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The Unsettled Dust

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Robert Aickman, the supreme master of the supernatural, brings together eight stories where strange things happen that the reader is unable to predict. His characters are often lonely and middle-aged but all have the same thing in common - they are all brought to the brink of an abyss that shows how terrifyingly fragile our peace of mind actually is.

'The Next Glade', 'Bind
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 21st 2008 by Faber & Faber (first published 1990)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  327 ratings  ·  36 reviews


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Paul Christensen
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-best
The Unsettled Dust (4 stars)
Painfully bleak, dust-enshrouded England.

The Houses of the Russians (5 stars)
Eerie narrative about the buried soul of Russia; an amusing minor character (in the form of an obnoxious leftist called Rort) reinforces the strong anti-Marxist theme of this story.

No Stronger Than a Flower (5 stars)
A blackly humourous satire on the cosmetic industry.

The Cicerones (5 stars)
A short but extremely powerful story about a typical lukewarm modern man exposed to the Inexplicable in
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Blair
After finishing The Wine-Dark Sea, I went straight into The Unsettled Dust without pause, and raced through it so quickly that when I sat down to review it, I was surprised to discover it contains the same number of stories as The Wine-Dark Sea. There's a sort of unevenness about this collection - it contains some of the briefest and the longest stories I've read by Aickman; some of the most conventional and some of the most difficult to define; and throughout the book, the characters seem to be ...more
Szplug
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
As for this excellently entertaining collection—so eerie, imaginative, intense and fluid within such formal and elegant stylistic constraints, and in which Aickman demonstrates to the full the power of less is more, wielding ambiguity and undeclared and/or unresolved events to stir the readers mind to a roil that the author does not explicitly assist in settling; which are possessed of the dexterous ability of provoking strangeness, evoking wonder, and stoking sensuality from within a narrative ...more
Simon
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, horror
I know; it's getting boring isn't it. Another Aickman collection again rated five stars. Well, what can I say? He is simply brilliant. Or perhaps it's just that he offers exactly what I'm looking for it a book; Well written prose that both delights an disturbs in equal measure. Stories that stick with you for days afterwards as you turn them over in your mind, wrestling with their meaning and intent.

Thematically varied as usual, this is another quality collection showing that range of Aickman's
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having read a few of Aickman's more anthologised stories - particularly 'Stains', as perfect a weird tale as there ever was - and been impressed by them, I think I at first expected too much from this collection. As you can see, I came around to thinking very highly of it anyway, but with some reservations.

Let's get those reservations out of the way. First of all, Aickman mainly deals with characters who are past their first youth, isolated and somewhat depressed. That's all very well as far as
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Randolph
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The thing I'm finding about Aickman's later and posthumous collections is they only contain reprints of stories I've already read. This is no detraction to the quality of the content, always excellent, but caveat lector. I have already read all but one of these stories here.

I'm going to stick with the more expensive, way more expensive, Tartarus reprints since I can buy one of those for what it is costing me to get two of these retreads. Besides they are more beautiful to look at, keep their va
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Andy
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
WOW, short story collections don't get better than this. Aickman rarely tries to truly scare his reader, he wants to unsettle the reader. These are stories I find myself thinking about, days, weeks later. Images and situations presented really get under the skin, and stay in the mind like few others. Sometimes a story will build and build, then just end. Many concepts here feel fresh and original too.

I think my favorite thing though was the sense of atmosphere Aickman pours into these stories, t
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Patrick
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third volume of Aickman’s short stories that I’ve read, and while in personal preference I’m tempted to rank it slightly below the recent reissues of ‘Cold Hand in Mine’ and ‘The Wine-Dark Sea’, it’s still another basically peerless assortment of strange and haunting tales. There’s something about his work which seems somehow calculated to apply very specifically to my own tastes and sensibilities; each story seems enchanted with (to borrow Poe’s title) a sense of mystery and imagina ...more
Colin
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Unsettled Dust contains some of my favourite Aickman stories. The Cicerones has haunted me with its subtle terror ever since I first encountered it in (I think) the Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories and the title story is a masterpiece of creeping unease, conjuring an unsettling atmosphere from simple resources. I came across The Stains and Bind Your Hair more recently, but they certainly made their mark. The rest of the stories here were new to me - they range from the strangely depressi ...more
Bibliophile
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the second collection of Aickman's stories I've read, so this time I knew what to expect: beautiful, eerie tales of the supernatural - or not. With Aickman, you just don't know. Maybe his characters are simply delusional. Or maybe the world really is a dangerous place where at any moment you might get lured into a maze full of bodies while avoiding your in-laws, or meet weird and alluring creatures on the moor, or be cornered by strangers in a Belgian cathedral. I'll certainly be looking ...more
Neale
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
It seems to me that Robert Aickman is the most underrated British writer of the post-war era, in any field of literature, high or low.

