A compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana

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They say that truth is stranger than fiction, so that may explain why The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities almost fooled me into believing it's real. Were it not for the authors being well-known fiction writers – writers like Alan Moore, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Helen Oyeyemi – I would have considered this a legitimate study of an eccentric, pseudoscientific collection of oddities. Even the introduction, which gives the history of Mr. Lambshead in a completely deadpan tone, in no way gives away the "joke" that everything is fiction.

Essentially, this compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana brings together more than 50 of the most talented writers and artists of modern fantasy and weird fiction in a collection of the odd, esoteric, and occasionally frightening. Some pieces are written like a museum catalog, while others are stories "inspired" by the collection. The creators have taken full advantage of a long history of eccentric Victorian collectors and unbelievable inventions to assemble a cabinet in book form, stuffed to the brim with curiosities that may only exist in the imagination, and yet feel strangely real.

The stunning yet bizarre imagery sprinkled throughout the book mirrors the various styles of illustration, printmaking, and early photography that would have been found in the kind of 19th-century tome Cabinet takes as a model, reinforcing the otherworldly feeling of reading a history book from an alternate universe, where automatons educate our children and gorillas are raised by crocodiles in the sewer.

– Amber Troska

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

by Ann Vandermeer and Jeff Vandermeer


2012, 320 pages, 7 x 9.5 x 1 inches (softcover)

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