I really like the “two stories every two weeks” format of this magazine, as that is an amount of reading that can easily be squeezed in without distracting too much from my regular reading schedule. And stories are for the most part good to excellent, so I’m inclined to think that subscribing to this was a good idea.
Issue #162 opens with a story by Marissa Lingen, “A House of Gold and Steel.” It is Victorian Historical Fantasy, somewhat reminiscent of Susanna Clarke’s seminal Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel. It is told in first person, the narrator is very engaging and the author does an excellent job with capturing the period tone. Unfortunately, things fall apart in the end, the conclusion is just too pat and not very plausible; the story might have profited from taking some more time to develop and resolve its conflict.
The second story, “Goatskin” by K.C. Norton is the highlight of this issue – set in a vaguely African setting, it is at heart a trickster story, and a story about female solidarity. It shares with the first story that it has a likeable first person narrator, but in this story the author manages to wrap things up in a satisfactory manner (by cleverly folding the telling of the story into what is being told) even though she packs considerably more events into (what I think is) roughly the same amount of pages. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m hoping BCS will publish more by this author.