Issues from 2013
Issue #119
The Barber and the Count

With the first snip, the count spoke again. "Filip's hand shook the last time I was in his shop. A man can't have his hair cut by someone he does not trust. Your hand will be true. Will it not, barber?"

"But then why let him live? You had blades at his neck for half an hour, no doubt."
The Mermaid Caper

The Baron stared long at the tank, and Crane and Gilchrist saw for the first time an unfocused quality to his eyes, a faint gray fog. “I want her to be real,” he muttered, folding his scarred hands together. “She does look real.”

“The Baron won’t be as easy,” Gilchrist said.

"Well-done characters" —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Barber and the Count

Podcast: Download (Duration: 16:40 — 11.45MB)
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"But then why let him live? You had blades at his neck for half an hour, no doubt."
From the Archives:
Gizzard Stones
I pulled, and Maggot screamed as the arrow snagged and tore through her flesh.
Issue #118
The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate

But for a reason I wouldn’t be able to name until years after—years stretching between us like clouds unrolling beneath chariot wheels—I was silent; I was silenced and could not demur. I let him, could not quite pull away, show me how to coax the flame and bring order that it did not need. I let him teach me what I already understood.

I’d thought he would take to it, my natural kindred. He recoiled.

"a tragedy, in truth, that takes in gender roles, the development of identity, and the inevitable end of innocence whilst insisting that the method behind many of our myths may be more insidious than we think. It’s not a happy story, no, but it is a wonderful one" —Niall Alexander, Tor.com

Blood, Stone, Water

Startled, Tau lost her grip on her paddle. Before she had the chance to reform her thoughts, she had to quickly strip off and dive in to retrieve it. A smile a shade more cynical than expected greeted her as she heaved herself back over the edge of the oka, spluttering and cursing. Nhia quit her rearward rescue-paddling and held her own dripping paddle firmly in her lap.

"And just what do you fathom about my thoughts?"
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Armistice Day

Podcast: Download (Duration: 28:21 — 19.47MB)
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Things got worse when they started to have their flush of post-war babies and wanted us back out again.
From the Archives:
Unsilenced
In that warmth, she came to remember, slowly, that here was the last place she had spoken.
Issue #117

In celebration of BCS Podcast #100, a special reading, and enter to win an audiobook of Saladin Ahmed’s novel Throne of the Crescent Moon.

Armistice Day

Things got worse when they started to have their flush of post-war babies and wanted us back out again, back where we belonged, and we had to tell them there was no "back"—they had conjured us from the blue sky, from nowhere, from their own minds, to win their great war.

Things got worse when they started to have their flush of post-war babies and wanted us back out again.
Blood Remembers

"Wrong on both counts," I told Cardinal Galloway, swirling the brandy to disperse my blood through it. "First, I was the one who showed people visions." I offered him the chalice.  "And second, they weren't illusions. Have a drink, and see for yourself."

I saw the vanguard falter before them.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Boat in Shadows, Crossing

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:05:26 — 44.93MB)
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"Child of fish and ghost," said Bue. "What could be quicker?"
From the Archives:
The Book of Locked Doors
She cursed herself for freezing up and ruminating when the proper response was to react.
Issue #116

Featuring new cover art: “Marching Off,” by Maciej Wojtala.

A Family for Drakes

Meat for a blanket was no proper trade. Netta turned away from the fire, waiting for her eyes to adjust. She could make out a few of the other groups of refugees—and yes, they were watching her. Waiting for just such a sign of weakness as this. 

Meat for a blanket was no proper trade.
Bakemono, or The Thing That Changes

I’m not even sure what "her moonblood" means, only that it means the moment when the girl's wolf-colored hair cascades into velvet pelt. I can't stop thinking about the way she moves, so quick and lithe. She could cross the room in one leap.

I realized in that moment that even my name is a lie.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Bakemono, or The Thing That Changes

Podcast: Download (Duration: 42:36 — 29.25MB)
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I realized in that moment that even my name is a lie.
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 #115
Sate My Thirst with Ink and Blood

I thrust my scimitar into its sheath and picked up one of the books. After the mystics' warning, it was almost too much not to open it. I set the book down again but too close to the edge, and would you look at that, it accidentally opened up. My eyes scanned the pages and came away thirsty. The text was dry. It had something to do with the intricacies of paper-making. I kicked the book into the corner and started digging. The books could wait, but my shriveled insides couldn’t.

The need to flee--flee the city, the books, the nightmares, the thirst--came over me; to strike back into the desert and come back with the fortune I had promised Sessina so many years ago.

