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The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
edited by Dr. Jeff VanderMeer & Dr. Mark Roberts
Night Shade Books, 286 pages

John Coulthart
The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer was born in Pennsylvania in 1968, but spent much of his childhood in the Fiji Islands, where his parents worked for the Peace Corps. His books include The Book of Lost Places (Dark Regions Press), Dradin, In Love (Buzzcity Press), Dradin, In Love & Other Stories (Oxy Publishing, Greece), and The Early History of Ambergris (Necropolitan Press). He began the publishing house, Ministry of Whimsy, which has done a number of titles including The Troika, by Stepan Chapman which won the Philip K. Dick Award. Other work has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award. He lives with his wife Ann Kennedy, publisher and editor of Buzzcity Press.

Jeff VanderMeer Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Veniss Underground
SF Site Review: Leviathan Three
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Excerpt City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Review: The Exchange

Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts runs his own web publishing business, Chimeric, and is also a short story writer. He lives in Kent, England with his wife and young son.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by William Thompson

One can always count on Jeff VanderMeer for his imaginative approach to fiction and the collections of stories he gathers as editor. Previous anthologies -- Leviathan and the recent Album Zutique -- are noted for their innovative, cutting-edge fiction, often framed within a unique conceptual approach as well as reflecting an interest in meta-fiction. Now, along with co-editor Mark Roberts, VanderMeer has produced one of his most original and sumptuously fabricated collections to date.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases is both a spoof and a serio-comic collection of fiction parodying the non-fiction of an earlier era. The fact that the type of literature it mimics was itself at times fraudulent or the product of a highly susceptible imagination only further inflates the parody. Presented as a reference written by other esteemed medical authorities in the field, complete with anatomical illustration, advertisements and newspaper articles, Dr. VanderMeer and his colleagues have great fun mocking similar literature and pamphlets of the nineteenth century, while at the same time satirizing a tradition of scholarly journals, encyclopedias and medical literature that persists to this day. And the contributors to this guide are certainly amongst the most respected in the field, luminaries such as Drs. Steve Aylett, Kage Baker, Michael Bishop, Paul di Filippo, Cory Doctorow, Jeffrey Ford, Neil Gaiman, Rhys Hughes, David Langford, Tim Lebbon, China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Brian Stableford, Liz Williams and Gahan Wilson, among many others known to be in the avant-garde of therapeutic, psychiatric and pharmacological research. In addition, Savoy alumnus John Coulthart has joined the staff to insure that the physicians' descriptions are accurately illustrated and beautifully reproduced. Thus, this compendium of rare, unusual and at times shocking maladies and necrotic illness is certain to attract the notice of collectors, fellow practitioners and other interested parties throughout the medical community, as well as the more morbid or curious layman.

There are many topical and invaluable entries to be found in this weighty tome, among them those by Drs. Aylett, DuChamp, Lebbon, Miéville, Moorcock, Pollack and Williamson, along with, as might be expected, that by the honorable Doctor VanderMeer himself. Others, such as the entries for Bloodflower's Melancholia or Chrono-Unific Deficiency Syndrome (CHRUDS) demand further expansion and research. The description of Chronic Zygotic Dermis Disorder, while of obvious interest, is at times unclear as to its diagnosis, and Diseasemaker's Croup is too cleverly conspicuous in its presentation not to detract from more learned study.

While there may be some who will find this a much needed and valuable addition to the professional canon, the original idea to collect this large a quantity of ailments and diagnostic literature together into one single volume, while on cursory examination appearing sensible and laudable, after acute investigation has instead resulted in the unexpected yet cumulative effect of retarding cranial circulation. This outcome may be due to a build up of residual chemistry transferred by an unknown agency, or some new manifestation of fibromyalgia related to Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Perhaps it is the result of a mild anaphylactic response brought on by repeated exposure or an environmental condition related to the onset of attention deficit disorder (ADD). It may be nothing more than a dulling of the senses due to over stimulation. Whatever the cause, all efforts to alleviate this cumulative torpor by prescribing intervals of therapy interspersed by routine examinations failed to alleviate the symptoms. And after performing various additional tests in which I was the sole subject, I was forced to conclude that the compilation of this vast a quantity of medical literature, while theoretically beneficial, carries with it an attendant risk of unanticipated and undesired side-effects, with prolonged exposure possibly outweighing any benefits.

Further tests will need to be conducted, as well as other authorities consulted, before one can determine whether or not the results are identical for every patient. However, based upon preliminary findings, and in the face of what appears to be a surfeit of information, I can only recommend that this volume be reserved for the specialist, or the most occasional of readers.

Copyright © 2003 William Thompson

William Thompson is a regular contributor to SF Site and Interzone magazine. His criticism has also appeared in Revolution Science Fiction and Locus Online. In addition to his own writing, he possesses degrees in studio art and creative writing, as well as library science and special collections. He serves as an advisor to the Lilly Library for their collection of fantasy and science fiction, and has worked with noted scifi/fantasy bibliographer Hal Hall at the Cushing Library on the Michael Moorcock Life Collection. He is currently a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Gary Westfahl, Richard Bleiler, and John Clute, et al.

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