In Memoriam: Lucius Shepard

Posted by KathrynBaker

Lucius Shepard (b.1943) died on March 18. Shepard began publishing in 1983 and his first novel, Green Eyes, appeared the following year. He won the Campbell Award for new author in 1985, a Nebula Award for his story “R&R,” a Hugo for “Barnacle Bill the Spacer,” and the World Fantasy Award twice, both times for collections.  Shepard’s second novel, Life During Wartime, incorporated the earlier “R&R” and was followed by several novellas, including The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter and Kalimantan.

His publications slowed down in the 1990s, but beginning with the novella Valentine in 2002, he began publishing with greater frequency.  Shepard’s early story, “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule” set up an exotic setting which Shepard returned to several times, eventually releasing the collection of related stories, The Dragon Griaule.

He returns to the setting in the forthcoming Beautiful Blood, now posthumous work.  While many authors write science fiction and fantasy set in a gleaming future or a fairy tale past, Shepard’s writing embraced squalor and third-world settings, particularly those models after South-East Asia (where he served during the Vietnam War) and Central America, we he lived for many years. In addition to his fiction, Shepard also contributed a film review column to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

SFWA President Steven Gould said, “In my disreputable past I wrote reviews for Kirkus and it was my honor to cover his World Fantasy Award winning collection THE ENDS OF THE EARTH in 1991. He was a great writer.”

2 Responses

  1. Liz Jazoblinski

    I knew Lucius in the 1990s and I don’t believe he was a Vietnam vet. He did talk about having been a freelance journalist in Vietnam – spending a year there at the age of 21, then returning later for a month. He described traveling overland on his own nickel to reach Vietnam and said he was very lucky to get accreditation as a journalist, especially as he wrote for a small liberal magazine.

    He also talked about reporting from the war zone in El Salvador, and I believe he wrote for the Detroit Free Press. It would be fantastic if someone could track down his articles and reprint them. I’m sure there would be an appreciative audience for his unique perspective and insights on 20th century conflict.

  2. Bill Speare

    I first became aware of Lucius Shepard at 15 years old when I bought a copy of the years best fantasy 1987 edited by Ellen Datlow. He had three selections that year; two poems and one story. So it was “White Trains” that introduced us. Then “Pictures Made of Stones”. Then Delta Sly Honey. After that I went out looking for everything else I could find. It started a 17 year run of some of the greatest fiction I’ve ever been blessed to have discovered. Lucius had a way of understanding the human soul that I believe is unparalled by many of his contempories. Whenever I picked up a story at any random time, it seemed he was speaking to a situation that directly affected me right at the moment. The dude was downright uncanny. But not only that. He was funny, insightful, poetic and just a gift to all of us. I’m really going to miss you, man. I wish I could of met you and just said thanks for the ride. Just one of the greatest writers that America has ever produced. So, thanks for the ride.