Friday, November 30, 2012

A Look at Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109

I'm trying to get caught up on periodical reading before diving back into some novels.  It's been a while since I looked at Beneath Ceaseless SkiesBCS is one of the best publications for short adventure fantasy out there.  I try to read every issue, even if I don't review all of them.  I'm a little behind right now, but I hope to get caught up during the Christmas break.

Anyway, the latest issue is live, so let's look at it.

There are two stories, as usual unless it's a special issue.

"The Telling" is the first, and longest, tale in the issue.  The author is Gregory Norman Bossert, a writer whose work I've not previously read.  That's one thing I really appreciate about BCS.  The opportunity to discover new voices.

The Telling" is about a child named Mel, who lives with the servants in a manor house.  The story opens just after the death of the manor's lord.  The lord had no wife, and some question exists as to what will become of the manor and estate.  There seems to be some connection between Mel and the deceased lord, but what that connection is isn't clear, at least not to Mel.  One of the first duties, according to tradition, after the death of a lord is to tell the bees, who will spread the word far and wise.  This task falls to Mel, but things don't go as planned.  It turns out there may also be a connection between Mel and the bees. 

This is a story of dark secrets, some of which are disturbing.  I'm still processing this story.  I liked the writing and the supporting cast of characters. I think I like the ending, but to be honest, I haven't made up my mind yet.

The other piece of fiction is "The Scorn of the Peregrinator" from John E. O. Stevens.  This was the author's first sale to, as he calls it, a "major publication."  I found it to be inventive and original.  Stevens shows promise as a writer.

The society here is oriented around birds.  Whether the people are part bird or humans who pattern themselves after birds and use avian-based magic isn't entirely clear to me.  It's the tale of what happens when an emissary for the government, in this case the Nine Kings, shows up at an isolated village in a harsh landscape to impose conscription and new terms of service on a peace loving people.  Just because they're peace loving doesn't mean they won't defend themselves, and at great cost.  I thought this was one the more original concept between the two stories, and I would love to see more of this world.

So, once again, Beneath Ceaseless Skies has published a pair of quality fantasies.  As usual, the stories are available online for free, but if you like what you read, consider supporting BCS by subscribing.  Being able to read BCS on an ereader is worth the cost of a subscription, at least to me.


  1. I've seen a couple of issues of Beneath Ceaseless skies with really good stuff.

    1. I'm impressed with the consistency BCS shows with regard to content.