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Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard(1947-2014)
Lucius Shepard is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning collections The Ends of the Earth and The Jaguar Hunter. He is the recipient of the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He died on March 18, 2014.

The Dragon Griaule

The Dragon Griaule — (1984-2012) Publisher: More than twenty-five years ago, Lucius Shepard introduced us to a remarkable fictional world, a world separated from our own ‘by the thinnest margin of possibility.’ There, in the mythical Carbonales Valley, Shepard found the setting for ‘The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule,’ the classic account of an artist — Meric Cattanay — and his decades long effort to paint — and kill — a dormant, not quite dead dragon measuring 6,000 feet from end to end. The story was nominated for multiple awards and is now recognized as one of its author’s signature accomplishments. Over the years, Shepard has revisited this world in a number of brilliant, independent narratives that have illuminated the Dragon’s story from a variety of perspectives. This loosely connected series reached a dramatic crossroads in the astonishing novella, ‘The Taborin Scale’. The Dragon Griaule now gathers all of these hard to find stories into a single generous volume. The capstone of the book — and a particular treat for Shepard fans — is ‘The Skull,’ a new 40,000 word novel that advances the story in unexpected ways, connecting the ongoing saga of an ancient and fabulous beast with the political realities of Central America in the 21st century. Augmented by a group of engaging, highly informative story notes, The Dragon Griaule is an indispensable volume, the work of a master stylist with apowerful — and always unpredictable — imagination.

Separate novellas                                                                                                               Omnibus
Lucius Shepard The Dragon Griaule Lucius Shepard The Dragon Griaule Lucius Shepard Liar's HouseThe Taborin Scale Lucius Shepard    Lucius Shepard The Dragon Griaule

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fantasy and science fiction book reviews

The Dragon Griaule: Collects all the Griaule stories

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The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

His flesh has become one with the earth. He knows its every tremor and convulsion. His thoughts roam the plenum, his mind is a cloud that encompasses our world. His blood is the marrow of time. Centuries flow through him, leaving behind a residue that he incorporates into his being. Is it any wonder he controls our lives and knows our fates?

The Dragon Griaule collects Lucius Shepard’s six stories and novellas about Griaule, the mile-long 750-foot-high dragon that has been in a spellbound sleep for thousands of years. He rests in a valley where his body composes much of the landscape, creating hills and forests and waterfalls. Trees and other vegetation have taken root on his body and animals and parasites live in the habitat he produces. Griaule overlooks the town of Teocinte and another shantytown rests on his back. He’... Read More

The Taborin Scale: As beautiful to hold and touch as it is to read

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The Taborin Scale by Lucius Shepard

I have long thought that the ideal length for a work of science fiction or fantasy is the novella length, defined by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as 17,500 to 40,000 words. This gives an author sufficient space to create a world, describe it and the characters that inhabit it, and spin a plot. It’s a short enough work for the reader to consume in a single sitting, allowing her to immerse herself in the author’s world without any such rude interruptions as the need to go to work. For this particular reader, it’s lovely to be able to give myself up entirely to a writer’s imagination; the colors, the scents, the textures of the world become completely real to me.

Lucius Shepard writes ravishing novellas. The Taborin Scale, set in the same universe as the novella The Scale... Read More

The Jaguar Hunter: Powerful, hallucinatory stories in exotic locales

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The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard

I try to avoid excessive praise unless it is truly deserved, but I can say this without hesitation -- Lucius Shepard was one of the best SF short story writers of the 1980s. His prose, imagery, themes, and style are so powerful, dynamic, and vivid that it’s a real crime that he didn't gain a wider readership when he was alive, though he did win many awards.

