a very long time since I updated this site, but in addition to the health problems is that I have lost two to three months and I haven’t been able to recover them no matter how hard I try. I need to catch up on all my business activities, my commitments, and my family, and I have to do that while somehow finally getting through the overdue books and starting new projects. You can understand that this means that I’ve wound up having to prioritize just about all I do, and updating the web site isn’t something that comes near the top of the list no matter how much I want to do it.

     And yet between the previous entry here and this one I have gone to several conventions, including one in Burbank, California, have, alas, gone to at least one major funeral of an old friend of many decades, playing computer mechanic, internet guru, and Dad to not only Steve, my youngest son, but also Dave again, who is back from Ohio and again living in house while trying to work off his bills and get finished with college while Eva is full time with Lockheed Martin, if not quite Rosie the Riveter but at least Rosie the Microsoft Office guru for those folks who do the Medicare and Medicaid stuff for your federal government. She is also vice chair of this year’s Balticon, the Baltimore SF Convention over Memorial Day weekend, which also makes her the chair of said con in 2005.

     I think I’m finally at the point where, if nothing else goes wrong, I may actually be able to finish Chemeleon in April and start on one or two other projects as well. At this point, the writing comes first. I need to refill the money coffers bad.

     Locally, our little Pekingese who inexplicably ran away in September is vanished for good, and Steve insisted on getting a new dog for him. He picked one, all right, and it really is his dog, but it’s a hound, much larger than any dog we’ve had here and larger than any dog I’ve ever had except my first one when I was a kid, which takes some getting used to. As to what kind it is, well, it’s a hound and I mean all hound, although probably of several types in one. He looks pretty much like a cross between a beagle and a foxhound, and he has a fear of being left alone and insists on being around one or another of us. He came from a rescue shelter so he already had a name we’re saddled with because he knows and answers to it. So, we have a dog named Boomer. The tomcat, by the way, has already taught Boomer who’s boss here. And I guess I must mention Ixty, the third pet, which is Dave’s—and, from the name, you might guess that it’s a very large female iguana. It’s in a huge terraformed cage, which protects her from the cat, but I do think Ixty is lonely and always planning for a breakout. We’ll see.

     Well, it’s spring, everybody’s home and reasonably healthy, the weather’s breaking and I’m back at work, so maybe, just maybe, we can get a break. Don’t expect me to update too frequently, but I’m going to try and get back at least to my habit of appending things here once a month whether there’s anything to say or not, and at any time when there’s breaking news. Until I write more and catch up, though, that news is going to be more folksy than professional unless Hollywood finally decides to make one of those movies. –jlc

October 23rd, 2003

October 23, 2003

Posted at 7:03 PM by Jack Chalker

Yes, it’s been a while since these pages were updated, but that’s due to a lot of things happening within the past couple of months. I’ll try and bring you briefly up to date.

     Through August, 2003, things were pretty normal, if hectic. Eva had a serious operation and had to take off work for a long recovery, but somehow Lockheed Martin still launched everybody’s Medicare and Medicaid so the world was safe, even though it meant I was basically doing all the housework as well as trying to work as much as possible. Mark Owings and I managed to get over to Horrorfind and talk with the horror small press folks, but otherwise it was a hot and wet but routine August. At the end of it, Eva, Steve, and I packed into the car and drove north to Toronto for the World Science Fiction Convention. It was a typical worldcon, the 38th that I’ve attended, and it was great talking with readers, fans, and old friends and colleagues. During this time, however, my long term physical problems with breathing and energy had been increasing, but one of those rent a scooters gave me full freedom. I’d been trying to find the cause of the problems for a year and a half and had been in and out of outpatient testing trying to find the cause and get help, but up to that point nobody had found any cause that showed up long enough to say, “Aha! That’s it!” I was beginning to think that I was just going to have to learn to live with it.

     We also had a bizarre return. Our little dog, Mavra Chang, was picked up at the kennel but when brought home she ran off into the farms beyond like a shot. It was the last time we saw here after 15+ years and cast a real pall on the homecoming. She certainly wouldn’t have lived too much longer, but this remains a shock and inexplicable.

