The idea was not Robert's, of course. It was the brain-child - horrendous expression! - of Valdemar, a moderately absurd individual who made a point of wearing what learning he had lightly. (Is there any other way to wear one's learning, these days?) To be be fair to him Valdemar did at least seek to list Robert's best stories, in so far as lasting value can be assigned to any literary endeavour in a culture founded on self-destructive irony and competing consumerist moralities, each one as threadbare as the last. The result was predictable, and indeed had been predicted. More readers (Yes! Such fantastical entities still exist, it seems, even 'online') had voted for 'The Inner Room' than for any other story of Robert's. It was of course a haunted house tale with much that was conventional about it, yet not entirely devoid of merit for all that. Was Robert pleased? The question is reasonable enough, one might suppose...Thanks, Bob, always nice to hear from you - a song, a smile, and an existential catastrophe couched in vaguely Freudian images. Have some foul coffee essence and a horrible cheap cake.
Yes, 'The Inner Room' won by a narrow margin over 'Ringing the Changes', but most of the best-known Aickman stories did well. 'The Cicerones' was helped by the excellent TV adaptation by Jeremy Dyson starring Mark Gatiss, I think. The same might be said for 'The Same Dog'. 'The Stains' and 'The Hospice' also performed strongly, and I think that's fair enough. 'The Swords' and 'The Trains' might have done better. Overall, though, a very satisfying exercise. Unless you're an Aickman character, in which you can be forgiven a sense of slightly bemused ennui.