This is book number 1 in the Barsk series.
The Sixth Sense meets Planet of the Apes in a moving science fiction novel set so far in the future, humanity is gone and forgotten in Lawrence M. Schoen's Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard
An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.
In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity's genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.
To break the Fant's control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend's son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.
“Weird, wise, and worldly, Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard is a triumph.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues
“The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you're reading a work of singular imaginative power. It's a delight from beginning to end.” —Walter Jon Williams, Nebula Award-winning author of the Metropolitan series
“A captivating, heartwarming story in a unique and fantastic world... as rich and mysterious as Dune.” —James L. Cambias, author of A Darkling Sea
“A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory.” —Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence
“A masterful, onion-layered tale of pariahdom, treachery, and genocide that ultimately reveals the true deathlessness of hope and love.” —Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire
“Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world. What really makes it work is how he deftly weaves together startling SFnal ideas with character-based intrigue. You'll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien. I found it a compulsive page-turner and immensely enjoyable.” —Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep
“Powerful. Grand in scope, yet deeply intimate. Schoen gives anthropomorphism some serious spirituality. It got inside my head in the way that only an exciting new idea can.” —Howard Tayler, Hugo Award-winning creator of Schlock Mercenary