(Order is Most Recent first)
April 2, 2002: 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.
March 3, 2002: 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.
March 3, 2002: 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
January 15, 2002: 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 mattersRussia 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.
Ohwhile 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."
December 19, 2001: Well, temporarily at least my email is back to normal. In general, the miragepress.com 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 25, 2001: 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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 miragepress.com address (it may go somewhere else yet) and be patient. Thanks.
November 7, 2001: 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 13, 2001: 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 hereclick here for Jack L. Chalker on the events of September 11, 2001to 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 ruledthat, 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 normalhappens 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 finishedthe 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 19, 2001: 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 10, 2001: 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 fartoo 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 waterthe 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 8, 2001: 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 www.wunderland.com, 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 goI'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 24, 2001: 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....
April 5, 2001: The best thing I can report is that halfway through my marathon of convention appearances I'm still going and about to head for the next gig in beautiful New Jersey. Sometimes in between all this I hope to get enough time to finish KASPAR'S BOX, which I'd like to have in by the end of May 1 but probably won't. I'm carrying a Handspring Visor with one of the folding full size keyboards with me to the cons, but there's only so much I can do. Best is here in the office with my custom keyboard, big display, and sound insulation.
Lots of folks appear to be reaching the sign-on home page and then clicking email or news without ever discovering the wealth of other stuff on the web site. If you're one of those, the next time you go to www.jackchalker.com, click on the big Well World and see what you've been missing. On the real home page that shows up, click on anything of interest to go there.
Not much more to report right now. I hope to continue to see many of you at the cons to come; please make one if you can. Details on all those conventions and appearances can also be reached off the home page. And, no, JerseyDevilCon is not named for a hockey team; it and the team are named for the legendary monster of the Pine Barrens. --jlc
February 23, 2001: Well, yet another Baen deal to announce, this one for a new project. CHAMELEON is a series that involves, yes, both the terraforming of worlds and the "genetiforming" of colonists, at least one serial killer, the intelligence agency from Hell, civil war, and all sorts of other goodies. These will be written as soon as I finish KASPAR'S BOX, which should be in by the end of March if all goes well. The money in this field is still a fraction of the old days, but I still get paid by how many are sold, so my ultimate paycheck's up to you!
Things have been going better the past month or so, but it's been busy, so I apologize for not updating on my usual monthly schedule. We'll try and get back to normalcy in a month or so, just in time for my lunatic personal appearance schedule. Those of you who only see the sign-in screen and click on email and NEWS really should click on either THE MYTH or on the big Well World illustration to go to the real home page. There's lots there and more coming. I don't have the means to do an avi or similar video file, but certainly I intend to be doing a bit of "talking" soon, once I figure out the system. That and other things are/will be on the home page, along with lots on current and forthcoming books, where to find things, etc., but I'm getting a lot of email from folks asking me biographical, bibliographical, or other information that's right there, so clearly many folks aren't going home, as it were. I love "talking" to you via email, but not if it's answering questions that are already answered on the web site. You want me to have time to write the next books, right?
My health is pretty good, the family seems okay, but I could use a couple of weeks' vacation. Other than that, my plans are to get KASPAR done before the marathon conventions and appearances, then start on CHAMELEON as soon as I can catch my breath. I'm also looking at doing a couple of experimental print on demand editions of my older books that nobody seems interested in, so we'll see how that goes. When and if it comes down, you'll find out about it on my home page first. Best, jlc
January 13, 2001: Baen Books has just bought the first five Well World books for reissue as paperbacks in the near future. This includes the originator of the series, the bestselling perrennial Midnight, which, written without a series in mind, is a stand-alone and considered by critics my finest novel. Now in 17 languages and with millions in print, Del Rey let it go out of print last year for the first time in 23 years even though it was still selling. No sign of the format (whether these will be reissues of the independent paperbacks, combinations in trade pb format, or whatever) but it'll be good to see these back. If you haven't read the original or met Mavra Chang, by all means take this opportunity when it's available. This isn't even signed yet, but there's a verbal agreement with the paperwork now in the works.
Also, note that Embiid has now "published" And the Devil Will Drag You Under. Click on the cover to go to their page for info, pricing, ordering info, etc. and to either read or download a sample chapter (no Acrobat or eBook needed for the samples). Lots of folks say this is their personal favorite of all my books; I can only say it's one of my nuttiest. If you like the Dancing Gods, you'll find this one wilder, starting off just a tad off and growing progressively nuttier. Will New Yorkers notice two King Kongs battling in Times Square at rush hour? Go see.
January 7, 2001: Happy New Year and Happy (real) New Millennium! We made it. As to where your flying car is, consider how many idiots are out there driving in traffic now with ground-based cars and ask yourself if you want each of them to be over your head ready to crash a few thousand pounds into your home or office. On the other hand, I'm pissed that there's no moonbase, no space wheel with artificial gravity and scheduled trips, and we're still arguing about whether or not we can afford to dream.
And I am doubly pissed that they still haven't found the pill you take that instantly and permanently takes off weight without side effects. You'd think we could have at least gotten that by now....
