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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 07:15 pm:   

A little autobiographical note: I starting reading Lucius Shepard thanks to Michael Swanwick’s essay “A User’s Guide to the Postmoderns” (I added a lot of authors to my must read list on account of that essay: Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, Lewis Shiner, Bruce Sterling Connie Willis and Swanwick himself for that matter). As I normally do, if I find an author I like, I go back to the library stacks and try to read everything that they have published. So during the Summer of 1986, along with “Green Eyes”, “R&R”, “Salvador” I read:

The Etheric Transmitter
The Taylorsville Reconstruction
Reaper
The Storming of Annie Kinsdale
"...How My Heart Breaks When I Sing This Song..."
The Fundamental Things
Dancing It All Away at Nadoka

Seventeen years later, the only one I remember with any clarity is “The Fundamental Things.” That yarn (and yarn it is) is atypical of Mr Shepard’s output – a light comic adventure in the Barry B. Longyear or Somtow Sucharitkul mode – the sort of fluff that filled the pages of ASIMOVS back when George H. Scithers was the editor.
I am certain there are good and sound reasons why Mr Shepard has decided to exclude this and the other six stories from his collections. If he has any desire to comment, I would be very interested.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 08:08 pm:   

Actually, Mark, there are a bunch of other stories that have been "supressed"-- stuff like "The Glassblower's Dragon," "Skull City," "Sparring Partner," "Pizza Boy," and a bunch more I can't recall offhand. The ones you've mentioned are not collected because I don't like 'em...No, wait. It's worse than that. They suck. The only reason I wrote "The Findamental Things:" was everyone kept telling me I was always writing such heavy shit, you should try lightening it up, you could write a cool funny story -- then they all hated it.

Of the ones you mention, I think "Taylorsville" and "Transmitter" have some small merit, but I still hate 'em.

Anyway, nothing complex at the heart of it.

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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 09:50 pm:   

This might only demonstrate my lack of critical judgement, but I have never hated, or thought to myself "this sucks", anything you've published.

Then again it's true after all these years that I still *remember* "Mengele" and "The End of Life as We Know It", and I am drawing a complete blank with "Dancing It All Away at Nadoka" or "Skull City" - all I can say is that I read them.

I did enjoy those Playboy crime stories for the entertainments that they were. But I think "Glassblower's Dragon" is worthy of rescue from the ash heap of history. Then again, you are the boss.



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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 10:54 pm:   

I have no idea, Mark. Some people have told me that "Skull City: is ther favorite novella of mine. I detested it. "Nadoka" was a story I blew. It could be have been good, but I wrote it too fast. The others you mentioned, I don't want to think about.

Thanks for the good words.
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paulw
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 06:33 am:   

We all know of your artistic admiration for the work of Somtow, Lucius...
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:14 am:   

Er...Paul, of course you're right. I can't tell you how many critical reviews I have begun with words such as, "Not since 'Mallworld"...but I don't get the reference. Maybe I'm slow this morning.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:49 am:   

This morning?
Just kidding!
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:52 am:   

Go swab a deck, Bob! :-)
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Deborah
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 11:46 am:   

Bob just needs his spinach (or do they use Sprite now?), Lucius. Go easy on him!
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 12:22 pm:   

I used an emoticon, Deborah. That's going easy. The boy IS a sprite, swabbie-style....

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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 04:45 pm:   

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Am I correct in assuming that "The Last Time" is another "suppressed" story, since much of the plot was reworked into "Valentine"?

And I was telling the truth when I said I try to read everything by an author that I like: I have both "The Same Old Story" and "Cantata of death, weakmind & generation" in my to be read pile.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 04:53 pm:   

Naw, Mark. The Last Time is okay...I don't really see the connection between it in Valentine, just different girlfriends. :-) I haven't found a collection it fits yet.

I'd skip the poem, man. Dump that sucker. That's just an acciddnt.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 10:06 pm:   

I'll jump in and defend "The Last Time" since I published it in Little Deaths I think it's a terrific story <g>. And completely different from Valentine--just about failing/failed relationships--that's the only connection I can see.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 10:30 pm:   

Yeah, I thought "Last Time" was okay -- and fun for me, too. :-)
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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:48 am:   

Ms Datlow, I'm not attacking "The Last Time" - that story was a heartbreaker. Then again so is "Valentine", even more so.

I read “Valentine” within a month after I finally located a copy of the British edition of “Little Deaths”. I noticed that both shared the same setup: an erotic and unhappy love story between the narrator and a woman who cannot leave her hideous husband.

I assumed (sorry) that “Valentine” was a reconsideration of these characters, removing the grisly horror elements from “The Last Time”, and placing them in a magic realist Florida.
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anonymous author
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:32 am:   

What can I say -- life is a cabaret
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 09:46 am:   

Mark,I didn't mean to jump on you--it was your assumption that it was one of the "suppressed" stories that prompted my response ;-)
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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 12:13 pm:   

It is your prerogative Ms Datlow, since Michael Swanwick has written more stories featuring you as a character than he has of me.

