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Life During Wartime (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Lucius Shepard
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jun 2006 S.F. MASTERWORKS (Book 66)
In the jungles of Guatemala, David Mingolla is struggling to survive amongst the rotting vegetation and his despairing fellow foot soldiers. He knows he is nothing but an expendable pawn in an endless war. On R & R a few miles away from the warzone he meets Debora - an enigmatic young woman who may be working for the enemy - and stumbles into a deadly psychic conflict where the mind is the greatest weapon.

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (8 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077348
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 809,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

'Richly peopled, highly literate, and brilliantly drawn . . . [Lucius Shepard is] one of the finest science fiction writers of all time' Science Fiction Chronicle

About the Author

Lucius Shepard was born in the USA in 1947. From the mid-1960s to the early 1980s he lived in various parts of the world and travelled widely. He won the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 1985 and has also won the World Fantasy Award twice.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Gem (But still 5 stars). 22 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is unusual to find a science fiction novel that holds together so well emotionally as this one.
Yet that said it is difficult to discern where (if anywhere) the book intended to go.For after the
superbly written R & R we are left,much like the unfinished bridge,hanging in mid air and enter inside Mingolla's head.
At first this is a appropriate device for slowing down the narrative allowing us the opportunity to explore a territory
that is one theme of this complex novel (Mingolla's interior journey) but soon the slowing down makes for turgid reading
as Mr Shepard, though keeping a coherent train of thought together and doing it convincingly, finds himself bogged down for long
periods in paragraphs that simply do not progress the story.
This takes some of the power away from the books overall effect, but for all the foregoing it is full of superb images that live long
in the mind.Images as far removed from most formulaic science fiction as it is possible to get.
So although "Life During Wartime." is flawed it is a flawed gem and it deserves my five stars because at least Lucius Shepard
has attempted to inject fresh fuel into a vehicle I had for many years now suspected to be running on empty.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A very difficult book to rate...It starts very slowly, and is rather hard going in the beginning. The same with the end, with is for me a bit disappointing because of the absolutely grand middle section. Shepard's speciality, erotic descriptions (have you read "The Golden"? Oh my god, it should be x-rated !), are really class. The mixture of reality and drug hallucinations is fantastic, as is the explanation of why there is war on earth. Well... I cannot say this book is excellent, but the middle section definitely is (read the beginning and the end, or you won't get it...).
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but over-long. 17 July 2009
By Behan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A sensual, maddening sci-fi saga set in the jungle. It's a story about a war of psychic powers - which is dumb, but no dumber than the usual betentacled aliens and dogfights in space. It's a story of drugs, madness and intrigue set both the jungles of Guatemala and the jungle of the human mind. It's an odd, rambling, and ultimately unsatisfying tale which tries to cover too much ground and turns weirder with each chapter: I made it to the end, but the rewards diminished as the pages flipped by. However, it's still a worthwhile read for those who like parrots, paranoia and purple prose. Like "Heart of Darkness" it's better read sitting sweaty in a too-hot bath under the shade of a potted cheeseplant, so you can nearly hear the croaking tree frogs and buzzing jungle flies. Now and again, there's a gem of a short story shining in the collage of exotic foliage, or maybe just a treat of writer's self indulgence, like the melvillesque, page-long sentence when the hero has his first vision of the fleshpots of the future California. Might appeal to fans of Ballard's "Drowned World".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best SF book I've ever read. 30 April 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like the darkness of Lucius Shepard's mystical realism. Once more I've followed Mingolla on his Pilgrim's Progress to the Heart of Darkness (sorry) at the centre of war. A great allegory for that puerile spite. He does American military sleaze superlatively.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read it. . . 4 May 2003
By Nathan - Published on
Lucius Shepard is a strong and beautiful writer. His stories have frequently been compared to those of Joseph Conrad, and indeed Shepard is a master of the short story and the novella. R&R, the novella that makes up the opening of this novel, is a beautiful and terrible read, and the quality of the writing remains consistently captivating throughout. So why have I given this novel only three stars? Because, as a novel, it doesn't really work. Shepard writes fantastic short fiction, but when he wrote LIFE DURING WARTIME, he just wasn't ready to tackle a novel. It reads like a series of episodes, each an good read on its own, but each also providing its own closure. But they are linked closely enough that were I to read something else in between them, I'd likely lose track of the details of the plot. So, while the writing is beautiful, the plot interesting, and each episode a joy to read on its own, the novel isn't able to sustain its momentum throughout. I'm glad I read it, but as a novel, it just doesn't quite work.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shepard is one of the best 20th century writers 20 Feb 1999
By Peter F. Delaney - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I always love Lucius Shepard's work and this is his best novel. It is like "Apocalypse Now" in the future, and has the same kind of impact on the reader as that film did on the viewer.
A quote from the opening paragraph: "One of the new Sikorsky gunships... gave Mingolla and Gilbey and Baylor a lift from the Ant Farm to San Francisco de Juticlan, a small town located inside the green zone.... To the east of this green zone lay an undesignated band of yellow that corssed the country from the Mexican border to the Caribbean. The Ant Farm was a firebase on the eastern edge of the yellow band, and it was from there that Mingolla -- an artillery specialist not yet twenty-one years old -- lobbed shells into an area that the maps depicted in black-and-white terrain markings. And thus it was that he often thought of himself as engaged in a struggle to keep the world safe for primary colors."
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the original story 25 May 2002
By Milos Tomin - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
R&R was the story that put Shepard among the great names of SF and forms the chapter of this book. There are several familiar elements for fans of the author, exotic locales, drugs psychic powers that border on magic and secret forces battling it out under cover of 21st century warfare in the jungles of Central America. The book suffers just a tiny bit from being written in the late 80's when heavy involvement by US secret ops gave the impression that a Vietnam type meltdown was about to happen almost on the doorstep of US. Brilliant language and (naturally) hallucinatory imagery are the qualities of the book. Storyline tends to sag in the second half of the book but if you are one of the author's followers you will enjoy this work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Relationships and war beautifully woven with Magic Realism 29 Dec 1997
By A Customer - Published on
I enjoyed this book and Mr. Shepard's ability to provide a good story with some fantastic elements that are still very believable. I rue the day that I lost my copy and and have missed ever since. The magic realism of the book is more approachable than Marquez, but no less satisfying.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 20 Nov 2007
By Yegor Voronin - Published on
The main hero starts as a regular trooper trying to survive the next attack, then gets recruited into psi-corps, is trained as assassin, learns about the powers that are behind the war and becomes the major player in finishing it.

Be warned, this is not an easy read. The mood of the book is dark and pessimistic. The pace is often slow and meditative. It's not your regular heroic sci-fi.

Shepard is a great writer and the quality of the prose in this book is absolutely outstanding. This is Literature (yes, with capital L). If you can handle a difficult book and have the time to read it sentence by sentence, then pick it up. If you are looking for entertainment during vacation on a beach - stay away.

Just in case, keep this book away from kids - there are pretty graphic descriptions of sex and war violence in a couple of places.
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