     By early September Steve was back in school, Eva was back at work, and I was back working on Chemeleon, but that wasn’t to last. I was still drained in energy. In mid-September one of the nastiest hurricanes in recent decades roared up the boast, and we began to board up the place and hold tight. They almost always miss us, but every once in a while they don’t, and this one was to be one of the worst. This one was so mean that, for the only time in my memory, they announced that schools would close early the day it was due in order to insure that everybody could get home.

     That morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom, went into the bath off the bedroom, and the next thing I knew I was lying on the bathroom floor, unable to get up, my speech slurred, totally confused and with hallucinogenic flashes. After all sorts of attempts at getting anywhere, even sitting up, I knew I just had to hold on. Steve was due in early from school, and although I had no idea what time it was I knew it was in the morning and that meant he’d have to arrive soon. Eva was at work and I had no way to communicate with anybody. It was certainly a shock for a 12 year old to come home and find his father in such a condition, but Steve called 911 and then his mother, and within several minutes I was being loaded into an ambulance. Whatever they did brought back feelings of normalcy and control and the ability to speak clearly, and soon I was being wheeled directly into Emergency. The ER physician on duty happened to be one who knew me (he had been in Seattle SF fandom while growing up) and I was in the hands of experts poking, probing, analyzing, etc. very quickly. He also called in a top cardiologist who in turn called in a lung man just on his way out to beat the hurricaine. Together they were able to establish that I had suffered a heart attack with blockages in three of the four main passages. The cardiology OR at the county hospital was shut down–not enough experts with the storm coming–so they transferred me to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which is next to Pimlico race track and not far from where I grew up, and by late night I was having two primary stints installed and a third cleaned out. It was now clear to one and all that I had actually had a small attack almost two years earlier and that this was the cause of my earlier problems; this one was considerably meaner. The burden lifted off me by the heart surgery is dramatic, although getting some energy back is slow and must be done carefully. I am also currently on 15 pills a day (no kidding) and carry nitro with me at all times. Recovery is noticeable but very slow, so if you see me at a con and I’m tired out, you know why. Still, I made it to World Fantasy Con and will hopefully make it to Loscon if they get me plane tickets, and I’m due for a couple more yet (see Conventions) so we’ll see. In the meantime, bear with these pages if they are not updated quickly or completely. Lots of work, so little energy and no time to make up the losses….

     So, that’s why I’ve been way behind (2004 may be the first year since 1981 with no new book, but I am back working) and why even the internet pages haven’t been updated. At the moment, if all goes well, I still intend to be at Conclave in DC in mid-November at least for a day or so, Loscon in LA around Thansgiving weekend, as well as Philcon, and I’ll also be in Indianapolis for a new con in mid-January 2004, but cross your fingers. Once you’ve had an attack like this, nothing’s ever confident again…. jlc

March 23rd, 2002

March 3, 2002

Posted at 7:00 PM by Jack Chalker

We have a choice after finishing Kaspar to either go to a convention or take a real vacation, the first in several years. It looks like Eva and I are going to opt for the vacation, so it may well be the end of May before we get back into conventions. We do intend at the moment to be at Balticon (Baltimore, MD), Midwestcon (Cincinatti, Ohio), the world SF convention in San Jose, CA, probably World Fantasy in Minneapolis and Philcon in Philadelphia. More may be added, but that’s the current quite limited plan for now. If Washington, DC throws another Capcon (probably October) then we will probably be there but we’ve heard little yet.

      Okasy, so that’s it for now. Let me wrap Kaspar and then I’m going to Disney World…. jlc

March 3rd, 2002

March 3, 2002

Posted at 7:01 PM by Jack Chalker

CORRECTION TO BELOW. I have now been informed that the Greenberg collection will contain Dancers in the Afterglow, Moth and Candle, and one other story of mine not yet determined, but not the whole of my short stories. Still worth it, though, I suspect. Whether they will keep my title is also unknown; I asked but never heard back. Bit of added news: An independent producer with several films now in production has just optioned the Well World for at least one movie and maybe either a series of movies or a movie and then TV stuff. Don’t hold your breath, but for those who always ask about these things, yes, something at the moment is in the works.  

