Issues from 2022
Issue #365
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Featuring a special narration for episode 300 of the BCS Audio Fiction Podcast and a bonus podcast episode.

Five Aspects of River and Sky

I take a deep breath and heave the cabbage as hard as I can at the sky. It rises, hangs for just an instant against the tree line, and falls. I run to catch it but can’t make it in time. it hits the dirt at the garden’s edge with a crack. The trees shiver in a disapproving wind. Annell had a better arm than I do. Her throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why isn’t she here? Why did she have to leave instead of me?

Annell's throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why did she have to leave instead of me?
Of the Body

I have thought of a thousand different names for our future children. Ever since our eyes first met. But right now, right at this moment when I should be the most happy, I am terrified. Terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it. Will my aim be good enough to wound it without hurting our child? Will my hands shake as I cut its belly open and pry the baby out of its innards, slick with blood?

I am terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Five Aspects of River and Sky

Podcast: Download (Duration: 35:00 — 24.03MB)
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Annell's throws always rose high enough that the skies accepted her sacrifice. Why did she have to leave instead of me?
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Of the Body

Podcast: Download (Duration: 31:19 — 21.51MB)
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I am terrified of the moment when Osarah and I will hunt down the animal that bears our child and kill it.
From the Archives:
A Stranger Goes Ashore
Every new shore was the same: a blue expanse conjoined to unyielding volcanic stone, wreathed in a furious margin of foam.
Issue #364
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Featuring an interview with BCS author R.B. Lemberg by Jaymee Goh, a new episode of the BCS Audio Vault podcast—R.B. Lemberg’s five-hour audio novella “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power,” introduced by the author—and a giveaway for a copy of R.B.’s new Birdverse novel, The Unbalancing.

Turn To Stone Ourselves

Reminding me of another little girl centuries before, one who had grown up to claim her youth-name, her adult-name, and finally her elder-name, yet who had never been quite content with any of those names, nor what they represented. Not until her hands turned to stone-care.

Could I taste the inklings of my first life, when flesh had ruled me rather than stone?
Upon The Land

On any other day, Varthin and I would not have met. His was a world of fire and iron and light everlasting; mine of the cool depths and a dark that was no dark at all, mapped by the subtle changes in taste and temperature and pressure of the saltwater that was my element. But it chanced I passed the tideline on midsummer’s day when Varthin stepped beyond his door into much light and little darkness, and so we met within the marram. His life was twined from its golden light; its black iron gave him his strength. These gifts he offered with his ring, and freely.

And so I did, sealing half my life into the stone kist outside his door.
Author Interview: Queer Norms and Sexualities in R.B. Lemberg’s Birdverse

In conjunction with the release of BCS author R.B. Lemberg's new novel The Unbalancing, Jaymee Goh of Tachyon Publications, the publisher of R.B.'s novella The Four Profound Weaves (2021) and The Unbalancing (2022), interviews R.B. about queer norms and sexualities in their Birdverse fantasy world, which is also the setting for R.B.'s five stories, novelettes, and novella that appeared in BCS.

An interview with author R.B. Lemberg about their Birdverse fantasy world, the setting of their stories in BCS and their forthcoming novel The Unbalancing.
Audio Vault:
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power
Introduced by the author, explaining elements of the Birdverse world and culture and characters that appear in the novella and how one of the characters connects with the new Birdverse novel The Unbalancing.
From the Archives:
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.
Issue #363
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Imagine a Thief with Golden Fire in Their Voice

But what plagues me now, the questions I ask myself as I stare down at her little violets, as I sense out the elements in the earth beneath their roots until I can feel the cold charred edges of her bones and assure myself that that is all that remains of her—those questions are these: is it different, to withhold life than to end it? What moral obligations does my power come with? And, more selfishly: if I don’t bring her back, how long until her followers turn on me?

I am not saying I don’t have the power. There’s no point in denying that. I’m saying I don’t have the right.
The Death Artist

Some years ago I bedded an old man, a wizard and mathematician, who told me that any statement you make contains the entirety of the universe in what is left unsaid by it. If you were to declare “I exist,” then by extension you are also declaring that you are not a tree, that you are not sorrowful, that you have not eaten, that you are not your brother’s keeper... Every positive affirmation contains an infinity of negation. There is nothing you can speak that the universe is not held in the shadow of your flame.

