Agents of Insight (Tor, October 1986). Cover by Barclay Shaw
Back in 2017 I bought a copy of Agents of Insight, and thought it would be interesting to do a brief write up of the genre-blending science fiction-P.I. novel for Black Gate. But I immediately ran into a problem. The author, Steven Klaper, was a complete mystery. This was the only work of any kind I can find published under that name. No other novels, short stories, comics, nothing. When that happens, I automatically assume the name is a pseudonym — and I’m usually right. But even after 30 years, I couldn’t find any record of the name “Steven Klaper” used by a more well-known writer.
I made a plea on for information on Facebook, and Gordon van Gelder, publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, immediately offered a useful suggestion.
Thirty-one years isn’t that long ago and there are plenty of Tor Books employees with long memories like Beth Meacham and Claire Eddy who probably know if Klaper was a pen name for, say, the guy who published as Samuel Holt or if in fact Klaper was just a guy who only ever published one book.
Tor Editor extraordinaire Beth Meacham did indeed remember Steven, and this is where things got interesting.
Here’s what Beth told me:
It was my book. Steve Klaper was his name, and he never delivered anything else. I don’t remember much about him. The book either came in through the slush, or from a “friend of the house” — sales rep or something like that. Not agented. I liked the book, and thought the genre-blend was really interesting.
Beth’s comment drew some additional interest to my Facebook post. Including this delightful comment left by Caitlin M G Klaper, Steven’s daughter, on September 8th of this year, six long years after my original post.
So, I know this post is 6+ years old, but I happened to stumble across it when telling somebody about my father’s old sci-fi book, and I felt like it might be worth commenting here for anyone who might still interested to hear what became of Steve Klaper.
To be fair, it was probably me. I believe he finished the book in 1984, and I was born in 1985, so Steve had to go make some money. Both he and my mother were insanely proud of AoI, but I think the publishing process took a lot out of him, and I believe it soured him to the industry — “Why is he holding a gun on the cover!?” is a refrain I’ve heard over the years.
After a few odd jobs throughout my early years, my mother and father started a graphic design company (called desktop publishing then, of course), The Write Stuff. They successfully ran TWS until just a few years ago, when my father “semi-retired,” as he calls it.
Currently, he and my mother run a nonprofit called the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, an interfaith organization that focuses on supporting the Metro-Detroit community through interfaith dialogue and outreach opportunities. My father became a Cantor in the Jewish religion, which is a vested clergy position. If you think his writing is any good, you should hear him play guitar.
His writing these days is focused primarily on spiritual topics and is most likely published (if it even is) under the names Maggid Steve Kaper or Chazzan Steve Klaper. You can also check out his weekly livestream Friday Shabbat service from the “intergalactic starship” on the Song and Spirit Facebook page. Yep, still a total nerd.
Hopefully, this mini history lesson doesn’t disappoint. I’ve read him reviews that were discovered over the years, and he always laughs, shakes his head, and picks apart all the things he would change if he were writing it today. I will happily pass along this post and these comments, which I’m sure will garner a similar response.
Thanks for taking the time to discuss my dad and his work. He’s really a terrific, incredibly talented guy.
I was delighted to have the mystery of Steven Klaper cleared up, and both Beth and Caitlin were gracious enough to grant permission for me to reproduce their comments here.
Beth also responded to Caitlin, saying.
I’m glad to know that Steve didn’t just vanish off the face of the earth, but has had such an interesting life. Give him my regards. He already knows I was sorry about the gun.
My original post on Agents of Insight, published in June, 2017, is here.
I haven’t read the book, but I’d be very glad to hear from readers willing to share their thoughts.