Unpublished R. A. Lafferty

I don’t have a love/hate relationship with The New York Review of Science Fiction, but I do have a “Love/Meh” relationship with it. I’ve been a subscriber lo these many years, and have contributed the occasional piece. But frequently much of it will either strike me as the sort of close-reading, semiotic, postmodern academic grab fanny (“The Anvil of Dissonance: Contextualizing the Other in the Early Work of Joanna Russ”) that I tried to stay away from back when I was publishing Nova Express, or subjects that, while theoretically worthy of study, I would get so little out of that I see no point in spending the time to read (“The Evolution of the French Vampire Novel: 1867—1894”).

But every now and then they publish something absolutely vital to my interests.

This month it was Andrew Ferguson’s piece on unpublished R. A. Lafferty works, which is much more extensive than either the list in The SF Book of Lists or anywhere online. I knew about the unpublished In a Green Tree volumes and a few others, but there’s lots of stuff I’ve never heard of, including the novels:

  • Loup Garou, a werewolf mystery
  • Civil Blood, an anti-communist novel
  • Antonio Vescovo, a very early novel described as “a cross between Rabelais and The Lives of the Saints” (!)
  • Dark Shines, about gifted children and an evil protagonist, and
  • When All the World Was Young, a plague novel in which everyone over the age of 10 is killed.
  • And there’s a huge list of unpublished stories, poems and essays as well. All of which I’ll no doubt end up buying when it comes out.

    If you’re a Lafferty fan, it’s well worth your $4 to pick up a copy of this issue.

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    10 Responses to “Unpublished R. A. Lafferty”

    1. Steve Oerkfitz says:

      I wonder if this stuff is included in the estate which Locus bought. I would love to see some Lafferty reprinted in nice editions like thru Subterranean or at least be made available as E books.

    2. Dwight Brown says:

      I have yet to acquire the deep love for Lafferty that so many seem to have, but I suspect that has more to do with availability of his works than the works themselves.

      In any case, I’d read the heck out of “Civil Blood” and “Loop Garou”, and possibly “When All the World Was Young”.

    3. […] Lawrence Person on Unpublished R. A. Lafferty. […]

    4. Andrew Ferguson says:

      Thanks for the plug! Hope to be involved in lots more writing on (and editing of) Lafferty in the coming years.

    5. I did not read the first three of the books you mention, but did read WHEN ALL THE WORLD WAS YOUNG and DARK SHINE. I thought they were passable, far more for Lafferty’s thinking and writing and individual lines than for the plot, or character. I’m not too sure, but they may have been published by Dan Knight in the 1990’s. The other three were not optioned for me to read. I did help place AURELIA at Donning when Hank Stine asked which was the best (of what I had read) , and suggested a collection consisting of nothing but Nebula and Hugo nominated stories, which was dropped by Donning, after an occult book caused a sinkhole of money.

    6. Lawrence Person says:

      Did you read these in book or manuscript form? To the best of my knowledge, they were never published by United Mythologies Press, unless it was under another title, or serialized in Boomer Flats Gazette, which I’ve never seen copies of.

    7. Andrew Ferguson says:

      Those two were never published. Boomer Flats Gazette didn’t serialize any novels—it was mostly for writing about Lafferty, not by him, though it did print “Oh, Happy Double-Jointed Tongues!” by one Major Audifax O’Hanlon (Unretired); it’s a repurposed piece from the third (I think) volume of the In a Green Tree series, Deep Scars of the Thunder. (Lafferty wrote further pieces under that name in the form of letters to the editor of the Oklahoma SF Writers Group newsletter, Son of GPIC.)

    8. Sorry for a late answer: I was reading his manuscripts while researching his writing. I did suggest that Donning pursue a collection based on his Nebula and Hugo award nominated storties (which was published elsehwhere as RINGING CHANGES), and AURLIA. Jean Stine tried to gamble with MORE THAM MELCHISEDECH, but Donning blundered with an expensive new age book that sold less than a dozen copies, grinding a lot of plans to a halt.

      and then there is MANTIS, a mystery nvel.

    9. Bob Brinton says:

      It seems a great shame to me that these unpublished works are not being made available for purchase as ebooks at the least. Surely there are people who would be willing to go through the work of getting them into the proper format. It would be nice to see a market open up for them, such as has happened for George MacDonald over the course of my lifetime. When I first went looking, many of his things were not available in unedited form or even at all. Now seemingly everything he published is findable, and almost all of it for free.

    10. Much later at responding: some of the books shoulg into print as ebooks, which would prevent a monetary loss.

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