Issues
Four-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #200May 26, 2016

A special double-issue for BCS #200! Featuring two bonus stories, two guest-narrated podcasts, a BCS Ebook Subscription Drive, and new cover art: “High Above the Savannah” by Martin Ende. The Valente and Lee stories go live on the website next week, but they are available right now in the ebook of BCS #200, at Weightless Books and Kindle.


The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery
Catherynne M. Valente
Coming on June 2

So it came to pass that over the weeks remaining until the parturition of Perdita, I fashioned for her, out of crystal and ebony and chips of fine jade, twin organs of sight not the equal of mortal orbs but by far their superior, in clarity, in beauty, even in soulfulness. If you ask me how I accomplished it, I shall show you the door, for I am still a tradesman, however exalted, and tradesmen tell no tales.

The Judgment of Gods and Monsters

She shouldn’t have gone to the trial, or talked to that stupid reporter, even for a second. Her father would know, now, that it was her who had his file. It was her who had been called upon to bring him in. She wouldn’t have shown up at the trial otherwise, and he knew it. “Two bits to the one whose family it isn’t,” she said to Merriz, and rolled up to get a look at the shooters.

Shadow’s Weave
Yoon Ha Lee
Coming on June 2

Tamalat studied Brio. He wasn't going to thank her when he woke up. She didn't feel the least bit sorry. "He was a better man once," she said. She remembered the war; remembered the snow churned to red slush, the arguments between Brio and his brother the commandant. "He left his shadow behind when he went into exile, thinking to start anew. It didn't work the way he intended."

Laws of Night and Silk

This is how an abnarch is made. This is the torment to which Kavian gave up her first and only born. The wizards of the Paik Rede, dam-makers, high rulers of isu-Cter, seal a few of their infants into stone cells. They grow there, fed and watered by silent magic, for fifteen years. Alone. Untaught. Touched by no one. And on nights like these, their parents decant them for the war.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Shadow’s Weave
Yoon Ha Lee
Coming on June 2
And we won't be lovers, Tamalat thought, unless I can restore your shadow. She knew better than to sleep with him in his current state.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Laws of Night and Silk
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 55:16 — 37.95MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

They pass through everything that will be lost if they fail.
From the Archives:
The Sword of Loving Kindness, Pt. I
Gaunt and Bone must resist a magic sword bending them toward propriety and decorum.
Issue #199May 12, 2016

Cloud Dweller

Wherever he traveled, Vasily saw vast networks of lines—across the ground, stretching into the sky. It was the sky-bound lines that pulled at him most, that beckoned him to try his feet upon them. He had always strung ropes and wires to climb, between poles, trees, and buildings, but the lines that he had not strung—lines that existed of their own accord—were a challenge he never expected.

They Said the Desert

"This isn't your choice," said Jade. "You're dead." She and Dominic glared at each other over the stale pond, as if they were arguing over a simple thing like dirty dishes, like they used to when Dominic was a man of flesh and blood. A pang of grief and longing welled up unexpectedly in Jade's chest, but she pushed it down, away. Focused on keeping her pistol steady instead.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
They Said the Desert
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 37:38 — 25.84MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

"This isn't your choice," said Jade. "You're dead."
Audio Vault:
The Topaz Marquise
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:38 — 23.79MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
Songdogs
Agnieska swore, reaching for the hooks, determined to use them this time.
Issue #198April 28, 2016

‘Or I Wil Harrie Them Out of This Land’

Henry flings the partly sewn upper at James's head. James laughs and ducks, and the thing flaps like a shot-struck fowl, flops to the floor. Henry leaps to his feet so violently that his stool topples over. —Out with you, he shouts, be gone!

Whale-Oil

Old Iris laughed. “Of course not, boy. I take only the bodies of those fish who offer themselves to my beak. But the world is too big now, and too hungry for light. More wanting out there than there are gifts to be given. For that, it will fall.”

