I am an unashamed R A Lafferty fan. There aren’t that many of us, and it’s difficult attracting more, given that practically the entirety of Laff’s published output is out of print, and quite a substantial portion of it was only ever published in editions commensurate with the size of that devoted audience. The ones of which 300 copies were printed are the relatively luxurious.
There is currently a project being carried out by the Locus Foundation, owners of the Lafferty copyrights, to publish all the published short stories in a series of hardback collections, Volume 3 of which, The Man Underneath, is currently being offered for pre-order at £67.13. My copy is ordered.
That’s the thing though. Lafferty is rare, and rarety means expensive. Just before Xmas, I had the incredible luck to see copies of The Early Lafferty Vols 1 and 2 offered at £47 each: I nearly broke the internet ordering before anyone else spotted them.
Copies of the same are currently available again on Amazon. At £989.99 for Volume 1, though Volume 2 is a snip, at £139.99.
I have only five Lafferty books, all of them chapbooks, missing from my collection. I regularly browse Amazon for affordable copies of them. Currently, there aren’t even incredibly unaffordable copies out there.
But no less than fourteen of Laff’s books can be bought for the Kindle, and for only £3.99 each. I don’t have a Kindle, for the first time ever I am considering buying one.
People (with Kindles), do a good thing to yourselves. Buy these books. Open your heads to the most Lafferterian writer who ever lived (no-one has ever come up with a truly satisfying and descriptive term for what it is Laff wrote, but everybody agrees that nobody else has ever written one). Raphael Aloysius Lafferty stood alone.
The list consists of eleven novels (Fourth Mansions, East of Laughter, Sinbad: the Thirteenth Voyage, Past Master, Serpent’s Egg, The Reefs of Earth, The Devil is Dead, Space Chantey, Annals of Klepsis, Arrive at Easterwine and Not to Mention Camels) and three short story collections (Nine Hundred Grandmothers, Does anyone else have anything further to add? and Apocalypses). If you’re starting from scratch, my personal recommendation is either of the first two collections (Apocalypses only collects two very long stories, though the first of these is incredibly brilliant), or do what I did, and pick up Fourth Mansions, my first ever and still-favourite exposure to Ray.
Damnit, read The Devil is Dead. This is an order.
You may not like what you read. You may not get it. If that’s so, take consolaton from being in an overwhelming majority. But if your mind reels and then goes, “Heyyyyyyyyyy….” in a wondering tone, then grab everything you can because, trust me, nothing else you ever read will do this for/to you.
Just keep your sticky fingers off those last five books until I’ve got my copies of them. I have been doing this for a lot longer than you and I have seniority.