Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Works of Jack L. Chalker (Classic Book Series)

     One of the grossly overlooked Science Fiction writers of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s was Jack L. Chalker. Jack died in 2005 after a two-year illness. He was 60 years old and I can’t help feeling that his work was cut much too short. Chalker was a creative genius and there was/is no better writer of the physical transformation of characters. I have been a long-time fan and would like to take a moment to rate the works of his that I’ve read. What I really like about Jack’s body of work is that in most of his stories he had a long-term vision. Not a single 300 page narrative but a massive, expansive three or four or five book story always rich in character, full of creative world-building, and constructed along unique and never-before imagined story-lines. His novels are always entertaining and highly creative (even on the second and third reads) and you’ll see by my ratings below (not a single one of his books rates lower than four stars) how highly I value his work.

    If you’re in the mood for some wonderful Science Fiction stories of transformation and have somehow disregarded this author I suggest you search out any of the novels listed below. It wouldn’t surprise me to find many of his books out of print these days but it would be worth the effort to visit your favorite used book store to find them. They’ll be worth the quest. I promise. Jack Chalker is, hands down, the best author who never won a Hugo or Nebula award (but deserved to.)

The Saga of the Well World series


1. Midnight at the Well of Souls, Del Rey, 1977  5 stars (one of my all-time favorites)

2. Exiles at the Well of Souls, Del Rey, 1978  5 stars

3. Quest for the Well of Souls, Del Rey, 1978  5 stars

4. The Return of Nathan Brazil, Del Rey, 1980  4 ½ stars

5. Twilight at the Well of Souls, Del Rey, 1980  4 ½ stars

6. The Sea is Full of Stars, December, 1999  4 ½ stars

7. Ghost of the Well of Souls, 2000  4 ½ stars


The Watchers at the Well series


1. Echoes of the Well of Souls, Del Rey, trade paperback, May, 1993  4 ½ stars

2. Shadow of the Well of Souls, Del Rey Feb. 1994  4 ½ stars

3. Gods of the Well of Souls, Del Rey, 1994  4 ½ stars


The Four Lords of the Diamond series


1. Lilith: A Snake in the Grass, Del Rey, 1981  4 1/2 stars

2. Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold, Del Rey, 1982  4 stars

3. Charon: A Dragon at the Gate, Del Rey, 1982  4 stars

4. Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail, Del Rey, 1983  4 stars

The Four Lords of the Diamond, The Science Fiction Book Club (omnibus edition), 1983 4 Stars

The Dancing Gods series


1. The River of Dancing Gods, Del Rey, 1984  4 stars

2. Demons of the Dancing Gods, Del Rey, 1984  4 stars

3. Vengeance of the Dancing Gods, Del Rey, July, 1985  4 stars

4. Songs of the Dancing Gods, Del Rey, August, 1990  4 stars

5. Horrors of the Dancing Gods, 1994  4 stars

The Dancing Gods: Part One, Del Rey, November, 1995

The Dancing Gods II, Del Rey, September, 1996


The Soul Rider series


1. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Tor Books, 1984  4 1/2 stars

2. Empires of Flux and Anchor, Tor Books, 1984  4 stars

3. Masters of Flux and Anchor, Tor Books, January, 1985 4 stars

4. The Birth of Flux and Anchor, Tor Books, 1985  4 stars

5. Children of Flux and Anchor, Tor Books, September, 1986  4 stars

The Rings of the Master series


1. Lords of the Middle Dark Del Rey Books, May, 1986  4 stars

2. Pirates of the Thunder, Del Rey Books, March, 1987  4 stars

3. Warriors of the Storm, Del Rey Books, August, 1987 4 stars

4. Masks of the Martyrs, Del Rey, February, 1988  4 stars

G.O.D. Inc. series


1. The Labyrinth of Dreams. Tor Books, March, 1987  4 stars

2. The Shadow Dancers, Tor Books, July, 1987  4 stars

3. The Maze in the Mirror, Tor Books, January, 1989  4 stars

The Changewinds series


1. When the Changewinds Blow, Ace - Putnams, September, 1987 4 1/2 stars

2. Riders of the Winds, Ace Books, May, 1988 4 stars

3. War of the Maelstrom, Ace - Putnams, October, 1988  4 stars

The Quintara Marathon series


1. The Demons at Rainbow Bridge, Ace-Putnam's, hardcover, September, 1989  4 1/2 stars

2. The Run to Chaos Keep, Ace - Putnams, May, 1991  4 stars

3. The Ninety Trillion Fausts (a.k.a. 90 Trillion Fausts), Ace - Putnams, October 1991  4 stars

The Wonderland Gambit series


1. The Cybernetic Walrus, Del Rey, trade pb November, 1995 4 stars

2. The March Hare Network, 1996 4 stars

3. The Hot-Wired Dodo, Del Rey, Feb. 1997 4 stars

The Three Kings series


1. Balshazzar's Serpent, Baen Books 1999 4 1/2 stars

2. Melchior's Fire, Baen Books, 2001. 4 stars

3. Kaspar's Box, 2003 4 stars

Stand-alone novels

A Jungle of Stars, Ballantine, Del Rey, 1976 5 stars

The Web of the Chozen, Del Rey, 1978  5 stars (another favorite)

And the Devil Will Drag You Under, Del Rey, 1979  5 stars

A War of Shadows, Ace: An Analog Book, 1979 4 ½ stars

Dancers in the Afterglow, Del Rey, 1979, 1982  5 stars (another favorite)

The Devil's Voyage, Doubleday, 1980 4 stars

The Identity Matrix, Timescape: Pocket Books, 1982  4 stars

Downtiming the Night Side, Tor Books, May, 1985  4 ½ stars

The Messiah Choice, St. Martins - Blue Jay, May, 1985 4 stars

The Red Tape War (with Mike Resnick and George Alec Effinger). Tor hardcover, April, 1991 (not read)

Priam's Lens, Del Rey 1997  4 stars

The Moreau Factor, Del Rey Feb., 2000 4 stars

Chameleon (partially completed at time of death) (not read)


Collection and Anthology

Dance Band on the Titanic, Del Rey Books, July, 1988 (short stories) 4 stars

Hotel Andromeda [edited by], Ace, 1994 (not read)

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Jack L. Chalker Wiki Page

Jack L. Chalker ISFDB Page

Jack L. Chalker NNDB Page

Jack L. Chalker Baen eBooks Page

Jack L. Chalker Facebook Page


Eva Whitley said...

Thank you for your kind comments. I was married to Jack for 26.49 years and even though it's been almost 9 years, I still miss him terribly.

The Alternative One said...


Thank you for commenting. Every word is the truth. Jack is one of the very few writers that I read every year and always will.

JennyKat said...

It's nice to see that there are other people who recognize what a creative genius he was. I came across the Rings of the Master series by accident at the library one day and it's one of my all time favorite series. I wish there was a way to get new copies of some of his books, as they're no longer in print and the used copies I've managed to get are not all in great shape

Esteban Roura said...

I found out about him thanks to the Spirits of Flux & Anchor books and I love his stuff so so much (I'm kind of sad that I'm a little too late to be his fan since he has passed away ;u;). I've been trying go get my hands on most of his stuff and it's been fantastic so far :)