Lucius Shepard, Utopiales 2011
August 21, 1943|
Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
|Died||March 18, 2014
Portland, Oregon, USA
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, 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, 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."
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. His novella "Vacancy" won a Shirley Jackson Award in 2008.
Lucius Shepard resided in Portland, Oregon.
Themes and evolution
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. 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. 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 electricstory.com. His reviews are marked by general contempt for the current state of American film.
In the summer of 2008, he 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.
Novels and novellas
- Green Eyes (1984)
- Life During Wartime (1987)
- The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter (1988) (novella)
- The Father of Stones (1988) (novella)
- Kalimantan (1990) (novella)
- The Golden (1993)
- 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)
- Floater (2003)
- Liar’s House (2004) (Subterranean Press, novella)
- A Handbook of American Prayer (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006)
- Viator (2004)
- Trujillo (2005)
- Softspoken (2007)
- 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)
- Beautiful Blood: A Novel of the Dragon Griaule (2014) (Subterranean Press)
- 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)
- Weapons of Mass Seduction (2005)
- With Christmas in Honduras: Men, Myths and Miscreants in Modern Central America (forthcoming)
- Shepard wrote a regular film review column for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
- Vermillion (1996–1997, comic book series: writer)
Work available online
- Abimagique at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- AZTECHS at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- Emerald Street Expansions at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- The Emperor at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- The Jaguar Hunter
- Jailwise at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- Liar's House at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- The Night of White Bhairab
- Over Yonder at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- Senor Volto at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- A Walk in the Garden at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2008)
- Clute, John. "Shepard, Lucius". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Nicholls, Peter. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd ed.). Retrieved 2014-08-04.
- "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.
- "Books". F&SF: 24. July 1984.
- World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Locus Publications. "2001 Locus Awards". Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- Electric Story. "Exclusive Movie Reviews by Lucius Shepard". Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- James Patrick Kelly. "How to Talk to Lucius Shepard". Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- Gillossen (20 March 2014). "Décès de Lucius Shepard" [Death of Lucius Shepard]. Elbakin.net (in French). Retrieved 2014-08-04.
- Lucius Shepard at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- A more complete bibliography
- Golden Gryphon Press official site - About Louisiana Breakdown
- Golden Gryphon Press official site - About Two Trains Running
- Golden Gryphon Press official site - About The Golden (trade paperback reprint)