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Bookworm 2013: After Wartime

Posted on | December 4, 2013 | No Comments

Lucius Sheperd - Life During Wartime

Book-wise, 2013 started off with a veritable bang. Despite Shepard’s reputation for being an absolutely brilliant, yet terribly underrated writer in the genre during the eighties, I must confess what really drew me to this book was the cover – if it weren’t so gorgeous I probably would have kept “Life During Wartime” on the “to read” list in perpetuity. As it was, I cracked it open and remained mesmerized for the next 432 pages.

The novel tells the story of David Mingolla, a grunt serving in a future war in Guatemala, one fought not only with conventional weapons, but also special commandos utilizing psychic powers to fight the enemy across a wholly different kind of muddy, rotten battlefield.

Before becoming a writer, Shepard lived a rich, varied, adventurous life, and it really shows in his prose. It is not only rich and florid in style (but never to the point of being tacky), it is filled with vivid, relatable characters, believably captured on paper, even when he segues into brief digressions and anecdotes, sketched vignettes within the overarching narrative of the novel.

Everyone and their mother will tell you this is an allegorical tale about the Vietnam war, a post-colonial treatise in the guise of a magical-realist science fiction or science fantasy novel, and of course, they will be right. This is not you average pulp skiffy, nor is it modern SF trying desperately to be highbrow literature – this simply and naturally is highbrow literature, and the effortless way in which this is achieved really shines through.

There are also those who will say that it has an odd structure, with a strong, almost self-sufficient opening which then slows down into a seemingly bogged-down slow meandering rhythm before delivering the strong closing chapters, and they would also be correct. However, the structure and pace, to me at least, seem intentional and well thought-through, following the meandering adventures of Mingolla as he searches for answers in an increasingly bizarre world where he can’t trust anyone, including himself.

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    Written in minutes and fact-checked in seconds via Google. May contain unsafe levels of self-righteousness. Past cleverness is no guarantee of future results.
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  • Goodreads

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
    The Ophiuchi Hotline
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Green Eyes
    Crackpot Palace: Stories
    The Fractal Prince
    The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter

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