Book Reviews

The Unsettled Dust – Robert Aickman – Audiobook Review

the unsettled dust robert aickman

Robert Aickman was best known for being a conservationist and co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association. He wrote what he described as “strange stories”, 48 short stories that were published in 8 volumes between the 1960’s and the 2000’s. His published novels were “ The Late Breakfasters” published in 1964 and “The Model: A Novel of the Fantastic” published posthumously in 1987. Edward Gorey illisutrated the dust covers to two of his collected short stories and Aickman had hoped Gorey would illustrate the cover of his last novel.

Aickman received the World Fantasy Award for short fiction for his story “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal” in 1975. This story had originally appeared in February 1973 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and it was reprinted in the collection “Cold Hand in Mine”. In 1981, the year of his death, Aickman was awarded the British Fantasy Award for his story “The Stains”, which had first appeared in the anthology New Terrors and subsequently appeared posthumously in “Night Voices”in the 1980’s. Aickman also wrote two memoirs, two books on conservation and was a theatre critic in his time.
The most famous Aickman enthusiast is member of The League of Gentlemen Jeremy Dyson and this collection is read by his colleague Reece Shearsmith. Dyson has put together a radio documentary on Radio 4 on Aickman and in 2002 he directed a short movie of one of the stories in “The Unsettled Dust” called “The Cicerones” staring fellow alumni Mark Gatiss.

This audiobook contains 8 stories: ‘The Next Glade’, ‘Bind Your Hair’  ‘The Stains’  ‘The Unsettled Dust’, ‘The House of the Russians’, ‘No Stronger Than a Flower’, ‘The Cicerones’ and ‘Ravissante’. This collection was published in 1990. They are indeed strange stories in that they are not quite horror but leave you with a sense of foreboding. A fan of Poe or Lovecraft would appreciate these well-crafted tales. They are certainly not horror in the mainstream understanding of a horror novel a la King or Koontz, but some of the stories reminded me of Barker and of The Wicker Man.

The Unsettled Dust by Robert Aickman is available here.

Review by LAW

Categories: Book Reviews, Books

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