Just a few quick notes to update you. I’ll do more when I finish the projects on hand. Big news is that (finally!) Kaspar’s Box is wrapping up, and on schedule, and I now have copies of the new Bzen edition of Midnight at the Well of Souls on hand, so it should be in stores any time now. Also, if you didn’t notice, Martin Harry Greenberg’s doing a series of hardcover collections of single author shorter fiction collections, and one of these will be mine. I don’t have a date or price yet, but it will include no nonfiction but all the fiction from Dance Band on the Titanic, the alternate history story from Alternate Presidents, and the complete text of the long out of print short novel Dancers in the Afterglow. The story Dance Band is in a Harry Turtledove-Martin H. Greenberg alternate history anthology currently in print and available from both Del Rey and the SF Book Club, The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century.

January 15th, 2002

January 15, 2002

Posted at 6:59 PM by Jack Chalker

My old friend the late Ted Sturgeon used to always sign his name with a small glyph. When asked what that meant, he always explained, “It means ‘Ask the next question.’” I was reminded of that when looking at a few responses to my comments on the 9/11 events. The comments tend to split in just a few ways: (1) It was the dirty, fascist United States’ fault that it provoked the attack; (2) We should have turned the other cheek even to this attack because doing otherwise was to lower ourselves to the attackers’ level; (3) We should have solved the problem that caused these people to hate us through diplomacy and negotiation (a variation of (1)). Now, of course, I insist that such opinions be logical and consistent across the board, something most of those making such comments don’t care to do.

     Take (1). Let’s not argue over whether we provoked anything and just stick to the core of the argument. You are saying that all those people in those airplanes and in those buildings deserved to die because of some long-standing American policy that you believe is wrong. This is certainly a justification for the Taliban, but it’s also a justification for us, since there is no logical reason to assume that our sense of morality is of any less value than theirs. If you want to completely throw out history, you’re saying that the west deserved Hitler and that it was the U.S. fault that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor without warning. I’m sorry, this is simply so intellectually dumb it’s hardly worth refuting, but it does say an awful lot about your own sense of self if you believe this because it says that you, and those who agree with you and your values, are absolutely correct and everybody who doesn’t agree with them deserves to die. That’s not just weird, it’s scary.

     Now there’s (2), best exemplified by the comment that more Afghans died in overthrowing the Taliban than Americans died on 9/11. First of all, civilians die in wars. They always have. War is messy, dirty, unglamorous business. However, I would like to see your source for those numbers. This claim and body count has been made only in the radical Islamic press, the kind of folks who support Bin Laden down the line. There is no such count from the current Afghans. Even if it were true, however, it’s irrelevant. Our government did not launch a preemptive attack against their civilians and cities. By Mullah Omar’s own admission, the Taliban government was 100% complicit in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I find your moral compass flawed. It should be noted that the ordinary Afghanis in general consider themselves liberated from the Taliban, who, by their estimate, murdered more of their own people in one single soccer stadium than were in either tower of the WTC. Under the morality this position posits, it was wrong to go to war with Hitler or with the Japanese in 1941. Evil must be allowed to go unchecked because anything else is immoral. Obviously we shouldn’t enforce laws against rape, murder, incest, robbery and the like, either. To do so is to lower ourselves to their standard? It must also be noted that even after Al Qaeda killed our people in various spots around the world including unprovoked attacks on embassies, we did not attack. We were, in fact, the soul of forebearance on this until, by not attacking, we were attacked as weak. Sorry, this doesn’t hold water.

