Monday, February 8, 2016

Lafferty News (Issue 5)

The biggest Lafferty news of late is that he is finally being published again.  Only e-books for Kindle are available so far, and only in the U.K., but rumour has it that this announcement will be followed by further announcements of physical books, USA releases, and also a brand new Best Of Lafferty. I'm guessing these developments will happen within the year, but that's just a guess.  The electronic 'covers' of the new releases seem like fairly slapped together stock art, and I think they'll tend to be misleading to potential readers.  It seems as if the publishers are just trying to reach out to common denominator SF/Fantasy fans and such folks are likely to be disappointed, or at least confused, when they start to read what's 'under' these covers.  The artwork should reflect the oddity and idiosyncrasy of the product.  These images are certainly indicative of Lafferty's cosmic themes, but you'd never guess from these covers that those cosmic themes are going to be narrated in the folksy, 'outsider art', experimental, oral tall tale sort of way that Lafferty has.  Here's hoping the physical releases will feature something more original and appropriate to each book's content.  You can see the blurbed book descriptions HERE.

Japanese Lafferty fan and scholar, Kenji Matsuzaki, shared on the East of Laughter Lafferty Facebook group the following information:  'According to the LOCUS February issue, "R. A. LAFFERTY’s new collection The Best of R.A. Lafferty sold to Malcolm Edwards at Gollancz, along with classic SF novels Space Chantey, Past Master, and Fourth Mansions; another 18 books were resold to Edwards for e-book publication as part of Gollancz’s SF Gateway intiative, all via Eddie Schneider at JABberwocky Literary Agency in association with John Berlyne at Zeno Agency."'

Next in news is that the long awaited third volume of Lafferty's complete short stories, The Man Underneath, is out from Centipede Press.
Thanks to photos shared by Felipe Guerrero in the Facebook group, I think we can see that this is the most beautiful edition they've made yet.  I'm waiting with baited breath to get my copy (which takes a few months longer to get in the UK).

The story selection is a very good one, but it still has that overly random feel to it that each of the TOCs has had in this series.  It feels as if it's not curated at all, having no sensitivity for how stories might sit side by side with one another or how the experience of reading them straight through the book might be enhanced by some selection of which flows into which.  Oh well.

Finally in Lafferty publishing news, volume 3 of Feast of Laughter: An Appreciation of R. A. Lafferty has hit the streets as well.  It's available on Amazon for a number of countries.  For a list of those, plus a link to the free pdf, see  It's longer than ever and packed with goodness: more reprints of essays on Lafferty from years past, academic and otherwise; new essays, also academic and otherwise; new stories, poems, and artwork; more reflections from Lafferty translators; an interview with Harlan Ellison about Lafferty; letters between Lafferty and Alan Dean Foster (who, incidentally, wrote the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens tie-in novel); a rare and excellent Lafferty non-fiction piece, 'Tell It Funny, Og', and one of my all-time favourite short stories by Lafferty, 'Configuration of the North Shore'.  I once again contributed an essay (on Lafferty and monsters) and a short story.  

Michael Swanwick kindly wrote about our efforts with FoL on his blog:
Feast of Laughter has to be one of the most extraordinary fannish feats of recent years. It's a full-length book/zine containing new and reprint essays, appreciations, letters, whatevers pertaining to the man who was easily the most original science fiction writer of the Twentieth Century --Raphael Aloysius Lafferty. 
R. A. Lafferty, "Ray" as his friends called him, was, during his lifetime, recognized as one of the giants of the field. Now, alas, he's close to forgotten. 
But not quite! Some of the great man's friends and admirers have been working hard to reignite Lafferty's reputation. This volume of Feast of Laughter is the third collection of Laffertiana and it is a must for all serious Lafferty fans.

Feast of Laughter volume 4 is now underway and the content we have so far promises to be just as amazing.  The most exciting feature in the forthcoming volume for me is definitely that we obtained permission and rights to include a never-before-published short story by Lafferty, 'The Rod and the Ring'.  It's a great one too.  There is the usual open call for submissions, but with a special emphasis this time round on what our editor in chief, Kevin Cheek, is calling 'Lightning Essays':  around 300 to 600 words 'About Lafferty's writing, life, legacy, influence, or a personal reminiscence about your experience reading Lafferty'.  Again see for details and where to send your submissions.

Lastly, if you haven't heard, the first ever 'LaffCon' is being held in New Jersey this June. Michael Swanwick also kindly mentioned LaffCon1 in his blog post above, at which he will be the Guest of Honor. I hope to make it myself if I can garner travelling funds from my university.  We shall see.

Note the hilariously clever 'Join us' paragraph at the bottom of the flyer - better image HERE (art by Anthony Ryan Rhodes, wit by John Owen).  

Welp, that's all for now!  Very exciting times for all things Lafferty.


not Bridget said...

Here's a late response to some great news. However, I'm still wondering about the slowness in getting Lafferty back in print. Yes, the short story anthologies are lovely--but they are damn expensive. They will NOT attract new readers--unless they are very rich.

Yes, the "covers" for the Kindlebooks at Amazon.UK do not impress. But the fact that all these books are available at reasonable prices DOES impress me. It's too bad Americans can't buy them.

What is Locus waiting for?

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Thanks for your comment, not Bridget. I agree. Still waiting for widely available print editions and a new 'Best Of' with solid promotion behind it. That's when the real Lafferty renaissance will begin. I hope Locus has got something wonderful planned that makes the wait worth it. Not enough of an optimist to put much stock in that hope though.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)