Thursday, November 15, 2018

How weird are the ways of Earth!

"I ask the same question," Henry said. "From my viewpoint, I'm the man, you're the alien. How weird are the ways of Earth! Or as it is written, 'Can anything good come from Earth?'"
-R.A. Lafferty, Reefs of Earth

Well, there is LaffCon. 

Are we good? Has anyone in the Universe noticed yet? Have the Puca noticed?

We're definitely going to have this party again in 2019.

Mark your calendars:
LaffCon4 - June 8th, 2019.

What will we do at LaffCon this year? 

Well, 
"It was in this big room that the dead people would gather and sit and talk when they were tired of lying in one position. They cracked old bones to get the marrow, and they drank corn beer. It didn't take much eating and drinking to keep them up, since they were no longer fleshed. They didn't eat much, but they sure did smoke a lot. It is not generally known, but dead people used tobacco for centuries before live people stumbled onto it. That had also been the case with the Puca. The smoke all came out through a hole in the side of the mound, and that caused the fog or haze.
  The children learned the interior of the mound. They could have hidden there from all pursuit, but they couldn't have taken their rafts there. They dug all over the flanks of the mound, and came out with bones of animals and people. They dug out two prime skulls which they set up on the prows of their rafts.
 The children formed enduring friendships with many of the old Indians in the middle of Misu Mound. They learned a lot about Earth people from them, how they are in their essence, what are the real things that are hidden under the daily exterior, and how it was in the old days. And they learned the right way to cure tobacco and to make pipes and how really to smoke up a storm."
-R.A. Lafferty, Reefs of Earth
The best idea so far for LaffCon4 is that we sit and talk when we're tired of lying in one position. I'm fairly sure that old bones will be cracked throughout the day (all that lying and sitting and talking is rough on our old bodies). We'll get down to the marrow.

If I can convince Rob to convince the library to change their policies, then there will be much corn beer and tobacco use throughout the day. Or perhaps that will wait until the evening. Or perhaps corn beer and tobacco have fallen so far out of favor on Earth that these things won't happen at all.

Throughout the day, I hope that we will learn a lot (maybe even just a little) about Earth people. We may learn how people are in their essence. We may learn what the real things are that are hidden under the daily exterior. We'll let the old-timers tell us how it was in the old days. And maybe during the breaks or maybe if we stay long enough into the evening, we might have a how-to session on really smoking up a storm.

What we definitely have right now:
--a panel on Reefs of Earth
--a panel on "Groaning Hinges of the World".
--a lot of ideas!

There are a couple of other possibilities in the planning stages, but nothing that is definite.

If you would like to present a paper (or sing a song, or dance interpretatively, or recite the epic poem about Tulsa that you've been working on), then please contact us: contact@laffcon.org. Anything Lafferty-related is welcome. YOU are welcome. Please join us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

These Tribal Rites

Glenn, Gregorio, Brandon
photo by Yakov Varganov

“Most of the panels were good. And a person who likes to ask questions could really let himself go on almost any of them.” -R.A. Lafferty, from "The Gathering of the Tribes"


We're getting better at this con game every year. LaffCon3 was better than LaffCon2 was better than LaffCon1.

One significant improvement that we made this year was in the quality of our audio recording. We haven't meant to be secretive. We fully understand that many of our fellow Lafferty fans are spread out across the globe and can't possibly make it. All of our attempts at recordings and streams have been for these fellows.

We have one great recording from Year 1: Lafferty Studies (featuring Andrew Ferguson, Gregorio Montejo, Daniel Otto Jack Petersen, and Michael Swanwick)

Last year's video recordings of our attempted live stream are too embarrassing to share. They can still be found if you search for them, but I won't proudly point anyone to them. The contents of the lectures/panels are great. The video recordings not so much. It turns out that Laffertian bi-location is harder than it appears.

This year we enjoyed the presence of Glenn McDorman and Brandon Budda, the hosts of The Gene Wolfe Literary Podcast. These two classy gentlemen put on a great live show at the con. They were also tremendously helpful in getting professional quality recordings of much of the rest of the con. Thank you, Glenn and Brandon.

Stay tuned to their podcast feed for some great audio from the con, then stick around into the future as they dive into Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

The "Snuffles" episode featuring our very own Gregorio Montejo dropped today.

Check it out on their website: https://www.claytemplemedia.com/single-post/2018/07/24/New-Episode-of-The-Gene-Wolfe-Literary-Podcast-Snuffles-by-RA-Lafferty---Live-from-LaffCon

(and/or subscribe to the podcast in the podcatcher app of your choice; I highly recommend that you do so.)

Besides the audio being made available, here's a reminder that the print booklets are also available for sale to those who could not make the con:
https://www.amazon.com/LaffCon3-Ktistec-Press/dp/0998536423/


Monday, July 16, 2018

LAFFCON4 - Planning Begins

---

Planning is underway for the fourth mutation of the one and only conference dedicated to the life and works of author R. A. Lafferty.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018



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.

***

Andrew Mass 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.

Well, more has arrived.

You can follow the documentary's progress on its official blog at
http://laffertydoc.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

LaffCon3 Program Schedule

June 9th, 2018. 10am-5pm. 


10am-10:45am "Made Up Entirely of Glowing Geniuses": RA Lafferty's Radical Theories on Human Intelligence
by Andrew Ferguson

11am-11:45am Lafferty’s Zarathustra: Not to Mention Camels
by Gregorio Montejo

12p-1p Lunch Break
featuring everyone's favorite free pizza

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.

Register here:
http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/ekform.cfm?curOrg=MCL&curID=328195

Post-Con
5pm Supper
It's not free like lunch, but many of us go out to a local restaurant for food and refreshments after the con is over. Anyone in attendance is welcome to join us.




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Registration is Open - LAFFCON3


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.)

Click here to register

Otherwise,
You can go to the Mercer County Library website at www.mcl.org.
Then under Newsworthy Events click the link labeled "LAFFCON3."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Beginning Shape of LaffCon3

Greetings, fellow Lafferty fans & friends.

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.