2013 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
— April 17, 2014
In celebration of BCS Podcast #125, enter to win an audiobook of BCS author Saladin Ahmed’s novel Throne of the Crescent Moon.
Rider Bray leans forward on her hands, a cat before a bird. “I could kill your gang of sixty in a minute,” she says. “I could snap their bones with my bare hands and run them down as they fled. I could do the same against six hundred. I am invested with the might of so many, Marantic Lind. No number of men lit by one solitary fire can match me.”
The South-East Wind had not blown through those hills since becoming the guardian of the temple for this period, but the South Wind blew there / where the bones drift into gullies like the snow that falls in other lands and I can call through them in a hundred voices, like lizards, like foxes, like men /
Podcast: Download (Duration: 27:11 — 18.7MB)
Blood is salt, like seawater; the heart moves an ocean in miniature.
— April 03, 2014
“Golems,” the sorcereress says, “are vessels of wishes. When you’re done building one it is as if you’ve given birth. When you take one in it is as if you’ve adopted new kin. You put so much of what you want into them, just as with offspring of the womb. Less blood, less mess. No less love.”
The next night was much the same. I began to recollect certain old fables about a preadamitic race of ensouled decapods that did battle with the giant eurypterids and ammonites of the whirlpools in the southern straits. Do you see? I thought of the sea-folk only after their first appearance. And yet my labors were their ineluctable summons, as I had known (without knowing) that they would be.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 59:24 — 40.8MB)
Tomorrow she will confront; tomorrow she will demand. In this house she is no one’s lesser.
Special Double-Issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 2, featuring a bonus story and a bonus podcast and science-fantasy cover art “Sojourn” by Ferdinand Dumago Ladera!
"Stop," my mother said, even more gravely. "You're already thinking of counterarguments and edge cases. That is perfectly fine if you are a mathematician or a philosopher. The fortress is not about ensuring justice, or righting wrongs, or even compassion. It is about enduring and remembering all the things that people bring us to safeguard for them, the histories and the artifacts. Justice, for the things they remember—that's something that civilizations have to negotiate for themselves."
Sekhmet knows the woman’s literal identity—a hybrid soldier, a construct, drawn from a piece of history where the lineage of flesh began to remake itself with machines. She stumbles on this synthesis, troubled by the paradox. The means are Set’s, but the end, the need to be stronger, is hers.
The arsenal’s observation scopes terminated in lenses that provided magnification in each of the cardinal directions. The indistinct blurs of six vehicles had crossed the property line, paralleling the road that led down the valley to Myddleham-on-Tyne. “Blast,” I muttered. “Hit the ansible beacon, Plio. Get reinforcements here as fast as you can.”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:21 — 16.7MB)
The graceful architecture of this place has haunted her dreams since the first years of her training.
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A strange impulse, an alien need: she devours all that she knows, and knows all that she devours.
Special Issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 2, featuring two bonus stories, science-fantasy cover art “Sojourn” by Ferdinand Dumago Ladera, and a giveaway for a signed George R.R. Martin anthology!
But you wouldn't know, Rechan thought, chilled. You'd be quite happy, either way. That's what you were carved for, to give your breath to Akanlam's babies, and even if you hadn't been born knowing it, everyone in our society has been telling you that for as long as you can remember. How much responsibility did people have for their carvings? How much of themselves had they put into them; and how much had they taught them?
Now she walks through broken ruins warmed with radiation and the fading light of the sun, through streets strangled by the fallen brickwork of a hundred years' abandonment and train tracks whose split rails are choked with dust. The aqueducts have run dry and flow only with hydrolyzed acid, their walls fanned with slender needles of pale yellow crystal.
She did keep the gun pointed at the curtain, because she'd said she would and a Knight must not lie. She turned it off as soon as she was out of sight, though. Humming and lighting up was all it could actually do, and Groton had warned her about letting it overheat.
