Future Treasures: The Last Witness by K. J. Parker

Future Treasures: The Last Witness by K. J. Parker

The Last Witness-smallBestselling fantasy author K.J. Parker, author of The Scavenger trilogy and The Engineer trilogy, disclosed that he’s actually famed British novelist Tom Holt on the Coode Street Podcast on April 22. It was a revelation that stunned many (me included), as over the last 17 years Holt has continued his prolific output under his own name, while simultaneously writing over a dozen novels as K.J. Parker. That’s an impressive accomplishment. Parker’s latest release is the fifth book in Tor.com‘s new line of premium novellas. The Last Witness is a classic Parker tale, with a strong supporting cast of princes, courtiers, merchants, academics, and generally unsavory people.

When you need a memory to be wiped, call me.

Transferring unwanted memories to my own mind is the only form of magic I’ve ever mastered. But now, I’m holding so many memories I’m not always sure which ones are actually mine, any more. Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I’m trying to bury…

Check out all ten Tor.com fall novellas (including sample chapters!) here.

See the complete list of Tor.com novellas we’ve covered so far below.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
Sunset Mantle by Alter S. Reiss
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
The Last Witness by K. J. Parker
Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
The Builders by Daniel Polansky
Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
The Shootout Solution by Michael R. Underwood
The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Check out the first ten Tor.com novellas (with sample chapters!) here, and see the complete line-up here.

The Last Witness will be published by Tor.com on October 6, 2015. It is 144 pages, priced at $12.99 in trade paperback and $2.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Jon Foster.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.

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Until Holt came forward the rumors I was aware of always assumed Parker was a woman, why was that again?

Sarah Avery

Here’s my best guess:

Women who are known to be women get paid less, reviewed less, and promoted less. Women who are believed to be men get paid, reviewed, and promoted like men do, just in case they turn out to be men, at least until people begin to suspect. Why would a writer who actually was male conceal his identity and risk being believed to be a woman, with the loss of income and access to professional resources that entails? Therefore, the thinking would go, K.J. Parker must be a woman, because then she would only stand to gain by concealing her identity.

Rich Horton

Indeed many rumors held that Parker might be a woman, but I have to say, I always thought that unlikely … a read of, say, THE ENGINEER’S TRILOGY, and its view of men and women, seems to me to militate against such a thought.

As I’ve noted before, I deduced that Parker might be Holt on first reading Parker (based on similarities of style and especially tone between Parker’s work and Holt’s great historical fiction about Ancient Greece such as THE WALLED ORCHARD), something I’m pretty proud of, perhaps unduly so.

Joe H.

I had the impression that Holt went out of his way to cultivate the notion that Parker was female? If you go read those original Parker author biographical pieces, you’ll note that there’s nary a pronoun to be seen.

And yes, Sarah’s comment is depressingly accurate.

Sarah Avery

Holt must really, really have wanted to misdirect people. Has he said why it was so important to keep his two authorial personae separate in the reading public’s mind?

Sarah Avery

Oh, coolness! I followed the link to the post about the Coode Street Podcast, and found this excellent suggestion from Keranih:

Yah know what I would love? I’ll tell you what I would love. What I would love is if, for Christmas this year, BG put up a big ol’ list of notable works published in 1941 – particularly shorts – which in your opinion should be considered for the 2016 Retro Hugos.

There’s enough time before the winter holidays for someone who knows his/her way around the classics of 1941 to put together such a post. I’m the wrong person for the job, but I would love to read one.


I stopped reading Parker. The writing is very good, but there’s an unpleasant overtone of misanthropy that just gets depressing after a while.

Rich Horton

I’ll try to get something written about the classics of 1940 (not 1941!) before the end of the year, sure.

(Note: just as the Hugos of 2016 are for work published in 2015, the Retro-Hugos of 2016 are for work from 75 years before 2015.)

As for why Holt wanted a pseudonym, he has said that he didn’t want readers of his lighthearted comic fantasies to be shocked by the rather darker tone of the Parker novels. (He also began publishing his historical novels as by “Thomas Holt”, probably for similar reasons.)

By the way, I strongly urge people to seek out Holt’s historicals — they are truly brilliant, especially THE WALLED ORCHARD.

Joe H.

Yeah, “rather darker” tone in the sense of pitch black. And I also see the misanthropy. But that doesn’t keep me from reading the books altogether — it just means that I have to space them out.

(Which reminds me: I’ve read the first three trilogies — need to add The Company to my queue.)

Joe H.

And there’s an interview with Holt/Parker on Mahvesh Murad’s Midnight in Karachi podcast. Short, but interesting discussion. Be warned, though, that Holt’s audio is … not great.

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