He burst on the scene with his short story collection The Jaguar Hunter, which won the 1988 World Fantasy Award and Locus Award for Best Collection. Many of the stories were nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, with “Salvador” winning the Locus Award in 1985 and “R&R” winning the Nebula Award in 1987. His work is characterized by strong elements of magic realism,... Read More

Magazine Monday: Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2012

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The March/April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is worth its cover price for the new Peter S. Beagle novelet all by itself. In “Olfert Dapper’s Day,” Beagle demonstrates that there are still new tales to tell about unicorns if you’re a master of the short fantasy tale. Dr. Olfert Dapper was a seventeenth century conman who wrote books about the strange creatures to be found all over the world, even though he never left Holland – that is, the actual historical figure never left Holland. In Beagle’s imagination, though, Dapper flees Utrecht just in time to avoid arrest, taking flight for the New World. He winds up in in No Popery, in the “vaguely delineated colony” of Maine. There, he is more or less forced to become the medical docto... Read More

The 2012 Shirley Jackson Award Nominated Novellas

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The Shirley Jackson Awards will be handed out in just less than two weeks, at Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts. This is the third of three columns about the short fiction nominees, this column covering the novellas; the short stories are discussed here, and the novelettes are discussed here (now updated to include a discussion of Jeffrey Ford’s wonderful novella, “The Last Triangle” from the Read More

Magazine Monday: Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2012

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The novella is the ideal length for a science fiction story. It’s long enough to allow a reader to become immersed in a scene and involved with the characters; and it’s short enough to allow a reader to suspend disbelief as to the more unscientific or strange aspects of a story without questioning them too closely. Kate Wilhelm’s “The Fullness of Time,” which forms the backbone of the July/August issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, is a fine illustration of the strengths of the novella form.

“The Fullness of Time” is about a documentary film maker, Cat, who hires a researcher, Mercedes, the first person narrator ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January/February 2013

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The latest issue of F&SF is stuffed with good reading. I can’t pick a favorite, as I often do; many of the stories hit that sweet spot. Robert Reed’s short story, “Among Us,” is a good example: it’s about the Neighbors, creatures who look exactly like humans but are not, though they may not know that themselves. The narrator studies the Neighbors in every way possible — almost. There comes a moment when he is not willing to let research take its course, and whether that proves something to him, to the researchers, or to the Neighbors themselves (or even all three at once) is not entirely clear. Reed's story is full of wonder, which is why he remains one of the best short story writers in the field.

“The Blue Celeb” by Desmond Warzel, another fine story, tells the tale of two men who opened a barbershop together in Harlem after they returned from Vietnam. They’ve watched the nei... Read More

SFM: Shepard, de Bodard, Bear, Jemisin, Parker, Holland

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free short fiction available on the internet. This week's theme, just for fun, is stories dealing with dragons. 

The Man Who Painted The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard (1984, free online at Baen.com (sample from the Bestiary anthology), originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, also collected in The Dragon Griaule). 1985 Hugo and 1984 Nebula nominee (novelette), 1985 World Fantasy Award nominee (novella)

In ... Read More

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy: Celebrates the rich diversity of the genre

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The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:

1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side... Read More

Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

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Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe edited by Ellen Datlow

Whether you're aligned with the literary academia or an unabashed genre reader, the name Edgar Allan Poe commands much respect. I think it's only fitting that a modern anthology inspired by the author's body of work should be released on his 200th anniversary. Kudos to Solaris Books for taking on the task of publishing such a book, which all comes together with the firm editorial direction of Ellen Datlow. Datlow, for me, has been an editor who's less impressed with literary fireworks or verbal acrobatics but focuses more on the meat and bones of the story, its fundamentals if you will. In that respect, Poe lives up to that promise. That's not to say the stories will immediately grip you. In fact, a good chunk of them take time to develop. But for the most part, the patience and the struggle are well worth the wait, and what's consist... Read More

The Book of Dreams: A small but satisfying collection

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The Book of Dreams edited by Nick Gevers

The Book of Dreams is a small but satisfying collection of short stories that are thematically, albeit loosely, connected by the theme of "dreams." The book features original stories by Robert Silverberg, Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake, Kage Baker and Jeffrey Ford, and was edited by Nick Gevers for Read More

Wings of Fire: I thought I didn’t like dragons

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Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon

I don't like dragons.

This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.

There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.