I pulled a heavy sidearm from my weapons harness, a Navy variable-bore Persuader with deep scrollwork along the barrel and grip, as natural an extension of my mechanical hand as were wrist couplings and steel-jacketed fingers. “I’m a weaponsmith. I’ve got your diplomacy right here.”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 45:25 — 31.2MB)
She would have run, but her legs betrayed her—a contraction, locking her in place, as frozen as the baby within her womb.
— February 20, 2014
"Well, if it's just soldiers, then that's fine," I tell Papa. I'm relieved. "Dying is what soldiers are for." Underneath me, the carpet of ants shifts slightly, but Mama soothes them with a change in her tone. She starts singing of the new territories they'll open up with their deaths.
I began to feel that I had not paid enough attention to romances and mummers’ tales, for my companion did not act in ways of ordinary men. I thought perhaps I remembered hearing it was unwise to question mages and the creatures that lived by the rules of magic. Surely there were stories enough of the lives of the early Saints that told of strange rewards for stranger customs, though I was not about to compare myself to those great heroes of the war-torn days.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:45 — 18.4MB)
I stared at him, feeling the dirt of travel and the coarse fabric of the borrowed peasant’s wools against my skin.
— February 06, 2014
Enter to win a signed Brian McClellan Powder Mage novel!
Taniel removed a snuff box from his belt pouch and tapped a line of black powder out on the back of his hand. He snorted it in one breath and felt the world warp and twist beneath his feet, coming into focus clearer than it had been before. The shapes of the city buildings sprang into sharp relief as the powder trance washed over him, the rain brightening as if he'd shone a lantern on it, and the shadow became a girl.
They'd called us the Hellhounds of Surnam, the Butchers of Bursa, and a hundred other epithets to make children wail and heroes grow faint. We'd fought Prince Zhar's finest to a draw at Second Aktar and ended the line of the old kings at Kurqand. Depending on who you asked, we were the best soldiers in the world, or beasts in human form.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 18:30 — 12.7MB)
The iterations of his death resound about him like the echoes of a minor chord.
— January 23, 2014
The iterations of his death resound about him like the echoes of a minor chord. All seems as it was and should continue to be, here in the moving present Men perceive as Time: the all-consuming anguish, a scullery knife, bleeding out alone with the final notes from his mandolin.
As to the Kid, I figured he was setting up some scheme. I knew he didn’t give a hoot in hell about romance. We had been friends since I arrived on the Moon two years before, and I would have sworn in court a greenback dollar was the only thing that piqued his interest. Turned out I was wrong.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 25:58 — 17.8MB)
I missed all the excitement the day the trains walked away.
— January 09, 2014
The law says a petitioner can wait to see the sovereign. But in the Year of Thorns, a clever High Steward had ruled that food and drink could not be brought into the petition halls. So most vigils do not last long. But the dead have no need of food and drink. For six days, I waited, unmoving.
I’d been out to see the trains' footprints, which were like someone had stamped a table into the sand. They led off into the desert, leaving a trail in the scrub almost wide enough to drive a cart along. I thought I heard a steam whistle calling from out in the chaparral, wailing in the twilight like a coyote. “Who would make a train with feet?”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:16 — 19.4MB)
The washed-out sky and black indifferent trees blur as I cough out the fire within me.
— December 26, 2013
Mother stepped close enough to plant a fleeting kiss. By habit, Madeline did not cringe from the fog of falsehoods that clothed Mother. Indeed, her very clothing was false. Mother could play the part of a proper lady better than any actress on stage, but she was neither. She was a scientist and a thief, and Madeline was not sure where one ended and the other began.
Arrel seizes my arm, shocking a yelp out of me. His talon-like grip hauls me upright. Tam’s question was answered, not Arrel’s. Celina’s life was taken, not mine. A bargain can still be made with the Whistler. Only now do I realize that this was planned all along.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 39:18 — 27.0MB)
The Shiner Man’s covered wagon walked across the desert on six metal legs.