This new edition has been revised and enlarged significantly by Shepard, who says that writing Viator drove him to the brink. This Concord ePress ebook is the only available edition of the new Viator.
“Filled with long, beautiful sentences that play out like never-ending riffs from a jazz musician’s horn, the new novel by World Fantasy Award–winner Shepard works as a stylistic experiment and as a short, edgy look at the intricacies of fate and the power each individual may or may not have over his own destiny. Housed aboard Viator, an abandoned ship off the coast of Alaska, Thomas Wilander is a man with a failed past and an uncertain future. Hoping the salvage job on Viator will be a springboard to a new life, Wilander is disturbed to find that his four workmates are behaving erratically, perhaps suffering from mental instability. Shepard’s smooth, flowing prose aptly mirrors Wilander’s delusion-laden mind and makes for an enriching read.”
– Publishers Weekly
On Viator: Headlong, Heedless, and Harrowing
By Stona Fitch
Truly original novels emerge from the soul of the author like a tumor, benign or otherwise. These books trigger unasked-for fever dreams that hold the writer in their thrall. And ultimately, they deliver an impact and resonance to readers that more calculated efforts cannot.
Moby Dick is, of course, the poster child of the genre, with its crazy quilt of genius and confidence and desperation. No one asked for Moby Dick to be written. It is a work of pure imagination that sparked from Melville’s soul.
Viator, by Lucius Shepard, is another such novel. And its evolution is as layered and fraught as the book itself.
When Lucius first discussed publishing a new and expanded ebook edition of Viator with the Concord ePress, it was clear that he was deeply connected to this book—foremost among his dozens of works. “When I was writing Viator, I wrote myself into a clinical depression,” he said by way of introduction. “By the end of it, I couldn’t even move.” The claustrophobic confines of the bad ship Viator brought down its own fabricator. The nightmares of Wilander + crew became Shepard’s. Shepard was run aground by his own novel.
And yet, Shepard’s publisher demanded a book. And Shepard provided it—a truncated version of Viator that he regretted immediately. Published by a small UK press, this early version managed to telegraph its power among readers who discovered it. But Viator wasn’t forgotten by its author, who—after having healed himself of his book-induced afflictions—continued ahead with a courage and tenacity that Melville would have admired.
Authors are notorious for not letting their work go. This new edition of Viator isn’t about tinkering. It isn’t about getting it right. It’s about a writer fulfilling his vision of a singular novel that almost pushed him over the authorial edge.
Now more than 20,000 words longer, woven thickly with ideas and language, and reflecting the intentions of its author, the version of Viator before you is the first full-fledged edition of the work—the author's cut, as Shepard calls it. Its revision has done nothing to temper the hurtling explorations of the book, reminiscent of Conrad but much stranger. This true version of Viator is a vital and powerful tale of obsession—and the damage that it wreaks on metal and glass, minds and men.
May it leave you forever transformed.
Concord, MA, September, 2011