Death has no shape I can articulate. Were it so simple, there would be no need for my work.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Imagine a Thief with Golden Fire in Their Voice

Podcast: Download (Duration: 41:15 — 28.33MB)
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I am not saying I don’t have the power. There’s no point in denying that. I’m saying I don’t have the right.
From the Archives:
Seasons Set in Skin
Horimachi's own tattoos were from before the war, when black ink was made of soot instead of faery blood.
Issue #362
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Featuring new cover art: “Hilltop” by returning BCS cover artist Dominique van Velsen.

Their Eyes the Shape of Orchids

Something in your mother's acceptance of my cruel words makes me see how, for a moment, I am the pathetic one. I’ve seen those eyes before. I’ve seen them on the faces of Surna girls who come to me to do the dampening and I know they’re carrying unwanted Innachor children inside them. In her eyes, I see for a moment how even the lucky ones who are pretty and pass and marry into Innachor upper ranks—sometimes, even those with a good life and caring husbands—are still every bit of Surna fate.

That much, your mother and I have in common.
The Shapeshifter’s Lover

Oh, she knew it was foolish, but she was still so much a girl—trying on womanhood as one might try on shoes. Her ragdolls still rested on her pillow, arms akimbo. During summer storms she would clutch them to her face and soothe herself to sleep, dreaming of princes and kisses soft as moth wings. The crow's kisses were not as she imagined. They were far better.

Dori had said into the Lorist’s old ear, “The crow came to me. He flew up to my windowsill and sang. He left his.”
Audio Vault:
What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away

Podcast: Download (Duration: 21:07 — 14.5MB)
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With an introduction from the author, explaining their beliefs on the story’s theme of individual freedom and autonomy.
From the Archives:
What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away
The fawn is still in its mother's belly. Sapo kneels by the doe and feels for the outlines of the little one with her fingers. A gasp escapes her when it moves under the dead doe's skin.
Issue #361
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A Once and Future Reckoning

The “dragon” was not what Artur had expected. It had rubbery skin and too many teeth, like the nightmarish offspring of a toad and a wolf. And it was fast. Far faster than an ancient creature should be. He’d barely managed to get his sword free before its fetid breath was upon him.

The “dragon” was not what Artur had expected.
Uncounted Leaves of Ends of Camelot

The sap and time flow up, and Arthur pushes to follow, wills Merlin to guide him up the spreading branches to an end where Camelot stands past his death. He passes up through many interlacing threads of possibility. Sometimes wine is sour in his mouth as he learns of Gwen and Lancelot, sometimes he brings Morgause to court and lavishes every advantage on the boy who grows into his pale reflection, sometimes he does the deed he is here to atone for the thought of and sets Morgause and Morgan hard against him. No matter what the windings of the track, he sees the fire and the bloody clash of steel at Camlaan crimson on the far horizon.

Arthur is compressed, a grain of sand borne in the channels of the sap that fills and quickens the great oaken body of the wizard.
From the Archives:
The Five Days of Justice Merriwell
I see again my brothers’ grins beneath their iron helmets as my father released the holy fire upon the heretics.
Issue #360
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River of Sons

The German Imperial Army had been marching through Brussels for twenty-nine hours when the mandarin duck flew into Imke Tison’s apartment, landed beside her breakfast, and tapped an SOS on the china with a webbed foot. Imke offered the duck, her former mentor Monsieur Pilo, whom she hadn’t seen since the invasion began, chalk and slate. He snatched her cigarette instead.

Imke offered the duck, her former mentor Monsieur Pilo, whom she hadn’t seen since the invasion began, chalk and slate. He snatched her cigarette instead.
How to Be a True Woman While Piloting a Steam-Engine Balloon

Amelia is the best pilot the Territorial Revolutionists have. That's not boasting, it’s just true. They don't have many pilots, and none of them have as much experience as she does. She may be only twenty-two, but her pa taught her to fly at eleven, when she could barely see over the console, and she still flies his old steam-engine balloon, which may not be the newest model but is nevertheless steadfast.

