The Works of Tim Powers » The Works of William Ashbless #2

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The Works of William Ashbless #2

The William Ashbless Furioso Curry Powder

For Ashbless's tenth birthday in 1983 Powers "… made up a batch of Ashbless curry powder, limited to 20 numbered bottles, and on the "label" I had the head of, I think, Famine from Durer's print of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (It was very good curry powder — all from fenugreek seeds & cardamom pods & whatnot.)…It was for the Ashbless 10th anniversary party, at Blaylock's house in '83, I think. Dean Koontz was there, and stood on a table to recite a poem he had composed for the occasion."

The whereabouts of most examples of this ephemeral Ashbless item are unknown. Most are probably lost and it very unlikely that collectors will be able to acquire one. The bottle pictured here (No #1) is that belonging to James P Blaylock.

Offering The Bicentennial Edition of
The Complete Twelve Hours of the Night

In 1985 Cheap Street Fine Press Publishers under the guise of the International William Ashbless Society published a delicate item entitled Offering the Bicentennial Edition of the Complete Twelve Hours Of The Night. They described it thus:-

"Tim Powers and James Blaylock (uncredited). Cheap Street, 1985. Consisting of printed cover with one folded page tipped in. Poem and text of description (excluding the description of the physical book itself) written by Powers and Blaylock as an intended hoax. Signed by 'William Ashbless' with Powers and Blaylock trading off signing 'William' or 'Ashbless'."

Intended to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Ashbless's birth, reportedly only 355 copies of this very pretty ephemera were printed. Three of these were housed in a custom made cardboard folder Copies do occasionally appear on the market and prices can fluctuate. This link to ABE will show you if any are currently being offered.

A Short Poem

In 1987 a pamphlet was produced by The Folly Press entitled A Short Poem By William Ashbless. Of this rare and ephemeral item Powers says "The Folly Press thing was a fluke — a friend took the liberty of writing a sort of Ashbless joke and publishing it as a pamphlet. He was a good friend, so we let him get away with it. Blaylock and I didn't write it, though."

The short poem in question was actually written by Phil Garland, the publisher. The text reads "Ho/Ho/Ho " and was written out by Powers and Blaylock and signed by them as Ashbless. There were three states of 26 lettered copies issued. Those in blue wrappers are known as the Cahuenga, those in cream known as the Hastings, and those in tan as the Woolwich. Each copy of the pamphlet was laid in a white envelope imprinted with the cover image and was intended for private distribution. These items are extremely scarce and I have yet to see them offered on the collector's market – either singly or as a set, making them consequently extremely difficult to value. However, you never know, so follow this link to ABE to see if any have come onto the market.

Assessing Tim Powers – From a Distance

This little known piece by Ashbless appeared one time only in the conbook for Unicon XIII, a convention at which Powers was a guest in July 1989. It is a typical piece of character assassination by the mad poet, and caused some consternation amongst attendees.

This seldom seen Ashbless piece will be reprinted in Secret Histories : A Bibliography of the Works of Tim Powers.

A Word About the Author

In the UK Morrigan published three Blaylock novels in hard cover – The Digging Leviathan (1988), Homunculus (1988) and The Magic Spectacles (1991). Each were released separately as trade editions with a print run of a thousand or so. Of these, 300 copies (250 in the case of The Magic Spectacles) were slip cased and signed by the contributors. (Powers provided the introduction to The Digging Leviathan). There were a further 10 PC copies fully bound in leather.

In 1991 number of these editions were offered together in one package as a trilogy and with this set was included a pamphlet entitled A Word About the Author by William Ashbless. I believe only 50 were ever issued. The pamphlet is signed by Ashbless and on the rear cover by Blaylock and the cover artist Ferret. Copies are scarce but do come up from time to time – check this link to ABE to see is any are currently on offer.

Mr Blaylock and his Work

The following year (1992) Ashbless had more to say about Blaylock when he contributed an introduction to this beautifully produced bibliography of Blaylock's works published by Jim Seels' ASAP.

Produced in two states, there were 25 copies in acrylic slipcases and 225 trade copies. All were signed by Blaylock and Phil Parks (who produced the wonderful cover art and wrote the afterward.) They were also signed by Ashbless, with Blaylock signing "William" in red and Powers "Ashbless" in purple. This has become quite a scarce item, but copies to occasionally surface. Try this link to ABE to see if any are currently available.

The text of Ashbless's introduction is a hoot. Clearly he doesn't think much of Blaylock's talent!