Columns »Past Masters » Columns
Secret Crocodiles and Strange Doings (or Sometimes the Magic Really Works)
Gilford Gadberry had a contempt for dawns badly done. He knew how blatant and stylized the outdoor world can be in its pristine moments: the contrived shagginess of grass, the stupidity of trees, the falsity of flowers, the oafishness of the birds and their inept melody. These scratched the smooth surface of his soul. "Bad work, very bad work," Gadberry would opine, for he was an artist. —R. A. Lafferty, "Seven Story Dream"
With your indulgence, I would like to preface this installment of "Past Masters" with some clarification, tinged perhaps with just a soupcon of justification. It bears on the subject at hand, so I hope you'll grant me a moment before I plunge headlong into my customary mix of enlightenment and entertainment. Grab a root-beer, if you've a mind to.
Although most of these columns include some critical elements, I am not, as I've said here and elsewhere, principally a Critic, interested only in the literary aspects of my subjects. Rather, I'm a biographer and historian — a biorian? —and my purview is above all the individual who created the work, and the significant personal characteristics that infused their work. This can place me in an uncomfortable position at times, but if I always opted for comfort over reality, little of what I (and the few others who walk alongside) did would be of value aside f rom the mere satisfaction of someone else's passing curiosity.
I am also no freer from my own prejudices and intolerance than anyone else who treads the skin of this particular oblate spheroid, and although I do try very hard to prevent that small-mindedness from affecting how I address my subjects, it is frequently difficult to clearly see where the line is. My bad; I am, as the three damn cats habitually remind me, only human.
So. As I broach the discomfiting components of this essay, bear in mind that I have an obligation to be honest, and that I will do my very best to do so with fairness. I would expect no less from anyone writing about me. [i] Onward.
Our subject this time around was a complex and complicated man, and that makes writing about him a knotty task. There are no easy conclusions to be made (or at least none with any validity), and few opportunities to be glib at his expense, so I won't even try. Lafferty made it impossible for anyone to pigeonhole him as either a stylist or a human being, whether deliberately or unintentionally, and no two readers are likely to agree about him or his writing on anything other than a very general level.
Like his work, Lafferty was multi-layered. He had a self-deprecating sense of humor that served as a buffer for many of the people with whom he worked and interacted. When I met him at the 1976 worldcon, MidAmeriCon in Kansas City, I was introduced to him by Jerry Pournelle. At the time, I was still suffering under the misapprehension that Lafferty was around the same age as the other New Wavers that I'd classed him with, and I was totally unprepared for the reality that he was already in his 60s and looked like what he was: a retired electrical engineer. Me being super-fast on my feet and always ready with a witty comment, I responded to the intro by saying something pithy like " You're R. A. Lafferty?!" He chuckled and shook his head, saying "Naw, I just stole his badge," and walked away laughing. Not for the first time was I faced with having to alter my mental construct of someone I knew only from their work.
It's easy to see why I was confused. Nobody ever wrote—or will ever write —quite like Lafferty. I'm not at all certain that the literature could hold two such, in fact. This is, I think, a blessing, as I'd hate for it to blow up or deliquesce or something sticky.
Lafferty wasn't a science fiction writer, regardless of the section of the bookstore in which his titles may have appeared; rather, he was a mad fantasist, a maker of mythologies, a Wizard of Oddities.
In addition, though, there were facets of his personality—facets which informed and influenced his writing—which will be difficult for me to write about. Write about them I must, however, as journalistic objectivity prevents me from washing over them without mention. Bear with me, please.
Three primary things made Lafferty the brilliant writer he was, inevitably and indubitably. The first, and foremost, was his unfaltering and dogmatic Catholicism. I have heard a rumor, still floating around, that Lafferty had six female sibs, all of whom took the veil. His sisters were all Sisters, in other words. This is untrue; so far as I know, although he had five siblings, none were nuns. In fact, he lived with his sister, Anna, until hi s death.
Nothing odd about sf/fantasy writers being religious, of course. C. S. Lewis made an entire career out of it, as you probably already know. Tenets of the Church of Latter-Day Saints infuse the work of Orson Scott Card, and we won't even mention L. Ron Hubbard. [ii] The number of stories and novels offering speculative takes on various religious ideas is legion (heh), and include some of the best-known and well-regarded works in the field: Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, Simak's "The Creator," del Rey's "For I Am a Jealous People ," and Michael Moorcock's Behold, the Man not the least of them.
Second, and not far behind, w ere his staunchly conservative political views, which caused friction between him and fellow writers and convention committees more than once. It's not inconceivable that he and the Tea Party could have been friendly, although I suspect he valued intellect far more than most of those who considered Sarah Palin a viable candidate for high office. [iii]
Right-wing politics aren't at all rare in the field of science fiction. During the Viet Nam War, for instance, Judith Merril and Kate Wilhelm arranged for an anti-war full-page ad to appear in Galaxy, signed by those who opposed the war. Word apparently got out before it appeared, and they were prevailed upon to make it a "fair and balanced" ad to include those sf writers who favored our involvement. On the "pro-war" side, along with John W. Campbell and Robert Heinlein (and a number of others, some quite surprising) was R. A. Lafferty. This came as a surprise to many readers who associated him with the New Wave, which had a reputation for being liberal and pacifistic (at least where South-East Asia was concerned).
The combination of those first two aspects of Lafferty's mindset separated him from a significant number of his readers, who were unaware of his far-right-of-center rigidity for the most part. Organized fandom was less oblivious, with convention encounters written up in fanzines and whispered about at dead-dog parties. Fan dom has always represented the smallest number of people in the field's readership, so effectively nobody really knew much of anything about this Lafferty guy.
