REVIEW: “Aftermath of an Industrial Accident” by Mike Allen

Reviewed by Pete Rawlik.

Purchase Aftermath of an Industrial Accident here.

“Mike Allen habitually upends Lovecraftian tropes with his own brand of cosmic horror.” — Laird Barron

Many years ago I stumbled across Mike Allen’s collection Unseaming which I enjoyed immensely and still haunts my bookshelves as a permanent part of my weird fiction collection. Allen’s new collection, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, is more diverse than Unseaming and includes horror, erotica, and science fiction presented as both short stories, poetry, and something in between that is more than just a collection of very short vignettes.

The opening piece “Six Waking Nightmares Poe Gave Me in Third Grade” sets the tone for the book while invoking the terrors that haunt us as children. The remaining twenty-two stories continue in an experimental mode, the titles of which are highly reminiscent of those from both Harlan Ellison and Phillip K. Dick. These include “A Deaf Policeman Heard the Noise,” “With Shining Gifts That Took all Eyes,” and “The Night Watchman Dreams His Rounds at The REM Sleep Factory.”

In contrast, the rather simply titled “Tick Flick” takes us into the lives of intelligent parasites as they try to negotiate a familiar but subtly different world. “Binding” deals with the restricted level of a university library where rather special books are kept, and the co-eds that try to join the legendary Sixth Floor Club. Allen never says where the library is but I have my own ideas, and the ending makes it clear that this is no ordinary library. It may be the most subtle and well-crafted story in the book.

“Longsleeves” and “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” are refreshing fantasies that take the edge of the rest of the horror in the book. Similarly, “Blue Evolution” is science fiction masking itself as fantasy that was a joy to read. The penultimate piece — and the source of the collection’ title “Aftermath Of An Industrial Accident” — is set in Punktown, the alien metropolis created by Jeffrey Thomas. It’s a haunting exploration of humanity and inhumanity well worth the price of admission alone.

All and all Mike Allen has hit another home run with this subtle and multi-nuanced collection.

Purchase Aftermath of an Industrial Accident here.

Reviewed by Pete Rawlik.

WATCH our recent interview with Mike Allen on the Lovecraft eZine Podcast!

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