Isabel, once known as Wasp, has become leader of the fearsome upstarts, the teen girl acolytes who are adjusting to a new way of life after the overthrow of the sadistic Catchkeep-priest. They live in an uneasy alliance with the town of Sweetwater—an alliance that will be tested to its limits by the dual threats of ruthless raiders from the Waste and a deadly force from the Before-time that awaits in long-hidden tunnels.
Years ago Isabel befriended a nameless ghost, a supersoldier from the Before-time with incredible powers even after death, and their adventure together in the underworld gave her the strength and knowledge to change the brutal existence of the Catchkeep acolytes for the better. To save Sweetwater, Isabel will have to unlock the secrets of the twisted experimental program from centuries gone by that created the supersoldier and killed his friends: the Latchkey Project.
Latchkey continues the story begun in Kornher-Stace’s widely acclaimed Archivist Wasp, an Andre Norton Award finalist that was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Teen Books of 2015.
More Praise for Latchkey
“Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is a little like retracing a war veteran’s scars with a scalpel and asking, ‘So. Does this hurt more than the original?’ It does, of course. Hurts good, hurts deep, this almost-familiar world that bleeds right into ours, where the only thing fiercer than ferocity is tenderness—though both talk equally as tough. After reading Latchkey, one starts seeing ruins superimposed over currently thriving structures. Every struggling patch of city lawn becomes a garden of ghost grass; every breezy puff of leftover winter holds the possibility of frostbite and vertigo and seeing the face of a long-lost friend once more. Has there ever been such longing, fueled by such darkness and adrenaline? Has there ever been such satisfaction, and at such a cost?”
—C. S. E. Cooney, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Bone Swans
“Building on the deeply-realized Archivist Wasp, in Latchkey we are given a world even more fallen and brutal, for now even the old order of the archivists is broken. Here, when heroes are hurt, they stay hurt; here, the survivors must endure trauma without the words to describe it; here, knowledge itself is both deeply suspect and humanity’s only hope. History itself, embodied by blood-hungry ghosts, by turns cannibalizes the living and provides the only way forward. And yet, for all the loss and bodily pain, Latchkey shows us the power of community and the worth, greater than diamonds, of courage. Cathartic, feminist, explosively imaginative and masterfully told, Kornher-Stace gives us a second-world fantasy that transports our minds while, time and again, it emotionally arrives.”
—Carlos Hernandez, author of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
“What a great read! This surreal dreamscape of a book delves deeper into the unique world of the Andre Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp, continuing a resilient heroine’s unusual friendship with a super-soldier ghost amid a far-future dystopia they both struggle to survive and understand.”
—Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger and Breath of Earth
“Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is a completely unique and enthralling story. A blend of fantasy, paranormal and more that defies categorization, I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!”
—Jennifer Brody, award-winning author of The 13th Continuum
Cover art by Jacquelin de Leon, jacquelindeleon.com.
Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of Desideria, The Winter Triptych, and the Andre Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp. She lives in New Paltz, New York, where she is currently at work on her first middle grade novel. There is a newly-adopted cat trying to sit on her keyboard as she types these words, and chances are excellent the same cat is trying to sit on the same keyboard as you read them. Visit her website at nicolekornherstace.com.
Table of Contents
“Our Lady of the Thylacines” by Yves Meynard
“The Canal Barge Magician’s Number Nine Daughter” by Ian McHugh
“On the Leitmotif of the Trickster Constellation in Northern Hemispheric Star Charts, Post-Apocalypse” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
“Beach Bum and the Drowned Girl” by Richard Parks
“Trap-Weed” by Gemma Files
“Icicle” by Yukimi Ogawa
“Lesser Creek: A Love Story, A Ghost Story” by A.C. Wise
“What Still Abides” by Marie Brennan
“The Wanderer King” by Alisa Alering
“A Little of the Night” by Tanith Lee
“I Come from the Dark Universe” by Cat Rambo
“Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw” by Shira Lipkin
“Lilo Is” by Corinne Duyvis
“Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” by Kenneth Schneyer
“Three Times” by Camille Alexa
“The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“The Old Woman With No Teeth” by Patricia Russo
“The History of Soul 2065″ by Barbara Krasnoff
Praise for Clockwork Phoenix 4
This book is in several distinct ways a look into the future: the future of fantasy and science fiction, diverse, strange, and wonderful; the future of these individual writers, many of whom are at or near the beginning of careers which promise to be interesting; and, additionally, the future of publishing, in which a crowd-sourced publication from a very small press can produce, and can present professionally and beautifully, work which is at the height of what is being written in genre. This particular phoenix has risen from its ashes triumphant. — Strange Horizons
Clockwork Phoenix 4, much like its predecessors, is a high quality, well-organized, engaging anthology. — Tor.com
A first rate series of anthologies … The book is stylistically of a piece with its predecessors — a set of well-written stories occupying multiple subgenres, usually in the same story, often ambiguously. — Locus
The tone ranges from dark to heartwarming and simple. The overall quality is high … Several of the pieces are quite challenging. Readers will do well to pick up a copy. — Locus Online
What makes this fourth edition so special is that it belongs to an impassioned community of writers and readers who went above and beyond to make it happen. … All eighteen [stories] have the power to pull the reader out of his own reality and transport or transform them entirely. — Cabinet des Fées
This 4th volume of Clockwork Phoenix contains an excellent diversity of speculative fiction ranging from cold and hopeless to harsh but victorious and warm and fulfilling. It was a pleasure to read. — Tangent Online
What kind of stories will you find in Clockwork Phoenix 4? Only those that are magical, imaginative, heart-wrenching, just plain bizarre, forward-looking, backward-looking, biological, romantic, hopeful, darkly funny and openly frightening. All the words that describe the best speculative fiction you’ve ever read apply. In fact, if this isn’t the epitome of speculative fiction, I don’t know what is. — Little Red Reviewer
The third volume in the ground-breaking, genre-bending, boundary-pushing CLOCKWORK PHOENIX anthology series, now available in digital format.