     And the most dishonest of all is (3) because it posits a position that the other side rejected out of hand. First, it presupposes a government to negotiate with. Not that this really matters—Russia negotiated with and solved its worries with Nazi Germany by diplomacy and treaty until, of course, the Nazis attacked. In this case we do not even have a single government to deal with. We do have a mimimum list of Bin Laden objectives, though, straight from him. In brief, we are to withdraw to our national borders, disband the United Nations and all alliances with other powers, support the overthrow of the Saudi and Egyptian regimes, and insure that Israel got no aid or support so that it was completely annihilated, not merely as a state but also every man, woman, and child in it. Israel’s destruction, it must be noted, was a major objective of Bin Laden’s father and family but never seems to have concerned him all that much. His is a mission from God to purify all lands that are or ever were Islamic of all nonbelievers and impose a single state under his brand of Islamic law. Those who make this diplomacy argument almost always are using their “negotiations” as a euphimism for Israel and the Jews. First, there can be no compromise with the Al Queda brand of Islam so what you are really saying is that we should simply trade Jews for peace like so many Europeans did in the past. This is a myopic view of radical Islam and it also puts you right there in the company of the commandant of Dachau. If you advocate this and feel comfortable with Himmler, fine, but have the honesty to say so. Then we can have an honest debate.

     Oh—while we’re at it, the fact that Bill Maher is entitled to proclaim his position is not at issue. I am an absolutist on freedom of speech, and the only definition of freedom that makes sense is that freedom is the right to be wrong. Everybody can agree with the government or masses or whatever; it’s being “wrong” that makes free speech free. But he no more has the right to a network television show than I have an absolute right to be published by, say, Random House, nor is he insulated from the wrath of sponsors and consumers who don’t see why they have some obligation to pay for his hall. Two different questions. As to his remarks, Dennis Miller’s comments on it should suffice: “It isn’t whether Bill’s right or wrong on the issue, it’s the fact that there’s a proper way to disagree and then there’s dancing and shitting on the deceased grave at the funeral in fron of all his loved ones. Timing in any business is everything.”

     Next question?

December 19th, 2001

December 19, 2001

Posted at 6:58 PM by Jack Chalker

Well, temporarily at least my email is back to normal. In general, the address will work even if there are problems, but only after I know that a problem exists. They say they’re going to be upgrading the servers again in January. Their customers shudder. It’s also the fifth time they’ve said that in the past year. Either they are fixing what ain’t broke or the dog keeps eating their homework. Lots of folks offered email sites, but it’s not the email site but the ISP that’s the problem, and at the moment they’re the only folks who can offer me broadband (we’re outside any DSL areas and satellite’s got that annoying delay at $20 more a month and is reported to have its own service interruptions, so…).

     I almost wrote that I “celebrated” my birthday day before yesterday, but at my age now what you’re celebrating is that you have birthdays, not the alternative. My oldest son will turn 20 today, and plans to celebrate it by having his gaming group take him out to see the premiere of Lord of the Rings. I’ll wait until next week, when the crowds are down. I hear surprisingly good things about the film, but, then again, I was one of the half dozen who liked The Frighteners. I also liked the first Harry Potter movie. I’m getting a kick out of those folks parroting the art film critics about “slavishly following the book” when (A) I’m an author. I like films that follow books, and (B) it’s so word for word that it’s very clear that those folks never saw the film nor, in fact, read the book(s). With technology finally up to it, it’s a shame we can’t get somebody out there to do Midnight at the Well of Souls. It almost happened once, but after months of tough negotiation they tried to slip in the clause that basically reserved all the uranium to them and the shaft to me and I wouldn’t be so goshwow blinded by Hollywood glamour to tell my Hollywood agent to sign it anyway. Too bad, though. Rights still available.

     Well, I hope I’m wrong, but at the moment it looks like a second Bush administration is about to declare victory and lose another Asian war. Think not? What was our objective? To overthrow a bad government and install a possibly better one in Afghanistan? Nope. That was just a means to an end. The objective was to destroy the Al Qaeda infrastructure and kill or capture their leaders. Osama is as dead and gone as, well, Saddam Hussein. We’ve got no money men, no computerized records, no bank accounts or financeers, and just about none of the top leadership. We didn’t even get the top of the Taliban. The poor brainwashed grunts of theirs we did catch look very much like, well, the Iraqi soldiers we captured or killed a decade ago. Well, as usual, not many of our professional military got hurt. Only our civilians….

