Raphael Aloysius "Ray" Lafferty, the self-described "cranky old man from Tulsa, Oklahoma"
February 25, 2007 1:48 AM   Subscribe

A thoughtful man named Maxwell Mouser had just produced a work of actinic philosophy. It took him seven minutes to write it. To write works of philosophy one used the flexible outlines and the idea indexes; one set the activator for such a wordage in each subsection; an adept would use the paradox feed-in, and the striking analogy blender; one calibrated the particular-slant and the personality-signature. It had to come out a good work, for excellence had become the automatic minimum for such productions. "I will scatter a few nuts on the frosting," said Maxwell, and he pushed the lever for that. This sifted handfuls of words like chthonic and heuristic and prozymeides through the thing so that nobody could doubt it was a work of philosophy.
Slow Tuesday Night by one Rafael Aloyius Lafferty (more within)
posted by y2karl (15 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Nine Hundred Grandmothers and The Transcendent Tigers are two more online short stories.
Not fiction but by Lafferty is the meditation Day After The World Ended.
And They Took the Sky Off at Night, Despair and the Duck Lady and Okla Hannali contain personal recollections of Lafferty of one sort or another.
And R. A. Lafferty: Effective Arcanum attempts to define Lafferty's idiosyncratic and indescribable style.
And then there is the R.A. Lafferty Devotional Page.
posted by y2karl at 1:48 AM on February 25, 2007

Heh. I linked to Lafferty in my frist psot (though the good people at scifi.com seem to have taken the story down). Lafferty is the best. Thanks for this post, and anyone not familiar with RAL has a lot of fun to catch up on.
posted by languagehat at 5:17 AM on February 25, 2007

Lafferty is one of my favorite writers. Thanks for these finds.
posted by ardgedee at 6:26 AM on February 25, 2007

I've heard nothing but good things about Lafferty. Beyond these stories, where's a good place to start with his novels?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:30 AM on February 25, 2007

It's not about the novels, it's about the gemlike short stories. I sure do wish someone would throw "Continued on Next Rock" online - it is a delightfully eerie masterpiece, and an absolute bear to find otherwise.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:22 AM on February 25, 2007

That was highly entertaining, thanks.
posted by Mach5 at 7:30 AM on February 25, 2007

> Beyond these stories, where's a good place to start with his novels?

His strength was in the short form, where he could tell shaggy dog stories full of embellishments and tall tales and be done before the reader lost patience.

His short novel Space Chantey, probably my favorite of his longer works, recasts Homer's 'Odyssey' in a John Campbell 'Astounding Stories' spacefaring universe where everybody's roaring drunk. Arrive at Easterwine involves The Institute, a group of brilliant and crazed scientists who crop up in many of his short stories as well. There's also Fourth Mansions, by turns hard-boiled detective novel, ghost story, gothic horror, and philosophical meditation on Catholic allegory.

What I've never read and wanted to are his historical fiction and non-fiction books. But if his sci-fi is hard to find, his comparatively mainstream output is even rarer.
posted by ardgedee at 8:21 AM on February 25, 2007

From the book list at the bottom of Owlcroft's superlative Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Work's RA Lafferty page linked above:
Episodes of the Argo [only 335 copies printed]...

How Many Miles to Babylon? [only 500 copies printed]...

Dotty [only 330 copies printed]...

East of Laughter [only 1010 copies printed]
The Elliptical Grave [only 300 copies printed]...

Golden Gate and Other Stories * [only 1000 copies printed]
Through Elegant Eyes: Stories of Austro and the Men Who Know Everything [only 1000 copies printed]...

# The Early Lafferty * [only 500 copies printed]
# Promontory Goats * [only 500 copies printed]
# The Back Door of History [only 500 copies printed]
# The Early Lafferty II * [only 300 copies printed]
# Mischief Malicious (And Murder Most Strange) * [only 330 copies printed]
Only 330 copies published... The mind boggles. There Ain't No Justice is not merely a slogan.
posted by y2karl at 8:38 AM on February 25, 2007

Hah, this very page is already the top hit for "prozymeides" on Google.

Love R. A. Lafferty at times (some of his work is a little obscure for me). The story of when all the gypsies leave everywhere is a favorite of mine!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2007

That would be Land Of The Great Horses. Whoo hoo! I just found that. Now if I could only find Groaning Hinges of the World online, this post would be complete.
posted by y2karl at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2007

Thanks! Too bad the scifi.com pages are so badly designed and formatted (tried 3 browsers) but it's great that some of his stories are online.
posted by zadcat at 10:50 AM on February 25, 2007

That would be Land Of The Great Horses. Whoo hoo! I just found that.

That's the one I linked in my first post! And now I can get to it, through both your link and mine, whereas before I got an error message from both. I guess that's what zadcat is talking about ("badly designed and formatted"). Anyway, I'm glad it's still there.
posted by languagehat at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2007

Hey all, since the scifi.com pages seem to be so universally hated, try using one of these 'zap' bookmarklets to clean 'em up. And thanks for the amazing stories.
posted by wzcx at 4:43 PM on February 25, 2007

I met Mr. Lafferty many years ago when I lived in Tulsa... an amazing man, and his work has always been some of my most favorite SF stuff. I'm with adamgreenfield- wish I could find "continued on next rock" on line.
posted by drhydro at 8:42 AM on February 26, 2007

I just found "Okla Hannali" at the library here in Santa Fe! Woot! I always read anything of Lafferty's I could find. I don't think I was trying hard enough.
posted by pointilist at 4:45 PM on February 26, 2007

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