Noted fan Guy Lillian, whose excellent fanzine Challenger has been nominated a remarkable fourt een times (so far) for the Hugo, wrote of his response to Lafferty's novel Past Master in his introduction to his publication of Lafferty's guest of honor speech at the 1979 DeepSouthCon:
I'll never forget my reaction to Lafferty's tale of Thomas More on the golden planet Astrobe. . . . "Ah," I said. "I have found my boy." What I meant was that I had found a writer who—though a rock-ribbed conservative—spoke to a scrawny Berkeley hippie used to being generously tear-gassed every spring. I'd found a poetic spirit who invested science fiction with madness and tragedy and laughter.
The third facet, however, is where the difficulty really lies. In his off-hours at conventions, Ray Lafferty drank heavily. It was not an isolated or occasional thing, either. When speaking to his colleagues, his fans, and those professionals in the field with whom he worked, the one unifying comment I heard across the board (after his genius as a writer) concerned his serious alcohol use. I do not raise this issue to demean the man, or to denigrate him or his ski lls with pen and paper, but a key fact of heavy alcohol use is that it unavoidably permeates every facet of the drinker's life. [iv]
In this, of course, he was far from alone; as a species, writers are notorious sots, and the literary world is crowded with fables of overindulgence and subsequent debauchery. As a gopher at a Star-Trek convention some thirty-five years ago, I was assigned the task of following one such author around in order to smooth over the ruffled feathers he left in his wake. It was almost a full-time job. Thus, I can no more ignore Lafferty's tendency to imbibe socially than I could Zenna Henderson's Mormon childho od or Horace Gold's agoraphobia. Those things had enormous influence on their work, as Lafferty's personality traits had on his.
How did it affect his writing? I asked Mike Resnick, who knew Lafferty well, and he told me this:
There were a number of people . . . who thought he was the most brilliant short story writer in the field. But his novelettes weren't as good, and except for "Space Chanty [sic]" his novellas were unexceptional, and his novels were for the most part mediocre. I blame his drinking for this. If he could grind out a story in one or two sittings, he could be brilliant. But if a novel took him 50 writing sessions, you get the feeling that each day he had to refresh his memory of what the hell he wanted to do, how he wanted to say it, etc.
Lafferty is no longer with us to be interviewed, but extensive reading of his writings shows an arch bitterness. Again, this is nothing unusual for a writer, even in the field of science fiction/fantasy. Cyril M. Kornbluth, for example, was flat-out eat up with bitterness.
However, whereas Kornbluth's acrimony was directed at his fellow man (you only have to read a few random pages of "The Marching Morons" to see this; hell, the title alone is a flashing neon sign), Lafferty seems to have internalized his bitterness, perhaps as an inevitable product of his alcohol use in conflict with his doctrinaire Catholicism. Robert Silverberg, who published a number of Lafferty's stories, said this:
He was clearly a very troubled man, and he clearly drank much too much at conventions, and no doubt was extremely lonely. But he could be a charming guy. .. and anyone who knew his work— brilliant, of course— would instantly be aware of the disconnect between the work and the unhappy figure we saw at conventions and know that something very sad was involved.
I have said that our subject was both complex and complicated, and there is more to Lafferty than just the above. If I'm duty-bound to mention his politics, religion and alcohol use, I'm equally bound to shine a light on other, more positive factors of his character. Lafferty was capable of great warmth and generosity, and many people I spoke to, both faan and pro, were forthcoming about their positive encounters. The aforementioned (and eloquent) Guy Lillian told me this:
If, in the pursuit of accurate reporting, you insist on dwelling on Ray's flaws, mention also the love and loyalty he engendered in fans who knew him, who took care of him when he was incapacitated, because they appreciated that they were dealing with a genius with great depths of humor and sadness . . . and the strongest Catholicism of anyone in the field. He expressed these things exquisitely through his incredible gift, with humility and verve, and was loved for it. After St. LouisCon [the 27 th WorldCon in 1969], where he first appeared to fandom .. . a 20-year-old boy I know—myself— wrote him a fan letter. He sent me back a page of gratitude, affection and wisdom I still cherish. I have never known a finer soul.
And, come on. It's the twenty-first century. What was once something to be desperately hidden under a rock is now so commonly spoken of that they hardly even do after-school specials about it anymore.
Raphael Aloysius Lafferty was born November 7, 1914, in Iowa, but before he entered school his family moved to Oklahoma. He spent most of his life in Tulsa , working twin jobs as an electrician and a newspaper writer before enlisting in the Army in 1942. He served in the Pacific, leaving the Army as a Staff Sergeant in '46. He never married, but lived with a sister, Anna. [v]
Little of this would seem to have led him to a life as a fictioneer, let alone one who would turn the stfnal world on its literary ear, but that's what he did.
For me, it began with the July/August, 1971 If. I had just finished part two of Farmer's The Fabulous Riverboat and was looking forward to "Occam's Scalpel" by Theodore Sturgeon, when I decided to take a break and read one of the other stories in that issue. I had a choice between "Arnten of Ultima Thule" by Avram Davidson (one of my favorite writers), a story by an author I'd never heard of ("To Seek Another" by James A. Gotaas, to my knowledge the physicist's only fiction), and a story by R. A. Lafferty, of whom I had heard but at the time had not read. [vi]
It was "Boomer Flats," and it blindsided me. I'd never read anything quite like it, with its utterly unEarthly-but-of-the-earth characters ("The Comet was a long gray-bearded man (in fact, comet means a star with a beard) and small pieces were always falling off him.") The story still knocks me out, and is one I always recommend to those who haven't read Lafferty.
It's magic. Not "magic realism," whatever that may mean, but just full-on, bull-goose magic. I read it with my eyes wide and my mouth agape. It was not the last time Lafferty would have that effect on me.
