Aickman's Heirs (edited by Simon Strantzas) was published by Undertow Publications in May 2015.
Information about Simon Strantzas:
Simon Strantzas is the author of the story collections Beneath the Surface (2008), Cold to the Touch (2009), Nightingale Songs (2011), and Burnt Black Suns (2014). His stories have appeared in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, the Black Wings series, and elsewhere. He resides in Toronto, Canada.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Aickman's Heirs:
Edited by Simon Strantzas, "Aickman's Heirs" is an anthology of strange, weird tales by modern visionaries of weird fiction, in the milieu of Robert Aickman, the master of strange and ambiguous stories. Editor and author Strantzas, an important figure in Weird fiction, has been hailed as the heir to Aickman's oeuvre, and is ideally suited to edit this exciting volume. Featuring all-original stories from Brian Evenson, Lisa Tuttle, John Langan, Helen Marshall, Michael Cisco, and others.
A REVIEW OF AICKMAN'S HEIRS (EDITED BY SIMON STRANTZAS)
Aickman's Heirs (edited by Simon Strantzas) is an impressive and outstanding anthology of strange stories to readers who love the weirder side of speculative fiction and want to be mesmerised by skillful storytelling and quiet horror. On the pages of this anthology, you'll find fascinating strangeness and exquisite storytelling seasoned with beautiful literary prose.
Robert Aickman and his stories are doubtlessly known to many readers of strange fiction, but if there are readers out there who haven't heard of Robert Aickman, I can mention that Robert Aickman is one of the most significant and influential masters of strange fiction. His stories are subtly strange and enthralling, because in them, reality blends and intertwines with strangeness in a captivating way. His stories have cast a long shadow over many weird fiction authors and they still continue to influence new authors.
Robert Aickman has written only 48 stories, but they have established him as one of the undeniable masters of weird fiction. They perfectly encapsulate the essence of quiet horror and literary strange fiction, because they're atmospheric and well written stories.
The stories in this anthology are not imitations or emulations of Robert Aickman's writing style, but magnificent homages to him and his writing skills. Each of the stories offers something unique and thrilling to readers, because they're strange, intriguing and unsettling stories about different themes and issues ranging from difficult relationships to vacation trips gone wrong. What unites them is the authors' love and respect for Aickman's stories.
I'm glad I had an opportunity to read and review Aickman's Heirs, because it's excellent in every sense of the word. In my opinion, this kind of beautifully written and unsettling quiet horror is the best kind of fiction for speculative fiction readers who appreciate refined storytelling and haunting stories.
This anthology contains the following fifteen stories:
- Seaside Town by Brian Evenson
- Neithornor by Richard Gavin
- Least Light, Most Night by John Howard
- Camp by David Nickle
- A Delicate Craft by D. P. Watt
- Seven Minutes in Heaven by Nadia Bulkin
- Infestations by Michael Cisco
- The Dying Season by Lynda E. Rucker
- A Discreet Music by Michael Wehunt
- Underground Economy by John Langan
- The Vault of Heaven by Helen Marshall
- Two Brothers by Malcolm Devlin
- The Lake by Daniel Mills
- A Change of Scene by Nina Allan
- The Book That Finds You by Lisa Tuttle
Simon Strantzas has perfectly succeeded in editing this anthology, because it reflects the impact that Robert Aickman has had on the authors. It's easy to see how much Aickman's stories have affected the authors, because they write subtly strange fiction that resonates with quiet and unsettling power.
I was very impressed by all of these stories and their Aickmanesque qualities. I found no faults in any of them, because all of them were perfect and beautifully told stories.
Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:
Seaside Town by Brian Evenson:
- A well written story about James Hovell and his lady friend, Miss Pickaver, who decide to take a vacation in Europe. They arrive in a French seaside town and soon Miss Pickaver leaves James there alone, because she has other plans. James experiences strange things when he is left alone.
- An excellent and atmospheric story in which the author gradually awakens feelings of dread in the reader as the protagonist experiences strange things.
- This story intriguingly paves the way for the other stories.
Neithornor by Richard Gavin:
- A story about a man who accidentally comes upon the name of his cousin when he's on assignment and visits a tiny art gallery. He looks at the pieces in the gallery and finds out that they're part of a series called Neithornor.
- A fascinating and beautifully written piece of stange and unsettling fiction that will delight readers of strange stories.
- This story is one of the author's best and most impressive stories, because it gives readers a thrilling glimpse into his strange fiction.
Least Light, Most Night by John Howard:
- In this story, Mr. Thomas accepts an invitation from his co-worker, Mr. Bentley, to attend a social gathering.
- An intriguingly strange story that has a good atmosphere.
- When I read this story, I said to myself that I have to read more stories written by this author, because he is a talented author.
Camp by David Nickle:
- A well told story about a newlywed gay couple on a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness.
- The author writes fluently about the protagonists - James and Paul - and their relationship.
- This is one of the best and most gripping stories I've read during the recent months. There was something in this story that slightly reminded me of Richard Gavin's "The Abject".
- I haven't read any of the author's books yet, but I will take a look at them as soon as possible, because I enjoyed this story.
