Lucius Shepard 1947-2014

Lucius Shepard, who wrote many books and short stories, predominantly science fiction, died on Tuesday. His work won many industry awards including a Nebula, a Hugo and a World Fantasy Award. There are a few interviews scattered around the net, but he wasn’t a particularly high-profile author; he was, though a prolific one, even writing under the nom de plume, Sally Carteret.

He also seems to have had a bit of a cruel sense of humour, as
David Langford’s 1997 review of The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter (1988) in Ansible shows:

Beautifully written, morally somewhat ambiguous fable. At one point, two obscure bits of almost forgotten information came together with a tiny spark: a mention in some Charles Platt fanzine that Shepard was in the habit of rather cruelly satirizing living people in his stories, and a US editor’s unattributable e-mail implying that critic Greg Feeley (who seemed inoffensive to me when working on the FE) is much disliked for good reasons. Here now are the inbred, idiot inhabitants of Shepard’s fictional dragon: ‘They spoke a mongrel dialect that she could barely understand, and they would hang on ropes outside her apartment, arguing, offering criticism of one another’s dress and behaviour, picking at the most insignificant of flaws and judging them according to an intricate code whose niceties Catherine was unable to master.’ These creatures of revolting appearance, ‘demented manner’, and ‘childish pettiness and jealousies’ are collectively known as the Feelys.

It also sounds as if he had a difficult life, according to this biography

…at the age of fifteen… he traveled to Ireland aboard a freighter and thereafter spent several years in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, working in a cigarette factory in Germany, in the black market of Cairo’s Khan al Khalili bazaar, as a night club bouncer in Spain…

and later spent time playing in bands, doing many low-paid jobs and, for a while, even gave up writing. His best-known book is Life During Wartime, which was available in the SF Masterworks series. Let’s hope it gets a reprint soon from Gollancz.

[EDIT] There’s another tribute over at Boing Boing that links to a couple of eulogies from people who knew him.


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