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The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists Paperback – 20 Aug 2012

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Product Description


“Working with an impressive stable of sf and fantasy writers, including Holly Black, Cherie Priest, Tad Williams, and Lev Grossman, and styles ranging from short, detailed write-ups to fascinating tales of objects, the duo have created a fascinating, entertaining, and intriguing tome of sf with a dose of steampunk.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Some of the most interesting fantasist-fabulists writing today.” (Los Angeles Times)

“The narrative scope and stellar assemblage of writers and illustrators in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities makes this a book that will be absolutely cherished by fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk aficionados alike.” (Paul Goat Allen)

“A science-fiction symphony of strangeness... ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ will give you a good jolt of wonder.” (The Gainesville Times)

“Well written with plenty of meticulous line drawings, photos, excerpts from letters and manuscripts and more, this engaging read is sure to pique the interest of young and old alike.” (

“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.” (SF Site)

“A book likely to become a classic at the intersection of fantasy, horror, steampunk and magical realism....Every fantasy lover, and all you postmodernists out there, need to take a tour of the Cabinet.” (

From the Back Cover

For lovers of Steampunk, Dark Fantasy, and Eccentric Contraptions! After the death of Dr. Lambshead, an astonishing cabinet of curiosities was unearthed at his house. Many of these artifacts and wonders related to anecdotes and stories in the doctor's personal journals, or the adventures of his friends. We are now proud to present highlights from the doctor's cabinet, reconstructed not only through visual representations but also through exciting stories of intrigue and adventure. Rumors that Dr. Lambshead never existed are scurrilous and should be ignored!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 19 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique book of rare, quixotic, intoxicating flavors 18 Aug. 2011
By Samuel Montgomery-Blinn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First: this book is a unique physical object, designed and packaged as an artifact worthy of putting into one's own "cabinet of curiosities". From the quirky, nearly glow-in-the-dark text on the jacketless casebound hardcover, through the 320 pages of text (fictional and ... harder to classify), art, and photographs, it's just a feast, a book lovers's book.

Second: while one certainly could simply sit and read through this book (more easily than one could do so with the previous Lambshead book!) I found it to be an absolutely wonderful book to "sip and savor". A story here, skipping forward to a more "factual" entry later, coming back, exploring the book at my leisure and mood and pace, as if exploring the book as a series of museum exhibits.

After a dry, "factual toned" introduction (a bit ponderously dry, perhaps! though accompanied with some stunning images) the book opens up and the going gets fun with Minister Faust's "The Electrical Neurheographiton". This starts off a 4-part "Holy Devices and Infernal Duds: The Broadmore Exhibits" section of the book. These are quasi-encylopedia entries, presenting the "factual" basis behind a few of the objects found in Lambshead's vast collection. Faust's entry takes us through a well-imagined Tesla artifact, combining leaps of imagination with historical details, and well-timed, guffaw-inducing humor. Faust's entry is one of the highlights of the book, showing off the surreal mix of history, detail, imagination, and self-indulgent, self-aware, literary playground humor which this book exudes when at its best.

The next section, "Honoring Lambshead: Stories Inspired by the Cabinet", presents short fiction from some of today's most brilliant fantasists: Carrie Vaughn, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Naomi Novik, Holly Black, and Tad Williams. All of the stories are excellent, and I would be too hard-pressed to pick a favorite. When I try, I only interrupt myself with, "But what about...?" It's even hard to break the tie based on the artwork, as several of the illustrations complement with and work so well to evoke the bizarre, strange stories presented. I will pick a couple of gems here: Yishan Li's depiction of Lord Dunsany's Teapot, from the forthcoming Novik-Li graphic novel "Ten Days to Glory: Demon Tea and Lord Dunsany." And the Vaughn and Ford stories are both wonderful.

The third section, "Microbial Alchemy and Demented Machinery: The Mignola Exhibits" collect short encyclopedia style documents around four iconic images from Mike Mignola. Again, it's hard to pick favorites from among these, but the combination of art and entry for Cherie Priest's "Addison Howell and the Clockroach" (which complete with lengthy endnotes documents a steampowered clockwork wagon which resembles, of course, a cockroach) and Lev Grossman's "Sir Ranulph Wykeham-Rackham, GBE, a.k.a. Roboticus the All-Knowing" (which documents the transformation of a wealthy young man returned from war with gruesome disfiguring wounds) stand as two more of the best in the book. This really is fairly ludicrous praise, as the section includes Michael Moorcock's "Shamalung (The Diminuitions)" (which brings Tesla back into the book) and China Mieville's "Pulvadmonitor: The Dust's Warning".

Next the book includes "The Mieville Anomalies" -- two short stories/entries accompanying small, inset art from Mieville. Here, "The Gallows-Horse" is particularly memorable art.

The two next sections of the book are quite meaty: "Further Oddities" and "Visits and Departures" present 14 more stories, from Michael Cisco (whose "The Thing in the Jar" is one of the highlights here), Amal El-Mohtar (ditto for her "The Singing Fish"), Stepan Chapman, Cailtlin R. Kiernan, Jay Lake, Charles Yu ("The Book of Categories"), and Alan Moore's "Objects Discovered in a Novel Under Construction". The "Visits and Departures" section inserts the authors (or "as told to" the authors) as actual visitors with Lambshead. N.K. Jemisin, Rachel Swirsky, Mur Lafferty ("1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur", in which filtering through a Klein bottle is argued as superior to pasteurization), Ekaterina Sedia, Brian Evenson, S.J. Chambers, and Gio Clairval ("The Pea", a poignant note on which to end the book) all have space for a short riff into this shared playground, balancing humor, erudition, and displays of lyrical strength.