A Delicate Craft by D. P. Watt:
- A well written story about a Polish immigrant worker and his new and slightly unlikely hobby.
- This story is a fine example of the author's writing skills and subtle command of English language.
- The author writes fascinatingly about the protagonist and the elderly woman, Agnes.
Seven Minutes in Heaven by Nadia Bulkin:
- A fascinating and atmospheric story about a small American town with a secret.
- It was intriguing to read about the protagonist and her fascination with the town, Manfield, where an industrial accident had killed all the people.
- I liked the way the author wrote about the protagonist and the happenings, because she had created a good story.
Infestations by Michael Cisco:
- A powerful story about a woman who returns to her home town to clean and pack up the apartment of a deceased family friend.
- The author writes excellently about the woman's struggle with her feelings and memories.
- Because Michael Cisco's stories have been on my reading list for a long time, I'm glad I could read this story, because it gave a glimpse into his writing skills (I definitely have to read more of his stories).
The Dying Season by Lynda E. Rucker:
- A story about Sylvia and John who stay at a leisure park where John used to spend his childhood holidays. During their stay, they meet another couple.
- The author writes intriguingly about Sylvia and John's relationship.
- A well written and memorable story with a haunting atmosphere.
A Discreet Music by Michael Wehunt:
- A well written and mesmerising story about an aging man, Hiram, who has to confront widowhood. He visits his old lover, Jim, and tries to sort out his feelings.
- This excellent and impressive story about a metamorphosis will linger on your mind for a long time after you finish reading it.
- I haven't read many stories by Michael Wehunt yet, but I intend to take a more thorough look at his works, because I was impressed by this story.
Underground Economy by John Langan:
- A fascinatingly strange story about two strippers and a strip club.
- A refreshingly modern and a bit different kind of a story that has a faint touch of David Lynch. To be honest, I never would've expected to find this kind of a story in an Aickmanesque anthology.
- This story is a good example of John Langan's imagination and potent writing skills.
The Vault of Heaven by Helen Marshall:
- This is a fascinating story about a British archaeologist who works in Greece.
- This story has a distinct and wonderful feel of atmosphere and style. The protagonist's relationship with Pelagia is described well.
- An excellent and beautifully written story that highlights the author's ability to write mesmerising strange fiction.
Two Brothers by Malcolm Devlin:
- An excellently written story about two brothers who have different lives. William, who has stayed at home, awaits Stephen's return from a boarding school. Stephen is a year older than William.
- I enjoyed this story very much, because it's a fascinatingly unsettling and memorable story without any kind of sentimentality.
- I'll have to keep an eye out for Malcolm Devlin, because this story is amazing.
The Lake by Daniel Mills:
- A story about three boys - Samuel, Jason and Nick - who live in a small town and spend time together, but gradually drift apart.
- This is a beautifully written and subtly unsettling growing up story with a brilliantly disturbing atmosphere. The author tells what happens to the boys and how past events shape their lives in a subtle yet powerful way.
- I was very impressed by this story, because the author excels at writing memorable and powerful Aickmanesque fiction.
A Change of Scene by Nina Allan:
- An unsettling story about a woman, Iris, who joins an old friend of hers, Phrynne, on a vacation that goes wrong.
- An original and beautifully written story that will linger on your mind. This story has plenty of quiet power that will captivate many readers.
- The author writes excellently about the two women and their friendship. I was impressed by her way of writing about their lives.
- This is one of the finest and strongest Aickmanesque stories I've read in a while. Nina Allan creates a perfect atmosphere and delivers a story that is filled with quiet horror and subtle nuances.
The Book That Finds You by Lisa Tuttle:
- An intriguing story about a woman and her obsession with a weird fiction author.
- An excellent and atmospheric tale in which the author masterfully weaves many different elements and delivers an enthralling reading experience to her readers.
- I've read several this kind of stories, but this story is definitely in a league of its own when compared to other stories, because it's an effective story with perfect prose.
The characterisation in these stories is excellent, because all of the characters are interesting and realistic. It's great that each of the authors has invested time in making their characters intriguing and are capable of writing about them in a compelling way.
I was impressed by the authors' skillful way of writing about their protagonists' feelings and relationships with different people. There was something wonderfully touching, unsettling and haunting about their feelings and relationships that intrigued me.
These stories feature gripping and multilayered storytelling which will attract and impress many readers. Some of the stories have quite a lot of depth and you'll get more out of them during a second reading, because you've had an opportunity to think about their contents.
I was charmed by how easily and fluently the authors delivered moments of dread, unease, grief and regret. All of the stories were captivating and memorable, because the authors had written excellent and nuanced stories in which the atmosphere gradually developed and deepened to an intense level of enthrallment.
The cover image by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich looks stunningly beautiful. It exudes a wonderful sense of strangeness and mystery.
Aickman's Heirs is a unique anthology of fifteen stories that pay homage to Robert Aickman's strange, subtle and unsettling stories. It contains beautifully written Aickmanesque stories with an emphasis on unsettling strangeness, creepy atmosphere and quiet horror. If you're looking for something that will captivate and thrill you, Aickman's Heirs will be of interest to you. It's one of the best and most impressive anthologies of the recent years, so please treat yourself to a captivating and haunting reading experience.