Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

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Mecron
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Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Mecron » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:09 pm

A great writer passed away last night and the world is a lesser place for it. Most of you won't know him because he didn't write stories about pretty lil boys who save the world through video games or other pretty boys who go to school for wizards but that is a shame. To read Lucius' work is to be challenged...made uncomfortable...and to be forced to look upon painful beauty. His characters were not pretty...they were not trendy...they were not very photogenic...but they were real. And that means an awful lot.

He was the second toughest man I have ever known and certainly the roughest. He could laugh like a lil boy watching MST3K and then growl, quite seriously, that he had seen a man stabbed in the chest for dealing cards like the way you were doing right now. He took the time every few years to teach young writers at the Clarion West Workshop and that was where I met him. He made a massive difference in my writing and he mentored me long after the course was over. He was deathly loyal to any student he taught and he only had one agenda...to make us better writers no matter what it took.

I had the honor of knowing, listening and learning from him for years.

Goodbye, you old bastard. Thank you.




(a much better and frank eulogy from one of his oldest friends and one who Lucius never tired of jokingly referring to as "Swandick". Yes, Lucius was that kinda guy ;)

http://floggingbabel.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/lucius.html

)

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Re: Lucius Sheperd (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:26 am

Ed Morris Interviews Lucius Shepard - a re-posted interview, with euology at the beginning.

Bizarro Central - Lucius Shepard Interview
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:32 am

Image
Lucius Shepard and Jack Dann clowning around in Monterey, California. 1998.

Jack Dann wrote:Forgive me, pals, but I can't help walking down the proverbial memory lane. So I'm two sails to the wind (not three, mind you); and I'm sitting on the floor at a convention party with Lucius and Stan Robinson. (I can't remember when; I would estimate sometime in the Pleistocene.)

I've taken my shoes off. Lucius, beside me, asks, "Jack, can I pour beer in your shoe?"

"No, Lucius, you can't pour beer in my shoes."

Alas, for the life of me, I can't remember whether he poured his beer in my shoes or not...


Jann Dann wrote: I'll have to look for old photos of Lucius. And, ah, stories. So many. I used to call him Lulu, and whenever I'd get down in the mouth, I'd call him and ask him to sing the "Teddybear's Picnic" song. Always cheered me up. He used to work late, and I'd get calls in the middle of the night asking how to spell this word or that. (I had always intended to buy him a dictionary.) And he'd call to read me what he'd just written. If I said, That's not bad, Lulu," it meant "You're writing like an angel, you incandescent genius bastard!" He _was_ a genius, had an eidetic memory, and that beautiful prose just poured out of him like gold from a smelter.
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:41 am

Leslie Howle:

Today's quote is from Lucius Shepard. I can't believe his voice has fallen silent. He was an astute, compassionate observer of humanity. His humor could be caustic though and he never stepped back from telling it like it is.

"When the tragedies of others become for us diversions, sad stories with which to enthrall our friends, interesting bits of data to toss out at cocktail parties, a means of presenting a pose of political concern, or whatever…when this happens we commit the gravest of sins, condemn ourselves to ignominy, and consign the world to a dangerous course. We begin to justify our casual overview of pain and suffering by portraying ourselves as do-gooders incapacitated by the inexorable forces of poverty, famine, and war. “What can I do?” we say, “I’m only one person, and these things are beyond my control. I care about the world’s trouble, but there are no solutions.” Yet no matter how accurate this assessment, most of us are relying on it to be true, using it to mask our indulgence, our deep-seated lack of concern, our pathological self-involvement."
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:42 am

Liz Hand:

"I woke to the terribly sad news that Lucius Shepard has died. Lucius was a wonderful friend and a brilliant writer, the first novelist I ever met — the first "real" writer — and larger than life in every sense. His talent, his presence, his generosity to other writers and readers are all legendary, as were many of his exploits. He had the voice and bearing of a noir hero — no bullshit, and you always knew he had your back. It's a crime against literature that his work isn't more widely known. If there's an afterlife, he's at the bar with the greats. Farewell, dear friend."
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:46 am

Bradley Denton:

"Early one morning in 1987, when Barb and I were living in rural Kansas, our phone rang. We never had early-morning phone calls, so I was expecting a wrong number. But when I picked up, a distant yet robust voice on the line said, "Hey, this is Lucius Shepard. I'm on Kodiak Island. You know, Alaska."

Which had been nowhere on the list of things I had imagined I might hear.