Still, consider that NOBODY, and so far in spite of many searches NOBODY means NOBODY, predicted that you'd type in a URL and wind up reading this from your home, and maybe drop me and others instant email. Remember all those old stories (including Heinlein and Asimov) where folks put in their credit or debit card and got the newspaper printed just for them? That's about as far as we got.
Well, all those folks who said that the ebook revolution was upon us are now pointing to King's THE PLANT and saying "Maybe not...." Of course, King was getting his minimums until he announced that he was stopping to do more pressing things after promising he'd finish, so maybe there's a correlation there? Hmmmm.... Still, they're right in one way: if King can't do it, writers like me sure can't, and newer writers won't even be noticed. That's sad. And, yes, I'm having problems selling books to anybody in New York these days, too, and my bank account is being sucked dry because of it. Hey, Hollywood! Discover me! I need the bucks!
Of course, I did predict that most folks would lose in the dot com stock market while only a few would get rich. Nice to see I haven't lost my touch....
My thanks, though, to the dozens of folks who showed me how to indent in html. This is an old writer's trick, by the way. If you need to know something and you don't pick it up instantly in the references, you use a public forum and they'll come rushing in with the answer....
The health front is as good as the financial front is bad. The infection in the leg seems to have been killed after 3 months of intensive warfare, and I'm still walking fine. My chronic sinus infection is back, though, but, then, again, doctors have been assuring me since I was 3 that it would vanish when I grew up (or, later in life, within a year or two of quitting smokingnow over 7 years smoke free here). Some things are beyond medical science even in the Twenty First Century.
The web site is only partly updated, and may stay that way until I finish the next book, but go beyond the old sign-in screen (which will eventually vanish, too) and click on THE MYTH hex or, at the top, on the Site Map. Conventions have been updated, and I'm going to have almost one con a week from the last weekend in March to the last one in April. On the road from Jersey to Moscow (Idaho). Between New Jersey, western Virginia, Madison, Wisconsin, south central Missouri, or, later in the year, Idaho and Philadelphia in two consecutive weeks, a lot of you should be able to see me and say hello if you like. No California this year (I don't bring electricity so they don't care) but I've been all over there a lot and will be there (San Jose, anyway) next year. The calendar of appearances is now on the new site page, and so is Where to Buy My Books, really just reformatted from the beginning of the bibliography but I'm getting lots of email from folks who apparently don't read there. Literally almost everything is "Click on me" so try it. And let me know if it takes too much time to load and we'll see what we can do.
Okay, to work now. I'll write when I find work.... jlc
December 4, 2000: Sorry to be so late and so brief; still intending to do a major upgrade on this site, since it appears that most folks who visit only visit the email and mostly here and miss the rest. Besides, it's time. It will be incrementaleven with the new front end much will still lead for a time to old format pages or to Under Construction, but I'll get there, and News and email will remain.
On November 15, I finished MELCHOIR. Two days later I went to Philcon and had a very good time there. Two days after Philcon, in mid-day, I suddenly and without warning developed major convulsions that, as it later was shown, was due to a sudden spike in my body temp from 98.6 or so to 105 F! I was rushed to the hospital, hydrated, and put on Supercillin given intravenously. They let me go home five days later, but with a portable pump the size of a fanny pack attached to me and a tube surgically implanted in an internal large vein so that both blood and antibiotic could go in. This is supposed to finally come out tomorrow. The cause is a very nasty internal infection that appears resistant to many/most antibiotics, and it's put up a heck of a fight. In the meantime, we think we got it, but we'll see. I'm starting immediately on KASPAR'S BOX because all this has left a decided hole in the wallet, at least as soon as I get off this @#$%^&*! pump.
Look for the site to start evolving over the next month or so, and let me know if you experience really slow load times or have display or other problems. In the meantime, best, and Happy Holidays! jlc
November 15, 2000: Just a quick note to tell you that MELCHIOR'S FIRE went to the publisher today and thanks to email they are already typesetting it for a June, 2001 release. KASPAR'S BOX, the third and last in the Three Kings trilogy, won't be so long to deliver. More in a couple of weeks, and maybe a whole new look to the old site!
November 1, 2000: Just a few quick notes. Things are still going slow; I've been fighting a re-flareup in the leg infection that, among other things, made it impossible for me to sit and type for more than a few minutes at a time, which has really slowed my work. I'm trying to get Melchior's Fire done by the end of the first weekend in November. Cross fingers.
A correction to the comment below. We are not doing a Print on Demand version of And the Devil Will Drag You Under; I've been so out of it that I guess I never even checked the thing. This is an eBook experiment a la Stephen King to see if people really want me in this format at a good price. Release date will be January, 2001, and the publisher's URL is www.embiid.net. Okay, everybody seems to be writing and emailing me about the wonders of eBooks for the futurelet's see how many people put their money where their mouths are. If this one goes well, we will do more. If not, I'll have an answer for all you eBook partisans!
More stuff is in the works, but nothing's been signed yet. You'll be the first to know. Lots of startup cons next year for some reason; I guess the new millennium carries with it convention disease. At least, a lot of them want me as one of their GoHs, and I've said yes. No idea what'll hit and what'll miss, but we'll see. In April, 2001, I have first time cons in central New Jersey and two weeks later at a college in the southeastern Missouri hills, not to mention the one in Madison, Wisconsin that is Not Wiscon. And we'll do our usuals, like Balticon (moving next year to Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore), Midwestcon in June, and the worldcon in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. More details when time permits. And I still intend a complete redo of the web site, but this book has got to be done first. My youngest, Steve, is also waiting since I can't build and set up his computer until I'm done!
