Tomorrow on Monday, August 21, 2017 – the earth will experience a much-anticipated event.
Once again, the now-annual-and-global bacchanal of events that surround the celebration of the birthday of the late science-fiction writer, Lucius Shepard, will be in force.
Before his passing in 2014 at the age of 70, Shepard left behind an estimable bibliography of novels, short stories, novellas, and non-fiction works. Many of his earlier works were set in Central America. Shepard used leitmotifs ranging from the hunt for a sacred beast (“The Jaguar Hunter”), a war between American and Soviet psionic soldiers (1987’s Life During Wartime), and Green Eyes (1984), a novel that preceded the current Zombie craze by 30 years albeit a story which looked at the undead’s mindset rather than appetites.
Shepard won several awards during his lifetime, including the 1985 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The following year, the then 33-year-old Shepard garnered the Nebula Award for his story, “R&R.” Shepard and his writing permeated the vanguard of the sci-fi scene of fellow writers such as Rudy Rucker, Bruce Sterling, and William Gibson. However, while his then-peers aligned themselves with the humanist-hued, cyberpunk sensibilities, Shepard seemed more enthralled with the inherent technologies of the human heart and emotions.
Although Shepard dealt in “big” subject matter, his writing style was never verbose; a far cry from the accepted space opera-style of authors like John Brunner or even sci-fi legend and admitted claustrophile, Isaac Asimov. Shepard’s tight, rhythmic prose and convincing use of dialogue, combined with semi-baffling themes and a sense of social activism, all born from the familiar sci-fi constructs, made him more akin to noir writers like Jim Thompson or James M. Cain, even the blue-collar grit of a Nelson Algren or John Dos Passos; a kind of fantanoirist.
Radiating through alt-pop culture in myriad ways, Shepard and his novel Green Eyes were both given a shout out in the liner notes of Sonic Youth’s 1987 album, Sister.
In his later years, Shepard aimed his muse towards more fantasy tinged novels, with books like 2010’s The Taborin Scale and Beautiful Blood: A Novel of the Dragon Griaule (2014) finding a place on the bookshelves readers of the burgeoning magical realism movement. Arguably, every fan of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead – two genre series reconfiguring their respective source materials – are enjoying some ember of Shepard’s countercultural-tinged influence on what could be called Americana Fantasy and SF.
By the end of his life, Shepard had focused much of his literary attention toward non-fiction topics, including both American freight trains and cinema; the former which he adored, latter he loathed.
Curious readers are encouraged to actually begin reading Shepard’s books from the middle, working their way to both his earliest and later works at the same time.
In addition to the Shepard events, tomorrow planet Earth will experience a solar eclipse.
For roughly seven and a half minutes, the moon will essentially cock block the sun and earth, squeezing between them to create what we now know to be a full solar eclipse.
Failure to wear protective eyewear during the eclipse can lead to permanent retinal damage.
“If you deny mystery-even in the guise of death-then you deny life, and you will walk like a ghost through your days, never knowing the secrets of the extremes. The deep sorrows, the absolute joys.”
— Lucius Shepard
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, the truth, and strong math skills.”
— The Buddha