Issues from 2018
Six-Time Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine
Issue #254June 21, 2018

Featuring new cover art: “Mace Landscape” by Mihály Nagy


The Sweetness of Honey and Rot

Jiteh remembers when Gurteh, father of the spring's tithe, broke down sobbing and refused to drink. The sloths skinned him as they had the tithe and added his flesh to the broth. Each villager was then made to drink two spoonfuls. No one has refused since.

Three Dandelion Stars

Amarine wanted to plant a garden and was wild with her plans. Shai watched her wife's lips as she went on and on about which vegetables would winter well. Amarine had chipped a tooth yesterday while chopping wood, and it gave her beauty a feral quality. Now she looked dangerous, and Shai liked catching glimpses of it while she talked.

From the Archives:
Stitched Wings
Rowan hadn't been lying when he said his queen was the best liar of all, but Madeline knew that was only because he hadn't met her mother.
Issue #253June 07, 2018

A Tale of Woe

Rana read the woe that wrapped the man—a swarm of blood scorpions that writhed beneath his flesh. Woe was a reciprocal thing. The more you inflicted upon others, the more you gathered. The Goddess’s judgment was quick. This time she imagined a sewing-needle half long as her forearm. Reaching into her satchel she withdrew a fine opaque thread of woe and sewed it into the man, weaving it between the scorpions.

The Weaver and the Snake

Reilitas clutches tightly her wrought-iron railing as the city guards throttle the thieves and rioters. Wherever she looks she finds destroyed the things she has made. The ambassador's tiled vases are smashed; she had spun them wide to hold his banana trees. The golden automaton in the shrine of the god of prophecy, which she had helped a foreign machinist assemble, has lost all four of its arms, and its topaz eyes have been plucked. A dress that must be her work, woven for a virgin consecrated to the temple, is ripped and fouled in the street.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Weaver and the Snake
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Reilitas has dreamed of the snake, dreamed of hammering its beautiful onyx scales into ceremonial knives, shields, the faces of clocks.
From the Archives:
The Book of Autumn
I made the truth something those duty old men couldn’t ignore.
Issue #252May 24, 2018

The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars

There was no stopping that porcupine-headed diva once she set her course. Cinrak straightened the hem of her tailored suit jacket and eyed Loquolchi's riding garb: a batwing dress straight out of the Rat-oyal costume department, all white froof and flop. Surely a tripping hazard.

The Ghostpotion Games

She glanced up at the miniature maze her creation would have to navigate, a spherical cityscape of shell and chrome-colored fossil levitating above the table. A pressure-headache hum of whispering thoughts brushed against her mind. She usually didn't get headaches and she was already struggling with one. The judges' thoughts made her nauseous to go along with it all, but it wasn't like she could tell them to stop.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:13 — 16.63MB)
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Taking her place in line, the marmot graced her pirate lover with a toothy smile. "Can't let you have all the fun, Cinny."
From the Archives:
On the Transmontane Run with the Aerial Mail Express
Why in perdition were the pirates after the blimp on the return trip, after the payroll'd been delivered?
Issue #251May 10, 2018

The BCS Ebook Subscription Drive ends Friday! You can support BCS and help us to our stretch goal: raising our word-count for submissions to 20,000 words.


The Examination Cloth

Ukeme knelt again at the table, took brush in hand, and paused above the first sheet of reed-paper. He wondered why he felt such hesitation. Words woven in cloth could protect bodies and hold spells; words on paper were merely words. But words on this paper could make him a scholar.

The Root Cellar

I’ve come for you, Jeremy; you, and my arm. The rats brought back to me everything I lost, except that. I’ve already searched Grandma’s house: the cellar and the attic, the dank room beneath the stairs, the cupboards and the chests, the hidden spaces between the walls and floors. But I’ll find you, brother; you, and that wayward limb of mine.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Examination Cloth
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Slowly, Ukeme read the first row of characters: a knotty point of customary law. The second called for an essay on the Osun Republic’s conquest of Benin two centuries before. The third...
From the Archives:
The Three Feats of Agani
I had hoped to tell you the first story in the summers to come. It is my sorrowful task to tell you all three, instead.
Issue #250, Special Double-IssueApril 26, 2018

A special double-issue for BCS #250! Featuring two bonus stories, two guest-narrated podcasts, new cover art “Legendary Passage” by Jereme Peabody, and a BCS Ebook Subscription Drive!


The Thought That Counts

The day before the money finally ran out, I did come across a tantalising possibility which, one of these days, I really must get around to following up, since it might just be the missing ingredient that would make all the difference; but of course I was in no position to do anything about it at that time, so I sold the glassware for even less than I paid for it and wandered into the centre of town, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village

I hoped this was more than pretense, since our survival might soon depend on her. Father could conceal his peachwood sword easily enough, but there was no way I’d be allowed to bring my jian into the magistrate’s presence. I took my own precious bawu for no good reason that I could think of. I knew only Mei Li could reliably conjure a weapon out of hers at need; so far all my attempts at this transformation had come up short.

Silence in Blue Glass

The perceptive kobold peered around the corner and, seeing me, grinned, exposing quite a lot of pointed teeth. "Nom de solelh! My good friend! My friend Mr. Swift! I did not expect to see you so soon!" I set down my glass and crossed the hall to her, taking her hand in both of mine.