     Happy holidays, folks! jlc

November 25th, 2001

November 25, 2001: Mail problems

Posted at 6:58 PM by Jack Chalker

Important note! About 3 weeks ago my ISP’s mail server began to develop problems. Only some emailwas delivered, and it could be receive but not send, send but not receive, or nothing. The ISP got thousands of complaints butnone the less insisted there was no problem. Ten days ago their mail servers completely fried. That they couldn’t deny. Andalthough they’re a big shot cable company with enough bucks to put their name on sports stadiums, as of now, not only have I had no email service for that period but also no notice. People were told about it only when they learned about it. I apologize to any and all whose mail might have been bounced; at the moment, has been redirected to a mostly inferior and clunky web based ATT Worldnet mail account instead of Powerlink. It does mean that I can now send and receive text based messages again. Please excuse any problems, continue to use the address (it may go somewhere else yet) and be patient. Thanks.

November 7th, 2001

November 7, 2001

Posted at 6:55 PM by Jack Chalker

A few follow-up comments, including a bit more on being Cassandra while writing political science fiction. For years there were many people who didn’t understand my Soul Rider books. I recall some British critic writing that he couldn’t understand why I seemed such a nice, regular fellow when I could write that kind of stuff, as if it were compared to porn or John Norman’s silliness. I often think that those critics should talk to more than each other and read real books sometime so they’d know what they were talking about, even at the risk of losing their amateur standing. Soul Rider was one of my most serious and most complex projects, and I was very heartened that so many did understand it. My real contempt for critics, I think, came from the fact that none of them understood it while so much of the public did. They probably still don’t, but I hope that, now that you’ve been the Taliband, you have a much clearer idea of what I was talking about in those books. Interestingly, I can’t recall mail from any women who didn’t understand at least the concepts I was dealing with, but the men couldn’t see past their western hedonism and attitudes and their own hangups. I might also point out that my novel, A War of Shadows, way back in 1978 showed how some judicious and highly localized and limited use of biological terror could turn this country into a panicky group willing to surrender most of their rights. I’d like to be wrong now and then; it would be something of a relief.

     I’ve also received a number of emails from readers who generally liked my comments on September 11 but who were appalled that a writer would attack the “right” of Bill Maher and the like to say what they said. I’m a bit surprised, since I said no such thing. I am an absolutist on the First Ammendment and on freedom of speech and press. However, as much as I’ve looked at that ammendment, I’ll be damned if I can find the right to have your own television show, or the right to collect pay for said show by sponsors who think you’re an asshole who shocked them with your comments. If one is there, then I want to invoke my right to be paid the highest rates by Random House and Penguin Putnam and St. Martins. The right to say or write things is not the same as the right to be published or broadcast, nor does it say that even such freedoms can always be exercised without consequences. Few people today believe that actions might have consequences that are not in their favor. Maher, when faced with the possibility of losing his show, went on everybody who’d have him from Tonight to the morning farm report to say how sorry he was, and he’s still got his job. I’d have had much more respect for him if he’d stood by his word. The same goes for Av Westin, President of ABC News, who, when asked by a journalism student forum if he felt the Pentagon was a legitimate target for attack repleid glibly that he had “no particular feelings one way or the other about that.” I guess he doesn’t also have much feeling about the poor folks, men, women, and children, who were on the plane used as the bomb, or the bureaucrats who happened to be assigned there or people just there checking on relatives or pensions or whatever. He was certainly saying he had no particular feeling about being a citizen of the U.S. Only when it was broadcast on CSPAN and generated a storm did he “issue a statement” that he was “wrong” and “that wasn’t what I meant.” He didn’t even have the guts to face his fellow reporters and answer questions on it. Would this sort of thing compromise journalistic integrity? Being an American and proud of it didn’t seem to bother nor call motives into question when it was Ed Morrow on the rooftops of London reporting the Blitz in World War II, or the others he hired, like Charles Collingwood, William L. Shirer, Walter Cronkite, and many others who are held up as the models of what great reporters should be. That’s the sort of thing I have contempt for. I think I have a responsibility to my readers every time I write a book and it’s published and distributed, and you may disagree with the themes and messages but you will not find someone here who will run from them.

