Issues
Four-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #206August 18, 2016

The Patchwork Procedure

So lost in thought am I in my cell—pondering the many unintentional wrongs I've committed toward my biological father, wondering if perhaps my behaviour was never as unintentional as I like to believe—that it takes me several minutes to fully grasp that there is a great commotion afoot: shouting, screaming, explosions, and other sounds of battle.

What Pada-Sara Means to the Elephant

I am cold. Icy water surrounds me, undulating in the glare of morning sun. It has been nearly twelve hours since I took Shashi into the desert and made those tracks. I hope, with every shivering inch of me, that Jagmeet's men are not able to distinguish the difference between the tracks of a boy fleeing across the desert sands and the tracks of the a boy walking carefully backward over his own footsteps.

From the Archives:
The God Thieves
Esoteric beasts were dangerous, even as disembodied brains. Mateo wouldn’t want to be trapped in his own skull with one that didn’t want to be there.
Issue #205August 04, 2016

Salt and Sorcery

The salt-island reminded her of that reef. The great mosses and lichens that crowned it looked as though carved by elfin jewelers. There were golden heliodor stalks with exploding cinnabar heads, and beds of blue-green beryl, and creeping carpets of amethyst orbs, and forests of ruby-tipped olivine spears, and towering onyx pagodas and toadstools, and rolling lichen-mats like landscapes carved of jade in arches and hollows and orange-velvet cups. Dragonflies darted hither and thither like winged brooches, crimson, bronzy green, and black-banded yellow.

A Deeper Green

Juvianna spoke the new words of her duty, “I offer you banishment or release of the darkness from your mind.” Usually she said death or release, but as Hensson had not yet committed a crime, death was not on the table here. It did not matter—banishment and death were essentially the same thing. Where would he go, how would he survive if cast out?

From the Archives:
Breathing Sunshine
I worried about the detector. Kept my attention up for the slightest tingle of accidental particle ingestion.
Issue #204July 21, 2016

Ebb Stung By the Flow

We do this still—the train goes where I will it, and we are drawn where the world needs us. We are life, we are death; we are that which stands between. We allowed ourselves to be carried away, allowed ourselves to love, to die, and become a train that circles the world entire as the circus dictates.

Under She Who Devours Suns

When it happens, the sky creases and pulses. The ground before Sikata's shrine bristles, implosions of frost budding percussive through pavement. A body falls, producing no more impact or sound than a leaf. Fangs and cilia spring up, to protect or perhaps imprison. Melishem lets them bite and lash at her, though most fail to penetrate the alloy of her skin.

From the Archives:
Unearthly Landscape by a Lady
I could not imagine that my charge could conceive something so strange, so unpleasant.
Issue #203July 07, 2016

Fire in the Haze

And yet everywhere I looked, my periphery supplied ghosts of him: lounging indolently on a couch, reaching up to add a final stroke to a poem, bowing over my hand. And there, of course, pausing at the foot of the narrow stairs to the grand bedchamber. Looking over his shoulder, a half smile adorning the human face he wore even when we were alone.

The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles

Hester's skin itched all over, and she longed for cool sand sliding against her bare belly. One, two, three eggs into her mouth, one sharp bite, and the clear, viscous glair ran down her throat. The shells were tougher than she expected. They tasted tart, like spoiled goat's milk. She waited for the change, but the sun crawled higher and nothing happened.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles
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One, two, three eggs into her mouth, one sharp bite, and the clear, viscous glair ran down her throat.
From the Archives:
The Moon Over Red Trees
...where she might well always be the jumped-up little Annamite to other Frenchmen—but what does it matter, if she has Raoul's love?
Issue #202June 23, 2016

Mortal Eyes

The Hunt rode in a river of darkness under bright stars. For a confused moment, she thought the stars continued below them as if they rode through the heavens with no further reference to the earth at all, but then a tree branch flashed before one of the lights below her view, and she realized that these were earthly fires she saw. Or less than earthly, perhaps, for this was no festival night to be lit with bonfires, yet there they burned on the ground, and far below her besides.

The Nature of Ghosts and the Fate of Shadows

The third time the lash had fallen I only grunted. I held my companions’ gazes because I owed them at least that. I held their gazes because then I would not think of a blood-reddened ravine, or Adhai’s silence, or the hope and pride being flayed from my flesh. In the barn, the whip descended again, and the musty air clogged in my throat.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Mortal Eyes
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The scrape and clatter of steps on stone was replaced by the rush of wind beating against her face with the strength of an approaching storm.
From the Archives:
Drawn Up From Deep Places
He came to expecting to find himself dead, torn to pieces by the monster he'd made—he knew it would happen, eventually.
Issue #201June 09, 2016

Nothing But the Sky

If the story was intended as a clue, Dorial saw three possible hints: the mother's instruments, the father's airships, and the boy's gemstone. Cloud City hosted three docking structures, each visited by dozens of airships every week—slim chance that anyone working the docks would remember a lone girl, even a lady. The other two destinations, though, could be checked.

Blood Reckonings

Beatriz reached into the chest and plucked a single feather from its depths. Its quill was impossibly white, but its barbs were singed and melted, as if they'd been held in a candle flame. Though the feather was half the length of her hand, it felt as heavy as a cannonball. As Beatriz cradled it in her palm, she smelled scorched vellum; tasted ink and ashes.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery
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For the sake of the beautiful Dogaressa, I took up my father’s battered old pipe and punty.
From the Archives:
Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud
Liras tried to remain at his workbench and finish the customer's wings, but the pain grew too much.
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 Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery

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

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
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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.
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Laws of Night and Silk
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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.

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