Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Shepard, Lucius

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(1943-2014) US writer whose professional career began in the 1980s, but under whose name four stories and four articles were published 1952-1955 in Collins Magazine (variously retitled Collins, the Magazine to Grow Up With and Collins Young Elizabethan), the first short story being the remarkably competent "Camp Greenville" (1953); in conversation with John Clute, LS (who, based on his claimed birth year of 1947, would have been 6 in 1953) indicated that a family member had attached his name to these items; however, the 1943 birth year has since been confirmed by US public records. LS's first acknowledged work is a poem, Cantata of Death, Weakmind & Generation (1967 chap); his first adult prose of interest is the text to James Wolf's Moon Flying (portfolio 1978). He began to publish stories of genre interest with "The Taylorsville Reconstruction" for Universe 13 (anth 1983) ed Terry Carr.

LS's work is mostly sf, Horror or Supernatural Fiction, often focusing on psychic or literal Possession. Straightforward fantasy is comparatively rare, the most striking example being the Dragon Griaule sequence – "The Man who Painted the Dragon Griaule" (1984 F&SF), The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter (1988) and The Father of Stones (dated 1988 but 1989) – set in an Alternate World "separated from this one by the thinnest margin of possibility" where Dragons exist. The Dragon Griaule – 750ft high and 6000ft long – dominates a huge valley and its human inhabitants; though he has been trapped through a Wizard's spell for millennia in immobile Bondage, his hypnotic presence – "the cold tonnage of his brain" – seems to operate on those within or around him as a kind of psychic resonator, a form of tacit daemonic enthralment which intensifies the nature (and the limitations) of human experience. The scalehunter's daughter, escaping an attempted rape, enters Griaule's innards, where she finds a kind of Wonderland social order, which transforms her. The painter in the first story, which is set later (and is Magic Realism), undertakes a commission to paint Griaule to death through the chemicals contained in the paints which are transfiguring the dragon into high art; but the painter himself, a Knight of the Doleful Countenance, dies this side of any transcendence. Other stories of interest are assembled in The Jaguar Hunter (coll 1987; 1 story cut and 3 added 1988 UK; cut 1989 US), which won a World Fantasy Award, Nantucket Slayrides (coll 1989), with one of the three stories by Robert Frazier (1951-    ), The Ends of the Earth (coll 1991), which also won a World Fantasy Award, and Sports & Music (coll 1994 chap).

Much of LS's work is set either in a Land-of-Fable South America or literally there. His protagonists are often Obsessed Seekers, as are those of the author he most often seems indebted to, Joseph Conrad. Kallimantan (1990 UK) evokes a specifically Conradian heart of darkness in describing the hegira through Borneo of a man obsessed with the native world and translated through a Portal into bleached transcendence. Both LS and Conrad are married to the geographical Water Margins of the world, and both construct narratives in which obsession and Belatedness come together in laments for unattainable understanding, and for moral closure which is rarely gained.

LS's other works are of indirect fantasy interest. His first novel, Green Eyes (1984), combines the scientific creation of Zombies with a Dark-Fantasy climax in the Louisiana bayous near New Orleans. Life During Wartime (fixup 1987) is also sf, a near-future tale involving drugs and altered Perceptions set in a Vietnam-like Latin America; the first section is based on "R & R" (1986), which won a Nebula Award. The Golden (1993), which won a Locus Award, portrays a complex, Realpolitik-ridden society of Vampires; much of the book is set in a vast Edifice whose interstices (and Library) are evocative of the work of Jorge Luis Borges. The Last Time (1995 chap) is horror. [JC]

Lucius Taylor Shepard


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.