Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vonnegut - R.A.Lafferty

Audiobooks by Vonnegut:

God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian

Slaughterhouse Five 2007
Timequake Kurt Vonnegut 1997
Breakfast of Champions 1973
Mother Night 1961
A man without a country 2005
Cat`s Cradle 1963
Hocus Pocus 1990
Galapagos 1985
Player Piano 1952
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater 1965
Deadeye Dick 1982
Bagombo Snuff Box 1999


I'm Joe Spade. about as intellectual a guy as you'll find all day.
I invented Wotto and Voxo and a bunch of other stuff that nobody can get along without anymore.'m%20Joe%20Spade%E2%80%94%20about%20as%20intellectual%20a%20guy

"Hog Belly Honey"

Thus we Frustrate Charlemagne

"We'll do it," said Gregory. "Our world has become
something of a fat slob; it cloys; it has bothered me all
evening. We will find whether purely intellectual at-
titudes are of actual effect. We'll leave the details to
Epikt, but I believe the turning point was in the year
1323 when John Lutterell came from Oxford to Avignon
where the Holy See was then situated. He brought with
him fifty-six propositions taken from Ockham's Commen-
tary on the Sentences, and he proposed their condemn-
nation. They were not condemned outright, but Ock-
ham was whipped soundly in that first assault, and he
never recovered. Lutterell proved that Ockham's nihil-
ism was a bunch of nothing. And the Ockham thing did
die away, echoing dimly through the little German courts
where Ockham traveled peddling his wares, but he no
longer peddled them in the main markets. Yet his view-
point could have sunk the world, if indeed, intellectual
attitudes are of actual effect."
"We wouldn't have liked Lutterell," said Aloysius. "He
was humorless and he had no fire in him, and he was
always right. And we would have liked Ockham. He was
charming, and he was wrong, and perhaps we will de-
stroy the world yet. There's a chance that we will get
our reaction if we allow Ockham free hand. China was
frozen for thousands of years by an intellectual attitude,
one not nearly so unsettling as Ockham's. India is hypno-
tized into a queer stasis which calls itself revolutionary
and which does not move -- hypnotized by an intellectual
attitude. But there was never such an attitude as Ock-
So they decided that the former chancellor of Ox-
ford, John Lutterell, who was always a sick man, should
suffer one more sickness on the road to Avignon in
France, and that he should not arrive there to lance
the Ockham thing before it infected the world.

One may hold in his favor, that this is a world that has been already altered by one experiment, so the Ockham described here need not be the "real" Ockham. As Aloysius Shiplap says a few paragraphs earlier:

There is something amiss
here, though. It is as though I remembered when things
were not so stark with Ockham, as though, in some
variant, Ockham's Terminalism did not mean what we know
that it did mean.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers
by R. A. Lafferty

Ceran Swicegood was a promising young Special Aspects Man. But, like all Special Aspects, he had one irritating habit. He was forever asking the questions: How Did It All Begin?

They all had tough names except Ceran. Manbreaker Crag, Heave Huckle, Blast Berg, George Blood, Move Manion (when Move says "Move," you move), Trouble Trent. They were supposed to be tough, and they had taken tough names at the naming. Only Ceran kept his the disgust of his commander, Manbreaker.

"Nobody can be a hero with a name like Ceran Swicegood!" Manbreaker would thunder. "Why don't you take Storm Shannon? That's good. Or Gutboy Barrelhouse or Slash Slagle or Nevel Knife? You barely glanced at the suggested list."

"I'll keep my own," Ceran always said, and this is where he made his mistake. A new name will sometimes bring out a new personality. It had done so for George Blood. Though the hair on George's chest was a graft job, yet that and his new name had turned him from a boy into a man. Had Ceran assumed the heroic name of Gutboy Barrelhouse he might have been capable of rousing endeavors and man-sized angers rather than his tittering indecisions and flouncy furies.

They were down on the big asteroid Proavitus.a sphere that almost tinkled with the potential profit that might be shaken out of it. And the tough men of the Expedition knew their business. They signed big contracts on the native velvet-like bark scrolls and on their own parallel tapes. They impressed, inveigled, and somewhat cowed the slight people of Proavitus. Here was a solid two-way market, enough to make them slaver. And there was a whole world of oddities that could lend themselves to the luxury trade.

"Everybody's hit it big but you," Manbreaker crackled in kindly thunder to Ceran after three days there. "But even Special Aspects is supposed to pay its way. Our charter compels us to carry one of your sort to give us a cultural twist to the thing, but it needn't be restricted to that. What we go out for every time, Ceran, is to cut a big fat hog in the rump.we make no secret of that. But if the hog's tail can be shown to have a cultural twist to it, that will solve a requirement. And if that twist in the tail can turn us a profit, then we become mighty happy about the whole thing. Have you been able to find out anything about the living dolls, for instance? They might have both a cultural aspect and a market value."

"The living dolls seem a part of something much deeper," Ceran said. "There's a whole complex of things to be unraveled. The key may be the statement of the Proavitoi that they do not die."

"I think they die pretty young, Ceran. All those out and about are young, and those I have met who do not leave their houses are only middling old."

"Then where are their cemeteries?"

"Likely they cremate the old folks when they die."

"Where are the crematories?"

"They might just toss the ashes out or vaporize the entire remains. Probably they have no reverence for ancestors."

"Other evidence shows their entire culture to be based on an exaggerated reverence for ancestors."

"You find out, Ceran. You're Special Aspects Man."

· · · · ·

Ceran talked to Nokoma, his Proavitoi counterpart as translator. Both were expert, and they could meet each other halfway in talk. Nokoma was likely feminine. There was a certain softness about both the sexes of the Proavitoi, but the men of the Expeditions believed that they had them straight now.

"Do you mind if I ask some straight questions?" Ceran greeted her today.

"Sure is not. How else I learn the talk well but by talking?"

"Some of the Proavitoi say that they do not die, Nokoma. Is this true?"

"How is not be true? If they die, they not be here to say they do not die. Oh, I joke, I joke. No, we do not die. It is a foolish alien custom which we see no reason to imitate. On Proavitus, only the low creatures die."

"None of you does?"

"Why, no. Why should one want to be an exception in this?"

"But what do you do when you get very old?"

"We do less and less then. We come to a deficiency of energy. Is it not the same with you?"

"Of course. But where do you go when you become exceedingly old?"

"Nowhere. We stay at home then. Travel is for the young and those of the active years."

"Let's try it from the other end," Ceran said. "Where are your mother and father, Nokoma?"

"Out and about. They aren't really old."

"And your grandfathers and grandmothers?"

"A few of them still get out. The older ones stay home."

"Let's try it this way. How many grandmothers do you have, Nokoma?"

"I think I have nine hundred grandmothers in my house. Oh, I know that isn't many, but we are the young branch of a family. Some of our clan have very great numbers of ancestors in their houses."

"And all thse ancestors are alive?"

"What else? Who would keep things not alive? How would such be ancestors?"

Ceran began to hop around in his excitement.

"Could I see them?" he twittered.

"It might not be wise for you to see the older of them," Nokoma cautioned. "It could be an unsettling thing for strangers, and we guard it. A few tens of them you can see, of course."

Then it came to Ceran that he might be onto what he had looked for all his life. He went into a panic of expectation.

"Nokoma, it would be finding the key!" he fluted. "If none of you has ever died, then your entire race would still be alive!"

"Sure. Is like you count fruit. You take none away, you still have them all."

"But if the first of them are still alive, then they might know their origin! They would know how it began! Do they? Do you?"

"Oh, not I. I am too young for the Ritual."

"But who knows? Doesn't someone know?"

"Oh, yes. All the old ones know how it began."

"How old? How many generations back from you till they know?"

"Ten, no more. When I have ten generations of children, then I will also go to the Ritual."

"The Ritual, what is it?"

"Once a year, the old people go to the very old people. They wake them up and ask them how it all began. The very old people tell them the beginning. It is a high time. Oh, how they hottle and laugh! Then the very old people go back to sleep for another year. So it is passed down to the generations. That is the Ritual."

· · · · ·

The Proavitoi were not humanoid. Still less were they "monkey-faces," though that name was now set in the explorers' lingo. They were upright and robed and swathed, and were assumed to be two-legged under their garments. Though, as Manbreaker said, "They might go on wheels, for all we know."

They had remarkable flowing hands that might be called everywhere-digited. They could handle tools, or employ their hands as if they were the most intricate tools.

George Blood was of the opinion that the Proavitoi were always masked, and that the men of the Expedition had never seen their faces. He said that those apparent faces were ritual masks, and that no part of the Proavitoi had ever been seen by the men except for those remarkable hands, which perhaps were their real faces.

The men reacted with cruel hilarity when Ceran tried to explain to them just what a great discovery he was verging on.

"Little Ceran is still on the how-did-it-begin jag," Manbreaker jeered. "Ceran, will you never give off asking which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

"I will have that answer very soon," Ceran sang. "I have the unique opportunity. When I find how the Proavitoi began, I may have the clue to how everything began. All of the Proavitoi are still alive, the very first generation of them."

"It passes belief that you can be so simpleminded," Manbreaker moaned. "They say that one has finally mellowed when he can suffer fools gracefully. By God, I hope I never come to that."

But two days later, it was Manbreaker who sought out Ceran Swicegood on nearly the same subject. Manbreaker had been doing a little thinking and discovering of his own.

"You are Special Aspects Man, Ceran," he said, "and you have been running off after the wrong aspect."

"What is that?"

"It don't make a damn how it began. What is important is that it may not have to end."

"It is the beginning that I intend to discover," said Ceran.

"You fool, can't you understand anything? What do the Proavitoi possess so uniquely that we don't know whether they have it by science or by their nature or by fool luck?"

"Ah, their chemistry, I suppose."

"Sure. Organic chemistry has come of age here. The Proavitoi have every kind of nexus and inhibitor and stimulant. They can grow and shrink and telescope and prolong what they will. These creatures seem stupid to me; it is as if they had these things by instinct. But they have them, that is what is important. With these things, we can become the patent medicine kings of the universes, for the Proavitoi do not travel or make many outside contacts. These things can do anything or undo anything. I suspect that the Proavitoi can shrink cells, and I suspect that they can do something else."

"No, they couldn't shrink cells. It is you who talk nonsense now, Manbreaker."

"Never mind. Their things already make nonsense of conventional chemistry. With the pharmacopoeia that one coulc pick up here, a man never need die. That's the stick horse you've been riding, isn't it? But you've been riding it backward with you head to the tail. The Proavitoi say that they never die."

"They seem pretty sure that they don't. If they did, they would be the first to know it, as Nokoma says."

"What? Have these creatures humor?"


"But, Ceran, you don't understand how big this is."

"I'm the only one who understands it so far. It means that if the Proavitoi have always been immortal, as they maintain, then the oldest of them are still alive. From them I may be able to learn how their species.and perhaps every species.began."

Manbreaker went into his dying buffalo act then. He tore his hair and nearly pulled out his ears by the roots. He stomped and pawed and went off bull-bellowing: "It don't make a damn how it began, you fool! It might not have to end!" so loud that the hills echoed back:

"It don't make a fool."

· · · · ·

Ceran Swicegood went to the home of Nokoma, but not with her on her invitation. He went without her when he knew that she was away from home. It was a sneaky thing to do, but the men of the Expedition were trained in sneakery.

He would find out better without a mentor about the nine hundred grandmothers, about the rumored living dolls. He would find out what the old people did do if they didn't die, and find if they knew how they were first born. For his intrusion, he counted on the innate politeness of the Proavitoi.

The house of Nokoma, of all the people, was in the cluster on top of the large flat hill, the Acropolis of Proavitus. They were earthen houses, though finely done, and they had the appearance of growing out of and being a part of the hill itself.

Ceran went up the winding, ascending flagstone paths, and entered the house which Nokoma had once pointed out to him. He entered furtively, and encountered one of the nine hundred with whom nobody need be furtive.

The grandmother was seated and small and smiling at him. They talked without real difficulty, though it was not as easy as with Nokoma, who could meet Ceran halfway in his own language. At her call, there came a grandfather who likewise smiled at Ceran. These two ancients were somewhat smaller than the Proavitoi of active years. They were kind and serene. There was an atmosphere about the scene that barely missed being an odor.not unpleasant, sleepy, reminiscent of something, almost sad.

"Are there those here older than you?" Ceran asked earnestly.

"So many, so many, who could know how many?" said the grandmother. She called in other grandmothers and grandfathers older and smaller than herself, these no more than half the size of the active Proavitoi.small, sleepy, smiling.

Ceran knew now that the Proavitoi were not masked. The older they were, the more character and interest there was in their faces. It was only of the immature active Proavitoi that there could have been a doubt. No masks could show such calm and smiling old age as this. The queer textured stuff was their real faces.

So old and friendly, so weak and sleepy, there must have been a dozen generations of them there, back to the oldest and smallest.

"How old are the oldest?" Ceran asked the first grandmother.

"We say that all are the same age since all are perpetual," the grandmother told him. "It is not true that all are the same age, but it is indelicate to ask how old."

