R. A. Lafferty

R. A. Lafferty

Infobox Writer
name = R. A. Lafferty

caption = Lafferty in a portion of his extensive library.
pseudonym =
birthdate = birth date|1914|11|7|mf=y
birthplace = Neola, Iowa
deathdate = death date and age|2002|3|18|1914|11|7|mf=y
deathplace = Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
occupation = Novelist, short story author
genre = Science fiction, Fantasy
notableworks = "Past Master"
influences = Irish and Greek mythology, Teresa of Ávila
influenced = Neil Gaiman, Terry Bisson, Gene Wolfe, Ray Vukcevich

Raphael Aloysius Lafferty (November 7, 1914 - March 18, 2002) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure [ Gene Wolfe wrote in an introduction to "Episodes of the Argo" that " [Lafferty may be] the most original writer in the history of literature"; Michael Swanwick has written that "if there were no Lafferty, we would lack the imagination to invent him", this is quoted on the back cover of the original edition of "Lafferty in Orbit"; Neil Gaiman has said that " [Lafferty's] stories are without precedent"; Harlan Ellison has written that "Lafferty defies categorization; his work is unlike anyone else's"... See "Quotations about Lafferty" for more: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/R._A._Lafferty ] , as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, "In a Green Tree"; a history book, "The Fall of Rome"; and a number of novels that could be more or less loosely called historical fiction.


Lafferty was born on 7 November 1914 in Neola, Iowa to Hugh David Lafferty (a broker dealing in oil leases and royalties) and Julia Mary Burke, a teacher, the youngest of five siblings. His first name, Raphael, derived from the day he was expected to be born on (the Feast of St. Raphael). At the age of 4, his family moved to Perry, Oklahoma. He attended night school at the University of Tulsa for two years from 1933, mostly studying math and German, but left. He then began to work for a "Clark Electric Co.", in Tulsa, Oklahoma and apparently a newspaper as well; during this period (1939-1942), he attended the International Correspondence School.

R. A. Lafferty lived most of his life in Tulsa, with his sister, Anna Lafferty. Lafferty served for four years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He enlisted in 1942. Affter training in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and California, he was sent to the South Pacific Area, serving in Australia, New Guinea, Morotai and the Philippines. When he left the Army in 1946, he had become a 1st Sergeant serving as a staff sergeant and had received an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal [https://www-perscom.army.mil/tagd/tioh/Awards/ASIATIC-PACIFIC1.html] . He never married.

Lafferty did not begin writing until the 1950s, but he eventually produced thirty-two novels and more than two hundred short stories, most of them at least nominally science fiction. His first published story was "The Wagons" in "New Mexico Quarterly Review" in 1959. His first published science fiction story was "Day of the Glacier", in "The Original Science Fiction Stories" in 1960, and his first published novel was "Past Master" in 1968.

Until 1971, Lafferty worked as an electrical engineer. After that, he spent his time writing until around 1980, when he retired from that activity as well, due to a stroke. In 1994, he suffered an even more severe stroke. He died 18 March 2002, aged 87 in a nursing home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. His collected papers, artifacts, and ephemera were donated to the University of Tulsa's McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Other manuscripts are housed in the University of Iowa's Library special collections department.


Lafferty's quirky prose drew from traditional storytelling, both Irish and Native American, and his shaggy characters and tall tales are unique in science fiction. Little of Lafferty's writing is considered typical of the genre. His stories are more tall tale than traditional science fiction and are deeply influenced by his Catholic beliefs; "Fourth Mansions", for example, draws on "The Interior Mansions" of Teresa of Avila.

In any event, his writings, both topically and stylistically, are not easy to categorize. Plot is frequently secondary to anything else Lafferty does in his stories, which has caused him to have a loyal cult following, but has caused some readers to give up attempting to read his work.

Not all of Lafferty's work was science fiction or fantasy; his novel "Okla Hannali" [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0806123494] , published by University of Oklahoma Press, tells the story of the Choctaw in Mississippi, and after the Trail of Tears, in Oklahoma, through an account of the larger-than-life character Hannali and his large family. This novel was thought of highly by the novelist Dee Brown [In the back cover of the edition of "Okla Hannali" published by University of Oklahoma Press, there is a quotation from Dee Brown, in which he writes "The history of the Choctaw Indians has been told before and is still being told, but it has never been told in the way Lafferty tells it ... Hannali is a buffalo bull of a man who should become one of the enduring characters in the literature of the American Indian." He also wrote, "It is art applied to history so that the legend of the Choctaws, their great and small men, their splendid humor, and their tragedies are filled with life and breath." ] , who published an influential book ("Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee") in 1970 on the violent relationship between Native Americans and American expansionism.

