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Alan
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 07:21 pm:   

Lucius: I posted the following on Amazon (for Eternity and other Stories) and I wanted you to see an opion from someone who was definitely "there" (in light of the critique from someone who crictized you for not being "there"):


Only Partly Here is a special story for me. I was present one block from Ground Zero during the attack, at my office in a building just North of the Post Office. I saw people die that day and ran for my life like thousands of others (both, for the first and only time in my life), and felt that I had experienced war. The weeks afterwards were as unreal as any that can be lived. There was a bar across the street from my office that I believe Mr. Shepard must have visited because he captured it perfectly in the 'Blue Lady' -- its called Dakota's Roadhouse and is notable only for cheap drinks and a good jukebox, and it was a hangout for people from my agency for a time, and later for the pit workers. We moved to Maiden Lane while the pit was still burning, but we went back to Dakota's as soon as it reopened. We were steeped in the smell of our City still burning, and we had many occasions to visit the death-stalked "London during the blitz" landscape that was previously a big piece of our lives and our city.

I read Only Partly Here as soon as it was published in Asimov's and I cried. It captures perfectly the mood, the place and the time. It also captures perfectly the peculiar pain a man feels when trying desperately to connect with a woman who, even if living, is not truly present for other people. I never connected with my particular living ghost of Ground Zero, but I connected totally with Mr. Shepard's story. It is the finest piece of 9/11 literature I know, and one of the best short stories I've read, period. Thank you, thank you Mr. Shepard. (I would have been at Readercon to thank you in person, but my wife was having a baby at the time.)

Lucius: I would love to know if you really did visit Dakota's?

And by the way, because of Only Partly Here I read just about everything by you that I could find. I loved Floater and thought that it captured well the personalities and cadences of cops (I've worked with many), and Ariel (the world-destroying fight for a love that can never quite be, like a gambler's obsessive playing for the big payoff that can never come), Viator, Liar's House, and just about everything of yours. Thanks for all of them.

-Alan
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 08:12 pm:   

Wow. Thank __you__, Allen.

I was in Dakota's, yeah. I spent quite a few hours at the bar, listening and watching, not because I had a story in mind, but because I couldn't stop listening and watching, Once I looked into the pit I couldn't look again, yet I couldn't go too far away from it while I was in New York. Maybe you know the feeling. Being repelled, affrighted, yet being pulled toward the object of fear, and thus trapped in a kind of middle zone by those opposed forces. I hit a lot of bars in the area.

Anyway, glad you're thriving and congrats on the kid. Next time I'm at Readercon, maybe you'll have your priorities in order. ;)
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Alan
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 06:49 pm:   

Lucius:

Thanks for your response. Just so you know my priorities were not so out-of-order, we considered naming our son Shepard. It was down to Shepard and Sawyer, and Sawyer won out due to a vote by my Mom, who had not read your work (neither has my wife, but she liked the name).

I am looking forward to reading Softspoken. I recently re-read Ariel, and wanted to suggest you reprint it in a collection (perhaps I missed one?). I have read lots of your recent work, and I still think its one of the best. Your description there of why men become obsessed - if I recall it: because the obsession allows them to "inhabit a persona" that they desperately wish to be -- is exactly correct as well as perfectly depicted. I have been there, done that.

Thanks again.

- Alan
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 09:42 pm:   

Well, Alan, your mom must be a fan of Lost :-) Excellent choice. I hope you enjoy Softspoken. I think Ariel may be in a Best of... collection coming out next year, but only in the limited edition.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 08:47 am:   

Hola Alan,

If memory serves, the Best of Lucius Shepard is coming out from Subterranean next January or so and the limited edition includes a special trade paperback called either 'Skull City and Other Lost Tales' or 'Skull City and Other Lost Stories'. It contains the following [gratuitously lifted from the Subterranean Press website]:

Skull City and Other Lost Tales
(exclusive volume to the limited edition)

The Taylorsville Reconstruction
The Storming of Annie Kinsale
The Etheric Transmitter
The Fundamental Things
"...How My Heart Breaks When I Sing This Song"
Dancing It All Away at Nadoka
Voyage South from Thousand Willows
The Glassblower's Dragon
The Way It Sometimes Happens
Skull City