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Whale-Oil
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:41 — 19.7MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Altair stood at the edge of the bay holding a blue salmon oil lamp with wick and flame made of fallen stars.
From the Archives:
‘His Crowning Glory’: a new tale of the Antique Lands
Jon sat down in the doorway to watch the man go about whatever odd business his God had appointed to him.
Issue #197April 14, 2016

The Sweetest Skill

I needed to stall the Ten Crows Sect’s men. I asked the Golden Water River for leave to shape a water-hound from its substance, and in return I’d offer my candy dog figurine as tribute. It was pleased, and it pulled the caramel into deeper currents while granting me dominion over a vat’s worth of sugar-tinged riverwater.

Rabbit Grass

I haul my basket over to the stand of flowers that look like ladies’ lacy handkerchiefs.  While I’m digging in the soil with my trowel, sure enough, Picket hops over in the funny way Rabbits do and stares at me through the fence.  His ears have perked up again, and I can see him smiling out of the corner of my eye.  Insults and scoldings never keep them down for long.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Sweetest Skill
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 47:08 — 32.37MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

My soul animated the river’s gift. I sculpted my liquid body as I would a glob of hot caramel, paying homage to my old beloved dog.
Audio Vault:
No Sweeter Art
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:54 — 26.71MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Introduced by audiobook and podcast narrator John Meagher.
From the Archives:
One Ear Back
I was looking into his ankle, then there was a frightening jerk on my tail and I was peering into his long wide face.
Issue #196March 31, 2016

Featuring new cover art: “Forest,” by Geoffrey Icard.


Sea of Dreams

There was nothing Ierois could say; he made his way back to his house and took up the book he had been given. But there was something stale in the words. Over his years on the island, he had been given nine other books, but they had become outworn, nothing in them to distract him.

The Stone Garden

They rose with the light and worked long into the sunrise clearing a space beneath the broken roof, like the hollow an animal makes in the bracken by circling itself to sleep. Unloading the wood-burner from the wagon and coaxing it into place against the chimney breast was harder, and the tear in Gwyn's shoulder tugged like wool caught in a wall.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Sea of Dreams
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 21:20 — 14.65MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Over his years on the island, he had been given nine other books, but they had become outworn, nothing in them to distract him.
From the Archives:
The Black Waters of Lethe
I scan the opposite shore of the wide river for any sign of human activity, for the people who sent the boat.
Issue #195 – Science-Fantasy Month 3March 17, 2016

Special double-issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 3, featuring a bonus story, a bonus podcast, and science-fantasy cover art “Research Lab” by Sung Choi.


A Salvaging of Ghosts

In the darkness at the hole in the ship's hull, Thuy isn't blind. Her suit lights up with warnings—temperature, pressure, distortions. That last is what will kill her: the layers of unreality utterly unsuited to human existence, getting stronger and stronger as the current carries her closer to the wreck, crushing her lungs and vital organs like crumpled paper when her suit finally fails. It's what killed Kim Anh on her last dive

The Mountains His Crown

The soldier shrugged. His look was almost sympathetic. They turned back toward the fields. I would have liked to tell them to take the road, to stop trampling our remaining crops, but I knew better than to rile them. The soldier's horse dropped the chewed flower stalk as they disappeared back between the rows.

Blood Grains Speak Through Memories

Even though the chilled spring day promised nothing but beauty, the grains in Frere-Jones's body shivered to her sadness as she looked at the nearby dirt road. The day-fellows along the road were packing their caravan. Evidently her promises of safety weren’t enough for them to chance staying even a few more hours.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Salvaging of Ghosts
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 31:52 — 21.88MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Thuy deactivates the suits' propulsion units and watches her daughter's remains, floating beside her.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Mountains His Crown
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 42:51 — 29.42MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

With soldiers, with emperors, it could always be worse. After a moment I knelt beside her.
Audio Vault:
The Breath of War
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 47:33 — 32.66MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
The Mote-Dancer and the Firelife
Nicolai was three years dead when I lighted to EZ Aquarii to forget him. Naturally he came along too.
Issue #194 – Science-Fantasy Month 3March 03, 2016

Special double-issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 3, featuring a bonus story, a bonus podcast, a science-fantasy episode of the BCS Audio Vault podcast, and science-fantasy cover art “Research Lab” by Sung Choi.