"You do not know what a lobster is," Ceran said to them, trembling, "but it is a creature that will boil happily if the water on him is heated slowly. He takes no alarm, for he does not know at what point the heat is dangerous. It is that gradual with me. I slide from one degree to another with you and my credulity is not alarmed. I am in danger of believing anything about you if it comes in small doses, and it will. I believe that you are here and as you are for no other reason than that I see and touch you. Well, I'll be boiled for a lobster, then, before I turn back from it. Are there those here even older than the ones present?"

The first grandmother motioned Ceran to follow her. They went down a ramp through the floor into the older part of the house, which must have been underground.

Living dolls! They were here in rows on the shelves, and sitting in small chairs in their niches. Doll-sized indeed, and several hundres of them.

Many had wakened at the intrusion. Others came awake when spoken to or touched. They were incredibly ancient, but they were cognizant in their glances and recognition. They smiled and stretched sleepily, not as humans would, but as very old puppies might. Ceran spoke to them, and they understood each other surprisingly.

Lobster, lobster, said Ceran to himself, the water has passed the danger point! And it hardly feels different. If you believe your senses in this, then you will be boiled alive in your credulity.

He knew now that the living dolls were real and that they were the living ancestors of the Proavitoi.

Many of the little creatures began to fall asleep again. Their waking moments were short, but their sleeps seemed to be likewise. Several of the living mummies woke a second time while Ceran was still in the room, woke refreshed from very short sleeps and were anxious to talk again.

"You are incredibly!" Ceran cried out, and all the small and smaller and still smaller creatures smiled and laughed their assent. Of course they were. All good creatiures everywhere are incrdible, and were there ever so many assembled in one place? But Ceran was greedy. A roomful of miracles wasn't enough.

"I have to take this back as far as it will go!" he cried avidly. "Where are the even older ones?"

"There are older ones and yet older and again older," said the first grandmother, "and thrice-over older ones, but perhaps it would be wise not to seek to be too wise. You have seen enough. The old people are sleepy. Let us go up again."

Go up again, out of this? Ceran would not. He saw passages and descending ramps, down into the heart of the great hill itself. There were whole worlds of rooms about him and under his feet. Ceran went on and down, and who was to stop him? Not dolls and creatures much smaller than dolls.

Manbreaker had once called himself an old pirate who reveled in the stream of his riches. But Ceran was the Young Alchemist who was about to find the Stone itself.

He walked down the ramps through centuries and millennia. The atmosphere he had noticed on the upper levels was a clear odor now.sleepy, half-remembered, smiling, sad, and quite strong. That is the way Time smells.

"Are there those here even older than you?" Ceran asked a small grandmother whom he held in the palm of his hand.

"So old and so small that I could hold in my hand," said the grandmother in what Ceran knew from Nokoma to be the older uncompounded form of the Proavitus language.

Smaller and older the creatures had been getting as Ceran went through the rooms. He was boiled lobster now for sure. He had to believe it all: he saw and felt it. The wren-sized grandmother talked and laughed and nodded that there were those far older than herself, and in doing so she nodded herself back to sleep. Ceran returned her to her niche in the hive-like wall where there were thousands of others, miniaturized generations.

Of course he was not in the house of Nokoma now. He was in the heart of the hill that underlay all the houses of Proavitus, and these were the ancestors of everybody on the asteroid.

"Are there those here even older than you?" Ceran asked a small grandmother whom he held on the tip of his finger.

"Older and smaller," she said, "but you come near the end."

She was asleep, and he put her back in her place. The older they were, the more they slept.

He was down to solid rock under the roots of the hill. He was into the passages that were cut out of that solid rock, but they could not be many or deep. He had a sudden fear that the creatures would become so small that he could not see them or talk to them, and so he would miss the secret of the beginning.

But had not Nokoma said that all the old people knew the secret? Or course. But he wanted to hear it from the oldest of them. He would have it now, one way or the other.

"Who is the oldest? Is this the end of it? Is this the beginning? Wake up! Wake up!" he called when he was sure he was in the lowest and oldest room.

"Is it Ritual?" asked someone who woke up. smaller than mice they were, no bigger than bees, maybe older than both.

"It is a special Ritual," Ceran told them. "Relate to me how it was in the beginning."

What was that sound.too slight, too scattered to be a noise? It was like a billion microbes laughing. It was the hilarity of the little things waking up to a high time.

"Who is the oldest of all?" Ceran demanded, for their laughter bothered him. "Who is the oldest and first?"

"I am the oldest, the ultimate grandmother," one said gaily. "All the others are my children. Are you also of my children?"

"Of course," said Ceran, and the small laughter of unbelief flittered out from the whole multitude of them.

"Then you must be the ultimate child, for you are like no other. If you be, then it is as funny at the end as it was in the beginning."

"How was it in the beginning?" Ceran bleated. "You are the first. Do you know how you came to be?"

"Oh, yes, yes," laughed the ultimate grandmother, and the hilarity of the small things became a real noise now.

"How did it begin?" demanded Ceran, and he was hopping and skipping about in his excitement.

"Oh, it was so funny a joke the way things began that you would not believe it," chittered the grandmother. "A joke, a joke!"

"Tell me the joke, then. If a joke generated your species, then tell me that cosmic joke."

"Tell yourself," tinkled the grandmother. "You are a part of the joke if you are of my children. Oh, it is too funny to believe. How good to wake up and laugh and go to sleep again."

Blazing green frustration! To be so close and to be balked by a giggling bee!

"Don't go to sleep again! Tell me at once how it began!" Ceran shrilled, and he had the ultimate grandmother between thumb and finger.

"This is not Ritual," the grandmother protested. "Ritual is that you guess what it was for three days, and we laugh and say, 'No, no, no, it was something nine times as wild as that. Guess some more.' "

"I will not guess for three days! Tell me at once or I will crush you," Ceran threatened in a quivering voice.

"I look at you, you look at me, I wonder if you will do it," the ultimate grandmother said calmly.

Any of the tough men of the Expedition would have done it.would have crushed her, and then another and another and another of the creatures till the secret was told. If Ceran had taken on a tough personality and a tough name he'd have done it. If he'd been Gutboy Barrelhouse he'd have done it without a qualm. But Ceran Swicegood couldn't do it.

"Tell me," he pleaded in agony. "All my life I've tried to find out how it began, how anything began. And you know!"

"We know. Oh, it was so funny how it began. So joke! So fool, so clown, so grotesque thing! Nobody could guess, nobody could believe."

"Tell me! Tell me!" Ceran was ashen and hysterical.

"No, no, you are no child of mine," chortled the ultimate grandmother. "Is too joke a joke to tell a stranger. We could not insult a stranger to tell so funny, so unbelieve. Strangers can die. Shall I have it on conscience that a stranger died laughing?"

"Tell me! Insult me! Let me die laughing!" But Ceran nearly died crying from the frustration that ate him up as a million bee-sized things laughed and hooted and giggled:

"Oh, it was so funny the way it began!"

And they laughed. And laughed. And went on laughing . until Ceran Swicegood wept and laughed together, and crept away, and returned to the ship still laughing. On his next voyage he changed his name to Blaze Bolt and ruled for ninety-seven days as king of a sweet sea island in M-81, but that is another and much more unpleasant story.

The End

Narrow Valley
by R. A. Lafferty

In the year 1893, land allotments in severalty were made to the remaining eight hundred and twenty-one Pawnee Indians. Each would receive one hundred and sixty acres of land and no more, and thereafter the Pawnees would be expected to pay taxes on their land, the same as the White-Eyes did.

"Kitkehahke!" Clarence Big-Saddle cussed. "You can't kick a dog around proper on a hundred and sixty acres. And I sure am not hear before about this pay taxes on land."

Clarence Big-Saddle selected a nice green valley for his allotment. It was one of the half-dozen plots he had always regarded as his own. He sodded around the summer lodge that he had there and made it an all-season home. But he sure didn't intend to pay taxes on it.

So he burned leaves and bark and made a speech:

"That my valley be always wide and flourish and green and such stuff as that!" he orated in Pawnee chant style. "But that it be narrow if an intruder come."

He didn't have any balsam bark to burn. He threw on a little cedar bark instead. He didn't have any elder leaves. He used a handful of jack-oak leaves. And he forgot the word. How you going to work it if you forget the word?

"Petahauerat!" he howled out with the confidence he hoped would fool the fates.

"That's the same long of a word," he said in a low aside to himself. But he was doubtful. "What am I, a White Man, a burr-tailed jack, a new kind of nut to think it will work?" he asked. "I have to laugh at me. Oh well, we see."

He threw the rest of the bark and the leaves on the fire, and he hollered the wrong word out again.

And he was answered by a dazzling sheet of summer lightning.

"Skidi!" Clarence Big-Saddle swore. "It worked. I didn't think it would."

Clarence Big-Saddle lived on his land for many years, and he paid no taxes. Intruders were unable to come down to his place. The land was sold for taxes three times, but nobody ever came down to claim it. Finally, it was carried as open land on the books. Homesteaders filed on it several times, but none of them fulfilled the qualification of living on the land.

Half a century went by. Clarence Big-Saddle called his son.

"I've had it, boy," he said. "I think I'll just go in the house and die."

"Okay, Dad," the son, Clarence Little-Saddle, said. "I'm going in to town to shoot a few games of pool with the boys. I'll bury you when I get back this evening."

So the son, Clarence Little-Saddle, inherited. He also lived on the land for many years without paying taxes.

There was a disturbance in the courthouse one day. The place seemed to be invaded in force, but actually there were but one man, one woman, and five children. "I'm Robert Rampart," said the man, "and we want the Land Office."

"I'm Robert Rampart Junior," said a nine-year-old gangler, "and we want it pretty blamed quick."

"I don't think we have anything like that," the girl at the desk said. "Isn't that something they had a long time ago?"

"Ignorance is no excuse for inefficiency, my dear," said Mary Mabel Rampart, an eight-year-old who could easily pass for eight and a half. "After I make my report, I wonder who will be sitting at your desk tomorrow?"

"You people are either in the wrong state or the wrong century," the girl said.

"The Homestead Act still obtains," Robert Rampart insisted. "There is one tract of land carried as open in this county. I want to file on it."

Cecilia Rampart answered the knowing wink of a beefy man at the distant desk. "Hi," she breathed as she slinked over. "I'm Cecilia Rampart, but my stage name is Cecilia San Juan. Do you think that seven is too young to play ingenue roles?"

"Not for you," the man said. "Tell your folks to come over here."

"Do you know where the Land Office is?" Cecilia asked.

"Sure. It's the fourth left-hand drawer of my desk. The smallest office we got in the whole courthouse. We don't use it much any more."

The Ramparts gathered around. The beefy man started to make out the papers.

"This is the land description," Robert Rampart began. "Why, you've got it down already. How did you know?"

"I've been around here a long time," the man answered.

They did the paper work, and Robert Rampart filed on the land.

"You won't be able to come onto the land itself, though," the man said.

"Why won't I?" Rampart demanded. "Isn't the land description accurate?"

"Oh, I suppose so. But nobody's ever been able to get to the land. It's become a sort of joke."

"Well, I intend to get to the bottom of that joke," Rampart insisted. "I will occupy the land, or I will find out why not."

"I'm not sure about that," the beefy man said. "The last man to file on the land, about a dozen years ago, wasn't able to occupy the land. And he wasn't able to say why he couldn't. It's kind of interesting, the look on their faces after they try it for a day or two, and then give it up."

The Ramparts left the courthouse, loaded into their camper, and drove out to find their land. They stopped at the house of a cattle and wheat farmer named Charley Dublin. Dublin met them with a grin which indicated he had been tipped off.

"Come along if you want to, folks," Dublin said. "The easiest way is on foot across my short pasture here. Your land's directly west of mine."

They walked the short distance to the border.

"My name is Tom Rampart, Mr. Dublin." Six-year-old Tom made conversation as they walked. "But my name is really Ramires, and not Tom. I am the issue of an indiscretion of my mother in Mexico several years ago."

"The boy is a kidder, Mr. Dublin," said the mother, Nina Rampart, defending herself. "I have never been in Mexico, but sometimes I have the urge to disappear there forever."

"Ah yes, Mrs. Rampart. And what is the name of the youngest boy here?" Charley Dublin asked.

"Fatty," said Fatty Rampart.

"But surely that is not your given name?"

"Audifax," said the five-year-old Fatty.

"Ah well, Audifax, Fatty, are you a kidder too?"

"He's getting better at it, Mr. Dublin," Mary Mabel said. "He was a twin till last week. His twin was named Skinny. Mama left Skinny unguarded while she was out tippling, and there were wild dogs in the neighborhood. When Mama got back, do you know what was left of Skinny? Two neck bones and an ankle bone. That was all."

"Poor Skinny," Dublin said. "Well, Rampart, this is the fence and the end of my land. Yours is just beyond."

"Is that ditch on my land?" Rampart asked.

"That ditch is your land."

"I'll have it filled in. It's a dangerous deep cut even if it is narrow. And the other fence looks like a good one, and I sure have a pretty plot of land beyond it.

"No, Rampart, the land beyond the second fence belongs to Holister Hyde," Charley Dublin said. "That second fence is the end of your land."

