2013 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Special Issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 2, featuring two bonus stories, science-fantasy cover art “Sojourn” by Ferdinand Dumago Ladera, and a giveaway for a signed George R.R. Martin anthology! (The free ebooks will be released on Mar. 13 after the bonus stories; the full issue is available now on Kindle and Weightless Books.)
But you wouldn't know, Rechan thought, chilled. You'd be quite happy, either way. That's what you were carved for, to give your breath to Akanlam's babies, and even if you hadn't been born knowing it, everyone in our society has been telling you that for as long as you can remember. How much responsibility did people have for their carvings? How much of themselves had they put into them; and how much had they taught them?
Now she walks through broken ruins warmed with radiation and the fading light of the sun, through streets strangled by the fallen brickwork of a hundred years' abandonment and train tracks whose split rails are choked with dust. The aqueducts have run dry and flow only with hydrolyzed acid, their walls fanned with slender needles of pale yellow crystal.
Coming on March 13
She did keep the gun pointed at the curtain, because she'd said she would and a Knight must not lie. She turned it off as soon as she was out of sight, though. Humming and lighting up was all it could actually do, and Groton had warned her about letting it overheat.
The Goddess Deception, Pt. 1
Coming on March 13
I pulled a heavy sidearm from my weapons harness, a Navy variable-bore Persuader with deep scrollwork along the barrel and grip, as natural an extension of my mechanical hand as were wrist couplings and steel-jacketed fingers. “I’m a weaponsmith. I’ve got your diplomacy right here.”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 45:25 — 31.2MB)
She would have run, but her legs betrayed her—a contraction, locking her in place, as frozen as the baby within her womb.
— February 20, 2014
"Well, if it's just soldiers, then that's fine," I tell Papa. I'm relieved. "Dying is what soldiers are for." Underneath me, the carpet of ants shifts slightly, but Mama soothes them with a change in her tone. She starts singing of the new territories they'll open up with their deaths.
I began to feel that I had not paid enough attention to romances and mummers’ tales, for my companion did not act in ways of ordinary men. I thought perhaps I remembered hearing it was unwise to question mages and the creatures that lived by the rules of magic. Surely there were stories enough of the lives of the early Saints that told of strange rewards for stranger customs, though I was not about to compare myself to those great heroes of the war-torn days.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:45 — 18.4MB)
I stared at him, feeling the dirt of travel and the coarse fabric of the borrowed peasant’s wools against my skin.
— February 06, 2014
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Taniel removed a snuff box from his belt pouch and tapped a line of black powder out on the back of his hand. He snorted it in one breath and felt the world warp and twist beneath his feet, coming into focus clearer than it had been before. The shapes of the city buildings sprang into sharp relief as the powder trance washed over him, the rain brightening as if he'd shone a lantern on it, and the shadow became a girl.
They'd called us the Hellhounds of Surnam, the Butchers of Bursa, and a hundred other epithets to make children wail and heroes grow faint. We'd fought Prince Zhar's finest to a draw at Second Aktar and ended the line of the old kings at Kurqand. Depending on who you asked, we were the best soldiers in the world, or beasts in human form.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 18:30 — 12.7MB)
The iterations of his death resound about him like the echoes of a minor chord.
— January 23, 2014
The iterations of his death resound about him like the echoes of a minor chord. All seems as it was and should continue to be, here in the moving present Men perceive as Time: the all-consuming anguish, a scullery knife, bleeding out alone with the final notes from his mandolin.
As to the Kid, I figured he was setting up some scheme. I knew he didn’t give a hoot in hell about romance. We had been friends since I arrived on the Moon two years before, and I would have sworn in court a greenback dollar was the only thing that piqued his interest. Turned out I was wrong.
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I missed all the excitement the day the trains walked away.
— January 09, 2014
The law says a petitioner can wait to see the sovereign. But in the Year of Thorns, a clever High Steward had ruled that food and drink could not be brought into the petition halls. So most vigils do not last long. But the dead have no need of food and drink. For six days, I waited, unmoving.
I’d been out to see the trains' footprints, which were like someone had stamped a table into the sand. They led off into the desert, leaving a trail in the scrub almost wide enough to drive a cart along. I thought I heard a steam whistle calling from out in the chaparral, wailing in the twilight like a coyote. “Who would make a train with feet?”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:16 — 19.4MB)
The washed-out sky and black indifferent trees blur as I cough out the fire within me.
— December 26, 2013
Mother stepped close enough to plant a fleeting kiss. By habit, Madeline did not cringe from the fog of falsehoods that clothed Mother. Indeed, her very clothing was false. Mother could play the part of a proper lady better than any actress on stage, but she was neither. She was a scientist and a thief, and Madeline was not sure where one ended and the other began.
Arrel seizes my arm, shocking a yelp out of me. His talon-like grip hauls me upright. Tam’s question was answered, not Arrel’s. Celina’s life was taken, not mine. A bargain can still be made with the Whistler. Only now do I realize that this was planned all along.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 39:18 — 27.0MB)
The Shiner Man’s covered wagon walked across the desert on six metal legs.
— December 12, 2013
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Featuring new cover art: “Ruins” by Stefan Meisl.
She didn't see what happened in the girl, what changed, but something did. Tsani relaxed, losing a tension that Sagraille hadn't noticed was there until it wasn't. She glided forward to kneel at the table, though calling the waterfall of silk and almost-exposed skin she displayed kneeling was probably insulting. It was more beautiful than that. A painting from the medium of motion. The girl even cast a shadow with elegance.
"Fifteen secret herbs and spices, mixed by dangerous dee-vices! Distilled and brewed and served up cold, it fixes the sick and renews the old! No malady can long withstand it, ‘cause that’s how Professor Bismuth planned it! So come on gents and don’t delay, buy your-self a jug today!"
— November 28, 2013
The Parsec Award-finalist BCS Audio Fiction Podcast is on a brief hiatus. In the meantime, check out our past episodes.
Lily stretched her aching legs to the opposite end of the tub. The sheen of water accentuated her scars—thin, precise lines tracing the insides of both arms and legs. She worked her limbs daily to prevent their stiffening and contorting, but even with diligent chi practice the pain was never completely absent, only sleeping. Lily thought it far more likely that scar tissue would catch her up before her reputation ever did.
I don't know if Da heard him, but the next time he was working my defense, he jabbed me right over my taped nose. While I tried to wipe the water from my eyes, he followed up with a couple of hooks that knocked me sideways into the ropes. I wanted to embrace him, but the bell hadn't gone yet, so I bounced up and under his guard and pummeled him in the ribs until it did.
— November 14, 2013
We all looked up at the high, piping voice; none of us had heard the ladder rattle. Mieni hopped over the edge of the roof, adjusting the lines of her suit. Many koboldim wore children's clothes, but Mieni had made a point of wearing a ladies' suit tailored to her diminutive frame. "Kobold, not goblin. I do insist on the distinction."
The sack swung in his hand as he walked away. “I would take her with me to the guts of the earth. I sought death in the battlefield, and saw it in all but my fate. I was spared a warrior’s clean end. Now, the campaigns are ashes and lies. If you cannot help me find peace for Baysha, I will find someone to end me.”
Podcast: Download (Duration: 33:09 — 22.8MB)
The three cousins walked through a tunnel low enough that their head leaves brushed and bent on the ceiling.