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The Planet Suite
Allen Ashley
TTA Press chapbook £4.99

review by Tony Lee

US poet and critic Ezra Pound once wrote that, "Literature is news that stays news." Now here is a bulletin of timeless importance from the talented British writer Allen Ashley. The Planet Suite offers an innovative tour of the Solar system, along the infinite frontiers of human imagination. Drawing on classical mythology, Golden Age SF and contemporary fantasy, Ashley's creation is full of literary ingenuity and genre allusions. It's an otherworldly survey that defies easy classification or critical analysis.

The protagonist, Simon, not unlike Billy Pilgrim of Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse-Five, seems to be adrift in time - and lost in space too, where he meets divergent destinies in alternative universes. The kinetic plot of this slim volume twists and turns at the speed of thought, and it's hard enough to keep pace, let alone anticipate what Ashley's roving mind's eye will show us next! Not for Ashley the mechanistic adventures of hard-SF. Here, childhood dreams and adult fantasies are either dramatically crushed or magnificently fulfilled - or so it seems - by non-existent, yet paradoxically, omnipotent forces.

It is tempting to wax lyrical about The Planet Suite because it's one of those books that is virtually review-proof. No synopsis could do it justice. I can only say that if you're fed up with derivative SF/fantasy epics, and would like to read something that may renew your faith in publishing as an innovative medium, The Planet Suite is highly recommended.

previously published in Starburst #224 (April 1997)
The Planet Suite

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