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"Dee-Dee and the
Dumpy Dancers"

Co-authored with
Ian Watson
Published in Interzone 197
Nominated for the
British Science Fiction
Association Awards

The tale follows the plight of a few friends in a North Carolina town who have been made redundant by the closure of their textile plant. The authors do a great job of painting the trials and tribulations of a small industrial town trying to readjust in the face of downsizing, globalization, and restructuring, in other words, in the face of people getting fired. Upon this backdrop Watson and Allen paint the story of these women and their families; all clearly and honestly rendered and full of the little vicissitudes that make characters come to life.


This is not the only news, however, as the world has recently been visited by aliens. These aliens, who resemble turkeys in diving gear, are flying all over poking their noses into whatever happens to interest them. The media and government try to befriend and understand them, but in a very nice twist we realize that the amazing presence of aliens is just a backdrop-kids have to fed, rent has to be paid, and lives have to keep going in spite of the ET's.


As the women who will eventually comprise the Dumpy Dancers try to figure out what they can do to help make ends meet, they come upon the idea of setting up a dance troupe. While dance may not pay well, they are angling at least for some arts funding and a bit of local exposure. Desperation turns to surprise and then wonder as the people who turn out for their opening performance react enthusiastically — as do the aliens who see the whole thing on TV.


The coming together of the aliens and the Dumpy Dancers, and their subsequent explanation of who the aliens are and why they do what they do, pulls together the various threads into the climax of the story.

— Tangent Online


This awesomely illustrated 66-page issue also contains BSFA Award nominated stories by Christpher East, Jeremiah Tolbert, David Hoing and Scott Mackay; plus an interview with Susanna Clarke and Colin Greenland.


for $6.00
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"Stolen Souls"
Published in Altair 3
My first professional short
fiction sale:
A galaxy-spanning sf novelette of sinister
aliens, bizarre technology and apocalyptic
for $10.00
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at $2.50)

One of the two tales in this issue I felt stood far above the rest ... Venner lives in the near future, where aliens steal living human brains to use as computers. His wife is such a victim, and Venner vows to recover her. So he allows himself to be cyborged, and tracks the brain thieves across the universe. But as he approaches closer and closer to his goal, he must surrender piece after piece of his humanity to gain the edge on his adversaries. In the end he succeeds, but it's unclear if he is capable of understanding what his victory means.

— Tangent Online


This 156-page perfect-bound issue also contains fiction by Ashok Banker, James Van Pelt, and 10 others, plus articles by Ben Bova, Robert J. Sawyer and Norman Spinrad.


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