For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Drago... Read More

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:

A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern reade... Read More

The 2012 Novelette Nominees for the Shirley Jackson Award

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This week Terry looks at the four novelettes nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, which will be presented at Readercon. This year Readercon will take place July 12 through 15, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

“Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn, is the first nomination for this writer whose first book, The Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors is also nominated in the single-author collection category (“Omphalos” appears in the collection). It is about a horrifically dysfunctional family in which every family member seems to be having sex with every other f... Read More

More books by Lucius Shephard

Lucius Shepard Barnacle Bill the Spacer: And Other Stories

Barnacle Bill the Spacer: And Other Stories — (1973) Publisher: There are science fiction stories alongside short thrillers and a psychological horror story; something for everyone. This anthology of short stories includes the Nebula Award-winning “Barnacle Bill The Spacer”, “A Little Night Music”, “The Beast of the Heartland”, “All the Perfume in Araby”, “Human History”, “The Sun Spider” and “Sports in America”, many of which were previously only published in magazines.SFF book reviews Lucius Shepard


Green Eyes — (1984) Publisher: Life the second time around is short, strange and terrifying to the awakened. One “zombie”, victim of a bizarre scientific obsession, breaks away, leaving a trail of muder and miracle as he flees the Project and the horror his “life” has become.
Kalimantan Lucius Shepard


Kalimantan — (1990) Publisher: Barnett, a dealer in jewels, sits down at a table in his store in Banjormasim, Borneo, and invites the reader to hear a first-person adventure set in his country’s mysterious interior. An untrustworthy white man named Mackinnon comes across a witch doctor’s drug that gives access to a parallel world–at the cost of native lives. One of the victims is a local witch whose spirit moves to the other world and sets in motion the events that will restore a balance. Its echoes of Conrad notwithstanding, Shepard’s ( Green Eyes ) story resembles more than anything else the recitation of a dream in which logic is completely discarded and the motivation of the characters remains undeveloped. Atmospheric in setting, intriguing in its premise and somewhat suspenseful, Shepard’s tale falls off at the end and fails its characters, none of whom–not even those who die–change or grow during the course of the story.


Lucius ShepardThe Ends of the Earth: Fourteen Stories — (1991) Publisher: Fourteen stories deal with an accidental killing, the Vietnam War, a monstrous transformation, visible sins, dream worlds, addicts, and voodoo. The second collection of Lucius Shepard’s short stories. Includes “The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter.”


Lucius Shepard The GoldenThe Golden — (1993) Publisher: Deviating from traditional tales that feature lonely vampires who prowl through human society in search of victims or solace, this account of vampires flourishing in their own “inhuman society” takes place in the year 1860, when their centuries-long breeding experiments have finally produced “The Golden,” a mortal whose blood is perfect and powerful. Mobilized by the news of this discovery, aristocratic vampire clans arrive at the looming Castle Banat, where they plan to partake of the sublime blood. To their shock, the guests find that The Golden, a young girl, has been brutally murdered and her blood already drained. The story also follows the Inspector Michael Beheim — a recent vampire — assigned to track down the killer. Recounted in full 19th-century literary style with gothic elements and foreshadowing, the inspector navigates his way through the vampire world and the crime therein.


A Handbook of American PrayerA Handbook of American Prayer — (1999) Publisher: A man walks into a bar. A dispute ensues, and the bartender kills him. He’s sentenced to ten years for manslaughter. In prison, the convict, Wardlin Stuart, writes prayers addressed to no god in particular. Inexplicably, his prayers — whether it’s a request for a girlfriend or a special favor for a fellow inmate — are answered, be it in days or weeks. When his collection of supplications, A Handbook of American Prayer, is published by a New York press, Stuart emerges a celebrity author. Settling into a new life in Arizona, he encounters a fundamentalist minister. The two are destined for a confrontation. In the interim, it seems that the god to whom Stuart has been praying has manifested himself on the earth. In this short novel about America’s conflicting love triangle — celebrity, spirituality, and money — Shepard negotiates the thin line between the real and the surreal, expounding upon violence and redemption along the way. This story of an unlikely American messiah shows why The Wall Street Journal has compared Shepard, an award-winning author, to Graham Greene, Robert Stone, and Ward Just.