     I need a vacation (and a convention, maybe) to sit around and talk with folks and touch base. Alas, this Winter there are very few of them. Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to get back to writing…. jlc

October 13th, 2001

October 13, 2001

Posted at 6:52 PM by Jack Chalker

Well, I’ve been in Gandhi mode trying to write write write and I still am at the moment, but I thought I’d make a few comments here to let you know that I’m still alive and relatively well and that things are proceeding, honest. The 9/11 events I’ve commented on in a separate freeform essay here—click here for Jack L. Chalker on the events of September 11, 2001—to go and read that if you haven’t already. One update on it: one American Moslem cleric, the only Moslem chaplain currently in the U.S. Army, got the same idea and put in a request for justification and holy war against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda on pretty much the grounds I proposed to a Sunni board of senior clerics in Saudi Arabia and in a form where they had to rule. Yesterday they ruled—that, indeed, Bin Laden’s interpretations of the Koran are blasphemous and his actions in its name have placed Islam into unwarranted disrepute and, for that reason, he was to be unsidered under a fatwah. In this case, it’s the duty of a good Sunni Moslem to bring the man to Mecca for judgment. Fine with me. Want to bet?

     Some thoughts that might have been made in September had it not been so otherwise preoccupying with real life events:

     Millenium Philcon: There are two ways to look at a Worldcon, or World Science Fiction Convention, after going to 36 of the past 39. One is objectively, in which we judge a con by how well it’s run. On that score, I would not rate this past one very well. Although I was on a lot of program items, not a one of them featured anything related to my writing or professional writing in general, and some others with backgrounds in both fan and pro areas of SF had the same experience. The only thing left was the reading, and that was a disaster. I will never, never again do a reading in a half hour time block. Trouble was, I didn’t know it was a half hour when I checked the little box on the form saying I’d do a reading. I had added that if it wasn’t an hour, don’t bother. I assumed it was. It wasn’t. Still, it went well until, about five minutes from the end of the story and with me already cutting a huge amount out, we hit the time wall and the next person came in for their reading. This is normal—happens all the time. But whoever it was (and I really don’t remember who) had either a husband or a fanatical fan who decided that I was through and kept interrupting and demanding that I get the hell out. It was not the writer, I do remember that. And it was loud and nasty enough that there was no way I could finish the story that a lot of nice folks had sat there listening to. So, that’s it. I have always observed courtesy when someone else ran over, and the first time in 25 years that I run over I have to have an asshole advocate for the next speaker who doesn’t know the rules. The story didn’t get finished—the guy wouldn’t even let me wrap gracefully. So, the next time you and I are at a con and you see a half hour block where I’m reading, know that I will show up and we’ll have a nice half hour one on one chat but that I will not read. I simply have nothing that can go in a half hour and I now know that the common courtesies expected of me are not to be extended to me or my readers. It does, however, show some of the problems of the con operationally. I and many others were put on consecutive panels when we’d asked not to be; we were put on panels earlier or later than we said we could do them, and I know a half dozen writers and one artist who were put on things on days when they’d told the committee they wouldn’t be there! Events programming was also a pain, and the place was simply too large for the crowd by two thirds. It was not, operationally, one of the better cons, but I can say that the location, in the midst of a ton of excellent restaurants, the Reading Market, and such was a savior, and that the Philadelphia Marriott did the impossible in that, while full up, nobody, it seems, waited more than a couple of minutes for an elevator at any time, even the most rushed, and no elevators broke down or required official management on and off. They proved it can be done.

