Lucius Shepard

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Lucius Shepard
Utos068-Lucius Shepard.jpg
Lucius Shepard, Utopiales 2011
Born(1943-08-21)August 21, 1943
DiedMarch 18, 2014(2014-03-18) (aged 70)

Lucius Shepard (August 21, 1943 – March 18, 2014) was an American writer. Classified as a science fiction and fantasy writer, he often leaned into other genres, such as magical realism. His work is infused with a political and historical sensibility and an awareness of literary antecedents.


A native of Lynchburg, Virginia where he was born in 1943,[1] Shepard's first short stories appeared in 1983, and his first novel, Green Eyes, appeared in 1984. At the time, he was considered part of the cyberpunk movement. Shepard came to writing late,[2] having first enjoyed a varied career, including a stint playing rock and roll in the Midwest and extensive travel throughout Europe and Asia. Algis Budrys, reviewing Green Eyes, praised Shepard's "ease of narrative style that comes only from a profound love and respect for the language and the literatures that have graced it."[3]

Lucius Shepard has won several awards for his science fiction: in 1985 he won John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, followed in 1986 with a best novella Nebula Award for his story "R&R", which later became part of his 1987 novel Life During Wartime. This novel won the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis in 1990. His novella "Barnacle Bill the Spacer" won a Hugo in 1993. His poem "White Trains" won the Rhysling Award in 1988. Two early collections of short stories won the World Fantasy Award for best collection: The Jaguar Hunter in 1988 and The Ends of the Earth Collection in 1992.[4] His novella "Vacancy" won a Shirley Jackson Award in 2008.

Lucius Shepard resided in Portland, Oregon.

Themes and evolution[edit]

Shepard embraced many different themes throughout his career. In his early work, he wrote extensively about Central America. This included clearly science-fictional stories about near future high-tech jungle war (such as "R&R" and "Salvador"), as well as stories that seemed more in line with magic realism. Many of these, such as "Black Coral" (which concerns an American living on an island off of Honduras) and "The Jaguar Hunter" (the story of a man whose wife's debt forces him to hunt a mythical black jaguar, which his people consider sacred), explore cultural clashes. Shepard traveled extensively in Central America and lived there for a time.

Shepard stopped writing fiction for much of the 1990s.[why?] He returned near the end of that decade, producing such works as the novella Radiant Green Star, which won a Locus Award for Best Novella in 2001.[5] Though he still wrote Central American fiction, Shepard's interest seemed to be moving north: he published two short novels, "A Handbook of American Prayer" and "Viator", both set in North America. On that same note, he published many works where culture and geography were secondary (his novella "Jailwise" is a prime example), preferring to focus on wider questions such as the role of justice in society.

Much of Shepard's later work was non-fiction. He researched the Freight Train Riders of America and spent time riding the rails, writing both fiction and non-fiction based on those experiences. He was also a regular movie reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and[6] His reviews are marked by general contempt for the current state of American film.

According to fellow author James Patrick Kelly, Shepard was an avid sports fan who has often used dramatic sports moments as inspiration to write.[7]

In the summer of 2008, Shepard moved to Neuchatel, Switzerland in order to work on several screenplays. He served on the jury of the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) with the American director Joe Dante.

He died in March 2014 at the age of 70 of complications from a stroke.[1][8]



  • Green Eyes (1984)
  • Life During Wartime (1987)
  • The Golden (1993)
  • Floater (2003)
  • A Handbook of American Prayer (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006)
  • Viator (2004)
  • Trujillo (2005)
  • Softspoken (2007)
  • Beautiful Blood: A Novel of the Dragon Griaule (2014) (Subterranean Press)

Short fiction[edit]

  • The Jaguar Hunter (1987; 2001, second revised edition; Four Walls Eight Windows)
  • Nantucket Slayrides (with Robert Frazier) (1988)
  • The Ends of the Earth (1990)
  • Sports & Music (1994)
  • Barnacle Bill the Spacer and Other Stories (1997; Four Walls Eight Windows; published in US as Beast of the Heartland)
  • Trujillo and Other Stories (2004)
  • Two Trains Running (2004)
  • Eternity and Other Stories (2005) (Thunder's Mouth Press)
  • Dagger Key and Other Stories (2007)
  • The Best of Lucius Shepard (2008) (Subterranean Press)
  • Skull City and Other Lost Stories (2008)
  • Vacancy & Ariel (2009)
  • Viator Plus (2010)
  • The Dragon Griaule (2012) (Subterranean Press, six inter-related novellas and novelettes)
  • Five Autobiographies and a Fiction (2013) (Subterranean Press, short stories)
  • The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter (1988) (novella)
  • The Father of Stones (1988) (novella)
  • Kalimantan (1990) (novella)
  • The Last Time (1995) (novella)
  • Valentine (2002) (Four Walls Eight Windows, novella)
  • Aztechs (2003) (Subterranean Press, novella)
  • Louisiana Breakdown (2003) (novella)
  • Colonel Rutherford’s Colt (2003) (novella)
  • Liar’s House (2004) (Subterranean Press, novella)
  • Stars Seen through Stone (2007) in F&SF July 2007 (novella)
  • "Halloween Town" (2009) in F&SF October 2009 (novella)
  • The Taborin Scale (2010) (Subterranean Press, novella)
  • The Skull (2012) (Subterranean Press, novella)


  • Weapons of Mass Seduction (2005)
  • With Christmas in Honduras: Men, Myths and Miscreants in Modern Central America (forthcoming)

Film reviews[edit]

Film title Director Reviewed in
X-Men Bryan Singer Shepard, Lucius (Dec 2000). "eXcreMENt". Films. F&SF. 99 (6): 104–108.


  • Vermillion (1996–1997, comic book series: writer)

Critical studies and reviews of Shepard's work[edit]

Five autobiographies and a fiction
  • Di Filippo, Paul (January 2014). "On Books". Asimov's Science Fiction. 38 (1): 101–105.

Work available online[edit]


  1. ^ a b Clute, John. "Shepard, Lucius". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Nicholls, Peter (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd ed.). Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  2. ^ "Banging Nails". Locus: 6. November 2001. While stories under his name were published in the 1950s, Shepard reports those were actually written by his father.
  3. ^ "Books". F&SF: 24. July 1984.
  4. ^ World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Locus Publications. "2001 Locus Awards". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  6. ^ Electric Story. "Exclusive Movie Reviews by Lucius Shepard". Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  7. ^ James Patrick Kelly. "How to Talk to Lucius Shepard". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  8. ^ Gillossen (20 March 2014). "Décès de Lucius Shepard" [Death of Lucius Shepard]. (in French). Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  9. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.

External links[edit]