September 26, 2000: Apologies for not updating the past month, nor getting much else done here, but it's been a very weird month. The World SF Convention in Chicago was an experience; I was happy to meet and talk with so many of you there, and those who couldn't make it might look at next year, which is in Philadelphia. My wife's from that city and her family's there, amd she's working on the worldcom, so you can be pretty sure that unless something cataclysmic happens I'll be there. I'm also going to be at Philcon this year in mid-November, as usual. Next year is shaping up as something unusual; I have Guest of Honor appearances in Madison, Wisconsin, at a new con there, and at another debut con in central Missouri that's college based, and there might be more. I'll give you complete details when I can get MELCHIOR'S FIRE off to Baen (it's now 45 days late) and do some tax related stuff. Then it'll be time to redo the entire web domain top to bottom. All I need is some time. For those who saw me on the motorized scooter, be aware that while my damaged leg from falling onto the car deck of the ferryboat Falcon still looks awful it no longer is bloated and infected, I'm walking normally again, and hopefully that's behind me. For the rest of you, the pain of the injury made most work impossible until mid-month; this was followed by a horrible cold/flu just over, and, for the past week, both computers here crashed so badly that one had to be put out of its misery (I built another) and both existing ones then had to have their OSs and all programs reinstalled from scratch. Fun. I'm now hoping to get everything done in the next two weeks, but the way things have been going who knows?
In the meantime, we're trying to cope with the new cat, which my wife named Valentine after the rich relatives who might give us some bucks. Unfortunately, I'm a dog person (and so's the dog) and I'm not at all thrilled with a hyperactive 3-4 month old homicidal egocentric slashing machine. One can only hope that when he's grown and the vet says it's okay, The Operation will calm him down....
We've decided to experiment with Print on Demand, and picked a book that's been out of print for far too long but which hasn't had any takers for a reissue. That's AND THE DEVIL WILL DRAG YOU UNDER, a favorite book of many of my long-time readers, concerning a demon named Asmodeus Mogart who needs to send some unsuspecting folks to parallel worlds in search of magic power amulets which can give him enough power to keep our Earth from being smashed to smithereens. It's progressively wacky, winding up far more bent than any of the Dancing Gods books, and it's in one volume. We'll let you know on the web site when and where it'll appear (and it should also be available for order from any online bookseller once it appears). We may do more of these if this one goes.
That's about it for now. More news as it develops, and look for a really major redo of the site around Halloween if not earlier. For now, click on "The Myth" and see what's out and impending right now. jlc
August 10, 2000: Well, some news to report. I wish I could say that MELCHIOR'S FIRE was in to Baen, but it isn't. I'm working on getting it in in the next two weeks, certainly before leaving for the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago.
After I get the book done I'm going to be completely re-doing the web site to make it faster, easier to use, and easier to update and, hopefully, easier for you to read. That will probably be next month. Be aware that the opening screen will remain, but everything else, including here, will have a decidedly different look and feel and, most of all, more speed and easier navigation.
A number of folks have asked about word that one of my stories was part of a TV package, and some even were rather insulting to the fellow who said he was the producer. Well, rest assured it's true, but there is a reason why I don't discuss these things: I want to see first if they have a chance of being real. So far we have an agreement for one episode of a project that is already a year or two in development and isn't imminent and for which I've yet to be paid a dime. There are lots of these kinds of projects out there, and you can understand why I don't report on them unless there's money paid and some developmental progress. So, yeah, I have real hopes that "Dance Band on the Titanic" will eventually be a TV episode, but I'm not holding my breath.
Personal news: After almost 16 years, our old blind pussycat, Stonewall J. Cat, passed away of cancer and is buried in the land he knew as home. A new cat has now moved in, an (at this writing) 8 week old calico kitten which my wife Eva's named Valentine, after a relative and not an SF reference. My guess is that he's going to wind up with a more common nickname, though; he's already been called Spooky. Oldest son David leaves at the end of the month, having transferred from UMBC to Miami of Ohio for his sophomore year. Miami has the programs he's specifically looking for, but we're sad he'll be too far away for weekend visits. Oh, well, that's part of the whole parent thing. Steven, soon to be 9, is still very much a handfull. We'll have a link to his rather bizarre web site in the new pages.
We will be experimenting with Print on Demand for some of my older titles. This is the new system for producing trade paperbacks and even small run hardcovers to order (you can use Amazon.com, Borders.com, B&N, or whatever to get them, even special order from a bookseller, but you will never see copies on the stands). First one up will be a new printing of And the Devil Will Drag You Under. Stay tuned.
