Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: Ear-Eye!


In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

Today, we have a special treat: an expanded version of one of the best micro-submissions to the anthology and an important part of Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet: Graham Lowther’s Ear-Eye…

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Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: The Poe-Bug; Dr. S. J. Chambers Explains


In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

First up is contributor S.J. Chambers’ rumination on Poe-pathy, associated to some degree with her contribution to the Cabinet antho, Dr. Lambshead’s Dark Room. The account of meeting Dr. Lambshead concerns hypnotic techniques, including the Valdemar Method, which enabled the doctor “to extract from even the most cavernous subconscious those diseases that afflicted the soul, as demonstrated in the mesmeric stories of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Tomorrow: An expanded treatise on the famed “Ear-Eye”!

S.J. Chambers

Have you experienced these following symptoms: soaring soul, existential exigency, speaking in cryptically symbolic metaphor, vertigo caused by sublimity, vision heightened by chiaroscuro, dead-dwelling or head-swelling? Do you suffer from daydreaming reflex with reveries that include blackbirds, scents of an unseen censor or aberrant alliterative applications? If you have answered yes to more than one of these, you may be suffering from Poepathy. A terrible disease of the soul, characterized by the affectation of the imagination and its degenerate interaction with the secular world, Poepathy is derived from continual contact of the reader’s imagination with that of 19th- century American author, Edgar Allan Poe, and the dependency upon Poe’s work for constant creative stimuli.

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Lambshead Cabinet: Win Jake von Slatt’s Mooney & Finch Somnotrope!


Um, HarperVoyager is doing something incredibly cool in connection with the release of our antho The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities—and they’re only able to do it because Jake von Slatt, one of our contributors, is a really nice guy. He’s providing his machine-artifact the Mooney & Finch Somnotrope, created for our book, as the prize in a sweepstakes. That’s right—you could wind up owning a von Slatt original, and all you have to do is buy the book!

What is a Mooney & Finch Somnotrope anyway? Well, we gave a photo of the artifact to Charlie Jane Anders, and she wrote this micro-fiction, included in the book:

Mooney & Finch Somnotrope – These sleep simulators have become rare artifacts—even though they were mass produced in the Mooney & Finch Sheffield facility, each one of them emerged as a unique object due to the pressures of the oneiric centrifuge. However, they were only sold for three months, prior to the first reports of somnambulance addiction and peripatetic insomnia. The idea of experiencing four or five hours of sleep within a mere few minutes held almost unlimited allure for the world’s busiest captains of industry and harried matrons. But few were prepared for the intoxication of the Somnotrope’s soothing buzz, the sheer pleasure of watching its central piston raise and lower, gently at first and then with increasing vigor, until your mind flooded with dream fragments and impression of having sailed to the nether kingdom and back, all in a few minutes. It only took a few unfortunate deaths for the whole line to be recalled. (Charlie Jane Anders)

Now, as is the case with several art pieces repurposed by the writers assigned to them, von Slatt had originally given the machine a working title and description to help him in conceptualizing it: “The other is a Bassington & Smith Electro-Mechanical Analog Brain, about as smart as a common house cat. It was built to manage the systems aboard an ocean liner and was salvaged from its wreckage. A rather predictable and foolish adventure, really. I mean, whose bright idea was it to put a cat in charge of a vessel that displaced 32,000 tonnes?”

Which just means you’d be winning two machines in one artifact! A Mooney & Finch Somnotrope and a Bassington & Smith Electro-Mechanical Analog Brain!

Lambshead Cabinet

Release Week: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities and How You Can Get Involved!

Lambshead Cabinet

Today our anthology The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists is officially on sale, although we’ve gotten reports of sightings in the wild starting the end of last week. All this week I’ll be posting original content here at Ecstatic Days, including material from contributors S.J. Chambers, Rachel Swirsky, and Caitlin R. Kiernan–as well as the story of how we found and acquired a piece by famous Czech animator Jan Svankmajer.

How You Can Help!

If you like the anthology—an LA Times recommended summer reading selection—and want to support unique ideas like hybrid fiction-art books, here are some of the things you can do to help:

Buy the book. It’s currently selling on Amazon and elsewhere for a ridiculously low price for a fully-illustrated oversized hardcover. Buy it for friends. Buy it for family.

Review the book. Blog, review site, or on a sandwich board in front of your local bookstore. Any mention, especially noting whatever you really liked about the book, helps immensely. And a limited number of additional review copies are available for review sites; email me at vanderworld at if interested.

