Review: The Once and Future Moon (edited by Allen Ashley)
The Once and Future Moon (edited by Allen Ashley) was published by Eibonvale Press in October 2019.
One of the most distinctive voices in modern literature, Allen Ashley has been published in dozens of books and magazines in the UK, USA, Canada and Spain and has now passed his first century of short story publications. Allen is a highly respected author equally adept at novels, short stories, poetry and lyrics. He is also well known for a wealth of critical commentary and non-fiction articles and, more recently, as an acclaimed and award winning editor.
Allen has run successful writing workshops in Newham and Tower Hamlets libraries. In October 2005 he gave two readings at the Norwich Fringe Festival. In November 2005 he was the special guest of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. In May 2006 he ran a writing workshop in Derby as part of the very first "Alt. Fiction Day". On 2nd June 2006 he was the Guest of Honour at The British Fantasy Society (BFS) Open Night at The Devereux Arms, London WC2. On 7th July 2006 he compered the annual BFS "Showcase" evening, also at The Devereux.. At Fantasycon 2006 he moderated a panel on "Independent Versus Mainstream Editing" and was also thrilled to receive the BFS Best Anthology award as editor of "The Elastic Book Of Numbers". At Fantasycon 2007 he moderated a panel entitled "The Small Press - Building and Maintaining an Audience".
by Allen Ashley
Edited by Allen Ashley.
It has been there throughout human history: accompanying, guiding, inspiring and influencing us. Without it there might be no philosophy, literature, mathematics, religion, astronomy or exploration.
We might think we can conquer the Moon but perhaps the truth is that the Moon controls us.
This anthology will take you from the Stone Age to the near-future via alternate history.
REVIEW: THE ONCE AND FUTURE MOON (EDITED BY ALLEN ASHLEY)
The Once and Future Moon (edited by Allen Ashley) is a superb anthology containing science fiction, fantasy and science-fantasy stories related to the Moon. Having enjoyed the editor's previous anthologies, I was looking forward to reading this anthology. I'm pleased to say that this anthology is every bit as good as the previous ones and will impress readers who expect the best from their speculative fiction stories.
Allen Ashley has done an amazing job as the editor, because he gathered tales that will astound, fascinate and thrill the readers. I was taken by the diversity of the stories, because they're greatly different from each other, but all of them are of excellent quality. Personally, I consider this anthology to be one of the best anthologies published during the recent years, because it's an utterly compelling and rewarding reading experience.
As we all know, the Moon has been a source of inspiration to mankind for a long time and has offered us various moments of amazement and fascinating, but also moments of terror. In this anthology, the authors approach the Moon and its influence on us from various points of view that reveal intriguing details about how the Moon has affected us and what kind of a hold it has on us.
This anthology contains the following stories:
Chris Edwards – “Dr Cadwallader and The Lunar Cycle”
Hannah Hulbert – “The Changing Face of Selene”
David Turnbull – “The Erasing of Gagaringrad”
A.N. Myers – “Synthia”
Simon Clark – “A Faience of the Heart”
Aliya Whiteley – “Bars of Light”
Terry Grimwood – “Heavies”
Stephen Palmer – “White Face Tribe”
Pauline E. Dungate – “Moonstruck”
Douglas Thompson – “Dissolver”
Alexander Greer – “Lunar Gate”
Nigel Robert Wilson – “Dream-Time’s End”
Gary Budgen – “The Empties”
Elana Gomel – “Moonface”
Anna Fagundes Martino – “Between the Librations”
Charles Wilkinson – “To Sharpen, Spin”
Thomas Alun Badlan – “The Great Lunar Expedition”
Adrian Chamberlin – “The Eye of God”
I found all of these stories worth reading and was impressed by the authors' writing styles. Each of the authors has written an original story that is enhanced by beautiful and fluent prose.
Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:
“Dr Cadwallader and The Lunar Cycle” by Chris Edwards is a marvellous adventure story in the vein of Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and classic pulp stories. It tells of Professor Willingdon and Doctor Cadwallader who travel to the surface of the Moon and find something amazing there. This story was a pleasant surprise, because it has clearly been written as a kind of a homage to classic adventure and pulp stories.
“The Changing Face of Selene” by Hannah Hulbert is a beautifully written story about a youth called Endymion and his immortal lover, the Goddess Selene. I found this story fascinating and touching, and was impressed by the slightly bittersweet ending. There's something about this story that reminds me of mythic fairy tales. This is an interesting take on the Selene and Endymion myth.
“The Erasing of Gagaringrad” by David Turnbull tells of Commissar Tranh in the aftermath of the utter destruction of a moon-based city called Gagaringrad. Tranh is about to arrest the person who is responsible for the attack. The author addresses such elements as class system and political activism in an intriguing way. There's something touching and sad about this story that impressed me a lot.
“Synthia” by A.N. Myers is a story about a psychologist, Mark, who is asked by Bessemer Systems to take a look at one of their special projects, an android called Synthia. Synthia is fascinated - or rather obsessed - by the Moon. I was very impressed by this story, because the author approaches artificial intelligence and self-awareness from a slightly different point of view. I also liked how the author wrote about the protagonist's relationship with his late husband. I'll have to take a closer look at the author's fiction, because this story is fascinating.