"Now, just wait a minute, Dublin! There's something wrong here. My land is one hundred and sixty acres, which would be a half mile on a side. Where's my half-mile width?"

"Between the two fences."

"That's not eight feet."

"Doesn't look like it, does it, Rampart? Tell you what.there's plenty of throwing-sized rocks around. Try to throw one across it."

"I'm not interested in any such boys' games," Rampart exploded. "I want my land."

But the Rampart children were interested in such games. They got with it with those throwing rocks. They winged them out over the little gully. The stones acted funny. They hung in the air, as it were, and diminished in size. And they were small as pebbles when they dropped down, down into the gully. None of them could throw a stone across that ditch, and they were throwing kids.

"You and your neighbor have conspired to fence open land for your own use," Rampart charged.

"No such thing, Rampart," Dublin said cheerfully. "My land checks perfectly. So does Hyde's. So does yours, if we knew how to check it. It's like one of those trick topological drawings. It really is half a mile from here to there, but the eye gets lost somewhere. It's your land. Crawl through the fence and figure it out."

Rampart crawled through the fence, and drew himself up to jump the gully. Then he hesitated. He got a glimpse of just how deep that gully was. Still, it wasn't five feet across.

There was a heavy fence post on the ground, designed for use as a corner post. Rampart up-ended it with some effort. Then he shoved it to fall and bridge the gully. But it fell short, and it shouldn't have. An eight-foot post should bridge a five-foot gully.

The post fell into the gully, and rolled and rolled and rolled. It spun as though it were rolling outward, but it made no progress except vertically. The post came to rest on a ledge of the gully, so close that Rampart could almost reach out and touch it, but it now appeared no bigger than a match stick.

"There is something wrong with that fence post, or with the world, or with my eyes," Robert Rampart said. "I wish I felt dizzy so I could blame it on that."

"There's a little game that I sometimes play with my neighbor Hyde when we're both out," Dublin said. "I've a heavy rifle, and I train it on the middle of his forehead as he stands on the other side of the ditch apparently eight feet away. I fire it off then (I'm a good shot), and I hear it whine across. It'd kill him dead if things were as they seem. But Hyde's in no danger. The shot always bangs into that little scuff of rocks and boulders about thirty feet below him. I can see it kick up the rock dust there, and the sound of it rattling into those little boulders comes back to me in about two and a half seconds."

A bull-bat (poor people call it the night-hawk) raveled around in the air and zoomed out over the narrow ditch, but it did not reach the other side. The bird dropped below ground level and could be seen against the background of the other side of the ditch. It grew smaller and hazier as though at a distance of three or four hundred yards. The white bars on its wings could no longer be discerned; then the bird itself could hardly be discerned; but it was far short of the other side of the five-foot ditch.

A man identified by Charley Dublin as the neighbor Hollister Hyde had appeared on the other side of the little ditch. Hyde grinned and waved. He shouted something, but could not be heard.

"Hyde and I both read mouths," Dublin said, "so we can talk across the ditch easy enough. Which kid wants to play chicken? Hyde will barrel a good-sized rock right at your head, and if you duck or flinch you're chicken."

"Me! Me!" Audifax Rampart challenged. And Hyde, a big man with big hands, did barrel a fearsome jagged rock right at the head of the boy. It would have killed him if things had been as they appeared. But the rock diminished to nothing and disappeared into the ditch. Here was a phenomenon: things seemed real-sized on either side of the ditch, but they diminished coming out over the ditch either way.

"Everybody game for it?" Robert Rampart Junior asked.

"We won't get down there by standing here," Mary Mabel said.

"Nothing wenchered, nothing gained," said Cecilia. "I got that from an ad for a sex comedy."

Then the five Rampart kids ran down into the gully. Ran down is right. It was almost as if they ran down the vertical face of a cliff. They couldn't do that. The gully was no wider than the stride of the biggest kids. But the gully diminished those children; it ate them alive. They were doll-sized. They were acorn-sized. They were running for minute after minute across a ditch that was only five feet across. They were going, deeper in it, and getting smaller. Robert Rampart was roaring his alarm, and his wife Nina was screaming. Then she stopped. "What am I carrying on so loud about?" she asked herself. "It looks like fun. I'll do it too."

She plunged into the gully, diminished in size as the children had done, and ran at a pace to carry her a hundred yards away across a gully only five feet wide.

That Robert Rampart stirred things up for a while then. He got the sheriff there, and the highway patrolmen. A ditch had stolen his wife and five children, he said, and maybe had killed them. And if anybody laughs, there may be another killing. He got the colonel of the State National Guard there, and a command post set up. He got a couple of airplane pilots. Robert Rampart had one quality: when he hollered, people came.

He got the newsmen out from T-Town, and the eminent scientists, Dr. Velikof Vonk, Arpad Arkabaranan, and Willy McGilly. That bunch turns up every time you get on a good one. They just happen to be in that part of the country where something interesting is going on.

They attacked the thing from all four sides and the top, and by inner and outer theory. If a thing measures half a mile on each side, and the sides are straight, there just has to be something in the middle of it. They took pictures from the air, and they turned out perfect. They proved that Robert Rampart had the prettiest hundred and sixty acres in the country, the larger part of it being a lush green valley, and all of it being half a mile on a side, and situated just where it should be. They took ground-level photos then, and it showed a beautiful half-mile stretch of land between the boundaries of Charley Dublin and Hollister Hyde. But a man isn't a camera. None of them could see that beautiful spread with the eyes in their heads. Where was it?

Down in the valley itself, everything was normal. It really was half a mile wide and no more than eighty feet deep with a very gentle slope. It was warm and sweet, and beautiful with grass and grain.

Nina and the kids loved it, and they rushed to see what squatter had built that little house on their land. A house, or a shack. It had never known paint, but paint would have spoiled it. It was built of split timbers dressed near smooth with ax and draw knife, chinked with white clay, and sodded up to about half its height. And there was an interloper standing by the little lodge.

"Here, here what are you doing on our land?" Robert Rampart Junior demanded of the man. "Now you just shamble off again wherever you came from. I'll bet you're a thief too, and those cattle are stolen."

"Only the black-and-white calf," Clarence Little-Saddle said. "I couldn't resist him, but the rest are mine. I guess I'll just stay around and see that you folks get settled all right."

"Is there any wild Indians around here?" Fatty Rampart asked.

"No, not really. I go on a bender about every three months and get a little bit wild, and there's a couple Osage boys from Gray Horse that get noisy sometimes, but that's about all," Clarence Little-Saddle said.

"You certainly don't intend to palm yourself off on us as an Indian," Mary Mabel challenged. "You'll find us a little too knowledgeable for that."

"Little girl, you might as well tell this cow there's no room for her to be a cow since you're so knowledgeable. She thinks she's a short-horn cow named Sweet Virginia. I think I'm a Pawnee Indian named Clarence. Break it to us real gentle if we're not."

"If you're an Indian, where's your war bonnet? There's not a feather on you anywhere."

"How you be sure? There's a story that we got feathers instead of hair on. Aw, I can't tell a joke like that to a little girl! How come you're not wearing the Iron Crown of Lombardy if you're a white girl? How you expect me to believe you're a little white girl and your folks came from Europe a couple hundred years ago if you don't wear it? There are six hundred tribes, and only one of them, the Oglala Sioux, had the war bonnet, and only the big leaders, never more than two or three of them alive at one time, wore it."

"Your analogy is a little strained," Mary Mabel said. "Those Indians we saw in Florida and the ones at Atlantic City had war bonnets, and they couldn't very well have been the kind of Sioux you said. And just last night on the TV in the motel, those Massachusetts Indians put a war bonnet on the President and called him the Great White Father. You mean to tell me that they were all phonies? Hey, who's laughing at who here?"

"If you're an Indian, where's your bow and arrow?" Tom Rampart interrupted. "I bet you can't even shoot one."

"You're sure right there," Clarence admitted. "I never shot one of those things but once in my life. They used to have an archery range in Boulder Park over in T-Town, and you could rent the things and shoot at targets tied to hay bales. Hey, I barked my whole forearm and nearly broke my thumb when the bow-string thwacked home. I couldn't shoot that thing at all. I don't see how anybody ever could shoot one of them."

"Okay, kids," Nina Rampart called to her brood. "Let's start pitching this junk out of the shack so we can move in. Is there any way we can drive our camper down here, Clarence?"

"Sure, there's a pretty good dirt road, and it's a lot wider than it looks from the top. I got a bunch of green bills in an old night charley in the shack. Let me get them, and then I'll clear out for a while. The shack hasn't been cleaned out for seven years, since the last time this happened. I'll show you the road to the top, and you can bring your car down it."

"Hey, you old Indian, you lied!" Cecilia Rampart shrilled from the doorway of the shack. "You do have a war bonnet. Can I have it?"

"I didn't mean to lie, I forgot about that thing," Clarence Little-Saddle said. "My son Clarence Bare-Back sent that to me from Japan for a joke a long time ago. Sure, you can have it."

All the children were assigned tasks carrying the junk out of the shack and setting fire to it. Nina Rampart and Clarence Little-Saddle ambled up to the rim of the valley by the vehicle road that was wider than it looked from the top.

"Nina, you're back! I thought you were gone forever," Robert Rampart jittered at seeing her again. "What.where are the children?"

"Why, I left them down in the valley, Robert. That is, ah, down in that little ditch right there. Now you've got me worried again. I'm going to drive the camper down there and unload it. You'd better go on down and lend a hand too, Robert, and quit talking to all these funny-looking men here."

And Nina went back to Dublin's place for the camper.

"It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for that intrepid woman to drive a car down into that narrow ditch," the eminent scientist Dr. Velikof Vonk said.

"You know how that camel does it?" Clarence Little-Saddle offered, appearing of a sudden from nowhere. "He just closes one of his own eyes and flops back his ears and plunges right through. A camel is mighty narrow when he closes one eye and flops back his ears. Besides, they use a big-eyed needle in the act."

"Where'd this crazy man come from?" Robert Rampart demanded, jumping three feet in the air. "Things are coming out of the ground now. I want my land! I want my children! I want my wife! Whoops, here she comes driving it. Nina, you can't drive a loaded camper into a little ditch like that! You'll be killed or collapsed!"

Nina Rampart drove the loaded camper into the little ditch at a pretty good rate of speed. The best of belief is that she just closed one eye and plunged right through. The car diminished and dropped, and it was smaller than a toy car. But it raised a pretty good cloud of dust as it bumped for several hundred yards across a ditch that was only five feet wide.

"Rampart, it's akin to the phenomenon known as looming, only in reverse," the eminent scientist Arpad Arkabaranan explained as he attempted to throw a rock across the narrow ditch. The rock rose very high in the air, seemed to hang at its apex while it diminished to the size of a grain of sand, and then fell into the ditch not six inches of the way across. There isn't anybody going to throw across a half-mile valley even if it looks five feet. "Look at a rising moon sometimes, Rampart. It appears very large, as though covering a great sector of the horizon, but it only covers one-half of a degree. It is hard to believe that you could set seven hundred and twenty of such large moons side by side around the horizon, or that it would take one hundred and eighty of the big things to reach from the horizon to a point overhead. It is also hard to believe that your valley is five hundred times as wide as it appears, but it has been surveyed, and it is."

"I want my land. I want my children. I want my wife," Robert chanted dully. "Damn, I let her get away again."

"I tell you, Rampy," Clarence Little-Saddle squared on him, "a man that lets his wife get away twice doesn't deserve to keep her. I give you till nightfall; then you forfeit. I've taken a liking to the brood. One of us is going to be down there tonight."

After a while a bunch of them were off in that little tavern on the road between Cleveland and Osage. It was only half a mile away. If the valley had run in the other direction, it would have been only six feet away.

"It is a psychic nexus in the form of an elongated dome," said the eminent scientist Dr. Velikof Vonk. "It is maintained subconsciously by the concatenation of at least two minds, the stronger of them belonging to a man dead for many years. It has apparently existed for a little less than a hundred years, and in another hundred years it will be considerably weakened. We know from our checking out folk tales of Europe as well as Cambodia that these ensorceled areas seldom survive for more than two hundred and fifty years. The person who first set such a thing in being will usually lose interest in it, and in all worldly things, within a hundred years of his own death. This is a simple thanato-psychic limitation. As a short-term device, the thing has been used several times as a military tactic.

"This psychic nexus, as long as it maintains itself, causes group illusion, but it is really a simple thing. It doesn't fool birds or rabbits or cattle or cameras, only humans. There is nothing meteorological about it. It is strictly psychological. I'm glad I was able to give a scientific explanation to it, or it would have worried me."