Foxfire, Foxfire

Even in human-shape, I had an excellent sense of smell. I had no difficulty tracking the pilot. She lay on her side in the lee of a chunk of rubble, apparently asleep. The remains of a Brick Ration's wrapper had been tossed to the side. She had downed all of it, which impressed me. But then, I'd heard that piloting was hungry work.

Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest

Today her sleeves are sewn with opals and moonstones and within their glimmer here and there on the left sleeve, glitters another precious stone, set in no particular order, random as the stars. Her skirt and bodice are aluminum fish-scales, armored though she expects no fight. Her only weapon is her own considerable wit.

The Right Bright Courier

A Bright Courier never looks back, never regrets, but when I crested the bank I turned to her. Her scales were gray and shimmering under the golden light of the double moons, her sails reflecting the ether-glow we sailed upon to travel between planets. I'd sacrificed a valve of my heart, a length of my gut, and an impossible desire, all to have her grown for me. From me. It wasn't looking back, that last glance. You can't look back at your present self.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Foxfire, Foxfire
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 51:21 — 35.26MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Nuclear physics was not typically a fox specialty, although my mother had allowed that astrology was all right.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 25:27 — 17.48MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

The glass-marbled plaza before the gates murmurs with spans of pigeons in the early light.
Audio Vault:
The Book of Locked Doors
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 44:57 — 30.86MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Introduced by the author.
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 #193February 18, 2016

And the Blessing of the Angels Came Upon Them

Peavey could not fault his grandson Moot’s skill nor the beauty of the boy’s sculpture. No, it was the subject matter that cut into his heart, even now. Moot cherished his beliefs so deeply; if his faith were ever shaken, it would surely devastate him. He was so very much like his grandmother in that regard.

Salt Circles

From this window, we watched the man’s whip rise again and the back hoof of the mare collide with his thin throat in the same instant. The man crumpled down into the festering street as gouts of blood spouted from his neck. No one came to claim his body. Below us in the alley, rats and dogs or rat-sized dogs emerged slowly. They began to sip at the red puddles around him.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
And the Blessing of the Angels Came Upon Them
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:26 — 23.65MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Consuming the native crustaceans had given rise to bone cancers and rotting ulcers of the skin, from which death was a cruel relief.
From the Archives:
The Sacrifice Pit
She was beautiful. But it was forbidden, in the eyes of the Tetharan.
Issue #192February 04, 2016

Featuring new cover art–“Plains of Another World” by Leon Tukker–and our 400th story! A special novelette by K.J. Parker about storytelling and storytellers: “Told By An Idiot.”


Told By An Idiot

I accepted that master Allardyce had the potential to write the greatest play ever; a play so good that if God were to summon Mankind before the bar of Heaven and demand to know one good reason why He shouldn't send a second flood and drown the lot of us, all we'd have to do is hand Him the manuscript and there'd be no case to answer. I knew that, in order to write this play, master Allardyce needed to drink himself stupid, get beaten up twice a week, and generally mash himself down into a cheese, like the cider-makers do, before he could ferment and distil his very essence into words on a page. But I have a business to run, and I need crowd-pleasers. Master Allardyce's monument-more-enduring-than-bronze would just have to wait until I retired. Accordingly, I gave him no peace.

The Three Dancers of Gizari

It dawned on me that he enjoyed watching me squirm; a proud competent woman but to him just Nahemiah’s commoner puppet. “Ten thousand!” I spat out the words intentionally in the heaviest Tavalland accent that the theater had eradicated in me twelve years before. “Ten thousand thalers for your measly sculpture that the Opera rejected!”

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Three Dancers of Gizari
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 45:03 — 30.94MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Subscribe Options

Except that I learned that if they spoke truth, it was not to me.
From the Archives:
Great, Golden Wings
Lady Percivalia sat motionless for as long as she could so that she could savor the thrill.