Vintage Treasures: The Naphar Trilogy by Sharon Baker
Quarreling, They Met the Dragon, Journey to Membliar, and Burning Tears of Sassurum
(Avon, 1984, 1987, and 1988). Covers by Wayne Barlowe, Paul Lehr, and Ron Walotsky
Sharon Baker died in Seattle in June 1991, at the much-too-young age of 53. She began writing in her 40s, while she was busy raising four sons. In a Gale Contemporary Author interview in 1986 she said
I felt like a car appliance [and] to remind myself that I was not, I signed up for a weekly writing class… On good days, I no longer feel like an appendage of my station wagon or anything else. I feel like me. And I like it.
Her first novel was Quarreling, They Met the Dragon, published in 1984, and it drew immediate attention. In Trillion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss praised it as evidence of “An original mind at work on an ingenious world.” Gene Wolfe said “Sharon Baker is better than good… [she will be] one of the field’s most important author’s by the close of this decade,” and Publishers Weekly compared her to Samuel R, Delany.
[Click the images to embiggen.]
Back covers to Quarreling, They Met the Dragon, Journey to Membliar, and Burning Tears of Sassurum
Quarreling, They Met the Dragon focused on Senruth, a boy bound for slavery, who was inspired by street kids Baker met in Seattle. In that Contemporary Author interview she said:
Since Quarreling‘s hero was a slave, I talked to street kids who sold themselves to live. I was so touched by these boys’ plight… my hero became one of them.
My favorite reviews of the first volume is the Publishers Weekly piece, which included this powerful comparison:
In its insistence that one cannot know a society without knowing its sexual life and its economic life, its palaces and gutters, its myths and its reality [it] shows the… influence of the superb SF author Samuel R. Delany.
Quarreling was followed in fairly short order by two sequels, Journey to Membliar, and Burning Tears of Sassurum, all published as paperback originals by Avon.
1 Quarreling, They Met the Dragon (268 pages, $2.95 in paperback, October 1984) — cover by Wayne Barlowe
2 Journey to Membliar (247 pages, $3.50 in paperback, July 1987) — cover by Paul Lehr
3 Burning Tears of Sassurum (281 pages, $3,50 in paperback, June 1988) — cover by Ron Walotsky
That was essentially the end of her career. She never published another genre novel, and three years after Burning Tears of Sassurum appeared she was dead.
Sharon Baker’s star has dimmed since her death 30 years ago, and she is forgotten today. All three books in the trilogy have been out of print for over three decades, and there are no digital editions. I found copies on eBay for not much more than the original cover price.
See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.
Thanks for this, hadn’t heard of her. Sad to hear about how shortlived it all was
I don’t know much about the circumstances of her death. But yes, her career was tragically cut short. And it was triumphant while it lasted.