2013, 2014 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
— October 30, 2014
Enter to win a free copy of The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry, a new anthology featuring four BCS stories and nine other BCS authors.
Midst-caught, Parry thought he saw those eyes change—their pupils slide sidelong, opening like a cuttlefish's, even as her hips slipped, knees gone triple-jointed, twining 'round his legs like two fishtail tentacles. While the inside of her grew scaled and stringent, scraping him tip to root, leaving her mark forever.
When you are young you think that you will live forever and that no harm will ever come to you. Your friends will stay friends and your lovers lovers, and the most dangerous thing is spotting a wrinkle in your looking glass. Ah, this is not true, my boy! There are worse things than a safe old age.
(Duration: 25:37 — 17.59MB)
Something sat in the rugmaker's belly, small and solid and chill, and her husband's songs ceased to warm it.
(Duration: 49:41 — 34.11MB)
Introduced by the author.
If the General wants her dead, he must agree to my requests.
— October 16, 2014
Featuring a new story by Gregory Norman Bossert, whose previous BCS story “The Telling” in Issue #109 won the World Fantasy Award.
The boy pushed at the arm that held the mirror and his soft white hand slipped along her smooth brown until his fingers brushed the glass and then he froze with a little gasp, and the girl laughed like birds leaping into the sky and the stag under the trees lifted its head antlers like the high branches and the hound howled, once, like a trumpet.
The rugmaker's lips twitched of their own accord, itched to speak her mind, to ask the wise woman what right she had to come and make the rugmaker doubt herself now, while when it had mattered, no one had been surer that the rugmaker had done well to send the warrior away.
(Duration: 34:41 — 23.82MB)
The body's exposed intestines writhed with pale-pink caterpillars, Corpsewing larvae, a sight Yinghua found at once repulsive and fascinating.
(Duration: 43:07 — 29.61MB)
Introduced by the author.
The bees' feet had pricked, Mel remembered, and their fur had tickled as they marched across cheek and through lips, teeth, and tongue.
Featuring new cover art “Golden Age” by Juan Carlos Barquet, four stories, a bonus second podcast read by guest narrator Kate Baker, and giveaways for Richard Parks and K.J. Parker short story collections.
I looked around slowly. I had a talent for spotting ghosts, monsters, foxes, even demons in their disguised forms, but a death spirit? That was something more within Kenji’s purview than my own. “Where?”
My smile broadened. It was lucky for the old man I don't practice my trade for free, or he'd have spent the rest of the day rolling on the floor clutching his guts. “If one of them was a wizard capable of performing that level of enchantment, he'd be a rich man,” I said. “Stands to reason.”
But tonight she finds herself mouthing a prayer in a language she's almost forgotten, a simple sentence asking Quan Am to relieve the suffering of mortals, and she doesn't quite know which well the words come bubbling out of—a feeling of standing on the edge of a dark abyss that frightens her. What else has she forgotten, when she was here with Raoul?
The first dozen or so corpses Yinghua paused to examine yielded nothing. By then her nostrils were so full of the death-stench that proximity to any particular corpse hardly mattered, and her nausea began to settle, as if her body were reluctantly coming to terms with the situation. She saw the carnage in the abstract—this was not a severed limb or a split skull, it was simply part of a butterfly habitat.
(Duration: 32:09 — 22.08MB)
I considered what he had said now as I regarded the rain spirit. “I believe that there’s something the headman isn’t telling us.”
(Duration: 24:48 — 17.04MB)
...where she might well always be the jumped-up little Annamite to other Frenchmen—but what does it matter, if she has Raoul's love?
Whether I was drunk or sober, Princess Teiko haunted my dreams.
— September 18, 2014
I hear the swish of snow falling off branches outside our thick-needled shelter and think, for a strange moment, that the illness is over, that animals will come near us—but no, it’s Oruguaq standing at the narrow opening, with a dead fox slung over her shoulder almost blending into her furs, winter-hidden. She looks like she’s trying not to laugh.
Oh, Earth. Oh, Kansas. Oh, soil. The Holy Lord Himself had had bad soil too, I reckoned. I didn’t know much about far-off Lumbini, Holy Land of His Magnificent Birth, but I had heard preachers tell of its hard, clay-like soil and shrubby flora and pathetic little patches of grass. The Lord Up Above may have been born an Earthly prince, but His kingdom sure sounded dry to me.
(Duration: 50:18 — 34.54MB)
The Lord Buddha spoke to me that night. He said to take my hatchet, dust it off, and get to those towns and saloons out there. Those damnable pits of damnation.
