Issues from 2010
2013, 2014, 2015 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #59December 30, 2010

The Summer King

“Shit,” I said, and that sat there ugly and twitching between us for a few seconds before his stallion decided he’d had enough and wanted to go check out the mares. The King just had enough time to swoop up into his saddle before the horse made a beeline through the crowd. “Come and see me sometime, Livia!” he called, and then he was gone, swallowed up in the blue.

Transitions of Truth and Tears

Garran spotted the fountain long before he reached its base. Water spurted into the air, sprung from a stone wineskin held by a life-sized statue of the founder of of the murderers of Beliath. Garran repeated that fact in his head as he pushed through the last throng of people, a part of him both amazed and horrified that no one had stopped him yet; a much deeper part shamed that he had not stopped on his own.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Suffering Gallery
Podcast: Download (Duration: 46:47 — 32.13MB)
“Do you question me, Mielbok, the Billion-Toothed Maggot?”
Issue #58December 16, 2010

Red Dirt

The shadows on the buildings seemed alive with movement, although the air was too cool for mirages. The memory of my dream still lingered, fooling my weary brain into believing that I glimpsed animal shapes writhing there. I hurried my pace along the empty streets, wondering if I should just pay the Commissaire's bribe and be done with the place.

"quite human and therefore genuinely frightening... Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Lession’s Tower

Lession's first catch was an old drunk, a silver-haired sailor who was staggering through one of the back streets. When he bit a chunk from the drunk's shoulder, the man went limp. The initial thrill of tasting meat soon evaporated. The flesh was old, sour, steeped with alcohol. He couldn’t take this back for Hurkerna. No. Goat would taste far better. 

Issue #57December 02, 2010

The Suffering Gallery

Mielbok stared at the boy. "I'm Mielbok the White Worm! Mielbok the Foul! Mielbok the Eater of Minds! What can you do for me, human? To me, you’re just food not yet ripe. A fruit just waiting to be plucked! Quiet yourself, before you wake the Lady. She'll make a mockery of you!"

"winds up with a very satisfactory conclusion..." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

A Bounty Split Three Ways

A floating tree starts as a seed in the sky but needs no soil. It takes air, sun, and rain and turns them into leaves and branches. It doesn’t need roots either. It only grows more leaves and branches, until a full-grown floating oak is like an uneven ball of leaves. I asked L'Acoste, are they the work of nature or some wizard so long ago that he had been forgotten? His response was "who knows these things." 

"an imaginative, fantastic setting, interesting characters, lively dialogue, and a perfect conclusion. Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Issue #56November 18, 2010

Fleurs du Mal

I wondered then if there was inside my brother a seed of sorts, a slender elongated bulb like those I'd seen in Anne's workroom. Thinking the police would never know, I drew the coverlet away, revealing the bloody mess of his shirt. A large hole gaped several inches beneath his chin, just to the left of the breastbone. I dropped the blanket back over him and stepped back, shaking in fury.

"Cheney has successfully literalized the title of Baudelaire’s poems in this dark fantasy of seduction, addiction and decadence... Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

As Below, So Above

Son squeezed billows of black ink around the ship to mask his approach, remembering what Two-Father had told him: Always curl your tentacles around the front, never in the back where the whirling tail-blades lie. Never rest your tips on the deck, lest they chop off the ends of your sensing-limbs. And should you brush against a long, thin tube of metal, draw away quickly before it squirts fire.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Bread and Circuses
Podcast: Download (Duration: 32:39 — 22.43MB)
She and I made bread every day knowing that if the grain didn't ripen, we were next in line to be cut down.
Issue #55November 04, 2010

Bread and Circuses

Why an armed man should have been the one worrying, she never explained, but I had seen the tumblers tossing one another in the air and the strongman lifting all six dancing girls on his outstretched arms like they were no heavier than a pair of sleeves. I could guess what would happen to anyone who was caught out.

"a beautiful, subtle tale" —Tangent Online

The Popinjay’s Daughter

Every time I opened it, it felt as if I were opening one of the House's doors, and indeed, the book was filled with pictures of them, marked with strange glyphs and sigils. Hundreds of times, I painstakingly copied the diagrams onto doors in the attic, and always there was a sense of impending something. Yet when I opened the doors, the symbols would vanish, and the door would be just a door.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Dying on the Elephant Road
Podcast: Download (Duration: 50:39 — 34.79MB)
Abe experienced the odd sensation of Madame Oljon inside his head aligning her face with his, pushing eyes and lips forward past his own.
Issue #54October 21, 2010

Dying on the Elephant Road

Abe experienced the odd sensation of Madame Oljon inside his head aligning her face with his, pushing eyes and lips forward past his own as they both stared at the small figure near the center of the room sitting cross-legged on a high cushion, naked save for a loincloth, smiling idiotically (not unlike, Abe thought, the wizard Philoneus’s own idiotic smile).