I'm not alone in that assessment, either. No less a critic than Brian Aldiss, in his important history of the field, Trillion Year Spree (with David Wingrove, Avon 1988), said this: "Hard to categorize other than as [a] conjuror —[a] singer of strange, sometimes acutely humorous songs —[is] R. A. Lafferty . . . " I think that's a perfect description of Lafferty as written by someone far more knowledgeable and qualified than I.
I frankly didn't know where this story had come from. Being who I was at the time, my initial thought was "Wow, I bet this guy has done a lot of acid!" Little did I know.
Of course, it was an honest mistake; a lot of the imagery, the detail, the sheer atmosphere of Lafferty's work is almost hallucinatory in nature. The idea that someone could have created "Boomer Flats" without having dropped a lot of Orange Sunshine [vii] never even occurred to me.
Acid was the last thing R. A. Lafferty would have downed, considering his religious and political views. No, all that dream-like stuff came straight out of his own unenhanced imagination, and that's almost scary. Phil Farmer, yes; Harlan Ellison, certainly. Lafferty, however, was almost 60 years old when that story ran, and although age isn't an absolute barrier to trippy fantasy, it's the way to bet.
After that startling encounter, I began seeking out all the Lafferty I could find. Not all of it was as brilliant as that first mind-blowing tale, but it was all just as unEarthly. This wasn't science fiction as we usually think of it. No fancy hardware, high-concept technology or plot-points turning on an astrophysical dime here. Nor was it what Bradbury and Nelson Bond used to call "science fantasy," although it comes close in some ways. Lafferty's work stands apart —not necessarily above, bu t undeniably apart —from his colleagues'. You can't even hold it in the same (metaphorical) hand without your fingers wanting to bend in strange directions they weren't designed for. He was sui generis, was Lafferty, and there were plenty of readers who scratched their heads and called his stories unfathomable, but oh, the mythological impact of those stories!
In tune with Mike Resnick's words above, I find that Lafferty's longer works don't read quite as well. That's me, not him, and it's just as much a commentary on my own flaws as it is on anything of hi s. I think he was more comfortable at shorter lengths, and I certainly understand that. The kind of elliptical worldview in which he worked would have been terribly difficult to sustain for 50 thousand words or more, and readers could have found the effort of keeping up with it daunting.
Luckily there is plenty of short-form Lafferty out there to be read and wondered at: he published more than 220 short stories between 1959 and 1997, many of them in t he original anthology series that were prevalent throughout the '70s.
Of his novel-length works, the most cohesive is probably Past Master ( Ace 1968), the fifth of Terry Carr's Science Fiction Specials and Lafferty's first novel. Something of a stfnal ro man à clef, it features the historical Sir Thomas More transported to the planet Astrobe a thousand years after the year of his death (but before his death took place).
Astrobe, once a utopia, is declining so irrevocably that it may mean the end of the human race. Not a good thing, they realize —hence the use of a time machine to bring in the Boss. Well, it seemed to be a good idea at the time, but they didn't anticipate the fact that he is a sixteenth-century dude with all the concomitant limitations, no t to mention a mind very much of his own.
Honest mistake, really. After all, he did coin the word "utopia ." See, they figured he'd fix everything up and be all gosh-wow about being in the future, and they could handle him. Yeah, not so much —this is, after all, Sir Thomas More we're talking about here, described in Wikipedia as:
. . . lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councilor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor. He is recognized as a saint within the Catholic Church and is commemorated by the Church of England as a "Reformation martyr. "
Does that sound to you lik e a guy who would sit up and bark if you waved a Beggin' Strip™ over his head? It doesn't hurt that this isn't the Lord Chancellor's first experience with time travelers, and he takes it all in stride. He finds allies —not all of them human—and enemies too; ones who are prepared to off themselves and take the human race with them.
Much of what ensues comes out of Lafferty's heart-felt opinion that More's 1516 novel Utopia (written completely in Latin, how cool is that?) was a satire. Fair enough—More did use the book as a way of commenting on the mess that Europe was in at the time, and that's what satirists do. If More didn't choose to wear a funny hat or do an impression of Buddy Hackett while writing it, well, that just means it wasn't intended to be a Mad Magazine strip. Satire doesn't always have to be fronted by Alfred E. Neuman, you know.
Ace books, edited at the time by both Donald Wollheim and Terry Carr, devoted a great deal of paper and ink to Lafferty. Carr published three of Lafferty's titles as part of his Science Fiction Specials, and Wollheim bought his Space Chantey for the Doubles series.
This illustrates the dichotom y of Lafferty's work in the late '60s and early '70s: was he a New Wave writer, or wasn't he? Carr's support of the New Wave, both as a critic and as an editor, was well-known. But wasn't Donal d Wollheim a hide-bound traditionalist?
Not really. Sure, he was a Futurian, a pulp writer and editor, and the Ace Double line included a lot of stories pulled directly from the pulps, but it shouldn't be forgotten that he was an early proponent of Philip K. Dick, Margaret St. Clair, Jack Vance and John Brunner among others, none of whom can easily be considered old-fashioned by any means.
Did I say "dichotomy"? I could have as easily said "schizoid." The positive response to Lafferty's work came almost exclusively from the stfnal Counter-Culture, which fact must have alternatively caused the writer both amusement and frustration. One wonders if, while reading some fan's rave review of one of his books or stories Lafferty ever sat back, shook his head ru efully and said "Boy, if they only knew."
At this remove, it hardly matters whether he accepted his endorsement by the New Wave reluctantly or not. I'm fairly certain that when those quarterly royalty payments came in the mail he didn't waste much time trying to figure out which percentage came from Those Damned Hippies.
Lafferty was smart enough and realistic enough (despite his stylistic extravagance) to understand that readership is readership. If anything, he courted the antiestablishment audience by selling to such New Wave-friendly markets as Damon Knight's Orbit, Carr's Universe, Silverberg's New Dimensions and other non-traditional venues [viii] .
