Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Behind The Scenes: Limit of Vision

February 13th, 2015

Limit of VisionI think of my novel, Limit of Vision, originally published in 2001, as the book-no-one-has-heard-of. Certainly, it occupies a weird place in my mental landscape, in large part because it was written in the great, oxygen-deprived emotional void that followed the publication of Vast.

I can’t talk about Limit of Vision without talking about Vast. Vast was a special book to me. It took everything I had to give as a writer. It was edgy, nontraditional science fiction, something I knew at the time would appeal mostly to the hard core of the genre. It was the book I was born to write — that’s how I felt, and I’m not going to argue the point now. But Vast, of course, was a market failure and very quickly out of print.

The experience left me with a sense of futility, but I forged on anyway and wrote Limit of Vision, a near-future biotech thriller that takes place primarily in the Mekong Delta. The novel sold to Tor for a much larger advance than I’d ever had before. Even so, in the wake of the failure of Vast to find a larger audience, I was not brimming with confidence.

In those days, authors rarely had input on covers, and I was no exception. When I saw the Tor cover for Limit of Vision I basically gave up what little hope I had left and got a day job. It wasn’t that the art was awful — it wasn’t. It was skillfully done. But it was inappropriate: a fifties pulp cover on a new-millennium techno-thriller. Those who bought the book would be disappointed; those who might have liked it would probably not touch it.

We shouldn’t judge our own books, but the accumulated disappointment and lack of feedback led me to think of Limit of Vision as “not very good.” Vast had my affection. Limit of Vision was that poor little thing I kept hidden away because of that cover.

(Yes, writers are weird.)

So several years passed and it happened that I developed a brief interest in screenplays. Limit of Vision seemed the easiest of my books to translate to film, and I decided to at least write a treatment. I started off by re-reading the novel — and you know what? I really like it. I was surprised how much I liked it. It wasn’t at all the deficient little novel it had come to be in my memory.

I admit, it’s not a novel for everyone — none of my books are — but I’m proud of it. And it helps to remind myself that Publishers Weekly called Limit of Vision a “compelling biotech thriller” and “genuinely innovative in conception.”

A few years ago I republished Limit of Vision as an ebook under my own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. It has a new cover — still not exactly what I want, but closer to that still-to-be-discovered ideal. And it’s wonderful to have finally made peace with the book.

Find out more about Limit of Vision and read the opening pages here.

Posted on: Friday, February 13th, 2015 at 9:08 am
Categories: Musings On..., My Books.
Tags: ,

6 Responses to “Behind The Scenes: Limit of Vision

  1. Paul (@princejvstin) Says:

    Thanks for sharing this background, Linda.

  2. Ted Lemon Says:

    I loved Limit of Vision. But I agree that the cover did it in—it didn’t even remotely convey what the book was about. I vaguely think I bought the book and then didn’t get around to reading it for several years, and then was blown away by how great it was. Sigh.

    I would love to see a movie treatment of the book, although I expect it would be difficult.

  3. Linda Says:

    Thanks Ted! I just re-discovered the treatment while cleaning up some files. I might post it, along with notes from the agent on why it probably wouldn’t work.

  4. Ted Lemon Says:

    Meh. No vision. So sad. Maybe you should shop it to Swedish TV.

  5. Clyde Says:

    OK. You enticed me into it. I bought Limit of Vision over at Book View Cafe.

    (BVN is a nice book store. I also picked up Vonda N. McIntyre’s Starfarers Omnibus while there.)

  6. Linda Says:

    Thank you, Clyde! I hope you enjoy both. 🙂