"Clever and original humorous stuff.  And weird." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Beloved of the Sun

I had seen the image in the Zuxugo girl's cloak, in the basketful of butterflies she had brought, but those had been stylized and lifeless. These butteflies were alive, brown, with one wide, staring eye on each upper wing. They didn't fly straight as the hawk would have, but bobbed and circled, haphazard. Their wings were far more delicate than any gold or stone image could depict.

"A nicely complex tale in a well-imagined world" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 28 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

Recommended Reading, Year's Best SF & F 2011, ed. Rich Horton

Audio Fiction Podcast:
More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand
Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:36 — 23.77MB)
As with Papa, she knew Thomas was gone and felt no regret, for she had changed equally.
Issue #53, Second Anniversary Double-IssueOctober 07, 2010
Lady of the Ghost Willow

I had little talent for poetry, but my instruction in the classic metaphors was probably no less extensive than Akio's. The poem was both an entreaty and a question; that much was clear. But what was the answer? One who might be able to tell me was beyond speech now and might be for some time, if not forever.

"As usual, Parks masterfully evokes the highly mannered milieu" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 28 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

Recommended Reading, Year's Best SF & F 2011, ed. Rich Horton

The Curse of Chimère

I walked down the aisle, passing frozen spectators whose eyes were riveted to the screen and weeping blood. I recognised the Mayor immediately by his bold muttonchops, and beside him, the actor Franchot Aucoin, whose lecherous exploits were as legendary off-screen as on. Both men were bleeding as though their eyes had been gouged out and pressed back in.

"complex and fantastic enough to be thoroughly rewarding, not to mention entertaining." —Tangent Online

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 28 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

The Girl Who Tasted the Sea

A lift of a wing and their soaring arc encompassed the whole of the house. They swung around it and Abby could see them now, the twin pillars of stone upon which she’d lived all her life. Suddenly she was dropping nearer, nearer, and then they landed in the carved hollow in one pillar just a foot above the tide. She ignored the trembling in her legs as she crouched at the edge and dipped her fingers in the water.

"vivid glimpse into a wild and different world." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand

For the first few years, Violet only passed information, while the reports of faery incursions began to grow. Then—when they went to London for her introduction into society—three things happened. The faeries turned the Prime Minister’s fingers into twigs and his eyes into acorns. Papa died. And Thomas discovered what she was.

"Fine prose.  Beautifully done. Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Recommended Reading, Year's Best SF & F 2011, ed. Rich Horton

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Girl Who Tasted the Sea
Podcast: Download (Duration: 13:24 — 9.21MB)
Salt! It tasted of salt as much as the sardines did, but with some wilder flavor, too.
Issue #52September 23, 2010

The Guilt Child

Carla caught her breath as the shape came clear: a face of pipes and fittings and gears, its eyes glowing faintly with the sheen of werglass. The mouth was only an expressionless line of cable, but when the voice spoke again there was no question whose it was. "Who is she?"

Invitation of the Queen

I demanded the return of Tahileh. She was mine, and had been working for Leuhovesen instead for far too long. I thought of the cries I heard the night before when I slept beneath the attic, but I refrained from saying anything, which given Leuhovesen’s temper that day was probably wise.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Winecask Bellies and Owl Wings
Podcast: Download (Duration: 13:14 — 9.09MB)
Wind tore through the cave as I washed my silken face and hung it to dry.
Issue #51September 09, 2010

Two by Zero

Katherine's hands found the button at the throat of her dress, and she unstrung the tiny loop that kept it fastened. I gazed at her milk-white skin and swallowed. Katherine laughed. Her fingers flew down the front of her dress like birds, shedding waves of fabric with every motion. She stepped out of the pile of material at her feet and stood naked before me.

"enjoyable mix of horror and fantasy." —Tangent Online

The Swallow and the Sea

'Twas Abigail who answered, standing some way across the deck. It sounded like the entire crew took a collective breath at the sight of her. Water streamed from her now ill-fitting gown. It seemed as though she was coming apart, becoming water as she crossed to us. Through corset and skirt, it drenched her.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
And Blow Them at the Moon
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:04:23 — 44.21MB)
Magrat was right. This man stood at the heart of it.