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Ken Scholes

Fiction and Excerpts [11]

Fiction and Excerpts [11]

Requiem (Excerpt)

, || Who is the Crimson Empress, and what does her conquest of the Named Lands really mean? Who holds the keys to the Moon Wizard's Tower? The plots within plots are expanding as the characters seek their way out of the maze of intrigue. The world is expanding as they discover lands beyond their previous carefully controlled knowledge. Hidden truths reveal even deeper truths, and nothing is as it seemed to be.

Five Books About Writing that Made Me a Better Writer

I started devouring books around second grade and by around fifth grade, I was reading adult fiction along with young adult and middle grade fiction. After lots and lots of fiction, it was a non-fiction book that first offered me that siren’s call to writing my own stories. I was thirteen years old. It was an old textbook and after reading just one essay, I knew I had to be a writer. I started writing stories out by hand and then enrolled in a typing class as soon as I was allowed to. I got a little portable manual typewriter and started submitting manuscripts. I had a dozen rejection slips before I gave it up and ran away to join the ministry.

After a decade immersed in that, I came back to it in my later twenties. It must have stuck because here we are, twenty years after I started getting serious about writing, and I’ve got some books of my own out in the world. Looking back across those two decades, I can see the writing books that really helped me stretch and grow and find my storytelling legs. I talk about them a bit below, introducing each with a quote to give you a bit of each book’s flavor.

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Series: Five Books About…

Jay Lake and the Last Temple of the Monkey King

From Beth Meacham, Senior Editor at Tor Books, on the acquisition of this short story:

Several days before Jay Lake’s death on June 1st, I was talking to Ken about his unfinished novel, science fiction, the universe and related subjects. He said he’d just run across the third of the stories about Jay that he’d written for Jay’s birthday parties. He wondered if I wanted to read it. I said “sure!” It was funny and loving and contained much of the essence of Jay.

And then three days later, Jay died, just five days before his 50th birthday. No party this year. I asked Ken what he thought about having publish the birthday story, which has never before seen print. Somehow, it seems like a good idea. Jay would walk an extra ten miles uphill to get a good laugh, and there’s no reason not to honor that in his passing. Here’s Ken’s own description of how the story emerged into existence:

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Reflections of a Repentant Book Burner

Whenever Banned Book Week comes around, I feel a bit of a jolt as my past revisits me and reminds me just where I come from and how far I’ve travelled. You see, I once favored banning books. I thought that controlling the ideas people were exposed to—and the thoughts and feelings those might evoke—was not just prudent but necessary in order to keep the world on track…especially by keeping our children safe from what I perceived as dangerous. And back around 1982, I even joined the ranks of the frightened, ignorant and narrow-minded by actually burning some books. I got better.

This is how it happened.

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Series: Banned Books Week 2013

Requiem (Excerpt)

Check out Requiem by Ken Scholes, out on June 18:

Ken Scholes’s debut novel, Lamentation, was an event in fantasy. It was followed by Canticle and Antiphon. Now comes the fourth book in the series, Requiem.

Who is the Crimson Empress, and what does her conquest of the Named Lands really mean? Who holds the keys to the Moon Wizard’s Tower?

The plots within plots are expanding as the characters seek their way out of the maze of intrigue. The world is expanding as they discover lands beyond their previous carefully controlled knowledge. Hidden truths reveal even deeper truths, and nothing is as it seemed to be.

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If Dragon’s Mass Eve Be Cold And Clear

Muscles tire. Words fail. Faith fades. Fear falls. In the Sixteenth Year of the Sixteen Princes the world came to an end when the dragon’s back gave out. Poetry died first followed by faith. One by one the world-strands burst and bled until ash snowed down on huddled masses whimpering in the cold.

The Santaman came reeking of love into this place and we did not know him.

This is his story.

This is our story, too.

The Santaman Cycle, Authorized Standard Version
Verity Press, 2453 YD

[Continue reading “If Dragon’s Mass Eve Be Cold and Clear”]

Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

No one ever asks a clown at the end of his life what he really wanted to be when he grew up. It’s fairly obvious. No one gets hijacked into the circus. We race to it, the smell of hotdogs leading us in, our fingers aching for the sticky pull of taffy, the electric shock of pink cotton on our tongue. Ask a lawyer and he’ll say when he was a kid he wanted to be an astronaut. Ask an accountant; he’ll say he wanted to be fireman.

