Books by Mike Ashley

LOST MARS by Mike Ashley
Released: Oct. 22, 2018

"A thoroughly enjoyable assemblage of old-time science fiction."
A collection of sci-fi short stories about Mars, from the late 19th century through the 1960s, including tales from H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and others. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"'I am breaking a long silence to write this review of the lost papers of mysteriously weird Mammoth editor Michael Ashley, who disappeared into Hyperborea in 2002. How did I come across these papers? Well may you ask . . .'"
The tireless and Argus-eyed Ashley, editor of Mammoths by the dozen (The Mammoth Book of Fairy Tales, 1997), focuses here on fantasy, 23 drafts of the pure stuff. In Theodore R. Cogswell's "The Wall Around the World" (1953), 14-year-old Porgie goes to school on a broomstick, studies elementals, Practical Astrology, and magic, and wants to build a machine to lift him over the 1,000-foot-high glass wall that runs around the world. Oddly familiar? Ursula K. LeGuin offers "Darkrose and Diamond," a new and still uncollected addition to her "completed" Earthsea landscape. Robert E. Howard's "The Valley of the Worm" (1934) finds Howard in brilliant form, coalescing many famed heroes into a single figure (not Conan), while George MacDonald's "The Golden Key" (1867) is a kind of adult fairy story. Also here: Lord Dunsany's "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" (1911) and Harlan Ellison's "Paladin of the Lost Hour" (1985). A.A. Merritt's classic "The Moon Pool" (1918) is seen in its hardly ever reprinted short-story form, wherein its lost-world effects emerge far more strongly than in Merritt's pallid later novelization. Shining amid these jewels is "The Last Hieroglyph" (1935), in the diamond-crunching style of lost poet Clark Ashton Smith. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

"A mixed but mostly satisfying assortment. J.K. Rowling is far from alone in the making of merry magic."
The Mammoth master's third collection of silly, satiric, ridiculous, cute, pun-packed, cornball fantasy is often fun, but, well, not exactly awesome. Indefatigable anthologist Ashley (Shakespearean Whodunnits, 2001, etc.) weighs in with 32 tales here, dropping a mawkish fairy-tale farce by the comic actor John Cleese (in collaboration with Connie Booth), no doubt to rack up sales, and including an original tale by Craig Shaw Gardner in which the Devil gets a cable TV network. A horde of Charlie Chaplins threatens civilization in Garry Kilworth's faux monster-movie screenplay, "Attack of the Charlie Chaplins." In "Math Takes a Holiday," Paul Di Filippo plays with mathematical paradoxes (and tweaks mathematician/SF author Rudy Rucker) as a pair of angels grant the pathetic wishes of a pathetic college math professor. After raising a few eyebrows, Cherith Baldry's crude, hirsute "Broadway Barbarian" fits right in with a group of Runyonesque hoods. Most of the stories feature series characters, including Ron Goulart's occult inspector Max Kearney, John Morressy's dizzy wizard Kedrigern, and Avram Davidson's delightful continental debauche, Dr. Eszterhazy, investigating an apparently honest fraud in "Milord Sir Smiht, The English Wizard. As demonstrated in previous collections, Ashley has a gift for finding obscure works by writers not typically associated with the genre, such as the now-forgotten humorist Porter Emerson Brown's "The Diplodocus," and the British Jewish fabulist Israel Zangwill. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

