William Sleator

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William Sleator
Born February 13, 1945
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Died August 3, 2011(2011-08-03) (aged 66)
Bua Chet, Thailand
Occupation novelist, young-adult writer, children's writer
Nationality American
Period 1970–2011
Genre Science fiction

William Warner Sleator III (February 13, 1945 – August 3, 2011),[1] known as William Sleator, was an American science fiction author who wrote primarily young adult novels but also wrote for younger readers. His books typically deal with adolescents coming across a peculiar phenomenon related to an element of theoretical science, then trying to deal with the situation. The theme of family relationships, especially between siblings, is frequently intertwined with the science fiction plotline.

Due to the suspenseful and often eerie nature of some of his works, Sleator has been compared to young-adult horror writer R. L. Stine. Others cite a strong resemblance to the paranoid, dream-like style of Franz Kafka, which is most notable in House of Stairs, one of Sleator's more popular novels.


Early life[edit]

Sleator, the oldest of four siblings, was born to William Warner Sleator, Jr., a professor of physiology and biophysics, and Esther Kaplan Sleator, a pediatrician who did pioneering research on attention deficit disorder (ADD).[2] The Sleator family moved to suburban St. Louis, Missouri, when Billy, as the family called him, was three. His younger siblings are Vicky Wald, Tycho, and Daniel. He attended University City High School, where he was known as a composer who wrote scores for school plays and the orchestra. He graduated in 1963.


After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in English in 1967, Sleator moved to England, earning money by playing music in ballet schools. Eventually, Sleator returned to the United States to write his first novel, Blackbriar, eventually published in 1972, which was based on real life experiences.[3] His first published book was a children's story called The Angry Moon, released in 1970. Sleator's writing has been described as a clean, simple style. His characters are reluctant teenage heroes, and Sleator's younger siblings and friends have often found themselves being written into his prose, as in the semi-autobiographical story collection Oddballs.[4] Elements of Thai culture also occasionally turn up in his stories. His 2009 short story, "Lep" appears in the anthology How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity and is from a young gay Thai man's perspective.

Unlike the 'Golden Age' science-fiction future-oriented model (one of Buck Rogers tomorrowlands), Sleator's work often includes a morbid or negative fixation on the past or includes visions of alternate worlds (future or otherwise) in which something has gone wrong. For example, Green Futures takes place in the past in addition to the future; the world outside the House of Stairs is hinted to be dystopic; and Interstellar Pig draws upon the supposed insanity of a long-dead prisoner.

Personal life[edit]

Sleator split his time between homes in Boston, Massachusetts, and a small village in rural Thailand. His companion Siang Chitsa-Ard had died in 2008, and his preceding partner Paul Peter Rhode had died in 1999.[2] He died on August 3, 2011, in Bua Chet, Thailand.[5]



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