Issues
Issue #370
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A special double-issue featuring five stories of quite short length, two podcasted stories, a BCS Audio Vault podcast, and new cover art: “Gathering of the Spirits,” by Nele Diel.

He Stays Among the Commots

Him, though, he had no place to go. All the cantrevs of his homeland had been burned; nothing there now but the stubble of new green that would never be sheafed and dried to straw, nothing but foundations.

All the cantrevs of his homeland had been burned.
By Hand and By Heart
Tina Connolly
Coming on December 8

And now Ilsi had seen her future Headmaster, and he seemed like a fine ordinary middle-aged Headmastery sort of person, and this was apparently the point where she was supposed to feel lucky. Lucky about leaving the temple, about living the rest of her days in his household, about spending the rest of the her days in his service; all of it.

And this was apparently the point where she was supposed to feel lucky.
Forgotten Eyes

My dough is too sticky, and the smell of the yeast suddenly makes me ill. I want the day off from seeing other people’s gods. I search for the towel I use to carry the hot loaves, my flour-coated hands before me, and try not to think what I’m thinking: does XuShem not exist? Is that why they never appear?

I want the day off from seeing other people’s gods.
Her Mother, The Storm
Marie Croke
Coming on December 8

They were expectant, for she was the Storm's daughter and it fell to her to find a suitable replacement. And when she looked down at her own children, when she saw the worry in her son's roving stare and the concern in the way her daughter counted the buttons on her dress over and over, she knew she'd search the entirety of the land for someone, anyone, strong enough.

They were expectant, for she was the Storm's daughter and it fell to her to find a suitable replacement.
An Offer from the Fivefold God

“I can help you avenge what they did to you,” the Fivefold God said. Their features rippled like a pool embracing a pebble, and then they wore their third face, the warrior face. The God’s words were like a dry wind that blew through Ana, sweeping aside the numbness and ash and trailing fury in its wake.

She felt distant and numb, as if everything she was had also been buried under a layer of ash.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
He Stays Among the Commots

Podcast: Download (Duration: 11:24 — 7.84MB)
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All the cantrevs of his homeland had been burned.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
By Hand and By Heart
Tina Connolly
Coming on December 8
And this was apparently the point where she was supposed to feel lucky.
Audio Vault:
A Nickel For The Burlap Man

Podcast: Download (Duration: 13:33 — 9.31MB)
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Introduced by the author, detailing the feel and inspirations for the story’s world of Shady Grove.
From the Archives:
Father’s Kill
I lock both Father and the night away.
Issue #369
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Troubling a Star

The experiment had shifted the star’s death a mere week, and she could see worry coiling inside Vittorio. She let it, even as she dug deeper into the records for the previous supernovae that he had mentioned more than ten years before. The dates and accounts showed steady increases in frequency and brightness, and the wall she’d raised against Vittorio trembled. She thought of the volcano, and of how much a small change might matter—and yet how undeniably small this change had been. The remnant burning in the night sky began to worry her, too, though she could not say why.

The entrails had placed the supernova of Desideratum on the thirty-fifth day of Harvest. She sculpted it around to late spring, when a faint second sun would do no harm.
The Future Without the Past Is No Future At All

Coming straight toward us was a young couple, a man with long moon-white hair and a woman whose hair was shadow black, in matching black Stetsons and dusters. They looked all sweetness and light, different than everything else in that town. There was no way they couldn’t be gods, and I hate to admit it now, but seeing them made me ashamed to be an apprentice to the god of remembrance, and I wanted nothing more than to be theirs.

I strained to pick him up and roll him into the back of the cart.
Audio Vault:
Portrait of the Artist

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:19:13 — 54.39MB)
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Introduced by narrator Carla Kissane, who narrated the original BCS Audio Fiction Podcast of the story.
From the Archives:
Scry
She had never imagined that she—the greatest scryer of her generation—could be lied to and tricked by her own husband.
Issue #368
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Tithe the Bones, Sell the Blood

The cards were crisp, almost brittle in Cédric’s hands; he ran his thumbs along the corners as he shuffled, feeling where he’d marked them during the game with the same needle in his ring he’d used to draw the blood to let him keep gambling. It all came down to this hand, this moment. The moment he was going to cheat the dead at their own table.

The cards were almost brittle in Cédric’s hands; he ran his thumbs along the corners, feeling where he’d marked them.
The Law of Sustenance

At that moment I experienced nothing less than a revelation, a moment at which Heaven’s intentions, normally concealed from humankind, are laid bare and perceptible. It was, undoubtedly, the divine that had guided me to that glade of Widow’s-Gown, and from there to Alessa’s house, and would lead me hence to Multzep, where I would fulfill my destiny. My only purpose in life was to wed my cousin Halime. I adored her, and our marriage was Heaven’s design; I had been told as such by a great sage.

There were rumours of another suitor sniffing around, a dull-witted stonemason from Kessir, and I feared that if I did not find the money, I would be beaten to the post.
Audio Vault:
The Thought That Counts

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:09:46 — 47.91MB)
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Introduced by audiobook and podcast narrator Heath Miller, who narrated the original BCS Audio Fiction Podcast of the story.
From the Archives:
The King in the Cathedral
“How disappointing I must seem,” he said at last. “I didn’t know I’d become a folk figure. I would have grown a great beard.”
Issue #367
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Featuring new stories in two long-running series: a new Gaunt & Bone tale by Chris Willrich and a new Angel Azrael tale by Peter Darbyshire.

On Magog’s Pond

So a goblin priest—or exile—definitely wrote this, Gaunt thought. Drudger? The title Goblin’s Confession surely bore two meanings. Goblins saw oral culture as living, written culture as dead. For a goblin priest to record his doctrine was itself a crime—and this very work an admission of guilt—

So a goblin priest—or exile—definitely wrote this, Gaunt thought.
The Angel Azrael and the War Ghosts

Azrael knew this was no random robbery. Lazarus and the other ghosts had been looking for the chest they took from the coach. They’d clearly been lying in wait for it. Azrael knew he could keep on riding, just like Lazarus had suggested. There was nothing to keep him from getting back on the dead horse and following the wagon trail to Ezekiel's Remains or wherever else it led. In days past, that was exactly what he would have done. But, like he'd told Winter, he wasn't like that anymore.

“Let’s get the hell out of here instead,” Lazarus said. “For this is none other than Azrael, the angel of death.”
From the Archives:
The Drowned God’s Heresy
Now, forever exiled, he sought his home, his birth right, his throne. He would not rest until he found it.
Issue #366, Fourteenth Anniversary Double-Issue
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Fourteenth Anniversary Double-Issue! Featuring two bonus stories, a bonus podcast, and new cover art: Waterfall Palace by Oliver Beck.

Fire and Brimstone in the Twin Cities

“Before God subjects Nahilia’s people to bitumen and brimstone,” says Luther, ignoring the question, “I must apprise them of the reasons for His wrath. Tell me, does any Sodomite myth turn on a primal act of disobedience? Is there a story involving forbidden fruit or a lost paradise?”

Lot revisits his tankard and frowns thoughtfully.
Playing God

The sea is a remarkable thing. Nobody owns it. It'll kill you if you give it half a chance, but it'll take you anywhere you want to go. It can turn a nobody like my father into a person of consequence. You can rob other ships, murder people and throw them over the side, swoop down on cities and steal and slaughter to your heart's content, and nobody will come after you, because of jurisdictional issues. The sea isn't a place, it's a state of mind. The sea is freedom.

Try thinking about it, the Archer God had said, so I did.
The Mountains My Bones, the Rivers My Blood

“Oh please, now you’re being sappy. Where’s the dignity of the God of Ash?” Armind gestured to the earlier panels, moonlight etching the lines of lean muscle on his arms. “The forms you took in those battles, can you still adopt them?” Shun forced himself look at his guises in the paintings. The golden gryphon he’d assumed when facing Rorinn. The six-armed titan he’d been at Mount Tizen.

Shun closed his fan with a gentle snap. “She sent you to my world despite knowing what I am. She sent you to die.”
But Mayflies on the Water, Gazing at the Sun

When I awoke in the morning, the temple was in turmoil. The oxen lowed and stamped their feet, and the peacocks shrieked and plucked the inlaid silver and lapis lazuli from the walls. I found the priests Lamentation and Butter Tub under the date palm, slaughtering a sheep. “Calamity!” Lamentation cried, poking at the sheep’s entrails. “Calamity and devastation!”

When I awoke in the morning, the temple was in turmoil.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Fire and Brimstone in the Twin Cities

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:10:39 — 48.51MB)
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Lot revisits his tankard and frowns thoughtfully.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Playing God

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:14:16 — 51MB)
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Try thinking about it, the Archer God had said, so I did.
From the Archives:
The Gods Come to Sredna
Like the log stockades of Sredna, it would hold a ceratopsid until she decided to leave.
Issue #365
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Featuring a special narration for episode 300 of the BCS Audio Fiction Podcast and a bonus podcast episode.

Five Aspects of River and Sky

I take a deep breath and heave the cabbage as hard as I can at the sky. It rises, hangs for just an instant against the tree line, and falls. I run to catch it but can’t make it in time. it hits the dirt at the garden’s edge with a crack. The trees shiver in a disapproving wind. Annell had a better arm than I do. Her throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why isn’t she here? Why did she have to leave instead of me?

Annell's throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why did she have to leave instead of me?
Of the Body

I have thought of a thousand different names for our future children. Ever since our eyes first met. But right now, right at this moment when I should be the most happy, I am terrified. Terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it. Will my aim be good enough to wound it without hurting our child? Will my hands shake as I cut its belly open and pry the baby out of its innards, slick with blood?

