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Once and Future Cities

by Allen Ashley

424 pages

Cities are the defining aggregation of modern humankind. Hate to live with them, hate to live without them.

Allen Ashley’s tales of Urban Fantasy are intensely surreal, savagely satirical, subtly subversive and despairingly funny. Possessed of a unique vision and a distinctive prose style, Allen Ashley exposes the absurdities of modern British society like no other writer. Every waking moment is a struggle for continued sanity and survival as we muddle thoughtlessly through this surrealist joke called civilisation. The challenges – factual, fictitious, mythical, eminently plausible – just keep on coming. Ashley demonstrates that, if you have the nose for it, apocalypse
can be smelled everywhere – in the latest media circus; in the latest dubious laws or government measures; in celebrity culture
or the surveillance state; in the mindsets and prejudices of the population and in the tiniest actions we all perform.


Black Forest Manoeuvres        
Canoe Boy      
Play the Pipes Of Pan  
The Pamela Faction     
Waving Not Drowning 
Flat Top          
Turbulent Times           
The Accidentalists        
The Spaces in Our Lives          
The Slot          
Murdoch Celeste         
Nine Views of the Light of the World   
The Short and the Long of It    
Slow Planes     
War Haven      
Future Cities    
Today We Were Astronauts

“This is, to my mind, Allen Ashley's best and most centred collection yet. A must for readers who enjoy the challenge presented by ideas beyond the visible spectrum of everyday.”

Trevor Denyer, -Midnight Street Issue 13.


Ashley belongs to that emerging British breed of writers who no longer feel constrained by particular genres, preferring rather to let their imagination run riot. So what if you blend urban decay with a side order of fairy story and layer the whole with a dollop of horror, the final repast is always filling and well worth repeating. [. . .]

Although there are many hues to enjoy here, the overall examination is that of the absurdities of life - even, so called, "normal" life. Like many a good meal, the book keeps giving even after you’ve finished.

Charles Packer - Sci-Fi Online


Celebrity culture, the beauty obsessed, and inner-city paranoia all go into the mix to create a shrewd overview of contemporary life. The result should make for a depressing read, but Ashley’s prose and lightness of touch guide you through the post-industrial fallout like a comforting hand, and humour is never far from the surface.

Once and Future Cities serves as a road map to Ashley’s dilapidated, jaded, exhausted world. Every story between its covers is remarkably fresh and well thought out. The dialogue feels real and the prose is crisp, leaving you in no doubt that Allen Ashley is a writer of substance. Many of these tales stay with you long after you turn the last page, and if you’re looking for an original slant on modern life—and more than a few knowing laughs along the way—there’s probably no better place for you to travel than in Once and Future Cities.

The Exploding Boy - The Future Fire

Allen is a stalwart of the independent press scene and is well known as a writer, editor and commentator. His debut story “Dead to the World” (1982) has been reprinted on six different occasions, including a translation into Spanish. His first novel was the highly acclaimed “The Planet Suite” (TTA Press, 1997), described by Brian w. Aldiss as “The course for the future.”

Since the turn of the millennium, Allen has had two previous collections of his shorter fiction published - “Somnambulists” (Elastic Press, 2004), short-listed for the British Fantasy Society award; and “Urban Fantastic” (Crowswing, 2006). “Once and Future Cities” is the third distinct collection of his unique stories.

Allen was short-listed for the BFS award for his non-fiction collection “Days of the Dodo” (Dodo London Press, 2006). As an editor, he won the BFS award for “Best Anthology” with “The Elastic Book Of Numbers” (Elastic Press, 2005). He has also edited “Subtle Edens” for Elastic Press (2008) and is currently compiling “Catastrophia”, an anthology of catastrophe fiction due from PS in 2010.

Check out Allen’s web site at

Contact Allen at

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