     The second criterion for a Worldcon is the subjective, and on that score the con came off very well indeed. But, then, after all this time, I have trouble remembering a Worldcon where I didn’t have fun. Some came close to being problems, particularly ones I worked on or co-ran, but I can’t think of a one I wished I’d skipped. One of these days I’m going to write up all those experiences and then you’ll see how weird these things can be. But, overall, Philadelphia met the primary rules for a subjectively good convention: lots of good food easily reached, all the right people showed up, and there were plenty of good parties every night. The next few years, in fact, should have fewer parties, I fear, since the next couple of Worldcon choices are uncontested, but I have hopes. In this case, Boston with its all you can eat shrimp and Charlotte with its all you can eat fresh cooked barbecue and some parties (like the latter) running into the wee hours provided a great deal of fun. San Jose, California (next year’s site) will by definition not have the same kind of ambience. It will be in multiple hotels stretched out for a mile or two and will make socializing a lot harder. Still, I’ll be there if I’m able to be. 2003 is Toronto, Ontario, 2004 is Boston, and 2005 looks like a sure thing to be a return to Glasgow, Scotland. I would like to make that one in particular. At the last Glasgow worldcon in 1995 I was on a “keynote panel,” or so they said, which was the first at the con and had its theme of fans who became big name pros. John Brunner died the morning of the panel (we left an empty chair). Bob Shaw died the following February. James White died last year. Guess who was the fourth? Now you see why I want to go back, but, hint: don’t volunteer to be on my first panel there!

     Okay, okay. Back to work…. jlc

August 19th, 2001

August 19, 2001

Posted at 6:51 PM by Jack Chalker

I’m slowly switching the site over to Dreamweaver and some other Macromedia utilities, so bear with me if some things lookfunny for a while. Apologies for not updating until now, but, the fact is, there’s almost nothing to report as yet. I’m about to set off for the WorlScience Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about 110 miles from my house, via, of course, Moscow, Idaho for Moscon. Still no finished Kaspar’s Box but I’m continuing to work on it, even on the road.


     For those folks who continue to email me, mostly with nice comments, it might be time for a recap (you old timers know this already). (1) The publisher of the first five Dancing Gods books refused to do the sixth. They have since discontinued virtually all my books with them, so it’s unlikely we’ll see any more from Del Rey until the current editorial regime there changes, at least. Nobody else is interested in the sixth book because they didn’t control the first five, and they aren’t convinced that there are enough folks out there to justify reissuing the first five (we even had problems talking Baen into doing the first five Well World books, so you can see how tough this is). I can’t afford to write for nothing. I do this for a living and both I and my wife and kids like to eat and have the mortgage paid and so on. I’d love to do it, it’s been outlined for years and was intended to follow Horrors by no more than a year, but the book business changed suddenly and dramatically between titles. (2) I’m not “failing to permit” folks to make movie and TV versions of my works. I’d be delighted to cash the checks and get the publicity for new novels. Nobody out there is interested, nobody has made an offer. That’s how it works in Hollywood. I have exactly one potential TV project right now, it’s been ongoing for years with no money or firm deal yet, and who knows? Lots of stuff went right to the deal-making stage and then fell through. You almost always don’t even know why. It just stops. I have a standing offer to talk nicely with any producer interested in any of my works. (3) I now have a neat idea for a Northern Hemisphere Well World saga and the means to do it. Whether it ever gets done will depend on how well the reissues sell. (4) So far the various electronic versions of my work including the one formal ebook have failed to generate sales or interest by readers in even three figures. My predictions of ebooks as the future of novels (I don’t believe it for a moment) are being borne out by experience. Print on Demand is a possibility for some titles that have unlikely futures.

     For the geek part of the readership, I just upgraded the computer to a 1 gig Pentium, still am writing in Framemaker 6, and then translating down to rtf for Baen. I’ve also stopped lugging around a laptop, but thanks to the amazing Targus Folding Keyboard I’m able to write on the road on my Handspring Visor Prism handheld device. It’s been the handiest thing, particularly for conventions, I’ve ever gotten.

     Okay, so I’m off to Moscow and then Philadelphia, writing all the way. See many of you there, I hope, and you others online. Next update, barring major news, when I finish Kaspar. Until then, thanks for the support, recommend my books to your friends, and keep reading!

July 10th, 2001

July 10, 2001

Posted at 6:50 PM by Jack Chalker

Again, not a while lot to report except that Kaspar’s Box is well on its way to completion and should be in (late, as usual for this series for some reason) within a month. I’m trying out new web software as well (various things) which is why some things look a bit different this time out. I’ve finally decided that the only way to get a lot of newcomers to get to the main page is to make it impossible to go elsewhere, so I’ll be slightly redoing the initial page to remove said other choices. I’d rather not, but it’s becoming a bit of a pain to get email after email asking me questions that are answered on the site, not because they were too dense to find it themselves but because they never saw it. Some of the new software may produce unintended other consequences, though, such as abnormally slow load times for folks with slow modems, so I’d appreciate anybody having problems to please write and let me know. Who knows? By next time I may even have Radio Free Chalker up and running (or maybe even Chalker Video).

