Weird & Wonderful Book Club: Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman
Our monthly celebration of the weird - be it science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange.
This month's book club pick is Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman.
Cold Hand in Mine was first published in the U.K. in 1975 and in the U.S. in 1977. The story 'Pages from a Young Girl's Journal' won the Aickman World Fantasy Award in 1975. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1973 before appearing in this collection.
Cold Hand in Mine stands as one of Aickman's best collections and contains eight stories that show off his powers as a 'strange story' writer to the full, being more ambiguous than standard ghost stories. Throughout the stories the reader is introduced to a variety of characters, from a man who spends the night in a Hospice to a German aristocrat and a woman who sees an image of her own soul. There is also a nod to the conventional vampire story ('Pages from a Young Girl's Journal') but all the stories remain unconventional and inconclusive, which perhaps makes them all the more startling and intriguing.
Robert Fordyce Aickman was born in 1914 in London. He was married to Edith Ray Gregorson from 1941 to 1957. In 1946 the couple, along with Tom and Angela Rolt, set up the Inland Waterways Association to preserve the canals of Britain. In 1951 Aickman, along with Elizabeth Jane Howard, published his first ghost stories entitled "We Are the Dark." Aickman went on to publish eleven more volumes of horror stories as well as two fantasy novels and two volumes of autobiography. He also edited the first eight volumes of "The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories." He died in February 1981.
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.