Lafferty's work is represented by Virginia Kidd Literary Agency ["Virginia Kidd was the first female literary agent in the genre of speculative fiction, and over the next 3 decades represented some of the field's most important authors, including Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty, Alan Dean Foster, and many others." [http://www.sfwa.org/News/kidd.htm "Virginia Kidd (1921-2003)"] ] .

List of works

Publication dates have generally been left out, since they rarely give a clue about when some particular work was written, and since the list also contains works not yet published.


* cite book
first=R. A.
title=The Fall of Rome
location=Garden City, N.Y. USA
id=LCCN 73-131087
-(Lafferty's fifth book)
* cite book
first=R. A.
title=It's down the slippery cellar stairs : essays and speeches on fantastic literature
publisher=Borgo Press
location=San Bernardino, California

Historical novels

* "The Flame is Green", 1st volume of the "Coscuin Chronicles"
* "Half a Sky", 2nd volume of the "Coscuin Chronicles"
* "Sardinian Summer", 3rd volume of the "Coscuin Chronicles" (unpublished)
* "First and Last Islands", 4th and final volume of the "Coscuin Chronicles" (unpublished)
* cite book
first=R. A.
title=Okla Hannali
publisher=Doubleday & Company, Inc.
location=Garden City, New York
id=LCCN 73-186035

* "Esteban" (unpublished)

cience Fiction and Fantasy novels

* "Past Master"
* "The Reefs of Earth, 1968
* "Space Chantey" (a retelling of the Odyssey in SF terms).
* "Fourth Mansions", 1969
* "Arrive at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine as Conveyed to R. A. Lafferty"
* "Not to Mention Camels"
* "Aurelia"
* "Annals of Klepsis"
* "Serpent's Egg"
* "East of Laughter"
* "Sindbad: The Thirteenth Voyage"
* "Dotty"
* "The Elliptical Grave"
* "When All the World Was Young" (unpublished)

Autobiographical novels

"In a Green Tree"
* "My Heart Leaps Up, 1920-1928"
* "Grasshoppers and Wild Honey, 1928-1942" (unpublished)
* "Deep Scars of the Thunder, 1942-1960" (unpublished)
* "Incidents of Travel in Flatland, 1960-1978" (unpublished)

The Devil is Dead Trilogy

* cite book
first=R. A.
edition=1st edition
publisher=Manuscript Press
location=Lafayette, La.
id=LCCN: 79-127387; OCLC: 5944486

* cite book
first=R. A.
title=The Devil is Dead
edition=Wildside edition
publisher=1999 edition, Wildside Press; 1971/1977 edition, Gregg Press of Boston (The Gregg Press science fiction series)
location=Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; or Gillette, NJ
id=ISBN 1-880448-95-5; ISBN 0-8398-2364-9; LCCN: 77-5038; OCLC: 2896356

** the "Interglossia"; a portion of "The Devil is Dead" which was omitted from printings of it; the Interglossia has been republished in "How Many Miles to Babylon?" & in pgs 16-18, Issue 5 of "A Magazine of Popular Literature and Popular Culture", in 1972 (ed. by Tom Collins & published by Fan Press of Lakemont, GA [http://www.pbagalleries.com/search/item.php?anr=156510] ; OCLC: 70161160
** "Apocryphal Passage of the Last Night Of Count Finnegan On Galveston Island"; the last chapter of "The Devil Is Dead", omitted from the standard version, because the publisher of the first edition did not receive it in time to include it; later published separately in "Episodes of the Argo"
* "More Than Melchisedech"
** "Tales of Chicago"
** "Tales of Midnight
** "Argo"

Miscellaneous unpublished novels or otherwise unknown

* "Iron Tongue of Midnight"
* "Dark Shine"
* "Fair Hills of Ocean"


* "Funnyfingers & Cabrito" (Pendragon Press, 1976)
* "Horns On Their Heads" (Pendragon Press, 1976)
* "Promontory goats" (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* "True believers" (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* "Strange skies" (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* "Mischief malicious" (c. 1991; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)


