Two Trains Running

Two Trains Running

by Lucius Shepard, Charles Stross
     
 

This collection of fact and fiction was inspired by the time science fiction writer Lucius Shepard spent with Missoula Mike, Madcat, and other members of a controversial brotherhood known as the Freight Train Riders of America. Shepard rode the rails throughout the western half of the United States with the disenfranchised, the homeless, the punks, the gangs, and the… See more details below

Overview

This collection of fact and fiction was inspired by the time science fiction writer Lucius Shepard spent with Missoula Mike, Madcat, and other members of a controversial brotherhood known as the Freight Train Riders of America. Shepard rode the rails throughout the western half of the United States with the disenfranchised, the homeless, the punks, the gangs, and the joy riders for the magazine article "The FTRA Story." That original article is presented here, along with two new hobo novellas, "Over Yonder" and "Jailbait." In "Over Yonder," alcoholic Billy Long Gone finds himself on an unusual train. As Billy travels his health improves and his thinking clears, and he arrives in Yonder-an unlikely paradise where a few hundred hobos live in apparent peace and tranquility. But every paradise has its price, and in Yonder, peace and tranquility breed complacency and startling deaths. "Jailbait" is a hardcore tale of deception, lust, revenge, and murder in the seedy underbelly of rail yards and train hopping. Madcat, who functions best in a whiskey-induced haze, must decide between solitude and companionship when he meets up with Grace, an underaged runaway. Grace, in turn, seeks the security of an older man and the life about which only young girls can dream.


About the Author:
Lucius Shepard is the author of the novels Green Eyes, Life During Wartime, and The Golden and the collections The Jaguar Hunter, The Ends of the Earth, and Beast of the Heartland. He has contributed to magazines such as Playboy, Spin, Omni, Asimov's, and Fantasy & Science Fiction, and has been awarded the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards for his fiction. He lives in Vancouver, Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Together, the essay and stories provide a useful illustration of the complex connections between fact and fiction. At the same time, they bring a powerful imagination and first-class intelligence to bear on a little-known corner of American life. In this short but resonant book, Shepard has captured the essence of the hobo experience, recreating it with sympathy, humor and a merciless, unsentimental precision. — Bill Sheehan
Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating excursion into modern mythmaking, Shepard (Louisiana Breakdown) draws on his experiences in the late 1990s riding the railroad and researching an apocryphal "hobo mafia" that dubbed itself the FTRA (Freight Train Riders of America) and who were suspects in a number of unsolved murders along America's rail lines. "The FTRA Story," an essay, introduces some of the colorful drifters Shepard shared boxcars with, tempering the romance of the nomadic hobo life with a gritty appraisal of its harsh realities and dangers. He reshapes nuggets of lore from this essay for the two stories that follow, adding luster to their depictions of rail hobos as everymen (and -women) embarked on odysseys of self-discovery and redemption. In "Over Yonder," trainhoppers end up in a limbo-like alternate world whose primal challenges prove important tests for determining whether they are worthy of personal salvation. "Jailbait" (original to the book) concerns a hobo couple whose growing intimacy results in personal transformations that subtly shift the foundations of reality. Shepard effortlessly works the potential for supernatural experience into the unpredictability of his social outcasts' fringe existence. The stories are fantasy writing at its best, in which, as one character puts it, "even the most familiar articles of your life could be turned on their sides, shifted, examined in new light, and seen in relation to every other thing, and thus were possessed of a universality that made them, ultimately, unknowable." (Mar.) Forecast: Shepard diehards will gobble this one up, but fans of Stephen King should also take note. Like King, Shepard takes ordinary, grubby people and makes them interesting sounding boards for bigger ideas concerning morality, ethics and personal redemption. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781930846234
Publisher:
Golden Gryphon Press
Publication date:
03/01/2004
Pages:
125
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.66(d)

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