Congrats! Announcing Flash Fic Selections for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities


The results are in, and Ann and I have made our decisions, out of over 250 entries, as to which micro-submissions from our open reading period will be included in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (HarperCollins, July 2011). Without further ado, here they are:

Hugh Alter – The Sea Scroll
Julie Andrews – Mellified Alien
Christopher Begley – Unhcegila’s Scales
Jayme Lynne Blaschke – Mother of Spirits
Nickolas Brienza – The Fort Chaffee Polyhedral Deck
Tucker Cumming – “Our Greatest President”
Kaolin Imago Fire – Leary’s Pineal Body
Dr. Galubrious – St. Blaise’s Toad (text and image)
Jess Gulbranson – Coffin Torpedo
Jennifer Harwood-Smith – The Dinner Bell of the Mary Celeste
Willow Holser – Silence, One Ounce
Rhys Hughes – Reversed Commas (box of)
Paul Kirsch – Much Smaller Cabinet
Michael J. Larson – Unlabeled Wax Phonograph Cylinder
Therese Littleton – Czerwatenko Whelk in Olive Oil
Graham Lowther – Ear Eye
Claire Massey – Harness & Leash for Fly
Tony Mileman – Untitled Booklet
Adam Mills – Bear Gun
Ignacio Sanz – Oneyroscope
Steven M. Schmidt – Tycho’s Astronomical Support Garment
Grant Stone – Kepler the Clock
Brian Thill – The Dander of Melville
Nicholas Troy – South American Insult Stone
Nick Tramdack – Bullet Managerie
Tom Underberg – American Night Quilt
Horia Ursu – Dracula’s Testicles
William T. Vandemark – The Decanter of Everlasting Sadness (submitted via email due to use of proprietary material)
Kali Wallace – Human Skeleton, Irregular
Tracy Welser – Parsimonius Skull (owl)
Amy Willats – Skull
Nadine Wilson – Tomb-Matches

Each contributor will receive a copy of the anthology as compensation, and we will be emailing you with a contract and any copy-edits (yes, some will need editing) in the next week or so. Contributors to the anthology include China Mieville, Tad Williams, Helen Oyeyemi, Holly Black, Yishan Li, Garth Nix, Mike Mignola, Minister Faust, Ted Chiang, Cherie Priest, Reza Negarestani, Caitlin R. Kiernan, N.K. Jemisin, and so many more we’ll forget some, so click here for the full-on list (minus a few we can’t announce yet).

Congratulations not just to those who got in, but to everyone who submitted entries. Ann and I spent two sessions at home reading and re-reading through all of the entries. It was extremely tough.
When we had gotten it down to about 60 possibles, we decided a change of scenery would be a good idea and we high-tailed it to Siam Sushi , a great new restaurant here in town, and we spent another five hours whittling it down to the final thirty-plus.

A lot of different criteria went into our decision-making, and we left a lot of excellent material on the table. One constraint was needing to top out around 3,200 words. Another was making sure entries didn’t duplicate material in other parts of the anthology, and being careful not to take material that violated the rules of Lambshead’s milieu. We also tried to avoid duplicating items too much, although obviously looking at the winner’s list we need to have a separate case just for bones. Still, we did largely avoid too many mysterious boxes and too many ghosts, despite the high quality of many entries. (Typos and even grammatical errors we ignored as reasons for dismissal, as that can all be cleaned up with a good stiff copy-edit.)

We also tried to look for variety in terms of length of entry, and try to make sure longer entries truly supported their initial concept by opening up and expanding on ideas in a satisfactory ways. A few very short entries worked well by getting in and getting out with the necessary speed. Some, like Bear Gun, were just plain hilarious, while others, like American Night Quilt and Mother of Spirits, displayed nice use of detail and no one submitted anything quite like them. The Untitled Booklet’s conceit of a publication that was actually an insect struck us as brilliant, as did Rhys Hughes’ Reversed Commas box. Others, like Ear Eye and Coffin Torpedo, had us at the title, and luckily held up. We took the baldly humorous and the oh-so serious because the good doctor’s cabinet can incorporate both extremes. But, we digress…

Above all, we agonized, and went back and forth, and tested and re-tested entries. We had a really great time reading it all, and we’re thrilled to be introduced to so many writers we didn’t know about before—we’re taking notes and writing down names.