So 'Ariel' and other recent stories like 'Vacancy', 'The Emperor', and 'How Lonesome Heartbreak Changed His Life' remain uncollected for the time being.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Friday, October 05, 2007 - 08:15 am:   

Right you are, PM. I'd a copy of the e-book which vanished a few years ago when my then hard drive melted down.
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Huw
Posted on Friday, October 05, 2007 - 09:54 am:   

Where was 'Ariel' published? I've not read that one.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 05, 2007 - 10:10 am:   

Asimov's.
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Huw
Posted on Friday, October 05, 2007 - 10:19 am:   

Thanks, Lucius. I'll try to hunt down a copy.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 05, 2007 - 12:23 pm:   

Let me know if you can't find it--I hate the story myself.
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Alan
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 05:50 am:   

Ariel is in Asimov's Oct/Nov 2003 (double issue).

Lucius, how can you "hate" the story? Did you hate it when you wrote it, or just later? Was it formula churned out for the crass monetary goal of being published in Asimov's (since irony is often lost in email -- I know there is little monetary reward and they will publish pretty much whatever you write, I gather).

So what do you hate about "Ariel," or was that a typo?
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Huw
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 06:00 am:   

Thanks, Lucius and Alan, and sorry for the delay in replying - the power has only just been restored over here after being down all day thanks to typhoon Krosa. It's the worst typhoon we've had in years.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 07:41 am:   

I just don't think it's very good--I feel that way about a lot of my work.

No problem, HUW...
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Jean-Daniel Breque
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 02:51 am:   

Re "Ariel".
Don't know if I can get my point accross, what with having to write in English, and with a slight hangover to boot (sorry for our NZ friends, but we won! we won!), but here goes.
According to John Updike, the main faults of SF is that SF writers devote too much time and effort building their imaginary worlds, and their fiction fails short when it comes to eternal themes (the human heart in conflict with itself). Mainstream writers take the world for granted, they don't need to explain the workings of a car to get their story moving, so the human is at the forefront.
Lucius, what you do is take for granted the themes, the tropes and even the cliches of SF, which are now familiar to most people the world over, and use them as springboard to write about eternal themes. This is why you are a great writer, IMHO.
When I read "Ariel" for the first time, before I got to translate it, I thought "Mm, this is X-Files stuff"--and it's true, in the sense that Once Upon a Time in the West is "sagebrush stuff"--the background, the characters, are well-known. But the way you treat them makes the result great literature. "Ariel" is a story about love, desire, self-image, the war of the sexes... lotsa stuff.
And the tropes of SF are indispensible to its telling.
Excedrin, anyone?
Jean-Daniel
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 07:09 am:   

Ok, JD, I'll take your word for it. :-)

It's too early for me to marshall a good argument.
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Alan
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 05:59 pm:   

I very much agree with Jean-Daniel on Ariel. Lucius, I think you are wrong about that story, but to each his own.

You didn't mention as one of your favorites, Eternity and Afterwards, which I just read and very much liked, a lot more than Crocodile rock or A walk in the garden. I did like Trujillo though. And I will give another try to some of the others you mentioned, which for some reason didn't draw me in when I started them (Prayer, Jailwise).

Oldies but goodies: To my taste, still one of your best that I've read is Barnacle Bill the Spacer, and the one about the aliens on the beach which name escapes me right now. Maybe I am just a science fiction kind of guy.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 07:06 pm:   

hey, Allen, I'm just glad you liked any of them! :-)
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PM
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 07:22 pm:   

Handbook of American Prayer changed my life forever. ---Sharon Stone

I rather liked it too.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 07:44 pm:   

What Sharon Stone says goes...
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PM
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 08:37 pm:   

she IS a leading authority...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 08:40 pm:   

THE authority....
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PM
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 08:44 pm:   

Are we going to agree on something for once :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 09:00 pm:   

Is this the solstice?
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PM
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 10:27 pm:   

Guess I should check.

Good thing I'm not a witch.

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