Designing the Cover for The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases is a uniquely entertaining collection, containing work by Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Rachel Pollack, Liz Williams, and many others—and it’s been painstakingly put together by talented editors Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts. The editors have also contributed submitted their own weird and wonderful pieces.

TorUK reissued the ebook with a fabulous new cover on 5th June. Learn more about the collection and see the full cover below!

The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases

The cover is designed to tie in with our Jeff VanderMeer reissue covers (shown below). But it was a bit of a challenge. Jeff’s works of fiction are imaginative, lyrical and at times surreal—but they don’t have the quirky comedy of the guide. We also wanted to signal the difference between the reissues and the collection, so people didn’t think this was another novel, or a collection of solely VanderMeer stories (thought that would be very cool too). However, we wanted to also make it clear that this collaboration was also part of Jeff’s body of work. We hope that the cover for the collection, in it’s jaunty orange, shows an appropriate difference in mood to the gravitas of his stylish black and white reissue designs. There’s also a very slight ‘jog’ on the guide’s lettering, taking the edge of the formal type of the reissues. And the title itself helps!

On the contents of the guide, it’s certainly something a bit different. A compendium of exotic fictional illnesses and afflictions where, detailed within for your reading and diagnostic pleasure, are frightening, ridiculous, and downright absurdly hilarious symptoms. You’ll also see histories and possible cures to all the ills human flesh doesn’t suffer. These include Ballistic Organ Disease and Reverse Pinocchio Syndrome. Plus the guide is illustrated throughout with curious and humorously un-enlightening sketches.

The collection was shortlisted for both Hugo and World Fantasy Awards when first published, and the quotes below also reflect the really fun content. If you want to see some huge literary talents at work, or fancy something a bit different, look no further. A virtuoso display of skill is on display here. You can also read an interview with Jeff VanderMeer here on his gorgeous-looking reissues, which Tor UK published last month.

Jeff VanderMeer's UK reissues

This article first appeared on Torbooks.co.uk on 10th June 2014.


Bella Pagan is a Senior commissioning editor for Pan Macmillan’s Tor imprint in the UK, working on out-of-this world SF, fantasy and urban fantasy (plus other subdivisions, factions and associated areas). On twitter as @BellaPagan.

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