Issues
2013, 2014, 2015 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #178July 23, 2015
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The Scale-Tree

Zeuxis led them up to the highest storey. There he left them while he went back and forth between darkroom and roof with his camera and the parts to his flying machine, carrying them up to the pavement that surrounded the topmost spire.

The Insurrectionist and the Empress Who Reigns Over Time

In a palace shaped like bromeliads Yin Sanhi sat sipping a liquor of fermented cactus essence and sand persimmon. The chamber was papered by scrolls of proverbs on statecraft. The mathematicians and artists meant to send her dancers in pale silk and musicians with wrists like flutes, but she had declined, choosing instead silence and solitude.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Stone Prayers
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 32:04 — 22.03MB)
Mattar comes to the house of Anaharesh in search of a single word; a word to end a war.
From the Archives:
A Spoonful of Salt
He tasted of salt. Naomi half-expected to see him melting in the places where her mouth had been.
Issue #177July 09, 2015
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Seasons Set in Skin

Slipping into the dead girl's body was like meditating inside a stone, cold and still. Yōsei filled her with tendrils of gold and divided life energy between two bodies—one cold and dead, the other hot and familiar. The girl was too plump, too dense, and filled with tiny creatures that decomposed her flesh. These Yōsei banished, drowning them in golden light.

Stone Prayers

It is the nature of empire to calve new words, and Mattar has walked ruined roads and suffocating marketplaces to find them. She knows the word for how a Kilin-kasa woman turns a wax-melon in her hands three times before she asks a price—tsa-tsa-tsa. She knows the name the now-dead Enokoans had for her, diabi-sai, witch-mother. She knows, too, the syllables of the arrows of the Hasha as they fall, tulbuku, on Korondi shields and Korondi flesh.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Court Bindings
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 19:23 — 13.32MB)
The sparrow had too diminutive a mind to realize it could serve you longer by taking time to eat and sleep.
From the Archives:
Our Fire, Given Freely
I will earn no glory here, Rider Bray wants to shout. I will still be Rider. I will still be a woman with a name that spreads its legs across a horse.
Issue #176June 25, 2015
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The Girl with Golden Hair

“You’re a liar,” said the girl with golden hair. “You lie to keep us in check. You lie about the fish people to keep us here, so we won’t try to escape down the river. And you lie about the mountains, so we won’t go there, either. You lie about the blood tax being integral to the wealth of the city. What could you possibly use the blood for?”

Court Bindings

Then there's the sparrow you set to chirping an alert whenever someone approaches your suite from the palace courtyard. After several days, it falls to the ground and is no doubt claimed by some hungry scavenger. It had too diminutive a mind to realize it could serve you longer by taking time to eat and sleep.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Girl with Golden Hair
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 29:07 — 19.99MB)
“Where are all the people?” she asked. I neighed, unsure. Why would they hide in their caves when two strangers appeared?
Audio Vault:
The Nine-Tailed Cat
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 16:33 — 11.37MB)
Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
Pilgrims
I stared at him, feeling the dirt of travel and the coarse fabric of the borrowed peasant’s wools against my skin.
Issue #175June 11, 2015
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Featuring new cover art: “Migration” by Julie Dillon.


On Freedom of Agency and the Finding of Lost Hearts

I thought about hitting him and taking what Gilga-Yar was after. But this old man had me curious, and my patron’s lack of forthrightness with me made me want all the more to know what was going on. So I took the shovel and the knife. “What am I doing with these?”

Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds

—all around me, a great ring of warriors, clothed in armor of polished bronze and headgear of enameled tin feathers that rattled in the wind; warriors with curved breasts and also beards, their faces lighter brown in color than my own, their hands wrapped around pennons and spears. Between them prowled small lions, feather-maned and winged, that bared at me thin fangs of sharpened emerald.

"A rich and rewarding work... This story is an accomplished work of rare insight." —Tangent Online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Warriors, The Mothers, The Drowned
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 32:50 — 30.06MB)
Ana thought the land of the dead would be empty, but it is full to bursting.
From the Archives:
Throwing Stones
By the end of each night I had nearly adjusted, only to be wrenched back to my natural form at the first whisper of dawn.
Issue #174May 28, 2015
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Two to Leave

I had not entered the parched lands entirely unprepared. I had an excellent pair of boots—good boots are underrated everywhere—and I was almost glad the ferryman would not accept them in exchange for passage. I had the Apiarist's Gun, made to fit my hand. And as for nourishment, that took care of itself, even here.