SFF book reviews Lucius ShepardBeast of the Heartland — (1999) Publisher: The fiction of Lucius Shepard has more to do with Joseph Conrad than Isaac Asimov. Fascinated by deception and decay, and generally labeled a cyberpunk writer, his work transcends the limits of genre fiction. Beast of the Heartland contains seven tales that explore the darkside where science fiction meets horror. Headed by the award-winning “Barnacle Bill the Spacer,” a story of high-space mutiny, the book includes “A Little Night Music,” a gothic tale of insanity; “All the Perfumes of Araby,” where an adventurer in the Middle East links up with an ancient entity; “Human History,” a postapocalyptic chiller; “Sports in America,” a noir tale in the Chandler tradition; “The Sun Spider,” a mini space opera; and the title story — an ingenious picture of a battered boxer on the decline.


SFF book reviews Lucius ShepardColonel Rutherford’s Colt — (2002) Publisher: The itinerant gun show draws together many subcultures from the margins of society: survivalists, Aryan brotherhoods, and the team of Rita Whitelaw and Jimmy Roy Guy, dealers in collectible arms. Rita has made Jimmy an exception to her general disdain for whites — “not your typical Caucasian,” as she describes him — for Jimmy’s got a storytelling ability that borders on mystic vision. When Jimmy makes an agreement with the widow of Aryan martyr Bob Champion to broker her husband’s infamous Colt .45, he and Rita run afoul of “the Major,” Champion’s spiritual successor. However, they’re not intimidated by the Major’s veiled threats. The gun has launched a story, and when Jimmy begins a story, one way or another, he’s bound to see it through. (For mature readers.)


Louisiana BreakdownLouisiana Breakdown — (2003) Publisher: Welcome to Grail, Louisiana — next to nothing and just beyond reality — where hoodoo meets Jesus, and townsfolk pray to both. This dark fantasy delves into the psychological and motivational depths of Grail and its residents. Miss Sedele mixes up green cocktails called ‘cryptoverdes’ at Le Bon Chance. Vida Dumars, owner of the Moonlight Diner, peers into the deepest realms of her customers’ hearts as though they were picture windows. Town spirit Good Gray Man has promised good fortune to the town as long as it hangs onto tradition. A quirky, fantastical town’s heart and soul are slowly, often painfully revealed in this dark and captivating novella.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsFloater  — (2003) Publisher: Detective William Dempsey of the New York Police Department is having a bad time of it. Having endured — along with his brothers in blue, Manny Pinero and Evan Haley — a months-long homicide trial for the inadvertant (or was it?) shooting of Haitian immigrant, Israel Lara, he’s been abandoned by his fiancee, deemed unfit for duty, and is sinking into an oblivion of vodka and pills. Then there’s that little problem with his eye. A floater, his optometrist says. Nothing to worry about. Microscopic bits of protein adrift in the humor that cast shadows on the retina. But Dempsey’s worried. For one thing, instead of dispersing, the floater continues to grow, occluding his vision and causing disturbing hallucinations. For another, his partner, Pinero, is behaving strangely and there’s the suggestion that the floater may not be a harmless opthamological incident but an emblem that signals a peculiar form of vengeance and the imminence of a voodoo god. As he tries to determine what is happening, Dempsey’s investigation leads him from rave culture to santeria ceremonies in storefront temples and, ultimately, to a circumstance that may have cosmic implications and a truth that lies hidden in the deepest sub-basements of his own mind.


Lucius Shepard ViatorViator — (2004) Publisher: Quartered aboard the freighter, Viator, run aground twenty years before on a remote section of the Alaskan coast, the four men hired to determine the ship’s worth at salvage have begun to exhibit a variety of eccentric behaviors. They’ve become obsessed with Viator to the point that the world beyond seems of consequence only as it relates to the ship. When their putative leader, Thomas Willander, is afflicted by a series of disturbing dreams, he concludes that something on board may be responsible for their erraticism. He seeks the help of a woman in the nearby village of Kaliaska and together they initiate an investigation into the history of Viator, hoping to learn, among other things, why the ship was run aground and who was the mysterious man who hired the four. But their efforts may be too late. The men, whose eccentrities are now verging on the insane, show no sign of intending to abandon their new home, compelled by Viator’s eerie allure. To make matters worse, winter will soon be setting in, ominous incidences of sound and light are issuing from the forest surrounding the ship, and Willander’s dreams may be coming true…