More news as it develops. Otherwise, I hope to see many of you in Chicago! jlc
June 28, 2000:
The only thing of any excitement recently was the arrival in hardcover of the first copies of Balshazzar's Serpent from Baen. It's a nice looking book at a good price. Those of you who really think you would like to read it online can now get the whole thing; physical copies will be in stores in a week to ten days. We will be at Louisville at the end of July for the last Rivercon (do a www.google.com search on Rivercon to find it), and we still plan to be in Chicago for the worldcon over the 5 days of Labor Day Weekend. I'm still working to finish the second of the Three Kings books for Baen and should have it done by the end of July, and I'll do the third and final as soon after the second as I can. THEN comes the fun, because I'll have no outstanding contracts to fulfill (and no future money on new books!). Baen, by the way, sells his books in online form as well (HTML, though, alas) so if you really think you can get as much money out of reading BALSHAZZAR'S SERPENT online in this sort of format rather than as a real book, you can save some money by doing so. I still prefer the physical book myself. Laptops are hell in the bathroom.
My pussycat, Stony, died of cancer in mid-June. He was 16 so don't weep muchhe had a good life. This was the first pet death for our 8 year old son Steve, but he's taking it well. Stony's buried in the yard of the home he knew most of his life, and only the dog seems really upset and keeps looking for Stony. She, too, has cancer (different kind) but so far is living with it and is still very perky, but she, too, is getting old. We plan to replace the cat soon, but need to find one the dog won't go nuts at.
Nice to see so many old friends at Midwestcon. It always puts me in a better mood to have a good convention, but getting back to work after is tough. SIgh.... Ohfor those of you who've been reading my adventures with Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, it might be noted that my son David currently is working in the main Random House warehouse and his section includes shipping the few books of mine still in print from them. He's making decent money, hopes to save most of it to use to transfer to a new university which has the major he really wants but is out of state and not offering major scholarships in that field. We'll see. jlc
May 23, 2000:
It was nice to see everyone at the two signings in late May (too late to put here, alas), one the zoo at Barnes & Noble Union Square in New York and the other at Borders in Bowie, Maryland. Those kind of sessions keep me going sometimes.
There's been little, really, to report that's new. There will be no "next" Del Rey book; they exercised a technical clause almost never used in my contract and canceled Book 3, so I've switched to writing Books 2 and 3 of Three Kings for Baen. The book I was working on for Del Rey will be finished after those two and then submitted to various publishers and we'll see who if anyone bites. It's rough out there now and getting rougher, and this is in spite of the fact that my last four Del Rey titles all sold extremely well. That's no longer enough in this day and age.
For the first time in 23 years, and while it was still selling strongly after thirty plus printings in the U.S. alone, Midnight at the Well of Souls was taken out of print at Del Rey. We have now asked for rights to all but the last two Well books back, and we hope to find a home for them, particularly Midnight and the subsequent four, as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, we'll see some of you in Cincinnati at the end of June at Midwestcon, others at Louisville the end of July for Rivercon, and many more at Chicon, the World SF Convention, Labor Day weekend in Chicago.
April 14, 2000:
Not a lot to report, and I wish that weren't true. A lot of mail coming in on GHOST, but they have not bothered to send me a copy of it yet so I haven't even any idea what it looks like. Maybe they think I should buy a copy? I don't know. I'll get some sooner or later.
Lots of mail from folks asking me how they can get older titles now virtually all out of print. I wish I had a ton of them, but I don't, and while some will be reissued in time from other publishers there is no way to say when or which. A few that have been out of print for a long time we may put into a Print on Demand program such as the one being run by Wildside Press. This may be the best home for titles like SOUL RIDER, which are simply too huge to be reprinted mass market in today's marketplace. When we have a deal on which of these we will do and when, we'll let you know on this web site. Promise. What these would be is trade paperbacks, essentially, of the older works that you wouldn't necessarily see on the stands but could order from any brick and mortar or online bookseller. This may well be the real future of getting writers' out of print works back into print. The advantage is, since the process is entirely digital until the book is produced, and it can be produced physically almost on demand, as ordered, books in the system may never go out of print! We'll see.
Conventions: Balticon, April 21-23, Omni Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD; Midwestcon, end of June, Cincinatti, Ohio; Rivercon, Executive West Hotel, Louisville, KY July 28-30; Chicon (World Science Fiction Convention), Labor Day weekend, Hyatt Regency Chicago. Also, book signing May 19, 7-9 PM, Barnes & Noble, New York City, with 25 or 30 other SF authors.
In the meantime, I'm trying to work as hard as I can on finishing more books, and we'll be floating a new set of proposals and see if anybody bites by the fall. In the meantime, your purchases and your support help us all. jlc
March 3, 2000:
Not as much to report this cycle. They didn't send me a useable cover for GHOST OF THE WELL OF SOULS so I can't post it, but you should look for it the end of this month. It wraps the saga started in SEA IS FULL OF STARS and also most likely the Well World saga at Del Rey, which has now taken MIDNIGHT AT THE WELL OF SOULS out of print after 23 straight years (and it paid royalties every year!) and has indicated it has no more interest in it or anything else by me, period. I suspect this will last until there's a change of management there. They have also indicated that I must get the last book on the old contract to them by April 1 or forget it, and they can do that one, so I'm working hard. I hope I make it. MOREAU FACTOR has gone back to press 3 times to fill orders (they printed very, very few, not enough to fill bookstore orders!) but they're not impressed. It's a sad end to a great relationship. We DO hope to get most of the old stuff back in print. Some will be repackaged and sold by other publishers, and the rest will most likely go the Instant Print/Lightning Print route, where you won't see them on the stands but they will be available as a special order in trade paperback format from any bookstore, brick and mortar or online. One way or another we'll have MIDNIGHT up again in a year, promise.