Angry Kings

I struggled with the thought that one day my anger would emerge. Perhaps my father had been sweet as a boy and even as a young man; perhaps his true temperament had arrived with the first pains to plague his back or his first gray hair or the placement of a crown upon his head. I dreamt myself a monster, half bear with long claws, half serpent with two poisonous fangs behind my lips. I slept less and less for fear that I would wake and the nightmares would have transferred themselves into the waking world.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Thought That Counts
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For once in my life, I could walk down the street without looking for places to run to if I heard someone yell my name.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:45 — 34.16MB)
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Now I understood my impression of the magistrate’s reaction. More, I did not miss Mei Li’s implication—it applied to herself as much as the magistrate.
From the Archives:
The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery
For the sake of the beautiful Dogaressa, I took up my father’s battered old pipe and punty.
Issue #249April 12, 2018

Weft

I said nothing, but I didn't think this was a true accusation at all. Sometimes the crimes were egregious: murder and torture. In these cases I ripped up the would-be magicians with no compunctions. But other times...

Fireskin

Aun-ki grunted, unwilling to admit that she was afraid, and sent Jin-ho away. Then she bathed herself, gingerly, the water steaming off her skin. She gritted her teeth against the rough weave of her tunic and trousers, and she walked in her house slippers through the palace to the rooms of the Royal Physician because the tightness of her boots produced so much heat the laces frayed and smoked.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Weft
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 20:29 — 14.07MB)
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Sometimes the crimes were egregious. In these cases I ripped up the would-be magicians with no compunctions. But other times...
From the Archives:
A Glass Kiss for the Little Prince of Pain
"This kind of murder, to one so young? You can't come back from that kind of corruption."
Issue #248March 29, 2018

Featuring a giveaway on Twitter for a signed KJ Kabza short fiction collection!


She Who Hungers, She Who Waits

It is strange, Mei Huang thinks as she intones a letter from the Lipless Prophet’s alphabet, how prophecy circumvents borders. No matter the continent or the practitioner, whether they dwell in nubivagant jellyfish or on the spines of the world-turtles, it is all the same, every icon and interpretation, every beginning and every end. The language of destiny is as consistent as mankind’s appetite for murder.

Cry of Desire in a Shrouded Land

Vidita quickly deduced from the sideways glances and short conversations with other slaves that she occupied a strange place in the hierarchy of the flower-garden: their master’s favor and her prestigious assignment marked her as one to befriend, but her utter lack of experience and apprenticeship gave her a whiff of the imposter and invited scorn. Perhaps once she would have cared, but now scorn mattered only if it inconvenienced her.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
She Who Hungers, She Who Waits
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:34 — 19.62MB)
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Mei Huang repeats the rite so many times it becomes indistinguishable from breath, and still every iteration ends with the soldier dead.
From the Archives:
Two to Leave
The Drought Guard had sent twelve-and-twelve of their own after me, which might have held numerological significance if I still cared about such things.
Issue #247March 15, 2018

Featuring new cover art for early Spring 2018: “Island Outpost” by Stephan Meisl.


The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes

Leu wiped the plate clean—his eyes on the pot—and then, swiftly, like a bird plunging into water, scooped the egg free with a slotted spoon. From the spice pouch around his neck he took a pinch of Fera sea salt to bring out the flavor. (I always slow my hand as I lower the last flake of salt, to draw out the moment, to make the diners lean forward. When you recreate this dish, you must think how you wish to present your egg, what part of the war you wish this dish to tell.)

Braving the Morrow Candle’s Wane

A pounding at the door chased away the need for words. Cyra's face lost its brief malaise and found the fear it had held a week prior. Adia put a finger to her lips. She led the girl to the cupboard across the room. She whispered for her to be strong. To be brave. And to keep silent. Then she hid her away in shadow.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Braving the Morrow Candle’s Wane
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Adia's fingers found the blade hidden in the folds of her kirtle. She dismissed the pang of guilt at the thought of what she now must do.
From the Archives:
By Appointment to the Throne
Getting up early enough to open a kitchen hurts.
Issue #246 – Science-Fantasy Month 4March 01, 2018

Special double-issue for BCS Science-Fantasy Month 4, featuring a bonus story and science-fantasy cover art “Ugg” by Florent Llamas.


Do As I Do, Sing As I Sing

At every opportunity, I asked a variation on the question that haunted me: what would happen to my village if Kirren died before I returned? If we weren't special, why didn't they teach more of us, so there would be no risk of my family starving? They never answered.

The Emotionless, in Love

Colton had never seen grains project random memories like this. It was almost as if something had shattered the collective consciousness of the tiny machines on this land, forcing them to communicate without thought or reason.

Gennesaret

She pumps her legs harder, lifts higher. Slapping back. Strike, strike, strike. She cannot slow. She must not sink, stone-skipping on webbed feet. On and on and ever on. Her arms burn with the effort of carrying her child.

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Gennesaret
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She says instead: "because he isn’t coming."
From the Archives:
The Mote-Dancer and the Firelife
Nicolai was three years dead when I lighted to EZ Aquarii to forget him. Naturally he came along too.