Lucius Shepard, R.I.P.

Shepard

Lucius Shepard

1947-2014

If you’ve never read Lucius Shepard, perhaps now is the time to pay some gratitude and pick up one of his books. Any collection will do really. You won’t be disappointed. Besides sharing a few messages via facebook, I never really knew Shepard. But I believe I did through his prose. He was a journeyman in his short stories, novellas and few novels – not only in setting and location, but also in genre. For example, his collection ‘Beast of the Heartland’ shows the multiplicity in abundance, and it feels as if Shepard was hellbent on not being labeled as a writer chained to a specific style, a specific mode. ‘Sports in America’ reads with the blue-collared desperation of a George V. Higgins novel. ‘The Sun Spider’ is a take on the ‘space opera’, equipped with the dazzling sense of the epic, wildly dancing within the cosmos while never losing touch with the characters that tell the story. ‘Beast of the Heartland’ is a brutal, sad take on the boxing story — think Robert Ryan in the classic film ‘The Set Up’, and add in the haunting, psychedelic images that Shepard could do so well. In some circles he was called a science fiction writer, but he was much more than that. He could break your heart, chill your spine, show you the wonders of the world, and make you feel rightly small in a never-ending universe. Imagination, the man had a massive one. Whether inside the Dragon Gruille, or deep in the Amazons where old gods awakened, there seemed to be no limit where his mind would venture. You can could compare his work to Marquez, Greene, Conrad, but really, he was all his own. ‘No Man’s Land’ ‘How the Wind Spoke to Madaket’, ‘The Jaguar Hunter’, it is impossible to pick a favorite. He was that fucking good.

He will be sorely missed.

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