Graham P's Reviews > The Ends Of The Earth: 14 Stories

The Ends Of The Earth by Lucius Shepard
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Jun 20, 12

Read from May 04 to June 12, 2012

Lucius Shepard is one of those writers who can't be easily categorized. His fiction flirts with genre, skittering over barren, haunted territories marked by JG Ballard and Joseph Conrad, and at times stylistically, his pen wields florid like Clark Ashton Smith, or precise in the fashion of Graham Greene. He truly is a master of the short story and short novel. This Arkham House collection (while not as good as its predecessor, 'The Jaguar Hunter') has all the trademarks of Shepard; ex-pats with some type of darkness in their hearts, moving through foreign territories in a mystical haze; of slipstream ghosts plaguing a war-torn landscape; futuristic 3rd world states where one brave man tries to break away from it all; and the facade of a disillusioned reality being split at the seams by misunderstood Gods.

The highlights of this collection are 'The Ends of Earth', 'Nomans Land', 'Bound for Glory' and 'Fire Zone Emerald'. Besides a somewhat annoying narration from the lead in 'A Wooden Tiger', there's not a lemon in the bunch. In 'The Ends of the Earth', a failed writer becomes attached to a ravenous, talon-shredding God who haunts the Guatemalan jungles. 'Nomans Land' tells of an Irish boatman stranded on a Nantucket island where the government once tested nuclear devices - where now, the only thing alive are white spiders from beyond the cosmos (a serious cosmic force is present here, something taken from Olaf Stapledon's 'Starmaker' and given a serious mind fuck). 'Fire Zone Emerald' is a bold action piece where a futuristic soldier armed to the teeth takes on a band of drug-addicted rebels. And 'Bound for Glory' has a train running through 'the bad patch', a stretch of land peopled by psychopathic mutants. And also included is the dragon fantasy, 'The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter', an eloquent piece that takes place in the cavernous body of a comatosed dragon. Shepard even plays around with the shock twist ending fashioned by 1950s horror comics like 'Tales from the Crpyt' in his short, 'Black Clay Boy' - only this time there's no revenge, but a self sacrifice that burns with a sudden, raw perversity.

There's nobody who works like Shepard, and it's a shame he's not read as widely as he should be. A fine collection.
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05/04/2012 page 244
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