I am a clown. I have always wanted to be a clown. And I will die a clown if I have my way.

[My name is Merton D. Kamal.]

Intersections and Interlopers

Editor’s note: Readers of the Kindle Edition of Ken Scholes’ Antiphon, third volume in his Psalms of Isaak series, found themselves suddenly flung out of the Named Lands at the beginning of Chapter 16, and into the world of Lisa Desrochers Personal Demons. Somehow, bits had flipped and tables had swapped, and the story of Frannie, Luc and Gabe was substituted into Rudolfo’s tent. Alert readers alerted us. Frantic phone calls were made, fiery emails were written. Files were pulled, and intact duplicates were substituted.

And Ken Scholes, being the frighteningly creative writer that he is, decided that the most fun he could have with this strange occurance was to collaborate with Lisa on a scene showing Rudolfo’s reaction….

– Beth Meacham

Chapter 15.5

Intersections and Interlopers

A cold wind moaned outside the command tent and Rudolfo blessed the warmth of his small furnace and the warmed cup of firespice he held loosely in his hands even as he considered the girl who stood with Lysias before him.

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Looking for Truth in a Wild Blue Yonder

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

Ten years after my parents died, my therabot, Bob, informed me that I should seek help elsewhere. I blinked at his suggestion.

“I’ve already tried chemical intervention,” I told his plastic grin. “It didn’t work.” I scowled, but that did nothing to de-brighten his soothing, chipper voice.

“Booze doesn’t count, Charlie.”

“I tried weed, too.”

Bob shook his head. “Nothing therapeutic there, either, I’m afraid.” He sighed and imitated the movements of pushing himself back from his imitation wood desk. “You are experiencing what we like to call complicated grief.”

Complicated grief. As if I hadn’t heard that one before.

Dad had died badly. He’d been on one of the trains that got swallowed by the Sound back on the day we lost Seattle. He’d called me from his cell phone with his last breath, as the water poured in, to let me know he wasn’t really my father.

We lost the signal before he could tell me who he actually was. Naturally, I called Mom. She answered just before the ceiling of the store she was shopping in collapsed.

Both parents in one day. Fuck yes, complicated grief.

And a side helping of unknown paternity.

Bob continued. “Ten years is a long time, Charlie. I want you to call this number and ask for Pete.” His eyes rolled in their sockets as his internal processors accessed his files. My phone chirped when his text came through. He extended a plastic tentacle tipped with a three-fingered white clown’s glove. “I hope you find your way.”

I scowled again and shook his offered hand. “So you’re firing me as a patient?”

“Be well,” he said. His eyes went dead and his hand dropped back to the artificial oak surface of his desk.

* * *

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The Starship Mechanic

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

The floor of Borderlands Books had been polished to mirror brightness. A nice trick with old knotty pine, but Penauch would have been a weapons-grade obsessive-compulsive if he’d been human. I’d thought about setting him to detailing my car, but he’s just as likely to polish it down to aluminum and steel after deciding the paint was an impurity.

When he discovered that the human race recorded our ideas in books, he’d been impossible to keep away from the store. Penauch didn’t actually read them, not as such, and he was most reluctant to touch the volumes. He seemed to view books as vehicles, launch capsules to propel ideas from the dreaming mind of the human race into our collective forebrain.

Despite the fact that Penauch was singular, unitary, a solitary alien in the human world, he apparently didn’t conceive of us as anything but a collective entity. The xenoanthropologists at Berkeley were carving Ph.D.s out of that particular clay as fast as their grad students could transcribe Penauch’s conversations with me.

He’d arrived the same as David Bowie in that old movie. No, not Brother from Another Planet; The Man Who Fell to Earth. Tumbled out of the autumn sky over the Cole Valley neighborhood of San Francisco like a maple seed, spinning with his arms stretched wide and his mouth open in a teakettle shriek audible from the Ghost Fleet in Suisun Bay all the way down to the grubby streets of San Jose.

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An Unexpected Novel and the Influences that Birthed it

I’ve talked elsewhere about the dare between me, my wife and Jay Lake that turned into Lamentation. And I think by now, most folks know that it started out as a short story, “Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise” (available in my collection Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys from Fairwood Press). I’d envisioned four short stories but half way through the cycle, it became obvious (to Jay and Jen at least) that I was really writing a novel. Wait, scratch that: A series of novels.

I’ve talked about most of that in interviews that have popped up in various places over the last few months.