I am terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Five Aspects of River and Sky

Podcast: Download (Duration: 35:00 — 24.03MB)
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Annell's throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why did she have to leave instead of me?
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Of the Body

Podcast: Download (Duration: 31:19 — 21.51MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

I am terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it.
From the Archives:
A Stranger Goes Ashore
Every new shore was the same: a blue expanse conjoined to unyielding volcanic stone, wreathed in a furious margin of foam.
Issue #364
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Featuring an interview with BCS author R.B. Lemberg by Jaymee Goh, a new episode of the BCS Audio Vault podcast—R.B. Lemberg’s five-hour audio novella “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power,” introduced by the author—and a giveaway for a copy of R.B.’s new Birdverse novel, The Unbalancing.

Turn To Stone Ourselves

Reminding me of another little girl centuries before, one who had grown up to claim her youth-name, her adult-name, and finally her elder-name, yet who had never been quite content with any of those names, nor what they represented. Not until her hands turned to stone-care.

Could I taste the inklings of my first life, when flesh had ruled me rather than stone?
Upon The Land

On any other day, Varthin and I would not have met. His was a world of fire and iron and light everlasting; mine of the cool depths and a dark that was no dark at all, mapped by the subtle changes in taste and temperature and pressure of the saltwater that was my element. But it chanced I passed the tideline on midsummer’s day when Varthin stepped beyond his door into much light and little darkness, and so we met within the marram. His life was twined from its golden light; its black iron gave him his strength. These gifts he offered with his ring, and freely.

And so I did, sealing half my life into the stone kist outside his door.
Author Interview: Queer Norms and Sexualities in R.B. Lemberg’s Birdverse

In conjunction with the release of BCS author R.B. Lemberg's new novel The Unbalancing, Jaymee Goh of Tachyon Publications, the publisher of R.B.'s novella The Four Profound Weaves (2021) and The Unbalancing (2022), interviews R.B. about queer norms and sexualities in their Birdverse fantasy world, which is also the setting for R.B.'s five stories, novelettes, and novella that appeared in BCS.

An interview with author R.B. Lemberg about their Birdverse fantasy world, the setting of their stories in BCS and their forthcoming novel The Unbalancing.
Audio Vault:
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power

Podcast: Download (Duration: 5:06:15 — 210.29MB)
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Introduced by the author, explaining elements of the Birdverse world and culture and characters that appear in the novella and how one of the characters connects with the new Birdverse novel The Unbalancing.
From the Archives:
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power, Pt. I
Across great distances I hear her voice rolling over the sand, traipsing gently above bones of impossible beasts that perhaps had one day populated the desert.
Issue #363
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Imagine a Thief with Golden Fire in Their Voice

But what plagues me now, the questions I ask myself as I stare down at her little violets, as I sense out the elements in the earth beneath their roots until I can feel the cold charred edges of her bones and assure myself that that is all that remains of her—those questions are these: is it different, to withhold life than to end it? What moral obligations does my power come with? And, more selfishly: if I don’t bring her back, how long until her followers turn on me?

I am not saying I don’t have the power. There’s no point in denying that. I’m saying I don’t have the right.
The Death Artist

Some years ago I bedded an old man, a wizard and mathematician, who told me that any statement you make contains the entirety of the universe in what is left unsaid by it. If you were to declare “I exist,” then by extension you are also declaring that you are not a tree, that you are not sorrowful, that you have not eaten, that you are not your brother’s keeper... Every positive affirmation contains an infinity of negation. There is nothing you can speak that the universe is not held in the shadow of your flame.

Death has no shape I can articulate. Were it so simple, there would be no need for my work.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Imagine a Thief with Golden Fire in Their Voice

Podcast: Download (Duration: 41:15 — 28.33MB)
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I am not saying I don’t have the power. There’s no point in denying that. I’m saying I don’t have the right.
From the Archives:
Seasons Set in Skin
Horimachi's own tattoos were from before the war, when black ink was made of soot instead of faery blood.
Issue #362
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Featuring new cover art: “Hilltop” by returning BCS cover artist Dominique van Velsen.

Their Eyes the Shape of Orchids

Something in your mother's acceptance of my cruel words makes me see how, for a moment, I am the pathetic one. I’ve seen those eyes before. I’ve seen them on the faces of Surna girls who come to me to do the dampening and I know they’re carrying unwanted Innachor children inside them. In her eyes, I see for a moment how even the lucky ones who are pretty and pass and marry into Innachor upper ranks—sometimes, even those with a good life and caring husbands—are still every bit of Surna fate.

That much, your mother and I have in common.
The Shapeshifter’s Lover

Oh, she knew it was foolish, but she was still so much a girl—trying on womanhood as one might try on shoes. Her ragdolls still rested on her pillow, arms akimbo. During summer storms she would clutch them to her face and soothe herself to sleep, dreaming of princes and kisses soft as moth wings. The crow's kisses were not as she imagined. They were far better.

Dori had said into the Lorist’s old ear, “The crow came to me. He flew up to my windowsill and sang. He left his.”
Audio Vault:
What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away

Podcast: Download (Duration: 21:07 — 14.5MB)
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With an introduction from the author, explaining their beliefs on the story’s theme of individual freedom and autonomy.
From the Archives:
What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away
The fawn is still in its mother's belly. Sapo kneels by the doe and feels for the outlines of the little one with her fingers. A gasp escapes her when it moves under the dead doe's skin.
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