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As has been chronicled elsewhere, I started writing Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard back in the late 80’s. Fresh out graduate school, ink still wet on my doctorate, I was 27. A few months later I had my first teaching gig. I was “the boy professor,” teaching psychology, beginning Japanese, and home (dorm) winemaking. Naturally, I decided to write my first novel.


The result was Barsk (no subtitle back then) and I had no clue what I was doing. Worse still, I had no clue that I had no clue. The result was horrible. The story was good, the underlying concepts worked, but back then I lacked the skills to do any of that justice and made use of of a lot trite stuff. Among other clunkers, I used a painful exposition device at the start of each and every one of the book’s fifty chapters (as well as the prologue and epilogue). I reasoned that since my protagonist was a scholar, it’d be cool to include excerpts from his various papers and peer-reviewed journal articles (remember, I was the boy professor?). In hindsight, I was probably inspired by Frank Herbert’s excerpts from The Encyclopedia Galactica in Dune. But let’s be clear, I’m not Frank Herbert (and I certainly wasn’t back then either). The result? Epic failure. Eventually I tucked the manuscript away in a drawer and put it out of my mind, focusing instead on learning to be a better writer.


Decades (and several hundreds of thousands of words later) an editor put me on the spot, asking me to pitch some book ideas to him. One of those was Barsk and he said “That one!” and here we are several years later with the first book having received critical acclaim, award nominations, and even a win, and the sequel slated for a release this summer.

Readers of the book that actually came out on the penultimate date of 2015 will know that there are no excerpts introducing the chapters. In a couple cases I did find ways to work the exposition into actual chapters, but though the experience of writing them did wonders to solidify Jorl’s voice in my head, for the most part the dozens and dozens of bits were abandoned completely.

Until now.

I’ll be going through them, tidying up the writing here and there, and releasing them as bonus material to those folks who subscribe to my newsletter.

And who knows, perhaps if The Moons of Barsk is some kind of runaway hit, the good folks at Tor will ask me to gather up all these “Barsk Bits” and publish them as a chapbook. After all, stranger things have already happened or you’d never have seen that first book.

Oh, and if you’re now eager to sign up for my newsletter, just click this link.

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