Amelia is the best pilot the Territorial Revolutionists have. That's not boasting, it’s just true.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
How to Be a True Woman While Piloting a Steam-Engine Balloon

Podcast: Download (Duration: 33:27 — 22.97MB)
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Amelia is the best pilot the Territorial Revolutionists have. That's not boasting, it’s just true.
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 #359
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Featuring new cover art: “Port City,” by returning BCS artist Olexii Shuhurov.

Into The Thunder

Olva knows what Syenok's asking. "Sorry, Sy. But whoever's in there, they're definitely still alive." And with that, Syenok has no choice. The outrider code has saved her too many times for her to abandon it when someone else is in need. Which means she and Olva will have to confront this thunderclaw.

Syenok curses. With the lack of warning the caravan must have had, it's unlikely anyone fleeing made it far.
Witchbreaker

Suddenly I don't want to know how much time we missed. I don't want to know by how long I missed being there to fight whatever’s killed my wife and daughter. Not knowing is better. Because, what's worse? Coming back to what you thought would be home and finding out they've been dead for years? Or finding out you missed it by an hour or two, one that only felt like seconds to you in a witch's embrace?

I don't want to know by how long I missed being there to fight whatever’s killed my wife and daughter.
From the Archives:
Sinking Among Lilies
With the clawmarks as a warning, I'd slept in my clothes.
Issue #358
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Different Kinds of Thorn

She's been busy building a life in the city, building strength and respect in the guard, growing a circle of friends and lovers. Next to that, her family has seemed almost imaginary, their old familiar problems far away. It hasn't occurred to her until now that anything could truly change in the village. But if it has changed, and changed dangerously, then she must do what she can to understand the threat and meet it. If the Apple Orchard King is the threat, then this is an opportunity.

She has offered a dangerous thing, but oh, it is a sweet one too. To lie with a dryad, queen of the wood, would be an experience unlike any other.
Forte

Giro and Cecilia have seen each other four more times. Each night they can get away, they meet atop the Phoenix Gate and Cecilia asks Giro to show her some fantastic new sight of the city. One night they see a play at the Theatro Satyrico; when the two actors in the comic love triangle face off with swords, Giro and Cecilia critique the fencing loudly enough to enrage the rest of the audience. Another night they sneak out of the city to the Sauvian Vineyards and stumble home drunk on a dozen different vintages. Yet another night, they enter a tavern separately wearing carnival masks and, in the sanctity of a darkened chamber, remove one another's clothes—hardly speaking, as though they're making love atop a delicate ice cap where a single loose word might shatter the stars.

"There's nothing they can do to keep us apart. Not by the laws of Cisterna."
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Different Kinds of Thorn

Podcast: Download (Duration: 37:24 — 25.68MB)
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She has offered a dangerous thing, but oh, it is a sweet one too. To lie with a dryad, queen of the wood, would be an experience unlike any other.
From the Archives:
The Crow Knight
“The birds?” Ser Wynn looked around, but the only bird she saw was her own.
Issue #357
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The Nostalgia Panes

“Tendo,” Seneca said, “we used to perform on street corners and church steps. We got constables for our trouble. Hounds. Spilled blood. When has less risk ever factored into our installations? I’d set up in the prin-sec’s office if I could, but I’ll settle for her nephew’s private property. Using the nostalgia lawn as a backdrop is the point.”

After that day on the Stackshead Bridge, they hadn’t given up politics completely, but they hadn’t done installations, either.
These Hands Only Make Last Meals

On the ride home, we compare what we think we know. One girl says an officer let something slip. Another says she saw it happen. Where we agree is that a brother tried to desert. He was in the yard with his Sister when she turned her back to pick a flower. In that instant he engaged his engines and took flight. Naslia heard he made it halfway to the horizon before an anti-air gun shot him down.

Two days later, one of my Brother's squadron is killed.
Audio Vault:
Two Bodies in Basting Stitch

Podcast: Download (Duration: 42:28 — 29.16MB)
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Introduced by the author, in an interview conducted and engineered by M.K. Hobson, discussing the story’s inspirations in complicity with institutional systems and activism risking that status for beliefs or people you believe in.
From the Archives:
The Oracle and the Sea
Every month when the soldiers bring her supply of flour and milk, they also bring waterproofed parcels of manuscript paper and cool bricks of ink.
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