Dead Man Walking: Lucius Shepard’s Green Eyes
Green Eyes was published in 1984, originally by Ace. It is currently available as a Kindle e-book published by ElectricStory.com, which seems to specialize in reprints of classic genre fiction. The e-book copy of Green Eyes that I purchased is well formatted and free of errors.
This book is a deep Southern genre jambalaya—science fiction, fantasy, horror, a dash of romance, and simmer on the back burner until the company shows up. The language is vivid and poetic in a particularly regional way—you can feel the sweat trickling down your neck. In Shepard’s deft hands everything becomes ominous and creepy.
From the beginning the story mixes science fiction and horror. A medical procedure is developed to revive the recently dead by injecting their brains with bacteria. The revived corpses wake with no knowledge of who they had been—instead they remember an entirely invented life. A homeless drifter could become a famous doctor who, even though he had never existed in reality, remembers the knowledge and skills of the imaginary personality.
That in itself is a thought-provoking concept, but that’s just the start. The story follows “Donnell Harrison”–a carnival roustabout who becomes, after death, an accomplished poet. With the aid of his therapist, Jocundra Verret, Donnell escapes the facility where he is held. Donnell begins to develop the ability to see and control electrical fields around both machinery and living things, which gives him strange and growing powers.
He also begins having visions of a brutal alien world ruled by violence and cruelty, and begins to suspect that this world is somehow a real place, and growing closer.
The characters are very real and the pacing, while slow, keeps the tension building continually. It’s structured more like a conventional horror novel than most science fiction. Nonetheless, the science fiction elements are in the forefront—alternate universes and electromagnetic mental powers and genetic engineering.
All in all, a deep and disturbing read.
Misha Burnett is the author of Catskinner’s Book, Cannibal Hearts, The Worms Of Heaven, and Gingerbread Wolves, modern fantasy novels collectively known as The Book Of Lost Doors.