Lastly is "A Brief Catalog of Other Items" which presents very, very short "micro entries" which compress this humor, history, and imagination into long paragraphs of image and creativity. The three dozen entries are quite entertaining, topped by Adam Mills's "Bear Gun".

Overall, this is a literary and artistic treasure, one I expect to pick up and turn to a favorite entry again and again over the years. It's one for the bookshelf, one to share as often as possible.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pitch-perfect 11 Aug. 2011
By Marianne J. Aldrich - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant, kaleidoscopic metafiction - catalogue entries mixed with short stories mixed with journal articles, and so on - all seasoned with lovely art. Rachel Swirsky's story was my most-favorite, and Mike Mignola's illustrations made me remember reading The Telltale Heart in seventh grade. Recommended if you like Wunderkammer, slipstream, and/or the creepy tingle of things that threaten to make sense.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There are eight million stories" in Dr. Lambshead's Cabinet 12 July 2011
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Thackery T. Lambshead explained to his friends he was not a collector or pack rat of any sort. In fact, he felt he was the opposite trying to properly dispose of things though somehow items had a tendency over his century plus of life to find him. Still with his death in 2003, he left behind an incredible cabinet of curiosities in Brook, England. The Broadmore Exhibits include Tesla's "The Electric Nuerheographiton (by Minister Faust) and Dacey's Patent Automatic nanny (by Ted Chiang). The Cabinet has also has noted authors wiring about aspects like China Mieville's "Pulvadmonitor: The Dust's Warning" and Naomi Novik's thesis on Lord Dunsany's Teapot". Then of course there are Dr. Lambshead's astounding journals in which he holds the west culpable for many transgressions.

The second Dr. Lambshead's anthology (see The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases) is incredible with stories and pictures that make Thackery T. Lambshead's Cabinet of Curiosities seem real rather than a steampunk fantasy collection. Loaded with plenty of fun, well written entries, and fabulous designs and photos, readers, especially young adults, will spend several weeks appreciating this engaging compilation. Each relic reminds this reviewer of the ending to the TV show the Naked City: "There are eight million stories" in Dr. Lambshead's Cabinet and each one is worth reading and seeing.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant storytelling! 26 May 2014
By K. Sozaeva - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Info: Genre: Satire/speculative shorts
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy speculative fiction and clever storytelling

My Thoughts: I learned about cabinets of curiosities from reading the Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. One of the novels is actually titled The Cabinet of Curiosities and it explains what these are. Basically, a cabinet of curiosities is a private collection of interesting and odd things, which were quite popular in the 19th century. Whatever the person putting it together is interested in would be collected. In this collection of short, speculative, essay-type stories, the various writers describe the stories behind the items in Thackery T. Lambshead's cabinet of curiosities.

This book is not as funny as the book of fake diseases I just read, but it is still wonderfully well done. The various authors have written of their assigned objects so convincingly that I often found myself thinking that I should look up more information on one thing or another, but of course the chances are that they were just making things up. However, there were some fairly funny stories, such as the story “Diminutions” by Michael Moorcock, in which some men decide to bring the Gospel to germs, and to receive some extra funding:
“Bannister... persuaded the governors that, if a will to do evil motivated these microns, then the influence of the Christian religion was bound to have an influence for good. This meant, logically, that fewer boys would be in the infirmary and that, ultimately, shamed by the consequences of their actions, the germs causing, say, tuberculosis would cease to spread.” [p. 169]
I enjoyed the stories by Charles Yu and Garth Nix so much that I plan to look through their available works to find new books for my wishlist. So, yeah, I really enjoyed this one, too.

If you are interested in this book, or if you read and enjoyed it, then you should check out the earlier anthology, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases (review linked here). And if you haven't read this one yet, definitely check it out; it's really fascinating and the stories are very well done.

Disclosure: I bought this book for myself. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique compelation of amazing pictures and steampunk 29 July 2012
By Kristina - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

THE THACKERTY T. LAMSHEAD CABINET OF CURIOSITIES is a unique compilation of bizarre object illustrations and stories about the fictional Dr. Lambshead's collection of knick knacks, relics, and devices found in his massive cabinet. I was amazed at the detailed yet fictional history of Dr. Lambshead and his cabinet provided in the introduction. What follows this elaborate introduction is a massive and varied collection of stories about the cabinet and its oddities from a wealth of great, popular authors. I loved the variety in the stories and the truly weird steampunk objects each author was able to create.

I liked that the anthology was split into sections with chapters either detailing specific objects from the closet or chapters written by various authors that were inspired by the cabinet. While I enjoyed the concept and effort put into this anthology there were definitely hits and misses. The stories that didn't work had too much information. Charles Yu's Book of Categories which describes the contents of a mysterious book in outline form, had a really confusing structure and so much information about what the book looked like that it actually was an effort to finish.

Some of the chapters were amusing stories of really weird objects and encounters with the cabinet. A favorite of mine was Dacy's Patent Automatic Nanny by Ted Chiang because I liked the weird effect the Automatic Nanny had on the life of the child it watched over. Relic by Jeffrey Ford was an interesting story about the life of a holy relic and the priest who watches over it. I liked how Relic played on the mythic quality a mysterious or holy object can obtain over the years when in actuality the origin of that object is quite plain. Carrie Vaughn's Threads tells a tale of some strange behavioral changes that occur within a certain range of Dr. Lambshead's house. I liked this one due to the amusing twist at the end and the hilarious effects that happen in Doctor Lambshed's house.

THE THACKERY T. LAMBSHEAD CABINET OF CURIOSITIES is a wonderfully intricate compilation of stories about a cabinet's steampunk oddities. I will definately be going back to this anthology to re-read some of the stories and admire the amazing illustrations.
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