The Universe of Barsk

Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard


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.


The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you’re reading a work of singular imaginative power.
—Walter Jon Williams

Weird, wise, and worldly, Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard is a triumph.
—Robert J. Sawyer


The Moons of Barsk

The Moons of Barsk


High-concept science fiction, deeply human characters, and a weirdly wonderful story drive The Moons of Barsk, the sequel to the award-winning Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Pizlo, the lonely young outcast and physically-challenged Fant, 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 in 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.


A captivating, heartwarming story in a unique and fantastic world… as rich and mysterious as Dune. —James L. Cambias

A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory.
—Max Gladstone

A masterful, onion-layered tale of pariahdom, treachery, and genocide that ultimately reveals the true deathlessness of hope and love.
—Charles E. Gannon



Excerpts of Jorl ben Tral

Excerpts of Jorl ben Tral

Jorl ben Tral is a Fant, one of the two species of anthropomorphic elephants that inhabit the island rainforests of the planet Barsk. He’s also a Speaker, gifted with the ability to converse with the dead, a talent he uses in his daily life as an historian at the university.

Jorl is a tenured professor of some repute.

His response to the academic adage “publish or perish” has been nothing short of prolific, far too vast to include in any collection.

Now, for the first time, brief excerpts from a selection of this unparalleled scholar’s work have been compiled to reveal thought provoking glimpses not only into the life and culture of the Fant, but also the larger galaxy of furred sapients and their seemingly hardwired discrimination that colors both their interactions with their elephantine fellows and their everyday choices.

Set in a distant future of a galaxy that no longer recalls the humanity that spawned it, the writings of Jorl ben Tral nonetheless reveal much about the human condition, as can only be told through the words of this descendant of our own Loxodonta africana.


Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world… You’ll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien.
—Karl Schroeder

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


Soup of the Moment

Soup of the Moment

Return to the award-winning world of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard and The Moons of Barsk in this prequel that reveals the true story behind the classic bedtime story of Pholo, the Fant who could fly!

In the distant future, the galaxy is filled with the descendants of raised mammals created by the long-forgotten human race. Nearly all of these anthropomorphic peoples are furred, except for the Fant — furless beings with enormous ears and bizarre prehensile trunks — who because of their differences were rounded up centuries ago and relocated to Barsk, a wet world no one else wanted.

But the Fant have adapted and prospered in their isolation, having grown accustomed to the near constant rainfall and making the island rainforests of Barsk their home.

On one of these islands lives Pholo, a young scientist with a radical theory: what if you could harness the power of the storms and use it fly‽

To test her theory she has built a prototype, a transduction engine that appears to work, albeit with a sizable radioactive side effect.

Pholo believes she’s solved the problems of flying suit but her lovers — a poet named Bindle and a physician named Gavi — are worried about radiation.

Her great great grandmother is concerned she’s making a mistake, and is offering her the family soup business if Pholo will just put all this science foolishness aside.

And her therapist fears that Pholo’s obsession with flight is blinding her to the importance of the people in her life who truly love her.

Is Pholo’s theory right? Can she succeed in flying? And if so, at what cost?