Karen's Reviews > Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense

Ghosts by Gaslight by Jack Dann
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's review
Dec 15, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, specfic

The "steampunk" in the title is a little misleading, which is fine by me--I'm not super-interested in clockwork and steam engines for their own sake. Many of the stories aren't really even about ghosts, or at least they don't seem particularly "ghosty" to me. There are Satanic enclaves, mad inventors and their hideous machines, mummies, and time travel, all loosely bound together with phantasmagoric ties. The real throughline of the collection is the nineteenth century, that spooky, obsessive period of colonial expansion and industralization. The stories are all well-written, though some fall short of truly chilling effects. Standouts for me were Laird Barron's "Blackwood's Baby," and Peter Beagle's "Music, When Soft Voices Die." Garth Nix's "The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodils Murder" is a light, funny takeoff on Conan Doyle, and a break from the generally grim proceedings. A solid collection, with good representation from Australia and the UK--though of 17 stories, 14 are by men. (We do notice these things, folks.)
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Rosemary I had also noticed that only 3 stories were by women.

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