It turned out that a book I had sent to Lucius at his NY address some months before had finally caught up to him, and he was calling to say thanks. That phone call would be one of only two or three conversations I would ever have with him -- but of all the conversations I've ever had with anyone, it's in my top five, just for the sheer memorable surprise of it. To this day, it's the only call I've ever received from Kodiak Island . . . and after we said goodbye, I glanced at the clock and realized that where Lucius was, it was 3:30 AM.

I did not know Lucius Shepard well, on a personal level. But he was one of my favorite authors, and I have tremendous admiration and awe for his work. If he had written nothing more than LIFE DURING WARTIME, that would be enough to cement his reputation as one of our greatest. But of course he did so much more -- as a fantasist, as a science-fiction author, as a WRITER.

I remember Algis Budrys saying at a convention, sometime in the mid-1980s, that he was encouraged and excited by the appearance of a writer like Lucius Shepard in our field -- because Lucius, unlike many of us, had actually experienced the real, wider world. Lucius had actually been to the places he wrote about.

I think that was part of it. But mainly, I think Lucius Shepard's greatness was the result of massive talent coupled with fierce passion. I remember reading his first stories and realizing that this guy had appeared fully formed, at the very top of his game, right out of the gate. While most of us stumble and lurch as we struggle to find our true voices, voices worth hearing -- Lucius knew exactly what he was saying, and how to say it, from the raw beginning of his career.

No, I didn't know Lucius Shepard well. But I knew his stories. And I hate like hell that there won't be any more.

I do have one more real-life memory of Lucius that I'll share. At some convention way back when, I encountered him in a hotel hallway . . . and he was singing, in a perfect booming rock-and-roll baritone, with joyous abandon. He was singing the Coasters:


I saw her standin' on the corner
A yellow ribbon in her hair
I couldn't stop myself from shoutin'
Look-a there! Look-a there! Look-a there! Look-a there!

Young Blood! Young Blood! Young Blood!
I can't get you outta my mind!



I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't believe in an afterlife . . . but at a time like this, I can't help but hope that there really is a Rock'n'Roll Heaven. There'll be at least one writer there today."
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:51 am

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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:55 am

Samuel R. Delaney:

"The last time I saw Lucius Shephard, we were sitting together at a table in the plaza of the Don Manuel Hotel at the 2006 Semana negra fiesta in Gijon, Spain. On the northern coast that faces the Cantabaric Sea, through the weeks of the Fiesta on the main street to the fairground--which features writers and signings and books from all over Europe, and, indeed, the world, rather than rides--you can buy octopus and beer and shrimps and cider and I don't know-what-all. The "Black Week Festival" is a celebration of crime fiction and, that year, of genre fiction in general, which Mexican (by choice) writer Paco Taibo II produces annually in the Spanish town of his his birth.

That afternoon in Gijon, we drank Asturian green apple brandy together, under the leaves, laughed and talked about wonderful nonsense with Peter and Susan Straub and film-maker Fred Barney-Taylor, as others wandered through, joined the conversation for a minute or an hour, then left; in 2008 Lucius moved to Neuchatel, Switzerland; and today the news reaches me that, at age sixty-six, Lucius died on March 18th.

I have taught his short story "Salvador" and his novella "R&R." Both are extraordinary. A fine writer is dead. I am honored to have known him, even as briefly as I did.

Good-night, Lucius."
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:59 am

Larry McKinnon

Image

"Through Facebook, I learned this morning of the passing of my good friend, Lucius Shepard. Lucius was the lyricist and front man for Sojourner Wolf's Cathouse Band, my first actual band. He accepted me as a percussionist, even though I had no idea whet I was doing. My hands were more like clubs on the congas, but I think he saw my passion for playing music. He brought me into this world that I love, and provided me with many hours of enjoyment through his writings until this very day.

Lucius was the one who “made it”. I spent many hours with him from the mid seventies through the early eighties just talking. We'd cruise the streets of Ann Arbor during the CB craze, and he would mutter into his pocket recorder taking notes. I wasn't aware that he was writing his first short stories, and his first novel, Green Eyes. Soon after, he left Ann Arbor, was published in Playboy, and released Green Eyes. He went on to become a Hugo winning Sci-Fi writer for his short stories, and released Life During Wartime, which received international acclaim.

Through all of his success, we remained friends, and kept in contact (although that contact was interrupted for quite a few years). Thanks to Facebook, we were able to communicate until the end.

Although the miles separated us, I will miss him dearly. He provided the encouragement and inspiration that began my musical career, and I could never thank him enough.