It is continental fault coinciding with a noospheric fault," said the eminent scientist Arpad Arkabaranan. "The valley really is half a mile wide, and at the same time it really is only five feet wide. If we measured correctly, we would get these dual measurements. Of course it is meteorological! Everything, including dreams, is meteorological. It is the animals and cameras which are fooled, as lacking a true dimension; it is only humans who see the true duality. The phenomenon should be common along the whole continental fault where the earth gains or loses half a mile that has to go somewhere. Likely it extends through the whole sweep of the Cross Timbers. Many of those trees appear twice, and many do not appear at all. A man in the proper state of mind could farm that land or raise cattle on it, but it doesn't really exist. There is a clear parallel in the Luftspiegelungthal sector in the Black Forest of Germany, which exists, or does not exist, according to the circumstances and to the attitude of the beholder. Then we have the case of Mad Mountain in Morgan County, Tennessee, which isn't there all the time, and also the Little Lobo Mirage south of Presidio, Texas, from which twenty thousand barrels of water were pumped in one two-and-a-half-year period before the mirage reverted to mirage status. I'm glad I was able to give a scientific explanation to this, or it would have worried me."

"I just don't understand how he worked it," said the eminent scientist Willy McGilly. "Cedar bark, jack-oak leaves, and the world 'Petahauerat.' The thing's impossible! When I was a boy and we wanted to make a hideout, we used bark from the skunk-spruce tree, the leaves of a box-elder, and the word was 'Boadicea.' All three elements are wrong here. I cannot find a scientific explanation for it, and it does worry me."

They went back to Narrow Valley. Robert Rampart was still chanting dully: "I want my land. I want my children. I want my wife."

Nina Rampart came chugging up out of the narrow ditch in the camper and emerged through that little gate a few yards down the fence row.

"Supper's ready, and we're tired of waiting for you, Robert," she said. "A fine homesteader you are! Afraid to come onto your own land! Come along now; I'm tired of waiting for you."

"I want my land! I want my children! I want my wife!" Robert Rampart still chanted. "Oh, there you are, Nina. You stay here this time. I want my land! I want my children! I want an answer to this terrible thing."

"It is time we decided who wears the pants in this family," Nina said stoutly. She picked up her husband, slung him over her shoulder, carried him to the camper and dumped him in, slammed (as it seemed) a dozen doors at once, and drove furiously down into the Narrow Valley, which already seemed wider.

Why, that place was getting normaler and normaler by the minute! Pretty soon it looked almost as wide as it was supposed to be. The psychic nexus in the form of an elongated dome had collapsed. The continental fault that coincided with the noospheric fault had faced facts and decided to conform. The Ramparts were in effective possession of their homestead, and Narrow Valley was as normal as any place anywhere.

"I have lost my land," Clarence Little-Saddle moaned. "It was the land of my father, Clarence Big-Saddle, and I meant it to be the land of my son, Clarence Bare-Back. It looked so narrow that people did not notice how wide it was, and people did not try to enter it. Now I have lost it."

Clarence Little-Saddle and the eminent scientist Willy McGilly were standing on the edge of Narrow Valley, which now appeared its true half-mile extent. The moon was just rising, so big that it filled a third of the sky. Who would have imagined that it would take a hundred and eight of such monstrous things to reach from the horizon to a point overhead, and yet you could sight it with sighters and figure it so.

"I had a little bear-cat by the tail, and I let go," Clarence groaned. "I had a fine valley for free, and I have lost it. I am like that hard-luck guy in the funny-paper or Job in the Bible. Destitution is my lot."

Willy McGilly looked around furtively. They were alone on the edge of the half-mile-wide valley.

"Let's give it a booster shot," Willy McGilly said.

Hey, those two got with it! They started a snapping fire and began to throw the stuff onto it. Bark from the dog-elm do you know it won't work?

It was working! Already the other side of the valley seemed a hundred yards closer, and there were alarmed noises coming up from the people in the valley.

Leaves from a black locust tree.and the valley narrowed still more! There was, moreover, terrified screaming of both children and big people from the depths of Narrow Valley, and the happy voice of Mary Mabel Rampart chanting "Earthquake! Earthquake!"

"That my valley be always wide and flourish and such stuff, and green with money and grass!" Clarence Little-Saddle orated in Pawnee chant style. "But that it be narrow if intruders come, smash them like bugs!"

People, that valley wasn't over a hundred feet wide now, and the screaming of the people in the bottom of the valley had been joined by the hysterical coughing of the camper car starting up.

Willy and Clarence threw everything that was left on the fire. But the word? The word? Who remembers the word?

"Corsicanatexas!" Clarence Little-Saddle howled out with confidence he hoped would fool the fates.

He was answered not only by a dazzling sheet of summer lightning, but also by thunder and raindrops.

"Chahiksi!" Clarence Little-Saddle swore. "It worked. I didn't think it would. It will be all right now. I can use the rain."

The valley was again a ditch only five feet wide.

The camper car struggled out of Narrow Valley through the little gate. It was smashed flat as a sheet of paper, and the screaming kids and people in it had only one dimension.

"It's closing in! It's closing in!" Robert Rampart roared, and he was no thicker than if he had been made out of cardboard.

"We're smashed like bugs," the Rampart boys intoned. "We're thin like paper."

"Mort, ruine, ecrasement!" spoke-acted Cecilia Rampart like the great tragedienne she was.

"Help! Help!" Nina Rampart croaked, but she winked at Willy and Clarence as they rolled by. "This homesteading jag always did leave me a little flat."

"Don't throw those paper dolls away. They might be the Ramparts," Mary Mabel called.

The camper car coughed again and bumped along on level ground. This couldn't last forever. The car was widening out as it bumped along.

"Did we overdo it, Clarence?" Willy McGilly asked. "What did one flatlander say to the other?"

"Dimension of us never got around," Clarence said. "No, I don't think we overdid it, Willy. That car must be eighteen inches wide already, and they all ought to be normal by the time they reach the main road. The next time I do it, I think I'll throw wood-grain plastic on the fire to see who's kidding who."

The End

Slow Tuesday Night
by R.A. Lafferty

A panhandler intercepted the young couple as they strolled down the night street.

"Preserve us this night," he said as he touched his hat to them, "and could you good people advance me a thousand dollars to be about the recouping of my fortunes?"

"I gave you a thousand last Friday," said the young man.

"Indeed you did," the panhandler replied, "and I paid you back tenfold by messenger before midnight."

"That's right, George, he did," said the young woman. "Give it to him, dear. I believe he's a good sort."

So the young man gave the panhandler a thousand dollars; and the panhandler touched his hat to them in thanks and went on to the recouping of his fortunes.

As he went into Money Market, the panhandler passed Ildefonsa Impala, the most beautiful woman in the city.

"Will you marry me this night, Ildy?" he asked cheerfully.

"Oh, I don't believe so, Basil," she said. "I marry you pretty often, but tonight I don't seem to have any plans at all. You may make me a gift on your first or second, however. I always like that."

But when they had parted, she asked herself: "But whom will I marry tonight?"

The panhandler was Basil Bagelbaker, who would be the richest man in the world within an hour and a half. He would make and lose four fortunes within eight hours; and these not the little fortunes that ordinary men acquire, but titanic things.

· · · · ·

When the Abebaios block had been removed from human minds, people began to make decisions faster, and often better. It had been the mental stutter. When it was understood what it was, and that it had no useful function, it was removed by simple childhood metasurgery.

Transportation and manufacturing had then become practically instantaneous. Things that had once taken months and years now took only minutes and hours. A person could have one or several pretty intricate careers within an eight-hour period.

Freddy Fixico had just invented a manus module. Freddy was a Nyctalops, and the modules were characteristic of these people. The people had then divided themselves.according to their natures and inclinations.into the Auroreans, the Hemerobians, and the Nyctalops; or the Dawners who had their most active hours from 4 A.M. till Noon, the Day-Flies who obtained from Noon to 8 P.M., and the Night-Seers whose civilization thrived from 8 P.M. to 4 A.M. The cultures, inventions, markets, and activities of these three folk were a little different. As a Nyctalops, Freddy had just begun his working day at 8 P.M. on a slow Tuesday night.

Freddy rented an office and had it furnished. This took one minute, negotiation, selection, and installation being almost instantaneous. Then he invented the manus module; that took another minute. He then had it manufactured and marketed; in three minutes it was in the hands of key buyers.

It caught on. It was an attractive module. The flow of orders began within thirty seconds. By ten minutes after eight every important person had one of the new manus modules, and the trend had been set. The module began to sell in the millions. It was one of the most interesting fads of the night, or at least the early part of the night.

Manus modules had no practical function, no more than had Sameki verses. They were attractive, of a psychologically satisfying size and shape, and could be held in the hands, set on a table, or installed in a module niche of any wall.

Naturally Freddy became very rich. Ildefonsa Impala the most beautiful woman in the city was always interested in newly rich men. She came to see Freddy about eight-thirty. People made up their minds fast, and Ildefonsa had hers made up when she came. Freddy made his own up quickly and divorced Judy Fixico in Small Claims Court. Freddy and Ildefonsa went honeymooning to Paraiso Dorado, a resort.

· · · · ·

It was wonderful. All of Ildy's marriages were. There was the wonderful floodlighted scenery. The recirculated water of the famous falls was tinted gold; the immediate rocks had been done by Rambles; and the hills had been contoured by Spall. The beach was a perfect copy of that at Merevale, and the popular drink that first part of the night was blue absinthe.

But scenery.whether seen for the first time or revisited after an striking for the sudden intense view of it. It is not meant to be lingered over. Food, selected and prepared instantly, is eaten with swift enjoyment: and blue absinthe lasts no longer than its own novelty. Loving, for Ildefonsa and her paramours, was quick and consuming; and repetition would have been pointless to her. Besides Ildefonsa and Freddy had taken only the one-hour luxury honeymoon.

Freddy wished to continue the relationship, but Ildefonsa glanced at a trend indicator. The manus module would hold its popularity for only the first third of the night. Already it had been discarded by people who mattered. And Freddy Fixico was not one of the regular successes. He enjoyed a full career only about one night a week.

They were back in the city and divorced in Small Claims Court by nine thirty-five. The stock of manus modules was remaindered, and the last of it would be disposed to bargain hunters among the Dawners, who will buy anything.

"Whom shall I marry next?" Ildefonsa asked herself. "It looks like a slow night."

"Bagelbaker is buying," ran the word through Money Market, but Bagelbaker was selling again before the word had made its rounds. Basil Bagelbaker enjoyed making money, and it was a pleasure to watch him work as he dominated the floor of the Market and assembled runners and a competent staff out of the corner of his mouth. Helpers stripped the panhandler rags off him and wrapped him in a tycoon toga. He sent one runner to pay back twentyfold the young couple who had advanced him a thousand dollars. He sent another with a more substantial gift to Ildefonsa Impala, for Basil cherished their relationship. Basil acquired title to the Trend Indication Complex and had certain falsifications set into it. He caused to collapse certain industrial empires that had grown up within the last two hours, and made a good thing of recombining their wreckage. He had been the richest man in the world for some minutes now. He became so money-heavy that he could not maneuver with the agility he had shown an hour before. He became a great fat buck, and the pack of expert wolves circled him to bring him down.

Very soon he would lose that first fortune of the evening. The secret of Basil Bagelbaker is that he enjoyed losing money spectacularly after he was full of it to the bursting point.

· · · · ·

A thoughtful man named Maxwell Mouser had just produced a work of actinic philosophy. It took him seven minutes to write it. To write works of philosophy one used the flexible outlines and the idea indexes; one set the activator for such a wordage in each subsection; an adept would use the paradox feed-in, and the striking analogy blender; one calibrated the particular-slant and the personality-signature. It had to come out a good work, for excellence had become the automatic minimum for such productions.

"I will scatter a few nuts on the frosting," said Maxwell, and he pushed the lever for that. This sifted handfuls of words like chthonic and heuristic and prozymeides through the thing so that nobody could doubt it was a work of philosophy.

Maxwell Mouser sent the work out to publishers, and received it back each time in about three minutes. An analysis of it and reason for rejection was always given.mostly that the thing had been done before and better. Maxwell received it back ten times in thirty minutes, and was discouraged. Then there was a break.

Ladion's work had become a hit within the last ten minutes, and it was now recognized that Mouser's monograph was both an answer and a supplement to it. It was accepted and published in less than a minute after this break. The reviews of the first five minutes were cautious ones; then real enthusiasm was shown. This was truly one of the greatest works of philosophy to appear during the early and medium hours of the night. There were those who said it might be one of the enduring works and even have a hold-over appeal to the Dawners the next morning.

Naturally Maxwell became very rich, and naturally Ildefonsa came to see him about midnight. Being a revolutionary philosopher, Maxwell thought that they might make some free arrangement, but Ildefonsa insisted it must be marriage. So Maxwell divorced Judy Mouser in Small Claims Court and went off with Ildefonsa.

This Judy herself, though not so beautiful as Ildefonsa, was the fastest taker in the City. She only wanted the men of the moment for a moment, and she was always there before even Ildefonsa. Ildefonsa believed that she took the men away from Judy; Judy said that Ildy had her leavings and nothing else.

"I had him first," Judy would always mock as she raced through Small Claims Court.

"Oh that damned Urchin!" Ildefonsa would moan. "She wears my very hair before I do."

