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Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence…
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Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

by Lawrence M. Schoen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Barsk (1)

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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
3.5 stars. I enjoyed the story, and the setting has some neat ideas. ( )
  brokensandals | Feb 7, 2019 |
When I just started the book, I assumed it is an example of young adult fiction, with anthropomorphic mammals in spaceships. However, bearing in mind that it was short-listed for Nebula Award, I continued reading and wasn’t disappointed. The story is very good, with a bit of wry humor and allusions to our reality.
There is a cosmos filled with anthropomorphic mammals, and it was so for many millennia. Phants, anthropomorphic elephants are pariahs in this world, exiled from the larger universe to their Israel, planet Barsk. These furry-less abominations are tolerated by a wider community due to their pharmaceutical wonders, the most important of which is a drug that allows to speak with deceased. But the situation is going to change – for the worse.
( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
Far in the future, there are no remnants of human life left. In a distant solar system, the uplifted elephant-like species of Barsk, the Fant live out their daily lives excluded from the many other uplifted species. However, Barsk is the only planet that can grow the plants for a variety of medicinal drugs. One drug, called koph helps those with the talent of Speaking to interact with the dead. Jorl is a Fant who is a Speaker and a historian who has specialized in the prophesies of the Matriarch. Jorls often Speaks to his best friend, Arlo and helps to take care of his son, Pizlo. While Speaking, Jorl notices that he cannot connect with several Fant's that have just passed, this knowledge combined with some interesting visions that Pizlo has begun to see, causes Jorl to believe that he is part of one of the prophesies.

Barsk: The Elephant's Graveyard is a unique fantasy that pulled me into a different world. This is a story that you have to allow yourself to go with the flow and immerse yourself into the world of Barsk. The inhabitants of Barsk and the other worlds are all mammals that have been somehow integrated with human thought process, language and emotions while still having traits of the animal they originated from. This made for an interesting conflicts between beings as well as a mystery as to why everyone else disliked the Fant. Since there was so much going on, I focused on Jorl and his insights as well as Pizlo. Pizlo was the most intriguing character for me. He is an outcast, since he was born to parents who were not fully bonded. Fant- besides his mother and Jorl ignore Pizlo, however Pizlo seems to have the greatest sense about what is going on with Barsk and those who are after its resources. Once Jorl and Pizlo begin to investigate the issues with the dead, things get complicated. The draw of koph has pulled in many other inhabitants from around the galaxy and they are not about to play nicely. Tensions rise as Speakers try to draw out knowledge from deceased Fant as well as almost deceased Fant. From here the story got very political and could easily relate to many trade situations happening on Earth. Pizlo's character added the elements of innocence and fantasy to keep the story on track for me. The ending also surprised me with what they were all hiding. Overall, a distinctive fantasy that has a lot to offer.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Sep 2, 2018 |
An entirely original world is brought to life in this engaging read. Just the right mix of talking animals, space travel, and mysterious culture. ( )
  RossWhippo | Jul 3, 2017 |
In a galactic culture of creatures that Humanity uplifted to sentience before we faded away, Barsk is both the sole source of a narcotic that allows psychic adepts to speak to the traces of personality left behind by the dead and the home of the uplifted elephants; beings who are deeply disliked by the rest of galactic culture for reasons that are none too rational. This is a politically unstable situation and much of the conflict in this book is driven by these realities, as the "Fant" historian and adept Jorl tries to make sense of certain prophecies left by the first Fant adept who spoke to the dead. As for the influences on this book David Brin and Ursula K. LeGuin seem to be the biggest ones, but it's also hard not to invoke George Orwell's "Animal Farm." While the ending was a little pat I liked this novel quite a lot.

As to how one speaks to the dead, the real basis of the plot, that is a business of manipulating "nefshons," which are essentially particles of memory. I'm not sure that anyone else has brought this up but this is very reminiscent of some of the ideas Konstantin Tsiolkovsky invoked about how the rationale of going into space was to gather together all the particles that had made up the dead so that they could live again. Maybe the next time I see the author I'll remember to ask him about it! ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence M. Schoenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ngai, VictoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
These limits only I place upon you,

that never shall a Speaker summon a Speaker,

that never shall a Speaker summon the living,

that never shall a Speaker summon herself.

By these laws abide.

As for the rest, may your conscience be your guide.
Dedication
For Sol, Neal, and Ghang,

you gave me no choice but to invent nefshons
First words
Rüsul traveled to meet his death.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity's genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets. To break the Fant's control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge.

Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend's son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.
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"An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds. In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity's genius--animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets. To break the Fant's control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend's son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future"--… (more)

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