I’ve not talked as much about the influences that fed me both before and during the writing of it.

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A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon

Frederico leaned close to smell the poison on his thirteenth wife’s cold, dead lips. It tickled his nose and he resisted the strong desire to kiss her that suddenly overcame him.

That you might lose yourself from sadness by my lips, my husband and Czar, her open, glassy eyes promised him. He looked away, uncomfortable with her empty, inviting stare.

Behind him, the Minister of the Interior cleared his voice and spoke. “The cabinet feels it would be more stabilizing to consider this an assassination. Jazrel was a most popular wife.”

Frederico nodded. She had quite a following among the young girls in Espira, the region she represented, and this was a dance he knew. He’d been in this very room three years ago to watch them cut his ninth wife’s body down.

When Sasha had hung herself with a rope of knotted silk, six thousand young women in Borut had done the same to declare sisterhood with their region’s wife.

“Assassination,” he agreed. For a moment, he felt a stab of guilt when he thought about the young girls who spent their childhoods emulating his wives in the hopes that one day they would be chosen. I’ve robbed them of an ending, he thought.

He turned now to his Minister of Intelligence. “I assume you concur, Pyrus?”

“Yes, Lord Czar,” he answered. Pyrus was a large man, his beard and hair close cropped. He held the Czar and his tears in quiet disdain but Frederico did not fault him for this. Pyrus had climbed the ranks from private to general during the fifty-year war with their bloated southern neighbor, a nation of leftovers from the defunct Engmark Republic. He’d retired into his intelligence role, bringing an edge to it that only a soldier could bring. He was a hard man from hard times. He ran a hand through his hair. “We implicate the Lunar Resurgence,” he said.

Frederico’s eyes wandered back to his dead wife and he sighed. “And then host a Purging?” He looked up now, forcing himself to meet Pyrus’s eyes.

Pyrus nodded. “The black-coats are already lacquering their guns. We could put the Resurgence away quickly enough and be done with their idle mysticism.”

The Czar contemplated this. He glanced back to his dead wife, Jazrel, and sighed again. “I suppose it would be timely,” he finally said.

But not even the thought of a Purging could lift his downcast spirit.

* * *

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Introductions At the End of the Analog Age

Howdy folks! Ken Scholes here. I’m going to be dropping by over the month of February to spend some time with you. I wanted to introduce myself for those of you who aren’t familiar with me or my work.

I blog under the handle Trailer Boy over at Discombobulated Pensivity in the Double Wide of Life. And if you follow that blog, you’ll already know it’s rather scarce. Blogging isn’t a natural strength of mine.

My short stories have been showing up in various venues for nearly a decade now. My first collection, Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys, recently sailed out into the world under Fairwood Press colors just ahead of the release of my first novel, Lamentation, book one in a five volume series from Tor. Folks have said a lot of nice things about both books; I’m grateful for that. And Lamentation hits shelves on February 17, which is an interesting date for it. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

Over the month of February we’ll have an opportunity to get to know one another a bit better. I don’t really have anything fancy or earth-shattering to say; I’m just glad to be here. I’ll post a few times a week. You’ll get to see (and hear my ubertalented pal Mary Robinette Kowal read) my novelette, “A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon.” And is working with Fairwood Press to bring you a free e-copy of my first stand alone project, Last Flight of the Goddess, a D&D love story I wrote for my wife that later became a limited edition hardcover and the Last Flights portion of my collection’s title.

So just to get things going, here’s a bit about me by way of introduction.

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The Rise of the Named Lands: A Brief History of the Settlement of the New World and the Establishment of Kin-Clave (Excerpt)

Ken Scholes gives us a tiny bit of the history of the world he created for his novel Lamentation.


An Excerpt from The Rise of the Named Lands: A Brief History of the Settlement of the New World and the Establishment of Kin-Clave

By Arch-Scholar Tertius

First, when contemplating the settlement of the New World, it is critical to remember that from the viewpoint of our neighbors to the north and northeast, settlement took place 500 years prior to the arrival of the Androfrancines and their caravans of survivors. In the minds of Gypsies and Marshers alike, they held first claim to this new world. After all, the Wizard King Xhum Y’Zir actually deeded them the lands locked behind Keeper’s Wall just prior to his death choirs marching out into the old world. It is said that Pope Windwir himself once saw the deed while visiting the Marsh King Grunric. He described the Wizard King’s seal upon the golden parchment in great detail in his 242nd letter to Entrolus.

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