First published in the US in 1988 and in the UK in 1990, The Wine-Dark Sea contains eight unsettling stories that explore protagonists' fears and desires, at once illogical and terrifying, and culminate in a disturbing and enigmatic ending. Aickman's 'strange stories' (his preferred term for them) are a subtle exploration of psychological displacement and paranoia; his characters ordinary people that are gradually drawn into the darker recesses of their own minds. For fans of the horror genre, Robert Aickman is a must read.
The Wine-Dark Sea
Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen
The Inner Room
Never Visit Venice
Into the Wood
Robert Fordyce Aickman was born in 1914 in London. In 1951, he published his first ghost stories in a volume called We Are the Dark, written in conjunction with Elizabeth Jane Howard, then went on to publish eleven further volumes of horror stories, two fantasy novels and two volumes of autobiography. Dubbed ‘the supreme master of the supernatural’, he won a World Fantasy Award and British Fantasy Award for his short fiction, and also edited the first eight volumes of The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. Aside from his writing, Aickman was passionate about preserving British canals and founded the Inland Waterways Association in 1946. He died in February 1981.
Reece Shearsmith is a talented actor and writer. He is most famous for co-writing and starring in the award-winning The League of Gentlemen, along with Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson. In 2009, Shearsmith and Pemberton won Best New Comedy at the 2009 British Comedy Awards for Psychoville.
Reece Shearsmith has just finished filming Ben Wheatley’s horror A Field in England, out in July 2013.
"I think that Aickman is one of those authors that you respond to on a very primal level. Reading Robert Aickman is like watching a magician work, and very often I'm not even sure what the trick was. All I know is that he did it beautifully. Yes, the key vanished, but I don't know if he was holding a key in the hand to begin with. I find myself admiring everything he does from an auctorial standpoint. And I love it as a reader. He will bring on atmosphere. He will construct these perfect, dark, doomed little stories, what he called 'strange stories'" (Neil Gaiman)
"We are all potential victims of the powers Aickman so skilfully conjures and commands" (Robert Bloch)
"This century's most profound writer of what we call horror stories" (Peter Straub)
"Superb tales of suspenseful unease...a contemporary master of the genre" (Publishers Weekly)
"Of all the authors of uncanny tales, Aickman is the best ever… His tales literally haunt me; his plots and his turns of phrase run through my head at the most unlikely moments" (Russell Kirk)
"Superb tales of suspenseful unease.... A contemporary master of the genre." (Publishers Weekly)
"This century's most profound writer of what we call horror stories." (Peter Straub)
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Aickman's Psychological Evaluation of Humanity
The brevity with which Aickman captures excess in the human psyche.
I have heard several comparisons of Aickman to Thomas Ligotti, whom I haven't heard quite yet, but who wrote an introduction to Le Locataire, based upon the excellent Polanski film.
This was my first time hearing his narration abilities, but I think it was overall well done. He had a clear and calm manner.
I listened to each story all in one sitting, but at most could only listen to three stories at a time.
This book is worth checking out for anyone interested in more psychologically-based horror. I think Aickman did a very good job at capturing the subtlety of abstract concepts that lurk in the minds of alienated people, such as myself.
- A. Abbott
spooky eery tales