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Book Review

Book Cover

The Planet Suite


Author: Allen Ashley
Publisher: Eibonvale Press
232 pages
RRP: £6.99
ISBN: 978 1 908125 24 8
Publication Date: 29 May 2016

When Gustav Holst set out to compose his famous Planets Suite, he used the differing celestial bodies to portray the orbs characteristics. Written between 1914 and 1916, against the background of the First World War, he produced a richly textured work, found fame and hated it...

The Planet Suite (232 pages) is a slipstream novel by Allen Ashley which takes inspiration from Holst’s seminal work to weave a winding narrative.

On its surface it uses the idea of the various planets to tell many stories which dip in and out of one another. Being a slipstream novel it is not confined to a single genre, so it consist as much of a love story as it does chronicle the exploration of the planets.

Normally a slipstream novel will contain one or two normally anomalous elements. Suite, however, is not content with this. Within the loose confines of each planet multiple story threads are woven, across the novel there is an inconsistency which gives the feeling that Ashley is plotting a myriad of possible future. This is more akin to Philip Glass’s compositions where variations on a theme build to create a greater whole.

These are based around central relationships which are slowly revealed and as such this is a novel which rewards the attentive reader. Central to the book, is the relationship between Jane Wylie, her brother Eddie and Jack, who is secretly in love with her. Each planet has its mood and this is reflected in the individual pieces.

The majority of the book is a reprint, however Ashley has updated it and included various extra pieces of writing.

This is probably one of the most successful slipstream novel I have read. Jammed packed with pop culture references the book is not afraid to play with both form and content.


Charles Packer

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