Vacancy and Ariel
Cover art by J. K. Potter.
For many of us, the Ace Double Novels of the '50s and '60s have long been a source both of pleasure and nostalgia. This new double volume from Subterranean Press stands squarely in that distinguished tradition, offering a pair of colorful, fast-paced novellas from one of the finest writers currently working in any genre: Lucius Shepard.
InVacancy, a washed-up actor, a mysterious motel, and a Malaysian "woman of power" form the central elements in a riveting account of a rootless man forced to confront the impossible – but very real – demons of his past. This is Shepard at his harrowing, hallucinatory best.
Ariel brilliantly transmutes some traditional SF concepts – alien incursions, the mysteries of quantum physics – into an astonishing, often moving reflection on love and obsession, memory and identity, and the archetypal conflict that stands at the heart of an infinite multitude of worlds.
Lucius Shepard (1947–2014) 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.
Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to escape, eventually succeeding at the age of fifteen, when 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 in numerous other countries at numerous other occupations. On returning to the United States, Shepard entered the University of North Carolina, where for one semester he served as the co-editor of the Carolina Quarterly. Either he did not feel challenged by the curriculum, or else he found other pursuits more challenging. Whichever the case, he dropped out several times and traveled to Spain, Southeast Asia (at a time when tourism there was generally discouraged), and South and Central America. He ended his academic career as a tenth-semester sophomore with a heightened political sensibility, a fairly extensive knowledge of Latin American culture and some pleasant memories.