Some sequels take awhile to marinate and simmer. Eight years after the publication of The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, a fiction anthology of fake diseases, my wife and I have published the follow-up: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. After the publication of the fake disease guide—which featured an all-star cast including Neil Gaiman and is still found with real medical guides in libraries—we received several offers to do another book in the series. Fake film guides. Fake book guides. A second fake disease guide.
And why not? The original was reprinted in three languages and did extremely well. The readings for that anthology were hilarious—our authors dressing up in lab coats and bringing beakers as props. People just walking by heard terms like “motile snarcoma” and “ballistic organ syndrome” and thought at first they had happened upon a real medical conference. The anthology went on to be a finalist for the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award, among others.
But none of these sequel ideas really appealed to us. It wasn’t until we were out hiking and talking about eccentric collections that a eureka-type idea came to us: Dr. Lambshead, the supposed creator of the disease guide, had had a cabinet of curiosities in his basement, each artifact with its own secret history and story! Not only did the idea seem fresh, but we could include much more art and photography than in the first volume. Some of the writers could even create stories about the objects around the images, and we’d have the flexibility to include traditional plotted stories along with the more Borgesian material.
The result, published this week by HarperCollins, includes a virtual who’s who of imaginative fantasy creators: Holly Black, Naomi Novik, China Mieville, Carrie Vaughn Alan Moore, Lev Grossman Tad Williams, Helen Oyeyemi, Jeffrey Ford, N.K. Jemisin, Garth Nix, Ted Chiang, Greg Broadmore, Charles Yu, Jake von Slatt, and about 65 more. Famous Czech animator Jan Svankmajer even has a piece of art in the book.
Among the unique features of the Lambshead Cabinet are four original images by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. When sending them to us, Mignola requested to work with particular writers, including Cherie Priest. In an Omni exclusive, here’s both an excerpt from Priest’s story and the Mignola piece that Priest dubbed “The Clockroach.” (The full text comes complete with hilarious historical footnotes as a counterpoint to the generally serious nature of the story.)