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Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy (2013) Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

queen-victorias-book-of-spellsQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells by Delia Sherman
The Fairy Enterprise by Jeffrey Ford
From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvellous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire) by Genevieve Valentine
The Memory Book by Maureen McHugh
La Reine d’Enfer by Kathe Koja
For the Briar Rose by Elizabeth Wein
The Governess by Elizabeth Bear
Smithfield by James P. Blaylock
The Unwanted Women of Surrey by Kaaron Warren
Charged by Leanna Renee Hieber
Mr. Splitfoot by Dale Bailey
Phosphorus by Veronica Schanoes
We Without Us Were Shadows by Catherynne M. Valente
The Vital Importance of the Superficial by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer
The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown by Jane Yolen
A Few Twigs He Left Behind by Gregory Maguire
Their Monstrous Minds by Tanith Lee
Estella Saves the Village by Theodora Goss

I love anthologies and I love historical fiction. So this should have been an automatic win for me.

Instead it was a two-plus year slow that I finally forced myself to finish.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells by Delia Sherman is the story of an historical researcher looking for new material on the beloved queen, when she discovers hidden material under Victoria’s childhood sleep book.

From the moment her father, the Duke of Kent, died, when Victoria was eight months old, to the moment she became queen of England at eighteen, her mother and Sir John Conroy, her mother’s treasurer and secretary, oversaw every aspect of her life. They developed something they called the Kensington System, after the palace King George IV had given them to live in, designed to keep the young princess safe from infection, accident, and making her own decisions.

The Fairy Enterprise by Jeffrey Ford. A man wants to make fairies. From corpses.

From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvellous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire) by Genevieve Valentine. The catalog of the Great Exhibit of London.

Though robbed of much of her power outside the lands of her people, Salome is still presented veiled and shackled, and behind a guarded partition past which ladies and children shall expressly not be admitted, to preserve their moral character.

Interspersed with letters from Walter to his brother and from a Miss Hammond, which perhaps shows why there was a fire.

For the Briar Rose by Elizabeth Wein. I believe I was stuck on this story for several months, reading a few sentences and then switching to something else.

The Governess by Elizabeth Bear. This is an interesting twist on a fairy tale with which I am familiar.

The B____ children are named Charity, Constance, and Simon. Girls are expected to embody virtues, but boys may be themselves.

Smithfield by James P. Blaylock.

The desire to kill time is a criminal offence since we have little enough of it on this earth, but I very much wished to murder twelve hours of it in order to be about my business.

The Unwanted Women of Surrey by Kaaron Warren.

You know that some believe that a miasma causes cholera. I believe it is the water, and that there is one source which can be guaranteed to be full of infection. It’s the Broad Street water pump. Dr John Snow has spoken of it, but he is slow to action.”

HA!

Charged by Leanna Renee Hieber.

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 innovation. I studied his contemporaries. I puzzled over Tesla’s alternating current versus Edison’s direct. The former individual is a madman. But my prophet is a cool and capable businessman. I’m a man of particular taste, and I like the word direct. It feels right. When one is talking about a conduit of energy, the matter should flow directly from source to target. To alternate is to be inconstant. I am a director.

Mr. Splitfoot by Dale Bailey. A reconstruction of the Fox sisters, notorious mediums.

Phosphorus by Veronica Schanoes.

The pathways the Bryant and May matchwomen take home from the factory every night are marked by piles of phosphorescent vomit.

Theosophists believed that sickness, suffering, deformity, and poverty were punishments for sins committed in a past life. This belief can be dressed as God’s will, or as social Darwinism, but it comes to the same thing. It is a reassuring thought to those whose lives are not thoroughly saturated with such suffering.

It’s easy to forget how the people who indulged in afternoon tea rituals, admired clockwork-powered inventions, and wore shapely and beautiful corsets and bustles profited from the death and suffering of others every time they lit a candle. It’s easy to forget how many of them resolutely believed in social Darwinism and in the essential inferiority of all nonwhite people (among whom they counted the Irish), among other vile things.

The Vital Importance of the Superficial by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer.

Without exactly saying so directly, I assured him I would do no such thing. Miss Prism’s Academy trained us well for some situations, and saying no without ever using the word was a large part of our curriculum.

The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown by Jane Yolen.

“She wanted to be God,” the queen mused.

“Why would anyone want to be God? It’s a terrible occupation.”

Estella Saves the Village by Theodora Goss. Imagine the characters from your favorite Vistorian novels all gathered together in one town.

Published by Tor

Categories: Alternate History, Anthology, British, Fantasy     Comments (0)    



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