The Best of Lucius Shepard, Volume Two
Dust jacket illustration by Armando Veve. Edited by Bill Sheehan.
When Lucius Shepard passed away in 2014, he left behind a body of work unparalleled in its richness, power, and sheer originality. In 2008, Subterranean Press published The Best of Lucius Shepard, which served as a massive monument to an extraordinary career. Over time, this monument has proved insufficient, so we now have this even more massive second volume. It is a gift that Shepard’s many devoted readers will take to their hearts. Weighing in at more than 300,000 words, spread across nearly 850 pages, this magisterial book brings together fourteen stories and novellas, three of which (“Aztechs,” “The Last Time,” and “Ariel”) have never been previously collected. Each of them, without exception, is worth returning to over and over again.
Lucius Shepard’s life and work took him, quite literally, to the ends of the earth, and this masterful collection reflects his restless, peripatetic nature. The volume opens with “A Traveler’s Tale,” an account of the horrors that attend the creation of a small community of outcasts on the coast of Honduras. It ends with “Dog-Eared Paperback of My Life,” a surreal account of a Conradian journey up the Mekong River, a journey that moves through multiple interpenetrating realities. In between these bookended moments, Shepard introduces us to an astonishing array of people, places, and dramatic, often horrific situations.
The Hugo Award-winning novella “Barnacle Bill the Spacer” is a powerfully written account of mutiny in deep space. “Jailbait” recounts the relationship between two lost souls adrift in the world of the hobo jungles. In “Ariel,” alien incursions and quantum physics merge in a tale of love, memory, and obsession. “Human History” posits a remote, low-tech future in which the human race is subordinate to the all-powerful Captains. “Crocodile Rock” is a tale of murder and impossible transformations set in a vividly evoked Africa. And in “Liar’s House,” Shepard adds a fascinating chapter to what may be his most iconic creation: the world of the Dragon Griaule.
Like its predecessor, The Best of Lucius Shepard, Volume Two is, quite simply, an essential book.
Note! The limited edition is supplemented by an extraordinary bonus hardcover, Youthful Folly and Other Lost Stories, which contains an additional 400 pages of previously uncollected fiction. The result is a major addition to Shepard’s literary legacy, and a fitting memorial to a profoundly gifted writer who died much too soon.
- A Traveler’s Tale
- Barnacle Bill the Spacer
- The Last Time
- Human History
- Crocodile Rock
- The Drive-In Puerto Rico
- A Walk in the Garden
- Liar’s House
- Dagger Key
- Dog-Eared Paperback of My Life
Youthful Folly and Other Lost Stories
(Bonus hardcover to accompany the limited edition only)
- Youthful Folly
- Ziesing Family
- Pizza Man
- Romance of the Century
- The Sparring Partner
- How Lonesome Hearbreak Changed His Life
- Nine Electric Flowers
- The ‘Velt
- Kirikh’Quru Krokundor
- Sylgarmo’s Proclamation
- Dream Burgers at the Mouth of Hell
- The Company He Keeps
- Slice of Life
- The Skinny Girl
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.