* "How Many Miles to Babylon?"
* "Apocalypses"
** Where have You been Sandaliotis?
** The Three Armageddons of Enniscorthy Sweeney
* cite book
first=R. A.
title=Ishmael into the Barrens
edition=1st edition
"Ishmael into the Barrens" was first printed in the 1971 anthology "Four Futures: Four Original Novellas of Science Fiction", New York, New York; Hawthorn Books (195 pages; it contains the "Foreword: Four Themes for Four Futures" by Isaac Asimov; "Ishmael into the Barrens" by R. A. Lafferty; "Braver Newer World" by Harry Harrison; "How Can We Sink When We Can Fly?" by Alexei Panshin; and "Going" by Robert Silverberg; LCCN: 79-158024)

hort Stories

* "And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire"
* "Six Fingers of Time"

hort story collections

(the following collections have no overlap)
* "Nine Hundred Grandmothers" (21 stories): Nine Hundred Grandmothers / Land of the Great Horses / Ginny Wrapped in the Sun / The Six Fingers of Time / Frog on the Mountain / All the People / Primary Education of the Camiroi / Slow Tuesday Night / Snuffles / Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne / Name of the Snake / Narrow Valley / Polity and Custom of the Camiroi / In Our Block / Hog-Belly Honey / Seven-Day Terror / The Hole on the Corner / What’s the Name of That Town? / Through Other Eyes / One at a Time / Guesting Time
* "Strange Doings" (16 stories): Rainbird / Camels and Dromedaries, Clem / Continued on Next Rock / Once on Aranea / Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas / The Man with the Speckled Eyes / All But the Words / The Transcendent Tigers / World Abounding / Dream / Ride a Tin Can / Aloys / Entire and Perfect Chrysolite / Incased in Ancient Rind / The Ugly Sea / Cliffs That Laughed. 276 pages, 1972, SBN 684-12530-7; New York, America and Canada, Charles Scribner's Sons.
* "Does Anyone Else Have Something Further To Add? Stories About Secret Places and Mean Men" (16 stories): About a Secret Crocodile / Mad Man / Nor Limestone Islands / The Man Underneath / Boomer Flats / This Grand Carcass Yet / In the Garden / Groaning Hinges of the World / Golden Trabant / How They Gave It Back / Maybe Jones and the City / Seven Story Dream / Adam Had Three Brothers / Pig in a Pokey / The Weirdest World / The Ultimate Creature
* "Golden Gate and Other Stories" (16 stories): Golden Gate / Mr. Hamadryad / This Boding Itch / Condillac's Statue / The Cliff Climbers / McGruder's Marvels / Tongues of the Matagorda / Ishmael into the Barrens (previously published in "Four Futures") / Eurema's Dam / Days of Grass, Days of Straw / Make Sure the Eyes Are Big Enough / Bequest of Wings / Fall of Pebble-Stones / Marsilia V / One-Eyed Mocking Bird / Sky
* "Through Elegant Eyes" (15 stories): The All-At-Once Man / Mud Violet / Barnaby's Clock / And Read the Flesh Between the Lines / Animal Fair / The Ungodly Mice of Dr. Drakos / The Two-Headed Dragon of Chris Benedetti / The Hellaceous Rocket of Harry O'Donovan / The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen / Rivers of Damascus / Old Helloweens on the Guna Slopes / Brain Fever Season / What Big Tears the Dinosaur's / And all the Skies Are Full of Fish / St. Poleander's Eve
* "Iron Tears" (15 stories): You Can't Go Back / Ifrit / Lord Torpedo, Lord Gyroscope / Funnyfingers / Thieving Bear Planet / Berryhill / The World As Will and Wallpaper / Horns On Their Heads / By the Sea Shore / Selenium Ghosts of the Eighteen Seventies / Magazine Section / Or Little Ducks Each Day / Cabrito / Le Hot Sport / Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence
* "Lafferty in Orbit" (19 stories, 4 overlap the above; in addition, another 4 can be found in the collection "Ringing Changes", below): Old Foot Forgot / All Pieces of a River Shore / Bright Coins in Never-Ending Stream / Flaming Ducks and Giant Bread / The Hole on the Corner / The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street / Continued on Next Rock / Entire and Perfect Chrysolite / Great Day in the Morning / The Hand with One Hundred Fingers / One at a Time / Royal Licorice / And Name My Name / Fall of Pebble Stones / Configuration of the North Shore / Dorg / When All the Lands Pour Out Again / Interurban Queen / The Only Tune That He Could Play
* "Ringing Changes" (20 stories, 13 overlap the above): Parthen / Old Foot Forgot / Dorg / Days of Grass, Days of Straw / Brain Fever Season / And Read the Flesh Between the Lines / Old Halloweens on the Guna Slopes / The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos / The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen / Rivers of Damascus / Among the Hairy Earthmen / In Outraged Stone / And Name My Name / Sky / For All Poor Folks at Picketwire / Oh Whatta You Do When the Well Runs Dry ? / And Some in Velvet Gowns / The Doggone Highly Scientific Door / Interurban Queen / Been a Long Long Time
* "The back door of history", 1988, United Mythologies Press in Weston, Ont., Canada: Phoenic / Six leagues from Lop / Rainy day in Halicarnasses / Assault on Fat Mountain / Calamities of last pauper / Rogue raft.
* "The early Lafferty", c. 1988, United Mythologies Press.
* "The early Lafferty II", c. 1990, United Mythologies Press.

