With these 17 tales, Ken Scholes invites you to his Imagination Forest. You’ll find a toy bear of Little Brain tasked with a Very Long Walk and a mysterious metal man with the power to bring down a city and the heart to weep for it. Follow Meriwether Lewis west, seeking the source of a mysterious scrap of currency from the future. Laugh and cry as Andro Giantslayer recounts the highlights of his dungeon-crawling, dragon-slaying and diaper-changing career with Luendyl the Fierce and Fair. Learn exactly how Cain found himself a wife, see what superheroes get up to in their sunset years, and watch Hodgson and Houdini as they traverse the landscape of Hell in search of Michelangelo’s Crystalline Ear. And along the way, keep your eyes open. You’ll meet alien babies, messianic Santas, typing chimps and maybe, if you look carefully, you’ll find some off-brand love and a little bit of hope in Drum Farrelly’s supply room. Buckle up. Hang on. A ride in the Imagination Forest is bound to be a strange journey . . .
"While Long Walks... gathers stories that first made it into print no earlier than 2004, the beginning of Ken Scholes' professional career, you'd never mistake him for a journeyman. Even literary 'exercises' written for workshops, or 'challenges' written for the hell of it, are far more than idle inventions. Reviewing his limited-edition novelette Last Flight of the Goddess as a Short Take back in January of last year, I didn't really do him justice . . . Themes link some works, like several extraordinary pieces set in a changeable Hell that's more like a Purgatory for unusual people, real or imagined. The range is remarkable. Horror, grim humor and SF . . .science fiction, children's tale, and true pathos. . .Southern evangelism transformed by pre-Christian idols. . . Go check out this astonishing book."
—Faren Miller, Locus
"In his first story collection, sf newcomer Scholes displays a rare gift for inventive storytelling that already invites comparisons with the genre’s leading practitioners. His crisply minimalist prose paradoxically gives rise to an abundance of cleverly original ideas and is often permeated by black humor. At a nursing home for retired superheroes, the caped residents harass the nursing staff and reminisce about the old days. The intelligent chimpanzees trained to work on a moon-based mining colony make a sudden evolutionary leap and begin killing off their human hosts. Meriwether Lewis crosses paths with D. B. Cooper after the lost hijacker from the 1970s becomes stranded 200 years in the past. In the volume’s standout tale, “Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk,” Scholes’ homage to A. A. Milne recounts the fate of the lone survivor of a colonization effort on a hostile planet: an intelligently programmed toy bear. Scholes’ lucidly written afterword sheds light on the genesis for all those crazy ideas and provides a fitting warm-up for what will doubtless become an illustrious career."
"Scholes' path reflects an increasing willingness to abandon strangeness as a means of arriving back at the quotidian truths of human existence. His choice to push his characters into more challenging emotional terrain with each new venture of the imagination makes him an exciting vehicle of discovery."
—Internet Review of Science Fiction
"Smart, savvy, poetic and the best damned thing you’re likely to pick up for less than twenty bucks any time soon."
—Jonathan Strahan, author of The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy
"Ken’s writing has the brilliance of short story masters like Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and a voice fresh with the needs of the extraordinary times we are living in."
—Brenda Cooper, author of Reading the Wind
"One of the best new writers coming into the field."
—Dean Wesley Smith
"Beautifully written and deeply moving."
—Mary Robinette Kowal
"A wonderful, unique blend of science fiction and fantasy."
—James C. Glass, author of The Viper of Portello
"A truly original voice. Ken Scholes has the goods."
—Josh Rountree, author of Can't Buy Me Faded Love
"I’ve spent weeks trying to find the appropriate adjectives to describe how much I like Ken Scholes’ stories. I finally figured it. Wow. That’s it. Wow—just plain wow."
—Ken Rand, author of The 10% Solution
"This is the golden age of fantasy, with a dozen masters doing their best work. Then along comes Ken Scholes, with his amazing clarity, power, and invention, and shows us how it’s done."
—Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game
"A keen eye for action and a keen ear for the sounds of the human heart. A hot new voice to watch for. . .Grab on now, because he's going places."
—Harry Turtledove, author of The Man with the Iron Heart