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Chalker, Jack L(aurence) 1944-2005

Chalker, Jack L(aurence) 1944-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 17, 1944, in Norfolk, VA; died of kidney failure February 10, 2005 (some sources say February 11, 2005), in Baltimore, MD. Writer. Chalker was a popular science-fiction author best known for his "Well World" series. He did his undergraduate work at Towson State College, finishing a B.S. in 1966 before attending Johns Hopkins University, where he earned an M.L.A. in 1969. Chalker's writing career actually began well before he attended college, however. As a precocious teenager, he founded a literary magazine called Mirage, and at age fourteen he was nominated for a Hugo award for his work on this publication. A fan of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, Chalker's first book was The New H. P. Lovecraft Bibliography, published in 1961 when Chalker was only sixteen. The book was published by his own company, Mirage Press in Baltimore, which he founded in 1960. For the rest of the 1960s and early 1970s, Chalker continued to write and edit nonfiction books about his favorite genre, including editing Mirage on Lovecraft (1964) and co-writing The Necronomicon: A Study (1968). From 1968 until 1973, he also served in the Maryland Air National Guard, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. By the mid-1970s, he was authoring his own original science-fiction novels, beginning with A Jungle of Stars (1976) and his first and most famous installment in the "Well World" series, Midnight at the Well of Souls (1977). Many more books would continue this series, which ended with 2000's Ghost of the Well of Souls. In addition, Chalker created many other science fiction series, including the "Four Lords of the Diamond," "Soul Rider," "Dancing Gods," "Rings of the Masters," "Changewinds," "Quintara Marathon," "G.O.D., Inc.," "Wonderland Gambit," and "Tales of the Three Kings." As some critics have noted, many of Chalker's books are about transformation, often in both a physical and spiritual sense, when a main character is somehow transported to another world and overcomes a series of challenges. Though he never won a major prize, Chalker was nominated four times for the Hugo. Chalker, who was also responsible for organizing the Balticon convention for the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, is considered one of the major science-fiction authors of the twentieth century.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Independent (London, England), February 18, 2005, p. 40.

Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2005, p. B10.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), February 15, 2005, p. 63.

Washington Post, February 20, 2005, p. C9.

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