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The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric & Discredited Diseases [Hardcover]

Jeff VanderMeer , Mark Roberts
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 8 2003
From Delusions of Universal Grandeur to Twentieth Century Chronoshock, this amusing pocket guide to concocted diseases - designed and illustrated by John Coulthart - features an anthology of slightly morbid, darkly humorous ailments and prognosis srved up by such renowned luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, Gahan Wilson, Brian Stableford, and Michael Bishop.

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From Booklist

What do a passel of brainy, witty sf and dark fantasy writers do to amuse themselves (and, hopefully, us)? Like any gathering of old friends, they talk about diseases. Fortunately, not their own diseases (although several entries in this dictionary-format guide bear the editorial warning that the authors seem to be suffering the illness at hand) but maladies they have, in their capacities as "doctors," discovered (i.e., made up). So doing, they follow the lead of strange-disease sleuth Thackery Trajan Lambshead (b. 1900), who published his findings annually from 1921 until this year, when, feeling he had only 30 good years left, he turned the work over to editors VanderMeer and Roberts and their "doctor" acquaintances, such as Neil Gaiman, Kage Baker, Michael Moorcock, Gahan Wilson, Alan Moore, Neil Williamson, and other regular denizens of the SF/Fantasy and Graphic Novel sections of this magazine. Perfect recreational reading, at least for hypochondriacs, who will bask in the assurance that they don't have, say, "motile snarcoma," "third-eye infection," or "Inverted Drowning syndrome." Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"'An amazing book... sure to delight the discerning (and slightly warped) reader' Publishers Weekly" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It just might save your life! April 20 2004
Normally, when a person reviews a book, they aren't actually reviewing "the book" but the ideas contained therein. And normally, such a semantic quibble would be absurd, but in the case of "The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases" it holds some merit. Because not only does it contain a fascinating selection of the bizarre from a remarkably talented group of authors, but it compiles their writings in a visually stunning collection that beautifully mimics the style, and rather drolly the content, of a Victorian Era monograph.
The basic premise of the Guide is that it is the long running publication of the eponymous Dr. Lambshead, who specializes in bizarre diseases. Moreover, the esteemed Dr. Lambshead is 102 years old, and his guide focuses on diseases that are, shall we say, beyond the pale of modern medicine. From Bone Leprosy to Wife Blindness there isn't an eccentric or discredited disease uncovered by such medical luminaries as Jeff Vandermeer, Paul Di Fillipo, China Mieville and K. J. Bishop (to name a few).
The book begins with two introductions, one from Lambshead and one from the editors, both of which are hilarious. The book concludes with entries from past guides, as well as remembrances from Lambshead's associates, a history of the guide and biographies of each of the contributors (in doctor manifestation, of course). However, the obvious reason to read the Guide is the meat between these two pieces of bread: the diseases. Each author spends anywhere from two to four pages detailing the history, cause and treatment of their own particular disease.
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If you allow yourself to be contaminated by the gallows humour at work in the Thackery T. Lambshead Disease Guide, I'm quite sure you'll find it a treasured addition to your library. The writing is often quirky and inventive, and while not all of it is great, the work of such talented people as Stepan Chapman (who writes the best stuff in the Guide), Michael Cisco, Jeff Ford, Shelley Jackson, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore and Jeffrey Thomas, easily makes up for the few uneven spots the book has.
The Guide is also beautifully produced, with superb design and illustrations by John Coulthart that reflect his obsessive attention to detail. Michael Moorcock's disease entry, set in flawless mock-Victorian style, is perhaps the most striking example.
The Lambshead Disease Guide is a strange and original book that overflows with talent. It's perhaps not for the squeamish, but the humour, though dark, is brave and commendable for it dares to laugh (or at least chuckle) in the face of our own mortality and some of our greatest fears. Can't recommend it enough, definitely one of the best books of 2003.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely one of the funniest... Nov. 29 2003
...and possibly the strangest books I've read in a long time. Imagine both a nostalgic tribute to 19th century medical texts (with amusingly horrific illustrations and drawings) as well as an update of these (to our eyes) obscure texts, adding various authors' (ahem, diseased) imaginations, with nods to the works of Borges (Nathan Ballingrud's eerily beautiful The Malady of Ghostly Cities), Edward Lear/James Joyce (David Langford's Logrolling Ephesus), H.P. Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith (Jeff Vandermeer's Tian Shan-Gobi Assimilation), etc. Some of the wittiest works? Stepan Chapman's Motile Snarcoma, Postal Carriers' Brain Flukes (which gave me an attack of the Serious Giggles), Steve Redwood's Reverse Pinocchio Syndrome, R.M Berry's Wife Blindness. Full of wit and wisdom, this is one of the finest satiric works I've read since Woody Allen's seriously goofy Without Feathers or the various Mirth of a Nation collections.
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The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric & Discredited Diseases by Dr. Jeff Vandermeer and Dr. Mark Roberts is the commemorative 83rd edition of a classic medical resource first disseminated to doctors worldwide in 1921. Listing "diseases" that modern medicine (rightfully) spurns to document, these spurious conditions range from false menustration in males, to "reverse Pinocchio syndrome", to "wife blindness", and more. The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric & Discredited Diseases is clearly meant to be read and savored with a grain of salt and a sense of humor, there is also a strong underlying message for consumers of health and medical services to be wary of medical frauds, fads, and fringes.
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