2013, 2014 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
— 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.
(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.
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.
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.
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...."
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 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.
(Duration: 14:05 — 9.68MB)
I scan the opposite shore of the wide river for any sign of human activity, for the people who sent the boat.
Somewhat to his own surprise, Xu Jian awoke the next morning on the hard ground—chilled, weak, but alive.
— June 12, 2014
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?
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.
(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.
I clambered to my feet and embraced my father, sobbing my sorrow and regret against his shoulder.
— May 29, 2014
Featuring new cover art: “Kaybor Gate” by Alex Ries.
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.
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
(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.
The Shiner Man’s covered wagon walked across the desert on six metal legs.
— May 15, 2014
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
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.
(Duration: 38:08 — 26.19MB)
With eyes closed, there is a singular heartbeat, a solitary pulse, and when we stretch, there is no we.
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.
— May 01, 2014
Featuring the 300th story to appear in BCS! And to celebrate, a sale on BCS Ebook Subscriptions!
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
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.
(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.
The morning we found out, it was because of me.
— April 17, 2014
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
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
(Duration: 26:22 — 18.11MB)
Blood is salt, like seawater; the heart moves an ocean in miniature.
I didn’t reply. I knew her words were part of the test.
— 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.”
"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
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
(Duration: 59:24 — 40.79MB)
Tomorrow she will confront; tomorrow she will demand. In this house she is no one’s lesser.
"And just what do you fathom about my thoughts?"
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."
"At the center of the story is the secret the bonedrake has kept, her secret grief and secret crime... The real pain, however, comes from the knowledge her mother can’t trust her child any longer, now that she is an adult. A devastating blow, the painful fact of growing up." —Lois Tilton, Locus online
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.
"...a thought-provoking speculative fiction on philosophical themes, positing a dualistic, dichotomistic universe of opposing principles: life/death, male/female, predator/prey. At its center is an eternal conflict between the two divine principles over control of the nature and destiny of life.." —Lois Tilton, Locus online
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.”
(Duration: 24:21 — 16.72MB)
The graceful architecture of this place has haunted her dreams since the first years of her training.
(Duration: 32:50 — 22.55MB)
A strange impulse, an alien need: she devours all that she knows, and knows all that she devours.
She cursed herself for freezing up and ruminating when the proper response was to react.