Issues from 2013
Five-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #128August 22, 2013

Ill-Met at Midnight

The garrote was made of fine silk laced with steel wire, designed to choke bloodlessly.  Its ends were looped to small grips of cherry wood.  Otranto had crafted it himself over a period of three weeks, designing for speed and efficacy.  Still, the target was thrashing hard enough that the smooth handles were biting his palms.  He drew harder.

"A surprisingly interesting look at the workings of assassins’ guilds and their masters." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Clay Farima

We pass the last of those who have preceded us, those who crossed into the warped, rippling landscape without the benefit of protective magic. Father stops to examine a grotesquely deformed skeleton. The bleached bones are twisted and swollen; the skull cave-like. Of necessity, I halt too, but I already know this poor warped cadaver is neither Mother nor my sister.

"Surprisingly, this ends up being a story of love." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Study of Monstrosities
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 35:06 — 24.11MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

Ethan looked at the sepia photograph again. A man? No, it was anything but.
From the Archives:
The Bone House
I am my father’s son, poisoned by the same rituals that have turned his flesh to rock.
Issue #127August 08, 2013

Featuring new cover art: “The Village,” by Sergio Diaz


The Study of Monstrosities

Seven subjects, Ethan thought. One of them a child. All of them physically torn into two distinct beings: a functional husk, and an abomination. He had read the doctor's journal. The subjects had come from different families, different boroughs, different backgrounds. None of them had known any of the others. All of them Raah?

The Crooked Mile

Rosco guessed he’d have to handle the situation, what with the sheriff being away down the Mile and all. He stepped out into the main road that ran down the middle of Gutshank, population one-hundred-fifty-three, and rested a hand on the pearly handle of his revolver. Tried to look mean, like his Pappy would’ve done.

"Good old-fashioned dark fantasy setting in the Mile, where a lot of the evil is human, but not all of it. As for the character, though a simple fellow, Rosco makes some pretty wise judgments in a tough situation." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Last Rites for a Vagabond
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 21:04 — 14.47MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

The trick’s to stay away so long no one remembers the hurt from how you left.
From the Archives:
The Gardens of Landler Abbey
I was as guilty as if I had wielded the brands and scalpels with my own hands.
Issue #126July 25, 2013

Artificial Nocturne

Once home, I cannot stop thinking about two things: the bird and the poster. I am not sure which one disturbs me more. I don't tell anyone, not even Gordon. He doesn't speak to me of what we saw either, but there is still a conversation there, every time we look at each other. In his eyes I see the same thing that must linger in mine. Questions and hurts. Have we been made only to be sold?

Last Rites for a Vagabond

The dispensary was so organized it made my skin creep. Give me a hovel little better than a roofed-over hole and a crone with teeth as black as night. She’d hardly care what you bought or why; might even give you more if you spoke straight to her. No one likes a liar, but life forces you to it.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:41 — 18.32MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

The flickers of firelight skipped over the ground and tickled Adda's feet, even through her heavy boots.
From the Archives:
They Make of You a Monster
By the time they snap her fifth finger, she doesn't have the strength to struggle anymore.
Issue #125July 11, 2013

The award-finalist BCS Audio Fiction Podcast is on a brief hiatus but will return next issue!


Two Captains

Parry cursed, volubly, inventively, the words triply profane between those lips; Rusk leant forward and watched, fascinated, as he strained to summon magic from his pores, sweating it out like blood while continuing to damn Rusk at every turn. It crept along every limb, polishing his sickness away, burnishing him 'til he gleamed like metal heated too high to touch.

"A dark revenge fantasy with strong characters whose voices are vividly distinctive. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Else This, Nothing Ever Grows

He always let me lay down on his back as he walked, or sink my hands into his fur. I missed this when I lost him, more than the nights he would come right into my bed, with the bare body of a man. Those were slick and tender nights, nights of human lust and comfort and skin. But when he let me up on his back and took me to his berry patches—blackberry, thimbleberry, salmonberry, huckle and elder and mora—those afternoons I still long for. To be held by a bear—this made me feel as though I might belong.

"...the characters are distinct, as are their narrative voices, each expressing their own points of view. And the story itself takes its own way, suitable for the new country, and not the way readers are likely to expect." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

From the Archives:
Unsilenced
In that warmth, she came to remember, slowly, that here was the last place she had spoken.
Issue #124June 27, 2013

The award-finalist BCS Audio Fiction Podcast is on hiatus for a few issues but will return later this summer!


Gods of the Lower Case: a new tale of the Antique Lands

"Good work, men! Aside, now, Who-else." Benny assumed Who-else's place at the apparatus, which the first-year gratefully surrendered. Benny pressed his upper teeth into his lower lip and pressed the ivory on-and-off switch. Though he did not betray his fears, all four present of the quint held their breaths.