Thanks for putting yourself out there with such a public submission process. Thanks also to our editor Diana Gill, Will Hinton, and everyone at HarperCollins, who so enthusiastically endorsed the idea of having this open reading period. We feel that the idea may well continue to reverberate beyond this one project. And we’ll include the URL to all of the entries in the anthology (another detail to remember!).

Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

34 comments on “Congrats! Announcing Flash Fic Selections for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

  1. Sir Tessa says:


  2. Michael Fontana says:

    Congrats to everyone who made it in. Looks to be an extremely interesting release.

  3. James says:

    Well done, everyone. This was an inspired addition to the Lambshead project, and an entirely enjoyable submission process. I wish we could do this every week.

  4. Paul Leach says:

    Very generous to put the micro-submission contest into play – Thanks, Ann and Jeff. Enjoyed seeing all the creativity in the posts everyone.

  5. Adam Lobaugh says:

    Congrats to all the winners! Well deserved and I’m happy to see ‘Bear Gun’ on there…Love it:)

  6. Thanks, Ann and Jeff. Much fun.

  7. Adam Mills says:

    Hooray! This is the best news of my week, by far. Thanks Ann and Jeff!

    Adam L: Thanks for rooting for my Bear Gun :) I’m happy that you enjoyed it.

  8. Anne Barringer says:

    Congrats to everyone who entered! I learned some new things and it was well worth it. I can’t wait for the Anthology to come out.

  9. Bear says:

    Wow, it’s an honor, I feel really humbled and happy to be among the chosen ones. Thanks!

  10. Congratulations to all the winners! So awesome that I know one of them! I could do this all the time. Great fun.

  11. Thanks! Congrats to everyone. I am so thrilled to be included in this project.

  12. Awesome possum. Glad to be in such a distinguished company! Is there a need for incidental art? I’d be willing to take the burden at least for my own entry.

  13. Jim Steel says:

    Damn! It’s a good selection, though. I’m looking forward to the finished book.

  14. Enjoyed reading through the many submissions, great project here! I gonna be on the lookout to score some Dracula’s Testicles at any cost.

  15. Therese Littleton says:

    Woo hoo!!! Thanks, Jeff and Ann. Can’t wait to see the book.

  16. jeff vandermeer says:

    No need for illos, we believe, as we have John Coulthart on the job. A little behind so emails to those who got in might not go out for a few days.

    Therese–such a lovely entry.

  17. Tucker Cummings says:

    Such an amazing, huge, unbelievable honor. Thank you, Ann and Jeff. Thank you, every single person who wrote a submission and provided such great inspiration.

    I’m so excited to see this book in print!

    Seriously, you guys. My mom’s gonna be so proud. :) Thank you again! :)

  18. Joe Pulver says:

    Great choices. Congrats to those who made it in. Can’t wait to see this book.

  19. Thank you so much, I couldn’t be more excited!!!

  20. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Tucker and Claire–those were really unique entries. The president one was extremely clever and the harness for a fly was intricate and hilarious.


  21. Janie says:

    Dr. Galubrious – St. Blaise’s Toad (text and image)

    That was my favorite. Sad to not have been included but hey, it was great fun! Congrats to all the winners!

  22. Christopher Begley says:

    Wow. Thank you so much Jeff and Ann. I am completely floored. Especially considering the randomness that introduced me to your work a scant 8 days ago. Now please excuse me whilst I check that I did not accidentally mix meds leading to a hallucinatory grand-mal which would explain all this.

  23. Ben Jones says:

    It was fun writing to the specifications of the contest. And I had a lot of fun reading the other micro-submissions. Am looking forward to seeing this book hit the shelves next year.

  24. Nadine says:

    *bounce bounce squee*

    Yes. Still bouncing. :D

  25. Tony Mileman says:

    Many thanks Ann and Jeff for selecting ‘Untitled Booklet’. Well done all the other winners :-)

  26. Oh–it was our pleasure. We will be contacting all of the winners in the next week or so–just gotten behind.

  27. Graham Lowther says:

    Really enjoyed reading the submissions and looking forward to the book. Thank you Ann and Jeff.

  28. Nick Tramdack says:

    Yeahh!!! Congratulations to all, delighted to be chosen.

  29. Ignacio Sanz says:

    Thank you, Ann and Jeff! And congratulations to all the winners!

  30. Oh, thank *you*. Still behind, but will be in touch this week, promise!

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