Robert Aickman’s The Hospice
We’re back, and we’re in sounder health that the title of this episode may suggest! Although after hearing us sing again (yes, we have a new Patreon backer!) you may disagree. This time we’re looking at another short story, again with a view as to what it can add to our gaming. We’re taking a little break from Lovecraft, however. It’s nothing personal, Howie! You’ll always have a special place in our hearts.
The story we’re discussing is The Hospice, by Robert Aickman. In case you are unfamiliar with him, Aickman was a twentieth-century English writer of what he referred to as “strange stories”. His work is characterised by maddeningly dreamlike events, the meanings of which slip through your brain like greased eels, all communicated through precise prose. It’s debatable whether Aickman’s work should be classified as horror, but it’s generally more unnerving than most stories that are. The Hospice is one of Aickman’s finest tales, and can be found in the recent Faber reissue of his collection, Cold Hand in Mine (also available as an eBook from a variety of sources).
We make mention of a television adaptation of The Hospice from the 1980s, but sadly none of us have been able to track it down. If you want a taste of Aickman, you can always enjoy this 2002 short film, adapted from his story The Cicerones by Jeremy Dyson, writer of The League of Gentlemen and long-time Aickman fan. As good as the adaptation is, it cannot hope to capture the full strangeness of the original story, but is still well worth watching.
The next episode will be our fiftieth, and we have big things planned! Well, we have a special episode topic at least. And fireworks! OK, maybe not fireworks. Paul’s office has too many flammable things in it, including us.