"The narrative voice, touched with dark humor and wit, is the making of this one. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

The Language of True Things

When the boy opened his eyes, his finger was gone, the flesh sealed over it as if it had never been.  Then the temple wall bucked and groaned, and a hairline crack appeared in its surface.  Light came pouring out through it—a strange sort of light he could not describe. “Yes,” said his father.  “It is opening.  You must give more.”

There was a little tinkling sound from the lizard. It took the boy a minute to realize it was laughter.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Sate My Thirst with Ink and Blood

Podcast: Download (Duration: 33:24 — 22.94MB)
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The need to flee--flee the city, the books, the nightmares, the thirst--came over me; to strike back into the desert and come back with the fortune I had promised Sessina so many years ago.
From the Archives:
Transitions of Truth and Tears
Garran woke with a scream and scurried on all fours to the corner of the sanctuary to vomit. He remembered everything.
Issue #114

Enter to win a signed Robert V.S. Redick epic fantasy novel

Beheaded by Peasants

As Alana approached, a single beastman detached himself from the crowd. He was larger than the others and wore only a long, red tabard that left his huge arms bare. His lower jaw protruded far beyond his upper, giving him a pugnacious look, yet his black hair was meticulously combed, shot through with braids ending in red beads. A three-fingered hand rested on the hilt of an oversized longsword.

Alana had always imagined the beastmen as amalgamated monsters, full of wolf parts and snake scales and other recognizable horrors. These were nothing like that.

"(character's) dilemma and final solution bring fatalism and free will to a climactic clash that is certain to provoke an unforgettable reaction of the heart and mind" —Tangent Online

The Crimson Kestrel

Her mountain of skirts fell away, and their pocket and petticoat undersides revealed her arsenal: grappling hooks, spider climbing-legs, a buckler that doubled as a bit of mid-line accent on her corset. Fashions this year had left Ivette room to arm a platoon if the need arose, and she and her mentor had refined her skirts into the perfect carrying system. She could not sit, but really, who but old dowagers and incurable bores ever sat at an imperial fête?

It was a funny thing how the same dance twice at a party bored her, but even the hundredth time, this lean-out over a dozen storeys of elegant suicide sent her heart up into her throat.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Misbegotten

Podcast: Download (Duration: 31:37 — 21.71MB)
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They slipped through a gap in the fence. It was like leaving an enchanted circle.
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.
Issue #113

Enter to win a signed Richard Parks Lord Yamada story collection!

Boat in Shadows, Crossing

Just as we got set to cast off, I spied something in the water, and the boat sensed it too: flick of a palm-leaf tail. And we were off, so fast that the pots of tea leapt from the table and were on me like freezing rain and I was on the floor. The merchant yelled louder, shouting at me to stop it, but what could I do? I tried, pounding on the floor like a fool and saying no, no, not now! But I knew we'd go till the boat lost the fish—or caught it.

"Child of fish and ghost," said Bue. "What could be quicker?"

"a wondrous fantastic adventure full of magical stuff, stories nested in stories, ghosts and gods and demonic boats, and doomed loves. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

Misbegotten

Elerit felt a rush of arid wind as the daemon brushed past him. Released from his invisible bonds, he dashed after it, leaped onto the handcar, and began pumping. When he shot into the open air it was already far ahead. It was like a tall, black lemur, a living shadow crowned with two bifurcating branches. It turned and looked at him with eyes that were small and round and yellow. Then it was gone.

They slipped through a gap in the fence. It was like leaving an enchanted circle.

"Elerit... proves to have deep resources and strong attachment. Another well-imagined setting increases reader enjoyment. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Locus online

2013 Locus Recommended Reading List

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Death Sent

Podcast: Download (Duration: 19:52 — 13.65MB)
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Mandate wondered if there would be any humans left to bury in a year.
From the Archives:
A Spoonful of Salt
He tasted of salt. Naomi half-expected to see him melting in the places where her mouth had been.
Issue #112
Death Sent

Mandate knew the count of those who had died exactly; knew it the way stone-crafts could tell granite and marble apart without their eyes and the way a blaze-dancer knew a candle from a torch from miles off, in a way he'd never known anything in his life.

Mandate wondered if there would be any humans left to bury in a year.
The Stone Oaks

"Touch the tree here. Listen." There was nothing at first, just the early breezes rustling a few tattered leaves. Then the blood rushing in my ears, my breath in and out. These sounds faded with concentration. Beyond them there was a very faint groaning, as of wood straining in a wind, but nothing more. "They still sleep," Sister Mauro whispered.

When I opened my eyes again, the moon had indeed come to roost in the branches of my oaks.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Scorn of the Peregrinator

Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:49 — 18.42MB)
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I raised the cairnskill feather, looked at the peregrinator through it. He became that shimmer again, indistinct but present.
From the Archives:
Beloved of the Sun
As I set foot on the plaza, I saw that it was one huge mass of butterflies.
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