Rest in Peace, Lucius Shepard. Thank you for your contributions to a more artistic and peaceful world.

Lucius Shepard period rocker."
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:05 am

Interview with Lucius Shepard in Clarkesworld Magazine.

You've written a lot if fiction concerning modern armed conflict, much of it based on the tragic military affairs in Central and South America, including US involvement. However, you also wrote one of the most graphic and gripping Vietnam stories I've read, "Delta Sly Honey." What was the genesis of this story and do you know how it was received from any veterans who read it? Indeed, what reaction has there been in the US and South America to your war fiction?

Back in the day, I was sitting around baked and listening to this Mexican guy calling out over the radio, trying to get in touch with a platoon, and I misheard his call. I thought he said "Sugar Pie Honey," you know, like the old Four Tops song, "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch." And it got me thinking about call signs, wondering why there wasn't more creativity shown in coming up with them, why they couldn't make up something better than Alpha Tango Bravo and like that. So I made up a few: Lobo Angel Silver, Delta Sly Honey, and so forth. Thereafter, whenever I heard "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" I used to sing along with it in my head, saying Delta Sly Honey instead of Sugar Pie Honey. Years later sitting in a Greenwich Village bar near the corner of Charles and Hudson, waiting to meet my girlfriend, I started thinking about those call signs again, and it struck me that a ghost patrol with a weird call sign could work in a story. A few weeks later I sat down and wrote the first line.

In that story I was trying to capture a little something of how eerie it is to be sitting around in the midst of a war, with people dying just over the hill, the various dementias that come to the fore, the subtle violence with which men and women torment one another when they themselves are under tremendous strain. As to reactions to this and other of my war stories, I've received generally favourable reaction from vets—no one's expressed any strong dissatisfaction, though I've had occasional quibbles with minor points.
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Ludovsky » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:53 am

I read all of you folks are writing about him... and now I feel bad that I never knew of the man :(

I will try to hunt down some of his books, because it seemed like they truly were a great person.

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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Erinys » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:32 am

Don't feel bad, Ludovsky. Lucius did not want to be famous. He wanted to be great, which is something entirely different. ;)

He was an amazing man in many respects, and one of the great prose stylists of his generation. He wrote beautifully in any genre, and science fiction, fantasy and horror were lucky to have him once in a while.

I was his copyeditor on The Golden, his one foray into vampire fiction--essentially a murder mystery in which all the major characters are vampires. For anyone who is a very serious reader of science fiction--and by "serious", I mean a reader who can do the heavy lifting, and can also handle serious mainstream literature like Hemingway, Marquez, Borges etc.--I would recommend a great many of his works.

Green Eyes, his take on a "zombie" novel.
Life During Wartime, near future military SF.
Kalimantan, a magical realist/SF homage to Joseph Conrad.
The Jaguar Hunter, a fantastic multi-genre short story collection.
Beast of the Heartland, another fantastic multi-genre short story collection.

Most recently I also picked up A Handbook of American Prayer, which is best described as magic realism. It's fantasy, but it has a very believable modern setting and characters, like a lot of his work. He published it with a press that prints books for charity, so that he would not have to accept any money for sales or readership. After reading it, I could see why. I think he didn't want to inherit the karma of cashing a paycheck associated with the book and its subject matter.

He was a gigantic talent and could often be larger-than-life in person, in many ways. He spent countless days and hours at my various homes in Seattle and Vancouver when my two daughters were children, playing baseball video games on the PC, smoking, talking, telling jokes and stories. I remember most of them, particularly the ones that were horrific or funny.

I had already lost touch with him for many years when he passed. But I am sad nonetheless.

--Arinn
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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by Resok » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:55 am

Sorry for your loss. Sounds like he was a great man who left behind a great legacy.
- Resok

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Re: Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Post by TrashMan » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:23 pm

Ludovsky wrote:I read all of you folks are writing about him... and now I feel bad that I never knew of the man :(

I will try to hunt down some of his books, because it seemed like they truly were a great person.


Ditto.

It's is a truly a tragedy of life that many great people, who deserve to be emulated and known, deserve to be set as examples, that these people remain in the shadows, overshadowed by so many "lesser" but more marketable people.
That great works of art and entertainment remain unknown, never reaching people trough the smoke and noise of the world and marketing.

Truly, there are too many books, moves, series and games that deserve to be seen, read, played, that if one had a lifetime of free time to do it, it wouldn't be enough.
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