There was a problem with his being identified with the New Wave, though: when the Wave broke and went back ou t to sea, it left him without much of a context. He continued with the original anthologies, staying in both Orbit and Universe almost to the bitter end, but aside from a few other anthology appearances and a few stories in F&SF and Asimov's, the rest of his writing came out in collections published by small presses, primarily Corroboree and Chris Drumm.
In the late 1970s it was all too common to see Lafferty's hardcover collections, published earlier in the decade by Scribner, sitting in piles on chain store remainder tables and selling for $1.99. He wasn't alone, of course, but while a number of other authors weren't adversely affected by Scribner's decision to thrift out their mid-list, Lafferty's career never recovered. Of his sixteen novel-length books, half were published in the decade 1968-77. The other eight were spread out over almost twenty years, a nd only one —1983's Annals of Klepsis—was published by a major house, Ace. The others were, like his later collections, produced by small presses. His last novel was Sindbad: The 13 th Voyage (Broken Mirrors 1989) and the last short story, "The Emperor's Shoestrings," appeared in a 1997 anthology published by a gaming company.
As a used-book seller, I can say that there is still a readership for the work of R. A. Lafferty, one that crosses age boundaries and appeals to people who have never even heard of the New Wave. I find this both reassuring and enriching, as his books —even the ones Scribner so blithely dumped—command good prices. Many of his titl es have been reissued by publishers like Wildside, presenting them before an audience for whom his work is a new wonder, as well as making it possible for his "hippie" fans to read him again.
There is one more exceptional aspect to Ralph Aloysius Lafferty's career as a writer, one that I'm not sure has a parallel, and that is the disposition of his literary estate. As I write this, his estate has been auctioned off by the family to the highest bidder. No announcement has as yet been made, so I'm not about to reveal the high bidder, but from what I know it will be in good hands.
This singular circumstance arises from two main factors: first and foremost, Lafferty (coming as he did from a strongly Catholic family) had a lot of heirs, among then not only his sister(s), but nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces. Aside from the numbers, they are almost certainly scattered around the country, making it difficult for decisions to be made with the participation and input of all.
The second reason stems from the cold reality that the small press, however enthusiastic and well-intentioned, has very little money to pay its authors. They rarely pay advances of more than a few hundred dollars, and royalties are limited not only by the relatively low print runs (less of a problem with PoD) but by a lack of major-house distribution channels. Face it; small press publishers may love what they do, but there just ain't a whole lot of money in it and never has been.
Add these two factors together and what you get is a bunch of checks for a bare few dollars being written and sent out to a hundred or more family members; it hardly seems worth the trouble, but honorable publishers have to do it.
As a result, the family offered the entire estate, print and film rights included, for a one-time payment to be divided equally. Only the passage of time will show if this was a wise move, but chances are that it will at the very least simplify things for the family. That is, of course, the whole point of a literary estate.
Literary estate. . . . There's more to an author's literary property than just his/her published works, and whereas Lafferty was heavily published, not everything has seen print. Mike Resnick had this to say about a visit he made to Lafferty's digs in the mid-1980s:
When I visited his house down in Oklahoma, I opened the guest closet to hang up my coat—and saw a 3-foot-high pile of manuscripts. He told me they were his unsold books, he had just turned 70, and he wasn't writing another word until Virginia (Kidd, his agent) sold all of these. She found a little press up in Minnesota, but she never did sell them all. She used to cry on my shoulder that she and I and four dozen others thought he was one of the greatest short story writers alive . . . but she couldn't find 10,000 people to buy his paperbacks or even 500 to buy his signed, numbered hardcovers.
Editor and anthologist Jonathan Strahan agrees, telling me "There's certainly a LOT of unpublished work. About 16 novels and something like 80 short stories."
I would very much like to think that, once the Lafferty estate is settled and a new agent found to represent it, many of the unpublished stories and novels will be made available to an eager (if unfairly small) readership.
"Sui generis" was the term I used back up there a ways, but there's actually more to it than that. I can think of only two other writers in the field who even approach him stylistically, and then only marginally; their only real resemblance is that all three seem to come from places the rest of us only find in dreams.
The other two are Cordwainer Smith and James Tiptree, Jr. I hasten to point out that the resemblance is all relative—they are alike mostly because they're so utterly different from everyone else.
Look at the language they use, though, even in just what they chose for titles: "Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne ," "Entire and Perfect Chrysolite," "Nor Limestone Islands," "The World as Will and Wallpaper" by Lafferty; "Golden the Ship Was—Oh! Oh! Oh!," "The Dead Lady of Clown Town ," "No, No, Not Rogov!," "The Game of Rat and Dragon" by Smith; "All the Kinds of Yes," "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever," "Love is the Plan the Plan is Death," "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!" by Tiptree.
These are titles beyond t he poetic, they spill over into the mythopoetic, and the stories they stand for are the work of myth-makers, no matter that the three are so very different from each other in concept and execution. They were also almost certainly triametrically opposed politically as well, but that's only to be expected.
R. A. Lafferty left us a magnificent body of work, stories that cry and wail and laugh and bray. They come from, and take their readers to, places few others could even conceive of, let alone limn with the skill and richness th at he wielded. Already middle-aged when he sold his first, he laid down a road paved with bright, deadpan madness for us to walk, mouths agape and eyes wide with wonder and trepidation; after all, he's taking us to worlds never seen before, and we can't know what's around that corner until the page is turned.
He was a writer of shining, bedazzling stories made all the richer by his flaws. Would that we all could employ our own imperfections so superbly.
[i] Yeah, as if.
[iii] I sometimes wonder what Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley, Jr. would have made of the current crop of conservatives. Bird houses, maybe.
