Issues from 2017
Five-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #234September 14, 2017

Dire Wolf

Which was why, when Delia walked in, Stag came near failing to believe it. Delia, all the way from the city, not in slinky red but scarred boots, mittens, a wool coat high enough at the collar it hid every part of her fine flesh but her face, which stayed frozen even when her eyes met his. She disappeared outside quick as she'd come.

Corpus Grace

She had seen these kinds of displays before. The people said all the right words and went through all the motions of piety, but their faces remained closed to her. There was almost a sense of mockery in their exaggerated subservience, a bluster that precluded any chance of an honest connection. Part of her wanted to shout at them, to embrace them, to do anything that might break through that wall of denial. For how could the truth ever reach them if they would not even admit to their heresy?

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Dire Wolf
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But for the Wolf, Staggerlee would've written it off as a whiskey vision.
From the Archives:
Else This, Nothing Ever Grows
To be held by a bear—this made me feel as though I might belong.
Issue #233August 31, 2017

Across Pack Ice, a Fire

"And to further the cause of diplomacy, I will bring the child with me. A Kven child bringing a gift to Veralduki people—surely this will help her people to understand that they ought to sue for peace."

Gallows Girl

A good Gallows Girl knows how to steady a man when he twitches at the end of the rope. She’ll take his hands and hold them tight, or grab him by the forearms if she needs to. The firm touch of a good Gallows Girl is usually enough: he’ll go slack, stop kicking, and let the noose dig. The death is just as ugly, but the passing is eased.

Audio Vault:
Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud
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Introduced by the author.
From the Archives:
The Judge’s Right Hand
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.
Issue #232August 17, 2017

Red Bark and Ambergris

"Vanilla," she said instantly, scent and 'sense telling her true. She could feel the faint tug of it below her ribs, almost imperceptible—a gentle essence, not a powerful one. "A Nariguan strain."

No Pearls as Blue as These

I thought Yut would be glad to see me gone, a respite from my vigilance. Instead she fusses over my departure and sends along one of her owls to see me off. The shadow bird is surprisingly soft, weightless on my shoulder and affectionate, nudging my chin with its burred head. It dissipates before we reach the gate, the limit of Yut's sending.

From the Archives:
Y Brenin
The knight glanced up at the tessellated sky, clear blue behind the shifting leaves, and did not answer.
Issue #231August 03, 2017

Featuring new cover art: “Bird House” by Jordan Grimmer.


Deathspeaker

We hold the entire kingdom hostage, the two of us. We have their names. Those that her clerk cannot find for her, I search out myself in the stacks of Tsud’s library. Tsud was nothing if not meticulous. He had every clansman and kinsman listed, along with their wealth and their holdings. They send a tithe of their family to us, and we use them to again people the palace.

The Broken Karwaneer

She gritted her teeth against the mounting pressure in her skull, like steam rising from a kettle. Is that when the void breaks through? A brokenness of the soul and a wound in the body; so Brighteye had described the moment of awakening to sorcery. There were people in the world who lusted for that terrible power. The same sort of people, Orha assumed, who would kill and leave the corpse its jewelry.

From the Archives:
From the Spices of Sanandira, Pt. I
Dear gods —thirty men reduced to nine in the blink of an eye.
Issue #230July 20, 2017

A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power, Pt. II

Even though I had slept, I was still fatigued, and I half-suspected that the Raker had simply assumed I possessed the stamina of youth, for all he had tried to be careful—but the rush of our powers had revived me. I felt fully myself now, my spirit stretching my skin, my blood aflame with the exhilaration of that danger. He did not know yet how to be safe. He would choose to be, for me, if he knew how. That I believed.

Rivers Run Free

A truth about rivers: we have always been able to draw our water together into solid bodies, to walk on two legs. But it is not without risk, and not without cost. We lose much of ourselves in the transformation, and if there's not enough of us to start with, well...

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Rivers Run Free
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We ride stolen horses over the choked earth.
From the Archives:
Breathing Sunshine
I worried about the detector. Kept my attention up for the slightest tingle of accidental particle ingestion.
Issue #229July 06, 2017

Featuring a special five-hour audio podcast of Rose Lemberg’s novella “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power” in celebration of episode #200 of the BCS Audio Fiction Podcast!


