Issues
Five-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #230July 20, 2017

A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power, Pt. II

Even though I had slept, I was still fatigued, and I half-suspected that the Raker had simply assumed I possessed the stamina of youth, for all he had tried to be careful—but the rush of our powers had revived me. I felt fully myself now, my spirit stretching my skin, my blood aflame with the exhilaration of that danger. He did not know yet how to be safe. He would choose to be, for me, if he knew how. That I believed.

Rivers Run Free

A truth about rivers: we have always been able to draw our water together into solid bodies, to walk on two legs. But it is not without risk, and not without cost. We lose much of ourselves in the transformation, and if there's not enough of us to start with, well...

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Rivers Run Free
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We ride stolen horses over the choked earth.
From the Archives:
Breathing Sunshine
I worried about the detector. Kept my attention up for the slightest tingle of accidental particle ingestion.
Issue #229July 06, 2017

Featuring a special five-hour audio podcast of Rose Lemberg’s novella “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power” in celebration of episode #200 of the BCS Audio Fiction Podcast!


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. The Tumbleweed Star speaks to its twin sibling, the star to which I am tethered. She speaks of secrets I will never understand and do not want to overhear; of time above the clouds, of darknesses, of absences.

Ora et Labora

But the litanies Obb calculates during divine offices can only ever be approximations—even if he extended one to a hundred thousand places, and worked out x99,999/99,999! + x100,001/100,001!, et cetera, this wouldn’t cure but only bury the imperfection, dormant, deep below the surface, powerful and secret.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power
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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.
From the Archives:
Boat in Shadows, Crossing
"Child of fish and ghost," said Bue. "What could be quicker?"
Issue #228June 22, 2017

Of Letters They Are Made

We look at one of the gaps in the Book of Amram; I read aloud what there is of the passage and he suggests a word that might fill the part that is missing. I’ve taught him that writing has styles, and that if one knows the poetic conventions of the day or the habits of a book’s author, it is sometimes possible to fill in the missing places even without a mafteach. And though Muqan still can’t read, he is adept at recognizing patterns.

A Late Quintessence

Fear arises in many delightful vintages, and we Magisters Subtle make it a point to be connoisseurs of all its varieties. The hint of it that rose now from Lady Mermingosa nearly made the edges of my mouth curl in the approximation of a smile. “This is just a formality,” I said. “We’re just tying off all avenues of inquiry. Do not be alarmed, please.”

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A Late Quintessence
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Not but three hours ago, beyond my study’s shuttered window I heard the song-girl recite those closing words from Horn’s Ashen Quintessence.
From the Archives:
On the Origin of Song
Note: Doyen-Générale, enclosed is the full catalogue of documents pertaining to the individual known as Ciallah Daroun, as per your request.
Issue #227June 08, 2017

Featuring new cover art: “Monument” by Jeff Brown.


After Burning

Almas wants to say that it’s barbaric, but then so is the whole of it; it would be like observing that a cupful dipped from the sea is salt. And this man has been the author of barbarisms as well, so how should it matter to him? So all she says is, “I’m sorry.” That much is true.

Two Bodies in Basting Stitch

Sere wouldn’t be able to send letters. Diligent, loyal Tashet would never fathom that anyone was reading her mail and would take no precautions. Sere couldn’t explain what would happen to them both if she didn’t leave.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Two Bodies in Basting Stitch
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Sere wouldn’t be able to send letters.
From the Archives:
Stone Prayers
Mattar comes to the house of Anaharesh in search of a single word; a word to end a war.
Issue #226May 25, 2017

BCS 2017 Ebook Subscription Drive, going on now! Subscribe (or donate) and you’ll support BCS and help us unlock our goals to raise our word-count limit for submissions.


In Memory of Jianhong, Snake-Devil

Father may have been a scholar of the Tao, but he was not above invoking the teachings of Kong Fuzi when it suited him, usually where I was concerned. It was my place to be the innocent, obedient daughter, except in our role of devil hunters when I had to use my martial training to kill something. I took a moment to loosen my jian in its scabbard across my back. This accomplished little except to make me feel a bit better.

