I’m writing this from a concrete bunker in a secure location. Ever once in a while I imagine I can hear something tapping at the tempered steel, triple locked door, or scraping at the base of the walls, looking for ingress. But I’m not going to open the door, Allen.  Not to you, with your astonishing hat, or your wife, with her clever clockwork  pins.

I should’ve known better, but like everyone else, I was taken in by the sheer bold elegance of the plan.  They didn’t hide it.  They put it right in the open, like the Trojan Horse, like the candy-bedecked gingerbread house: each a shiny, sticky trap. And at first, it seemed like a wonderful idea. A Kickstarter to fund the fourth volume of Mike and Anita Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix series, which featured certain kinds of indefinable, interstitial stories, many of which were nominated for awards and reprinted in “bests ofs” and did amazing stuff like form the nucleus of a very adult book that in turn sprouted a series of children’s books, just for a start.  So I jumped on the bandwagon, dazzled by promises of book and stories.  And then they passed their first goal, and by sleight-of-hand so subtle it seemed natural, created another goal – with more pledged, they could pay more! And they offered such pretty trinkets – pins and hats and more stories, and chapbooks and such.

And then, with that goal met, like the fisherman in the fairy tale, they wanted just one more thing – to pay pro rates.  What harm could it do? I weep as I ask it. Because now, this morning, they’ve done it.  Clockwork Phoenix 4 will pay pro rates.

Don’t you see the madness of this? Pro rates, for dangerous, perilous, transgressive, seductive, self-generating, different, fiction? That worms into the mind and lives there, spawning God-knows-what? What hath Kickstarter wrought? Won’t anyone think of the children?

And more – now, they have the chutzpah, the gall, the impudence, to set yet another goal.  And if this goal is made…

Well, I’ll let this so-called MR Allen speak for himself:

If this Kickstarter can reach $10,000, that should leave us with enough to fund 12 issues of a new Internet magazine. Each issue will hold one story (word limit 4,000 at 2 cents a word) and two poems ($5 each.) In essence, it will be a continuation of the MYTHIC anthologies we used to produce (that published stories like Cherie Priest’s “The Immigrant.”)


I beg you, before you kick in $1 or $5 or maybe $15 and get e-book editions of Clock Phoenix or $25 to get the trade paperback edition of the INSIDIOUS Clockwork Phoenix 4 (PLUS e-books and stories and lord help us), or $45 and get tons of stuff PLUS a chapbook with a Cherie Priest story, think. Think of the chaos you set free, like a gang of Erises, like sophisticated Pandoras.

But I’ve figured you out now, Mike Allen. I’ve sold my worldly goods and I’m safe now, with my MREs, my sleeping bag, my iPod loaded with X Minus One and my tattered 3-volume set of The Early Asimov.

With my ear pressed against the door, I can hear something.  The chittering of a bird? The soft click of rotating gears? The hiss of a burning feather?

It can’t hurt to open it, just a crack, and see.