Issues
2013, 2014 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #152July 24, 2014
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The Topaz Marquise

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.

What Needs to Burn

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.

Audio Vault:
One Ear Back
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 37:32 — 25.77MB)
Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
Red Dirt
The collective growl of the spinning weighted ropes mimicked the song that had invaded our sleep.
Issue #151July 10, 2014
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With the debut episode of our new podcast, The BCS Audio Vault, and its premiere episode, BCS Audio Vault 001: How the Wicker Knight Would Not Move by Chris Willrich, enter to win a signed copy of Chris Willrich’s new second novel, The Silk Map.


Rappaccini’s Crow

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.

Crossroads and Gateways

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.

Audio Vault:
How the Wicker Knight Would Not Move
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 36:19 — 24.94MB)
Introduced by Hugo Award-winning editor Lou Anders.
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 #150 – Special Double-IssueJune 26, 2014
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A special double-issue, in celebration of our 150th issue! With a giveaway for a signed hardback of Brandon Sanderson’s Hugo-winning novella The Emperor’s Soul.


The Manor of Lost Time

Now, please bear in mind that this was a new thing. I had been trapped in what looked like a pitiful little statue for the better part of five hundred years, and in all that time no one saw my prison for what it was. Driana did. She knew someone alive was trapped there, and she was curious. Frankly I was curious about her as well.

The Inked Many

Inky grabbed his pick off the ground and put his weight behind the next swing, shearing off a piece of coal the size of a small apple. He almost laughed with a combination of relief and joy, tossing the lump into his cart. "See?" Spec said, laying a hand across his shoulders, "You're getting it already...."

The Black Waters of Lethe

There's no reason for anyone to visit our empty scrubland. Civilization, comfort, memory: these must all be on the opposite bank. On this side lies only madness. Nature itself here is unnatural. Ants sometimes fly in the air. The prince says that of course ants fly. On the other side of the river, he claims, his golden carriage was pulled by swarms of winged ants. I remember none of this.

The Unborn God

The wizard’s house had drifted with herds of cumulus for a hundred years over the low sky of the Shallows. When I looked down from the windows, it had always been onto a patchwork of rolling hills, farms, and small streams. Now that had ended, and the land fell away in dizzying cliffs. I had lived my entire life on a mountaintop and never known it.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Black Waters of Lethe
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I scan the opposite shore of the wide river for any sign of human activity, for the people who sent the boat.
From the Archives:
In the Palace of the Jade Lion
Somewhat to his own surprise, Xu Jian awoke the next morning on the hard ground—chilled, weak, but alive.
Issue #149June 12, 2014
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Ink of My Bones, Blood of My Hands

I bowed my obedience, but inside my hopes blossomed like a rare evening flower.  He had let slip a clue: the day for which I was born.  Never had I known why he had chosen me as servant, above other boys.  And so I spent the day as instructed, bathing in scalding water and fasting on bitter tea.  What could it mean that I was born for this?

Silver and Seaweed

But where could he be going? She had to find out. He almost never left since the second accident. And what about that locket had enraged him? It could be a trap, one of his loyalty tests; he could be waiting just outside to spring on her the moment she disobeyed him, but the risk was worth it. He made threats and turned nasty on occasion, sure enough, but he needed her more than she needed him now, so no chance he would do anything irreparable to punish her.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Ink of My Bones, Blood of My Hands
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 37:04 — 25.46MB)
Their bodies returned to the tar pit, the fierce source of his power; and this was the work of my hated lord and master.
From the Archives:
The Bone House
I clambered to my feet and embraced my father, sobbing my sorrow and regret against his shoulder.
Issue #148May 29, 2014
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Featuring new cover art: “Kaybor Gate” by Alex Ries.


The Use and the Need

Besides the hat, however, the thing wore no real clothes, so the circular stamp reading VULCAN IRON WORKS—WILKES-BARRE, PENNA. was perfectly visible on its boiler-like torso next to a W.C.T.U. badge. Below, a chain-link skirt preserved some amount of modesty, swaying and rattling awkwardly around its legs with every awkward step. Its thick metal arms were jointed and riveted, and it gripped a formidable hatchet in its clenched and rigid hands.

