“The Planet Suite” by Allen Ashley
Each successive astronaut has gazed back and found our magic marble a little less blue. The Moon landings offered a promise which is never likely to be delivered. Maybe the only solar system we can explore is as a concept and collection of myths, ideas and images of Venus, Mars, Mercury and so forth; to wit, the planets in our heads…
A tour de force of memory, mythology and astronomy, this was the most audacious debut novel of the 1990s.
Cover art is by the late Dave Mooring.
This book is no longer available.
Extract from Chapter 9, The Saturn Alias
The differences between this world and our own are not so great as our philosophers and financiers had hoped. Certainly there is a marked absence of smog, grime and Earth's ever present noise and light pollution, but those anticipating a pre-, or even post-industrial Eden are going to be sorely disappointed. For myself, I have become a tad lackadaisical, as if the completion of a journey dismissed by many of my compatriots as pure conjecture has left me satiated.
Our months of training had fostered the necessary team spirit which would enable us to withstand the slow elliptical crawl through the emptiness to the opposite side of the sun without descending into barbarism or fanaticism. Lord knows there were many other recruits physically fitter and intellectually more capable than our motley band but the support staff had the foresight to seek balance above all other attributes when selecting the crew of The Narcissus. By now I almost believe that I grew up with these people, from Captain Jane Wylie to maverick engineer Wild Jack. I would even go so far as to feel that we have been together in previous lives, although this remains mostly a dream state impression and cannot be verified by fact or research.
Praise for The Planet Suite:
“Any novel that sails the rough seas between mainstream and genre is to be welcomed – this is the course for the future! Allen Ashley, with Gustav Holst aboard, keeps a firm hold on the compass” Brian Aldiss
“One of the best novels of the decade. I do urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to do so!” Rhys Hughes
“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” Starburst
“A work of squiffy genius” Touchpaper
Author: Allen Ashley
Allen Ashley's work has appeared in a great many British and American anthologies and magazines. He also edits anthologies, most recently Subtle Edens for Elastic Press, who also published his story collection Somnambulists. Allen lives in London.