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
The stories ... range from the sly to the splatteringly horrific, with every nuance of dread and menace in between.
--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."
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 Teatro Grottesco and The Spectral Link
Allen can write as lyrically and as viscerally as the best of them ... an exceptional debut collection.
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.
--Gemma Files, author of We Will All Go Down Together
Mike Allen blends a poet's attention to language with a crime reporter's instinct for the darker precincts of human behavior...These stories glow with demonic energy, and what they illuminate are the faces of our secret selves, screaming back at us from the mirror's depths.
--John Langan, author of The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies
Offbeat, gruesome conceits and expert delivery.
--Asimov's Science Fiction
One of the most original practitioners of the body horror subgenre since Clive Barker's Books of Blood.
Mike Allen edits the critically-acclaimed anthology series Clockwork Phoenix and the long-running magazine Mythic Delirium. His books include post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel The Black Fire Concerto and career-spanning poetry collection Hungry Constellations. To learn about upcoming book releases and projects, sign up for his newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/abattoir-memos.
Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave starred reviews to his first collection of short fiction, Unseaming. Laird Barron wrote in the book's introduction that the stories in Unseaming "rival anything committed to paper by the likes of contemporary masters such as Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, or Caitlín Kiernan." Helen Marshall called Mike's second collection, The Spider Tapestries, "a must-read for fans of weird fiction and dark fantasy."
More of Mike's stories have popped up in places like Weird Tales, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthologies Cthulhu's Reign, Solaris Rising 2, A Darke Phantastique and Tomorrow's Cthulhu. His poetry has won the Rhysling Award three times, and his fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award.
By day he works as the arts and culture columnist for the daily newspaper in Roanoke, Va., where he lives with his wife Anita, a goofy dog, and two cats with varying degrees of psychosis. 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.
The mutants of Wonderland threaten to smash through the looking glass as the river of Time overflows its banks. The King of Cats and the Queen of Wolves dance a duet across eons, alternately foes and lovers. Monstrous constellations come to life in the sky, hungry for people-filled worlds.
Hungry Constellations, the newest poetry collection from Nebula Award finalist and three-time Rhysling Award winner Mike Allen, surveys two decades of mind-bending verse. Editor Dominik Parisien starts with poems drawn from Allen’s previous book-length collections, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead (2006) and The Journey to Kailash (2008), then concludes the triptych with a selection of new and previously uncollected pieces, which author, poet and editor Amal El-Mohtar calls Allen’s most ambitious work to date in her introduction. Cover artist Paula Arwen Friedlander (arwendesigns.net) adroitly illustrates the collection’s Rhysling Award-nominated title poem.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Hungry Constellations is Allen’s first poetry collection available in digital format.
From the introduction by Amal El-Mohtar:
“Let me tell you about Mike Allen’s poetry. This is a man who delights in breaking bodies: butchering, splitting, flaying, dismembering, then seeding landscapes with viscera until they too become bodies—bodies invaded, bodies stuffed, bodies contaminated. This is a man who carves words into and out of bodies, be they skin or sapphire, corpses or constellations. But somehow Allen skirts gore and clinical detachment both: there is a precision and an economy to his horror that’s reminiscent of clockwork, architecture, astronomy. Imagine a clock with bone-gears, a skin-tree growing liver-fruit, a ship knifing a face into the moon, and you’ll have something of a sense of what lies before you … Subterranean in conception and galactic in execution, this is a book of monsters.”
Praise for Mike Allen's poetry:
“Allen’s is poetry for goths of all ages … There is a long tradition of poetry dealing with the uncanny—think Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ or Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’—and it’s nice to see someone putting it to such use again. Allen’s poems … do a fine job of making the human scary and the scary human.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Mike Allen pours everything he’s got onto his poem-canvases. Mythologies, science-fiction scenarios, private memories and desires, and untestable ideas crowd and overlay one another upon the pages as if flung from an overloaded brush. Here is a vividly vertiginous collection of poems, all fun and mind-games.”
“Mike Allen is a poetic Shiva, whirling his thousand limbs to snatch gold from thin air and create these epics-in-miniature, each with its own metallic sheen.”
—Catherynne M. Valente
“In the great tradition of Clark Ashton Smith, Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. Le Guin, Mike Allen shows us how science fiction poetry can do what all first-rate poetry does—rouse the imagination to venture into darkness and the unknown, there to discover old truths and new delights.”
"Cooney's brilliantly executed collection of five stories is a delicious stew of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, marked by unforgettable characters who plumb the depths of pathos and triumph. ... All of these stories could easily serve as the foundation for novels while also working beautifully at their current length. These well-crafted narratives defiantly refuse to fade from memory long after the last word has been read." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"In five beautifully crafted stories, Cooney builds imaginary worlds full of flying carpets, fairy-tale characters, and children confronted with a postapocalyptic Earth ... Each tale packs in enough plot for a novel, with adventurous characters who brim with wit." —Library Journal, starred review
"Writing without ostentation and featuring characters who may be flippant, terse, or even tongue-tied, Cooney produces memorable prose propelled by extraordinary ideas ... Faced with such twisted genius, I'll say no more!" —Locus
"A fascinating mashup between the tropes and resonances of the mythic tale with the sensibilities of contemporary action-oriented fantasy: simultaneously lighthearted and serious, full of consequences but also ubiquitous happy endings." —Tor.com
“The seven stories in this slim collection range from dark fantasy to sf to horror—sometimes all within one tale. There are enough spiders here to make an arachnophobe go into hysterics, but they are not the only ones spinning webs ... Allen weaves intriguing connections among his tales, applying dizzying, sensual images.”
— Library Journal
“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.”
—Laird Barron, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of X’s for Eyes