The Taborin Scale
In the Carbonales Valley, a remote region separated from this world by “the thinnest margin of possibility,” there is an ancient, incredibly large creature known as the Dragon Griaule. For twenty-five years, in stories ranging from “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule” through “Liar’s House,” Lucius Shepard has brought us extraordinary accounts of lives shaped by the dragon’s undying influence. The Taborin Scale is the latest installment in this ongoing epic, and it is an astonishing — and revelatory — accomplishment.
The story begins when George Taborin — numismatist, collector, and solid citizen — travels to the valley on his annual vacation. There, he encounters a prostitute named Sylvia and acquires a tiny dragon’s scale with unexpected properties. With shocking suddenness, George is removed from his everyday life and thrust into a primal world of violence and cruelty. In the course of an adventure that will change his life in fundamental ways, he is forced to bear witness to the gradual unfolding of a vast, implacable design.
The Taborin Scale is Lucius Shepard at his absolute best. Bizarre, horrifying, and strangely beautiful, it is both a gripping, self-contained narrative and a pivotal moment in what might be the most singular fantasy of our time.
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.