In the meantime, we got the jacketyes, jacketfor Volume I of the Three Kings from Baen. It's a nice Eggleton. Whether we'll be doing more hardcovers will depend on how this sells, but if you want a hardcover of the 3 KINGS advance order it as soon as you can, even right now. I don't think they are doing manyit's an experiment. They will, of course, do the book later in mass market. So far I have a great relationship with Baen as a company and it's run by old friends, but sales will still tell the story. That's your part of the job. The hb price is very reasonable$22 US, $32.50 CDN.
Our convention schedule for 2000 is firming up. Not many, and no Guest of Honor invites, but we will be at Balticon in Baltimore Easter weekend, at Midwestcon in Cincinatti the end of June, at Rivercon (the last one) the end of July in Louisville, at the World SF Convention in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, and Philcon in Philadelphia in November. Others may be added as time and money permits.
My thanks to all those who sent best wishes when my wife was hospitalized with severe viral pneumonia. We almost lost her, but she is now home and regaining strength and free of the disease itself. Again, thanks for the cards and email. jlc
January 31, 2000:
THE SEA IS FULL OF STARS is still in bookstores and online stores; better act fast. There is a good deal of evidence that they sent out NO review copies and that they printed only what they had to. If anybody doubts that nobody at the publisher is even looking at these titles, note that they didn't even bother to update my URL and even left in the date on my intro for the book that shows that it wsa done exactly THREE YEARS ago. Still, it's an interesting book that goes some new places in Well World mythology and has, I think, a really bang-up ending.
Now out (or so they tell meI have not yet seen copies so they might be switching things around again) in the "How Fast Can We Get the Chalker Backlog Out of Here" department is The Moreau Factor. This book has gotten a good deal of prepublication notice, both from reviewers outside the SF field and from non-US publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair. I just hope they print enough, for a change, on THIS side of the ocean. Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat 4.x to open and read these samples (Windows, Mac, Unix, doesn't matter). If you don't have 4.x, click on the Acrobat logo on the site map and you'll be taken to where you can get it as a free download. I will keep the file on the site until the end of February, when we'll go on to the next one to come up. Again, act fast. I do not think Del Rey will print many of ANY of these books and is taking even the ones still earning money and forcing them out of print.
PLEASE! If you have a web site, put a link to mine on it with some good words and tell your friends to go out and buy the books as they appear. And, after me, then do it for your other favorite authors, too, and not just the ones who write science fiction and fantasy. I am convinced that the present and future of fiction in North America and probably elsewhere is being killed and there's little we who write it can do about it.
At last report it was possible to order and get Priam's Lens again. If you missed it, please check it out. It is a stand-alone book. No word yet on Balshazzar's Serpent's pub date from Baen, but it's in and they processed things so fast that I have to think it's a mid-2000 book. Del Rey has scheduled Ghost of the Well of Souls (not my title) for April, which will be the second novel tying up the loose ends and answering all the questions that didn't get covered in SEA IS FULL OF STARS. Please note, however, that while the books should be read in the order published, they actually both stand on their own. SEA isn't a "to be continued" type of book.
No personal appearances scheduled yet. We will also be at Balticon in Baltimore over Easter weekend, Midwestcon in Cincinatti the end of June, the last Rivercon in Louisville, KY the end of July, and the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago Labor Day weekend. Beyond those, who knows? No GoH gigs or similar invitations for any time in 2000.
I still owe two more books yet to Baen in a new trilogy (three stand-alones in the same universe, not actually a serial) and expect to finish them this year, although I think only one will be a 2000 title. I also owe one more to Del Rey. No new deals, so after that I have no idea....
Folks keep asking the same questions, so newcomers to the site would do well to read the OLDNEWS (click the link below) and also the info at the start of the bibliography. The most asked question still is when will the sixth Dancing Gods book be out, which shows nobody's been taking seriously or reading my account that absolutely no publisher is interested in it. These are tough times for 95% of the people who've made a living writing fiction in the past, not just me. Case in point: my readers are still buying every copy of my work that they print, but they have cut the print runs and refuse to reprint. Kind of hard to rebuild, huh?
