Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Cover art by Raphael Lacoste
The one hundredth issue of BCS won’t go live for another day or so, which means I’ll have to put the links in for the individual stories later (done), but I wanted to try and create a bit of advance buzz for the issue. (Having a subscription, I got my copy early.) Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one of the best fantasy markets out there, and it publishes every other week.
I’m behind on reading the short fiction magazines I subscribe to, or I would have reviewed some of the preceding issues. I may still. But 100 issues is a milestone that deserves to be celebrated. Instead of the usual two pieces of fiction, there are four, just like in the issue marking the three year anniversary of the magazine (reviewed here). Here’s what you’ll find.
“In the Palace of the Jade Lion” by Richard Parks is a quiet combination of ghost story and love story. It’s the longest story in this issue, and well worth your time. It’s set in China or a country very much like it, a departure from his series of stories set in ancient Japan. Parks is one of the best practitioners of fantasy working today, and if a magazine or anthology has a story by him, and it’s not one of the publications I subscribe to, his name alone usually is enough to make me pick it up.
Next is “Ratcatcher” by Garth Upshaw. In this tale, clockwork creations have taken over, forcing humans to hide in holes. They subsist on a number of foodstuffs at which most people who eat Western diets would turn their noses up. One day a ratcatcher decides he’s had enough and fights back.
Christie Yant is an up-and-coming writer of science fiction and fantasy. “The Three Feats of Agani” was the second story of hers I’ve read (the first being”Temperance” in the inaugural issue of Fireside, reviewed here). While “Temperance” was science fiction, this is core fantasy. It’s about a nine year old girl hearing the story of the god Agani at her father’s cremation. It’s dark, morally complex, and powerful, a mature work.
If the name Amanda M. Olson isn’t familiar to you, it’s because “Virtue’s Ghosts” is her first published story. You couldn’t tell it by reading it; I only know that because it says so in the brief author bio at the end of the story. This may have been my favorite solely for the narrator’s voice. It’s the first person account of a girl who lives with her mother and two aunts. The mother and one of the aunts run a boarding house, and the second aunt comes to live with them. In this world, people are required to undergo a coming of age ceremony in which they are given a magical pendant that prevents suppresses their greatest character flaw. In this story, they take in a boarder who has a shocking secret.
As I said, this issue won’t go live for another day or two, but you should keep your eye out for it (I’ll add links and any other updates when that happens.). Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one of the most consistently high quality pure fantasy publications around. Here’s hoping we see another hundred issues. And another hundred after that. And another…