Awards and Recognition

Lafferty received Hugo nominations for "Past Master", "Continued on the Next Rock," "Sky," and "Eurema's Dam," the last of which won the Best Short Story Hugo in 1973 (shared with Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's "The Meeting.") [http://worldcon.org/hy.html#73] He received Nebula Award nominations for "Slow Tuesday Night," "Past Master", "Fourth Mansions", "Continued on Next Rock," and "The Devil is Dead". He never received a Nebula award. His collection "Lafferty in Orbit" was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and in 1990, Lafferty received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he received the Cordwainer Smith Foundation's Rediscovery award [http://www.cordwainer-smith.com/lafferty.htm] .

Fourth Mansions was also named by David Pringle as one of his selections for "Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels".


" [Once a] French publisher nervously asked whether Lafferty minded being compared to G. K. Chesterton (another Catholic author), and there was a terrifying silence that went on and on. Was the great man hideously offended? Eventually, very slowly, he said: 'You're on the right track, kid,' and wandered away." [From an SFX magazine column by David Langford; issue #92, June 2002]

In his 2006 short story collection "Fragile Things", Neil Gaiman includes a short story called "Sunbird" written in the style of Lafferty. In the introduction, he says this about Lafferty:

There was a writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma (he died in 2002), who was, for a little while in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the best short story writer in the world. His name was R. A. Lafferty, and his stories were unclassifiable and odd and inimitable -- you knew you were reading a Lafferty story within a sentence. When I was young I wrote to him, and he wrote back.
"Sunbird" was my attempt to write a Lafferty story, and it taught me a number of things, mostly how much harder they are than they look.... [Introduction to "Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders" by Neil Gaiman. published 2006 by William Morrow. page xxvii]

Books in Print

* "Past Master"
* "The Reefs of Earth"
* "Fourth Mansions"
* "The Devil Is Dead"
* "Okla Hannali"
* "Serpent's Egg"
* "Annals of Klepsis"
* "Not to Mention Camels"
* "Sindbad: The Thirteenth Voyage"
* "My Heart Leaps Up"

Short Story Collections
* "Nine Hundred Grandmothers"
* "Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add"
* "Iron Tears"
* "Lafferty in Orbit"

Further reading

* "Cranky old man from Tulsa: interviews with R.A. Lafferty." [http://demo.openlibrary.org/b/Cranky_old_man_Lafferty] R.A. Lafferty, 1990, United Mythologies Press