Thanks for your good words, encouragement, and support. If you have a web site, put a link on there to mine. If you like my work, recommend me to others. I'll try and keep everybody up to date here. jlc
October 21, 1999:
I delivered the first of a new three volume project for Baen, Balshazzar's Serpent, today. I have hopes of being able to do one more this year, the last one for Del Rey, who has a lot of my stuff in backlog waiting for publication but with whom I've not been on the best terms lately. All but one person who ever knew a Del Rey is gone there, and that person is also the only one left whose background is in original fiction as well. They fired or allowed to retire the rest, keeping the media, TV, film, and comics people, which, I think, shows the direction they are taking. New owners Bertelsman/Bantam haven't shown much interest in Del Rey one way or the other, and consider their "real" line to be the totally separate Bantam Spectra. Who knows, we may have to wait out the old management. The new ones are certainly, well, different. Claiming my sales are down (everybody's sales are down, even McCaffrey and Niven!) they cut the print run on Priam's Lens to the bare boneswe think under 25,000 copies. It sold out almost immediately but they decided not to reprint. The fast sale, they told one buyer trying to reoder who sent an account to me, showed that they had "guessed exactly right," never mind the reorders, and it wasn't worth "risking" printing more when they could concentrate on the next month's books. The bottom line is, if you want most of your favorite writers' books, buy them quickly and tell your friends. Priam, only released in late August, is already out of print although it did have close to 100% sell-through! No copies were put on the racks; it was bookstore and online sales only even at that. This means that you should also link to writer sites like this one on your own sites and encourage word of mouth (or word of Internet) enthusiasm. Otherwise, the books just will not be there.
We've had a good working relationship with Baen, but Baen is, let's face it, a very small publisher dependent on the big boys for distribution. The money they can pay is not the kind that can regularly pay the mortgage. Still, if sales are good enough (and Baen has a real stake in selling books, unlike Del Rey) they can lead the way. Don't overlook them.
The latest book to Baen is the start of a series called Tales of the Three Kings. No, we didn't know about the Clooney movie title until long after the contract was signed. In my case, the Kings are earth-sized and habitable moons of a humungous gas giant. They may also be El Dorado, Heaven or Hell, or lots of other legendary places, or all of them. The first group involves an evangellical spacefaring group who are not idiots, so if you have a hangup over religion, I'm going to push your buttons no matter which way your hangup goes. The second is going to be a combination exploration and mercenary group. The thirdwell, wait and see.
Those of you following my saga know that I'm going through a very bad time right now, along with a LOT of other writers, not just science fiction ones as well. The consolidation in the publishing industry, the takeover of book distribution by Wall Street, and the firing of the old editors like those at Del Rey who were mostly concerned with books rather than media has caused a real slump and financial as well as other problems. How much of a standing do I have with Del Rey at this point, a company I've been with for 20+ years and sold millions of copies through? Well, the current management printed a mere 20,000 copies of PRIAM'S LENS, and when those sold out seemed awfully surprised and they say they're going to maybe print 3 or 4 thousand more. If they won't promote you, won't believe in you, and don't get you out there on the stands, how can you prove 'em wrong? It's very sad.
Barnes & Noble finally came around, only to discover it couldn't reorder PRIAM'S LENS because it was out of stock! Waldens picked it up so late they couldn't get enough for all their stores. Naturally, they're now saying that, gee, Chalker's last book sold very poorly. He must be over the hill like we said, see? Of course, every copy they printed sold without one iota of support from them, but they are proving what they want to prove.
Thanks for the kind notes on my illness. I'm back home, the leg's getting better, but I'm slowed down on writing at a time when I need every dime. Hollywood still isn't knocking, either.
I hope they don't kill the new Well World books as well (the last ones sold very well indeed), but I suspect that they will. The fellow deciding what gets published is no fan of mine....
Been getting some mail about the motion picture The Matrix noting just how many elements of it were lifted almost verbatim from The Wonderland Gambit. It's true, and they stole them and that's why I got nothing, no credits, no money, from it. Were I in better shape financially it would be worth going after them, but, alas, unless you know a contingency lawyer with Hollywood experience willing to take it on it's just going to have to be another rip-off that Hollywood is famous for. And if they don't like me saying that, then let them sue me! Ohthat goes for The Thirteenth Floor, too, but nobody saw that one and at least they credited the late Dan Gallouye for the heart of it....
Baen Books has now released the last Quintara book under the slightly altered title of 90 Trillion Fausts with my approval. Unlike Del Rey's treatment, you should be able to find this one at your local bookstores and chains both online and in stores. You might want to read the new intro to Bibliography; I'm less thrilled with Amazon.com of late but I have some other suggestions that might save you money, too.
Unfortunately, I've got no more guest of honor gigs this year; we've not been asked anyplace else, and with finances poor (I've just missed my first World SF Convention in 33 years!) our con going will be limited this year.
LATEST BREAKING STUFF: If youwonder why you might be having problems getting Priam's Lens,and you're also puzzled as to what I've been so depressed abouthere of late, consider this: Barnes & Noble, the U.S.'s largestbookseller, "passed" on Lens (they do not explain why,ever). The result is, the entire chain, including the superstores,took a grand total of only 1250 copies. This is not enough topay the cost of the cover printing. As B&N now also owns thelargest distributor of books in North America, Ingram, you cansee how things are going.... (5/18/99). My Baen reissues havebeen doing better than this. And if they can't even geton store shelves, what chance do I have to keep making a livingif my readers can't even find me?
Well, I'm now going through my bleakest period as a professionalwriter, with virtually no sales or publications during the wholeof 1998 and nothing due until May of this year. However, if Ican get through this period, things are looking up, withnew titles scheduled to appear and more money coming in to coverthe bills. In this period, though, I desperately need all my fansto go out and buy my new books as they appear and bring friends.There is a trend now in publishing to concentrate only on mediarelated and NYT bestsellers, and my long term future can onlybe assured if one or more of these sells like the old days.
