Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy
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"Gaslamp Fantasy," or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Brontës, and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period.
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents such as Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!) with magic.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
iron. This, striking the air-vehicle full on, in one blazing instant congealed it to a twisted, molten mass, pieces of which, including whole horse-heads of metal, scythed wheels still burning and spinning, and the cindered eyes and features of the three large dolls, flung every way at once, and came down next onto the park, the trees, the Orangery, and the upraised, terror-smeared faces of the citizens. Not only Boadicea’s chariot perished in those moments. The Orangery was engulfed in fire.
topics at odds with the dominant culture. For Victorian women, it was the totality of their lives at odds with the culture they lived in, hemmed in by nineteenth-century ideals of femininity, duty, and motherhood. Over and over again beneath the surface of magical stories by Victorian women one finds rebellion and anger. This is addressed by folklorists Nina Auerbach and U. C. Knoepflmacher in their insightful book Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers: The
glances, as if not one of them had named God so. Grace had been with us less than a year. Her husband hadn’t been to see her before today, but her mother had, a stiff-faced horse of a woman who’d baked us dry ginger biscuits. “Left over from some fancy party” was Red Sheila’s guess, because they were soft and stale and tasted a bit like liquorice. Grace’s husband was handsome. We all liked looking at him and the men didn’t notice, so we kept on looking. He was terribly unkind to Grace, though,
resided in the flophouse beside the plant where I deigned to lay my head upon a soiled mat. This fury aged me. My soul languished and my only restless contentment was the whir of the turbines and the prickle of current through my skin. I prayed harder at the altar of invention. Of all my saints, Edison, in particular, engaged me. As if I were a fisherman, he called me to abandon my nets and come follow him.… I’ve read every word my prophet has written, followed his every move, patent, and
Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. Jack the Ripper is an element in the story, and in a journalist’s account of the murders, he woefully concluded that if there had just been “more light” (gas lamps ended at Commercial Street and Whitechapel Road, keeping the area of Whitechapel well and truly in the dark), Jack’s reign of terror wouldn’t have happened. More light. While mere visibility alone was hardly an answer to the endemic problems of that neighbourhood, the comment got me