Salvador • 1984 • Near Future SF short story by Lucius Shepard

★★★★

Synopsis:  U.S. Special Forces soldier Dantzer fights in the conquest of South American countries. His platoon rely on military provided drugs to enhance perception and stay calm. The story witnesses cruel acts under the drugs and blurs reality with halluzination based on South American folklore.

Review: Shepard’s stories are often set in South America where he draws literary energy from the cruel guerilla wars. I’ve loved his famous novels “Life During Wartime” based on the award winning story “R&R”, as well as his “Green Eyes”. This story acts in a similar setting: The horrors of war hollows out the emotions and inhumanizes the combatants – far easier if the minds are weakened by drugs. Shepard builds up reader investment and sympathy for Dantzer and shows how his mind slowly degrades with increased drug abuse. In just a few pages, he manages to study this character. His prose enriches the reader’s vision with a plush jungle mixed with the halluzinations.

Meta: isfdb. It won the 1985 Locus Award.

 

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