Borges: Influence and References

Lucius Shepard

By Aaron Matthews

Called a "magical existentialist," fantasy and science fiction writer Lucius Shepard is a writer whose stories are marked by a mixture of gritty naturalism with the fantastic. Latin American Magical Realists such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez (and English language writers like Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, H. P. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick) are among Shepard's influences. His stories are often set in Latin America. They typically feature anti-heroes who live on the fringes of society and find themselves caught up in impossible situations. In his fiction, hoboes ride trains that take them to other worlds, drug addicted soldiers fight guerilla warfare in the near future, and a man can share spiritual communion with iguanas. The line between reality and fantasy can be very thin. His style is ornate without being overwritten. Electricity flows through his sentences bringing to life images, sounds, and textures. He makes at least one reference to Borges in his story "Señor Volto." The main character, describing a being of energy that may or may not actually exist, says:

Gazing up into the smoky flesh, past the madly agitated swarms of aerials (other possibly non-existent energy beings that the narrator sees) that celebrated its passage, past the traceries of lightning, I saw a darker structure in its depths shaped like a great aleph, the seat of its divinity and persuading me of its godhood more that anything I saw was the aura of power and invincibility it projected.

This story and several of his others can be found at the archives of the online magazine Sci Fiction.

Additional Information

Lucius Shepard Page -- At Fantastic Fiction.

Interview -- With Locus Magazine.

Selected Works of Lucius Shepard


Green Eyes (1984)
Orion Publishing Group, 1998

Life During Wartime (1987)
Orion Publishing Group, 1998

The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter
Mark V. Ziesing, 1988

The Father of Stones
Washington Science Fiction, 1989

Kalimantan (1990)
Tor, 1993

The Golden
Bantam, 1993

Aztechs (2002)
Subterranean, 2003

Valentine (2002)
Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003

Louisana Breakdown
Golden Gryphon Press, 2003


Barnacle Bill the Spacer and Other Stories (1973)
(Also published as Beast in the Heartland and Other Stories)
Acacia, 1998

The Jaguar Hunter (1987)
Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001

The Ends of the Earth
Arkham House, 1991

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