This exemplary collection includes stories by Garth Nix, Peter Beagle and Margo Lanagan, authors that teens will recognize. Check out this “Browse Inside” from HarperCollins for a full list of contents and a few full stories.
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Adult/High School–As Dann and Gevers explain in their brief but excellent introduction, the Victorian age holds a unique place in the imagination as a period when the supernatural and technology (the ghosts and gaslight of their title) were held in almost equal esteem, and the permeable boundary between the two powers the 17 extraordinary stories in this compilation. From James Morrow’s opening tale “The Iron Shroud,” through exquisite stories by John Langan and Richard Harland, the collection again and again questions how much control humans have over the machines they create and how much they truly know about the world. And lurking just beneath this primary theme is the classic Victorian ambivalence towards sexuality, expertly drawn out in Theodora Goss’s “Christopher Raven” and Lucius Shepard’s “Rose Street Attractors,” in which blind faith in science and ghosts lead the characters to shocking revelations about their desires. Though the stories just named are excellent examples of the themes in the collection, each story deserves equal attention, as Dann and Gevers have accomplished the very rare feat of compiling an anthology of almost uniformly high-quality selections. Not every story fits neatly into the subtitle’s promised steampunk, but more than enough do, and hopefully teen lovers of that currently fashionable genre will be drawn into this magnificent book.–Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA