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Robert Aickman (1914–1981)

Author of Cold Hand in Mine: Strange Stories

63+ Works 2,970 Members 53 Reviews 42 Favorited

About the Author


Works by Robert Aickman

The Wine-Dark Sea (1988) 417 copies
Dark Entries (1964) 269 copies
The Unsettled Dust (1990) 164 copies
The Model (1987) 70 copies
The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1964) — Editor & Contributor — 60 copies
The Second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966) — Editor & Contributor — 55 copies
The Fourth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1967) — Editor — 52 copies
The Third Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966) — Editor & Contributor — 51 copies
Sub Rosa: Strange Tales (1968) 50 copies
The Attempted Rescue (1966) 42 copies
The Sixth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1970) — Editor — 42 copies
The Eighth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1972) — Editor; Contributor — 37 copies
The Fifth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1969) — Editor & Contributor — 34 copies
Intrusions: Strange Tales (1980) 34 copies
Powers of Darkness (1966) 34 copies
Tales of Love and Death (1656) 31 copies
The Seventh Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1971) — Editor & Contributor — 29 copies
The Late Breakfasters (1964) 28 copies
Go Back at Once (2020) 26 copies
The Strangers (2015) 22 copies
CUENTOS DE LO EXTRAÑO (2011) 12 copies
Know your Waterways (1956) 5 copies
Las Casas de los Rusos (2016) 4 copies
The Hospice 4 copies
Suspense (1990) 3 copies
Dunkle Pforten — Author — 2 copies
The Swords 2 copies
The Fetch 1 copy
Growing Boys 1 copy
Marriage 1 copy
El modelo (2023) 1 copy

Associated Works

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (1983) — Contributor — 1,185 copies
The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories (1987) — Contributor — 878 copies
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (2011) — Contributor — 796 copies
The Dark Descent (1987) — Contributor — 707 copies
Dark Forces (1980) — Contributor — 558 copies
I Shudder at Your Touch (1991) — Contributor — 538 copies
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (1986) — Contributor — 536 copies
Shudder Again: 22 Tales of Sex and Horror (1993) — Contributor — 228 copies
Hauntings: Tales of the Supernatural (1968) — Contributor — 223 copies
The World's Greatest Ghost Stories (1990) — Contributor — 170 copies
Black Water 2: More Tales of the Fantastic (1990) — Contributor — 152 copies
My Favorite Horror Story (2007) — Contributor — 136 copies
A Taste for Blood (1992) — Contributor — 105 copies
Fantasy Annual IV (1980) — Contributor — 100 copies
Whispers: An Anthology of Fantasy and Horror (1977) — Contributor — 91 copies
Damnable Tales: A Folk Horror Anthology (2021) — Contributor — 85 copies
Mistletoe & Mayhem: Horrific Tales For The Holidays (1992) — Contributor — 78 copies
Year's Finest Fantasy (1977) — Contributor — 72 copies
Great Vampire Stories (1992) — Contributor — 71 copies
The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories (1996) — Contributor — 70 copies
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (2015) — Contributor — 66 copies
A Fabulous Formless Darkness (1991) — Contributor — 64 copies
The Medusa In The Shield (Dark Descent) (1990) — Contributor — 63 copies
65 Great Tales of the Supernatural (1979) — Contributor — 59 copies
Dark: Stories of Madness, Murder and the Supernatural (2000) — Contributor — 56 copies
The Third Ghost Book (1955) — Contributor — 56 copies
The Architecture of Fear (1987) — Contributor — 49 copies
Girls Night Out: Twenty-nine Female Vampire Stories (1997) — Contributor — 48 copies
The Fourth Pan Book of Horror Stories (1963) — Contributor — 48 copies
Nameless Places (1975) — Contributor — 47 copies
The Century's Best Horror Fiction: Volume 2 (2011) — Contributor — 46 copies
Frights (1976) — Contributor — 45 copies
Year's Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3 (2016) — Contributor — 43 copies
The Moons at Your Door (2016) — Contributor — 41 copies
The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories (1966) — Contributor — 38 copies
Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Horror Novels (1987) — Contributor — 33 copies
Sea-Cursed: Thirty Terrifying Tales of the Deep (1994) — Contributor — 31 copies
Dark Voices: The Best from the Pan Book of Horror Stories (1990) — Contributor — 29 copies
Far Reaches of Fear (1976) — Contributor — 29 copies
Night Shadows: Twentieth-Century Stories of the Uncanny (2001) — Contributor — 28 copies
Weird Tales, No. 4 (1983) — Contributor — 25 copies
The Fourth Ghost Book (1965) — Contributor, some editions — 24 copies
Mortal Echoes: Encounters With the End (2018) — Contributor — 23 copies
Nursery Crimes (1993) — Contributor — 23 copies
Fantasy Tales (1977) — Contributor — 22 copies
Travellers by Night (1967) — Contributor — 22 copies
Wormwood, Issue 5 (2005) — Contributor — 18 copies
Paha vieras (1996) 15 copies
Phantastische Literatur 82 (1982) 11 copies
New Tales of Terror (1980) — Contributor — 6 copies
Best Railway Stories (1969) — Contributor — 2 copies


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Common Knowledge



THE DEEP ONES: "The Hospice" by Robert Aickman in The Weird Tradition (February 2022)


*Partial spoilers ahead*

I like Robert Aickman, but I'm not a huge fan. (I prefer him to Walter de la Mare, whose mantle he obviously inherited.) He's the kind of writer whose stories you read one or two at a time, savoring them, and Cold Hand in Mine contains eight fine examples of his style. You won't feel the urge to consume them back to back--I didn't, anyway--but if you've just finished one long novel and are about to tackle another, Aickman's stories make for interesting palate-cleansers.

Several of the tales in this 1975 collection have been widely anthologized: "The Swords," "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal" and overwhelming fan favorite "The Hospice." The two stories I've found myself rereading most frequently are "Niemandswasser" and "The Same Dog," which address similar themes (families with a military background; mothers who died young; awkward, somewhat unconventional male-female relationships) but produce distinctly different effects. The former is an overtly dark meditation on death and the inescapable collapse of all human endeavor, disguised as a monster-in-the-lake yarn; the latter is a surreal account of what happens to two children who witness a strange, disturbing phenomenon after wandering away from their school one afternoon. Aickman hints at explanations (the moldering grimoire that Elmo finds in the family library in "Niemandswasser"; the apparently regenerative effect that Mary has on the haunted house in "The Same Dog") without actually offering them, and this is what readers will find either fascinating or offputting. Like de la Mare in his classic tale "All Hallows," Aickman aimed to create a sense of unease--not to provide resolutions.
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Jonathan_M | 10 other reviews | Nov 10, 2023 |
There are very few books, even ones that I have enjoyed, that I know while reading them that I will do so again. This 1975 collection of short stories by Robert Aickman is one. I am a recent addition to Aickman’s audience, ever since I read ‘The Stains’, a longer instance of what he called ‘strange stories’. ‘Strange’ hardly does justice to the stories in this collection, which almost casually embody the sentiment of the volume’s epigraph, from Sacheverell Sitwell, ‘In the end it is the mystery that lasts and not the explanation.’

In the year that he died, Aickman won a World Fantasy Award for ‘Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal’, one of the stories in this collection; and perversely enough, this was one of my least favourite. It is, in its gothic way, a straightforward story—a kind of pastiche—so there is less about this that is recognisably Aickman than the other stories. Similarly, though the heart of ‘Niemandswasser’ is as dark and cold as you might hope, the setting does not cause the flesh to creep. It has a very fairy-tale ring to it, with a Prince and a kingdom, and rather heightened language. It is the language that particularly undermines these two tales. The real and leaden dread of the best stories here is the way that the mundane and quotidian plunge the character into inexplicable and possibly dangerous situations.

An editor of pornographic literature may have experienced a future event. A salesman seeks refuge, and finds nothing but rococo bizarrerie. A woman buys a house on a path where, in some world, new pall-bearers take up the coffin. Aickman’s characters are very distinctive, and their slightly neurotic personalities add to the strong sense of inexorability that is reminiscent of some of Patricia Highsmith’s novels. Everything appears ordinary at the start, and some small kink in a plain suburban path brings it to a tipping-point, when it turns into the path through the forest, without the reader being able to pinpoint how exactly it happened.

‘Meeting Mr. Millar’ has a faint sense that the mystery has been resolved, but it has been resolved off the page. It is conceivable that the cuckolded husband of the story has a grasp on what is happening (he is one of the few sturdy, practical, likeable characters in the collection) but it is evidently none of the reader’s concern. ‘The Swords’ is possibly the eeriest, but ‘The Hospice’ is a strong contender for the strangest story in this collection. There is an immediate sense of nightmare when the food is described, and the reader visualises a steaming slab of turkey, accompanied by a sauceboat full of ‘specially compounded fluid, dark red and turgid.’ There is clearly no escape when the protagonist notices that one guest is fettered by the ankle. Aickman’s horror is built up with subtlety. The monstrous meat is ‘seeping slightly with a colourless, oily fluid’ which is somehow far worse than mere liquid. In 'The Real Road to the Church', the woman on the route to the church hears a ‘faint, fluttering knock, not necessarily on the outer door.’

Two of my favourite podcasts have aired episodes on Cold Hand in MineWeird Studies focusing on ‘The Hospice’, Backlisted on the collection as a whole. In the latter, Andy Miller (I think) had embarked on an effort to synopsise a ‘typical’ Aickman story, and the editor Simon Spanton had suggested “Something happens, which may or may not.” Miller also said “He likes to take you somewhere, and leave you there, without saying there’s the path back.” There is no path back with Aickman. You have been through the story, and nothing ever returns to normal.
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Bibliotheque_Refuses | 10 other reviews | Sep 24, 2023 |
This was a charming stroll, but where did it go? Was I just meant to enjoy the scenery?
grahzny | 1 other review | Jul 17, 2023 |
This book though technically a quick read felt like a real slog. The problems I have with this author's work are really prominent in the stories contained within. Aickman's stories are crowded with aimless conversations, the minutia of mundane actions, and overlong blocked descriptions of simple setups and character building. Occasionally, there is a strange scene or creepy detail but these seem to be simply crown jewels embedded in random filigree.
As the stories went for me, I did not really like or enjoy reading any of them to any great extent nor was there much to utterly despise beyond the previously mentioned. The stories where I found at least something to grasp onto were The Swords, The Hospice, and The Same Dog. Among these, there was basically a single scene in each tale that caught my attention and kept me reading in hopes of something significant happening. Only in The Swords was there a follow-up weird incident but the was as all of the other tales, a non-ending. Honorable mentions to Pages from a Young Girl's Journal as a vampire tale from the point of view of a fledgling vampire other than that it's the same as the others.
When reading this book I found myself more than once speed-reading through the stories or even catching myself mindlessly scanning the text and having to double back to gain any comprehension. There was not much atmosphere to these tales and they all felt way longer than they needed to be. That combined with non-endings just let me down. I did not like this book that much but still found some images and tidbits to cling to. However, I cannot recommend this book if you are not already a dedicated fan of Robert Aickman's writing style.
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Ranjr | 10 other reviews | Jul 13, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Elena Furlan Translator
Paolo Busnelli Translator
francesco lato Translator
Michele Porzio Translator
D. H. Lawrence Contributor
L. P. Hartley Contributor
Walter de la Mare Contributor
Mrs. Gaskell Contributor
Algernon Blackwood Contributor
Richard Middleton Contributor
Marjorie Bowen Contributor
Robert S. Hichens Contributor
Edith Nesbit Contributor
John Metcalfe Contributor
Lord Dunsany Contributor
Arthur Conan Doyle Contributor
Edgar Allan Poe Contributor
Perceval Landon Contributor
Edith Wharton Contributor
Elizabeth Bowen Contributor
Max Beerbohm Contributor
Ambrose Bierce Contributor
Saki Contributor
Oscar Wilde Contributor
Desmond MacCarthy Contributor
Eric Ambrose Contributor
Hugh Walpole Contributor
M. R. James Contributor
Barry Pain Contributor
Alexander Pushkin Contributor
Ann Bridge Contributor
Vincent O'Sullivan Contributor
Lady Eleanor Smith Contributor
Oliver Onions Contributor
James Rice Contributor
Hugh MacDiarmid Contributor
William Gerhardi Contributor
A. J. Alan Contributor
E. F. Benson Contributor
Walter Besant Contributor
Russell Kirk Contributor
May Sinclair Contributor
J. B. Priestley Contributor
H. G. Wells Contributor
Théophile Gautier Contributor
George Moore Contributor
Vernon Lee Contributor
Henry S. Whitehead Contributor
Joyce Marsh Contributor
Gertrude Bacon Contributor
Lord Lytton Contributor
Agatha Christie Contributor
Ivan Turgenev Contributor
H. R. Wakefield Contributor
Alfred Noyes Contributor
A. Erskine Ellis Contributor
Mrs. Oliphant Contributor
Maurice Baring Contributor
Elizabeth Walter Contributor
Arthur Machen Contributor
W. W. Jacobs Contributor
Richard Blum Contributor
John Betjeman Contributor
Jerome K. Jerome Contributor
Mrs. Riddell Contributor
A. E. Coppard Contributor
Ralph Adams Cram Contributor
John Keir Cross Contributor
Vladimir Nabokov Contributor
W. C. Morrow Contributor
Davis Grubb Contributor
Washington Irving Contributor
Gerald Bullett Contributor
Matt Godfrey Narrator
Richard T. Kelly Introduction
Edward Gorey Jacket Illustration
Peter Straub Introduction
Linda Burr Cover artist
Christopher Brown Cover artist
Ramsey Campbell Afterword
Edward Gorey Cover artist
Heather Smith Afterword
Graham Smith Afterword
Jill Karla Schwarz Cover artist
Klaus D. Schiemann Illustrator
R. B. Russell Introduction
Usch Kiausch Translator
Glen Cavaliero Introduction


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