Quartered aboard the freighter, Viator, run aground twenty years before on a remote section of the Alaskan coast, the four men hired to determine the ship's worth at salvage have begun to exhibit a variety of eccentric behaviors. They've become obsessed with Viator to the point that the world beyond seems of consequence only as it relates to the ship. When their putative leader, Thomas Willander, is afflicted by a series of disturbing dreams, he concludes that something on board may be responsible for their erraticism. He seeks the help of a woman in the nearby village of Kaliaska and together they initiate an investigation into the history of Viator, hoping to learn, among other things, why the ship was run aground and who was the mysterious man who hired the four. But their efforts may be too late. The men, whose eccentrities are now verging on the insane, show no sign of intending to abandon their new home, compelled by Viator's eerie allure. To make matters worse, winter will soon be setting in, ominous incidences of sound and light are issuing from the forest surrounding the ship, and Willander's dreams may be coming true...
Lucius Shepard (1947–2014) was an American writer. Classified as a science fiction and fantasy writer, he often leaned into other genres, such as magical realism. His work is infused with a political and historical sensibility and an awareness of literary antecedents.
Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to escape, eventually succeeding at the age of fifteen, when he traveled to Ireland aboard a freighter and thereafter spent several years in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, working in a cigarette factory in Germany, in the black market of Cairo's Khan al Khalili bazaar, as a night club bouncer in Spain, and in numerous other countries at numerous other occupations. On returning to the United States, Shepard entered the University of North Carolina, where for one semester he served as the co-editor of the Carolina Quarterly. Either he did not feel challenged by the curriculum, or else he found other pursuits more challenging. Whichever the case, he dropped out several times and traveled to Spain, Southeast Asia (at a time when tourism there was generally discouraged), and South and Central America. He ended his academic career as a tenth-semester sophomore with a heightened political sensibility, a fairly extensive knowledge of Latin American culture and some pleasant memories.