“Visionary Fantasy” & Hard Science Fiction

New cover art created by Emily Irwin for Linda Nagat's novel Memory by

New cover art created by Emily Irwin for Linda Nagata’s novel Memory

My novel Memory was originally published by Tor® in 2003. At the time, Locus summarized it thus: “The feel of visionary fantasy mixes with hard SF in this powerful novel of a young woman’s quest for a missing brother in a far future world beset by out-of-control technology.”

A lot of readers have told me they don’t read “hard” science fiction, believing it will be about gadgets, technology, principles of physics, or massive engineering projects—and sometimes it is. For me though, hard SF is science fiction interested in the way we live with and adapt to our evolving technologies, while generally maintaining a healthy respect for the laws of physics as we know them.

Memory has been called hard science fiction, but it’s not about science or technology. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young woman named Jubilee, coping with life in a strange, dangerous, and beautiful world. Though it was written as an adult novel, in my home state of Hawaii it’s been used for two or three years in the teen-centric “Celebrate Reading” program, and when people express an interest in my work but haven’t read much hard science fiction, I point them to Memory as a great place to start.

So why am I writing about all this now?

Tor® version, 2003

Because this spring it will be ten years since Memory was first published, and I have finally found the right cover art for the book—and that’s a wonderful milestone for any author.

The original Tor® cover was professionally done and respectable, but was full of dark colors, hard-to-discern details, and didn’t really represent the feel of the book.

When I first republished Memory as an ebook, back in the wildcat days of indie publishing all of two years ago, I made my own cover—which no one liked.

So I had another cover made, which was respectable, but still not what I was looking for.

Ebook version, used prior to February 2013

Then this past fall, my daughter put me in touch with an artist she knew from high school. Emily Irwin grew up here on Maui, though she now lives and works in Montreal. Emily first read Memory in high school, has re-read the novel several times since, and was very interested in creating a new cover.

It’s a rare treat for a writer to be able to work with a talented artist who has both read and enjoyed a book. Emily listened patiently to my very vague cover ideas, and created a series of thumbnail sketches incorporating these ideas and some of her own. Then, as a whim, she added one more concept, much more abstract and fantastical than the others—and this was the image both my daughter and I immediately gravitated toward. The end result is the cover below, shown as the full “cover flat” that will be used on the print version.

Click through to see a large version in a new window.

I love this cover, and my thanks go out to Emily Irwin for creating it.

Please visit Book View Café’s bookstore to read more about Memory, or to download sample chapters.




“Visionary Fantasy” & Hard Science Fiction — 3 Comments

  1. Glorious, Linda! Can I afford Emily? I need a cover artist for my Alfredas!

    I can see why you adore this cover — I predict great sales wherever it hits a shelf face out! Blow it up and take it to book signings!

  2. Thanks so much, Cat and Paul!

    Cat, though Emily works as a graphic artist, I think this was her first book cover, so I don’t think she has set rates. Inquire . . . it might work out. 🙂