We are now only days away from LAFFCON3!
Will you be joining us? Registration is still open.
We have freshly printed and lavishly illustrated program booklets, free for all who attend, and all new one-of-a-kind Lafferty swag.
is producing a documentary on the life and work of author R.A. Lafferty.
At LAFFCON this year he will screen 30 minutes of footage, which includes interviews with Harlan
Ellison, Michael Swanwick, Andrew Ferguson, and Gregorio Montejo.
We're very excited.
Andrew last joined us at LAFFCON1 where he screened a much shorter teaser reel and left us all begging for more.
1p-1:45p Religion, Politics, More: Past Master panel discussion
w/Robert Bee, Samuel Tomaino, Nancy Lebovitz, and Darrell Schweitzer
2p-2:45p The Snuffles Literary Podcast: A live recording of the Gene Wolfe Literary Podcast featuring hosts G.L. McDorman and Brandon Budda with guest Gregorio Montejo
3p-3:45p Biographical Notes II: Audifax O'Hanlon, Lafferty, Legacy
Andrew Mass will be there with new footage. Andrew Ferguson will be grilled regarding the bio. Kevin Cheek of Ktistec Press will be in attendance and can update us on Ktistec Press plans. In addition to biographical and documentary discussion, this will be a time to discuss Lafferty publishing, past, present and future.
4p-4:45p National Kick-a-Pigeon Day Celebration
The LaffCon Planning Committee would like to apologize for neglecting this important holiday the past two years. We plan to make up for it this year with strenuous pigeon-kicking. This is the unwinding part of the con, an informal panel involving everyone at the con. If you have anything to say about Lafferty, say it here. If you want to read some Lafferty, read it now.
Registration is now open for LAFFCON3, taking place June 9, 2018 in Lawrenceville, NJ.
Registration for Laffcon is encouraged but not a necessity. We will turn away no one at the door (doors open at 10:00 A.M.).
That said, a rough
count of those planning to attend will help provide a better conference
experience by helping us plan amenities like refreshments and Lafferty
swag ("Is there such a thing as Lafferty swag?" you ask. We're certainly
working on it.)
There have been rumblings and rumors of actual LaffCon planning happening behind the scenes.
LaffCon3 is definitely happening. June 9th, 2018.
Right now, here is what is on the table, all of which is still being discussed, none of which is final:
--A panel on Not to Mention Camels. It is unfortunate that this book is out-of-print and expensive on the secondhand market. If you act soon you may be able to snag one of the dozen or so copies that are available at the usual online sellers for around $25-$35.
A few of us like this one a lot and believe that it is worth arguing for and arguing over. There have also been strong hints that our favorite friendly LaffCon artists will be bringing NEW Not to Mention Camels related artwork.
In a critical review of the novel (for Delap's), the wonderful Michael Bishop wrote,
"...I can easily envision a literary cult devoted to the Lafferty persona, one distant day in the future, placing Not to Mention Camels at the heart of its author's oeuvre."
I don't think we're quite a cult (we do need to develop more ceremonies and honorifics) and I wouldn't argue that Camels is at the heart of its author's oeuvre (there's a good argument that that honor belongs to the Argo Cycle), but I do confess that Bishop was pretty close to prophetic when he wrote that in the mid-70s! :-)
--At least one panel on Okla Hannali, which has in its favor the simple fact that it is the only Lafferty novel in print in the U.S. at this time. (As far as I know, the only other in-print Lafferty novels available anywhere in the world right now are the Japanese volumes; there is a Gollancz omnibus coming in June 2018 in the UK and there is work being done by Locus on U.S. releases, but nothing yet).
This is the only Lafferty novel that I know for a fact has been taught at the university level, in Oklahoma History courses. It is regarded by many as an unjustly neglected masterpiece of American Fiction. Lafferty himself considered it a contribution to the Great American Novel.
In his must-read essay, "The Strange Case of Raphael Aloysius Lafferty," the always wonderful Michael Swanwick evaluated Okla Hannali:
"Often Lafferty has been too imaginative for his own commercial good, shedding wild ideas and strange whimsies with such abandon that many readers simply couldn't keep up. But in Okla Hannali the need to stay true to the historical facts and to the character of the Choctaw people results in a straightforward narrative in which the tragedies are irreversible, the joys undeniable, and the fate of virtually all the characters, minor as well as major, truly matters to the reader. For plot alone, this is one great book. As history, it's a revelation."
