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paulgoatallen
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The Lamentation (by Ken Scholes) Thread: Psalms of Isaak #1

[ Edited ]

Lamentation 

 

 

Finally! After six months of anticipation, Ken Scholes' stellar debut is on the shelves! Publishers Weekly called it "mesmerizing," "unforgettable," and stated that it instantly launches him into the stratosphere of contemporary epic fantasy.

 

The first installment in a five-book saga entitled the Psalms of Isaak, I found Lamentation to be absolutely brilliant. There are so many exceptional narrative elements at work here – world-building, character development, pacing, etc. but the aspect of this novel that just blew me away was Scholes' subtle fusion of fantasy and science fiction.  I frequently run across adventure fantasy cloaked in SF but rarely have I read a book that is simultaneously epic fantasy and SF. 

 

What makes a work of genre fiction a classic? In my mind, it's two things above all else: the storyline has to be original and exceptional, and the themes have to be universal, entertaining and enlightening. We're talking profoundly moving, spiritually (or at least existentially) nurturing, reads like Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Varley's The Persistence of Vision... Lamentation is such a book. 

 

What do you guys think about this book? Is it a classic in the making? How would you classify this novel? Or does it not even matter? Would you consider this a work of post-apocalyptic fiction? Any guesses about what happens in future installments?

Paul 

 

 

 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

[ Edited ]

Ken is going to be here on and off throughout the entire month so feel free to post any questions or comments you may have for him!

Paul 

Message Edited by paulgoatallen on 02-28-2009 10:14 PM
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Nelsmom
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

I loved Issack and Ken made him seem so human that it was hard to remember that he was a machine.  I really felt sorry Neb and what he went through.  It seems to be that it is kind of talking about two apocalyptic events.  One in the past and a small one in the current time of the book.

 

Toni

Toni L. Chapman
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paulgoatallen
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes


Nelsmom wrote:

I loved Issack and Ken made him seem so human that it was hard to remember that he was a machine.


Toni:

Isn't it fascinating that a robot is the one character that epitomizes what it is to be human? Isaak was such a compelling character – I am literally going crazy waiting for the second installment of this series!

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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kenscholes
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Howdy folks!  Ken Scholes here.  Thank you all for your kind words about the book -- it's great to hear that so many of you liked the book. 

 

I'm going to be around for the month of March.  Happy to talk about the book, my writing process, field any questions.  Just to warn you:  I may move a bit slow.  I've been a bit waylaid with Life Stuff and am trying to land Antiphon so that we can get it out to you.  Canticle will be out in October. 

 

For those of you who want to get more familiar with me and my work, there are lots of tidbits and stories linked over at www.kenscholes.com, including my blog Discombobulated Pensivity in the Double-Wide of Life.   There are also some excerpts from Lamentation and a tie-in novelette, "A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon" over at www.Tor.com along with a free downloadable e-copy of my limited edition novelette Last Flight of the Goddess. 

 

Okay.  Big thank you to Paul for inviting me.  I'm glad to be here with you and I'll do my best to keep up.  I'm looking forward to our time together!

 

 

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paulgoatallen
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Ken:

Thanks so much for agreeing to hang out with us  this month – I was obviously blown away by Lamentation and getting a chance to talk with you is truly one of the coolest things ever. 

 

I guess my first set of questions has to be these: What was the inspiration behind The Psalms of Isaak saga?  And when you were writing it, did you feel that, "hey, I have a classic in the making here!"? Also, I loved Lamentation because it touched me spiritually – did you plan for these novels to be so spiritually profound?

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Nadine
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

[ Edited ]

OK, I finished the book and it kept me hooked throught the whole 14 hours of the audio (which was excellent if you have the time). The ending went through a whirlwind of intregue and I'm really happy to know that the next book will be out in October.

 

SPOILERS

After discovering that just about everyone has been groomed for their part in the drama we are still left with the question as to who is the Master Manipulator, who are the "Watchers."? Now assuming we have been introduced already to all the players, do you have any speculation as to who the Master Manipulator might be? It could be (or become) almost anyone.

 

Right now my guess is the Marsh "King". She has been very deceptive, knows more than she lets on, and is wiser beyond her years. She seems to know a lot about what will happen -- maybe it is prophetic dreams, maybe it is more than that. Any other ideas? (Of course Ken is exempt from this since he already knows.)

 

I am definitely going to have to pick up the book since I want to reread some of the parts. I have a feeling that all of the groundwork and clues are here, though I also think Ken will be throwing a few more curves at us as the series moves on.

Message Edited by Nadine on 03-01-2009 01:23 PM
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes


Nelsmom wrote:

I loved Issack and Ken made him seem so human that it was hard to remember that he was a machine.  I really felt sorry Neb and what he went through.  It seems to be that it is kind of talking about two apocalyptic events.  One in the past and a small one in the current time of the book.