[iv] Let me hasten to add here that none of the persons I spoke to about Lafferty indicated that he drank in anything other than social situations; face it, an electrical engineer who showed up plastered all the time wouldn't keep his job long, and wouldn't do it well even if he did. But conventions are public, if limited, venues, so I cannot treat it as a secret.
[v] Legend has it that Lafferty had five sisters, all of whom "took the veil." I have no confirmation of this from anyone, and offer it only as an aside.
[vi] I was still working my way through Harlan Ellison's landmark Dangerous Visions (Doubleday 1967), but hadn't yet gotten to Lafferty's "Land of the Great Horses."
[vii] All while listening, of course, to Pink Floyd or Bubble Puppy or the 13 th Floor Elevators, any of those feedbacky psychedelic bands. Or maybe Lothar and the Hand People.
[viii] He sold a good deal to Roger Elwood, too, but Elwood was hardly a discriminating editor; he was, at the time, one of the top markets for short fiction and as a result bought from just about everybody.
Bibliography of Ralph Aloysius Lafferty
(This bibliography is deliberately incomplete, as R. A. Lafferty wrote poetry extensively, and in the interests of space, I have omitted them here. I would like to thank Jonathan Strahan for his invaluable help in compiling this bibliography.)
"The Wagons"—Spring 1959 New Mexico Quarterly Review
"Day of the Glacier"—January 1960 Science Fiction Stories
"Through Other Eyes"—February 1960 Future Science Fiction #47
"Other Side of the Moon"—March 1960 Husk Magazine
"Saturday You Die"—Spring 1960 Artesian Magazine
"Long Teeth"—August 1960 Keyhole Mystery Magazine
"Adam Had Three Brothers"—Fall 1960 New Mexico Quarterly Review
"The Ugly Sea"— Fall 1960 The Literary Review
"The Six Fingers of Time"—September 1960 If
"Beautiful Dreamer"—September 1960 Shock
"McGonigal's Worm"—November 1960 If
"Snuffles"—December 1960 Galaxy
"Try to Remember"—December 1960/January 1961 Collage Magazine
"The Polite People of Pudibundia"—January 1961 If
"In the Garden"—March 1961 If
"All the People"—April 1961 Galaxy
"The Weirdest World"—June 1961 Galaxy
"Aloys"— August 1961 Galaxy
"Rainbird"— December 1961 Galaxy
"Seven-Day Terror"—March 1962 Galaxy
"Dream"— June 1962 Galaxy (aka "Dreamworld")
"Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas"— December 1962 Galaxy
"The Transcendent Tigers" —February 1964 Worlds of Tomorrow
"Name of the Snake"—April 1964 Worlds of Tomorrow
"What's the Name of That Town?"—October 1964 Galaxy
"Mad Man"—October 1964 If
"Pig in a Pokey"—December 1964 If
"The Man With the Speckled Eyes"—December 1964 F&SF
"The Pani Planet"—January 1965 Worlds of Tomorrow
"Slow Tuesday Night"—April 1965 Galaxy
"Guesting Time"—May 1965 If
"In Our Block"—July 1965 If
"Hog-Belly Honey"—September 1965 F&SF
"Nine Hundred Grandmothers"—February 1966 If
"Golden Trabant"—May 1966 If
"Among the Hairy Earthmen"—August 1 966 Galaxy
" Narrow Valley"— September 1966 F&SF
"Primary Education of the Camiroi" —December 1966 Galaxy
"The Man Who Never Was"—Summer 1967 Magazine of Horror
"The Hole on the Corner"—in Orbit 2, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1967
"Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne"—February 1967 Galaxy
"Polity and Custom of the Camiroi" —June 1967 Galaxy
"Ginny Wrapped in the Sun"—August 1967 Galaxy
"Land of the Great Horses"—in Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Doubleday 1967
"Camels and Dromedaries, Clem"—October 1967 F&SF
"The Ultimate Creature"—November 1967 Magazine of Horror
"One at a Time"—in Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1968
"Maybe Jones and the City"— The Third Foundation #80 1968
"How They Gave It Back" - February1968 Galaxy
"McGruder's Marvels"—July 1968 Galaxy
"This Grand Carcass"—November 1968 Amazing (aka "This Grand Carcass Yet")
"Cliffs That Laughed"—March 1969 Magazine of Horror
"Configuration of the North Shore"— in Orbit 5, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1969
"Frog on the Mountain"—in Nine Hundred Grandmothers, Ace 58050, 1970 (Science
"Entire and Perfect Chrysolite"—in Orbit 6, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1970
"Hands of the Man"—in Infinity One, ed. Robert Hoskins, Lancer 75-108, 1970
"Ride a Tin Can"—April 1970 If
"Continued on Next Rock"—in Orbit 7, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1970
"Old Foot Forgot"—in Orbit 7, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1970
"The All-At-Once Man—July 1970 Galaxy
"About a Secret Crocodile"—August/September 1970 Galaxy
"Interurban Queen"—in Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1970
"All Pieces of a River Shore"— in Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1970
"The Cliff Climbers"—in Quark/1, ed. Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker,
Paperback Library 66-480, 1970
"Condillac's Statue, or Wrens in His Head"— in Alchemy and Academe, ed. Anne
McCaffrey, Doubleday 1970
"Been a Long, Long Time"—December 1970 Fantastic
"Sky"—in New Dimensions 1: Fourteen Original Science Fiction Stories, ed. Robert
Silverberg, Doubleday 1971
"Nor Limestone Islands"— in Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr, Ace 84600, 1971
"When All the Lands Pour Out Again"—in Orbit 9, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1971
"Groaning Hinges of the World"—in The Ruins of Earth, ed. Thomas M. Disch, Putnam
"The Man Underneath"—January/February 1971 If
"Encased in Ancient Rind"—in Quark/3, ed. Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker,
Paperback Library 66593 1971 (aka "Incased in Ancient Rind")
"Enfant Terrible"—June 1971 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
"All But the Words"—July/August 1971 Galaxy
"Boomer Flats"—July/August 1971 If
"Ishmael Into the Barrens "—in Four Futures, ed. Robert Silverberg, Hawthorn 1971
"Bubbles When They Burst"—November/December 1971 Galaxy
"World Abounding"—December 1971 F&SF
"Eurema's Dam"—in New Dimensions II: Eleven Original Science Fiction Stories, ed.