"Mammoth Book of Somewhat Obscure Stories by Writers Who Are Famous for Other Works, or Who Are Not as Celebrated As The Editor Thinks They Should Be."
Let other anthologists package the award-winners, the classics or stories clinging to a critical theme. What makes the Mammoth series interesting is editor Ashley's penchant for including stories that have come and gone without arousing much attention, or that deserve a second look for the light they shed on the genre as a whole. Ashley's Connie Willis's Hugo-winning time-travel tale, "Firewatch," drops a 21st-century historian into the WWII London blitz. This resonates beautifully with Kim Stanley Robinson's "Vinland the Dream," in which a mere discussion of the meaning of history changes the perceptions of archaeologists exposing a century-old hoax. "A Death in the House, a sentimental pastoral alien visitation story by Clifford Simak reflects ironically on the two original alien encounter stories, Eric Brown's "Ulla, Ulla," a postmodern glance backward on H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, and Stephen Baxter's "Refugium," a Malenfant family adventure in which unseen aliens create a cosmic refuge for intelligent life. Not all the selections work so well. When compared with "A Ticket to Tranai," Robert Sheckley's tiresome dystopian farce, Philip K. Dick's "The Exit Door Leads In," an absurdist take on a far-future college education (originally published in the Rolling Stone College Papers), seems a slap-dash exercise in campy surrealism. Among the oldies that haven't aged well: "Shards," Brian Aldiss's heavy-handed 1962 flirtation with stylized prose that anticipated the New Wave of the 1970s. Obscurantists will enjoy Frank Lillie Pollock's end-of-it-all account in "Finis" and Mark Clifton's unabashedly despairing "What Have I Done?" Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Blackwood comes across as a breath of fresh—if bizarre and spooky—air, an unfettered character that Ashley captures well but thankfully doesn't tether."
British Mammoth anthologist Ashley (The Mammoth Book of Fantasy, p. 1252, etc.) resurrects the wildly creative Algernon Blackwood, a master of dread and the spine-shudder. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

This addition to Ashley's Chronicles series of Arthurian tales comprises 19 new stories, 4 reprints, 190251, and an afterword in which Marion Zimmer Bradley and Parke Godwin discuss their own and other Arthurian works. Otherwise, the knights themselves (often the more obscure ones) take center stage in stories mostly based on traditional sources, including: Gereint and the hedge of mist, Sagremor's African origins, Tor's fight with Abbo (Abelleus), Lionel the irrepressible, Bedivere and Vortiporix, Blamor vs. Tristan, Brandiles vs. Gawain, Yder vs. Abbadan the troll, the Brown Knight Without Pity, Villiers the Valiant, Fergus of Galloway, and Pelleas and Nimue. Worth a browse for Arthur's faithful legions. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Twenty-five almost new stories (the oldest, Susan B. Kelly's sly ``Much Ado About Something,'' dates back to 1994) exposing the felonious underside of Shakespeare's plays from Henry VI to The Winter's Tale. Editor Ashley (The Chronicles of the Round Table, p. 1422, etc.) has enlisted a cadre of contributors more likely to be familiar to sf/fantasy buffs than to mystery-lovers. Mary Reed and Eric Mayer give Richard III a self-excusing soliloquy on Bosworth Field; Stephen Baxter provides a criminal epilogue to A Midsummer Night's Dream; Patricia McKillip offers an informal inquest into the deaths of Romeo and Juliet; Kim Newman speculates on why the world of Twelfth Night is so maddened; Darrell Schweitzer asks who killed Falstaff. Mostly, however, the stories propose unlikely culprits for the murder plots of Richard II (Margaret Frazer), Hamlet (Steve Lockley), Othello (Louise Cooper), Macbeth (Edward D. Hoch), and As You Like It (F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre). There's no shortage of ingenuity, but (except for Kelly's ebullient tale) also not much sense of fun or (except for Martin Edwards's chilling epilogue to King Lear) much conviction in establishing the malefactors' motivations. Rosemary Aitken's suave, dense postlude, ``The Collaborator,'' shows how much easier it is to succeed at the historical mystery when you're not taking characters carefully fashioned for one purpose by the greatest English dramatist and twisting them to another. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

It's hard, given the wealth of material in the field, to make a bad selection of fairy tales, and Ashley's, while not startling, does offer a nice mix of the usual (including such authors as George MacDonald, Edith Nesbit, L. Frank Baum, Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Andersen, Jane Aiken, and Jane Yolen) and the less familiar (Liugi Capuani, Lawrence Schimel, and H.E. Bates, among others). Aficionados of the form will likely be familiar with most of these authors and pieces (versions of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.) and won't need the book. Those unfamiliar with the genre, or shopping for a gift for a younger reader, however, will find it a handy introduction to a rich, delightful form. (illustrations, not seen) Read full book review >