Recently, from John C Wright, I learned of this call for bloggers/reviewers from Mike Allen for a new short story collection titled Clockwork Phoenix 3. Then he actually sent me a copy!

Wait… really? Wow, this like… sort of makes me a “real” reviewer. Oh no – I’m going to be respectable soon! What can I do? Why I’ll post it on II to give SlyShy all the respectability so I can keep my “street kred”.

Because this is a review and an anthology, I thought I would address every story or two but try to keep them as spoiler free as possible. No, I won’t be sporking them unless the story is so atrocious it’s the only hope for my sanity.


After the usual copyright, acknowledgments, table of contents, etc we get an introduction to this collection by Mike Allen himself. It’s in a style that, while formatted like prose, is nonetheless very poetic. That’s all I can really remember about it.

Not that there’s anything wrong about it, but it uses a very “technobabble” style and after the horrors of “Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate” the first paragraph sent me into flashbacks. An hour later after the seizures and foaming stopped; I decided to skip on to the first story.

See? This is why we do what we do, people! Because bad writing spreads like a virus until you can’t even stomach good writers anymore! Still, I’ll give the intro a positive vote for Mike Allen NOT being Kenneth Eng.

1 – The Gospel of Nachash by Marie Brennan

The first story of this book is what we might call a ret con or historical fiction treatment of Genesis chapters 3 & 4. All in all… it’s not too bad; one’s enjoyment of the story does depend on your background knowledge of the base tale and your feelings toward it. The story is written in a style like a generic book of the Bible (in case the title didn’t clue you in) so your enjoyment/hatred toward that style should also factor into your consideration.

Ian Watson talked a bit about the challenge of writing prose of religious accounts at the end of his short story so I won’t bother recounting the principle arguments here. Since I myself write a lot of stories which take place in “the gaps of our knowledge” I rather enjoyed this tale though some parts of it might stir up intense feelings between the camps of predestination and free will. 1 Then again, the best writing should spark discussion and thought, and this story does do that.

I’m going to rank this story as… highly enjoyable. Depending on your personal feelings and taste, this might downgrade to an enjoyable or mediocre rank but you could do a lot worse for a quick story fix.

If anyone would like to join me in discussing and/or reviewing this, let me know and we’ll see what we can do.

1. And if any from those camps want to stir something up, please take it to the wonderful II message boards don’t slug it out in the comments.

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  1. dragonarya on 17 April 2010, 20:02 said:

    What happened to the Lexicon Triumvirate sporkings anyway? You and The Drunk Fox only got as far as chapter 4, and I remember reading that it was going to continue on the forum, but I didn’t see it anywhere… Was it really so bad you had to stop?

    Actually, that’s a stupid question. It was bad.
    If I could get a copy online or at the library, I would spork it, but alas, I don’t think I’m that funny or witty.

  2. Nate Winchester on 18 April 2010, 01:08 said:

    Oh no dragonarya, it’s not over (and you should find some in the forums, try “Just for Fun”).

    We’re planning something…

  3. dragonarya on 18 April 2010, 14:35 said:

    It’s not over? I’m looking forward to the pain sheer badness of Eng’s writing! Reading sporks is almost as addicting as Tv Tropes. XD

  4. fffan on 20 April 2010, 04:16 said:

    Err… noob question. Could you please send the “just for fun” link? I couldn’t find it in the forums. :$

  5. Nate Winchester on 20 April 2010, 07:12 said:

    I lied fffan (unintentionally I promise). It’s here under the sporkings section.