The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities
Editors: Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
Published by Harper Voyager, July 2011
The death of Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead in 2003 at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, revealed an astonishing discovery: the remains of a remarkable cabinet of curiosities.
A carefully selected group of popular artists and acclaimed, bestselling fantasy authors has been assembled to bring Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet of curiosities to life. Including contributions from Alan Moore, Lev Grossman, Mike Mignola, China MiÉville, Cherie Priest, Carrie Vaughn, Greg Broadmore, Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Michael Moorcock , Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Ted Chiang, and many more.
Thackery T. Lambshead. I didn’t read reviews of this, but what I’d seen of it at various bookstores and events, I knew I wanted to read it. The concept of a cabinet of curiosities and the stories behind the items thrilled me, not only because I love a good story, but also because I am intrigued by unique and random items. Ripley’s Believe It or Not stories were some of my favorite childhood reading and I expected something similar. However, I didn’t realize that there isn’t actually a Thackery T. Lambshead or an actual cabinet of curiosities. It’s a collection of stories about a fictional character with a decidedly steampunk focus. I probably would have figured that out had I actually read the back of the book or anything about this other than being drawn in by the cover and the idea. While I was disappointed when I discovered that these were all fictional with not a bit of basis in reality, it did not detract in the least from my enjoyment of these stories.
The book is broken into different sections, each filled with wonderfully written stories that bring these creations and the man behind the collection to life. In addition to the vivid writing, there are some amazing illustrations from gifted artists. After hearing Scott Westerfeld speak on the loss of illustration and their re-immergence in books, I see how much greater this volume is with the addition of illustrations. Some are so detailed, it looks like it’s more of a photograph, a testament to the artists abilities and making the story seem that more real.
While I enjoyed all the stories, one in particular still stands out after reading it. China Mieville’s “Pulvadmonitor: The Dust’s Warning” by and far was my favorite story. I would love to see Mieville turn this into a full length novel or even a shorter novella. I would pick it up and recommend it because as a short story it was amazing.
The Vandermeers did a wonderful job pulling all these together into such an extensive tome that would be a welcome addition to any library. I am looking forward to reading their earlier collection, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases.
For a wonderful look into the artwork and stories of The Cabinet of Curiosities, please check out io9.com’s post here: The Horrible, Amazing, Odd Story Behind the Stories of Thackery T. Lambshead