Issues from 2011
Issue #67
Dancing the Warrior, Pt. II

Anger gave Sen cold focus, but it made Leksen crazy. She sidestepped his first wild blow and got in a solid kidney punch that made him howl; he grabbed her arm and slugged her in the stomach. Sen snarled that away and clawed his face, leaving bloody furrows down his cheek. It wasn't a Dance of any kind, but she didn't care. It was her sacrifice to the Warrior. Either he was going down, or she was.

Then something hit her jaw, snapping her head around with a crack.

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 29 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

Memories of Her

I take one stone hand in the other and unscrew it. Inside my hollow wrist is a padded pocket. A mantis scuttles out, tethered to me by a chain as fine as hair but stronger than anything I could name. It scurries up my arm, across my cheek, and props on the tip of my nose. “Time now,” it clicks. “You go.”

My hand is seamed with quartz and gravel. No fingernails now, only the squares I scratched there for some reason I’ve long since forgotten.

"a tantalizing glimpse at an intriguingly strange warring world" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Love, Resurrected

Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:17 — 26.3MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Three years after her death, she still labored in his service.
From the Archives:
Kingspeaker
She is the voice of the king, until he cannot speak for himself.
Issue #66
Dancing the Warrior, Pt. I

By sheer force of will, Sen forced herself upright. She hadn't won; that much was clear. If that had been the Grandmaster's test, then she'd failed, and this had all been a waste of everybody's time. She couldn't look at Kerestel, at Criel, at anything other than the Grandmaster's feet. The silence stretched out, harpstring-tight. And then he spoke, his mild voice betraying nothing more than it had before.

Her clothing hid the rest of the bruises, though, and Sen was determined not to let any pain show.

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 29 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

The Fairy Gaol

I do not want his scrutiny now, with the cool blade of the dagger pressing against my thigh. On the nearest dance path, a woman laughs as a fat prince covers her ears and throat with wet kisses. I feign interest as he spins her across the path, through the starlight that pours into the atrium. Unbidden, I picture our last dance together, on a night so similar and so different.

I will fashion a dagger worthy of his jeweled throat.
Marie Brennan on Writing “Dancing the Warrior”

Marie Brennan explains the writing of her novella "Dancing the Warrior" in BCS #66-#67, which is a prequel to her novels Warrior and Witch, set in the same world and featuring several of the same characters, including Mirage, Eclipse, and Jaguar.

Marie Brennan on writing "Dancing the Warrior."
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Mr Morrow Becomes Acquainted with the Delicate Art of Squid Keeping

Podcast: Download (Duration: 56:14 — 38.61MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

They couldn't be serious, Morrow thought...but then the Major allowed the squid to slip from his fingers and into his mouth.
From the Archives:
More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand
As with Papa, she knew Thomas was gone and felt no regret, for she had changed equally.
Issue #65
Love, Resurrected

This half-life dragged at her. She felt weary all the time, a chilled-bone sluggishness of motion that belied the quickness of her thoughts. It was not painful to breathe, but it was tiring, and she began to eschew it when alone and unworried about frightening the living.

Three years after her death, she still labored in his service.

"effectively grim" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Playing for Amarante

Only as the song nears its end do I risk a glance at my audience. I see a movement behind Dr. Mesmer’s head. For a moment I think it is a trick of the doubled mirrors, that I’ve caught a glimpse of myself reflected from the other room. But reflections do not wear strange clothes. The man stands in the back of the room. His eyes are closed, and his jacket is torn. His head is bleeding.

The man with my face opens his eyes.

"A powerful tale of haunting insanity and obsessive love. Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Breathing Sunshine

Podcast: Download (Duration: 33:01 — 22.67MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

I worried about the detector. Kept my attention up for the slightest tingle of accidental particle ingestion.
From the Archives:
Primaflora’s Journey
She wasn't even sure how long they had been here. It was still winter, still cold outside, and the winds that penetrated this sheltered wing of the castle held an edge of ice.
Issue #64
Breathing Sunshine

“You're one of the lucky ones. We could put a mask on you, keep the particles out for a few days. You'd turn back into what you were before.” I moved closer to the fort and took another reading. The needle hovered over yellow. My tongue felt as dry as sand.

I worried about the detector. Kept my attention up for the slightest tingle of accidental particle ingestion.
Mr Morrow Becomes Acquainted with the Delicate Art of Squid Keeping

They couldn't be serious, Morrow thought, could not possibly be...but then the Major allowed the squid to slip from his fingers and into his mouth. Miss Twickenham stifled a horrified gasp. Morrow’s heart quickened its beating. Surely, there had been some sleight of hand in the Major’s actions. What he had witnessed was impossible, and he wondered just how strongly the professor’s tobacco had been tinctured with laudanum.

They couldn't be serious, Morrow thought...but then the Major allowed the squid to slip from his fingers and into his mouth.