"An original melding of several classic fantastic tropes... But the heart of the story is the relationship that develops between the two deadly characters. Delightfully done. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Warriors, The Mothers, The Drowned

Ana thought the land of the dead would be empty, but it is full to bursting. With gods’ turquoise bones, with small grimacing golems fashioned from maize and bone-thin fellow travelers wandering across the desert on their hands and knees, with temples so black and shimmering that she can’t quite make herself look at them.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Two to Leave
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:35 — 19.63MB)
The Drought Guard had sent twelve-and-twelve of their own after me, which might have held numerological significance if I still cared about such things.
From the Archives:
Crossroads and Gateways
“You would ask me a question, little god?”
Issue #173May 14, 2015
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Featuring a special large-cast reading of BCS150: The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto by Bill Powell, in celebration of the 150th episode of the BCS Audio Fiction Podcast.


Out of the Rose Hills

Tirene was so relieved not to smell roses upon waking that she almost found it difficult to care whether they would be able to find magic or metaphor to get rid of the shadow lady. This pleasant sensation was dispelled halfway through her breakfast of oat cakes, maple syrup, and berries, when the shadow lady swept into the sunny taproom.

The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto

JACQUENETTE: Monsieur Cartwright! Early?

WHITLOCK: (aside) An identical response! Perhaps free will is a mere illusion. On the other hand, she's an automaton.

(JACQUENETTE slaps him.)

JACQUENETTE: How dare you employ such a term for a lady!

WHITLOCK : How dare you eavesdrop on an obvious aside!

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 39:58 — 27.45MB)
WHITLOCK: (aside) An identical response! Perhaps free will is a mere illusion. On the other hand, she's an automaton.
From the Archives:
The Adventure of the Pyramid of Bacconyus
The three cousins walked through a tunnel low enough that their head leaves brushed and bent on the ceiling.
Issue #172 – Special Weird Western IssueApril 30, 2015
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Special Weird Western issue, celebrating the release of our new theme anthology Ceaseless West: Weird Western Stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies.


Splitskin

My love reveled in winter's sunbroken days, when the light spills to the fresh-fallen snow to stab a person in the eyes. Gugán flit from path to stone, a trickster comfortable with his Raven heritage. I, as Eagle, startled at every shift of snow, caught always unawares in the bright sun as he pelted me with clumps of melting cold.

Swallowing Silver

John Halpern knew it should be a heavy weight on his conscience, to wake up and know that he was going to kill a thing that used to be a man. Whether it was or wasn't was a topic of much internal contemplation for him as he walked up the long path to his brother-in-law's house to ask for help. The fact that his brother-in-law was himself a devil-man did not escape him.

The Snake-Oil Salesman and the Prophet’s Head

Leaving Leo alone, with his brother's head. Leo stepped closer to the jar. Cary's white-blond hair floated up from his skull, the tips waving slightly. It looked like strands of spiderweb, or exposed nerves. "You still telling people things they don't want to hear?" He tapped on the glass. As if he might rouse it to speech.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Swallowing Silver
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 47:40 — 32.73MB)
John Halpern knew it should be a heavy weight on his conscience, to wake up and know that he was going to kill a thing that used to be a man.
Audio Vault:
Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:25 — 19.52MB)
Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies
The angel Azrael surveyed the remains of the town. The place was as dead as the horse he sat on.
Issue #171April 16, 2015
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The Fires of Mercy

The sandstorm had blanketed the world the night before. Sand hung still on the leaves of the palm trees; sand sat on a skim atop the water; sand pillowed against rocks. Grains swept the crevices of palm trees, shone like jewels in the sun.

Sinseerly A Friend & Yr. Obed’t

Mr. Stutley Northup is not a magistrate. Why, he's not even a lawyer. But if people are free to come to him with their controversies, he is just as free to offer his opinion; and if they choose to act on it, well, that's their own lookout.

"The narrative wanders, entertainingly so... But there is a second, more subtle mystery that reveals itself only at the end, requiring readers to do some re-thinking of the evidence. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Fires of Mercy
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 33:00 — 22.67MB)
The assassin, the mother, and the child fled into the desert.
Audio Vault:
Hangman
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:10 — 23.46MB)
Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
The Book of Autumn
I made the truth something those duty old men couldn’t ignore.
Issue #170April 02, 2015
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Featuring new cover art: “Twisted Mountain Valley” by Christopher Balaskas. Enter giveaways to win a signed copy of Cat Rambo’s new novel Beasts of Tabat, set in the same world as “Primaflora’s Journey,” or a signed copy of her collection Near + Far.


Primaflora’s Journey

After that it became an act of defiance, growing out her hair. Every morning she lay in her cell amid the mass of it she had strained to produce over the course of the night, feeling herself drawn thinner, tighter, counting the sweet hay smell surrounding her a victory.

Wild Things Got to Go Free

My cousin Ren was waiting for Mama in the kitchen, pacing. When he looked at me, I saw the flickering light in his eyes, just like Mama's. He was going away, too. It looked like nobody would get to say goodbye to him properly, either. I hated the soldiers so much it hurt.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Sixth Day
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 20:11 — 13.87MB)
Except one day, Cassie ain't telling me what will vanish. She tells me something's coming.
From the Archives:
Of Thinking Being and Beast
Boreas crushed the keys in his palm to silence them.