Floaterby Lucius Shepard
Introduction by Jeffrey Ford. Cover art by Edward Miller.
Detective William Dempsey of the New York Police Department is having a bad time of it. Having endured – along with his brothers in blue, Manny Pinero and Evan Haley – a months-long homicide trial for the inadvertant (or was it?) shooting of Haitian immigrant, Israel Lara, he's been abandoned by his fiancee, deemed unfit for duty, and is sinking into an oblivion of vodka and pills. Then there's that little problem with his eye.
A floater, his optometrist says. Nothing to worry about. Microscopic bits of protein adrift in the humor that cast shadows on the retina. But Dempsey's worried. For one thing, instead of dispersing, the floater continues to grow, occluding his vision and causing disturbing hallucinations. For another, his partner, Pinero, is behaving strangely and there's the suggestion that the floater may not be a harmless opthamological incident but an emblem that signals a peculiar form of vengeance and the imminence of a voodoo god. As he tries to determine what is happening, Dempsey's investigation leads him from rave culture to santeria ceremonies in storefront temples and, ultimately, to a circumstance that may have cosmic implications and a truth that lies hidden in the deepest sub-basements of his own mind.
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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.