Whatever Knight Comes

But she is special. That first night, when you land together on the roof of the north tower, she hops off the wyvern as easy as dismounting a horse. Her skin is burned from the high sun and chapped from the hard wind, but she spins on her heel and hugs the wyvern around its huge neck. It turns to look at you, with a slightly tilted head, a confusion in its eyes.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
In Memory of Jianhong, Snake-Devil
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“Honored Father Pan Bao,” I asked, “Please tell me again why we are on this freezing mountain? I haven’t seen the sun since we entered this forest.”
From the Archives:
Where Virtue Lives
“‘Great and virtuous’? No, boy, I’m Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the best belcher in Dhamsawaat.”
Issue #225May 11, 2017

BCS 2017 Ebook Subscription Drive, going on now! Subscribe (or donate) and you’ll support BCS and help us unlock our goals to raise our word-count limit for submissions.


Carnival Nine

The train took us to the maker's bench, and we laid out our son's body, chest open. Tonight the maker would give him a mainspring and wind him for the very first time. "Should we name him now, or after we've gotten to know him?" My parents had waited to name me until my second day, because they wanted to be sure the name would fit.

A Place to Grow

There was a small, insistent part of her that wouldn't let her give up so easily. The tiny part of her that had put down roots outside of her uncles' laboratories and workshops. She'd poured hours into learning how to make things grow, how to keep them alive, and she had succeeded. She could spend an entire day in her garden with Marci and Gil, weeding, watering, laughing and it never felt like wasted time.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Carnival Nine
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I wanted to be angry with her, but she was a stranger, she'd never really been a part of my life.
From the Archives:
A Spoonful of Salt
He tasted of salt. Naomi half-expected to see him melting in the places where her mouth had been.
Issue #224April 27, 2017
That Lingering Sweetness

We found my dog by the eastern overlook, sniffing the floor beneath a table with her pink nose. As Deng and I approached, I greeted the spirit of Dog echoing within my mind with a reverent thought. Your visit surprises yet honors me, Lord Dog.

A Marvelous Deal

"No, I will not. I cannot. I do not have a baby and even if I did, I would not give it to such a dreadful little monster as you!" Sylvie thrust the carrot back into the dirt and ran into the house. She slammed the door and secured each of Mother Dar's seven locks.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
That Lingering Sweetness
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I greeted the spirit of Dog echoing within my mind with a reverent thought. Your visit surprises yet honors me, Lord Dog.
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 #223April 13, 2017

I Have Been Drowned in Rain

Jared studied her, her sopping hair and gaunt face. She was nothing to him, or shouldn't have been. The story she told—he might have ridden past the field where she worked a hundred times and never noticed her, not even her face, because it was bent to the earth.

When We Go

"At the end, where else?" Streamers of greasy black smoke leaked from her cloak to vanish in the wind, her body like dry grass in my arms. I shook her, but she, the god of the dead, was dead herself and my hands empty but for her cloak of feathers.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
I Have Been Drowned in Rain
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Jared studied her, her sopping hair and gaunt face.
From the Archives:
How the Wicker Knight Would Not Move
"And yet Now is upon us," said Tvarn Wind-Tamer. "For the Perfection is moving. Look."
Issue #222March 30, 2017

The Shark God’s Child

There had been seventy islets when Mei came to Deleur six years ago. There were more than eighty now. The aliki, the nobles of Deleur, would never be done building their city: they always wanted more platforms for their palaces, more storehouses for tribute, more training grounds for the feathered warriors, more stone pyramids to house their dead

Nightshade

There is greater magic still he could deploy. He could weave an illusion that would swallow the tree from sight. Or let his heartbeat ease down into a shallow nothing—the stillness of the grave—so no sound or motion could betray him. But he resists. Ezekiel is curious. Lyla was sure-footed on the journey, in the dark. How long will it take for her to learn his hiding-place?

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Nightshade
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“We’ll play, and if you can't find me, then Mother stays.”
From the Archives:
The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen
The flickers of firelight skipped over the ground and tickled Adda's feet, even through her heavy boots.