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The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities
edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
HarperVoyager, 336 pages

Ann VanderMeer
Ann VanderMeer has been a publisher and editor for over twenty years who currently serves as the fiction editor of Weird Tales and as a guest editor for Best American Fantasy. She is the founder of the award-winning Buzzcity Press. Work from her press and related periodicals has won the British Fantasy Award, the International Rhysling Award, and appeared in several year's best anthologies. Ann was also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature. A Best of the Silver Web anthology is forthcoming from Prime Books.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded
SF Site Review: Best American Fantasy 2008
SF Site Review: Steampunk
SF Site Review: The New Weird
SF Site Review: The Silver Web, Issue 15
SF Site Review: The Silver Web, Issue 15

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: Monstrous Creatures
SF Site Review: Finch
SF Site Review: The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories
SF Site Review: Secret Life: The Select Fire Remix
SF Site Review: Balzac's War
SF Site Review: Shriek: An Afterword
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Excerpt: Shriek: An Afterword
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Review: Secret Life
SF Site Review: City of Saints and Madmen
SF Site Excerpt: The Mansions of the Moon
SF Site Excerpt: The Mimic
SF Site Interview: Jeff VanderMeer
SF Site Review: The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
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

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'The taste of smoke was still thick on Edward's tongue, in his throat, and the night had curled up like a tiger and gone to sleep around them.'
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities Presented as a series of recollections and reports, this sumptuous collection features contributions from popular artists and best-selling fantasy authors. Included in the array of talent are such luminaries as Mike Mignola, China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Tad Williams, Alan Moore, and Garth Nix. So, these are boys and girls whose pedigree as creators is not in question, but what have they served up. The answer is diverse and quirky entertainment, loosely connected by the late Thackery T. Lambshead, whose fabled Cabinet of Curiosities purportedly held a vast collection of rare and strange objects, around which each story is based.

Rarely have I come across a collection that rattles and rambles along in such a fantastical, often meticulous, yet always engaging fashion. The individual stories are supported by a wealth of lovely greyscale artworks, some of them full page. It's the kind of book that should be stocked in school libraries, perhaps as the antidote to Pottermania, or other favoured fiction that has been rammed down the throats of children in recent years. Not that this is a children's book, its wonders can be appreciated by readers of all ages. The stories here are often exquisitely crafted, almost always good fun, and above all tailored to make a reader think. It's also the kind of book which can be dipped into, and its contents treated like the literary equivalent of sipping a fine malt whisky, while strolling through the world's oddest museum.

Under the heading of "Microbial Alchemy & Demented Machinery: The Mignola Exhibits," we find "Shamalung (The Diminuitions)" a story where Tesla is shrinking down missionaries to bring the word of God to the sub-atomic level of creation. Under the "Holy Devices and Infernal Duds" section we find details of the "Auble Gun," a steam-powered precursor to the altogether more successful Maxim machine gun. In the next section, "Honoring Lambshead: Stories Inspired by the Cabinet" there are such delights as "Lord Dunsany's Teapot," from the forthcoming Novik-Li graphic novel "Ten Days to Glory: Demon Tea and Lord Dunsany." The splendid strangeness continues, with tales of the Clockroach, Roboticus the All-Knowing, and the starkly brilliant Pulvadmonitor: The Dust's Warning. "Further Oddities" and "Visits and Departures" give us another 14 stories, including "1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur" and "The Pea," which aside from its entertainment value, really shows how the most simple and ordinary objects can become so much more under the imagination of a literary craftsman. Rounding up the collection is "A Brief Catalog of Other Items" which features three dozen very short entries, often no more than a paragraph, outlining unlikely objects such as Tycho's Astronomical Support Garment, Tomb-Matches, One Ounce of Silence, a South American Insult Stone, the Decanter of Everlasting Sadness, and the Dinner Bell of the Mary Celeste.

In summary, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities was a reminder of why I love books, of invention and imagination, humour and fascination, all rolled up into a collection that I will return to often. I can, therefore, recommend this work as one of the better reads for this, or any other year.

Copyright © 2011 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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