Australian author Dedman (Foreign Bodies) fills his first U.S. story collection with 24 erudite, highly unusual weird tales, many with a strong erotic charge. Several selections pay tribute to favorite authors, most notably Lewis Carroll in the poignant title story, which refreshingly does not depict the author of Alice in Wonderland as a pedophile. Vampires mix strangely with T.S. Eliot's poetry in "Waste Land." Other memorable tales include "'Til Human Voices Wake Us," which Dedman describes in his brief afterword as "the best erotic cross-dressing lesbian cowboy romance ghost story I've ever written"; "Upon the Midnight Clear," a grisly Christmas yarn; and "Salvation," set in an Australian desert town with a porn museum dedicated to the memory of a former resident who succeeded in the larger world but returned home in an urn. At times Dedman can't resist going for the easy gag, but his more serious efforts show he's an imaginative writer who deserves wider recognition. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.