Friday, July 10, 2009

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #20

It’s hard to believe that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has been around for twenty issues already. It’s impressive to see a new magazine that can maintain great, consistent content for so long. I wish them the best for the next twenty issues.

“The Land of Empty Shells” by Caroline M. Yoachim – Terra and Dziko form children from their own clay bodies, following the traditions of their people. Their daughter, Urvara, is chosen for service in the temple, which greatly upsets their son, Joren, who felt that he should be the one selected from their family. The events that follow break Urvara’s faith in the priestess and disturb the natural course of life for her family.

It took me some time to adjust to the people in this story due to their cultural and physical differences, but I’m glad I stayed the course. The combination of lore and a detailed account made the story intriguing and engaging.

“The Bone House” by James Lecky – Mikulas and his father live in isolation as fugitives from a long-lasting war. His father was a great mage, but the cost of exercising his talents left him poisoned, which eventually killed Mikulas’ mother, and it deformed Mikulas into a being of flesh and stone. Each day, Mikulas pulls some of the dead from the river, stripping these casualties of war of their valuables and carving their bones into various items. He rescues a young woman floating among the dead because she reminds him of his mother, but he soon discovers that the two aren’t that similar at all.

This story was original and drew me in very quickly. All of the characters seemed very distinct, and I loved the ending. This is the second tale by Lecky I’ve come across this month (the other was published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly), and both were impressive. I’m not sure where his stories might be found next, but I think he’s an author to look for.

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