This year’s World Fantasy Convention in November should be especially appealing to fans of the Weird. First of all, the 2014 convention will be celebrating the centennial anniversary of weird fiction author Robert Aickman’s birth in 1914. At the WFC, there will be four panels dedicated to Aickman: Ghost Stories Without Ghosts, Ringing the Changes: Robert Aickman, Gender Issues and Sexuality in Robert Aickman’s Fiction, and The Great Author You Are Not Reading: Robert Aickman. There are some big names heading up these panels too — Peter Straub, S.T. Joshi, Simon Strantzas, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and more. Also, they’ll be showing a 13-minute movie adaptation of “The Cicerones” and a new 45-minute documentary on Robert Aickman put together by Tartarus Press. Tartarus posted a trailer for “Robert Aickman, Author of Strange Stories” earlier this week.
For those new to Aickman, Robert Aickman was an author of he called “strange stories.” He wrote over thirty of them in his lifetime. Aickman had a huge influence on weird fiction. His tales masterfully created a feeling of dread and the atmosphere was often a main focus of each story. His stories were beautifully constructed with prose that could rival other great writers like Vladimir Nabokov. The BBC recently presented a program in June about Robert Aickman which serves as an excellent introduction to Aickman. And R. B. Russell also posted a five part series of videos from a recent conference called “Intrusions: Looking after Aickman,” which is rather informative for fans both new and old.
Aickman’s cenntennial won’t be the only thing for Weird fans to get excited about though. There are four fantastic collections up for the award of best collection at the World Fantasy Convention. Beloved weird author Caitlín R. Kiernan was nominated for The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories — a fantastic collection that validates Kiernan’s role as one of weird fiction’s most talented living writers. Also on the short list is another excellent work by established weird writer Laird Barron called The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories. Perhaps the nomination most influenced by Aickman would be the collection Flowers of the Sea by Reggie Oliver — a beautiful and well-crafted set of tales from an amazing writer. Finally, the incredible debut collection North American Lake Monsters from relative newcomer Nathan Ballingrud is nominated as well. All of the collections up for the award are superb so it should be interesting to see who gets the award. It definitely will be an amazing convention this year.