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Sleator, William

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1945-2011) US composer and author, in the latter capacity almost exclusively for the Young Adult market. His first novel, The Angry Moon (1970 chap), is a fantasy based on Native American myths. Most of his novels stood alone, though he produced two short series. In the Boxes sequence, comprising Boxes (1998) and Marco's Millions (2001), two mysterious boxes, left in the possession of a young girl with strict instructions that they must not be opened, when inevitably opened do inevitably unpack Monsters from another Dimension and a device that slows time (see Time Distortion); Pandora's Box clearly underlies the tale, to which the second volume is an explanatory prequel, set many years earlier. In the Interstellar Pig sequence, comprising Interstellar Pig (1984) and Parasite Pig (2002), the eponymous Board Game turns out to shape reality, and the young protagonists find they have been playing it with Aliens in disguise, who abduct them and imprison them in a kind of Zoo on another planet. They escape.

Individual titles of sf interest include House of Stairs (1974), in which five sixteen-year-olds are locked in a windowless, doorless house – explicitly based on the 1951 lithograph, "House of Stairs", by M C Escher – and subjected to an unpleasant experiment in behavioural Psychology (see Scientific Errors); Green Futures of Tycho (1981), in which a Time-Travel device confronts young Tycho with a set of alternate futures to choose from, some of them tantalizingly unwholesome; The Boy Who Reversed Himself (1986), about travel through the Dimensions at some risk to the lad of the title; The Duplicate (1988), in which a machine Clones duplicates of a teenaged boy, all of them upset; Strange Attractors (1990; vt Strange Attractions 1991), a Time-Travel tale; The Last Universe (2005), in which a complex maze or Labyrinth turns out to contain a vast number of portals to Parallel Worlds, a process Sleator describes in term of quantum theory (see Physics). Sleator's range was wide, and his recalcitrant protagonists stick doggedly in the reader's memory. His tendency to make use of sf devices, without much bothering to examine them, sometimes thinned the texture of reality of his tales; but just as frequently had the effect of exposing his casts to nightmarish estrangement. [JC]

William Warner Sleator III

born Havre de Grace, Maryland: 13 February 1945

died Bua Chet, Thailand: 2 August 2011

works (selected)



  • The Boxes (New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1998) [Boxes: hb/Victor Lee]
  • Marco's Millions (New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2001) [Boxes: hb/Victor Lee]

Interstellar Pig

  • Interstellar Pig (New York: E P Dutton, 1984) [Interstellar Pig: hb/Broeck Steadman]
  • Parasite Pig (New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2002) [Interstellar Pig: hb/Cliff Nielsen]

The Spirit House

  • The Spirit House (New York: E P Dutton, 1991) [The Spirit House: illus/hb/Trina Schart Hyman]
  • Dangerous Wishes (New York: Duttons Children's Books, 1995) [The Spirit House: hb/Broeck Steadman]

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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