External links

* [http://www.cordwainer-smith.com/lafferty.htm "R. A. Lafferty: Winner of the 2002 Cordwainer Smith Foundation "Rediscovery" Award]
* [http://www.mulle-kybernetik.com/RAL R. A. Lafferty Devotional Page]
** [http://www.mulle-kybernetik.com/RAL/MT/links.html Links]
* [http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.html?id=1110 R. A. Lafferty: Effective Arcanum] - a critical examination of aspects of Lafferty's prose
* [http://home.earthlink.net/~cranked/lafferty.html "And They Took the Sky Off at Night"] - an appreciation of Lafferty by editor Brian Cholfin
* [http://www.lostbooks.org/guestreviews/2002-06-27-1.html "The Devil is Dead"] , a review
* [http://www.johnreilly.info/tfig.htm "The Flame is Green"] , an essay and review of Lafferty's (non-SF) novel of revolutionary Europe, by John J. Reilly
* [http://www.writers-circle.com/node/349?PHPSESSID=fbd66bdc3d75de98dd837deaff61f190 "Past Master"] , a review at the Writers' Circle
* [http://www.prairienet.org/~almahu/hannali.htm "Okla Hannali"] , a book review and generous sampler
* [http://www.mulle-kybernetik.com/RAL/obit.html Collection of obituaries]
** [http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue260/cassutt.html An obituary by Cassutt]
** [http://www.sfwa.org/News/lafferty.htm]
* [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1413276&lastnode_id=49412 Article] on Lafferty at Everything2
* [http://www.lib.utulsa.edu/speccoll/collections/lafferty/index.htm University of Tulsa McFarlin Library's inventory of the R. A. Lafferty collection housed in their special collections department]
* [http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/MSC/ToMsC650/MsC645/lafferty.htm University of Iowa's page on their special collection of his papers]
* [http://www.vk-agency.com/ Virginia Kidd Literary Agency] is where R. A. Lafferty's agent can be reached.
* [http://www.geocities.com/konstiantin/osfw/authors/RAL_sinor_tribute.html "The Cranky Old Man of Tulsa"]
* [http://greatsfandf.com/AUTHORS/RALafferty.php " A Few Words About R. A. Lafferty"]

Works available online

* [http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/lafferty3/lafferty31.html Narrow Valley]
* [http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/lafferty5/ Slow Tuesday Night]
* [http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/lafferty/lafferty1.html Nine Hundred Grandmothers]
* [http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/lafferty4/ The Transcendent Tigers]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/23161 Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas]

NAME=Lafferty, Raphael Aloysius
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Lafferty, R.A.; Lafferty, R. A.; Lafferty, Ray
DATE OF BIRTH=November 7, 1914
DATE OF DEATH=March 18, 2002
PLACE OF DEATH=Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lafferty — is a surname that can refer to a number of people: * R.A. Lafferty the American novelist * John Lafferty, American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient * James Lafferty, the American actor * Kyle Lafferty, the Northern Ireland and Rangers F.C.… …   Wikipedia

  • Lafferty (Ohio) — Lafferty Lugar designado por el censo de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lafferty — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: James Lafferty (* 1985), US amerikanischer Schauspieler Karen Lafferty (* 1948), US amerikanische Sängerin und Musiklehrerin Kyle Lafferty (* 1987), nordirischer Fußballspieler Marcy Lafferty (* 1946), US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lafferty, Ohio — Lafferty is an unincorporated community in northeastern Union Township, Belmont County, Ohio, United States, along Wheeling Creek. [cite book| title= Ohio Atlas Gazetteer |year=1991 |publisher= DeLorme |location=Yarmouth, Me. |isbn= 0 89933 233 1 …   Wikipedia

  • Lafferty — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. James Lafferty est un acteur de télévision américain, né le 25 juillet 1985 à Hemet dans l État de Californie. Kyle Lafferty est un footballeur nord… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lafferty, R A — ▪ 2003       American writer (b. Nov. 7, 1914, Neola, Iowa d. March 18, 2002, Broken Arrow, Okla.), was a prolific award winning author of science fiction and historical novels; he also published more than 200 short stories. Lafferty did not… …   Universalium

  • Lafferty — This notable surname, chiefly found in the Province of Ulster, is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic O (Fh)laithbheartaigh or MacFhlaithbheartaigh . Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, or some illustrious warrior,… …   Surnames reference

  • Lafferty Field — is a private airport located 5 miles south of Brownsville in Linn County, Oregon, USA.External links …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Lafferty — Infobox Congressman name= A. W. Lafferty caption=A. W. Lafferty in 1913 state= Oregon district= 2nd party= Republican term= March 4, 1911 ndash; March 3, 1913 preceded= William R. Ellis succeeded= Nicholas J. Sinnott state2= Oregon district2=3rd… …   Wikipedia

  • Marcy Lafferty — Marcy Lafferty, auch Lafferty Shatner (* 21. Juni 1946) ist eine US amerikanische Schauspielerin und Theaterautorin. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben und Karriere 2 Familie 3 Filmografie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”