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. The listener 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.
Cold Hand in Mine was first published in the UK in 1975 and in the US 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.
This collection includes:
- "The Swords"
- "The Real Road to the Church"
- "Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal"
- "The Hospice"
- "The Same Dog"
- "Meeting Mr Millar"
- "The Clock Watcher"
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 11 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)