 

Toni


I like Isaak a lot too. He is a unique character. But you are going to find this hard to believe -- he is on my short list for Master Manipulator. It is easy to overlook the fact that the power and knowledge is with the mechanicals. At the very least, all of them, especially their "leader" Isaak, are on the same team. This is why I think it is essential for me to reread the book. I'm sure I slid over a lot of clues due to my involvement with the characters and the developing story. And of course, because I listened to it rather than read, and maybe reread, some of the words.

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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes


Nadine wrote:

...I think it is essential for me to reread the book...


Nadine:

I've mentioned this before but I rarely read a book more than once – I can probably count on my hands (and maybe a few toes) the number of books I've read multiple times. But I'm definitely going to re-read Lamentation, hopefully within the next few weeks so that I can come at this discussion with a fresh perspective.

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

[ Edited ]

An interesting bit of "history" of Lamentation by Ken I found on the tor.com site. Ah, ha! More clues!

 

And a sampling from the beginning of the audio book. Just click on the little forward arrow. It runs about eight minutes.

Message Edited by Nadine on 03-01-2009 09:48 PM
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

I think that like Paul and Nadine I will be rereading this book because so much happens that it is easy to miss something.  Also I had not thought about the Master Manipulator aspect that I will need to read it looking for the clues that are in this book.

 

Toni

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kenscholes
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Thanks Paul.  Glad to be here.  It's just as cool for me as it is for you all.  I'm glad for the opportunity to connect with readers.

 

As to inspiration, the series started out as a short story, "Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise," originally written for a small press magazine that had a call out for stories featuring mechanical oddities.  I cooked one up about Rudolfo's Gypsy Scouts finding a metal man sobbing in the middle of a devastated city, not really thinking at all that I might do much more there.

 

The magazine filled up before story got to them but Realms of Fantasy liked it and bought it.  And they hired Allen Douglas to illustrate it.  When I saw his depiction of Isaak, I knew immediately that there was more to the story than I realized.  (You can see his art at http://www.pen-paper.net/artgallery/AllenDouglas/Of+Metal+Men_010+LR10h.jpg.html

 

I started thinking and at the time (because I was ridiculously frightened of writing novels) I was pretty sure I'd do a cycle of four interconnected short stories called The Androfrancine Cycle.  But the second story, "Of Missing Kings and Backward Dreams and the Honoring of Lies," didn't quite stand alone for Realms's tastes so the editor sent it back with a note suggesting I write a novel with these characters in this world.  Between that and a Great Big Dare by Jay Lake and my wife Jen West Scholes, I ended up bookending those stories and filling in the gaps between to create Lamentation. 

 

I don't think I was mindful of anything while I was writing it other than "I must finish this book and win the dare."  Most of the time I was writing, I was pretty convinced that it wasn't much of a book and at one point, I sent Jay the first five chapters fairly convinced that he'd let me off the hook for our dare and send me back to writing short stories.  But the first five chapters really hooked Jay (and my other first readers) into the story.  And then the book itself hooked an agent and then hooked the fine folks at Tor.

 

I've certainly heard a lot of buzz around the book being a classic.  I know a lot of readers are loving it and that some writers whose storytelling muscles I admire are loving it, too.  I think time will tell on that.  I had no sense of writing a classic or even a spiritually profound book while I was doing the work -- I just wanted to break down the wall that was keeping me away from writing longer works of fiction.  I didn't think my first novel would sell at all, much less become a five book series and get the kind of buzz that it's gotten.  To keep perspective, there are some reviewers and readers that haven't enjoyed the book -- they bogged down in the codes, the birds, the world-building, the presence of metal men in a seemingly epic fantasy environment, the short scenes and frequent POV shifts.  Though far more people seem to love it than not based on both reviews and notes from folks who stayed up all night to finish the book.  I'm grateful for that, and I hope folks will come along for the rest of the series as it unfolds.

 

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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

I just ordered Lamentation Myself and can't wait to start reading it. All I've heard are good things totally excited!! 
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Question for Ken

 

OK, I have a question for Ken. Now I am not asking you to give anything away, but is the Psalms of Isaak a mystery puzzle that we maybe able to decipher by careful attention to the detail? I am intrigued by all the intrigue. I am seeing all sorts of easily overlooked "clues" (and a few "red herrings" ) that an astute reader may be able to pick up on (at least in a second reading) that brings a new level for the reader to follow and explore. But my question is: Is this just my take on the story or have you deliberately planned a series of "bread crumbs" that we might follow and possibly guess some of the future twists and turns of the events?

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kenscholes
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Hi Nadine,

 

Great question.  My editor and I were exchanging emails the other day.  She is re-reading Lamentation (actually listening to the audio version) and seeing a lot that has been set up in the first book that I address in Canticle and the first part of Antiphon.

