Issues from 2011
2013, 2014, 2015 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
— December 29, 2011
I walked away from the Flare that had once been Scorpion, away from Tal-hedran and toward the deepest parts of the desert. I stumbled in the sand, weeping as much as Frog had when we were children in the manor of stone. I had seen myself, and I was empty, no more than a vessel for my father’s belief.
She leaves the concubine boy sprawled against the parapet and turns to the estuary, so that he falls on her right and vanishes from awareness. She knows he is still there, of course; she is not touched. But she cannot make herself know it, cannot make herself grasp that he still exists. Her mind insists that he has been snatched away, drawn off-stage.
Recommended —Lois Tilton, Locus online
(Duration: 12:01 — 8.25MB)
...before the tapping of a beak upon the glass calls your guards as well.
— December 15, 2011
Swinging from the roof hung a little cage with Garvinger's window-witch inside. It babbled spells to keep Malern alive and conscious on the table throughout the whole operation. Malern couldn't see its mad, warty little face, but now and again, cool drops of its sweat fell onto her fevered skin.
"Favorites (of 2011 in BCS) included Peadar Ó Guilín's 'Heartless'" —Editor/Reviewer Rich Horton
Mateo dreamed of overwhelming power, and of hell. Men harnessed power by merging themselves with mutilated monsters, prodded alight the power of insensate gods through fires poked into other planes. Genoa stole the secrets of domesticating the gods from the Venetians. The Venetians stole from Genoa. Always chasing. Always fleeing. Always hunting up new gods with which to destroy each other.
"A lot of neat stuff in this scenario. ...the real emphasis here is on the religious issues, the struggle for personal salvation and the peril of the soul." —Lois Tilton, Locus online
— December 01, 2011
I spent the whole of the night lying awake, watching the sickly reflection of the moon in my wall of gilded mirrors. At last the sun rose, and I left my rumpled and sweat-soaked sheets with a great and sudden desire to see Gethsemane von Reis again. Before any part of my brain could protest, I washed and dressed, tucked the Times article into the pocket with my watch, and set off across the herb gardens to the shadows of Armitage Wood.
"It begins like a comedy of manners, but it is no such thing." Recommended —Lois Tilton, Locus online
"a nice morality play about war crimes" —Editor/Reviewer Rich Horton
I went to see the specimens, because I thought I should know the face of the Enemy--my father would have been in there prodding and cutting himself--and immediately wished I hadn’t. Cleaned of swamp sludge they looked like the gray ice mummies that had been found in caves along the Blue Belt.
— November 17, 2011
They all had to die. That was the right thing, Saga knew for certain, so he buried his fingers into the mound and found the fuse. He yanked it free, unraveling hand over hand, clearing it of fetid earth and inspecting it for rot and wear as he went. When he held a full thirty sticks’ worth, he laid straight the line and prepared the flint and replotted his escape route, upwind so the little things couldn’t smell him when they came.
Ordinary catastrophe. Is there such a creature? All catastrophe feels extraordinary to the one caught in its tide. It is no comfort to the ones whose fortunes I read, to say to them, This thing is ordinary, this thing that will happen to you.
(Duration: 24:13 — 16.64MB)
The silent commands were with her all the time now, haunting and familiar.
— November 03, 2011
He shrugged into the straps of his cricket box and tested the mask of noise over the shuffle of his footsteps. The jostle irritated a chorus of angry chirping from the little territorial males. They didn’t like being forced together. Saga for his part offered them the only advice he knew: “Time is the mother of chance.” It was the Twelfth Knot and the favorite saying of Kagehana’s escape master. Employ enough patience and even the strongest prisons will show you a way out.
The one who brings your food is named Osla. My birds are trained well, and this one will have struck at his eyes. Take this parchment quickly, speak his name, and he will fall like the rain outside your window. You must move quickly, for the first guard will be at the door.
(Duration: 29:56 — 20.56MB)
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.
