My type of Xmas carol…

/ December 13th, 2011 / No Comments »

My thanks to Steve Breeding for aiming this at me.

e-book adventures, part 1

/ December 12th, 2011 / 3 Comments »

I made my first venture into the much-hyped e-book rush this past week with a new edition of the first volume in my best-known anthology series, Clockwork Phoenix. It’s fascinating to be able to see results in real-time in a way you can’t with print sales — I think I’ll need to train myself not to seek daily updates, heh.

BTW, If anyone wants to help the new Clockwork Phoenix listing with tags or “likes,” that’d be awesome.

What I’ve found is laying out an e-book is just about as much work as laying out a print book, at least this first experience seemed that way.

It hasn’t been enough to deter me from producing more. I’m hoping to have Clockwork Phoenix 2 out by January and Clockwork Phoenix 3 out the next month.

I’m also going to start releasing some of my previously published stories.

I had a little bit of inspiration doing yard work the other day. When Steam Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories was on the runway to publication, JoSelle Vanderhooft commissioned artist Avery Liell-Kok to create a promotional postcard based on my novelette “Sleepless, Burning Life.” This was a delightful surprise to me, to say the least; however, I don’t believe the postcards ended up being printed.

My inspiritation was, when reflecting on what else I could make an e-book out of, remembering that this art exists. So I contacted Avery and asked her if she’d be willing to let me use it for an e-book cover. She asked to be allowed to clean up a few things, as it was produced in a bit of a rush. (Kind of like my novelette!) That was fine by me, and now the cover art is ready.

Illustration by Avery Liell-Kok. Copyright © 2011.


In my mind, “Sleepless, Burning Life” is what might have happened if Michael Moorcock wrote the script to Kill Bill (and all the assassins were current or former lovers with divine powers.) It’ll be fun to have it out there making big anime-style body-bisecting sword swipes all on its own.

New featured poems at by Catherynne M. Valente and Serena Fusek

/ December 9th, 2011 / No Comments »

I’ve posted two new featured poems on the Mythic Delirium website. The first comes from New York Times bestseller (and to think, I knew her when, hee) Catherynne M. Valente, along with audio of her reading this challenging new piece. The poem appears in our new issue, #25 (click here to buy or subscribe.)

Over on her blog, Cat says these things about it:

The Melancholy of Mecha Girl is a philosophical confessional poem about anime and giant robots.


I am as proud of it as a short story.

The second poem, “The true poem” by my fellow Virginian, Serena Fusek, appeared in our previous issue, as did the accompanying illustrations by Paula Friedlander. The beautiful audio reading by Clarkesworld podcast director (and SFWA Interim Executive Director) Kate Baker is exclusive to our site, of course.

I hope you’ll check out both of these morsels. (Click here to do so.)

I note: I’ve been aware for a long time our website is pretty seriously outmoded, but we’ve gotten by. However, now that we’re going to start offering e-books (the new edition of Clockwork Phoenix being the first) it’s time for an upgrade. So these featured poems will be lasted presented in this format.

Though they won’t disappear — they’ll just be the first ones up at the new version of the site, so stay tuned.

“Let There Be Darkness” sells to Pseudopod

/ December 7th, 2011 / No Comments »

I learned last night that horror podcasters Pseudopod have decided to adapt my short story “Let There Be Darkness.” These folks previously adapted my tales “The Button Bin” and “The Blessed Days” and I’m delighted to be back on board with them again.

For me, this has definitely been The Year of the Reprint. “Let There Be Darkness” first appeared in a tiny zine called Penny Dreadful in 1998(!) and was reprinted by editor Michael M. Pendragon (not his real name, natch) in The Bible of Hell in 2001.

As you might guess, it’s a cheerful story about tulips and unicorns…

Signal boost: Past Future Present 2011

/ December 7th, 2011 / No Comments »

My new edition of the first Clockwork Phoenix book for Kindle isn’t the only thing I’ll have out in that venue this week. I’m taking part in an e-book only anthology, Past Future Present 2011, that’s scheduled to become available Saturday for a whopping 99 cents.

Swiped from the publisher’s blog, here’s the complete table of contents.

…………Mike Allen
…………William Barton
…………Keith Brooke
…………Alfred D. Byrd
…………Marian Crane
…………Dave Creek
…………Helen E Davis
…………Linda J. Dunn
…………John Grant
…………Roby James
…………Leigh Kimmel
…………Catherine Mintz
…………Vera Nazarian
…………John Shipley
…………Justin Stanchfield
…………Elisabeth Waters

I’ll have a lot more to say about my story in this one once it’s available for sale.