People keep asking me about the sixth DANCING GODS book.There is one in outline, the final one, but Del Rey says not enoughpeople bought the original for them to be interested in this newclimate in completing it, and as they also control the first fivethere is no chance of placing it elsewhere. Maybe one day they'llchange their minds. I'd like to complete the set.
I just delivered The Moreau Factor to Del Rey. It'snot scheduled until July, 2000, though, so don't be in any hurryrushing to the bookstore. In the meantime, Baen has reissued TheRun to Chaos Keep; the final one in the series, The NinetyTrillion Fausts, will be out in September. In the meantime,I have at least one more to do for Del Rey and three for Baen,so I'm not dead yet!
been a while since I updated these pages, but much has been,frankly, static
for a very long time (as is much of the book businessat the moment) while other
things have been pending. It appearsthat the apparent imminent sale of the Well
World to Hollywoodhas fallen through; we offered them an exceptional deal, almostinprecedented,
and they said that just giving them the uraniumwasn't enough, they demanded
the shaft as well. So, any Hollywoodtypes interested in the Well World, let
me know. It's on the marketagain. Serious offers only, though, please. I had
more than oneoffer in the past 6 months for various projects in which the proposalinvolved
paying me absolutely nothing in exchange for tying uprights for a long time.
Folks, I'm a professional. While I wouldn'tdo this JUST for the money, I sure
as hell have no intention ofdoing or selling anything for zero money.
The big news is that the second and final Well World project bookis now turned in at last, and this means Del Rey now has threetitles of mine in inventory, both parts of the Well project plusa stand alone novel, PRIAM'S LENS, that I like a lot. And they'veactually announced when you will see these and one future bookwhich is the current work in progress. PRIAM'S LENS will be outin May, 1999; the first of the two-part Well saga will be publishedin November, 1999, and the second half in February, 2000. Augustor September, 2000 will see the publication of the book I am startingto write this week. There is also now a CD ROM version of theChalker & Owings history and bibliography of the SF/fantasy/horrorsmall presses, which is available from most SF mail order companiesfor $49.95. Not cheap, but the estimate to actually print thesucker was much, much more.
The OTHER news is that my wife Eva Whitley and I will be Fan Guestsof Honor at next year's Norwescon in Seattle over Easter weekend.We hope to see a lot of our northwest fans and readers there.Yeah, I know, FAN GoH (Harry Turtledove, an old friend, is pro GOH) but it's often a way to get a twofer and I have a long fanhistory as well and Eva has only a long fan history, so....
It was great meeting many of you at the World Science FictionConvention in Baltimore. Have fun and keep reading!
My wife's just finished a course in web design, so we may be upgradingthe look and feel of these pages in the future. She just openedher mouth and criticized their look, so I told her she had thejob. We'll see.
For those who came in late and want the old news, click HERE. For thoseof you who are old-timers here, or who just think old news isprobably dated news (it is, mostly) click HERE to go back to the introductory page.
March, 1998 text:
As many of you may have heard, things are notvery
good in the publishing business right now, which means thingsaren't good for
your favorite writers, either. A concerted effortto collapse the paperback distribution
system in the west by greedychain stores worked, driving a lot of distributors
into bankruptcy.With far less competition, bookstores cut back on their orderssince
they wouldn't lose sales by being out of stock as they hadin the past. The result
was that the remaining distributors clamoredonly for New York Times and Oprah
bestsellers and media tie-inbooks (including books by media personalities).
Some companiespaid off their authors and told them to go play somewhere elseif
they could find a place. Others looked to see how they couldcut expenses and
thus build up huge pots for their media and NYTbestseller types.
This is not limited to SF and fantasy, thisis everybody.
Some of you may be aware that I wasone of the writers targeted as somebody who could get them somemoney by canceling existing contracts. This was tried, and fora month I was left twisting in the wind. I am not, however, somebodywithout influence or reputation, and I'm happy to tell you that,at least as far as my books are concerned, there are going tobe EIGHT new Chalker novels out in the next 2-3 years minimum, two of whichare already in. Long-term, whether or not I continue to be a factorwill depend on you, the readers, buying my books, but for theshort term I'm a survivor, although the money is down. Thanksto all who sent in good wishes and support. Other writers youlike also need that from you.
We will be able toannounce new projects by me soon; there is still some discussionas to just what will come out when, etc., and my editors (sortof) can't seem to make up their mind, often making a firm decisionand then months later trying to change it! All I can say is, watchthis space. However, I can say that the next few projects(except for the new Well duo) are stand-alone novels, and willbe a variety of types and settings, and for those who are threatenedby the idea, I don't think anybody in the three stand-alones changessex. Now put your buying money where your mouth is! The rest ofyou can enjoy them and the Well all stops out project, too!
Things aren't a wholelot better, but I wanted to
bring you up to date. Del Rey nowhas two books of mine in hand, the first of
the new Well projectthat they've had for most of the year, and a stand-alone
big novel,Priam's Lens, which I delivered at the end of August. I'mnow
working to finish the second Well book so they can publishthem fairly close
together. At the World SF Convention, reps fromthe sales division told my agent
that the reason they decidedI was a has-been was that my backlist was no longer
selling. Theyparticularly mentioned Four Lords of the Diamond and Ringsof
the Master. Now, as any of you can quickly discover, theseare out of print.
