Issues
Five-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #240December 07, 2017

Featuring new cover art: “Fortress” by Dimitrije Miljus.


Low Bridge! Or The Dark Obstructions

"Aesthetic attraction!" This was Edna again, whose outbursts were now starting to make me wish that I were anywhere else but sitting next to her in the line of Bunyan's fire. Belatedly, I laid a restraining hand lightly on her arm, but she shook me off and forged heedlessly ahead. "But if you are convinced that spiritualism is so much rot, then why write your ghost stories?"

The Wind’s Departure

I try again to read the tone of her voice. Sylva can form herself of vapor or rain or the force of a storm, but she is always shifting, liquid, and invisible when she wishes. She can hold my face with fingers of wind, but she has no face of her own to touch. I cannot read pain on her features, but I think I hear it in her voice.

From the Archives:
The Dreams of Wan Li
Everyone moved to the sides of the halls as she passed—not because they feared her touch, but because she moved with such grace.
Issue #239November 21, 2017

The Mouth of the Oyster

Sometimes we treated our anger as a polished jewel, too precious to be set aside. I retained mine for many long seconds before seeing it as a burden and letting it slip, unmourned, into the peace of the fine day. The last of it expressed itself with a grumpy, “For a man who makes eyes, you certainly have much to learn about the blind.”

Woe and Other Remedies

On rang the bells, and the guests, as if released from fetters, dispersed to take their seats. And here we are, Gama III thought.  The table was full, the moment at hand. Anticipation moved as a wild fondle from seat to seat, bowel to bowel, quivers begetting moans and hoarse whispers, emotion stretching jaws with violence.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Mouth of the Oyster
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And with that I gave up so many things, so many golden sunrises and so many lingering sunsets.
From the Archives:
The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery
For the sake of the beautiful Dogaressa, I took up my father’s battered old pipe and punty.
Issue #238November 09, 2017

Featuring “The Şiret Mask” by Marie Brennan, the 500th story to appear in BCS!


The Şiret Mask

"Then I shall teach him otherwise," I said, folding my fan with a decisive snap. "Wish me luck. And if you see the conte before I return, then both of you stay right here, or I may never find you again." With that, I dove once more into the crowd.

His Wife and Serpent Mistress

In the gallery, the lawyers turned and hushed his mistress at once. Both Arla and the Marquis had been speaking, yes, but of the two of them, she was the one with scales. The lawyers regarded those scales with disdain. He stopped smiling at once. The lawyers’ behavior was not a new reaction to Arla, true, but the Marquis had the privilege to forget about the insults she suffered. Remembering them annoyed him afresh.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Şiret Mask
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Dangling from a rope two hundred feet above the rooftops of Râu Tare, I find myself questioning the decisions that have led me to this point.
From the Archives:
The Jewels of Montforte, Pt. I
Absinthe felt embarrassed. There was a part of him that wanted to fit in with this sort, these landed gentry.
Issue #237October 26, 2017

The Influence of the Iron Range

The town bandstand has medallions of iron recently emblazoned to it; in the last twelve years since the Hayes election, all respectable towns have added them to the places where politicians might speak. But those are only enough for the local offices. The mayor, the city council. Any redcap or jenny-greenteeth might slip into one of those positions, were the local election commissioners unwary; might find a way around the medallions.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

My prayers are automatic, the movements worn into my fingers. With each Hail Mary and Lord’s Prayer, I can feel my shoulders tense. I haven’t had confession since I left the convent. Haven’t taken communion. I say my prayers, but when my mouth shapes the words, they come out tarnished. There’s nothing holy in this path on which I’ve set myself. I remember his teeth.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Every Black Tree
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Serah avoids his eyes. "I've been pregnant a long time," she says after a while. "The baby won't come."
From the Archives:
More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand
As with Papa, she knew Thomas was gone and felt no regret, for she had changed equally.
Issue #236October 12, 2017

Every Black Tree

This man. His accent is strange, foreign. How old is he? His hair is long and grey and curly, like Fedor's. He drinks from my glass. I'd forgotten what it's like to have a man sit at your table, drink from your glass. His smell. The old scar around his neck. Is it a double one—an old scar on yet an older one? The trembling of his hands. What am I doing. What am I doing.

