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About Mike Allen
Nebula, Shirley Jackson and two-time World Fantasy award finalist Mike Allen wears many hats. As editor and publisher of the Mythic Delirium Books imprint, he helmed MYTHIC DELIRIUM magazine and the five volumes in the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX anthology series. His own short stories have been gathered in three collections: UNSEAMING, THE SPIDER TAPESTRIES and AFTERMATH OF AN INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT. He’s won the Rhysling Award for poetry three times, and his most recent collection of verse, HUNGRY CONSTELLATIONS, was a Suzette Haden Elgin Award nominee. A dark fantasy novel, THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO, appeared in 2013.
More of Mike's stories have popped up in places like BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, LACKINGTON'S, SPECTRAL REALMS and the anthologies BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR ONE, CTHULHU'S REIGN, SOLARIS RISING 2, TOMORROW'S CTHULHU, PLUTO IN FURS, PHANTASM/CHIMERA, NOWHEREVILLE, TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN and A SINISTER QUARTET.
For more than a decade he’s worked as the arts and culture columnist for the daily newspaper in Roanoke, Va., where he and his wife Anita live with a cat so full of trouble she’s named Pandora. You can follow Mike’s exploits as a writer at descentintolight.com, as an editor at mythicdelirium.com, and all at once on Twitter at @mythicdelirium. You can contact Mike at mythicdelirium[at]gmail[dot]com.
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What frightens us, what unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the twenty-one stories and poems included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year.
Legendary editor Ellen Datlow (Poe: New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe), winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, joins Night Shade Books in presenting The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One.
Some of the darkest hints in all of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos relate to what will happen after the Old Ones return and take over the earth. What happens when Cthulhu is unleashed upon the world? What happens when the other Old Ones, long since banished from our universe, break through and descend from the stars? What would the reign of Cthulhu be like on a totally transformed planet where mankind is no longer the master? Find out in these exciting, brand-new stories.
2020 Locus Recommended Reading List, Best Anthology
Contains “The Twice-Drowned Saint” by C.S.E. Cooney, 2020 Locus Recommended Reading List, Best First Novel
“With fiction from C.S.E Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium’s excellent new anthology, A Sinister Quartet, provides further evidence that long-form genre fiction is not just alive and well but thriving.”
—Locus, Ian Mond
“Mythic Delirium is one of the smaller presses which sustains our field . . . This is lovely and fascinating . . . Really fine work.”
—Locus, Rich Horton
“Easily one of the best things I’ve read this year . . . ‘The Twice Drowned Saint’ alone is worth five times the cost of the collection.”
—The Little Red Reviewer
NOW WITH BONUS STORIES AND EXCERPTS AND NEW FULL COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS
Behind the walls of an invulnerable city ruled by angels, old movies provide balm for the soul and a plan to escape risks grisly retribution. A princess discovers a passage to a nightmarish world of deception and blood-sealed enchantment. A woman who has lost everything meets a man of great wealth and ominous secrets. In a town haunted by tragedy, malevolent supernatural entities converge, and the conflict that ensues unleashes chaos.
A Sinister Quartet gathers original long-form wonders and horrors composed in unusual keys, with a short novel by World Fantasy Award winner C. S. E. Cooney and a new novella from two-time World Fantasy Award finalist Mike Allen joined by debut novellas from rising talents Amanda J. McGee and Jessica P. Wick. All four offer immersions into strange, beautiful and frightening milieus.
For our fiction offerings, C.S. MacCath combines Norse mythology with quantum theory in “Sing the Crumbling City,” Jessy Randall's "Maybe a Witch Lives There" supplies a wicked homage to Shirley Jackson, and Adam Howe's "'Kid' Cooper & the Blackwood Ape-Man" provides a rollicking, bruising fusion of history and folklore set in the American South.
As for poetry, Jane Yolen returns to our pages with no less than three poems recasting fairy tales in new molds; Natalia Theodoridou gracefully encapsulates one of the most tragic of Greek tragedies; Wendy Rathbone paints a wistful portrait of a season; and Dominik Parisien shows how delightfully monstrous art can be.
