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Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard Paperback – December 27, 2016
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Weird, wise, and worldly, "Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard" is a triumph. "Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues"
The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you're reading a work of singular imaginative power. It's a delight from beginning to end. "Walter Jon Williams, Nebula Award-winning author of the Metropolitan series"
A captivating, heartwarming story in a unique and fantastic world... as rich and mysterious as "Dune." "James L. Cambias, author of A Darkling Sea"
A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory. "Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence"
A masterful, onion-layered tale of pariahdom, treachery, and genocide that ultimately reveals the true deathlessness of hope and love. "Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire"
Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world. What really makes it work is how he deftly weaves together startling SFnal ideas with character-based intrigue. You'll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien. I found it a compulsive page-turner and immensely enjoyable. "Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep"
Powerful. Grand in scope, yet deeply intimate. Schoen gives anthropomorphism some serious spirituality. It got inside my head in the way that only an exciting new idea can. "Howard Tayler, Hugo Award-winning creator of Schlock Mercenary""
About the Author
LAWRENCE M. SCHOEN holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. He's also one of the world's foremost authorities on the Klingon language, and the publisher of a speculative fiction small press, Paper Golem. He's been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. Lawrence lives near Philadelphia.
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The local star cluster is full of intelligent species that clearly are uplifted mammals from ancient Earth. But how? When? Why are the two elephant species shunned by the others? And finally, where are the humans?
If that doesn’t make you buy the book, consider the science at work. How does memory work? Is it individual or shared? Electrical or chemical? How can certain individuals speak with the dead? Because an elephant never forgets?
Lawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, with a special focus in psycholinguistics. He spent ten years as a college professor, and has done extensive research in the areas of human memory and language. His background in the study of human behavior and the mind provide a principal metaphor for his fiction. So far as I am aware, however, he does not speak with the dead.
As I read Barsk (the first time) questions kept arising that were all ultimately answered in the end, showing an attention to detail that I thoroughly enjoy. The second time, I saw new layers of subtlety that demonstrated how deeply the author has developed this world, without overwhelming his readers.
Barsk is on my to-gift list, for my friends who enjoy SF and also for those who enjoy thinking while they read. I highly recommend it!
I came away appreciating the story itself, but glowering at the centrally-located elements of convenient MacGuffin throughout.
Unfortunately for the ambition of this book, Barsk presented too small a window for me. I was looking through a keyhole at a zoo, with large animals moving past to unseen destinations. I lingered at my keyhole looking for signs of action, but instead I caught the zookeeper hiding peanuts -
catching only glimpses of what was really going on. Interesting, but not what I was looking for. Some readers might remain content with glimpses of intriguing things, but I was let down by the series of claustrophobic interactions as the central puzzle revealed.
I may read it again to see if my impressions are a bit harsh, because Barsk does have depth enough to merit more consideration.
In all: tightly plotted, but disappointingly narrow. It will surely speak to some.
This was very refreshing to me, a writer of comic science fiction mysteries: Chocolate Chocolate Moons and Sherlock Mars, who has in both books, an android as one of my main characters and news of a developing android population. Who knows? Could happen in a few thousand years!
Barsk starts slowly and as I read I had lots of questions. But over time, my questions were resolved and answered in a creative manner with attention to detail, making this a satisfying page turner.
Surprised seasoned SciFi readers would be drawn to this book. The ideas around language origin and transmission were interesting but for me not enough so to overcome what I felt was standard storytelling, average-to-weak world buildings, and characters I did not care about.
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