And the Village Breathes

She spends the afternoon with the clay-boy, watching for signs of wakefulness, sprinkling a few more seeds onto his chest. She feels as though she’s woken up into a world that’s slightly off-kilter, as though everything has taken one step to the left in her absence. Everyone’s acting a bit odd. Besides that, there’s this creature, this half-human, half-monster, this not-quite-Sleeper who nevertheless is Sleeping just as Magda does.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Fall of the Mundaneum
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:22 — 26.35MB)
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There was a letter addressed to him and beneath it a chaos of paper, the slips and sheets and scraps in no obvious order.
From the Archives:
A Deeper Green
Inside her uncle's mind, Juvianna could not feel the sun.
Issue #235, Ninth Anniversary Double-IssueSeptember 28, 2017

A double issue to celebrate our ninth anniversary! Featuring new cover art: “Riverhome” by Veli Nyström.


On the Road to the Hell of Hungry Ghosts

Yes, one of the Three Jewels of the Tao was compassion, as my father would expound at great depth—and length—to anyone foolish enough to sit still for it, but in practice we asked a price for such assistance. Nor did we usually offer such services to creatures both invisible and unnatural, and I said as much to Mei Li.

The Fisherman and the Pig

Nev did not like violence, as a rule. He knew too much of bodies. But violence was his profession, had been since he was just a young girl in a rural little wastewater like this one. Eight years, and the outside world had let him alone. They had been good years. But the outside always intruded, eventually.

The Fall of the Mundaneum

“That is a very handsome bag,” Oskar said to no one. “Bespoke, no doubt. It is very kind of the Köln office to send such a handsome bag, but it would be even kinder if they sent the necessary instructions!”

Grassland

Near the southernmost curve of the Cheyenne, Breed dismounts to scratch his back against a boulder he uses every year.  It’s shaped like a big whitish head, or isn’t really but looks like a man’s head after his hat leaves his hair flatted down.  Marcus watches from horseback and says, “I was wrong about Silas.”

Audio Fiction Podcast:
On the Road to the Hell of Hungry Ghosts
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 52:55 — 36.34MB)
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Yes, one of the Three Jewels of the Tao was compassion, as my father would expound at great length to anyone foolish enough to sit still for it, but in practice we asked a price for such assistance.
From the Archives:
Heaven Thunders The Truth
It's the dead, of course, who give you the best advice, and why we're so very reluctant to take it, I really don't know.
Issue #234September 14, 2017

Dire Wolf

Which was why, when Delia walked in, Stag came near failing to believe it. Delia, all the way from the city, not in slinky red but scarred boots, mittens, a wool coat high enough at the collar it hid every part of her fine flesh but her face, which stayed frozen even when her eyes met his. She disappeared outside quick as she'd come.

Corpus Grace

She had seen these kinds of displays before. The people said all the right words and went through all the motions of piety, but their faces remained closed to her. There was almost a sense of mockery in their exaggerated subservience, a bluster that precluded any chance of an honest connection. Part of her wanted to shout at them, to embrace them, to do anything that might break through that wall of denial. For how could the truth ever reach them if they would not even admit to their heresy?

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Dire Wolf
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 22:06 — 15.18MB)
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But for the Wolf, Staggerlee would've written it off as a whiskey vision.
From the Archives:
Else This, Nothing Ever Grows
To be held by a bear—this made me feel as though I might belong.
Issue #233August 31, 2017

Across Pack Ice, a Fire

"And to further the cause of diplomacy, I will bring the child with me. A Kven child bringing a gift to Veralduki people—surely this will help her people to understand that they ought to sue for peace."

Gallows Girl

A good Gallows Girl knows how to steady a man when he twitches at the end of the rope. She’ll take his hands and hold them tight, or grab him by the forearms if she needs to. The firm touch of a good Gallows Girl is usually enough: he’ll go slack, stop kicking, and let the noose dig. The death is just as ugly, but the passing is eased.

Audio Vault:
Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 55:32 — 38.14MB)
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Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
The Judge’s Right Hand
The brand Adultery will scar her pretty cheeks, and our son will wear the Bastard brand his whole life. But those aren't the brands I'm worried about.
Issue #232August 17, 2017

Red Bark and Ambergris

"Vanilla," she said instantly, scent and 'sense telling her true. She could feel the faint tug of it below her ribs, almost imperceptible—a gentle essence, not a powerful one. "A Nariguan strain."

No Pearls as Blue as These

I thought Yut would be glad to see me gone, a respite from my vigilance. Instead she fusses over my departure and sends along one of her owls to see me off. The shadow bird is surprisingly soft, weightless on my shoulder and affectionate, nudging my chin with its burred head. It dissipates before we reach the gate, the limit of Yut's sending.

From the Archives:
Y Brenin
The knight glanced up at the tessellated sky, clear blue behind the shifting leaves, and did not answer.