Fantastique Unfettered 4: in which I have a novelette, 3 poems & an interview

/ December 6th, 2011 / 3 Comments »

I spent a fair chunk of last week (when I wasn’t fine tuning the new Kindle edition of Clockwork Phoenix or stuffing envelopes with the new issue of Mythic Delirium) proofing my portion of the new issue of the gorgeous print zine Fantastique Unfettered, due out in the very, very, very near future.

These folks have actually made me a featured author. See for yourself:

The entire table of contents, which you can view here, is pretty scrumptious: Fiction by Hal Duncan, Lynne Jamneck, Brenda Stokes Barron, Alma Alexander, Georgina Bruce, Hal Duncan, Carmen Lau and D. Harlan Wilson. Poetry by Shweta Narayan, Dan Campbell, J. C. Runolfson, Kaolin Fire, Jacqueline West and Kristine Ong Muslim. Interviews with Hal Duncan & Brent Weeks … and Hal Duncan & me!

In our interview, Alexa Seidel asked Hal & me to discuss the idea that “life is suffering.” Hal is about 100 times more eloquent than I am, but we basically agreed right off that [Spoiler Alert, heh!] suffering happens in life, but life is not equal to suffering, and then meandered in all sorts of fun directions from there.

For my part, being “Featured” means that I have three poems in the issue, “Sisyphus Walks,” “Seed the Earth, Burn the Sky” and “Binary,” all of them part of what I call the “Claire-dare” series, created when Claire “C.S.E.” Cooney bombarded me with poetry prompts last year.

The issue’s cover image is inspired by “Binary.” I’m still agog over that.

FU (love that acronym!) is also reprinting a science fiction novelette of mine first published in 1999 (it was technically my first “pro sale.”) It’s called “Stolen Souls,” and it’s a bizarre futuristic police procedural/revenge story about a guy named Venner whose lover Alys’ detachable brain (everyone has one in this society) is stolen to be divided up and used as part of a vast computer processor on a distant asteroid mine, and the extreme lengths Venner goes to a) kill everyone involved in her abduction and b) retrieve Alys and make her whole. The ending … is not exactly Happily Ever After. (Imagine that.)

“Stolen Souls” was published in a fun but obscure Australian zine named Altair; there was an attempt made to launch Altair in the U.S. but it died on the runway. So hardly anyone saw “Stolen Souls” when it came out, aside from one enthusiastic Tangent Online reviewer, heh. Proofreading this tale meant that I re-read it for the first time in many years. Sometimes re-reading one’s old work turns into a traumatic experience, but this time around it went in the opposite direction. My stories are almost never simple or straightforward, and “Stolen Souls” features the same kind of narrative flip-flops you find in my newer stuff, except more. Fact is, 2011 me wound up being a little awed by some of the pyrotechnics 1998-1999 me managed to engineer.

I kind of want to reach back in time to that version of me with a message akin to this: “Hey, man, brace yourself. You’ve put a lot of work into this story, and you’ll be paid a nice flat fee for it. And no one’s going to read it, and you’re going to wonder what you did wrong. (And it won’t be the last time that happens.) But thirteen years later you’re going to read this again as you’re prepping it for a really classy second debut, and you’re still going to be really happy with it.”

There’s a nostalgia factor here too, I’ll admit. The novelette’s opening section was the final thing I wrote while I was in the Creative Writing program at Hollins University (M.A. ’94.) You can tell, I think, that even-younger me wrote it; it’s a tad flowery and adjective-y, while the later sections are leaner and (much) meaner.

Anyway, between this and re-proofing the first Clockwork Phoenix, last week has been Memory Lane central. At least they’re all good memories!

Mythic Delirium 25 now out; Clockwork Phoenix 1 available for Kindle

/ December 5th, 2011 / No Comments »

A couple of mini-Herculean labors have come to fruition here over the weekend. The newest issue of Mythic Delirium, Issue 25, is finished up and in the mail to all subscribers and contributors. And the first volume of Clockwork Phoenix is available as an e-book for the first time, released on Kindle and soon to be available at Weightless Books (and Mythic Delirium will be too, for that matter..)