And anyway, I started this topic not as a troll to play "gotcha" with Mr Shepard, but to gain an understanding how he views his own work.

So is there as "All the Lies that Are My Life" type scenario in store with your papers?
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Mark,

I take it the last question may be addressed to me....

Let's just say, it's been weird. Kinda like GROUNDHOG DAY.....

:-)
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 05:21 pm:   

Mark,
Please call me "Ellen." I didn't take you as a troll and neither did Lucius.


Michael has? What stories of Michael S's have I been a character in???? Have I missed something ? Uh oh.....
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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 06:33 pm:   

Thank you Ellen - I understood the viewpoint character of "Microcosmic Dog" to be a (affectionate) potrait of you: New York City resident Ellen Gillespie. It has been collected in "Tales of Old Earth" if you want to check it out.

BTW, Lucius did an unintentional (I think) portait of my late grandmother Julia Stackpole in "How the Wind Spoke at Madaket." The character had the same name, appearence, speech patterns, and even lived the same region of New England where the action took place.

I know -- "Any resemblance to persons living or dead is ...."
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 06:44 pm:   

Mark, I suspect you're talking about Sconset Sally in "Madaket." She was based on a woman named Madaket Millie. No Julias involved as far as I know. There could a hundred stories about Millie -- she was a trip, for sure.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:06 pm:   

Mark,
Oh yeah. I remember he admitted it once he got me to read the story <g>
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 03:05 pm:   

Ellen,

You're in most of my stories, but usually disguised as an inanimate object who likes to shop. :-)

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Mark Stackpole
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 06:52 pm:   

Actually there is a "Julia Stackpole" in "Madaket" - she is just a walk-on and I think she is killed off within two pages, but your sketch of her is a splitting image. I'm am sure it just chance - unless the children's librarian at the Milton, Mass Public Library really pissed you off in the early 1980s.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 07:05 pm:   

Wow, I can't recall JS, but no, it was probably just a Nantucket name I copped.

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M. Bishop
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 05:16 am:   

"The Glassblower's Dragon" doesn't suck, Lucius. I read it a long time ago, but it struck me as both clever and poignant (a combination that you don't always get), and it had the added virtue of being, unlike some of your work from the same period, damned succinct. In any event, I think you're being too harsh on that one.

Yours, Mike
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 05:55 am:   

Hey, Mike....

I don't think I said "Glassblower's" sucked, I just added it to Mark's list of suppressed stories. Truthfully, I barely remember it, but I'll take your (gracious) word that it don't totally anyway.

Unsuccinct...moi?

It only takes me 7, 8000 words to clear my throat these days..... :-)

Lucius
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Mike
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 12:19 pm:   

In any case, I think you could put "Glassblower's Dragon" into a Lucius Shepard collection with real pride. I thought of it, when I read it, as a small gem, unflawed. Honest.

Mike
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 12:31 pm:   

Thanks, Mike. I guess I'll have to hunt up a copy before a next collection.

'preciate it...
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Andrew J. Breitenbach
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 02:52 pm:   

Then of course there's "Voyage South from Thousand Willows", in my opinion the only reason to own Carr's Universe 16. And yet it has never -- to my knowledge -- been reprinted....

One for the "supressed" list?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:10 pm:   

Wow, Andrew, I forgot all about that little bugger. I'll have to hunt up a copy.

Thanks.
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markred
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   

Second that about "Voyage South from Thousand Willows." This one was way ahead of the rest of your so-called suppressed stories, almost representing on its own a path of development not thereafter taken in the Shepard oeuvre. Maybe to its detriment and that of the SF genre as a whole.

Regarding "Glassblower's Dragon," Michael Bishop is sort of right. It may be a special case. As you've written, many of those other stories you'd prefer to leave unpublished resemble "How My Heart Sings" or "Dancing It All Away at Nadoka." They contain occasional deployments of metaphor and texture which are way ahead of the genre (no big thing, you'd probably say). But they don't rise above being -- pardon this humble idiot's opinion -- unstructured situation pieces which you got running by pumping them full of facile emotion. Out of all these stories, in "Glassblower's Dragon" -- partly because it's so short and concentrated -- that semi-mawkishness becomes honest emotion. If you're in an austere mood, the story mightn't satisfy you. But I liked it.

Pardon the hubris in talking about your work so directly. Looking forward to reading A HANDBOOK OF AMERICAN PRAYER.

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Jonathan Strahan
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 07:26 am:   

Hey Lucius,

I doubt this one counts as a 'supressed story', but I was rummaging through boxes the other day, looking for a copy of an old Ursula Le Guin story, when I stumbled across Gardner's RIPPER anthology, with "Jack's Decline" in it. I remember being knocked out when I read it back in late '88, and retained a fond recollection, so I sat down and re-read it. I don't think it quite has the power of your very best work, but it's a really solid story. Worth putting in a collection, especially if there's ever a clean-up book done that collects the stories that fell between the cracks,

Best
Jonathan

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