(Duration: 31:25 — 21.57MB)
Introduced by the author.
I stared at him, feeling the dirt of travel and the coarse fabric of the borrowed peasant’s wools against my skin.
— September 04, 2014
As a candy dog I lazed between two street-kitchen buckets. Through the legs of passers-by I glimpsed my real self resting at my stall. Next, I animated the sugar-horse. Nong had convinced an herbalist to hang my horse figurine under his ‘running horse’ lamp. I had worried about the flame but needed this vantage point covered, and so dangled the horse a hopefully safe distance under the lantern’s base.
The body couldn't have been there long; washers and cooks had been coming in, and there were deliveries. Sometimes waitstaff came in early, to pick up a little extra cash working in the kitchen. Or she could have been killed after closing the night before, and just dumped in the morning, or... or anything, really.
(Duration: 37:06 — 25.48MB)
My soul sunk beneath the platform planks and into a sturdy ox figurine with wisps of cooled caramel for its horns.
(Duration: 44:20 — 30.45MB)
Introduced by author Marie Brennan.
He slices through the thong on the cover of the fish basket. Hundreds of sunken eyes stare accusingly up at him.
— August 21, 2014
The tunnel went straight down for a spell, then began to twist and turn. The walls were scored with the marks of pick axes everywhere, and rocks and piles of dirt lined the sides of the tunnel. Further tunnels began to branch off the main one. Only the main tunnel was lit by torches, though, and the group carrying Azrael remained on that path. He received his answer when they came across the bones.
The spider's poison was already taking hold. Rahami's heart raced. Breathing became as difficult as pumping air through damaged bellows. Be calm. Be calm. Her consciousness seeped through Morshimon's skin, into his spine. Breathe, she thought. Breathe with this man. See with this man.
(Duration: 13:49 — 9.5MB)
I hesitate, but only for a second. Surely Rose would forgive me.
(Duration: 30:08 — 20.69MB)
Introduced by audiobook narrator John Meagher.
I had never met this man, this gnarled old usurper who lounged on furniture emblazoned with my ancestors' crest.
— August 07, 2014
Featuring new cover art: “Pillars” by Tomas Honz.
The man hesitates a moment, looking me over. I will eat the core if that is what he demands. I have come too far not to keep going; have yielded what little I was born with except my honor. If I stop now, I will retain nothing.
My left eye has always been weak, where I will lose it fighting to defend the fortress against my sister’s return. My sister has always been the better fencer—she will be faster than I, sure and swift, her blade striking before I can even unsheathe my own sword. She will fall short, though, misjudge the distance, and though I will lose the eye, I will not die as she intended.
(Duration: 31:50 — 21.86MB)
I could not answer her. I had no memory of doing anything besides preparing the topaz.
(Duration: 51:23 — 35.29MB)
Introduced by the author.
It's not mutton burning, of course; it's all my uncle's counselors, champions, and guests trapped under the rubble of the fortress.
— July 24, 2014
Her words made no sense, but neither did the lost hours. I shivered in the warmth of the day. Beyond the window, in the square, I saw a familiar figure in a tattered cloak. Even from a floor up, the smell that greeted me was unpleasant: unwashed hair, perhaps rotting leather. Suddenly, I wanted to escape from my studio and the chill that hung over it.
When I woke, I found the bullet between my wound and the makeshift bandage. The flesh was already closing where my body had spit it out. I pulled off the bandage and cursed a colorful tirade at Shadow, although I knew it wasn't his fault. People with the magic can't help it sometimes. Things just happen around them, though they might not want it to.
(Duration: 37:32 — 25.77MB)
Introduced by the author.
The collective growl of the spinning weighted ropes mimicked the song that had invaded our sleep.
— July 10, 2014
The crow kept watching me. Wherever I went, I could look up and see its eyes upon me. I didn’t realize that until I saw it out in the moon garden. It hopped up on the edge of the center urn and reached out, not with its beak, but with a foot. It took a purple berry in its talons and squeezed until juice oozed out over its claws.
Dajan nodded, then trudged after Esu who had set off in a new direction. It was always this way with the gods. Nothing held fast. Nothing held still. They were the wind and he was the grain of sand blown heedless in their wake. He licked his lips. It tasted of salt, but he smiled anyway. He had tricked this boy-god once. There was more to be gained from him.
"Neat mythic stuff. I really like Esu, whose godhood is evident, particularly in his psychopomp role. The sense of time/eternity here is also well done. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online
(Duration: 36:19 — 24.94MB)
Introduced by Hugo Award-winning editor Lou Anders.
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.