Two Trains Running Lucius ShepardTwo Trains Running — (2004) Publisher: This collection of fact and fiction was inspired by the time science fiction writer Lucius Shepard spent with Missoula Mike, Madcat, and other members of a controversial brotherhood known as the Freight Train Riders of America. Shepard rode the rails throughout the western half of the United States with the disenfranchised, the homeless, the punks, the gangs, and the joy riders for the magazine article ‘The FTRA Story’. That original article is presented here, along with two new hobo novellas, ‘Over Yonder’ and ‘Jailbait’. In ‘Over Yonder’, alcoholic Billy Long Gone finds himself on an unusual train. As Billy travels his health improves and his thinking clears, and he arrives in Yonder – an unlikely paradise where a few hundred hobos live in apparent peace and tranquillity. But every paradise has its price, and in Yonder, peace and tranquillity breed complacency and startling deaths. ‘Jailbait’ is a hardcore tale of deception, lust, revenge, and murder in the seedy underbelly of rail yards and train hopping. Madcat, who functions best in a whiskey-induced haze, must decide between solitude and companionship when he meets up with Grace, an underaged runaway. Grace, in turn, seeks the security of an older man and the life about which only young girls can dream.


SFF book reviews Lucius ShepardTrujillo — (2004) Publisher: In the town of Trujillo, in Honduras, on the edge of the Mosquito Coast, Dr. Arturo Ochoa, a semi-retired psychiatrist, has a single patient: a troubled young man named Thomas Stearns, the son of a wealthy Atlanta family. Stearns has been found adrift on the Carribean in a vessel owned by two Nicaraguans, both of whom are missing; he has been alone for eighteen days and has little memory of that time. Suspected of murder, Stearns is unconcerned. He knows his family will buy off the police. But he is reluctant to leave Trujillo, having developed an odd affinity for the town. As therapy progresses, he tells of a mysterious stone figure regurgitated by, improbably, a whirlpool, and Dr. Ochoa, drawn into his pathology, begins to doubt not only Stearns’ sanity, but his own.


SFF book reviews Lucius ShepardEternity: And Other Stories — (2005) Publisher: Here are seven stories from a master of the art. Viktor Chemayev is the Philip Marlowe of Russian detectives, a sad-eyed, heavy drinking romantic who refuses to stay beat. In the title novella of this extraordinary collection, he goes head-to-head with an Irish assassin in the depths of a Moscow nightclub in an attempt to win back his true love, who has been sold to the Beelzebub-like king of the Moscow underworld… Lucius Shepard is known for his dark, unpredictable vision, and in this assemblage of some of his best writing he takes us from Moscow to Africa; from the mountains of Iraq, where Specialist Charlie N. Wilson encounters a very different sort of enemy, to Central America, where a bloody-handed colonel meets his doom via lizards. In these seven tales Shepard’s imagination spans the globe and, like an American Gabriel Garcia Marquez, refuses to be restricted by mere reality.


The Best of Lucius ShepardThe Best of Lucius Shepard — (2008) Publisher: Lucius Shepard writes from the darkest, truest heart of America — not the heart of the United States or of North America, but all of America — and he writes of it with rare passion, honesty and intelligence. His earliest stories, the ones that made his name a quarter of a century ago were set in the jungles of South America and filled with creatures dark and fantastical. Stories like “Salvador”, “The Jaguar Hunter”, and the excoriatingly brilliant “R&R” deconstructed war and peace in South America, in both the past and the future, like no other writer of the fantastic. A writer of great talent and equally great scope, Shepard has also written of the seamier side of the United States at home in classic stories like “Life of Buddha” and “Dead Money”, and in “Only Partly Here” has written one of the finest post-9/11 stories yet. Perhaps strangest of all, Shepard created one of the greatest sequence of “dragon” stories we’ve seen in the tales featuring the enormous dragon, Griaule. The Best of Lucius Shepard is the first ever career retrospective collection from one of the finest writers of the fantastic to emerge in the United States over the past quarter century. It contains nearly 300,000 words of his best short fiction and is destined to be recognized as a true classic of the field.


