Category Archives: Richard Parks

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Hits 100 Issues

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…

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Celebrates Three Years

 Beneath Ceaseless Skies has been publishing some of the best fantasy to be found on the web or anywhere else for three years now.  Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate BCS for three great years and wish them many more.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies marked its three year anniversary with its current issue, a double issue.  If you’re wondering what a double issue for an electronic magazine is, you get twice the amount of fiction.  And it’s good fiction, which is what you expect from this publication.  That’s one of the reasons I decided to start the Seven Days of Online Fiction with Beneath Ceaseless Skies

It’s been a while since we looked at BCS, so here’s a quick overview of the contents. 

Leading off is “The Tiger’s Turn” by Richard Parks.  This is the latest installment in his series about Lord Yamada in feudal Japan.  I looked at an earlier installment in this series, “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest”, back in February.  I’ve always liked Parks work since was introduced to it after meeting him at a Conestoga around the turn of the millennium.  He’s primarily a short story writer, but he’s worth the trouble of seeking out.  The latest installment in this series didn’t disappoint me.

Second was Kat Howard‘s “The Calendar of Saints“,  an alternate history fantasy, where among other things different, the Church embraced Galileo’s teachings.  This one concerns a swordswoman who is not a believer who finds herself defending the Church.  The ending was original and unexpected.

Nicole M. Taylor tells the story about a woman whose sailor husband doesn’t come home from the sea but something resembling him does and the “A Spoonful of Salt” that results from their union.  This one was quiet and disturbing.

The final story is one of judgment and mercy.  J. S. Bangs‘ “The Judge’s Right Hand” was dark and compelling, and again, the ending was original and unexpected.

Finally, Garth Upshaw’s “Butterfly” from the September 22, 2011 issue is available in MP3 format.

There’s not a bad story in the bunch.  Check ’em out.  

New Issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I’ve been a bit under the weather since I got back from ConDFW, so this will be a short post.  I’m getting better, thank you.  (And thank you, pharmaceuticals.  Better living through chemistry!)

A new issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies was posted today.  You should check it out.  I’ve been aware of BCS for a while but only recently began reading it.  I do enough reading on a computer screen as part of my dayjobbery that I haven’t kept up with the online publications like I should.  That’s in the process of changing.

Anyway, BCS posts new issues every two weeks, usually with two stories.  The current issue leads off with “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest”, by Richard Parks, a tale of honor and loss in feudal Japan.  This story showcases Parks’ ability to develop mood and character in a short space, and is one of the better stories I’ve read in a while.  It also is the latest in a series, but functions perfectly well as a stand-alone. 

I met Parks when he was a regular attendee at the early Conestogas, the SFF convention in Tulsa.  This would have been in the late 90’s and early 00’s.  He quit coming after a few years.  I remember him as a soft spoken man, but one who was easy to talk to.  I’ve long thought him to be one of the more underrated writers working at short fiction lengths in fantasy for the last decade.  It would be nice to see him get more recognition.  He has several collections out, and has a web page, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while.  There is a bibliography there, if you’re interested in reading more of his work.  Of course if you’re one of those people who like things current, check his livejournal page.  It was updated yesterday.

The second story, “Dirt Witch” by Eljay Daly, I haven’t read it yet.  Since I’m not feeling at the top of my game, I probably won’t read it tonight.  I’m going to turn in early.  When my energy levels are back up, I’ll post a short review.  Until then, I’m starting to fade and need to call it a night.