Lawrence M. Schoen
Barsk Cover

Barsk: Not a Graveyard


I've been intrigued by this book in the years since its publication. And it did not disappoint. With a Ph.D. in psycholinguistics, Schoen brings a unique angle to the science fiction genre which is what I love about SF. I enjoy seeing an imaginative tale from experts in any/every field of scientific inquiry. Cory Doctorow looks at the world through cyber-tech, Elizabeth Moon gives a glimpse into autism, and Mary Doria Russell calls on her paleo-anthropology to enhance her work.

As for the world of Barsk, it requires some intellectual stretching and bending. Perhaps a brief excerpt will illustrate:

"Somehow she's taken possession of another person's body. An Otter. That's the body that's sitting in the real version of this room with me right now." "An Otter with a powerful telepathic talent. That's what allowed me to put my nefshon construct in control of her body."

These few sentences illustrate some of the basic aspects of this novel. First, 'people' are 'up-lifted' animals of many sorts including the Elephants of Barsk. Second, there are 'real' and 'constructed' aspects to the world the animals inhabit. Third, the story involves telepathy and nefshons which allow the dead to be 're-called' for educational purposes. Through all of this is a story of significant intrigue, with characters of diversity and depth set on the grandest of stages thousands of years into the future with hardly a human to be seen. It's all great fun. Now with the release of book 2, "The Moons of Barsk," there is good reason to take a look into the mind of Schoen.