Edited and with an introduction by Victoria Nelson.
Robert Aickman’s self-described “strange stories” are confoundingly and uniquely his own. These superbly written tales terrify not with standard thrills and gore but through a radical overturning of the laws of nature and everyday life. His territory of the strange, of the “void behind the face of order,” is a surreal region that grotesquely mimics the quotidian: Is that river the Thames, or is it even a river? What does it mean when a prospective lover removes one dress, and then another—and then another? Does a herd of cows in a peaceful churchyard contain the souls of jilted women preparing to trample a cruel lover to death? Published for the first time under one cover, the stories in this collection offer an unequaled introduction to a profoundly original modern master of the uncanny. (Amazon)
“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.”
“Aickman was a master of the ‘strange story’ whose nearly unclassifiable output relies neither on ghosts nor creaking castles. Each story in this collection is a small masterpiece of unease and psychological perplexity….Aickman’s stories present dreamlike, inexplicable realities in prose both strangely sensual and entirely disarming, making this collection a treasure for fans of Poe, Kafka, and Lovecraft.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Among this year’s most rewarding rediscoveries, for those who treasure the supernatural, there’s Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman, a lifetime’s sinister and uncanny short stories, all ending darkly.
—David Sexton, Evening Standard
A collection of dark, eerie tales from a master of weird fiction. English author Aickman is regarded as a forefather of horror, and this reissue of his fiction by NYRB Classics shows that his reputation is justified….With these 15 stories, four of which are previously unpublished, Aickman creates a disquieting universe in which everything is just off, a wall covered in pictures hung at imperceptibly crooked angles. His command of tone and tension far outstrips that of H.P. Lovecraft and presents a serious challenge to Henry James…As unnerving as it is sinuous; an absolute delight.
—Kirkus, starred review