     Really interesting reaction to Melchior’s Fire among the critics. PW didn’t like the first one much but really liked Fire; Kirkus ignored the first one but gave Fire a likewarm positive review which anybody familiar with Kirkus knows is close to a rave. Well, rest assured that characters from both one and two are very much involved in Three, although the main action is carried by yet another bunch. Serpent is also now out in mass market paperback.

     Not the most exiting of summers so far—too chilly in the east for July for one thing, and with Eva working for a contractor at the Agency Formerly Known as HCFA, Steve at day camp, and Dave working late for Looney Labs, the game company, it almost seems like any other time. We do hope to take off for a few days on the water—the Chesapeake’s water temperature is now over 82°F, which is closing in on bathtub temperature. Then we start preparing for Convention Season once more, with me at Moscon in Idaho the weekend before the World SF Convention in Philadelphia, then flying back for the worldcon with just enough time slack to do the laundry.

     Also, if you didn’t notice, Midnight at the Well of Souls returns to print in a new package in February, 2002 for its (argh! I’m getting old!) 25th Anniversary, with the next four to be repackaged over the next year or two. If these generate new readers and sales, I won’t say you’ve seen the last Well book. But, no, no interest in finishing the Dancing Gods yet, sorry (interest from me and you, but not from the folks who pay my bills).

     I’ll be back when I have more news or next month, whichever is first. In the meantime, go out and buy a few good books, mine or other’s, find a nice warm spot, maybe on a beach, leave the cell phone and wireless internet behind and just enjoy the summer! jlc

June 8th, 2001

June 8, 2001

Posted at 6:49 PM by Jack Chalker

I’ve been a bit longer than usual getting back to the site, and I wish I could say it was because I was swamped with work, but, the fact is, it’s just been one of those months. The only real news is that the paperback of Balshazzar’s Serpent is now on hand, and those of you who just can’t bring yourselves to spring for hardcovers can now have at it at the usual sources. I’m also now finally working to finish Kaspar’s Box as quickly as possible. I think my readers will like it, although, yeah, it’s a typical Chalker saga in a number of ways. I still think there are a few surprises there, so we’ll see. I haven’t yet decided how big a finish to make this. I am therefore hoping for some even more uninteresting and uneventful weeks so I can do nothing but relax and work, even though I know that, with summer vacation season here, even with Steve going to computer camp I’m going to be rather busy on the home front as well. David is back for the summer from Miami of Ohio, complete with pet iguana, and he’s gotten his dream job of sorts for the summer working for Looney Labs, the game folks. Check out some of his work and some photos of him as well as the products of his current employer at, and if you’re a gamer and go to Origins in early August look him up at the Looney Labs demos and say hi. Then there’s one marathon for me to go—I’m in Moscow (Idaho) for the con there at the end of August, fly home Monday, and on Wednesday I’m at the World SF Convention in Philadelphia for almost a week. Any rumors that I’m deathly ill should be dispelled, unless this schedule kills me! Okay, back to work, and I’ll write if I find money…. jlc

April 24th, 2001

April 24, 2001

Posted at 6:48 PM by Jack Chalker

Just a note to celebrate the fact that I survived five consecutive weeks of conventions and am now back at work on Kaspar’s Box. The hardcover of Melchior’s Fire is now here, so look for it any time now in stores even though it’s officially a June title. They haven’t told me yet when Balshazzar’s Serpent will be out in mass market pb, but it should be in the next couple of months tops. Also a short notice heads up for folks in the D.C. area on Sunday, April 29: I’ll be one of several SF authors doing a 2 PM signing at the Barnes and Noble store, 3651 Jefferson Davis Highway, Alexandria, Virginia. Brenda Clough, Charles Sheffield, and many others will also be signing. Now back to work. Sigh….

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