Rescuing a poem from the Wayback Machine…

/ June 28th, 2012 / No Comments »

…which was the only place where it could be found until I reposted it just now. I’m not even certain if Christina or I still have copies.

By Christina Sng and Mike Allen

Shark soldiers descend the Great One’s gullet,
teeth painted for battle, eyes lighting the way.
Polyp villages rise to defend, baleen swords
clenched in colonies of tentacles.

Spider-goats spin silk in the crevasses
of the Great One’s hide, their ambidextrous arms
outstretched languorously into Its depths,
picking at the stardust that molds their universe,

While beneath, leviathans drift
within the catacombs of Its bloodstream;
gargantuan antibodies feeding on the anomalies
spontaneously blossoming with chaotic regularity.

Desperate six-limbed squatters huddle by
the bonfires on Its ice-crusted eyelids,
too frightened to cross the event horizon,
to risk the black holes of the Great One’s eyes,

Singularities leading to another unknown
landscape, another to fell or worship,
another pecking order cold and sentient
as their frost-covered god.

Soft hummings ebb from the caldera,
faint swan songs, the winding down
of the eternal machine as Its denizens,
the spiny cats who know the truth, know

that Great One is dying, celestial synapses
contracting out of existence one by one,
prowl the brainbowl devouring each withered neuron
in hopes of preserving Soul once Body is gone.

New e-book release: “Sleepless, Burning Life”

/ June 26th, 2012 / No Comments »

As long promised: with a lovely illustration by Avery Liell-Kok and a gracious introduction by Shira Lipkin.

“Mike Allen’s ‘Sleepless, Burning Life‘ is a very Moorcockian trip through cosmic clockwork, in search of ‘the dark-eyed dancer who made the cosmos turn.’ The worldbuilding is beautiful, and I’d have loved to see a full-length novel with a similar conceit in the same setting.”
— Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

In the afterlife, the warrior Jyshiu searches for her lover Amritu, a goddess cursed to dance eternally inside a cage that hangs at the top of the clockwork universe. Kitsartu the Engineer imprisoned Amritu when she created the cosmic spheres; Amritu’s dance powers the gears that make the stars turn. Should the goddess ever escape her cage, the universe will end.

Jyshiu intends to set her free.

“My favorites … Mike Allen’s ‘Sleepless, Burning Life,’ perhaps the strangest story here, and the most erotic, about a woman punished for defying her religion by an epochs-long climb up a clockwork structure to meet her sleepless goddess.”
— Locus

“Mike Allen’s gorgeous ‘Sleepless, Burning Life’ bases the mythology of a universe on something that feels like clockwork.”
— The Future Fire

This clockpunk novelette first appeared in the pages of JoSelle Vanderhooft’s ground-breaking anthology STEAM-POWERED: LESBIAN STEAMPUNK STORIES. Now it appears for the first time as a standalone e-book, revised and updated by the author, with a beautiful illustration by Avery Liell-Kok and a new introduction by author and activist Shira Lipkin.

Allow me to now pretend I’m a book company instead of a self-promoting author and editor (though I suppose I’m both) and suggest you might also like these other titles:

And there’s more to come.

ReaderCon schedule (includes Interstitial Arts Foundation town hall meeting)

/ June 26th, 2012 / No Comments »

Man, have I got a lot of stuff going on. Anita and I will be there starting Thursday, July 12.

Friday July 13

11:00 AM NH    Group Reading: Mythic Poetry. Mary Agner, Mike Allen, Erik Amundsen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Gemma Files, Gwynne Garfinkle, April Grant, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Shira Lipkin, Adrienne J. Odasso, Julia Rios, Darrell Schweitzer, Sonya Taaffe. Over the past decade, speculative poetry has increasingly turned toward the mythic in subject matter, with venues such as Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Jabberwocky, and the now-defunct Journal of the Mythic Arts showcasing a new generation of poets who’ve redefined what this type of writing can do. Come to the reading and hear new and classic works from speculative poetry’s trend-setters.

4:00 PM CL    Kaffeeklatsch. Mike Allen, Ellen Kushner. [Please note: this is the Interstitial Arts Foundation town hall meeting.]