I’ll talk about Mythic Delirium first. Our 25th issue features 20 new poems, including Catherynne M. Valente’s epic take on women in anime, “The Melancholy of Mechagirl,” Sonya Taaffe’s twist on the Commedia dell’Arte, a translation by Lawrence Schimel of Spanish poet Sofía Rhei’s “The Magic Walnut,” Jeannine Hall Gailey’s contemplation of “Little Girls, Atom Bombs,” Darrell Schweitzer’s suspicion as to who’s behind “Alien Graffiti,” Mary A. Turzillo’s musing on really really long distance romance, and more.

In addition, we’re celebrating our 25th venture into print with a special silver cover engineered by Tim Mullins, with a little help from paper cutout artist Paula Friedlander. If you’d like one, click here to subscribe (for U.S. folk, $5 per issue, $9 two issues, $16 four.)

And second, but hardly least, the first of the Clockwork Phoenix books is at last available for Kindle. Click here to see for yourself (and snatch one up if you want, ’tis only $3.99.)

The other two books will follow over the next couple of months.

As I’ve been preparing this book for its relaunch in e-format, I’ve had to re-read all the stories which has been quite a pleasant walk down memory lane. And so much has happened since. I tried to explain it all in a new afterword I wrote just for the electronic edition:

It occurred to me, too, that I should share a little about the bragging rights the Clockwork Phoenix crew of authors accumulated after the book came out. Vandana’s novelette was reprinted in David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer’s The Year’s Best SF 14, while Deborah’s “Tailor of Time” was a finalist for the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. Tanith’s and Laird’s short stories were included in the Locus Magazine 2008 Recommended Reading List, as was the anthology as a whole—and Laird later used “Occultation” as the title story of his 2010 collection which went on to win the Shirley Jackson Award. Editor Ellen Datlow picked David’s “Old Foss” to include in her massive anthology of feline-based speculative fiction, Tales of Wonder & Imagination. Tales by John Grant, Leah, Laird, Cat Rambo, Kathy Sedia, Cat Sparks, Tanith, Marie, Vandana, John Wright and C.S. MacCath received honorable mentions from various “best of the year” anthologies, and all of the stories received critical praise from some corner or other, though some reviewers mused as to whether my strange new art-for-art’s-sake anthology model actually worked.

Re-reading it now, I can’t imagine putting this book together any other way.

My thanks to Elizabeth Campbell at Dark Cargo, who posted a new review of Clockwork Phoenix and a somewhat discombobulated (but hopefully still fun) interview with me over the weekend, called “Mike Allen 101,” talking about all this crazy stuff I do.

Miracles never cease (Mythic Delirium 25 is here!)

/ December 1st, 2011 / No Comments »

And here is proof!

If you’re not getting a copy and you want one, click here to go to where you fix that.

Slipstreaming into the future

/ November 23rd, 2011 / No Comments »

nullMy apocalyptic horror tale “The Blessed Days” is being reprinted in Past Future Present 2011, an anthology to be offered at 99 cents on Kindle.

“The Blessed Days” will also be included in my own upcoming ebook The Button Bin and Other Horrors — its appearance in Past Future Present 2011 will serve as a teaser.

More details on both projects forthcoming.

In memory of John Neville: “Munchausen vs. the Aliens”

/ November 22nd, 2011 / No Comments »

John Neville, who played Romeo to Claire Bloom’s Juliet, Hamlet to Judi Dench’s Ophelia and Othello to Richard Burton’s Iago (and vice versa), but who may be best known in the United States as the title character in the exuberantly loopy film “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and a recurring one in the television series “The X-Files,” died in Toronto on Saturday. He was 86.

From The New York Times obituary

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen may not be the best film ever made, but it’s hands-down my favorite movie. That was true even in the 1990s, when John Neville began appearing on The X-Files. I remember my first delighted exclamation on spotting him in the tailored suit of a Man in Black: “That’s Baron Munchausen!”

I wrote the following poem as a way of reconciling Neville’s best-known roles in my own head. It appeared in the late, lamented Talebones and in my collections Defacing the Moon and The Journey to Kailash. Now I offer it in tribute to a great, and under-celebrated, entertainer, along with the collage I created to illustrate it.

Munchausen vs. the Aliens

Urban legends encounter urbane liar,
tractor-beam him
right off his five-winged pegasus;
five oval grey heads
roll at saber-flicks,
before they clamp the Baron down,
pierce him in place,
spread him open.
His cavities issue
oily polygonal beasts
too wily to be
imprisoned in specimen jars.

His vivisection completed,
he thanks greys with grace,
folds them with their saucer
into imaginary space,
sealed forever inside
a tale he spins
beside the hearth-light.

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