· · · · ·

Maxwell Mouser and Ildefonsa Impala went honeymooning to Musicbox Mountain, a resort. It was wonderful. The peaks were done with green snow by Dunbar and Fittle. (Back at Money Market, Basil Bagelbaker was putting together his third and greatest fortune of the night, which might surpass in magnitude even his fourth fortune of the Thursday before.) The chalets were Switzier than the real Swiss and had live goats in every room. (And Stanley Skuldugger was emerging as the top actor-imago of the middle hours of the night.) The popular drink for that middle part of the night was Glotzenglubber, Eve Cheese and Rhine wine over pink ice. (And back in the city, the leading Nyctalops were taking their midnight break at the Toppers' Club.)

Of course it was wonderful, as were all of Ildefonsa's. But she had never been really up on philosophy, so she had scheduled only the special thirty-five minute honeymoon. She looked at the trend indicator to be sure. She found that her current husband had been obsoleted, and his opus was now referred to sneeringly as Mouser's Mouse. They went back to the city and were divorced in Small Claims Court.

The membership of the Toppers' Club varied. Success was the requisite of membership. Basil Bagelbaker might be accepted as a member, elevated to the presidency and expelled from it as a dirty pauper from three to six times a night. But only important persons could belong to it, or those enjoying brief moments of importance.

"I believe I will sleep during the Dawner period in the morning," Overcall said. "I may go up to this new place Koimopolis for an hour of it. They're said to be good. Where will you sleep, Basil?"


"I believe I will sleep an hour by the Midian Method," said Burnbanner. "They have a fine new clinic. And perhaps I'll sleep an hour by the Prasenka Process, and an hour by the Dormidio."

"Crackle has been sleeping an hour every period by the natural method," said Overcall.

"I did that for a half hour not long since," said Burnbanner. "I believe an hour is too long to give it. Have you tried the natural method, Basil?"

"Always. Natural method and a bottle of red-eye."

· · · · ·

Stanley Skuldugger had become the most meteoric actor-imago for a week. Naturally he became very rich, and Ildefonsa Impala went to see him about 3 A.M.

"I had him first!" rang the mocking voice of Judy Skuldugger as she skipped through her divorce in Small Claims Court. And Ildefonsa and Stanley-boy went off honeymooning. It is always fun to finish up a period with an actor-imago who is the hottest property in the business. There is something so adolescent and boorish about them.

Besides, there was the publicity, and Ildefonsa liked that. The rumor-mills ground. Would it last ten minutes? Thirty? An hour? Would it be one of those rare Nyctalops marriages that lasted through the rest of the night and into the daylight off-hours? Would it even last into the next night as some had been known to do?

Actually it lasted nearly forty minutes, which was almost to the end of the period.

It had been a slow Tuesday night. A few hundred new products had run their course on the markets. There had been a score of dramatic hits, three-minute and five-minute capsule dramas, and several of the six-minute long-play affairs. Night Street Nine.a solidly sordid offering.seemed to be in as the drama of the night unless there should be a late hit.

Hundred-storied buildings had been erected, occupied, obsoleted, and demolished again to make room for more contemporary structures. Only the mediocre would use a building that had been left over from the Day-Flies or the Dawners, or even the Nyctalops of the night before. The city was rebuilt pretty completely at least three times during an eight-hour period.

The Period drew near its end. Basil Bagelbaker, the richest man in the world, the reigning president of the Toppers' Club, was enjoying himself with his cronies. His fourth fortune of the night was a paper pyramid that had risen to incredible heights; but Basil laughed to himself as he savored the manipulation it was founded on.

· · · · ·

Three ushers of the Toppers' Club came in with firm step.

"Get out of here, you dirty bum!" they told Basil savagely. They tore the tycoon's toga off him and then tossed him his seedy panhandler's rags with a three-man sneer.

"All gone?" Basil asked. "I gave it another five minutes."

"All gone," said a messenger from Money Market. "Nine billion gone in five minutes, and it really pulled some others down with it."

"Pitch the busted bum out!" howled Overcall and Burnbanner and the other cronies. "Wait, Basil," said Overcall. "Turn in the President's Crosier before we kick you downstairs. After all, you'll have it several times again tomorrow night."

The Period was over. The Nyctalops drifted off to sleep clinics or leisure-hour hideouts to pass their ebb time. The Auroreans, the Dawners, took over the vital stuff.

Now you would see some action! Those Dawners really made fast decisions. You wouldn't catch them wasting a full minute setting up a business.

A sleepy panhandler met Ildefonsa Impala on the way.

"Preserve us this morning, Ildy," he said, "and will you marry me the coming night?"

"Likely I will, Basil," she told him. "Did you marry Judy during the night past?"

"I'm not sure. Could you let me have two dollars, Ildy?"

"Out of the question. I believe a Judy Bagelbaker was named one of the ten best-dressed women during the frou-frou fashion period about two o'clock. Why do you need two dollars?"

"A dollar for a bed and a dollar for red-eye. After all, I sent you two million out of my second."

"I keep my two sorts of accounts separate. Here's a dollar, Basil. Now be off! I can't be seen talking to a dirty panhandler."

"Thank you, Ildy. I'll get the red-eye and sleep in an alley. Preserve us this morning."

Bagelbaker shuffled off whistling "Slow Tuesday Night."

And already the Dawners had set Wednesday morning to jumping.

The End

Raphael Aloysius Lafferty (November 7, 1914 - March 18, 2002) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure[1], as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, In a Green Tree; a history book, The Fall of Rome; and a number of novels that could be more or less loosely called historical fiction.

Lafferty was born on 7 November 1914 in Neola, Iowa to Hugh David Lafferty (a broker dealing in oil leases and royalties) and Julia Mary Burke, a teacher, the youngest of five siblings. His first name, Raphael, derived from the day he was expected to be born on (the Feast of St. Raphael). At the age of 4, his family moved to Perry, Oklahoma. He attended night school at the University of Tulsa for two years from 1933, mostly studying math and German, but left. He then began to work for a "Clark Electric Co.", in Tulsa, Oklahoma and apparently a newspaper as well; during this period (1939-1942), he attended the International Correspondence School.

R. A. Lafferty lived most of his life in Tulsa, with his sister, Anna Lafferty. Lafferty served for four years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He enlisted in 1942. After training in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and California, he was sent to the South Pacific Area, serving in Australia, New Guinea, Morotai and the Philippines. When he left the Army in 1946, he had become a 1st Sergeant serving as a staff sergeant and had received an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal [1]. He never married.

Lafferty did not begin writing until the 1950s, but he eventually produced thirty-two novels and more than two hundred short stories, most of them at least nominally science fiction. His first published story was "The Wagons" in New Mexico Quarterly Review in 1959. His first published science fiction story was "Day of the Glacier", in The Original Science Fiction Stories in 1960, and his first published novel was Past Master in 1968.

Until 1971, Lafferty worked as an electrical engineer. After that, he spent his time writing until around 1980, when he retired from that activity as well, due to a stroke. In 1994, he suffered an even more severe stroke. He died 18 March 2002, aged 87 in a nursing home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. His collected papers, artifacts, and ephemera were donated to the University of Tulsa's McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Other manuscripts are housed in the University of Iowa's Library special collections department.

Lafferty's quirky prose drew from traditional storytelling, both Irish and Native American, and his shaggy characters and tall tales are unique in science fiction. Little of Lafferty's writing is considered typical of the genre. His stories are more tall tale than traditional science fiction and are deeply influenced by his Catholic beliefs; Fourth Mansions, for example, draws on The Interior Mansions of Teresa of Avila.

In any event, his writings, both topically and stylistically, are not easy to categorize. Plot is frequently secondary to anything else Lafferty does in his stories, which has caused him to have a loyal cult following, but has caused some readers to give up attempting to read his work.

Not all of Lafferty's work was science fiction or fantasy; his novel Okla Hannali [2], published by University of Oklahoma Press, tells the story of the Choctaw in Mississippi, and after the Trail of Tears, in Oklahoma, through an account of the larger-than-life character Hannali and his large family. This novel was thought of highly by the novelist Dee Brown[2], who published an influential book (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) in 1970 on the violent relationship between Native Americans and American expansionism.

Lafferty's work is represented by Virginia Kidd Literary Agency[3].

* Lafferty, R. A. (hardcover). The Fall of Rome (first ed.). Garden City, N.Y. USA: Doubleday. pp. 302. LCCN 73-131087. (Lafferty's fifth book)
* Lafferty, R. A. It's down the slippery cellar stairs: essays and speeches on fantastic literature. San Bernardino, California: Borgo Press.

Historical novels

* The Flame is Green, 1st volume of the Coscuin Chronicles
* Half a Sky, 2nd volume of the Coscuin Chronicles
* Sardinian Summer, 3rd volume of the Coscuin Chronicles (unpublished)
* First and Last Islands, 4th and final volume of the Coscuin Chronicles (unpublished)
* Lafferty, R. A. (hardcover). Okla Hannali (first ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.. pp. 221. LCCN 73-186035.
* Esteban (unpublished)

Science Fiction and Fantasy novels

* Past Master
* The Reefs of Earth, 1968
* Space Chantey (a retelling of the Odyssey in SF terms).
* Fourth Mansions, 1969
* Arrive at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine as Conveyed to R. A. Lafferty
* Not to Mention Camels
* Aurelia
* Annals of Klepsis
* Serpent's Egg
* East of Laughter
* Sindbad: The Thirteenth Voyage
* Dotty
* The Elliptical Grave
* When All the World Was Young (unpublished)

Autobiographical novels

In a Green Tree

* My Heart Leaps Up, 1920-1928
* Grasshoppers and Wild Honey, 1928-1942 (unpublished)
* Deep Scars of the Thunder, 1942-1960 (unpublished)
* Incidents of Travel in Flatland, 1960-1978 (unpublished)

The Devil is Dead Trilogy

* Lafferty, R. A.. Archipelago: the first book of The Devil is Dead trilogy (1st edition ed.). Lafayette, La.: Manuscript Press. pp. 283. LCCN: 79-127387; OCLC: 5944486.
* Lafferty, R. A. (1999) [1971] (softcover). The Devil is Dead (Wildside edition ed.). Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; or Gillette, NJ: 1999 edition, Wildside Press; 1971/1977 edition, Gregg Press of Boston (The Gregg Press science fiction series). pp. 224. ISBN 1-880448-95-5; ISBN 0-8398-2364-9; LCCN: 77-5038; OCLC: 2896356.
o the "Interglossia"; a portion of The Devil is Dead which was omitted from printings of it; the Interglossia has been republished in How Many Miles to Babylon? & in pgs 16-18, Issue 5 of A Magazine of Popular Literature and Popular Culture, in 1972 (ed. by Tom Collins & published by Fan Press of Lakemont, GA[3]; OCLC: 70161160
o "Apocryphal Passage of the Last Night Of Count Finnegan On Galveston Island"; the last chapter of The Devil Is Dead, omitted from the standard version, because the publisher of the first edition did not receive it in time to include it; later published separately in Episodes of the Argo
* More Than Melchisedech
o Tales of Chicago
o Tales of Midnight
o Argo

Miscellaneous unpublished novels or otherwise unknown

* Iron Tongue of Midnight
* Dark Shine
* Fair Hills of Ocean


* Funnyfingers & Cabrito (Pendragon Press, 1976)
* Horns On Their Heads (Pendragon Press, 1976)
* Promontory goats (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* True believers (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* Strange skies (c. 1988; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)
* Mischief malicious (c. 1991; Publisher: United Mythologies Press)


* How Many Miles to Babylon?
* Apocalypses
o Where have You been Sandaliotis?
o The Three Armageddons of Enniscorthy Sweeney
* Lafferty, R. A.. Ishmael into the Barrens (1st edition ed.). pp. 1.50. Ishmael into the Barrens was first printed in the 1971 anthology Four Futures: Four Original Novellas of Science Fiction, New York, New York; Hawthorn Books (195 pages; it contains the "Foreword: Four Themes for Four Futures" by Isaac Asimov; Ishmael into the Barrens by R. A. Lafferty; Braver Newer World by Harry Harrison; How Can We Sink When We Can Fly? by Alexei Panshin; and Going by Robert Silverberg; LCCN: 79-158024)

Short stories

* "And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire"
* "Six Fingers of Time"

Short story collections

(the following collections have no overlap)