Aickman made two mistakes, when it came to literary fame: he was a writer of short stories in an age that is too busy to read short literature; he was a writer of ‘strange’ stories, which have never appealed to highbrow critics. His work was too 'literary' for the ‘weird’ crowd; too ‘weird’ for the 'literary' crowd. And yet this split nature is what makes his stor
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Cameron Trost
Having read and quite liked "The Trains" and "Ringing the Changes", I was hoping to find a handful of great Aickman stories. This collection, although rich in atmosphere and architectural detail, was a little disappointing. The tales lack narrative and direction, thus coming across as dream sequences rather than works of fiction. This may have been Aickman's point, but it gave me the impression that they had been poorly planned or left unfinished.
fonz
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Curiosamente la mayoría de los relatos que aparecen en esta antología fueron publicados por Atalanta en el volumen "Las casas de los rusos" (y en el mismo orden). Sin embargo, por alguna razón, en la edición de Atalanta se eliminaron "The Cicerones", "The Next Glade" y "Bind Your Hair" para incluir "Growing Boys" ("En edad de crecimiento") que en mi humilde opinión no es precisamente lo mejor de Aickman.

El resultado es que esta edición de Faber resulta mucho más consistente que la antología de
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Stephen Curran
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The forth of the available Robert Aickman collections that I have read and I’m sad that it’s the last. Unusually for a book of short stories, it gets better as it goes along. The first two are great but they make use of a more conventional form than the author’s fans might be used to. It’s when things get weirder that the writing begins to soar, starting with ‘No Stronger than a Flower’, where a newlywed visits a beauty consultant and an unstoppable transformation begins. Aickman’s best stories ...more
Jed Mayer
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Contains much of this master of the short story's best work, from the folk horror of "Bind Your Hair" to the fungal gothic romance of "The Stains." Only the title story and "Houses of the Russians" fall short of Aickman's highest marks, and even those tales have their merits. There is no one like Aickman, and Faber are to be commended for bringing these back into print.
Jason Gilbert
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is another great collection of Aickman's stories. However, it seems odd that "The Unsettled Dust" was chosen as the title story, as it is a somewhat mundane, traditional ghost story, and not representative of Aickman's oeuvre. Not a bad story in its own right, but it feels like an avant-garde musician playing standards. The rest of the collection improves from that slow start, "The Next Glade", "Ravissante", and "Bind Your Hair" being my personal favorites.

Aickman's stories are occult in t
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Kevin Lucia
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the subtle creeps, the cloying atmosphere, as you read this stories...and slide just off the page into some other reality that is mostly like ours, but not completely...but the stories are grounded in a tangible realism, so you don't even know you've taken that turn into the weird until it happens. Young "horror" writers and spec fic writers would do well to check Aickman out.
Ruth
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like a series of bad dreams: strange, unpredictable, flashes of violence, undercurrents of eroticism; rarely, if ever, making complete sense, except possibly on some subliminal level. Rich, leisurely prose, atmosphere that crawls under your skin and stays there.

Like that lichen. Ugh, the lichen...
Pierre Mare
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is brilliant.
Ian Casey
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intense reality, as new as it was old, was burning down on him like clear sunlight or heavenly fire or poetry.

In writing of Robert Aickman's collections, I struggle to find a way of adequately expressing the potentially conflicting ideas that a given book is more of the same from him, and yet that 'same' continues to be extraordinary. Thus I can scarcely review The Unsettled Dust in any meaningful way without regurgitating thoughts on his other works.