Terry Bisson wrote:
"I believe his day is yet to come; that like Melville, Lafferty will be “discovered,” and his Okla Hannali will take its rightful place as one of the three or four truly great 20th century American novels. But that’s for others to decide."
I highly recommend that you buy a copy of the book from the Choctaw Store. "The Choctaw Store is owned and operated by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma" and they approve of Lafferty's novel enough that they sell it in their store. I can't think of a higher compliment to a work of historical fiction.
--A complementary panel on "Lafferty's American Indian Stories"
Bisson wrote that "There’s a wise (or at least watchful) Indian in almost every tale."
That's an overstatement, but it still feels right.
I'd love to have someone present on the panel who actually knows what he/she is talking about in regards to midwest tribal cultures/histories, the shape of these cultures and their stories, and how Lafferty interacts with these in positive (and maybe negative?) ways. If anyone is qualified and interested, please do contact me.
--More Andrew Mass documentary footage? I hope so.
--Maybe a more general panel on Lafferty's "philosophy of history" and/or his "historical imagination" or some such. They're even harder to find than anything mentioned above, but maybe a panel on Alaric or the Coscuin books would also work well.
--We are also interested in just about anything Lafferty related that anyone is willing to bring to us. Consider this a "Call for Papers." If you've ever wanted to dig deep into anything related to Lafferty and share your findings in front of a room full of hardcore Lafferty nerds, this is your chance.
--We're open to other ideas. Please comment or send along your suggestions via email.
It's been nearly two months since LaffCon2. Yikes. Two months. The party was so good that it has taken two months to recover before I could even attempt to give an account of the day. Let's stick with that excuse.
So, just how was the party? Once again, it was marvelous. Thank you to all of you who came out and talked Lafferty all day long. Another year and another day of running around, I regret that I didn't get to talk to all of you, but I was always glad to see lively conversations happening in every corner during every break.
Thank you to Rob Bee and the Mercer County Library for hosting us. Rob does the work behind the scenes that makes this event possible, both before and during the con. Thank you to the Friends of the Library- Lawrence Branch for another free lunch. It is a great boon to be able to stay on site for lunch and continue conversations.
Thank you to Kevin Cheek for his love and enthusiasm for Fourth Mansions. His talk which started the day set a tone of serious engagement with the text coupled with good humor and true sense of wonder. This is how we should read Lafferty, on our own and with each other, with careful attention and a holy chuckle.
Thank you to Gregorio Montejo for sharing from his deep wells (yes, a bit of a pun there) of knowledge and wisdom. Gregorio has drunk deeply (continuing this fountain bit here) from a past most of us have either forgotten, forsaken, or never known, a previous world, different from our own, perhaps much more robust, a world in which Lafferty swam freely.
Thank you to Tairiku Ronin, Yakov Varganov, and (again) Gregorio Montejo for broadening our perspective on Lafferty fandom. The "Lafferty Tribe" may be a small one, but it is a truly international one, with diverse members from diverse cultures in diverse lands.
Thank you to Anthony Ryan Rhodes, Lissanne Lake, and Yakov Varganov for speaking about their own art and the art of others. It has been an ongoing joy for all of us to appreciate and benefit from their seemingly endless generosity and largeness of hearts in their work of illustrating Lafferty and their willingness to freely share their work with the rest of us.
Thank you to Darrell Schweitzer, Samuel Tomaino, and Kevin Cheek (he opened the day--might as well close it too!) for leading us in a discussion of a couple of Lafferty's best "planet-fall" stories. This was a fun and loose ramble on the stories and a perfect way to wind down at the end of the day.
Thank you to ALL OF YOU for being there and sharing in the day's activities. Attendance was down this year from last year, but the room still felt full, especially in the afternoon (you stragglers need to step up your game and get in earlier). The core group that was there last year was also there this year (we had more curious strangers from the library last year than this year, I think, but we also lost the presence of a few further out-of-towners who couldn't make it this year for various legitimate reasons). It was unspeakably satisfying to see the same faces again, to see the material evidence that we are indeed a real community, joined together in a common cause, a common joy, and committed to the act of doing this thing over and over and over again!
Speaking of doing it again, we have a date set for LaffCon3: June 9th, 2018. See you then.
(For those of you who couldn't make it to LaffCon2, there is no way for us now to make the day's lively camaraderie available to you. The best poor substitute that we can achieve is to at least have the LaffCon2 booklet available via Amazon--hopefully fully live in a couple of days--- https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998536415/.)