Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Ah, let us step into this crack here for a moment...'

Ah, let us step into this crack here for a moment (it's roomy enough, once you're in it, and the time passed there doesn't count)and be informed about the Hemispheres. The two Hemispheres were very old and of disputed origin, and they were prized possessions of the college. In form, each was a perfect sphere, and yet they were called hemispheres: It was said they had originally existed in the same spherical space and that they had then been separated. They were of heavy glass, each at least a meter in diameter. One of them was crammed with creatures, rats, rat-faced people, proper people; but their faces were bigger than their bodies and the eyes were bigger than the faces. They seemed alive and avid to burst out. Most of the bodies and faces and eyes were cracked and shattered (you know that it was done by an eye-cracking sound), broken like glass and the pieces falling out of them. yet they seemed alive and flexible, not rigid. They didn't seem at all miniaturized, but there were hundreds of them in that hemisphere.

The other spherical hemisphere was all green meadows and game-parks and cities and oceans, unoccupied, but waiting for visitation.

Ah, out of the crack again. But be careful: Don't mention that stuff.

-R. A. Lafferty, 'The Man Who Walked Through Cracks' (1978)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

'There is nobody, there has never been anybody, who writes like Lafferty' - Theodore Sturgeon introduces R. A. Lafferty

It's an easy thing to sit down and slosh sweet sugar to coat everything that comes out of the box the editor sends you; do that once, however, and the reader, having found one single cascara in his candy, isn't going to bite another piece of it nor buy another box... Okay: no candy. Let me first say honestly and freely which stories pushed my joy-button, and a little of why...

The two Lafferty stories, like virtually all Lafferty stories, sting and tickle at the same time. There is nobody, there has never been anybody, who writes like Lafferty. Under the puckishness, the color-bursts, the wild, weird and wonderful characterizations, the tumble and sparkle of language, is an undercoat of sharp and serious observation - observation of human motivations, of human institutions (universities, for example, or rituals which have lost their reason-for-being) so that, like Gulliver's Travels, almost all of Lafferty can be read as enchanting entertainments, or as sharply-etched political cartoonery, or as analogs of a superbly thought-out philosophy concerning human nature and human conduct. In other words, you get out of Lafferty, as out of Swift, whatever you're equipped to bring in.

-Theodore Sturgeon, referring to Lafferty's stories 'Bright Flightways' and 'The Man Who Walked Through Cracks' in Chrysalis 3 (1978), edited by Roy Torgeson

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