— October 20, 2011
Abruptly his stronghold folded. His names struck. He tore my mind-veil off. Before I could react, the names retreated, reformed his stronghold. All too powerful for me. He laughed. “The Raker’s daughter has taken a single two-syllable. Women, huh. Weaker even than your mother. So be more sensible than her, sweet Vendelin....”
Cecily grabbed a shard from the mirror, traced an unsteady line along the flesh of her wrist. Scars and metal piercings adorned her arms where she’d cut herself before. “They demand the spilling of blood,” Granduncle would always say, when he bothered to notice her at all. “They envy us, you see, and covet the iron flowing freely in our veins.”
"This is real horror in the tone of the grotesque [like the work of a darker Tim Burton] and the trappings of steampunk, but concealed behind it all is damnation" Recommended —Lois Tilton, Locus online
(Duration: 34:12 — 23.49MB)
Out from her hands where the book once rested, a butterfly flapped clumsily toward the shutters.
Featuring new cover art: “New Land,” by Rado Javor
On the face of the matter I had to agree. While the estate would technically belong to the Imperial Family, I had been assigned the position of steward—quite a handsome income. “Security is the greatest illusion of all, Kenji-san. As for my poverty, it was more of a problem when I was drinking. Don’t mistake me—I am not ungrateful. I am merely puzzled.”
"(one of) two more fine Lord Yamada stories (in BCS in 2011)" —Editor/Reviewer Rich Horton
Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 29 (ed. Gardner Dozois)
“She wasn’t my opponent when I executed her.” I accept mortal commissions; I’ve killed before. Those deaths were honest. Magdalena’s was a waste, and my hands are filthy with it. With a casual nod, from a cleric who knew nothing about the sword-edge of truth, I have been made to feel like a heretic.
"I like it when stories raise such issues" —Lois Tilton, Locus online
Dr. Benjamin, he was running, running through the rain from one tent to another, trying to save his Story Eater and those pasty wax circles he’s spent so long collecting and, once, he looked up. Mala was sitting there on the top of the sea wall. She wasn’t wearing a rain slicker or even shoes and she was just looking at him like he was a rat, like he was a bug. Like he was something with too many eyes and too many legs and all she wanted to know was what ridiculous thing he was going to do next.
A Seraph approaches me with two brands, red‑hot from the coals. The first is Adultery, and it blackens my right cheek. I bite my tongue to swallow the scream. The second is Death, and it sears my forehead. This time I do scream.
(Duration: 34:55 — 23.97MB)
Aidan pulled away from my hand. I could feel his finger bones slip and shift out of place.
— September 22, 2011
Aidan's color had worsened overnight, and one of his ears had sloughed off, replaced by shiny grey scar tissue. His eyes were the only part of him still fresh and wonderful. He smiled at me when he woke and saw me examining him. “Morning.” He coughed and spit a tooth into his palm. “Sorry.”
Was she, Elna, depraved, as the book said? Was Parn? Parn had never an angry word for Elna, not even a scowl, not for anyone; how was that depravity? And what did her parents believe? Parn thought her parents would conceal her, protect her, defend her, but Elna feared otherwise.
(Duration: 27:02 — 18.56MB)
Well, what was I supposed to do? I wished harder. I couldn't just stop.
— September 08, 2011
The lenses continued to strike as I leapt over Phidias. I wrenched Lundqvist's stylus from the socket, heedless of the damage I did to both. "Professora Lundqvist!" I shouted, peering at her sensor ring and the brain beyond. But the walls continued to keen, and Lundqvist's phonograph remained silent.
"from her fine continuing series" —Editor/Reviewer Rich Horton
Gris-Gris's fur moved where I blew on it, but nothing happened, and I felt desperate sad but also I felt so happy to know I wasn't a witch. It wasn't working and he wasn't coming back alive, so I wasn't a witch. But when I thought that to myself, something in Gris-Gris seemed to tremble, and I touched his chest with my finger and felt it move.
"Neat little dark fantasy, told in a disarmingly innocent voice." —Lois Tilton, Locus online
(Duration: 30:02 — 20.63MB)
One can scarcely thank a man for promising to thrash one's best friend in a duel.