Review it on Amazon. Go to the Amazon sales page for the book and tell other readers what you liked about it. A quick and easy way to help get the word out and create interest.

Make sure local booksellers carry it. The anthology seems to have a strong presence in bookstores, but you can always encourage booksellers who aren’t stocking it. You can even tell them its by some of the same people who brought them The Steampunk Bible, which has done very well.

Request it from your local library. Making sure your local library knows about the anthology not only increases library orders but allows multiple people to enjoy the book.

Spread the word through twitter and facebook. Tell people about the anthology through social media, using one of the links below. Lots of excerpts have been posted in various places—choose your favorite.

Come to the author events (more to be scheduled). We’ll be having lots of fun, including telling tales out of school, so to speak. Current schedule here. (We should have at least one prominent West Coast event to announce soon.)

NOTE: Bloggers (non-contributors) who post the link to their mention of the antho in the comments thread will be in the drawing for a free copy of the book, signed by the editors, as well as a copy of the coffee table book The Steampunk Bible, along with a few surprises…

More Info on the Anthology
I think by now, if you’ve followed this blog, you know the idea behind this unique anthology, but in case you missed it…

After the death of the famous Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, a remarkable discovery was unearthed: the remains of an astonishing cabinet of curiosities. In keeping with the bold spirit exemplified by Dr. Lambs¬head and his exploits, HarperCollins now proudly presents fully illustrated highlights from the doctor’s cabinet, including exciting stories of adventure and reproduced museum exhibits. The Cabinet anthology is a secret history of the 20th century, an art book with over 70 images, and a treasury of modern fantasy containing work by over 85 creators, including some of the genre’s most exciting names. Suitable for both YA and adult library collections.

Contributors include Holly Black, Greg Broadmore, Ted Chiang, John Coulthart, Rikki Ducornet, Amal El-Mohtar, Minister Faust, Jeffrey Ford, Lev Grossman, N.K. Jemisin, Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Mike Mignola, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, James A. Owen, Helen Oyeyemi, J.K. Potter, Cherie Priest, Ekaterina Sedia, Jan Svankmajer, Rachel Swirsky, Carrie Vaughn, Jake von Slatt, Tad Williams, Charles Yu, and many more. Eighty-five in total!!


Links to Unique Content!

Here are links to some of the coverage so far, with more planned on at the Huffington Post, SF Signal, Suvudu, Fangoria, and many, many others.

Kirkus Reviews–Exclusive Mike Mignola image and Lev Grossman excerpt

Amazon’s Book Blog–Exclusive Mike Mignola image and Cherie Priest excerpt

Barnes & Noble Book Club–Rave review by Paul Goat Allen

i09—A table of contents feature with exclusive Greg Broadmore image

Weird Tales—My lovely co-editor talks about the more macabre side of the cabinet anthology, with excerpt from stories by Kiernan and Michael Cisco and Aeron Alfrey art.

Weirdletter—A view from Italy

Ecstatic Days—Right here on my blog I’ve posted an exclusive excerpt with commentary from Reza Negarestani (with China Mieville art)and a disgrunted artifacts image created by Rikki Ducornet.

Contributor Posts—Posts by contributors have included interesting glimpses into the cabinet by artist Aeron Alfrey, artist John Coulthart (with many images), writer Amal El-Mohtar, and writer Jayme Lynn Blaschke.


* Note: I stole some of the general “help out” info from Cat Valente’s livejournal.

The Museum of Intangible Arts and Objects: Reza Negarestani, China Miéville, and the Gallows-horse

(Image by China Miéville)

One of the great treats for Ann and me while working on The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiositiesanthology was not only to include fiction and art by China Miéville but also a remarkable story based on Mieville’s art by Reza Negarestani. The author of the incredibleCyclonopedia (which I wrote about here), Negarestani often blurs fiction, nonfiction, and philosophy in mind-bending ways. He’s one of those writers whose genius is that the images and ideas in his work take over your brain and alter your perception of the world. We’re forever indebted to China for introducing us to his work.

As part of the continuing celebration of the Lambshead anthology (official release date July 12), I asked for some thoughts on his story, and have posted both that and an excerpt from “The Gallows-horse” below. One of the strengths of a book like the Cabinet antho is that it can, with ease, encompass both traditional storytelling and the avant garde…

Lambshead Cabinet

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Lambshead Cabinet Anthology: Attack of the Clockroach!–Mike Mignola, Cherie Priest Exclusives!