Celestial Venom

Unlike street performances Senjam had witnessed, the charmer did not wave his pungi from side to side as he blew.  Neither did the cobra sway.  With eyes fixed on the old man, its only movement was an occasional flicking of the tongue.  As Senjam watched, the charmer’s left hand blurred out and seized the snake behind the head.  He thrust the creature into a wicker basket and placed a lid over it, all the while continuing to play with his other hand.

"one very fine heroic fiction tale" --Fletcher Vredenburgh, Black Gate magazine online reviews

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Use and the Need
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 23:33 — 21.56MB)
From three blocks away, Tom Brown could hear the big bass drum from the Women's Christian Temperance Union band as they thundered down Second Avenue.
From the Archives:
Walking Still
The Shiner Man’s covered wagon walked across the desert on six metal legs.
Issue #147May 15, 2014
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We, As One, Trailing Embers

The turntable is three feet around, enough to hold us and whatever Jackson means to display us with. Once he assembled a collection of taxidermied two-faced cats at our feet, mounded so high they constantly spilled over the edge; once it was a school of Fiji mermaids dangling on silver wires. They moved as we moved, nauseating in effect. Usually, as now, it is the frame of a cheval glass, within which we stand.

"These are compelling/repellent images, sensuous yet strongly reflecting... Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Here Be Monsters

With the seventh overcast night upon me, I’m beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t be easiest to put the flare gun to my head. I’m fixated on this thought, and on the feel of the cool brass in my hands, and the sand between my toes, when I hear a shuffling noise. I lean toward the edge of the hut and hold my breath until I’m sure of it. There’s someone coming along the beach toward me.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
We, As One, Trailing Embers
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:08 — 26.19MB)
With eyes closed, there is a singular heartbeat, a solitary pulse, and when we stretch, there is no we.
From the Archives:
When Averly Fell from the Sky
Only then did I discover two alarming facts about my own person: I was naked beneath the scratchy blanket, and my wrists and ankles were bound in chains.
Issue #146May 01, 2014
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Featuring the 300th story to appear in BCS! And to celebrate, a sale on BCS Ebook Subscriptions!


The Lighthouse Keepers

Beatrice smiled; it was brittle and wavering. It reminded Mona of the first tentative rays of sunlight emerging on the end of winter. How they came through the windowpanes all watery and uncertain. It had been just the two of them for so long, Mona realized.

"The possibilities tantalize." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Dreams of Wan Li

If I did not stop her, she would be lying with strangers in the smoke-room tonight, heedless of those who might be watching.  So I made a show of stepping forward to take her satchel, as though she were now too delicate to bear it herself.  She let me carry it, and I followed her through the halls and to her room.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Lighthouse Keepers
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:30 — 34MB)
It was a frightening, lovely thing; the way the great lens refracted the firelight and sent it out over the water.
From the Archives:
Virtue’s Ghosts
The morning we found out, it was because of me.
Issue #145April 17, 2014
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Our Fire, Given Freely

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 potential social disruption when a technological advance, such as firearms, shifts the distribution of force from a small elite to the masses. It’s complicated, however, by the factor of racism and hostility between the two populations" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Women in Sandstone

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 /

"This is fine work, mythic in scope... The winds are all distinctive characters, some soft and some harsh. “Your mouth is hanging open like a bell,” the South-East Wind said. “I wonder, if the wind blows between your teeth, will you clang or chime?” That’s strong imagery. The best piece yet I’ve seen from this author. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
At the Edge of the Sea
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:22 — 18.11MB)
Blood is salt, like seawater; the heart moves an ocean in miniature.
From the Archives:
The Death of Roach
I didn’t reply. I knew her words were part of the test.
Issue #144April 03, 2014
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Golden Daughter, Stone Wife

“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.”

"An intriguing outlook on love, that. Here we have two figures driven by strong desire, yet both are closed, self-possessed and self-contained. A most unlikely match, but the heart has its reasons. The story, likewise, holds its secrets close and yields them slowly" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

At the Edge of the Sea

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.

"A tale of transformation. Solitude can do strange things to a mind, but what’s going on here is more than mental. There’s a sense of primal power, of an unlikely sort." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

"...filled with wondrous and rare visions from out of the ocean deeps... I highly recommend." —Fletcher Vredenburgh, Black Gate magazine online reviews

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Golden Daughter, Stone Wife
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 59:24 — 40.79MB)
Tomorrow she will confront; tomorrow she will demand. In this house she is no one’s lesser.
From the Archives:
Blood, Stone, Water
"And just what do you fathom about my thoughts?"