It was suggested that since they weren't inprint nobody could buy them and maybe
that was why theyweren't selling. The response was "Nonsense."
If youthink we're exaggerating the state of publishing today, that shouldtell
you something! I'd love to get Four Lords back inparticular but they
are fighting doing it. I think the one-volumeversion of it would do better than
reprinting some of the morerecent ones. Well, nobody listens to me (they just
blame me).The new distributors don't know books from paint samples and theytherefore
let computers do their thinking for them. Result: sinceWonderland didn't
do so well (never mind why) they havecut orders on my books and consider me
no longer viable. I amnot alone in this. Everybody has at least one book
thathas problems; that means everybody is getting this sametreatment
progressively. Nobody can sustain the book businesson that basis, but it's a
At any rate, alsodue to the mentality behind current distribution, the main reasonfor going to stand-alone novels is simple: bookstores and distributorswill no longer retain older titles in a series or serial novel,so people who discover a series/serial with book two or threecan't find the earlier ones any more. Stand-alones do not havethis problem, and I've been wanting to do some for quite a while(they just weren't interested until now).It also gives me a chance, at last, to do some new things innew ways that my editors fought before. I hope you like the newdirectionsif you ever get to read them.
Anyway, I can stillsell books, I'm just not getting paid what I used to and thatis causing the problems. Hollywood producers please call. I needyour money.
Rumors about my recenthealth also deserve comment here. It is true that I developeda potentially serious medical problem that kept me in the hospitalfor a hefty part of September. They never found out what it was,but it eventually stopped on its own. During the tests, they foundsome other things that bear looking at and that's what they lookedat in October, but it appears to be just one of those things (alltests said "benign" so you're still stuck with me!).Thanks for all the good wishes.
Thanks to all thatnonsense they pulled I currently have no due dates for new stuff,but as soon as I do I'll let you know. In the meantime, I've posteda selection of covers of my non-North American editions that manyfolks never get to see. You can't buy Four Lords or Ringsor Soul Rider in North America any more, but you sure canif you know Russian, Polish, Danish, etc.... Sigh.... --jlc 1/18/98
Breaking news: Elsewhere here I explained to folks who wonderedwhy I hadn't "allowed" Hollywood to do any of my booksthat it's not me but Hollywood who hadn't called (that's the wayit works) and that producers were encouraged to call me. Well,a couple of major producers looking for products who both hadread me way back when read this and actually called! It's goingto be some time before anything comes of this, if anything does(projects can go into limbo as fast as production) and I can'tgive many details now, but it's potentially very exciting and,yes, it involves the Well World. It appears technology finallycaught up to it.... More when I have more to tell you. Until then,back to the previous text:
My health hasn't been all that great of late, which hasn't causedme serious problems but has seriously slowed down what I haveto do: finish the second (and last) of the new Well World projectwhich appears to be what Del Rey is waiting for. So far they havenot scheduled either the first of those, which they have had nowfor fourteen months (!) nor Priam's Lens, a largeone volume stand-alone SF novel they have had since August.
In themeantime, Baen Books has proceeded with the reissue in mass marketpaperback format of The Demons at Rainbow Bridge (and eventuallyall three of the Quintara books) originally published by Ace.The new one is scheduled for release in August, 1998 and has anew cover. Those of you who already have it in hardcover or otherformats should be aware that there is no revision or new texthere, but a straight reissue of the original.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to convince some publishersto either reprint or revert titles of mine long out of print.Although it is possible on a contract basis to get back work that'sout of print (see the current Chalker books under Baen that wereoriginally Tor or Ace titles) but if a publisher wants to keepsomething for some reason then it has ways of keeping them. Ihave never understood why they would fight to keep whatthey won't reissue, and it is particularly distressing to me tofind that many of my major works are out of print and unavailableand have been for, in a few cases, up to 10 years. I have no directcontrol over this. I can ask publishers to reprint all the time,but if they don't want to, they won't.
The sicth Dancing Gods book is a different example of thesame thing. The publishers of the first five state that saleswere disappointing and that they therefore have no interest ina final book. Other publishers say they can do nothing with asixth book if they didn't also have rights to the others. Untilsomebody changes their mind, I'm afraid the sixth DG willbe a legend.
My international sales continue unabated; Bulgaria is the latestcountry to start publishing Chalker titles, joining Russia, Lithuania,Germany, Israel, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Italy,Poland, The Czech Republic, and many other nations.
Health and other factors permitting, I hope to finish the secondWell in June and deliver it, then immediately write another stand-alone,the next one a near-future biotech thriller, I think.
Please note that while the old email@example.com still works,the CompuServe address no longer does. Also, mail from the www.jackchalker.compage or to Delphi directly can not include attachmentsor encoded material; the Delphi email account I use there is plainvanilla. If you want to send me a graphic or whatever, pleasedrop a note first and I'll give you a place to send it. --3/18/98
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Text copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Jack L. Chalker. All rights including print and electronic reproduction reserved