Editor Mike Ashley also works as a compiler of anthologies, researcher. There are times, when he finds certain works of fiction, that he is able to get some out of print work back in print. He points out that some authors have some output that no one notices, because people have forgotten about it or were not widely published for everyone to read. This is why he writes bibliographies and anthologies, and show that there are more great authors from a hundred or so years ago than just what people have always thought.
He won an Edgar for “The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction.
As someone who has looked through a lot of science fiction from about 1920, he will tell you that it is impossible to view the work from modern day eyes. It has to be viewed through the mind of someone living at that time. He also points out that the writers from back then were not really professional. They were typically not from this country and wrote like English was a second language or were scientists and everything was an academic paper. This makes the writing from back then pretty bad.
He also feels that an ongoing fascination with certain literary characters causes things like imitation and less original in the devotees. More and more stories about classic characters is something that does more to stifle than it does to liberate the imagination. Imagination, he says, is something there needs to be more of in fiction; that and less imitation.
Mike Ashley views the internet as a poor way to access short stories, but it is the greatest research tool that will ever be invented. He does not want to read short stories on a screen, or print it out because this makes it seem like any other manuscript. He would rather see it printed up, in books and magazines.
When it comes to humor, he likes Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear and Terry Pratchett, for fiction. The Goons, Monty Python, and the Marx Brothers (especially Harpo, who he says is one of the best comic geniuses ever born) for film. He believes that fantasy is a great place for surreal comedy, something he likes, he also likes humor that is cleverly worded.
He has compiled for “Best of British Science Fiction” and “The Mammoth Book of…” series.
“Algernon Blackwood” is a non fiction book by Ashley and was released in the year 1987. Algernon Blackwood was big time writer of such hit novels as “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. Besides being a very inventive writer, Algernon Blackwood traveled a lot. He also was a very popular storyteller on both television and the radio (appearing on the very first British television program). He was also a secret agent during the great war. He was also the reason, not Andrew Lloyd Webber, who started “The Starlight Express”. Some thought of him as an ancient child, other people, as an accomplished athlete.
He was able to spend time with members of the literary establishment: like H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse, Hilaire Belloc, and Compton Mackenzie. He even was able to inspire such writers as Carlos Casteneda and Henry Miller.
No one, before this book, had ever told the story of this elusive, fascinating, charming, and enigmatic man. It took twenty years of researching and a lot of interviews of the different colleagues and friends of Blackwood’s.
It took Ashley a few stories before he actually got into Blackwood’s work. Because the first couple did nothing to impress him. He had to read “The Willows” and “The Wendigo” and some of the stories with John Silence before he really saw how great he was with atmosphere. You see, feel, and smell the work, not to mention his command of the English language. Now, he sees the man as being a unique writer, even to this day. Blackwood was someone that was able to explore the nature mysticism and supernatural in fiction.
“The Time Machines” is a non fiction book by Ashley and was released in the year 2000. Part one of a three volume series of his that shows the history of a science fiction magazine, from the very beginning to present day. This one shows the interesting times of the pulp magazines. You see the development, starting with Hugo Gernsback launched the first issue of “Amazing Stories”, which was in the year 1926. It moves through to the birth of the atomic age, later the death of the pulp magazine, which occurred in the fifties.
This is the time when science fiction was young; a time period when it was raw, exciting, and brash. Magazines, for four decades, were the center of science fiction. This book thinks about how magazines, their authors and editors and publishers were able to influence the growth and how people think about this interesting genre.
“Transformations” is a non fiction book by Ashley and was released in the year 2005. Despite the fact that most people think about television shows and movies, when they think of science fiction, the actual place science fiction rose to prominence was in pulp magazines.
Mike Ashley brings his extensive knowledge to this book. It starts at the beginning of the Cold War and ends at the end of the sixties. A tremendous change occurred by the end of this period, both in the writing and marketplace for science fiction.
Science fiction got more respectable, once the pulp magazines went away and were replaced by digest sized and glossy magazines. This was right around the same time of a golden age for the genre at the start of the fifties. Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, and Harlan Ellison were just some of the giants that were being published in a bunch of different magazines at the time.
That being said, by the end of the fifties, it was a different story. Sales started to slump and only six science fiction magazines were left. It made the future for the genre looked bleak. Then, a surprising rebirth happened, propelled by J. G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock, who are both British writers. Ashley also considers how “Star Trek” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” helped shape the future of science fiction magazines.
Books published in order by series:
British Library: Tales Of The Weird Anthologies
|The Platform Edge||(2019)|
|Menace of the Machine||(2019)|
|Doorway to Dilemma||(2019)|
|The End of the World||(2019)|
Publication Order of Anthologies
|The Best of British SF 1||(1977)|
|The Best of British SF 2||(1977)|
|SF Choice 77||(1977)|
|Souls in Metal||(1978)|
|The Chronicles of the Round Table||(1987)|
|The Pendragon Chronicles||(1989)|
|The Camelot Chronicles||(1992)|
|The Giant Book of Myths and Legends||(1995)|
|The Merlin Chronicles||(1995)|
|Chronicles of the Holy Grail||(1996)|
|The Collected Classical Stories and Classical Whodunnits||(1996)|
|The Random House Book of Fantasy Stories||(1997)|
|The Random House Book of Science Fiction Stories||(1997)|
|Phanton Perfumes and Other Shades||(2000)|
|Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction||(2002)|
|The World’s Greatest Master and Commander Stories||(2005)|
|Great American Ghost Stories||(2008)|
|Unforgettable Ghost Stories by Women Writers||(2008)|
|The Darker Sex||(2009)|
|Dreams and Wonders||(2010)|
|The Dreaming Sex||(2011)|
|The Duel of Shadows||(2011)|
|Vampires: Classic Tales||(2011)|
|Sisters In Crime||(2013)|
|The Mammoth Book of Classical Whodunnits||(2014)|
|The Feminine Future||(2015)|
|Toward the Golden Age||(2016)|
|Who’s Who in Horror and Fantasy Fiction||(1978)|
|Fantasy Readers Guide to Ramsey Campbell||(1980)|
|The Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Lists||(1983)|
|Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines||(1985)|
|Barrington J. Bayley||(1987)|
|The Work of Robert A.W. Lowndes||(1988)|
|The Work of David H. Keller||(1994)|
|The Work of William F. Temple||(1994)|
|The Supernatural Index||(1995)|
|The Gernsback Days||(1997)|
|The Mammoth Book of Kings and Queens of Britain and Ireland||(1998)|
|The British Monarchy||(1998)|
|The Time Machines||(2000)|
|A Brief History of British Kings and Queens||(2002)|
|The Age of the Story Tellers||(2005)|
|Gateways to Forever||(2007)|
|A Brief History of King Arthur||(2010)|
|Out of This World||(2011)|