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, now on Hulu
"Allen overflows the tank with nightmare fuel . . . Readers will be impressed by the variety, intensity, and skilled craftsmanship Allen brings to this collection."
— 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
A Korean War veteran must rely on wits, improvised weapons, and words from the dread Necronomicon to escape the lair of a deranged cult. A ghost cannot communicate how she died, no matter how desperately she tries, while an unconventional ghost hunter incurs the venomous wrath of the Queen of Night. Murderous conspiracies reveal themselves in online video clips, a saint blasphemes as a serial killer prays for mercy, and corrupt families in ancient kingdoms trade blood and souls for leverage over foes. Enduring nightmares for a living can lead to a fate worse than burnout. A gruesome invasion from outside space and time tests courage—and corporate loyalty—past all rational limits.
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."
"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
"Mike Allen habitually upends Lovecraftian tropes with his own brand of cosmic horror."
—Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase
"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 story that force-marches the reader through rising terror, like a tea kettle screaming, for which there is no escape, no sanctuary, even within your own mind."
—R. S. Belcher, author of The Brotherhood of the Wheel
"Allen deftly imbues each world visited with its own own special kind of dread."
—A .C. Wise, author of Catfish Lullaby
Allen (Unseaming) overflows the tank with nightmare fuel in this collection of 23 stories and poems that showcase his ability to find the monstrous in almost any setting. Bracketed by two poems ("Six Waking Nightmares Poe Gave Me in the Third Grade" and "The Night Watchman Dreams His Rounds at the REM Sleep Factory") exploring Allen's drive to write horror tales, the collection dances through hauntings, carnage, body horror, and psychological chills. Allen gracefully jumps between genres from the bloody steampunk carnival of "Puppet Show," to the gritty detective thriller "Nolens Volens," the urban-legend-infused "Binding," the corporate dystopia of "Drift from the Windrows," and the high fantasy world visited in both "The Ivy-Smothered Palisade" and "Longsleeves" to explore themes of loss, alienation, and existential dread. Original to this collection are "A Deaf Policeman Heard the Noise," about a ghost desperate to communicate, and "Blue Evolution," which features multispecies pirates engaging with the alien mysteries of the sea. 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.