* Nine Hundred Grandmothers (21 stories): Nine Hundred Grandmothers / Land of the Great Horses / Ginny Wrapped in the Sun / The Six Fingers of Time / Frog on the Mountain / All the People / Primary Education of the Camiroi / Slow Tuesday Night / Snuffles / Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne / Name of the Snake / Narrow Valley / Polity and Custom of the Camiroi / In Our Block / Hog-Belly Honey / Seven-Day Terror / The Hole on the Corner / What.s the Name of That Town? / Through Other Eyes / One at a Time / Guesting Time
* Strange Doings (16 stories): Rainbird / Camels and Dromedaries, Clem / Continued on Next Rock / Once on Aranea / Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas / The Man with the Speckled Eyes / All But the Words / The Transcendent Tigers / World Abounding / Dream / Ride a Tin Can / Aloys / Entire and Perfect Chrysolite / Incased in Ancient Rind / The Ugly Sea / Cliffs That Laughed. 276 pages, 1972, SBN 684-12530-7; New York, America and Canada, Charles Scribner's Sons.
* Does Anyone Else Have Something Further To Add? Stories About Secret Places and Mean Men (16 stories): About a Secret Crocodile / Mad Man / Nor Limestone Islands / The Man Underneath / Boomer Flats / This Grand Carcass Yet / In the Garden / Groaning Hinges of the World / Golden Trabant / How They Gave It Back / Maybe Jones and the City / Seven Story Dream / Adam Had Three Brothers / Pig in a Pokey / The Weirdest World / The Ultimate Creature
* Golden Gate and Other Stories (16 stories): Golden Gate / Mr. Hamadryad / This Boding Itch / Condillac's Statue / The Cliff Climbers / McGruder's Marvels / Tongues of the Matagorda / Ishmael into the Barrens (previously published in Four Futures) / Eurema's Dam / Days of Grass, Days of Straw / Make Sure the Eyes Are Big Enough / Bequest of Wings / Fall of Pebble-Stones / Marsilia V / One-Eyed Mocking Bird / Sky
* Through Elegant Eyes (15 stories): The All-At-Once Man / Mud Violet / Barnaby's Clock / And Read the Flesh Between the Lines / Animal Fair / The Ungodly Mice of Dr. Drakos / The Two-Headed Dragon of Chris Benedetti / The Hellaceous Rocket of Harry O'Donovan / The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen / Rivers of Damascus / Old Helloweens on the Guna Slopes / Brain Fever Season / What Big Tears the Dinosaur's / And all the Skies Are Full of Fish / St. Poleander's Eve
* Iron Tears (15 stories): You Can't Go Back / Ifrit / Lord Torpedo, Lord Gyroscope / Funnyfingers / Thieving Bear Planet / Berryhill / The World As Will and Wallpaper / Horns On Their Heads / By the Sea Shore / Selenium Ghosts of the Eighteen Seventies / Magazine Section / Or Little Ducks Each Day / Cabrito / Le Hot Sport / Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence
* Lafferty in Orbit (19 stories, 5 overlap the above; in addition, another 4 can be found in the collection Ringing Changes, below): Old Foot Forgot / All Pieces of a River Shore / Bright Coins in Never-Ending Stream / Flaming Ducks and Giant Bread / The Hole on the Corner / The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street / Continued on Next Rock / Entire and Perfect Chrysolite / Great Day in the Morning / The Hand with One Hundred Fingers / One at a Time / Royal Licorice / And Name My Name / Fall of Pebble Stones / Configuration of the North Shore / Dorg / When All the Lands Pour Out Again / Interurban Queen / The Only Tune That He Could Play
* Ringing Changes (20 stories, 13 overlap the above): Parthen / Old Foot Forgot / Dorg / Days of Grass, Days of Straw / Brain Fever Season / And Read the Flesh Between the Lines / Old Halloweens on the Guna Slopes / The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos / The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen / Rivers of Damascus / Among the Hairy Earthmen / In Outraged Stone / And Name My Name / Sky / For All Poor Folks at Picketwire / Oh Whatta You Do When the Well Runs Dry ? / And Some in Velvet Gowns / The Doggone Highly Scientific Door / Interurban Queen / Been a Long Long Time
* The back door of history, 1988, United Mythologies Press in Weston, Ont., Canada: Phoenic / Six leagues from Lop / Rainy day in Halicarnasses / Assault on Fat Mountain / Calamities of last pauper / Rogue raft.
* The early Lafferty, c. 1988, United Mythologies Press.
* The early Lafferty II, c. 1990, United Mythologies Press.

Awards and recognition

Lafferty received Hugo nominations for Past Master, "Continued on the Next Rock," "Sky," and "Eurema's Dam," the last of which won the Best Short Story Hugo in 1973 (shared with Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's "The Meeting.") [4] He received Nebula Award nominations for "Slow Tuesday Night," Past Master, Fourth Mansions, "Continued on Next Rock," and The Devil is Dead. He never received a Nebula award. His collection Lafferty in Orbit was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and in 1990, Lafferty received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he received the Cordwainer Smith Foundation's Rediscovery award[5].

Fourth Mansions was also named by David Pringle as one of his selections for Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels.

"[Once a] French publisher nervously asked whether Lafferty minded being compared to G. K. Chesterton (another Catholic author), and there was a terrifying silence that went on and on. Was the great man hideously offended? Eventually, very slowly, he said: 'You're on the right track, kid,' and wandered away." [4]

In his 2006 short story collection Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman includes a short story called "Sunbird" written in the style of Lafferty. In the introduction, he says this about Lafferty:

There was a writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma (he died in 2002), who was, for a little while in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the best short story writer in the world. His name was R. A. Lafferty, and his stories were unclassifiable and odd and inimitable -- you knew you were reading a Lafferty story within a sentence. When I was young I wrote to him, and he wrote back.

"Sunbird" was my attempt to write a Lafferty story, and it taught me a number of things, mostly how much harder they are than they look..

The Transcendent Tigers
by R. A. Lafferty

This was the birthday of Carnadine Thompson. She was seven years old. Thereby she left her childhood behind her, and came into the fullness of her powers. This was her own phrase, and her own idea of the importance of the milestone.

There were others, mostly adult, who thought that she was a peculiarly backward little girl in some ways, though precocious in others.

She received for her birthday four presents: a hollow, white rubber ball, a green plastic frog, a red cap, and a little wire puzzle.

She immediately tore the plastic frog apart, considering it a child's toy. So much for that.

She put on the cap, saying that it had been sent by her Genie as a symbol of her authority. In fact none of them knew who had sent her the red cap. The cap is important. If it weren't important, it wouldn't be mentioned.

Carnadine quickly worked the wire puzzle, and then unworked it again. Then she did something with the hollow, white rubber ball that made her mother's eyes pop out. Nor did they pop all the way in again when Carnadine undid it and made it as it was before.

Geraldine Thompson had been looking pop-eyed for a long time. Her husband had commented on it, and she had been to the doctor for it. No medical reason was found, but the actual reason was some of the antics of her daughter, Carnadine.

"I wonder if you noticed the small wire puzzle that I gave to my daughter," said Tyburn Thompson to his neighbor, H. Horn.

"Only to note that it probably cost less than a quarter," said Horn, "and to marvel again at the canny way you have with coin. I wouldn't call you stingy, Tyburn. I've never believed in the virtues of understatement. You have a talent for making stingy people seem benevolent."

"I know. Many people misunderstand me. But consider that wire puzzle. It's a very simple-appearing puzzle, but it's twenty-four centuries old. It is unworkable, of course, so it should keep Carnadine occupied for some time. She has an excess of energy. This is one of the oldest of the unworkable puzzles."

"But, Tyburn, she just worked it," said his wife, Geraldine.

"It is one of the nine impossible apparatus puzzles listed by Anaximandros in the fifth century before the common era," continued Tyburn. "And do you know, in all the centuries since then, there have been only two added to the list."

"Carnadine," said her mother, "let me see you work that again."

Carnadine worked it again.

"The reason it is unworkable," said Tyburn, "though apparent to me as a design engineer, may not be so readily apparent to you. It has to do with odds and evens of lays. Many of the unworkable classic puzzles are cordage puzzles, as is this, actually. It is a wire miniature of a cordage puzzle. It is said that this is the construction of the Gordian knot. The same, however, is said of two other early cordage puzzles."

"But she just worked it, Tyburn, twice," said the wife.

"Stop chattering, Geraldine. I am explaining something to Horn. Men have spent years on the puzzle, the Engineering Mind and the recognition of patent impossibility being less prevalent in past centuries. And this, I believe, is the best of all the impossible ones. It is misleading. It looks as though there would surely be a way to do it."

"I just believe that I could do it, Tyburn," said Horn.

"No, you could not. You're a stubborn man, and it'd drive you crazy. It's quite impossible. You would have to take it into another dimension to work it, and then bring it back."

Carnadine once more did something with the hollow rubber ball.

"How did you make the rubber ball turn red and then white again, Carnadine?" her mother asked her.

"Turned it inside out. It's red on the inside."

"But how did you turn it inside out without tearing it?"

"It'd spoil it to tear it, mama."

"But it's impossible to turn it inside out without tearing it."

"Not if you have a red cap it isn't."

"Dear, how do you work the puzzle that your father says can't be worked?"

"Like this."

"Oh, yes. I mean, how does it happen that you can work it when nobody else could ever work it before?"

"There has to be a first time for everything, mama."

"Maybe, but there has to be a first-class explanation to go with that first time."

"It's on account of the red cap. With this cap I can do anything."

· · · · ·

So Carnadine Thompson in the fullness of her powers, and in her red cap, went out to find the rest of the Bengal Tigers. This was the most exclusive society in the world. It had only one full member, herself, and three contingent or defective members, her little brother Eustace, Fatty Frost, and Peewee Horn. Children all three of them, the oldest not within three months of her age.

The Bengal Tigers was not well known to the world at large, having been founded only the day before. Carnadine Thompson was made First Stripe for life. There were no other offices.

Yet, for a combination of reasons, the Bengal Tigers now became the most important society in the world. The new power was already in being. It was only a question of what form it would take, but it seemed to show a peculiar affiliation for this esoteric society.

· · · · ·

Clement Chardin, writing in Bulletin de la Société Parahistorique Française, expressed a novel idea:

It is no longer a question whether there be transcendent powers. These have now come so near to us that the aura of them ruffles our very hair. We are the objects of a visitation. The Power to Move Mountains and Worlds is at hand. The Actuality of the Visitation is proved, though the methods of the detection cannot now be revealed.

The question is only whether there is any individual or group with the assurance to grasp that Power. It will not be given lightly. It will not come to the craven or contabescent. There is the sad possibility that there may be none ready in the World to receive the Power. This may not be the first Visitation, but it may well be the last. But the Power, whatever its form and essence (it is real, its presence had been detected by fine instrumentation), the Power, the Visitation may pass us by as unworthy.

This parenthetical for those who might not have read it in the journal.

· · · · ·

That which struck just west of Kearney, Nebraska, was an elemental force. The shock of it was heard around the world, and its suction flattened farmhouses and barns for miles.

The area of the destruction was an almost perfect circle about two miles in diameter, so just over two thousand acres were destroyed. The first reports said that it was like no disaster ever known. Later reports said that it was like every disaster ever known; and it did have points of resemblance to all.

There was the great crater as though a meteorite had struck; there was the intense heat and the contamination as though it had been of fissionable origin; there was an afterflow of lava and the great ash clouds as though it were the supervolcanic explosion of another Krakatoa. There was the sudden silence of perhaps two seconds actually, and perhaps two hours as to human response. And then the noise of all sorts.

The early reports said that the hole was three miles deep. That was said simply to have a figure and to avoid panic. It was not known how deep the hole was.

But it was very much more than three miles.before the earthquake had begun to fill and mask it.before the hot magma had oozed up from its bottom to fill those first miles. It was still very much more than three miles deep after the rapid gushing had declined to a slow waxlike flowing.

Had anyone heard the preceding rush, or seen a meteor or any other flying object? No. There hadn't been a sound, but there had been something pitched a little higher than sound.

There hadn't been a meteor or a flying ball. But there had been what some called a giant shaft of light, and others a sheen of metal: a thing too big to be believed, and gone too soon to be remembered.

One farmer said that it was like the point of a giant needle quickly becoming more than a mile thick, and a hundred thousand miles long.

Did he know how to judge distances? Certainly, he said, I know how to judge distances. It is ninety yards to that tree; it is seven hundred yards to that windmill. That crow is flying at right onto eighty yards above the earth, though most would guess him higher. And that train whistle is coming from a distance of five and one-quarter miles.

But did he know how to judge great distances? Did he know how far was a hundred thousand miles? Certainly, he said, a great distance is easier to judge than a small one. And that sudden bright shaft was one hundred thousand miles long.

The farmer was the only one who offered any figures. Few had seen the thing at all. And all who had seen it maintained that it had lasted only a fraction of a second.

"There should be something to take the minds of the people from the unexplained happening near Kearney, Nebraska," said a group of advisors who had national status. "It will not be good for too much notice to be taken of this event until we have an explanation of it."

Fortunately something did take the minds of the people off the unexplained happenings near Kearney. What took their minds from the unusual happenings in Nebraska were the happenings at or near Hanksville, Utah, Crumpton, Maryland, Locust Bayou, Arkansas, and Pope City, Georgia. All of these sudden destructions were absolutely similar in type and vague in origin. National panic now went into the second stage, and it was nearly as important to halt it as to solve the disasters themselves.

And what in turn took the minds of the people off these disasters were the further disasters at Highmore, South Dakota, Lower Gilmore, New Hampshire, Cherryfork, Ohio, and Rowesville, South Carolina.

And what took the minds of the people off these later disasters were still further disasters at.but this could go on and on.

And it did.

· · · · ·

So with the cataclysmic disasters erupting over the country like a rash, there wasn't a large audience for the academic discussions about the New Potential of Mankind. There were those, concerned about the current catastrophes, who said that Mankind might not last long enough to receive the New Potential.or anything else.

But Winkers observed from the Long Viewpoint.paying no more attention to the destructions than if they had been a string of firecrackers, such not being his field:

It is paradoxical that we know so much and yet so little about the Power Immanent in the World: the Visitation, the Poyavlenie, as it is now called internationally.