Our striking cover art comes courtesy of Italian sequential artist Elena de' Grimani (her American debut.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sing the Crumbling City • C.S. MacCath
Time Travel Autumn • Wendy Rathbone
The Traveler’s Wagon Speaks • by Jane Yolen
Maybe a Witch Lives There • Jessy Randall
Mortar/Pestle • Jane Yolen
Eating and Being Eaten • by Jane Yolen
“Kid” Cooper & the Blackwood Ape-Man • Adam Howe
Philomela in Seven Movements • Natalia Theodoridou
A Portrait of the Monster as an Artist • Dominik Parisien
Featuring stories by Allan Steele, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kim Lakin-Smith, Paul Cornell, Eugie Foster, Nick Harkaway, Nancy Kress, Kay Kenyon, James Lovegrove, Robert Reed, Mercurio D. Rivera, Norman Spinrad, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Liz Williams, Vandana Singh, Martin Sketchley, and more.
These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and maintain our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising we showed both the quality and variety that modern SF can produce. In Solaris Rising 2, we’ll be taking that much, much further.
This is our stranger tomorrow. These are transhumanist, near-future science fiction horror stories set in the Cthulhu Mythos. They exist in our world of the coming decades, an era of big science and—what is that? We’ll be right back...
Labs gleam and servers hum as scientists unravel the secrets of the universe. But as we peel away mystery, the universe stares back. Even now, terrors rise from the Mariana Trench and drift down from the stars. Scientists are disappearing—or worse. Experiments take on minds of their own. Some fight back against the unknown, some give in, some are destroyed, and still others are becoming… more.
The human and the inhuman are becoming more challenging to distinguish. Mankind is changing, whether it wants to or not, with brand new ways of thinking. What havoc is wreaked by those humans trying to harness and control their discoveries? As big science progresses and the very fundamentals of this universe are understood, what stories are being hushed up?
Authors: Daria Patrie, Molly Tanzer, Joshua L. Hood, Joshua Alan Doetsch, Kaaron Warren , AC Wise, Clinton J. Boomer, Damien Angelica Walters, Lizz-Ayn Shaarawi, Samantha Henderson, SJ Leary, Richard Lee Byers, Thomas M. Reid, Jeff C. Carter, Joette Rozanski, Shannon Fay, Pete Rawlik, Adam Heine, Bruce R. Cordell, Nate Southard, Simon Bestwick, Robert Brockway, Darrell Schweitzer, Mike Allen, Matt Maxwell, Lynda E. Rucker, LA Knight, Cody Goodfellow, Desirina Boskovich
NOW WITH NEW BONUS CONTENT!
2014 Shirley Jackson Award finalist for best collection
2014 This Is Horror Award finalist for best collection
2015 Chesley Award finalist for best cover
Mike Allen has put together a first class collection of horror and dark fantasy. Unseaming burns bright as hell among its peers.
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All
Allen’s stories deliver solid shivering terror tinged with melancholy sorrow over the fragility of humankind.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Allen leaves readers with nerves jangling.
—Library Journal, starred review
Everyone in the world awakens covered in blood-and no one knows where the blood came from. A childhood doll arrives to tear its owner's reality limb from limb. A portal to the spirit realm stretches wide on the Appalachian Trail, and something more than human crawls through on eight legs. Words of comfort change to terrifying sounds as a force from outside time speaks through them. The buttons in the bin will unseam your flesh to bare your nastiest secrets.
Opening with "The Button Bin," a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story, and culminating with its sequel, "The Quiltmaker," which Bram Stoker Award and Shirley Jackson Award winner Laird Barron has hailed as Mike Allen's masterpiece, this debut collection gathers fourteen horror tales that, in the words of Barron's introduction, "rival anything committed to paper by the likes of contemporary masters such as Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, or Caitlín Kiernan. This is raw, visceral, and sometimes bloody stuff. Primal stuff."