Includes critically-acclaimed and award-nominated stories by Marie Brennan, Tori Truslow, Georgina Bruce, Michael M. Jones, Gemma Files, C.S.E. Cooney, Cat Rambo, Gregory Frost, Shweta Narayan, S.J. Hirons, John Grant, Kenneth Schneyer, John C. Wright, Nicole Kornher-Stace and Tanith Lee.
With a whimsical introduction and new afterword by Nebula Award-nominated editor Mike Allen.
The Gospel of Nachash • Marie Brennan
Tomorrow Is Saint Valentine's Day • Tori Truslow
Crow Voodoo • Georgina Bruce
Your Name Is Eve • Michael M. Jones
Hell Friend • Gemma Files
Braiding the Ghosts • C.S.E. Cooney
Surrogates • Cat Rambo
Lucyna's Gaze • Gregory Frost
Eyes of Carven Emerald • Shweta Narayan
Dragons of America • S.J. Hirons
Where Shadows Go at Low Midnight • John Grant
Lineage • Kenneth Schneyer
Murder in Metachronopolis • John C. Wright
To Seek Her Fortune • Nicole Kornher-Stace
Fold • Tanith Lee
Allen’s third volume of extraordinary short stories reaches new heights of rarity and wonder. Marie Brennan sets the bar high with “The Gospel of Nachash,” a fine reinterpretation of the Adam and Eve legend from a fresh perspective. Tori Truslow’s scholarly “Tomorrow Is Saint Valentine’s Day” tells the story of the Great Ice Train and its encounter with the merfolk on the Moon. Gemma Files’s “Hell Friend” and C.S.E. Cooney’s “Braiding the Ghosts” are sinister, spine-tingling ghost stories. Cat Rambo deals with realism and escapism in her futuristic “Surrogates,” where appearances and reality are mutable. Shweta Narayan’s “Eyes of Carven Emerald” eloquently rewrites the history of Alexander the Great to include mechanical entities. Without a wrong note, all the stories in this anthology admirably fulfill Allen’s promise of “beauty and strangeness.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
With a balance of new names and established authors, the third Clockwork Phoenix installment collects some magnificent interpretations of fantastic ideas. “The Gospel of Nachash” opens, Marie Brennan’s haunting tale of the beginning of time, and a very interesting reinterpretation of a gospel it is, too. Tanith Lee’s “Fold” is a story of a man who wrote love letters to the people he saw passing beneath his window, and only left his apartment once. Gemma Files’ “Hell Friend” is really a heart-warming ghost story; Georgina Bruce’s “Crow Voodoo” is an unnerving take on something common to fairy tales; and Gregory Frost’s “Lucyna’s Gaze” starts off sweet, and grows more awful with every revealed detail. Clockwork Phoenix delivers on its promise of both beauty and strangeness, and adds in some fright and a few new ways of looking at old tropes. All in all, it’s a very successful collection of thematically similar, but wildly varied in subject, works.
CLOCKWORK PHOENIX is a series of anthologies from Norilana Books, edited by Mike Allen, that bears the subtitle “New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness”. This seems a quite appropriate subtitle — the stories really do seem attempts at evoking both beauty and the strange. This makes them consistently interesting . . . There is a mixture of wild science fiction (as with John C. Wright’s “Murder in Metachronopolis”, a convoluted time travel mystery) with what seems best called slipstream (say, Tanith Lee’s curious “Fold”, about a man who sends people paper airplane love letters) with out and out fantasy. One of the latter is my favorite here: C. S. E. Cooney’s “Braiding the Ghosts”, in which a girl goes to her grandmother after her mother’s death, and learns from the older woman the secret of “braiding” ghosts — which is to say enslaving them. So ghosts are the servants of the older woman. But the girl is not so happy with this . . . especially when she falls for the ghost she is forced to braid. And the ghosts — are they happy? Read the story and find out . . . lovely stuff.
For the past three years editor Mike Allen has been publishing his unique CLOCKWORK PHOENIX anthologies, inviting authors like Tanith Lee and Catherynne M. Valente to give us their take on the concepts of, as the title has it, “beauty and strangeness.” The result has been a critical and artistic success and, if volume three is any indication, the spell won’t be lifting any time soon. Allen continues to assemble some of the most adventurous, beauteous, and just plain weird stuff our current crop of speculative authors are capable of producing. Adventurous minds are invited to attend.
— Strange Horizons