It has been detected, but in ways twice removed. An earlier statement that it had been detected by instrumentation is inaccurate. It has not been detected by instrumentation, but by para-instrumentation. This is the infant science of gathering data from patterns of failure of instruments, and of making deductions from those failure patterns. What our finest instruments fail to detect is at least as important as what they do detect. In some cases it is more so. The patterns of failure when confronted with the thesis of the Visitation have been varied, but they have not been random. There appears to be a validity to the deductions from the patterns.

The characteristics of the Power, the Visitation, as projected by these methods (and always considered in the Oeg-Hornbostel framework) is that it is Aculeiform, Homodynamous, Homochiral, and (here the intelligence reels with disbelief, yet I assure the lector that I am deadly serious) Homoeoteleutic.

For there is a Verbal Element to it, incredible as it seems. This raises old ghosts. It is almost as if we hear the returning whisper of primitive magic or fetish. It is as if we were dealing with the Logos.the word that was before the world. But where are we to find the logic of the Logos?

Truly the most puzzling aspect of all is this Verbal Element detected in it, even if thus remotely. Should we believe that the Power operates homeopathically through some sort of witches' rhyming chant? That might be an extreme conclusion, since we know it only by an implication. But when we consider all the foregoing in the light of Laudermilk's Hypothesis, we are tempted to a bit of unscientific apprehension.

How powerful is the Power? We do not know. We cannot equate it in dynes. We can only compare effect with effect, and here the difference is so great that comparison fails. We can consider the effect of the Titter-Stumpf Theory, or of the Krogman-Keil Projection on Instrumentation and Para-Instrumentation. And we humbly murmur "very powerful indeed."

· · · · ·

Carnadine Thompson had begun to read the newspapers avidly. This was unexpected, since reading was her weak point. She had had so much trouble with the story of the Kitten and the Bell in the First Reader that her mother had come to believe that she had no verbal facility at all. This had been belied a moment later when Carnadine had torn the offending pages out of the Reader and told her mother and the world just what they could do with that kitten, and told it with great verbal facility. But it seemed that for reading Carnadine had no talent.

But now she read everything she could find about the new disasters that had struck the it out loud in a ringing voice in which the names of the destroyed places were like clanging bells.

"How come you can read the paper so well, Carnadine?" her mother asked her. "How do you know how to say the names?"

"Oh, it's no great trick, mama. You just tie into the stuff and let go. Crumpton! Locust Bayou! Pope City! Cherryfork! Rowesville!"

"But how can you read all those hard names in the paper when you couldn't even read the story about the little kitten?"

"Mama, with things going the way they are, I think there's a pretty good chance that that damned kitten will get what's coming to her."

· · · · ·

Far out, very far out, there was a conversation.

This was on a giant world of extreme sophistication and nondependence on matter. It was such a world as those on which Laudermilk's Hypothesis was built. That such a world existed, even in a contingent sense, was a triumph for Laudermilk.

"Then you have invested one?" asked Sphaeros, an ancient rotundity of that advanced world.

"I have invested one," said Acu, the eager young sharpie, and bowed his forehead to the floor. The expression was figurative, since there was neither forehead nor floor on that world.

"And you are certain that you have invested the correct one?"

"You toy with me. Naturally I am not certain. Every investiture may not be successful, and every seed may not grow. One learns by experience, and this is my first experience on such a mission.

"I examined much of that world before I found this person. I thought first that it would be among the masters of the contrapuntal worlds.for even there they have such and masters of such. But none of these persons.called by themselves actors and impresarios and promoters and hacks.none of these qualified. None had the calm assurance that is the first requisite. What assurance they had was of another sort, and not valid. Also, their contrapuntal worlds were not true creations in our sense.not really worlds at all."

"Then where did you look?" asked Sphaeros.

"I looked to the heads of the apparatus. On retarded worlds there is often an apparatus or 'government.' On that world there were many. But the leaders of these.though most showed an avidity for power.did not show the calm assurance that should go with it. Their assurance, if it could be called such, was of an hysterical sort. Also, most of them were venal persons, so I rejected them."

"And then?"

"Then I explored remote possibilities. Those who employ in their work a certain power over another species.jockeys, swineherds, beekeepers, snake-charmers. But with them I didn't find what I looked for.the perfect assurance of the truly superior being."

"And then, Acu?"

"Then I went into instruments, not trusting my own judgment. I set the Calm Assurance Indicator on automatic and cruised about that world. And on that whole world I found only one person with perfect impervious to doubt of any kind and totally impervious to self-doubt. On this one I made the investiture and conferred the concept of great Power and Sharpness."

"You have made a mistake. Fortunately it is not a great mistake, as it is not a great world. You were too anxious to make a good showing on your first attempt. When nothing can be found, you should leave that world alone. On very many of them nothing can be found. Assurance is not the only quality that makes up this competence; it is simply the quality for which we look first on alien spheres.

"The one on whom you made the Investiture, though full of assurance, was not full of other qualities equally important. It was in fact a pupa form, a child of the species, known locally as a kid. Well, it's done and cannot be undone. Fortunately such power conferred carries its own safety factor. The worst it can do is destroy its own world and seal it off safely from others. You made the Investiture correctly?"

"Yes. I left the Red Cap, the symbol of authority and power. There was instant acceptance and comprehension."

· · · · ·

"Now we'll do the big towns," screamed Carnadine Thompson in the clubhouse of the Bengal Tigers.

"Peas and Beans.
New Orleans!"

She jabbed the needle into New Orleans on the map, and the great shaft a hundred thousand miles long came down into the middle of the Crescent City.

A needle? Not a pin? No. No. Pins won't work. They're of base metal. Needles! Needles!

"Candy store.

"Baltimore," howled Carnadine and jabbed in another needle, and the old city was destroyed. But there was never a place that screamed so loudly over its own destruction or hated so much to go.

"Fatty's full of bolonio.
San Antonio."

And Carnadine stuck it in with full assurance of her powers, red cap atilt, eyes full of green fire. There were some of us who liked that place and wished that it could have been spared.

"Eustace is a sisty.
Corpus Christi."

"I know one," said Eustace, and he clapped the red cap on his own head:

"Eggs and Batter.

He rhymed and jabbed, manfully but badly.

"That didn't rhyme very good," said Carnadine. "I bet you botched it."

He did. It wasn't a clean-cut holocaust at all. It was like a clumsy, bloody, grinding job.not what you'd like.

"Eustace, go in the house and get the big world map," ordered Carnadine, "and some more needles. We don't want to run out of things."

"Peewee is a sapolis.

"Let me do one," pleaded Peewee, and he snatched the red cap:

"Hopping Froggo.

"I do wish that you people would let me handle this," said Carnadine. "That was awful."

It was. It was horrible. That giant needle didn't go in clean at all. It buckled great chunks of land and tore a ragged gap. Nothing pretty, nothing round about it. It was plain brutal destruction.

· · · · ·

If you don't personally go for this stuff, then pick a high place near a town that nobody can find a rhyme for, and go there fast. But if you can't get out of town in the next two minutes, then forget it. It will be too late.

Carnadine plunged ahead:

"What the hecktady.

That was one of the roundest and cleanest holes of all.

"Flour and Crisco.
San Francisco."

That was a good one. It got all the people at once, and then set up tidal waves and earthquakes all over everywhere.

"Knife and fork.

The End

_The place called Sodom was bad enough. But right down the
road was the other town--and that was even worse!_



Illustrated by RITTER

Manuel shouldn't have been employed as a census taker. He wasn't
qualified. He couldn't read a map. He didn't know what a map was. He
only grinned when they told him that North was at the top.

He knew better.

But he did write a nice round hand, like a boy's hand. He knew Spanish,
and enough English. For the sector that was assigned to him he would not
need a map. He knew it better than anyone else, certainly better than
any mapmaker. Besides, he was poor and needed the money.

They instructed him and sent him out. Or they thought that they had
instructed him. They couldn't be sure.

"Count everyone? All right. Fill in everyone? I need more papers."

"We will give you more if you need more. But there aren't so many in
your sector."

"Lots of them. _Lobos_, _tejones_, _zorros_, even people."

"Only the _people_, Manuel! Do not take the animals. How would you write
up the animals? They have no names."

"Oh, yes. All have names. Might as well take them all."

"Only people, Manuel."




"No, Manuel, no. Only the people."

"No trouble. Might as well take them all."

"Only people--God give me strength!--only people, Manuel."

"How about little people?"

"Children, yes. That has been explained to you."

"_Little_ people. Not children, little people."

"If they are people, take them."

"How big they have to be?"

"It doesn't make any difference how big they are. If they are people,
take them."

That is where the damage was done.

The official had given a snap judgement, and it led to disaster. It was
not his fault. The instructions are not clear. Nowhere in all the
verbiage does it say how big they have to be to be counted as people.

Manuel took Mula and went to work. His sector was the Santa Magdalena, a
scrap of bald-headed and desolate mountains, steep but not high, and so
torrid in the afternoons that it was said that the old lava sometimes
began to writhe and flow again from the sun's heat alone.

In the center valley there were five thousand acres of slag and
vitrified rock from some forgotten old blast that had melted the hills
and destroyed their mantle, reducing all to a terrible flatness. This
was called Sodom. It was strewn with low-lying ghosts as of people and
objects, formed when the granite bubbled like water.

Away from the dead center the ravines were body-deep in chaparral, and
the hillsides stood gray-green with old cactus. The stunted trees were
lower than the giant bushes and yucca.

Manuel went with Mula, a round easy man and a sparse gaunt mule. Mula
was a mule, but there were other inhabitants of the Santa Magdalena of a
genus less certain.

Yet even about Mula there was an oddity in her ancestry. Her paternal
grandfather had been a goat. Manuel once told Mr. Marshal about this,
but Mr. Marshal had not accepted it.

"She is a mule. Therefore, her father was a jack. Therefore his father
was also a jack, a donkey. It could not be any other way."

Manuel often wondered about that, for he had raised the whole strain of
animals, and he remembered who had been with whom.

"A donkey! A jack! Two feet tall and with a beard and horns. I always
thought that he was a goat."

Manuel and Mula stopped at noon on Lost Soul Creek. There would be no
travel in the hot afternoon. But Manuel had a job to do, and he did it.
He took the forms from one of the packs that he had unslung from Mula,
and counted out nine of them. He wrote down all the data on nine people.
He knew all there was to know about them, their nativities and their
antecedents. He knew that there were only nine regular people in the
nine hundred square miles of the Santa Magdalena.

But he was systematic, so he checked the list over again and again.
There seemed to be somebody missing. Oh, yes, himself. He got another
form and filled out all the data on himself.

Now, in one way of looking at it, his part in the census was finished.
If only he had looked at it that way, he would have saved worry and
trouble for everyone, and also ten thousand lives. But the instructions
they had given him were ambiguous, for all that they had tried to make
them clear.

So very early the next morning he rose and cooked beans, and said,
"Might as well take them all."

He called Mula from the thorn patch where she was grazing, gave her salt
and loaded her again. Then they went to take the rest of the census, but
in fear. There was a clear duty to get the job done, but there was also
a dread of it that his superiors did not understand. There was reason
also why Mula was loaded so she could hardly walk with packs of census

Manuel prayed out loud as they climbed the purgatorial scarp above Lost
Souls Creek, "_ruega por nosotros pecadores ahora_--" the very gulches
stood angry and stark in the early morning--"_y en la hora de neustra

Three days later an incredible dwarf staggered into the outskirts of
High Plains, Texas, followed by a dying wolf-sized animal that did not
look like a wolf.

A lady called the police to save the pair from rock-throwing kids who
might have killed them, and the two as yet unclassified things were
taken to the station house.

The dwarf was three foot high, a skeleton stretched over with
brown-burnt leather. The other was an un-canine looking dog-sized beast,
so full of burrs and thorns that it might have been a porcupine. It was
a nightmare replica of a shrunken mule.

The midget was mad. The animal had more presence of mind: she lay down
quietly and died, which was the best she could do, considering the state
that she was in.

"Who is census chief now?" asked the mad midget. "Is Mr. Marshal's boy
the census chief?"

"Mr. Marshal is, yes. Who are you? How do you know Marshal? And what is
that which you are pulling out of your pants, if they are pants?"

"Census list. Names of everybody in the Santa Magdalena. I had to steal

"It looks like microfilm, the writing is so small. And the roll goes on
and on. There must be a million names here."

"Little bit more, little bit more. I get two bits a name."

They got Marshal there. He was very busy, but he came. He had been given
a deadline by the mayor and the citizen's group. He had to produce a
population of ten thousand people for High Plains, Texas; and this was
difficult, for there weren't that many people in the town. He had been
working hard on it, though; but he came when the police called him.

"You Marshal's little boy? You look just like your father," said the

"That voice, I should know that voice even if it's cracked to pieces.
That has to be Manuel's voice."

"Sure, I'm Manuel. Just like I left, thirty-five years ago."

"You can't be Manuel, shrunk three feet and two hundred pounds and aged
a million."