Robert Silverberg, Doubleday 1972
"And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire "—in And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire
and Other Science Fiction Stories, ed. Roger Elwood, Chilton 1972
"Once on Aranea"—in Strange Doings, Scribner's 1972
"A Special Condition in Summit City"— in Universe 2, ed. Terry Carr, Ace 84601, 1972
"Dorg"—in Orbit 10, ed. Damon Knight, Putnam 1972
"Rang Dang Kaloof"—February 1972 Playboy
"In Outraged Stone"—in Frontiers 1: Tomorrow's Alternatives, ed. Roger Elwood,
"The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos "—in Ringing Changes, Ace 1973
"The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen"—in Ringing Changes, Ace 1973
"Four Sides of Infinity"—in Frontiers 2: The New Mind, ed. Roger Elwood, MacMillan
1973 (consists of four related stories: "The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos", "The Two-Headed Lion of Cris Benedetti", "The Hellaceous Rocket of Harry O'Donovan", and "The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen."
"Barnaby's Clock"—in Showcase, ed. Roger Elwood, Harper & Row 1973
"Scorner's Seat"—in Saving Worlds, ed. Roger Elwood and Virginia Kidd, Doubleday
"Symposium"—in Omega, ed. Roger Elwood, Walker 1973
"Mud Violet"—in Demon Kind, ed. Roger Elwood, Avon 14886, 1973
"Parthen"—May/June 1973 Galaxy
"Ghost in the Corn Crib"—June 1973 Haunt of Horror
"The World as Will and Wallpaper "—in Future City, ed. Roger Elwood, Trident 1973
"Seven Story Dream"—July 1973 Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
"Days of Grass, Days of Straw"—in New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg, Nelson
Doubleday 1973 (Science Fiction Book Clu b original)
"By the Seashore"—November 1973 Galaxy
"And Name My Name"—in Orbit 13, ed. Damon Knight, Berkley/Putnam 1974
"The Most Forgetable Story in the World"— in Long Night of Waiting and Other Stories,
ed. Roger Elwood, Aurora Publishers 1974
"Flaming Ducks and Giant Bread "—in Orbit 15, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row 1974
"The Man with the Aura"— Witchcraft and Sorcery #10, 1974 (aka "Tom O'Shanty's
"And Mad Undancing Bears"—in The Berserkers, ed. Roger Elwood, Trident 1974
"And Read the Flesh Between the Lines "—in Universe 4, ed. Terry Carr, Random 1974
"Royal Licorice"—in Orbit 14, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row 1974
"Rivers of Damascus"—February 1974 Galaxy
"Endangered Species"—May 1974 Galaxy
"Mr. Hamadryad"—in Stellar 1, ed. Judy-Lynn del Rey, Ballantine 1974
"Animal Fair"—in New Dimensions IV, ed. Robert Silverberg, Signet 1974
"For All Poor Folks at Picketwire"—in Epoch, ed. Roger Elwood and Robert Silverberg,
"Or Little Ducks Each Day"—in Dystopian Visions, ed. Roger Elwood, Prentice-Hall
"The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street"— in Orbit 16, ed. Damon Knight, Harper &
"Great Day in the Morning"—in Orbit 17, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row 1975
"Heart Grow Fonder"—in Future Corruption, ed. Roger Elwood, Warner Paperback
"Three Shadows of the Wolf"—March 1975 F&SF
"Old Halloweens on the Guna Slopes" —August 1975 Fantastic (aka "Men Who Knew
"From the Thunder Colt's Mouth"—in In the Wake of Man, ed. Roger Elwood, Bobb s-
"Puddle on the Floor"—in New Constellations: An Anthology of Tomorrow's
Mythologies, ed. Thomas M. Disch and Charles Naylor, Harper & Row 1976
"Fog in My Throat"—in Superhorror, ed. Ramsey Campbell, W. H. Allen 1976
"Cabrito"—in Funnyfingers & Cabrito , Pendragon Press 1976
"Funnyfingers"—in Funnyfingers and Cabrito, Pendragon Press 1976
"Horns on Their Heads"—published as a chapbook by Pendragon Press, 1976
"Smoe and the Implicit Clay"—in Future Power, ed. Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois,
"Love Affair With Ten Thousand Springs"— Summer 1976 Odyssey
"The Hand with One Hundred Fingers"—in Orbit 18, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row
"Oh Tell Me Will It Freeze Tonight"—in Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martin's 1976
"Assault on Fat Mountain"— in Beyond Time, ed. Sandra Ley, Pocket 1976
"Berryhill"—December 1976 Whispers (#9)
"Where Have You Been, Sandaliotis?" —in Apocalypses, Pinnacle 1977
"Oh, Those Trepidatious Eyes!"— Algol #28, 1977
"Brain Fever Season"—in Universe 7, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday 1977
"Thou Whited Wall"—January 1977 F&SF
"Fall of Pebble-Stones"—in Orbit 19, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row 1977
"Bequest of Wings"—in Rooms of Paradise, ed. Lee Harding, Quartet Books 1978
"Selenium Ghosts of the Eighteen Seventies "—in Universe 8, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday
"Bright Coins in Never-Ending Stream"—in Orbit 20, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row
"Splinters"—in Shadows, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday 1978
"Quiz Ship Loose"—in Chrysalis 2, ed. Roy Torgeson, Zebra Books 1978
"The Man Who Walked Through Cracks"—in Chrysalis 3, ed. Roy Torgeson, Zebra
"Bright Flightways" - in Chrysalis 3, ed. Roy Torgeson, Zebra Books 1978
"St. Poleander's Eve"—in Chrysalis 4, ed. Roy Torgeson, Zebra Books 1979
"Almost Perfect"—in Who Done It?, ed. Isaac Asimov and Alice Laurence, Houghton
"The Funny Face Murders"—in New Terrors 2, ed. Ramsey Campbell, Pan 1980 ( UK)
