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.”

My poem “Surcease” reviewed at Versification

/ May 11th, 2012 / No Comments »

Versification has published a poem-by-poem review of Inscrawl #3 by Amal El-Mohtar. About my contribution, “Surcease,” she writes:

Mike Allen’s “Surcease” puts his characteristic horror-spin on things, and very vividly and evocatively describes a plague-ridden man in the last moments of his life. The rhythm and pace of it are extremely well-wrought, and I both wrinkled my nose and shuddered a bit at the last line, so well done Allen, well done.

Guest posts about poetry at Locus Online

/ May 9th, 2012 / No Comments »

Karen Burnham, who runs the Locus Roundtable at Locus Online, has rounded up a series of speculative poetry-related posts, podcasts and interviews for the month of May, and I got to be first out of the gate.

Here’s my guest blog post: “Let us go then, you and I: an introduction to speculative poetry

And here’s a podcast I did with Karen and Star*Line editor F.J. Bergmann.

In both I’ve taken the names in vain of a number of poets and poetry publications.

Reviews of “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”

/ May 7th, 2012 / No Comments »

My new short story at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade,” has garnered a couple of reviews I’m pleased to share.

First a review from Tangent Online by Chuck Rothman. He writes:

“The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” takes the form of a letter from Daeliya, a woman who has managed to escape her terrifying past and make a new life for herself. But she is forced to return, and to explain to her lover Eyan why and all the things he doesn’t know about her. What follows is a tale of fear and terror, and of her meeting with a man in a mysterious castle to whom she owes everything. Mike Allen creates a very convincing world and strong and memorable characters.

Elsewhere in the Internet wilderness, my story apparently found its ideal reader at the Sword and Sorcery blog. The writer states:

I loved this story. It brought to mind, in the best possible way, Brian McNaughton’s “Throne of Bones” or a less hashish suffused Clark Ashton Smith story. The roots of “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”, like so much great S&S lie deeply in horror. I’m glad to encounter them in such an well told tale.

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