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The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists Paperback – Illustrated, July 10, 2012
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“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.” (MonstersandCritics.com)
“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.” (PopMatters.com)
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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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.
The text ranges from very scholarly/dry (to the point where, if there is humor, I don't catch it and it seems pretty boring) to wonderfully imaginative and well-written. Fortunately, the well-written pieces outnumber the others- even those that start off slowly.
I very much enjoyed the deadpan voice of the volume as a whole. There was not- as far as I could tell- an overarching plot; some of the pieces worked with each other, and some did not, but they were all interesting.
I will say that for me it started off slowly and i got increasingly entranced as I read through it.
I did read it straight through; it is, though, an ideal volume to sample here and there.
It's a truly amazing book. While it may not always fire perfectly, it's a type of contraption that's so novel that even its misfires are pretty entertaining. (Though I've got a known soft spot for cabinets of curiosities of every stripe.) And of course there's a ridiculous quantity of extremely talented contributors, including original art by folks like Mike Mignola and Eric Orchard, and new "stories" (if that is indeed the correct word) from Cherie Priest, Holly Black, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Alan Moore, China Mieville, Michael Moorcock, S.J. Chambers, and more.