"entertaining, but there is also a neat skiffy twist... a fun read" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 29 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Ghost of Shinoda Forest

Podcast: Download (Duration: 46:08 — 31.68MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Whether I was drunk or sober, Princess Teiko haunted my dreams.
From the Archives:
The Empire of Nothingness
Aspley sat down at the edge of the pool, trailed his fingers in the cool water. Who are you? What are you doing here?
Issue #63
The Ghost of Shinoda Forest

Whether I was drunk or sober, Princess Teiko haunted my dreams. I had always assumed, if I drank enough that one day this would no longer be true, but there had been fifteen years of drinking after we parted, plus two more after her death, and now my optimism was quite exhausted. As this foolish hope had been all that I had to fight her with, there was nothing left for me to do tonight except the only sensible thing—I surrendered.

Whether I was drunk or sober, Princess Teiko haunted my dreams.

"(one of) two more fine Lord Yamada stories... deals directly with Lord Yamada's wrenching personal love story" —Editor/Reviewer Rich Horton

"absolutely a must-read, a poignant love story finally closing the circle of loss and pain... Recommended" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 29 (ed. Gardner Dozois)

Dirt Witch

The house was bigger on the inside, as Dorota expected from a witch. What she didn't expect, in the flickering candlelight, was the filth. Spiderwebs, of course, in the corners, in the grimy chandelier, festooned with crumbling bits of insects trapped, dismembered, neglected. The floor might have been red, might have been stone; the thick black grease of it gripped the soles of Dorota's boots as she inched through debris down the long corridor. The walls might have been red, too, red wallpaper dancing with bouquets of slime and countless handprints.

Dorota crept up between the porch's pillars, raised her hand to knock, and heard from inside the sound of a man shrieking.

"A good read for the strong of stomach." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Silent, Still, and Cold

Podcast: Download (Duration: 27:59 — 19.22MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

The place where Ameos should stand is taken by another boy. We are fewer now.
From the Archives:
Cherry Blossoms on the River of Souls
Part of him remained Hiroshi and did not forget. Yet now he remembered being Yojiro too.
Issue #62
Silent, Still, and Cold

A group of officers cluster below the mark on the wall. One balances an inkpot, another copies the symbol onto parchment, a third notes its location on a map of the city. Near where they stand there is a patch of bloody ice splashed against the stones next to an odd-shaped bundle of rags, the buckles of a Legionnaire's uniform winking out at us. We stare, and the officer with the map waves us away.

The place where Ameos should stand is taken by another boy. We are fewer now.

"A bleak and dismal scene, effectively evoking the misery of cold." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Adventures of Ernst, Who Began a Man, Became a Cyclops, and Finished a Hero

Ernst fumbled with the new sword at his side, but it had some ivory-inlaid clasp keeping it in place and he screamed in terror, at which point the medium muttered something and all the lights went out. Ernst freed the sword and swatted in the dark with it, backing against a wall, which was when he felt the itchy spider hairs rub against his throat.

There was a long, strange moment of silence, and then the spider dropped lightly off the medium’s back and scuttled toward Ernst.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Mamafield

Podcast: Download (Duration: 17:54 — 12.3MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Mama holds us close, long roots circled deep.
From the Archives:
The Adventure of the Pyramid of Bacconyus
The three cousins walked through a tunnel low enough that their head leaves brushed and bent on the ceiling.
Issue #61
Recapitulation in Steam

Izzy pushed himself up, trying to see. A flickering light like the reflection of moonlight on the ocean cascaded over the hall, and through it shadows darted like knife-edged fish—Society guards, he realized a little late, moving between him and the light. A gentle roar and boom heralded the trundler automaton's actions: settling down again, after whatever it had done to contain someone.

Izzy exhaled, glancing after the Society guards and the poor infused worker. “Right. Well, it can’t be helped now.”
Mamafield

I finally scent Leaver at far edge of mamafield, past where my roots have ever dug. I don't feel safe so far outcircle, but he's traveled alone for years. He's been so far outside we wouldn't even scent his death. And that's what he deserves.

Mama holds us close, long roots circled deep.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Two Pretenders

Podcast: Download (Duration: 21:44 — 14.93MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

The alternative to boredom is remembrance. And that, he avoids at all costs.
Issue #60
Two Pretenders

He had sworn never to speak of it, not to anyone, but his tongue betrays him in an instant. “Sometimes I think I’ve been here before. In my dreams...I have the strangest dreams.” He pauses, fighting not to say more, and into that pause comes the young man’s quiet answer. “Dreams of this place. Not this cell—a proper chamber, with a proper bed, and servants, and no shackles. But a prison just the same.”

The alternative to boredom is remembrance. And that, he avoids at all costs.
Over a Narrow Sea

Staring into the witch's cup, I feel something loosening inside myself, a knot I hadn’t known resided in my chest. I nod as though drowsing, despite feeling in some ways strangely alert, aware of minute details: the snap and hiss of the driftwood fire; the whuffle and scuff of gull feet scrabbling on the windowsill; the heavy presence of Katte’s broken body. Almost, I think I can hear the knitting of my friend’s fractured skull, the remaking of her rent skin.

It's not mutton burning, of course; it's all my uncle's counselors, champions, and guests trapped under the rubble of the fortress.

Honorable Mention, Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, ed. Sandra Kasturi & Halli Villegas

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Transitions of Truth and Tears

Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:19 — 16.7MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Garran woke with a scream and scurried on all fours to the corner of the sanctuary to vomit. He remembered everything.
text