SFF book reviews Lucius ShepardSoftspoken — (2007) Publisher: A chilling and mysterious voice becomes audible to Sanie shortly after she and her husband Jackson move into the decaying antebellum mansion that is the Bullard ancestral home in rural South Carolina. At first, she wonders if the voice might be a prank played by Jackson’s peyote-popping brother Will or his equally off-kilter sister Louise. But soon Sanie discovers that the ghostly voice is merely a single piece in the decadent, baroque puzzle that comprises the Bullard family history rank with sensuality, violence, repression and madness.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsDagger Key: And Other Stories — (2007) Publisher: Lucius Shepard is a grand master of dark fantasy, famed for his baroque yet utterly contemporary visions of existential subversion and hallucinatory collapse. In Dagger Key, his fifth major story collection, Shepard confronts hard bitten loners and self-deceiving operators with the shadowy emptiness within themselves and the insinuating darkness without, to ends sardonic and terrifying.


Vacancy & Ariel Lucius ShepardVacancy & Ariel — (2009) Publisher: For many of us, the Ace Double Novels of the ’50s and ’60s have long been a source both of pleasure and nostalgia. This new double volume from Subterranean Press stands squarely in that distinguished tradition, offering a pair of colorful, fast-paced novellas from one of the finest writers currently working in any genre: Lucius Shepard. In Vacancy, a washed-up actor, a mysterious motel, and a Malaysian “woman of power” form the central elements in a riveting account of a rootless man forced to confront the impossible — but very real — demons of his past. This is Shepard at his harrowing, hallucinatory best. Ariel brilliantly transmutes some traditional SF concepts — alien incursions, the mysteries of quantum physics — into an astonishing, often moving reflection on love and obsession, memory and identity, and the archetypal conflict that stands at the heart of an infinite multitude of worlds.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsFive Autobiographies and a Fiction — (2013) Publisher: Five Autobiographies and a Fiction, the long-awaited new collection from master storyteller Lucius Shepard, is a significant publishing event, a volume equal in every way to such earlier Shepard classics as The Jaguar Hunter and The Dragon Griaule. Its six long stories offer narrative pleasures as diverse and profound as anything to be found in modern imaginative fiction. ‘Ditch Witch,’ set in rural Oregon, concerns a young man on the run in a stolen car, a hitchhiker who may or may not have witch-like powers, and the bizarre inhabitants of the seemingly innocuous Elfland Motel. ‘The Flock’ is a tale of high school football and small town malaise set against an impossible intrusion from the natural world. A washed-up actor and a Malaysian ‘woman of power’ stand at the center of ‘Vacancy,’ the account of a man forced to confront the very real demons of his past. ‘Dog-eared Paperback of My Life’ follows a writer (Thomas Cradle) on his erotically charged journey down the Mekong River, a journey enveloped in a maze of multiple, interpenetrating realities. ‘Halloween Town’ tells the story of a small, extremely strange town and one of its denizens, Clyde Ormoloo, a man who sees too deeply into the ‘terrible incoherence’ of human affairs. The final story, ‘Rose Street Attractors,’ takes us into 19th century London and the heart of the steampunk era in the richly atmospheric tale of a most unusual haunting. Rounding out this generous volume is an Introduction in which Shepard offers a startlingly frank assessment of his own troubled adolescence, identifying the ‘alternate versions’ of himself that appear in these pages and illuminating those points at which fiction and ‘near-autobiography’ converge. Lyrical, brutal, and always powerfully composed, Five Autobiographies and a Fiction is something special. Each of these six novellas speaks in its own distinctive voice. Each one takes us into the heart of a thoroughly imagined world. Only Lucius Shepard could have created those worlds. Only Lucius Shepard could have given us this book.


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