200 issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies!

I have published in a variety of speculative genres: science fiction, magic realism, surrealism, slipstream, horror, and even dubiously a bit of memoir which might or might not be speculative. But secondary world fantasy, and epic fantasy in particular, remains my favorite genre – the genre that sustains me, the genre I read, the genre I came here to write. In the best epic fantasy writing, things I love the most can converge: multi-faceted characters, cultures in conflict and contact, anthropological depth, social commentary, mythic grandeur, politics, folklore, otherworldly creatures, fascinating artifacts, a deep sense of history and learning, and of course: magic. It might not be fashionable to admit this, but I am a sucker for well-done stories with magic. If you are reading this, you may be familiar with my secondary world, Birdverse; you’ll find most of my favorite things in there.

If you love all those things too, you might consider supporting Beneath Ceaseless Skies, an online magazine of secondary world fantasy literature that has just – as in today – BCS 200th issue. I consider BCS to be one of the best, if not the best, sources for fresh epic fantasy in the field.

High Above the Savannah, by Martin Ende - cover art for BCS 200

High Above the Savannah, by Martin Ende – cover art for BCS 200

200 issues is a lot. BCS began publishing in 2008, which, accidentally, was also the first year anything of mine was published (though not in BCS!). The editor Scott Andrews rejected many of my stories before he accepted, after a rewrite request, “Held Close in Syllables of Light” – my first published Birdverse story, the first of my prose (not poetry) publications with queer protagonists, and my second professional sale. It meant the world to me to have a story with three queer teens accepted at a professional venue after so many discouraging remarks about the marketability of specifically queer work. That was 2011; publishing is different now, and we are richer for it, but Scott was one of the early adopters, so to speak, and for that I will always be grateful. Since then, Scott has published two more Birdverse novelettes of mine, “Geometries of Belonging” (almost a novella!) and the Nebula-nominated “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds.”

BCS is an excellent source of epic fantasy reading in shorter form and a way to sample works by such contemporary greats and up and coming writers as Aliette De Bodard, Yoon Ha Lee, Fran Wilde, Saladin Ahmed, Ann Leckie, Tom Crosshill, Cory Skerry, Naim Kabir, Ken Schneyer, and many brilliant others (here is the full list of BCS authors and their work!). Scott’s tastes are varied, and I appreciate his commitment to stories which are both character-centered and world-centered – just some of my favorite things.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies team isĀ running a subscription drive to increase the wordcount limit of the work they take. This is really important, considering how few professional markets take stories over 10k. I have a weakness for longer short fiction and feel that epic fantasy works especially well atĀ novelette length; I hope you will consider supporting this publication and the genre to which it is dedicated.

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R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

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