These eight stories could therefore be des
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Richard
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aickman is incredible. This might be my favourite of the Faber collections. The Stains, The Next Glade, and The Houses of The Russians are all stellar works of strange fiction. Every sentence feels perfect and pregnant with meaning and mystery. Having read all of the Faber editions, I'm seriously considering collecting the Tartarus hardbacks, containing as they do some of his lesser known pieces.
asif khan
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Charming collection of not-quite ghost stories, which follows the formula of someone meeting a ghost person or even a ghost building then realising it's a ghost then coming to terms with it very quickly.
Jay
Aickman is well known for his elusive stories that manage to leave an impression even when the events occur in a haze always leaving certain elements unexplained. The best part of this writing is Aickman's ability to capture characters psychological states despite the ambiguity, however there are numerous problems with Aickman's uneven collections which prevent me from rating them higher.
Aickman's use of supernaturalism (especially ghosts) is cliché and dull, only made intriguing by the ambiguit
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Michelle
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Where do I start with this review.  When I was first approached to review The Unsettled Dust I had to do a bit of research as I had not heard of the author or the book before.  The more I read about The Unsettled Dust the more it sounded interesting so I quickly replied accepting.  As soon as The Unsettled Dust was downloaded and on my iPod I began listening.

I love audiobooks and so far I have not found one that I didn't enjoy, The Unsettled Dust was a different matter.  The synopsis sounds grea
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Adam
Aickman is one of my top 5 favorite fiction writers--maybe top 3--and I have been waiting literally decades to see him in print again. In his nearly 50 published stories, his main project was to defy modernity's attempts to map out every corner of the world and human knowledge, to defy its efforts to banish all mystery and all frontiers in favor of The Grid and “settled fact.” Step foot into an Aickman story and you will soon find yourself deliriously lost, swallowed up by something akin to the ...more
David
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked the stories in this book a lot, and would have given it five stars if there had not been so many mistakes. Names change; full stops appear in the middle of sentences ... Sometimes the sentences do not make any sense. The stories are re-issues and it seems they *may* have been created from scanned typescripts with OCR software to convert the text. If so the text hasn't been proof-read afterwards or, at least, has been proof-read badly. The stories succeed on their ambiguity so mistakes ca ...more
Fubzi
Sep 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not really my thing. I didn't like the style of writing as it didn't really flow and the unresolved weirdness of the stories annoyed me. Knowing nothing would be resolved meant it was difficult for the book to keep my interest and the weirdness prevented me from identifying with the characters. I'm sure lots of people would like it, just not me.
Twig
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first short story collection by Aickman and I`m absolutely impressed!
I hoped for stories like this and wasn`t disappointed. Most of them were a bit nightmarish and I couldn`t read the complete book in in one siting because of it.
Loved it and I want more!!
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Stephen Simpson
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
A very uneven collection, with some excellent stories and several dull, dreary, and ultimately pointless stories that are more "meh" than weird. As I wouldn't read it again or recommend it, I'm going with 2 stars, but there are a couple of 4/4+ stories in the book.
Beetlebox
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A superb collection. All the stories are excellent, but "Ravissante" stood out for me as the most unsettling...in a good way. I can't believe it has taken me so long to discover Robert Aickman.
For lovers of the weird tale I thoroughly recommend his work.
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Robert Aickman Re...: The Unsettled Dust (1990) 2 17 Nov 29, 2011 04:17AM  
  • Demons By Daylight
  • The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales
  • Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales
  • Selected Stories
  • Tales of Horror & the Supernatural
  • Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman
  • Beneath the Surface (Revised & Expanded)
  • Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed
  • The End of the Line
  • Glimpses: The Best Short Stories of Rick Hautala
  • Tales Of The Uncanny And Supernatural
  • The Dead of Night
  • Songs of a Dead Dreamer
  • Occultation and Other Stories
  • Hauntings: Tales of the Supernatural
  • Sourdough and Other Stories
  • The Grimscribe's Puppets
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Author of: close to 50 "strange stories" in the weird-tale and ghost-story traditions, two novels (The Late Breakfasters and The Model), two volumes of memoir (The Attempted Rescue and The River Runs Uphill), and two books on the canals of England (Know Your Waterways and The Story of Our Inland Waterways).

Co-founder and longtime president of the Inland Waterways Association, an organization that
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“It is strange that people train themselves so carefully to go to waste so prematurely” 8 likes
“My dilemma is that of the civil servant. If a civil servant takes an initiative and things go right with it, he cannot, in the nature of his employment, look for much in the way of reward; whereas if his initiative goes wrong, he can expect all kinds of trouble, everything from reprimand to blocked promotion, and a permanent black mark against his name in the files. It is accepted, therefore, that the way to advance in the civil service, or in any field where civil service conditions prevail, is never take an initiative and never to support anyone else's. It is inevitable that this should be so.” 2 likes
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