The Best of Lucius Shepard, Vol. 2

Lucius Shepard. Subterranean, $50 (848p) ISBN 978-1-64524-035-8
The late Shepard’s versatility is on full display in this superior collection of 14 novellas and short stories. All share openings that instantly grab the reader; for example, “Crocodile Rock,” which features murders attributed to sorcerers able to transform into crocodiles in the Congo, begins, “You must not think of me as a reliable witness, as someone immune to bias and distortion.” The horrific slaughter in that story is leavened by dry humor—an apartment’s decor is described as “appropriate to the waiting room of a forward-thinking American dentist circa 1955”—and Shepard (1943–2014) grounds the supernatural elements in the reality of a country still recovering from the despotic rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. “Liar’s House” builds on the myth of the dragon Griaule, who features in much of Shepard’s work and whose paralyzed body now lies near a city inhabited by people who “embodied a debased extreme of the human condition.” Things take a sci-fi turn in “Ariel,” which offers a clever variation on the concept of parallel universes in its account of the repercussions of an invention used to “pluck objects from other dimensions.” The rich prose, nuanced human emotion, and inventive storytelling that exemplify Shepard’s best work shine throughout. This will wow fans and new readers alike. Agent: Matthew Bialer, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/28/2021
Release date: 12/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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