"You look here at my census slip. It says I'm Manuel. And here are nine
more of the regular people, and one million of the little people. I
couldn't get them on the right forms, though. I had to steal their

"You can't be Manuel," said Marshal.

"He can't be Manuel," said the big policemen and the little policeman.

"Maybe not, then," the dwarf conceded. "I thought I was, but I wasn't
sure. Who am I then? Let's look at the other papers and see which one I

"No, you can't be any of them either, Manuel. And you surely can't be

"Give him a name anyhow and get him counted. We got to get to that ten
thousand mark."

"Tell us what happened, Manuel--if you are. Which you aren't. But tell

"After I counted the regular people I went to count the little people. I
took a spade and spaded off the top of their town to get in. But they
put an _encanto_ on me, and made me and Mula run a treadmill for
thirty-five years."

"Where was this?"

"At the little people town. Nuevo Danae. But after thirty-five years the
_encanto_ wore off and Mula and I stole the list of names and ran away."

"But where did you really get this list of so many names written so

"Suffering saddle sores, Marshal, don't ask the little bug so many
questions. You got a million names in your hand. Certify them! Send them
in! There's enough of us here right now. We declare that place annexed
forthwith. This will make High Plains the biggest town in the whole
state of Texas."

So Marshal certified them and sent them into Washington. This gave High
Plains the largest percentage increase of any city in the nation, but it
was challenged. There were some soreheads in Houston who said that it
wasn't possible. They said High Plains had nowhere near that many people
and there must have been a miscount.

And in the days that the argument was going on, they cleaned up and fed
Manuel, if it were he, and tried to get from him a cogent story.

"How do you know it was thirty-five years you were on the treadmill,

"Well, it seemed like thirty-five years."

"It could have only been about three days."

"Then how come I'm so old?"

"We don't know that, Manuel, we sure don't know that. How big were these

"Who knows? A finger long, maybe two?"

"And what is their town?"

"It is an old prairie-dog town that they fixed up. You have to dig down
with a spade to get to the streets."

"Maybe they were really all prairie dogs, Manuel. Maybe the heat got you
and you only dreamed that they were little people."

"Prairie dogs can't write as good as on that list. Prairie dogs can't
write hardly at all."

"That's true. The list is hard to explain. And such odd names on it

"Where is Mula? I don't see Mula since I came back."

"Mula just lay down and died, Manuel."

"Gave me the slip. Why didn't I think of that? Well, I'll do it too. I'm
too worn out for anything else."

"Before you do, Manuel, just a couple of last questions."

"Make them real fast then. I'm on my way."

"Did you know these little people were there before?"

"Oh, sure. There a long time."

"Did anybody else ever see them?"

"Oh, sure. Everybody in the Santa Magdalena see them. Eight, nine people
see them."

"And Manuel, how do we get to the place? Can you show us on a map?"

Manuel made a grimace, and died quietly as Mula had done. He didn't
understand those maps at all, and took the easy way out.

They buried him, not knowing for sure whether he was Manuel come back,
or what he was.

There wasn't much of him to bury.

It was the same night, very late and after he had been asleep, that
Marshal was awakened by the ring of an authoritative voice. He was being
harangued by a four-inch tall man on his bedside table, a man of
dominating presence and acid voice.

"Come out of that cot, you clown! Give me your name and station!"

"I'm Marshal, and I suspect that you are a late pig sandwich, or caused
by one. I shouldn't eat so late."

"Say 'sir' when you reply to me. I am no pig sandwich and I do not
commonly call on fools. Get on your feet, you clod."

And wonderingly Marshal did.

"I want the list that was stolen. Don't gape! Get it!"

"What list?"

"Don't stall, don't stutter. Get me our tax list that was stolen. It
isn't words that I want from you."

"Listen, you cicada, I'll take you and--"

"You will not. You will notice that you are paralyzed from the neck
down. I suspect that you were always so from there up. Where is the

"S-sent it to Washington."

"You bug-eyed behemoth! Do you realize what a trip that will be? You
grandfather of inanities, it will be a pleasure to destroy you!"

"I don't know what you are, or if you are really. I don't believe that
you even belong on the world."

"Not belong on the world! We own the world. We can show written title to
the world. Can you?"

"I doubt it. Where did you get the title?"

"None of your business. I'd rather not say. Oh, well, we got it from a
promoter of sorts. A con man, really. I'll have to admit that we were
taken, but we were in a spot and needed a world. He said that the larger
bifurcates were too stupid to be a nuisance. We should have known that
the stupider a creature, the more of a nuisance it is."

"I had about decided the same thing about the smaller a creature. We may
have to fumigate that old mountain mess."

"Oh, you can't harm us. We're too powerful. But we can obliterate you in
an instant."


"Say 'Hah, _sir_' when you address me. Do you know the place in the
mountain that is called Sodom?"

"I know the place. It was caused by a large meteor."

"It was caused by one of these."

What he held up was the size of a grain of sand. Marshal could not see
it in detail.

"There was another city of you bug-eyed beasts there," said the small
martinet. "You wouldn't know about it. It's been a few hundred years. We
decided it was too close. Now I have decided that you are too close."

"A thing that size couldn't crack a walnut."

"You floundering fop, it will blast this town flat!"

"What will happen to you?"

"Nothing. I don't even blink for things like that."

"How do you trigger it off."

"You gaping goof, I don't have time to explain that to you. I have to
get to Washington."

It may be that Marshal did not believe himself quite awake. He certainly
did not take the threat seriously enough. For the little man did trigger
it off.

When the final count was in, High Plains did not have the highest
percentage gain in population in the nation. Actually it showed the
sharpest decline, from 7313 to nothing.

They were going to make a forest preserve out of the place, except that
it has no trees worthy of the name. Now it is proposed to make it the
Sodom and Gomorrah State Park from the two mysterious scenes of
desolation there, just seven miles apart.

It is an interesting place, as wild a region as you will ever find, and
is recommended for the man who has seen everything.


NINE HUNDRED GRANDMOTHERS - I think this one book is the absolute required minimum must-have-read-in-your-lifetime book. Contains some of Lafferty's best short stories, especially my favorites "Hog Belly Honey", Thus we Frustrate Charlemagne, and "The Six Fingers of Time", the first RAL-story I ever read. If you don't like these, you won't like any Lafferty.


1. Nine Hundred Grandmothers
2. Land of the Great Horses
3. Ginny Wrapped in the Sun
4. The Six Fingers of Time
5. Frog on the Mountain
6. All the People
7. Primary Education of the Camiroi
8. Slow Tuesday Night
9. Snuffles
10. Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
11. Name of the Snake
12. Narrow Valley
13. Polity and Custom of the Camiroi
14. In Our Block
15. Hog-Belly Honey
16. Seven Day Terror
17. The Hole on the Corner
18. What's the Name of that Town ?
19. Through Other Eyes
20. One at a Time
21. Guesting Time

LAFFERTY IN ORBIT - This collection contains thirteen stories that were published by Damon Knight in his Orbit periodical. There is a bit overlap with 900 Grandmothers and some other collections. Solely taken on its own this is the second best collection of Lafferty short stories (IMO) and even subtracting them this still would be a good second or third choice.


1. Old Foot Forgot
2. All Pieces of a River Shore
3. Bright Coins in Never-Ending Stream
4. Flaming Ducks and Giant Bread
5. The Hole on the Corner
6. The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street
7. Continued on Next Rock
8. Entire and Perfect Chrysolite
9. Great Day in the Morning
10. The Hand with One Hundred Fingers
11. One at a Time
12. Royal Licorice
13. And Name My Name
14. Fall of Pebble Stones
15. Configuration of the North Shore
16. Dorg
17. When All the Lands Pour Out Again
18. Interurban Queen
19. The Only Tune That He Could Play

STRANGE DOINGS - Another excellent collection of Lafferty short stories. I'd rate it tentatively as the third best collection.


1. Rainbird
2. Camels and Dromedaries, Clem
3. Continued on Next Rock
4. Once on Aranea
5. Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas
6. The Man with the Speckled Eyes
7. All but the Words
8. The Transcendent Tigers
9. World Abounding
10. Dream
11. Ride a Tin Can
12. Aloys
13. Entire and Perfect Chrysolite
14. Incased in Ancient Rind
15. The Ugly Sea
16. Cliffs That Laughed

HEART OF STONE, DEAR - A small booklet containing five short ones from the master. They are printed there for the first time. Curiously the two best stories are in the back of the booklet.


1. And You Did Not Wail
2. Company in the Wings
3. The End of Outward
4. Heart of Stone, Dear
5. Haruspex

DOES ANYONE ELSE HAVE SOMETHING FURTHER TO ADD ? - More short stories by the master of the short story. The best stories aren't as good as the best "900 Grandmother" stories, but better than the lesser ones. There is even a small detective story here, in true Lafferty style!


1. About a Secret Crocodile
2. Mad Man
3. Nor Limestone Islands
4. The Man Underneath
5. Boomer Flats
6. This Grand Carcass Yet
7. In the Garden
8. Groaning Hinges of the World
9. Golden Trabant
10. How They gave It Back
11. Maybe Jones and the City
12. Seven Story Dream
13. Adam Had Three Brothers
14. Pig in a Pokey
15. The Weirdest World
16. The Ultimate Creature

IRON TEARS - Yet another fine collection of fine short stories. The stories itself are what make the collection fine. The publishers Edgewood Press let a LOT of spelling errors go through, which makes reading harder than it should.


1. You Can't Go Back
2. Ifrit
3. Lord Torpedo, Lord Gyroscope
4. Funnyfingers
5. Thieving Bear Planet
6. Berryhill
7. The World as Will and Wallpaper
8. Horns on Their Heads
9. By The Sea Shore
10. Selenium Ghosts of the Eighteen Seventies
11. Magazine Section
12. Or Little Ducks Each Day
13. Cabrito
14. Le Hot Sport
15. Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence

GOLDEN GATE AND OTHER STORIES - Another indespensable collection for this has amongst other excellent stories the Hugo-Award-winning "Eurema's Dam".


1. Golden Gate
2. Mr. Hamadryad
3. This Boding Itch
4. Condillac's Statue
5. The Cliff Climbers
6. Mc Gruders Marvels
7. Tongues of the Matagorda
8. Ishmael into the Barrens
9. Eurema's Dam
10. Days of Grass, Days of Straw
11. Make sure the Eyes are Big Enough
12. Bequest of Wings
13. Fall of Pebble-Stones
14. Marsilia V
15. One-Eyed Mocking Bird
16. Sky

The picture is not a cover scan, but an illustration of the story "Condillac's Statue"

THROUGH ELEGANT EYES - This collection is unique, in that it is a collection of short stories, that feature a constant cast of characters. It isn't the Institute of impure science (which I would have preferred), but maybe the second best thing, namely Austro (from "Two for Four Ninety Nine"), Roy Mega, Harry O'Donovan, Dr. George Drakos, Cris Benedetti, Barnaby and the first person story teller named "Laff".


1. The All-At-Once Man
2. Mud Violet
3. Barnaby's Clock
4. And Read the Flesh between the Lines
5. Animal Fair
6. The Ungodly Mice of Dr. Drakos
7. The Two-Headed Dragon of Chris Bendetti
8. The Hellaceous Rocket of Harry O'Donovan
9. The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen
10. Rivers of Damascus
11. Old Helloweens on the Guna Slopes
12. Brain Fever Season
13. What Big Tears the Dinosaur's
14. And all the Skys are full of Fish
15. St. Poleander's Eve

THE MAN WHO MADE MODELS - Five more short stories, that were never published before. (What's the matter with the SF magazines ??) As in "Heart of Stone, Dear" the last story is the best, but three of the other stories are also quite enjoyable.


1. The Man Who Made Models
2. I'll See It Done and Then I'll Die
3. The Effigy Histories
4. Of Laughter and the Love of Friends
5. Two for Four Ninety Nine

SNAKE IN HIS BOSOM - Again five short stories, that haven't been put to print before. No gold is to be found in these 44 pages, but for the Lafferty fan this $2 booklet is still a worthy investment. Snake in his bosom, the title story is the highlight here:


1. Jack Bang's Eyes
2. Pleasures and Palaces
3. Posterior Analytics
4. Snake in His Bosom
5. Unique Adventue Gone

FUNNYFINGERS & CABRITO - This might be the prettiest Lafferty book, I have held in hands. The content is just two shortstories, that you can also find elsewhere. So this should be of interest to collectors only.


1. Funnyfingers
2. Cabrito


RINGING CHANGES - (Scan provided by Jussi T. Vainikain)


1. Parthen
2. Old Foot Forgot
3. Dorg
4. Days of Grass, Days of Straw
5. Brain Fever Season
6. And Read the Flesh Between the Lines
7. Old Halloweens on the Guna Slopes
8. The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos
9. The Wooly World of Barnaby Sheen
10. Rivers of Damascus
11. Among the Hairy Earthmen
12. In Outraged Stone
13. And Name my Name
14. Sky
15. For All Poor Folks at Picketwire
16. Oh Whatta You Do When the Well Runs Dry ?
17. And Some in Velvet Gowens
18. The Doggone Highly Scientific Door
19. Interurban Queen
20. Been a Long Long Time


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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, January 21, 2010


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