Blog Tour: THE MOONS OF BARSK by Lawrence M. Schoen

File Size: 4850 KB
Print Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (August 14, 2018)
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Sold by: Macmillan
Language: English


"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 Book:
Years after the events of Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard, the lonely young outcast and physically-challenged Fant, Pizlo, is now a teenager. He still believes he hears voices from the planet’s moons, imparting secret knowledge to him alone. And so embarks on a dangerous voyage to learn the truth behind the messages. His quest will catapult him offworld for second time is his short life, and reveal things the galaxy isn’t yet ready to know.

Elsewhere, Barsk's Senator Jorl, who can speak with the dead, navigates galactic politics as Barsk's unwelcome representative, and digs even deeper into the past than ever before to discover new truths of his own. 

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His ears dropped at the wonder of it, questions of math falling away for the moment. She wore a simple dress of pale brown with a slightly darker vest over it, both clung to her body as the rain soaked them. As she drew closer, he caught a faint floral scent, a perfume that had been popular decades ago. Her eyes locked on his face, her arms opened wide in greeting. The simple familiarity of the ritual provided a touchstone and he shook off his confusion, stammering the traditional reply as he had at other introductions, thousands of times over too many decades. “Perhaps our mothers knew one another.” The absurdity of his words hit him. Knew one another? It would require a Speaker, assuming one could be found who was old enough to have known either an Eleph named Layne or his own mother before they had sailed away and arrived here themselves. The framing of that puzzle brought the impossibility of the math back to his mind, now compounded. This was the final island. No one lived here. Each Fant sought it some few days after awaking to the knowledge that their death lay at hand and then strove to arrive on its shores. Nothing of the living world belonged here, least of all a … hostess.
Ryne sucked air hard as his mind raced with probability functions. Assuming the island’s perimeter contained an average span of usable beaches for bringing a boat to shore, arriving on the same day as another Dying Fant had better odds than the annual archipelago lottery. But this Bernath, she had called him by name, spoken of his home, and that unlikelihood exceeded all the stars beyond the clouded sky. He gawked at her as the words fell from his mouth. “You … you know me?”
“I feel as though I do, though I know we’ve never actually met. But in time, you and I will come to know one another far better. In time, I hope you’ll entertain some questions I have, questions about magnetic optics and the dynamics of charged particles on electromagnetic fields.”
His ears flapped back and down as he lowered the odds of his initial estimate, taking into account the thousands of students he’d had over a lifetime spent in academia, the many papers he’d presented and published. Even so, the math was still impossible. Cut the nearly infinite in half and one still had half an infinity. And yet the Eleph woman’s questions reflected some of his most recent work and unpublished theories, research that had never been a part of his classroom, calling into doubt his calculations once more. “You know my work?”
She closed the distance between them and, without inquiry or invitation, slipped her arm around his. “Indeed, yes. It has occupied much of my time in the last few years. You were so close to a breakthrough before you left, weren’t you?” She began leading him back toward the forest from which she’d come.
“I … I think I was. One can never be certain of course. The simulations were quite promising, but I needed funding to take things to the next level and—”
She patted his hand. “Funding won’t be a problem for you any longer. I promise.”
He snorted, a piercing trumpet of disbelief. “No matter how small the budget item—and the needs for my work were anything but small—in all my years at the university on Zlorka, funding physics research has always been a problem.”
“Look around, Ryne, revered scholar. Do you have any doubt that this island is not Zlorka? The limitations you endured at the university will not hamper you here.”
“You mean … I … I can continue my work? But I’ve … I thought I’d left that all behind, with my life. I’m dead now, aren’t I? Isn’t that why I’m here?”
“That life is dead, yes. Everything involving the people you knew, the bonds you forged with friends and colleagues, all the relationships you built, the vast family you have known—all that is gone. But I think you have a few years left to you. Don’t you agree? And wouldn’t you like to finish what you started? Surely you have some suspicion where it all leads. Now that life is behind you, what else is left but to follow the ideas of your mind’s creation down avenues no other being has ever conceived?”
“Of course, but—”
She guided him deeper into the trees, moving slowly in acknowledgment of his still labored breathing but without drawing attention to it. “I imagined as such. One does not settle for only a glimpse of how the universe works, not when there’s the chance to see so much more. By the way, I have to tell you, I had to argue with a number of the others to be the one to greet and welcome you.”
“Others?” Ryne paused, and Bernath patiently stopped as well. His gaze lifted, as if he could see through the dense forest, up ever higher, perhaps all the way to the canopy. “You’ve an entire, populated, Civilized Wood here?”
She laughed, a strange sound in his ears after days of deluge and constant bailing. “Of course. It wouldn’t be much of a city if we didn’t.”
“Hush, Ryne. All these questions are natural enough, and you’re not the first to arrive here and ask them. I promise you, there’s a full and informative briefing in your near future and you’ll find the answers perfectly satisfying. Now come, let’s get you settled. No doubt you can use a hot meal, and a roof over your head, and an opportunity to put on some dry clothes.”
“That all sounds quite wonderful,” he admitted, though he never expected to experience any of that again. “If … if you think there’s time.”
“There’s plenty of time, now that you’re here. A couple nights of solid sleep in a comfortable bed will have you good as new. When you’re ready—and not before—there are more than a few people eager to meet you, students of a caliber you’ve never experienced, all waiting to discuss your work.”
He nodded, following along as in a dream, a part of him already crafting the next stages of his research, spinning off from the last notes he’d scrawled and left behind for his most promising students. After only a few steps deeper into the Shadow Dwell of this, the final island as he’d always understood it to be, he caught Bernath’s eye and asked, “So, is everyone wrong then? This isn’t where we come to die?”
“Technically, I suppose it is,” she said, as they left the last shore farther behind. “Death comes for all of us eventually. No one’s discovered any way to avoid that. But just because you’ve arrived here doesn’t mean you need to be in any rush to expire.”
“But then, if it’s not the end of the final voyage as we’ve all been taught, what is this place?”
Bernath laughed again and Ryne realized he could get used to the sound of such delight. She patted his arm as she replied, “I like to think of it as the best kept secret on all of Barsk.”
Copyright © 2018 by Lawrence M. Schoen

About the Author:
Photo Content from Lawrence M. Schoen

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. He currently works as the director of research and chief compliance officer for a series of mental health and addiction recovery facilities in Philadelphia.

He’s also one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Klingon language, and since 1992 has championed the exploration of this constructed tongue and lectured on this unique topic throughout the world. In addition, he’s the publisher behind a speculative fiction small press, Paper Golem, aimed at serving the niche of up-and-coming new writers as well as providing a market for novellas.

In 2007, he was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He received a Hugo Award nomination for Best Short Story in 2010 and Nebula Award nomination for Best Novella in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2016 he won the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and his book Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard was finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and went on to win the Coyotl Award. In 2017 he turned in the sequel to that work (codenamed: The BARSquel) as well as the fourth novella in his Amazing Conroy series, the ongoing adventures of ta stage hypnotist traveling the galaxy in the company of Reggie, an alien buffalito that can eat anything and farts oxygen. By the end of the year he anticipates completing the first book in a new series about lost cities and the advancement of human civilization.

Lawrence lives near Philadelphia with his wife, Valerie, who is neither a psychologist nor a Klingon speaker.

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-  5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE MOONS OF BARSK (Barsk #2) by Lawrence M. Schoen.


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2018 Reading Challenge
T.M. has read 1 book toward her goal of 10 books.