"And All the Skies Are Full of Fish"—in Universe 10, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday 1980
"Lord Torpedo Lord Gyroscope"—in The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science
Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 2, ed. John Silbersack and Victoria Schochet, Berkley
"The Forty-Seventh Island"— in Basilisk, ed. Ellen Kushner, Ace 1980
"The Only Tune That He Could Play"—in Orbit 21, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row
"Crocodile"—in Chrysalis 8, ed. Roy Torgeson, Doubleday 1980
"Bank and Shoal of Time"—in A Spadeful of Spacetime, ed. Fred Saberhagen, Ace 1981
"New People"—March 1981 Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"In Deepest Glass: An Informal History of Stained Glass Windows"— in The Berkley
Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 4 , ed. John
Silbersack and Victoria Schochet, Berkley 1981
"You Can't Go Back"—September 1981 Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"Golden Gate"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories, Corroboree 1982
"One-Eyed Mocking-Bird"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories , Corroboree 1982
"Marsilia V"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories, Corroboree 1982
"Make Sure the Eyes Are Big Enough"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories, Corroboree
"Tongues of the Matagorda"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories, Corroboree 1982
"The Boding Itch"—in Golden Gate and Other Stories, Corroboree 1982
"Great Tom Fool or The Conundrum of the Calais Customhouse Coffers"— in
Speculations, ed. Isaac Asimov and Alice Laurence, Houghton-Mifflin 1982
"Thieving Bear Planet"—in Universe 12, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday 1982
"Square and Above Board"—October 1982 F&SF
"Calamities of Last Pauper"— Fantasy Book #6, November 1982
"Ifrit"—in Perpetual Light, ed. Alan Ryan, Warner Books 1982
"Company in the Wings"—in Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories , Chris Drumm
"Haruspex"—in Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Heart of Stone, Dear"—in Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"The End of Outward"—in Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"And You Did Not Wail"—in Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories, Chris Drumm
"What Big Tears the Dinosaur's"—in Through Elegant Eyes, Corroboree 1983
"Unique Adventure Gone"—in Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories, Chris Drumm
"Snake in His Bosom "—in Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Posterior Analytics"—in Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Pleasures and Palaces"—in Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Jack Bang's Eyes"—i n Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Bird-Master"—in Four Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"Faith Sufficient"—in Four Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"In the Turpentine Trees"—in Four Stories, Chris Drumm 1983
"The Last Astronomer"—in Four Stories , Chris Drumm 1983
" Pine Castle"— September 1983 Amazing
"And Some in Velvet Gowns"—in Ringing Changes, Ace 1984
"The Doggone Highly Scientific Door"—in Ringing Changes, Ace 1984
"Oh Whatta You Do When the Well Runs Dry?"— in Ringing Changes, Ace 1984
"Two For Four Ninety-Five "—in The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories, Chris
"Of Laughter and the Love of Friends"—in The Man Who Made Models and Other
Stories, Chris Drumm 1984
"The Effigy Histories"—in The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories , Chris Drumm
"I'll See It Done and Then I'll Die"—in The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories,
Chris Drumm 1984
"The Man Who Made Models"—in The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories, Chris
"The Ninety-Ninth Cubicle"—Fall 1984 Weird Tales (aka "99 th Cubicle")
"John Salt"—in Slippery and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1985
"All Hollow Though You Be"—in Slippery and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1985
"Ewe Lamb"—in Slippery and Other Stories, Chris Drumm 1985
"Slippery"—in Slippery and Other Stories , Chris Drumm 1985
"Magazine Section"—July 1985 Amazing
"Flaming-Arrow"—in Magic in Ithkar, ed. Andre Norton and Robert Adams, Tor 1985
"Junkyard Thoughts"—February 1986 Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"Inventions Bright and New"—May 19 86 Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"Something Rich and Strange"—July 1986 Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"Along the San Pennatus Fault" July 1986 Amazing
"Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence"—in Serpent's Egg, Morrigan Publcations 1987
"Strange Skies"— published as a chapbook by United Mythologies Press, 1988
"The Story of Little Briar-Rose, A Scholarly Study"— in East of Laughter, Morrigan
"Task Force Fifty-Eight and One Half"—in The Early Lafferty, United Mythologies Press
" Rain Mountain "— in The Early Lafferty, United Mythologies Press 1988
"Le Hot Sport"—in Terry's Universe, ed. Beth Meacham, Tor 1988
"The Man Who Lost His Magic"— in The Elliptical Grave, United Mythologies Press
"Holy Woman"—in Dotty, United Mythologies Press 1990
"Maleficent Morning"—in The Early Lafferty II, United Mythologies Press 1990
