December 29, 2010
Rediscovering Jack L. ChalkerTweet
There are a number of books that I read throughout my early life that I now remember only vaguely through sketchy plot details, small bits of characters or perhaps even an inclination of what the front cover illustration looked like. It's a pleasant surprise when I stumble on one of these books and I'm afforded the opportunity to re-read them and examine my earlier impressions.
A few weeks ago I took my oldest daughter to a used book store. We weren't looking for anything in particular, she just hadn't been in one before and I wanted her to see that there was a wealth of interesting literary treasure awaiting us. It's nice to have an hour of free time now and then with your children for unscheduled outings like this.
We walked in and I set her loose in the place after giving her a gentle nudge to the section I thought she'd be interested in, but encouraged her to wander around. Then I took off in a different direction.... I'd been reading a lot of spy and suspense novels lately, and wanted to get back to science fiction for a while. So I started at the beginning of the section with authors starting with "A", smiling as I skimmed past the Isaac Asimov titles, and continued into the "B" and "C" authors. I stopped skimming when I came to "Chalker", because my brain had picked up on the phrase "well world", a subtitle to one of the books. I grabbed the book in front of me and gazed in wonder at "Exiles at the Well of Souls" by Jack L. Chalker. I was excited to remember that I had read this book originally around 1980, and even happier to find that it was part of a series. I looked for the rest in the series, but could only locate 3 out of 5 in this book store. Critically, the first book in the series was not to be found.
It's astounding to me that my brain could pick up on that two-word phrase "well world". It had been 30 years since reading that book, and I was reading a LOT of books around that time. The author's name didn't seem familiar to me, but admittedly I wasn't paying much attention to authors' names when I was nine years old. Now I actually do talk with my daughters about specific authors (and my oldest is wondering whether Cressida Cowell has run out of ideas for her How To Train Your Dragon series...)
I ended up using eBay to order used copies of the first and fourth books in the Saga of the Well World series, and patiently waited for them to arrive. After just finishing the fifth book yesterday, I'm happy to have rediscovered the series and Jack L. Chalker. I'll be looking for more of his work shortly.
Posted by Hammer at December 29, 2010 12:52 AM
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to read more in the Nostalgia category.
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