Cover by Danielle Tunstall
More praise for Unseaming:
Throughout Unseaming, reality is usually in bad shape right from the start-and from there things proceed to go downhill. Such is the general background and trajectory of life in Mike Allen's fictional world. More could be said, of course, but there's one thing that I feel especially urged to say: these stories are fun. Not "good" fun, and certainly not "good clean" fun. They are too unnerving for those modifiers, too serious, like laughter in the dark-unnerving, serious laughter that leads you through Mr. Allen's funhouse. The reality in there is also in bad shape, deliberately so, just for the seriously unnerving fun of it. The prose is poetic, except it's nonsense poetry, the poetry of deteriorating realities, intermingling realities, realities without Reality. And all the while that unnerving, serious laughter keeps getting louder and louder. Are we having fun yet?
—Thomas Ligotti, author of The Spectral Link
Mike Allen’s ability as a poet is evident throughout this fever dream of a book. Brutal, elegant, and shocking, the stories in Unseaming are snapshots of a beautiful Hell.
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters
Mike Allen's Unseaming confirms his status as a poet who writes in dread and awe rather than ink. His most recurrent themes are those of wrenching loss and transformative retribution, with a liberal helping of the literal fear of God(s); sowing out a hundred different apocalypses, personal and otherwise, these stories reap an unforgettable crop of nightmares, sketching a chimeric universe in which shape-changing is less a rumour or an option than a sad, simple inevitability. Not to be missed.
2020 Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Best Story Collection
2020 Locus Recommended Reading List, Best Story Collection
“From heartbreaking character studies to exercises in Grand Guignol excess, from scalpel-sharp poetry to sledgehammers of blood-soaked prose, Mike Allen displays not only his own considerable range, but the range of the horror genre as well. Aftermath of an Industrial Accident will surprise and delight you at every turn.”
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of Monsterland
“Allen overflows the tank with nightmare fuel . . . Readers will be impressed by the variety, intensity, and skilled craftsmanship Allen brings to this collection. These horror shorts are sure to linger in the dark corners of readers’ minds.”
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An incredible read. This collection of horror and dark fantasy poetry and short fiction needs to be on the shelf of any horror reader.”
“Allen weds the brute visceral punch of early Clive Barker with the demented whimsy of darker Neil Gaiman.”
—Craig Laurance Gidney, author of A Spectral Hue
In these twenty-three stories and poems, two-time World Fantasy Award nominee Mike Allen spins twisted narratives, some wound through the fabric of our world, some set in imagined pasts or futures, all plumbing the depths of human darkness. “The consistency, here, is simply excellence,” writes Bram Stoker Award finalist and Punktown creator Jeffrey Thomas in his introduction. “You are holding in your hands an overflowing cornucopia of monstrous goodness.”
"Mike Allen may be the premier poet of this era of weird horror and surrealist fantasy. His work is completely fearless. He takes no genre boundaries as sacred."
"Finely finished tours de force of the storyteller’s art—and representative examples of the state of the modern weird/dark/speculative art . . . This has got to be a shortlist candidate for many Best Collection awards for 2020."
—Ginger Nuts of Horror
"Each tale in Aftermath of an Industrial Accident packs a punch that will keep you willingly pinned to the wall."
—Christina Sng, author of A Collection of Nightmares
"Allen demonstrates again and again his masterful ability to infuse cosmic, existential terror into the most intimate, and mundane aspects of our lives, while never failing to point out the self-made horror already there: from his introductory piece that credits Poe as a conjurer of inescapable, psychic horror and a muse-sinister for Allen, to the title stor
—Helen Marshall, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Gifts for the One who Comes After
“Surrender yourself to The Spider Tapestries and let these tales rewire your mind.” —Scott Nicolay, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Do You Like to Look at Monsters?
The Spider Tapestries, Mike Allen’s sophomore short story collection, takes a wrecking ball to genre boundaries, showcasing seven stories that mix transhuman noir, Lovecraftian horror, and surrealistic sorcery in an exploration of the further reaches of the Weird. Readers who savored the disorienting strangeness in Allen’s debut collection Unseaming, a Shirley Jackson Award finalist and Amazon.com horror fiction bestseller, will find The Spider Tapestries begins where Unseaming left off.
As Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of Archivist Wasp, explains in her introduction, “Allen outdoes himself even further, borrowing and synthesizing across genres with gleeful abandon....This results in stories like ‘Twa Sisters,’ with an atmosphere and setting as if Heironymous Bosch had been brought in as a consultant on Blade Runner. Or ‘Sleepless, Burning Life,’ which, with simultaneous nods to steampunk and metaphysics, explores and upends the familiar trope of Mortal Chosen by the Gods.”
More praise for The Spider Tapestries
“Readers, be warned: Mike Allen will infect your subconscious with hallucinatory and alarming delight. This book is a must-read for fans of weird fiction and dark fantasy.”
—Helen Marshall, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Gifts for the One Who Comes After
“The aptly named Spider Tapestries forms a stunning picture that is equal parts darkness and light . . . a whirlwind tour through worlds of decadent fantasy, noir-touched future-weird, and elegant horror. Mike Allen offers up intricate mythologies that feel real and lived in, rich-detailed stories for readers to immerse themselves in, and from which they will emerge changed. The stories feel epic in scope, from an assassin climbing through the clockwork gears of the world to rescue a goddess in a cage, to an AI moving through bodies and networks to gather up and reassemble the pieces of his lost love. Allen takes readers on a journey through years and worlds, all in the space of a few pages.”
—A.C. Wise, author of The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again
“There was a time before the marketplace sliced our wild fantastic literature into bite sized chunks, a time when visions could be astounding, amazing, and weird all at once, a time when Clark Ashton Smith could mainline a Thousand and One Nights into million-colored suns. Now comes Mike Allen, shredding raw that scar-woven shroud between then, now, and infinity, releasing hallucinatory torrents of jewel-encrusted erotic transhumanism with the intensity of a quasar and stripping bare the secret wheels and cogs of the universe beside those lovers who would destroy them.”
—Scott Nicolay, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Do You Like to Look at Monsters?
“Mike Allen, among the most dynamic of contemporary fantasists, habitually upends Lovecraftian tropes with his own brand of cosmic horror.
In Corvidae birds are born of blood and pain, trickster ravens live up to their names, magpies take human form, blue jays battle evil forces, and choughs become prisoners of war. These stories will take you to the Great War, research facilities, frozen mountaintops, steam-powered worlds, remote forest homes, and deep into fairy tales. One thing is for certain, after reading this anthology, you’ll never look the same way at the corvid outside your window.
Featuring works by Jane Yolen, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, M.L.D. Curelas, Tim Deal, Megan Engelhardt, Megan Fennell, Adria Laycraft, Kat Otis, Michael S. Pack, Sara Puls, Michael M. Rader, Mark Rapacz, Angela Slatter, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Leslie Van Zwol.
And there's an amazing cast of authors:
Nuzo Onoh | Maura McHugh | P. Djèlí Clark | Evan J. Peterson | S.P. Miskowski | Craig Laurance Gidney | Lynda E. Rucker | Tariro Ndoro | D.A. Xiaolin Spires | Mike Allen | Jeffrey Thomas | Erica L. Satifka | Kathe Koja | Leah Bobet | Ramsey Campbell | Wole Talabi | Stephen Graham Jones | R.B. Lemberg | Cody Goodfellow
gather together enough people and strange things happen. that’s just fact. it’s inevitable really. just try keeping them apart. impossible. they just keep clamoring and fiddling and getting into everything and strangeing up the place. can’t say why. you just learn to accept it. even to thrill at it. the ups, the downs, the everchanging nature of it all. it’s unpredictable. it’s exhausting. and it’s fascinating.
"Taken together, these stories create an uncanny, unpredictable hall of mirrors. These wonderfully strange takes on modern living are sure to resonate with fans of speculative fiction." (STARRED review from Publishers Weekly)