"Apocryphal Passage of the Last Night of Count Finnegan On Galveston Island"— in
Episodes of the Argo, United Mythologies Press 1990
"The Casey Machine"—in Episodes of the Argo , United Mythologies Press 1990
"Episodes of the Argo"—in Episodes of the Argo, United Mythologies Press 1990
"Buckets Full of Brains"—in Mischief Malicious (And Murder Most Strange), United
Mythologies Press 1991
"Hound Dog's Ear"— Strange Plasma #4, 1991
" Anamnesis"— published as a chapbook by United Mythologies Press, 1992
" Oh Happy Double-Jointed Tongues! By Major Audifax O'Hanlon (unretired)"—Boomer
Flats Gazette 2, United Mythologies Press 1993
"Rainy Day in Halicarnassus"— in Betcha Can't Read Just One , ed. Alan Dean Foster and
Martin H. Greenberg, Ace 1994
"I Don't Care Who Keeps the Cows"—Autumn 1994 Crank! (#4)
"Happening in Chosky Bottoms"—in Amazing Stories: The Anthologies , ed. Kim Mohan,
"Goldfish"—Summer 1996 Crank! (#7; originally sold to Haunt of Horror and scheduled
to appear in the October 1973 issue, but the magazine folded before publication)
"The Emperor's Shoestrings"—in Destination Unknown, ed. Peter Crowther, White Wolf
"There'll Always Be Another Me" —in A lchemy #1, 2003
"That Moon Plaque"—in Men on the Moon, ed. Donald A. Wollheim, Ace 1969
It's Down the Slippery Cellar Stairs—Chris Drumm 1984 (collects 13 essays; Borgo
Press reissued this two years later, and again in 1995 with two added essays)
True Believers— United Mythologies Press 1989
Past Master— Ace H-54, 1968 (Ace Science Fiction Special)
Space Chantey— Ace H-56, 1968 (Ace Double, bound with Pity About Earth by Ernest
The Reefs of Earth—Berkley Medallion X1528, 1968
Fou rth Mansions— Ace 24590, 1969 (Ace Science Fiction Special)
Arrive at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine— Scribner's 1971
The Fall of Rome— Doubleday 1971 (historical, aka Alaric: The Day the World Ended,
from United Mythologies Press, 1993
The Flame is Green—Walker 1971 (Book One of the Coscuin Chronicles)
The Devil is Dead— Avon V2406, 1971 (part one of The Devil is Dead trilogy)
Okla Hannali— Doubleday 1972 (historical)
Not to Mention Camels— Bobbs-Merrill 1976
Apocalypses— Pinnacle 1977 (coll ects two short novels, Where Have You Been,
Sandaliotis? and The Three Armageddons of Enniscorthy Sweeney)
Archipelago— Manuscript Press 1979 (part two of The Devil is Dead trilogy)
Aurelia— Donning/Starblaze 1982
Annals of Klepsis— Ace 1983
Half a Sky— Corroboree 1984 (Book Two of the Coscuin Chronicles)
Serpent's Egg— Morrigan Publications 1987
East of Laughter— Morrigan Publications 1988
How Many Miles to Babylon —United Mythologies Press 1989
The Elliptical Grave— United Mythologies Press 1989
Dotty— United Mythologies Press 1990
More Than Melchisedech— United Mythologies Press 1992 (novel issued in three
separate parts in the same year: Tales of Chicago, Tales of Midnight, and Argo; More Than Melchisedech is, itself, the third part of The Devil is Dead trilogy. Well, I did say that Lafferty was "complex and complicated," didn't I?)
Sindbad: The 13th Voyage— Broken Mirrors 1999
Nine Hundred Grandmothers— Ace 58050 1970 (Ace Science Fiction Special, collects
Strange Doings— Scribner's 19 72 (collects 16 stories)
Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add?—Scribner's 1974 (collects 16
Funnyfingers & Cabrito— Pendragon Press 1976 (collects 2 stories)
Golden Gate and Other Stories—Corroboree 1982 (collects 16 stories and 6 illustrations )
Among the Hairy Earthmen— Hayakawa 1982 (Japanese, number of stories unknown)
Four Stories— Chris Drumm 1983 (Drumm Booklet #7, collects 4 stories)
Laughing Kelly and Other Verses—Chris Drumm 1983 (Drumm Booklet #11, collects 9
Heart of Stone, Dear and Other Stories —Chris Drumm 1983 (Drumm Booklet #12,
collects 5 stories )
Snake in His Bosom and Other Stories—Chris Drumm 1983 (Drumm Booklet #13,
collects 5 stories )
Through Elegant Eyes: Stories of Austro and the Men Who Know Everythi ng —
Corroboree 1983 (collects 12 stories and 1 illustration)
Ringing Changes— Ace 1984 (originally published in the Netherlands as Dagen van
Gras, Dagen van Stro [Days of Grass, Days of Straw], Meulenhoff #144, 1979)
The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories — Chris Drumm 1984 (Drumm Booklet
#18, collects 5 stories)
Le Livre d'Or de la Science-Fiction: R. A. Lafferty—Presses Pocket 1984 (French,
collects 19 stories plus essay by the editor and a bibliography)
Slippery and Other Stories— Chris Drumm 1985 (Drumm Booklet #19, collects 4 stories
and 1 poem)
Promontory Goats— United Mythologies Press 1988 (contents unknown)
The Back Door of History— United Mythologies Press 1988 (collects 6 stories)
The Early Lafferty— United Mythologies Press 1988 (collects 6 stories )
The Early Lafferty II— United Mythologies Press 1990 (collects 6 stories and
introduction by Darrell Schweitzer)
Episodes of the Argo— United Mythologies Press 1990 (collects 3 stories and
introduction by Gene Wolfe)
Lafferty in Orbit— Broken Mirrors Press 1991 (collects 19 stories and introduction by
Mischief Malicious (And Murder Most Strange)—United Mythologies Press 1991
(collects 11 stories and illustration)
Iron Tears— Edgewood Press 1992 (collects 15 stories and introduction by Michael
A Lafferty Reader— Hayakawa 1993 (Japanese, edited and translated by Hisashi Asakura,
number of stories unknown)