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Powers of Darkness - Robert Aickman, Mark Valentine This collection contained two stories I have read before, only one of which I re-read on this occasion, and four others that were new to me.

In "Your Tiny Hand is Frozen" Aickman reveals his distaste for telephones and the social sickness they can lead to as people become addicted to their use and the rest of their life suffers. Perhaps the telephone network is nothing but a metaphorical sea of detached, disembodied and lonely people trying to make contact with others. The author follows this chain of thought to it's terrifying extreme.

In "My Poor Friend" we get a story that possibly parallels Aickman's own experiences in lobbying government on behalf of the Inland Waterways Association. The endless committees, discussions and procrastinating is palpably felt.

"Larger than Oneself" is about a successful businessman who, in the interests of finding a common ground between the many different religions, invites a selection of important theological thinkers and religious leaders to his house for a gathering. While he hopes to unify their sense of purpose he begins to despair, ironically missing the event in which the rest get unified in a new and terrifying way.

"The Wine-Dark Sea" is one of Aickman's less esoteric stories, perhaps making a good entry point for those new to the author's work although it appears at the end of this collection.

All of the stories were suitably strange, with layers of meaning buried beneath the surface and delivered in Aickman's usual quality prose style. But I'm going to be hard line and mark this collection down a star simply to indicate that I didn't think this collection was quite as strong overall as the others I have read. Still very good though.