A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power, Pt. I

Across great distances I hear her voice rolling over the sand, traipsing gently above bones of impossible beasts that perhaps had one day populated the desert. The Tumbleweed Star speaks to its twin sibling, the star to which I am tethered. She speaks of secrets I will never understand and do not want to overhear; of time above the clouds, of darknesses, of absences.

Ora et Labora

But the litanies Obb calculates during divine offices can only ever be approximations—even if he extended one to a hundred thousand places, and worked out x99,999/99,999! + x100,001/100,001!, et cetera, this wouldn’t cure but only bury the imperfection, dormant, deep below the surface, powerful and secret.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power
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Across great distances I hear her voice rolling over the sand, traipsing gently above bones of impossible beasts that perhaps had one day populated the desert.
From the Archives:
Boat in Shadows, Crossing
"Child of fish and ghost," said Bue. "What could be quicker?"
Issue #228June 22, 2017

Of Letters They Are Made

We look at one of the gaps in the Book of Amram; I read aloud what there is of the passage and he suggests a word that might fill the part that is missing. I’ve taught him that writing has styles, and that if one knows the poetic conventions of the day or the habits of a book’s author, it is sometimes possible to fill in the missing places even without a mafteach. And though Muqan still can’t read, he is adept at recognizing patterns.

A Late Quintessence

Fear arises in many delightful vintages, and we Magisters Subtle make it a point to be connoisseurs of all its varieties. The hint of it that rose now from Lady Mermingosa nearly made the edges of my mouth curl in the approximation of a smile. “This is just a formality,” I said. “We’re just tying off all avenues of inquiry. Do not be alarmed, please.”

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A Late Quintessence
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Not but three hours ago, beyond my study’s shuttered window I heard the song-girl recite those closing words from Horn’s Ashen Quintessence.
From the Archives:
On the Origin of Song
Note: Doyen-Générale, enclosed is the full catalogue of documents pertaining to the individual known as Ciallah Daroun, as per your request.
Issue #227June 08, 2017

Featuring new cover art: “Monument” by Jeff Brown.


After Burning

Almas wants to say that it’s barbaric, but then so is the whole of it; it would be like observing that a cupful dipped from the sea is salt. And this man has been the author of barbarisms as well, so how should it matter to him? So all she says is, “I’m sorry.” That much is true.

Two Bodies in Basting Stitch

Sere wouldn’t be able to send letters. Diligent, loyal Tashet would never fathom that anyone was reading her mail and would take no precautions. Sere couldn’t explain what would happen to them both if she didn’t leave.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Two Bodies in Basting Stitch
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Sere wouldn’t be able to send letters.
From the Archives:
Stone Prayers
Mattar comes to the house of Anaharesh in search of a single word; a word to end a war.
Issue #226May 25, 2017

BCS 2017 Ebook Subscription Drive, going on now! Subscribe (or donate) and you’ll support BCS and help us unlock our goals to raise our word-count limit for submissions.


In Memory of Jianhong, Snake-Devil

Father may have been a scholar of the Tao, but he was not above invoking the teachings of Kong Fuzi when it suited him, usually where I was concerned. It was my place to be the innocent, obedient daughter, except in our role of devil hunters when I had to use my martial training to kill something. I took a moment to loosen my jian in its scabbard across my back. This accomplished little except to make me feel a bit better.

Whatever Knight Comes

But she is special. That first night, when you land together on the roof of the north tower, she hops off the wyvern as easy as dismounting a horse. Her skin is burned from the high sun and chapped from the hard wind, but she spins on her heel and hugs the wyvern around its huge neck. It turns to look at you, with a slightly tilted head, a confusion in its eyes.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
In Memory of Jianhong, Snake-Devil
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“Honored Father Pan Bao,” I asked, “Please tell me again why we are on this freezing mountain? I haven’t seen the sun since we entered this forest.”
From the Archives:
Where Virtue Lives
“‘Great and virtuous’? No, boy, I’m Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the best belcher in Dhamsawaat.”