(urth) Robert Aickman, The Model

jbarach at aol.com jbarach at aol.com
Thu Oct 11 16:07:12 PDT 2012

URTHlings --

Recently I read Robert Aickman's The Model, a book which is blurbed by (among others) Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, and Gene Wolfe.  Wolfe says about it:

"The late Robert Aickman was up to something, and quite consciously.  He did not title his little book The Model for nothing.  What he has done (and knew he had done) is discover a new wonderland.  I would bet that the number of peple who have done that is less than one tenth the number who have discovered actual islands, inhabited or treasure; we must now add Aickman to that short list.  He has told us what I think none of us had realized before -- that czarist Russia can be just as viable a wonderland as, say, Baghdad under the Caliph.  And he has not merely told us; he has proved it by leaving us a model."

Some aspects of the book reminded me strongly of Wolfe (e.g., Aickman often implies things, rather than saying them outright, and you have to be paying attention as you read to catch what's really going on or being said), and I wondered about the possible influence of Aickman on Wolfe.  Certainly Wolfe himself has written at least one story set in something like the wonderland he says Aickman discovered ("The Death of Koschei the Deathless: A Story of Old Russia"), and certain elements in "Queen of the Night" (the carriage journey, for instance) remind me a bit of what happens in The Model (though The Model is much less creepy and graphic).

Has anyone else read The Model?  Thoughts?

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