Make 2015 the year that you introduce yourself to Ken Scholes. One of the beauties of the internet and social media is that you intersect with people you will probably never meet in person and then they introduce you to things you might not have otherwise seen. Many of my favorite things have come to me this way. Through a Facebook friend whom I may never meet in person, I read “If Dragon’s Mass Eve Be Cold and Clear.” I wrote a review and as a thank you, the author sent me his first collection of short stories – Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys. I’ve read the whole thing in one sitting and liked every story in it.
I love being dropped into a fully formed world and finding my way along. Scholes stories, whether they are set on another world, or in an alternate history, are a slice, or a drink, or a droplet of a fully formed world. The stories are densely layered with detail and meaning, but he also leaves tremendous space. I can feel the age and the history and the other lives that are happening in them even though I can’t see them. The characters, even the non-human characters, are overflowing with humanity. An adventurer and a dragon bond over the loss of a spouse. A metal man weeps at the destruction of a civilization. A troll falls in love.
I can’t recommend this collection strongly enough. The stories are beautifully written and cover the range of emotions. If you read only one story in the collection, read “The Last Flight of the Goddess.” It is one of the funniest sad stories and heartbreaking funny stories I’ve read. Ever. I can’t possibly be doing this collection justice in this review, but the end of the year is fast approaching, and I don’t have the time I would like to read and re-read before writing and re-writing. So I leave you with this – go buy this collection. Give Ken Scholes your money. Buy his Psalms of Isaak series (the seeds of which are laid in “Of Metal Men and Scarlet Threads and Dancing with the Sunrise”). Let’s keep him writing.