6:00 PM ME    Podcasting for the Speculative Fiction Author; Or, Will the Revolution Be Recorded? . Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Jim Freund, Alexander Jablokov, Alison Sinclair, Gregory Wilson (leader). Building on last year’s talk at Readercon about promotion for the speculative fiction author and drawing from an upcoming SFWA Bulletin article, Gregory A. Wilson and discussants will focus on the pros and pitfalls of podcasting for fantasy and science fiction authors, looking at some examples of successful podcasts in the field, different types for different purposes, and the basics of getting started with podcasting.

8:00 PM RI    The Works of Peter Straub. Mike Allen, Ken Houghton, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Henry Wessells (leader), Gary K. Wolfe. The biography on Peter Straub’s website cites works of poetry, mainstream literature, supernatural and psychological horror, and the simply unclassifiable. All come from that moment when he first “gathered up his ancient fears and turned them into fiction.” 1979’s Ghost Story and 1988’s Koko demonstrated Straub’s talent for digging deep into the darkest areas of the psyche and turning his findings into gripping prose, well-seasoned with the rhythms of his beloved jazz. This panel will chart his trajectory from those early successes to his present position as a master of the compellingly disturbing.

9:00 PM E    Autographs. Mike Allen, Barry B. Longyear. [I’ll have all the Clockwork Phoenix books with me and hopefully some news to share.]

Saturday July 14

3:00 PM NH    Group Reading: Ideomancer Speculative Fiction. Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda Downum, George Galuschak, Claire Humphrey, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Kenneth Schneyer, Sonya Taaffe. Authors and poets read work from Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, one of the longest-running speculative fiction webzines still publishing.

8:00 PM F    The 26th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Rose Fox, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator). Our traditional evening entertainment, named in memory of the pseudonym and alter ego of Jonathan Herovit of Barry N. Malzberg’s Herovit’s World. Here’s how it works: Ringleader Craig Shaw Gardner reads a passage of unidentified but genuine, published, bad sf, fantasy, or horror prose, which has been truncated in mid-sentence. Each of our panelists then reads an ending for the passage. One ending is the real one; the others are impostors. None of the players knows who wrote any passage other than their own, except for co-ringleader Eric M. Van, who gets to play God as a reward for the truly onerous duty of unearthing these gems. Craig then asks for the audience vote on the authenticity of each passage (recapping each in turn by quoting a pithy phrase or three from them), and the Ace Readercon Joint Census Team counts up each show of hands faster than you can say “Twinkies of Terror.” Eric then reveals the truth. Each contestant receives a point for each audience member they fooled, while the audience collectively scores a point for everyone who spots the real answer. As a rule, the audience finishes third or fourth. Warning: the Sturgeon General has determined that this trash is hazardous to your health; i.e., if it hurts to laugh, you’re in big trouble.

Sunday July 15

10:00 AM RI    Speculative Poetry Workshop. Mike Allen (leader). Speculative poetry can be defined a number of ways, but one way is this: a speculative poem uses the trappings of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or more unclassifiable bends in reality to convey its images, narratives and themes. The speculative poetry can unfold with the same subtlety and power that speculative fiction does, with considerably fewer words. Come prepared to write. Workshop led by Mike Allen.

Short story “Strange Wisdoms of the Dead” reprinted in Ocean Stories

/ June 18th, 2012 / No Comments »

Update: There’s a Goodreads giveaway of Ocean Stories open for entries through June 25.

Continuing the curious wave of reprints I’ve had this year, my short story “Strange Wisdoms of the Dead,” co-written with Charles M. Saplak, has just (re)appeared in the anthology Ocean Stories, edited by Angela Chairman Craig. The book is available at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at the publisher’s website, Elektrik Milk Bath Press.

“Strange Wisdoms” first appeared in 2006 in the late lamented H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, and was also (at the publisher’s insistence) the title story of my poetry and prose collection that came out that same year. The collection, and the story, received a nice nod from The Philadephia Inquirer:

As in a really good etching, Allen’s landscape may be gray, but the gray scale has a remarkably wide gradation of shades. Touches of humor are like flecks of light in the gloom … there’s the moment when Starkey, the protagonist of the title piece—a prose fiction that concludes the book—comes upon a ghostly navigator on the corpse-laden ship Starkey is supposed to be taking out to sea to set afire:

““You’re using our known course and speed to chart our position?” Starkey asked.

“Yes,” the man answered.

“I believe we call that ‘dead’ reckoning,” Starkey said, grinning.