 

I think that the answer is sort of yes and no.  There are a few bits that I've planned but nothing so elaborate as a puzzle that unlocks the story.  I was just writing far too quickly on Lamentation to plan that deeply, but my subconcious did some of that for me.  There are a few places where I "put a pistol on the mantle" so-to-speak, something that should be used later to forward the story, and then, in reading over the book, saw the "pistol" and thought "Aha, something to use in book 2 or book 3...."  So there's a part of this that's very concious and deliberate.  Then there's an organic part that grows as I do the work and read later on what my subconcious was up to.

 

Now, one thing I HAVE done intentionally:  I've created gaps in the books for future short work and I've laid out mythology for earlier series.  For instance, I refer to a decisive fight in the War of Entrolusian Aggression at the Battle for Rachyle's Bridge.   I intend to go back and tell that story later.  In Canticle, we learn Rudolfo and Gregoric sailed with a pirate/smuggler during their youth.  That's a story I will go back and tell later, too.  Right now, there's also another tie in story at Tor.com (I think I linked to it in my introduction here), set about 4,000 years earlier, called "A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon."  It ties in particularly to Canticle but it also fleshes out some of the history and mythology of the age before the reign of the wizard kings.  "Weeping Czar" could very well be the seeds for a new series down the road. 

 

Thanks for your question, Nadine.  I'm utterly delighted that folks are reading the book for a second time so soon.  That is a high compliment indeed! 

 

 

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kenscholes
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Hey Paul!  I actually have a question now!  :smileyhappy:

 

I'm very curious about the spiritual profoundness you found in the book.  Is that something you can describe here without spoilers or should I ask you about it offline?  Just curious about what parts of the book gave you that sense.  I did want it to read like an otherworldly bibilical epic -- with a different kind of "biblical", certainly, than what our world has going on. 

 

One of the things I LOVE about the cover is that it reminds me of the paintings I saw in the family bible as a kid...yet it's so clearly it's own mythology.  Greg Manchess is amazing at what he does.  Wait until you see the cover of Canticle, featuring Winters and Jin Li Tam!

 

 

 

 

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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Thanks, Ken. How about that -- a thinking persons Fantasy epic. I'm going to be going through it with my high-lighter now and probably driving people crazy with my speculations. This might be as much fun as Harry Potter!
The audio does give you a different perspective and you do pick up a lot of missed detail because you can't skim over any of the words. Maybe that is why I started seeing a pattern of clues and set-ups. The advantage of the reading is that you can go back and reread something and check facts on the vague memory of something you heard said earlier that is now clicking into place. If a story has many layers to it as yours does, it is worth doing both.


kenscholes wrote:

Hi Nadine,

 

Great question.  My editor and I were exchanging emails the other day.  She is re-reading Lamentation (actually listening to the audio version) and seeing a lot that has been set up in the first book that I address in Canticle and the first part of Antiphon.

 

I think that the answer is sort of yes and no.  There are a few bits that I've planned but nothing so elaborate as a puzzle that unlocks the story.  I was just writing far too quickly on Lamentation to plan that deeply, but my subconcious did some of that for me.  There are a few places where I "put a pistol on the mantle" so-to-speak, something that should be used later to forward the story, and then, in reading over the book, saw the "pistol" and thought "Aha, something to use in book 2 or book 3...."  So there's a part of this that's very concious and deliberate.  Then there's an organic part that grows as I do the work and read later on what my subconcious was up to.

 

Now, one thing I HAVE done intentionally:  I've created gaps in the books for future short work and I've laid out mythology for earlier series.  For instance, I refer to a decisive fight in the War of Entrolusian Aggression at the Battle for Rachyle's Bridge.   I intend to go back and tell that story later.  In Canticle, we learn Rudolfo and Gregoric sailed with a pirate/smuggler during their youth.  That's a story I will go back and tell later, too.  Right now, there's also another tie in story at Tor.com (I think I linked to it in my introduction here), set about 4,000 years earlier, called "A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon."  It ties in particularly to Canticle but it also fleshes out some of the history and mythology of the age before the reign of the wizard kings.  "Weeping Czar" could very well be the seeds for a new series down the road. 

 

Thanks for your question, Nadine.  I'm utterly delighted that folks are reading the book for a second time so soon.  That is a high compliment indeed! 

 

 


 

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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

OK, now a bit for Paul.
I know you are going to be getting a pre-publication copy and gloating over it and getting the rest of us, who have to wait for the official release date, all psyched up. Is it possible to get Canticle as a First Look book here at B&N? I'm ready!
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Nadine
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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

I don't know if you put in a direct link to "Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon", Ken, but I found it an here is a direct link.

 

I printed it out to read it tonight but I see you can listen to it as well.

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Re: MARCH FEATURE #1: Lamentation by Ken Scholes


Nadine wrote:
OK, now a bit for Paul.
I know you are going to be getting a pre-publication copy and gloating over it and getting the rest of us, who have to wait for the official release date, all psyched up. Is it possible to get Canticle as a First Look book here at B&N? I'm ready!

Nadine:

Great idea – and I am dying to read this! – let me see what my bosses say about it.

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky