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Chambers, Stephen M. 1980-

CHAMBERS, Stephen M. 1980-

PERSONAL: Born November 25, 1980, in Louisville, KY. Education: University of Chicago, B.A. (history), 2002.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Peter Rubie, Peter Rubie Literary Agency, 240 West 35th St., Suite 500, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Writer.

WRITINGS:

Hope's End, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Hope's War, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Stephen M. Chambers drafted his first novel, Hope's End, when he was a junior in high school; not surprisingly, his protagonist, Vel, is sixteen, approximately the same age as Chambers when he began the book. The story is set in a future that boasts little technology and where the act of owning a book carries the death penalty. The agrarian city of Hope is located on the planet Hera. The society of people originally from Earth is ruled by a totalitarian church and an executive council, and the city suffers attacks from aliens known as the "Frill," who live in underground tunnels, and a disease called the "Pox." Into this world Vel is born to a family of peasants, and in order to make his way, he becomes a hustler, then a political activist.

Alan Cheuse noted in Chicago's Tribune Books that before the end of the story is reached, Vel "will have suffered numerous skirmishes with the police, the soldiers of the church, and strange and murderous giant bugs, worked a computer by powering it with his own blood, and generally turned the planet upside down." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Blakes, the DNA clone of British poet William Blake that was stored as artificial intelligence inside an old computer in a successful twenty-first-century experiment, is "worshipped as the 'great man' in a way that recalls Ayn Rand....The book remains Vel's story, though it dangles such mysteries and paradoxes before the reader."

In reviewing the book for Leo online, Paul Kopasz called Vel "part Luke Skywalker, part Jesse James, and part Holden Caulfield," and said that Chambers "has affected a blending of the science-fiction and sword-and-sorcery genres that indeed does justice to both." Eva Wojcik-Obert both reviewed the book and interviewed Chambers for Fantastica Daily online and said that he "does a grand job of sucking us into his grubby city of suspicion, hunger, and conspiracy while hinting at deeper darker corners farther away in the depths of long-lost technology and science."

In the sequel, Hope's War,, Vel has killed Justice Hillor, head of the Council, and at the urging of Denon, the head of the Church who plans on exercising his own power through the boy, Vel agrees to serve as king of Hope, but then turns to Blakes for guidance, feeling that he is the only one he can trust. Gerald Jonas wrote in the New York Times Book Review that "the model for the narrative would seem to be one of those video games whose object is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time."

Hope is blanketed by continual snows, food is in short supply, King Vel learns of his connection to the red-eyed Frills that live beneath the city, and Blakes exercises a Nazi-like reign of terror on the people of Hope. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Hope's War a "solid sequel" and said that Chambers's "compelling dissection of good and evil will keep thoughtful readers involved."

Chambers told CA: "As a high school student I was extremely lucky to meet a literary agent, Peter Rubie, at a writers' conference in Kentucky, and just before graduating from high school, I sold two novels to Tor Books.

"I get extremely irritable if I go too long without writing, though my wife—we have been together since I was seventeen (1997) and were married this year (2002)—might suggest that transcends any creative outlet. I cannot go for more than a month without a major writing project.

"As a kid, I wrote copious amounts of horrible material, until eventually it became publishable. Currently (winter, 2002), I am living in Paris with my wife and our two cats and no knowledge of the French language.

About his major influences Chambers said, "I would say the writing of Orson Scott Card and an array of other science fiction/fantasy authors piqued my interest in the field early. Comic books—by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman—are some of my favorite bits of literature, as well. I love Woody Allen films, Star Wars, and I have roughly eighty percent of The Big Lebowski committed to memory.

"Generally, I create some kind of outline in a notebook, with many question marks and doodles, until eventually I physically must write the story and put it out of its misery. Every time, I envision the beginning, the middle, and end of the novel: then I go to work. Generally, a rough draft takes a few months, then I spend another few months hammering at that rough draft, until I'm satisfied with it.

"The one thing I learned studying history at the University of Chicago is that I actually know next to nothing, which, I suppose, is a crucial $120,000 lesson.

Still, I am fascinated with history, though I don't have the patience to pursue it to the next level; at a certain point, it's all argument, which can be disconcerting for people in a society who are trained to memorize 1776 and the Magna Carta. I think history is 'the' subject, and I am endlessly frustrated when it's seen as pointless or irrelevant.

"Writing is lonely, hard work that does not usually pay particularly well, if at all, but I intend to keep at it to the end of my days. Not because I want to; I'd go mad if I didn't."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune Books, August 19, 2001, Alan Cheuse, review of Hope's End, p. 2.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2001, review of Hope's End, p. 837; July 1, 2002, review of Hope's War, p. 923.

Library Journal, August, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Hope's End, p. 171; August, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Hope's War, p. 152.

New York Times Book Review, October 13, 2002, Gerald Jonas, review of Hope's War, p. 29.

Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2001, review of Hope's End, p. 163; July 15, 2002, review of Hope's War, p. 60.

ONLINE

BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (August 6, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Hope's War.

Fantastica Daily,http://www.mervius.com/ (October 15, 2002), Eva Wojcik-Obert, review of Hope's End, interview with Chambers.

Leo,http://www.louisville.net/ (September 12, 2001, Paul Kopasz, review of Hope's End.

Stephen Chambers Home Page,http://www.sff.net/people/schambers (December 20, 2002).

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