As part of the pre-launch for our fiction-and-art antho The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists, you can now read an exclusive excerpt from Cherie Priest’s story, with a reveal of Mike Mignola’s art. “The Clockroach” is one of my favorites from the anthology. Mignola created four originals for us and then gave us the names of writers he’d like to work with. Priest then wrote the story and in the process named the artifact pictured “The Clockroach”. The other three writers who created stories to Mignola art are Michael Moorcock, China Mieville, and Lev Grossman.

The excerpt shows the more serious side of the story to some extent, while in the book Priest’s frequent footnotes add darkly (and not so darkly) humorous context. And to show the synergy that sometimes occurs in these situations, the clockroach may appear in a Lambshead-related novel I’m working on in the near future.

More coverage of the anthology later today—and next week, a special, ultra-cool surprise to coincide with the official release date.

Ooooh! Could that be part of the Clockroach?!

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Can Artifacts Be Disgruntled?

rikki ducornet
(Image from the “A Brief Catalog of Other Items” section of the Lambshead anthology)

HarperCollins’ link to retailers for the Lambshead Cabinet.

Today kicks off a week of blogging about the new anthology The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Ann VanderMeer and yours truly. Contributors include Holly Black, Greg Broadmore, Ted Chiang, Amal El-Mohtar, Minister Faust, Jeffrey Ford, Lev Grossman, N.K. Jemisin, Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Mike Mignola, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Cherie Priest, Ekaterina Sedia, Jan Svankmajer, Rachel Swirsky, Carrie Vaughn, Jake von Slatt, Tad Williams, Charles Yu, and tons more.

A lot of our favorite writers and artists are in this book, including the dual-threat Rikki Ducornet, an amazing surrealist writer who also paints. For the Lambshead Cabinet, she gave us a cheeky image entitled “Disgruntled Artifacts”. I’ve posted it above, and you can click on it to see it much larger.

Although Rikki’s having fun with the image, it is true that artifacts can be disgruntled, in the sense that one reason we thought a “cabinet of curiosities” concept would work is that people are attached to objects. There’s often an emotional resonance in our connection—either because of who made it or who gave it to us. There’s also the question of context—artifacts taken out of context can be harmless or fraught with echoes and linkages. You cannot see a sarcophagus in a British museum, for example, without thinking about why it’s there, how it got there, and why it isn’t somewhere else.

There are plenty of reasons for us to project “disgruntled” onto artifacts, though. Sometimes an artifact is in the wrong context to begin with—for example, “The Clockroach” in our book, story by Cherie Priest and image by Mike Mignola. That was never going to end well.

On the other hand, recontextualizations can “cook” certain types of for lack of a better term, “disgruntilization”. Russian painter Vladimir Gvozdev’s depictions of mechanical animals, two of which are included in the Lambshead Cabinet, repurpose the example of a German mechanic who lived in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. says Gvozdev, “After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the mechanic went mad and was held in a lunatic asylum for life. There he began inventing vergeltungswaffe, a German term for ‘vengeance weapons.’ I never saw his blueprints, but I liked the story so much that I tried to make via my blueprints a sort of portrait of the inventor himself—to create a little museum out of the mind of that German mechanic.” The results are hybrids that take the sting out of the original idea without being any less interesting.

(Gvozdev’s art has appeared in our Steampunk Reloaded anthology and The Steampunk Bible, in addition to the Lambshead Cabinet.)

Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead: Where Did It All Start? With a Great Quail and a Fake Medical Guide


With features on the new Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (pictured above) being posted later this week, it seemed like a good time to get in the old time machine and remember how this all started…with a Great Quail, Mad Quail Disease…and a fake disease guide titled The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases.


The article “How I Became Dr. Lambshead’s Medical Assistant”, published in 2005 at SF Site, goes into the origins of the fake disease disease guide and how what was meant to be a chapbook blossomed into a unique fiction anthology first published by Night Shade Books and then picked up by Bantam Books (Juliet Ulman, editor). Since the article came out, the anthology has been reprinted in the UK, Greece, and Portugal, with more editions in the works. The original edition was a finalist for the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award, among others. It’s a great example of when something quirky goes viral. Not to mention the ways in which Dr. Lambshead took on a life of his own—something carried over to the new book, as we shall see later in the week.

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