cover image Clockwork Phoenix 5

Clockwork Phoenix 5

Edited by Mike Allen. Mythic Delirium, $15.95 trade paper (274p) ISBN 978-0-9889124-7-2

Allen’s strange and lovely fifth genre-melding fantasy anthology selects 20 new short stories of unusual variety, texture, compassion, and perception. Allen supports the collection with notes on contributors, a list of generous acknowledgements that illustrates the depth of innovators in the genre, and an introduction that claims this volume is his “most ambitious of all.” The common denominator seems to be love in many unusual incarnations: two fathers’ devotion to their lost children in Barbara Krasnoff’s ghost story “Sabbath Wine,” a sensitive testament to same-sex marriage in Jason Kimble’s tall tale “The Wind at His Back,” and the love of excellence in Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s “The Finch’s Wedding and the Hive that Sings.” Perhaps the most difficult to classify is Beth Cato’s “The Souls of Horses,” which explores an unusual side of the U.S. Civil War. All the stories afford thought-provoking glimpses into alternative realities that linger, sparking unconventional thoughts, long after they are first encountered. (Apr.)