“A Faience of the Heart” by Simon Clark is one of the highlights of this anthology. This beautifully written and atmospheric time-portal story takes place at three different points in time: 1863, 1958 and the present day. The story beings in an asylum. The author describes well how the asylum has changed over the year and what kind of an effect the events in 1863 and 1958 have on the present day. This story can best be described as a combination of science fiction and ghost story elements, because it combines both genres in an original way. It has a distinct feel of dark fantasy to it that I found compelling.
“Bars of Light” by Aliya Whiteley is an excellent and memorable story about a woman living somewhere in the past in a society where religion has a strong influence on people. I liked this story, because the author captures the woman's feelings with her words and paints a vivid picture of the society and its norms. The author handles such things as pregnancy and narrow-mindedness in an incredibly fascinating way, and she approaches the Cain and Abel elements of the story in a sufficiently original way.
“Heavies” by Terry Grimwood tells about Saffron to talks to 'a heavy', Wilson, and wants to know the truth about what happened to him. When Wilson begins to tell his story, Saffron learns about how Earth was destroyed and how he and his family escaped to the Moon. I've been aware for a few years now that Terry Grimwood is an excellent and talented author, but I have to mention that this story took me by surprise, because it's a brilliant blend of apocalyptical and dystopian elements. This is one of the author's best stories to date.
“White Face Tribe” by Stephen Palmer is an intriguing story about the White Face Tribe and their tribal elder, Mana, who is a powerful woman. The tribe lives by strict rules in harmony with another tribe until something happens that threatens the peace between them. I liked how the author wrote about the tribe and how Mana reacted to the Moon turning red. There's something paleo-fantasy-esque about this story that I find deeply compelling.
“Moonstruck” by Pauline E. Dungate is a story about Mr Jefferson who is being questioned about the disappearance of Dr Elizabeth Stott during the time that he worked for the Department of Defense. Dr Stott was a woman lacked finesse in her social skills and managed to annoy other members of the team. This is a well written story about a murder investigation. I enjoyed this story, because it's an intriguing take on a murder story.
“Dissolver” by Douglas Thompson tells of a woman, Emilianna, who searches for Eldric Tzysyk, her lover. Eldric, who has been a bit strange man, has disappeared mysteriously and Emilianna wants to find him, but finds out confusing things about him. This beautifully written and atmospheric story is one of the highlights in this anthology. I admire the author's way of telling the story and letting it gradually unfold, because he delivers a satisfyingly complex and rewarding story. There's a sense of mystery to this story that captivated me.
“Lunar Gate” by Alexander Greer is an impressive story about what happens when three men investigate the chasms that have appeared on the Moon's surface. When the men begin to explore the gorge, they find a silver gate that unlocks something... This story is reminiscent of good old-fashioned science fiction and weird fiction stories, because the author gradually builds up tension and ends the story in an unsettling way. I don't know exactly why, but this story somehow reminds me of Clark Ashton Smith's stories.
“Dream-Time’s End” by Nigel Robert Wilson tells about Leu Truth-Speaker who is the only living contact between the heroic dead and the mundane world of the living. He meets the Council of Ancestors on the Moon. He uses the World Tree to travel to the Moon. I found this story beautiful and utterly intriguing, because it tells about how people interact with their Ancestors. I have to mention that the World Tree reminds me a lot about the Yggdrasil in Norse mythology.
“The Empties” by Gary Budgen is an excellent story and I consider it to be one of the highlights in this anthology. This story tells of post-apocalyptic London where people start to disappear through portals and something is being built upon the Moon's surface. People who don't get portals think that they have no souls and have to stay on Earth. It's been a while since I've read anything as original and fresh as this story.
“Moonface” by Elana Gomel is a powerful post-apocalyptic story about a sergeant who has lost his wife. This story tells of a society in which women's faces have been replaced by raw flesh. Women hide their faces and looking at a moonface is a taboo. I enjoyed this story and found it refreshingly different.
“Between the Librations” by Anna Fagundes Martino tells of Patrick Fitzgerald Long Island, who is an albino sociologist and a Moon Child. He is involved in the Selene project and can tune out the oscillations of the Moon. Just like the previous story, this story is something different and compelling. The author addresses such things as race and skin colour in this story and she does it well.
“To Sharpen, Spin” by Charles Wilkinson is a fascinating story about a post-apocalyptical world where the protagonist is a teenaged boy called Arthur. One day, Arthur's father tells him that there's something wrong with the Moon... I enjoyed this story very much, because the author writes excellently about the locale and Arthur's life. This story is in certain ways slightly similar to Douglas Thompson's "Dissolver". This is one of my favourite stories in this anthology.
“The Great Lunar Expedition” by Thomas Alun Badlan is an excellent adventure story about an astronomical expedition to the lunar surface. This is a bit different kind of a story, because it has a twist to it, but I won't reveal what happens in it. There's something Vernesque about this story that impressed me a lot.
“The Eye of God” by Adrian Chamberlin is something quite unusual, but very powerful and memorable. This story blends science fiction and fantasy elements in a succesful and original way. I found myself impressed by how the author told the story and was intrigued by the happenings. This is a perfect final story to this amazing anthology.
Allen Ashley's The Once and Future Moon is a wonderfully diverse anthology that contains captivating science fiction, fantasy and science-fantasy stories about the Moon. I was amazed at how fascinating and original the stories are, because each of the stories is a little gem of literary storytelling and a captivating display of imagination. If you're like me and love beautifully written stories and appreciate originality and diversity, you'll love this anthology and will find it compelling.