Lucius Shepard's Viator Plus was published in late 2009 by PS Publishing. This short story collection contains an expanded version of the short novel Viator, which was originally published by Night Shade Books.

Here's a description of Viator Plus from the publisher's website:

In this, his seventh major collection, Lucius Shepard is as magisterial in narration and darkly eloquent in style as ever. The stories gathered here conduct the reader from the wastelands of the near future to the zoned-out bacchanals of Hollywood, from the fevered bordellos of Central America to the hallucinated revels of redneck country, from the broken hearts of wandering loners to alluring fantasy realms just beyond the threshold of perception. And when the journey is over, eternal contrasts – of man and woman, bosses and workers, responsibility and escape, conformity and freedom – stand in more powerful definition than ever before...

The title novel, Viator, is here published in its full, intended text for the first time – the previous version was some 20,000 words shorter – and is revealed as Shepard’s masterpiece of the decade. Five men of Swedish descent, drifters and drunks on the mend, are assigned to live aboard a derelict ship on the Alaskan coast, only to perceive that they are on the brink of a voyage beyond our world, one of beckoning glamour and incipient madness. Long sentences, alternately languorous and urgent, run moodily throughout the tale, in a feast of metaphoric language limning the perils of a soul caught between anchoring love and transcendent illusion.

And other stories set out equally resonant crises of the conflicted psyche. A mine manager who knows his domain for the very image of Hell bids for redemption, or at least survival. A scriptwriter in Hollywood finds that false appearances exist not only in films. A veteran rock singer, the “Queen Mother”, confronts apparitions with muddled resolve. A town in Latin America witnesses abasements emblematic of the region’s poverty. A foolish man loses his lover and pursues her image to nowhere. And the emergence of a monster on an American beach is not at all what it seems.

Viator Plus is a book of charismatic distinction, one of the finest collections of the year.


Viator Plus was the first collection I read from Lucius Shepard. I had heard good things about his fiction, so I was eager to read Viator Plus. I was positively surprised when I read it, because it turned to be quite a fascinating collection. I have to say that it was a bit difficult to categorize some of the stories in this collection, because they contained different elements, but in my opinion the stories ranged from mainstream fiction to speculative fiction.

Viator was without a doubt the best and most interesting story in this collection. It was a fantastic short novel about love, madness and strange happenings. Shepard's writing was elegant and his descriptions of the surroundings and the characters were surprisingly vivid and lush. The main character, Wilander, was an interesting and flawed man, who lived and worked aboard the ship called Viator. His relationship with the local woman, Arlene, was fascinating and thoroughly believable. Shepard wrote about difficult subjects (madness, sex etc.) exquisitely – to be honest, Wilander's slow descent into madness was handled amazingly well.

After reading Viator I can say that Lucius Shepard is a gifted writer, who deserves to be more popular. I liked his prose very much. This short story collection is definitely worth reading (if you like well written prose and interesting stories, you must read Viator Plus). I decided to give this collection four stars, because I liked all the stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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