My dark fantasy story “She Who Runs” now available on Kindle

/ June 17th, 2012 / No Comments »

“Mike Allen’s ‘She Who Runs’ gives flesh to spells moving faster than time.”

— Publishers Weekly

No girl had ever lived so long wearing the curse of She Who Runs.

Lassamtu was not her name, but the name forced on her by the high priest in the temple where she’d been enslaved since her mother’s murder. Nor had she asked for the suicidal task thrust upon her, to hurl an enchanted spear into the eye of Abzu, the Serpent that strove to crush the Egg of the World. The priest doomed her to the curse of She Who Runs, a spell that forces her to run at inhuman speed with no control over her destination. It won’t release her until she strikes Abzu blind.

But Lassamtu will discover that all she’s ever learned about the creation of her world amounts to lies and deception. Her tormentors will learn she’s nowhere near as helpless as they thought. And that’s only the start of this sinister yarn.

Part mythical fiction, part science fiction, part horror tale, “She Who Runs” first appeared in the anthology SKY WHALES AND OTHER WONDERS (ed. Vera Nazarian, Norilana Books, 2009.)

Art by Luis Beltran
Art by Luis Beltrán


Announcing the table of contents of Mythic Delirium 27

/ June 14th, 2012 / 1 Comment »

I’m pleased to be able to announced the official table of contents of Mythic Delirium 27.

Carve Me by Alex Dally MacFarlane
Sonnet 20: From Nikola Tesla’s Clockwork Assistant to Thomas Edison’s Automaton by Ken Liu
What Would You Think by Theodora Goss
She Fell in Love with Winter by S. Brackett Robertson
Vivian to Merlin by Theodora Goss
The Tears of Sigrune by Anna Sykora
The Gardener by Sandi Leibowitz
The Architecture of Grief by Rachel Swirsky
Kalligeneia 2012 by Sonya Taaffe
The Bones of the Girl Musicians by Sandi Leibowitz
More by Sofía Rhei (translated into English by Lawrence Schimel)
The Oracle Never Dances by Shira Lipkin
The Magic Window by Sofía Rhei (translated into English by Lawrence Schimel)
The Light of Dreams by Alexandra Seidel
The Pied Piper vs. the Sirens by Gwynne Garfinkle
Ereshkigal’s Proposal to Hades by Shira Lipkin
Plucked from the Horo by Rose Lemberg
My Grandson Never Dreams of Dragons by Lida Broadhurst

If you don’t want to miss this issue, getcher subscriptions here.

Things coming soon to an e-reader near you

/ June 13th, 2012 / No Comments »

Art by Avery Liell-Kok
Art by Avery Liell-Kok

Art by Luis Beltran
Art by Luis Beltrán

Mythic Delirium 27 update

/ June 10th, 2012 / No Comments »

As far as I know, I’ve sent everyone who sent in work for the March-Arpil submission window a response at this point. If you submitted poetry for this issue and you haven’t heard from me, please query.

“Twa Sisters” makes latest Locus Recommended Reading List

/ June 5th, 2012 / 1 Comment »

Rich Horton reviewed two of my short stories in the June 2012 issue of Locus, and put one of them, “Twa Sisters,” on the magazine’s monthly Recommended Reading List. That’s the first time that’s happened to me, so needless to say I’m thrilled.

Here’s what Rich had to say:

In the second April issue [of Beneath Ceaseless Skies] I enjoyed Mike Allen’s “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”, another very dark story, about a girl orphaned when her parents are murdered for rebelling against a cruel Lord, who escapes her orphanage only to come to the sinister Manse Lohmar, where she encounters great kindness, but a horrible secret as well. The only weakness is a deliberately off-center telling — a letter from the protagonist to a lover we never meet, long after the central action — I think I see where Allen is going with this strategy, but in the end I think it frustrates the reader more than needed.

Mike Allen is good again in Not One of Us for April, with a very odd SF story, “Twa Sisters”, set in a city controlled by the Hierophant, and beginning with a deliberately retro painter encountering a person half tree/half woman and just getting stranger from there.

In which I cameo in a friend’s short story collection

/ May 29th, 2012 / No Comments »

This handsome new hardcover short story collection from British puckster (prank-star?) Ian Watson….

…contains the wacky novelette that he and I co-wrote, “Dee-Dee and the Dumpy Dancers,” accurately described by The Guardian as a “bizarre vision … featuring aerial ballet and alien turkeys.”

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