"The plot involves the sort of concluding twist that should send readers back to read certain messages in light of the revelation, which quite alters their meaning. Cleverly done." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen

Adda looked up and down the snowy lane, but Grandma Marit had already disappeared into the darkness. The only movement came from flickers of firelight sneaking out of neighbors' windows. The darkness groaned in annoyance at the tittering flickers, who flitted up and down the sides of the box-like wooden homes. The flickers skipped over the ground and tickled Adda's feet, even through her heavy boots.

"A charming fable with a Norwegian setting and some stubborn, strong-willed characters... I particularly liked the personified cold draft trying to get into the house and the playful flickers of firewood that light Adda’s way." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

From the Archives:
The Girl Who Tasted the Sea
Salt! It tasted of salt as much as the sardines did, but with some wilder flavor, too.
Issue #123June 13, 2013

Cold, Cold War

Masaru peered past the struts and wires between his biplane's wings, trying to take the sight in. The tower's base was a madman's helter-skelter ziggurat, made of impossible stone blocks the size of townhouses, that cut a swath across the city's snow-covered grid of tenement blocks and terraces. From the ziggurat’s peak, the ragged-toothed tower reached up to a dark stain of cloud fixed in the sky directly above.

"A striking premise" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

A Sixpenny Crossing

"Stolen," the General hissed. "Stolen!" he shouted, enraged. "It was Easric Dane, I know it! Upon my soul, it must have been he!" Not only was it awful, but Pearl couldn't possibly be suggesting there was any truth to it. Earsic thought of drowning the book in the river. But Pearl Snow had a wicked pack of cards. They brooked none of Easric's sass and weren't lightly ignored.

"Entertaining adventure tale... with particularly interesting characters." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Penitent
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 29:39 — 20.36MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

All day, No. 17596 waited, but the guards never came.
From the Archives:
The Proof of Bravery
I had lost what I most cared for: the calculus of risk, and in its disregard, of bravery.
Issue #122May 30, 2013
The Penitent

No. 17596 let the book fall out of his hands. It would tell him what? It would tell him that the world went on—that somewhere, out there, men and women were carrying on their affairs while he sat alone in his cell, sentenced to ruminate in silence and isolation.

"An odd fabulist piece, entirely concerned with the existential relationship between the penitent and his place of confinement... The narrative voice, touched with dark humor and wit, is the making of this one. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

2013 Locus Recommended Reading List

Dreams of Peace

Suddenly a horrible sense of disjunction came over her—looking around the sunny dining room, she seemed to see with a strange doubled sight the wreckage beneath: a thick layer of dust, shattered tables lying on their sides, broken windows, gaping holes in the walls, the beautiful rosewood sideboard wrecked, with its doors hanging off and its mirror cracked—

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Our Dead Selves Lie Like Footsteps in Our Wake
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 40:21 — 27.72MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

It has to be true, because a year without her is a year without myself.
From the Archives:
The Alchemist’s Feather
I wake to find another finger gone.
Issue #121May 16, 2013

Singing Like a Hundred Dug-up Bones

As Knowe hikes fast over the plain and down the heather-thick slope to the farms spread out along the low lands, she almost laughs thinking: of course a ghost is the first person to want her singing.

Our Dead Selves Lie Like Footsteps in Our Wake

Her fingers dance in swoops and waves, cutting runes into the powder.  It's odd to see.  Hands usually draw with inks or chalk.  Powder and silver-tipped slippers are for simple gestures in duels, when there is no time to stoop and paint.  With my warped foot, dueling is an impossibility, but I have seen her practice countless times.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Singing Like a Hundred Dug-up Bones
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:28 — 23.67MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

“Come back and sing with me!” the ghost calls at her back.
From the Archives:
Remembering Light
“Nothing in Driftwood is free. What do you want?”
Issue #120May 02, 2013

The Clockwork Trollop

The neighborhood was dark and insalubrious; if it had not been for the sake of Professor Haversham's scientific endeavors I would never have ventured into its foul-smelling streets in the daytime, far less at night. He, however, appeared to have no such misgivings but looked about him with interest. "Now to find a public house of suitable character," he said. "Not too difficult in this area, I should think."

The Drowned Man

"I don't rightly care where he came from—he's one more person to keep watch on." Gwen nudged Corwyn toward the stairs that led belowdecks. Her voice was dark as she added, quietly, "I am not fond of new wrinkles on a job."

"a twist on the siren story.... The primary focus is on the sisters, a fascinating pair of adventurers" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Clockwork Trollop
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 32:10 — 22.1MB)
Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Google Play | RSS | More

“Professor Haversham!” I exclaimed. “What is the meaning of this vulgar display?”
From the Archives:
The Jewels of Montforte, Pt. I
Absinthe felt embarrassed. There was a part of him that wanted to fit in with this sort, these landed gentry.