I feel sort of bad that I haven't kept up on reviewing the magazines for the last month or so due to my obsession with the fall political campaigns. First, reading them is the one steady element of new fiction by authors I don't already know I get. Secondly, by reviewing them and putting it out there, in some small way I'm contributing to the promoting and sustaining of the genre. If I want the good people at places like "Beneath Ceaseless Skies" and "Heroic Fantasy Quarterly" to keep publishing I should be willing to do my little bit to help get the word about them out. So, I'm wading back in with "Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109".
Well, I came back to an excellent issue. The Telling by Gregory Norman Bossert is about ancient ritual and custom in the face of death and a missing heir. The Telling itself is the verse the youngest member of a household of a recently deceased lord must tell the estate's bees in order for them to remain at peace and in its service. When Mel recites the old words they seem to rile the bees. Soon Mel is striving to understand just what is going on with the bees, what the rituals actually mean and what his own future is. Set in a timeless world reminiscent of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast stories, "The Telling" is a beautifully strange story.
The Scorn of the Peregrinator by John E. O. Stevens concerns the arrival of a messenger, a peregrinator, from the newly ascendant Nine Kings to a hamlet out in a sun blanched wasteland. He brings with him the new demands to be made of the town by his masters. The story's events are recounted to us by a young member of the tribe. There's a terrific display of magic in the story, much centered around feathers. Beyond some displays of Steven's very original presentation of magic and a confrontation between the narrator and the peregrinator not much happens, but it's an intriguing bit of storytelling. Enough about the story's larger setting and events before its telling and outside its borders is alluded to that I want to know more.
Both stories have enough going on that I would be more than happy, in fact I'd be very interested in taking further excursions into their worlds. Once again, BCS, a tip of the hat for making stories like these available.