Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feast of Laughter 2 is Here!

It's ALIVE!!

The new Feast of Laughter is here!


Download it from www.feastoflaughter.org

or buy it from Amazon:

Thank you to everyone who contributed and thank you many millions of times over to the members of the Ktistec brotherhood who fought through the long creative (and occasionally combative) hours to bring this beast to life. It is far better in quality of production, writing, design, and even editing than the first book. It was truly a collaborative effort by all.

Check it out!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Watch This Space

The stew is bubbling, the roast is in the oven, the drink is fermenting, and the desserts are baking. The second Feast of Laughter is due out on March 18.

Watch this space.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Call to Action - Contribute to Feast of Laughter Issue 2

Happy New Year everyone!

2014 has been been an enormous year for Lafferty Fans. It started with the arrival of The Man Who Made Models volume 1 of the complete short works of Lafferty published by The Centipede Press. November 7 was Lafferty's 100th Birthday, and also the publication date of the first issue of Feast of Laughter the new Lafferty fanzine (read book of essays, commentary, scholarship, and stories) published by yours truly and the magnificent people at the East of Laughter fan group on Facebook.

The first issue was an enormous success--far beyond our wildest dreams (see my blog entry, Andrew Ferguson's entry, and Neil Gaiman's post; go and buy it on Amazon)!

Now it is time to focus on the next issue. We want to make the next issue even better than the first, learning from the few mistakes of first publication and attracting even more top quality content.

Deadlines:

  • Expression of Interest: Saturday, January 31, 2015 
  • Content complete: Friday, February 20, 2015
  • Publication: Saturday, March 18, 2015
Contact:
Email editor@feastoflaughter.org with all your ideas, submissions, stories, daydreams of things you'd love to write about R. A. Lafferty, and even requests. 

Questions:
  • Q: If I have a perfect idea that I can polish into an amazing entry, but I dream it up on February 1, am I out of luck until Issue #3?
  • A: Most likely we can fit it into Issue #2. The January 31 deadline for expression of interest is a guideline to help know how much content to prepare for, and see if there are any synergies between topics from different writers, so I can coordinate conversation and work. Please be as thoughtful as you can, but if it absolutely ought to be in this issue, by all means submit it!
  • Q: Can I suggest essays by other bloggers, scholars, critics, and authors that ought to be included?
  • A: Absolutely, that is where a huge amount of our content in Issue #1 came from. If you suggest it, be prepared to follow up by contacting the original author and requesting permission to include the content.
  • Q: Copyright?
  • A: Absolutely respected on all fronts:
    • 1. Ktistec Press and Feast of Laughter is scrupulous in respecting copyrights for all material. We WILL obtain full permission to use any content before including it, unless that content is already in the public domain (see Andrew Ferguson's essay on "The Six Fingers of Time").
    • 2. All authors retain copyright to their entries. 
  • Q: Do you pay for content?
  • A: No. At this time, the Ktistec Press makes no money whatsoever. Our goal is to raise awareness of Lafferty's place in American literature and SF. To do that we want to reach as many people as possible, which means keeping the printed edition as inexpensive as possible. To this end, all of the content for Feast of Laughter is donated. Gleefully, joyously, jubilantly donated. Even Michael Bishop's story and Lissanne Lake's magnificent painting were donated with enthusiasm (and I am humbled by their greatness in so doing). 
  • Q: Can I help format, edit, proofread, publish, etc?
  • A: Yes, please!
  • Q: Where can I submit content?
  • A: Email it directly to editor@feastoflaughter.org or post a request in the East of Laughter fan group on Facebook, and I will share a submissions folder in Google Drive with you where you can deposit your work.
  • Q: Do I have to laugh while submitting content?
  • A: No, but if you don't, just keep it to yourself.

Issue 2 of the feast is being prepared, and you are invited! Remember, it's a potluck affair. Take as much as you can consume, but bring something to share.

Thank you and bon appetit!




Monday, November 24, 2014

We Didn't Know It Was Impossible, So We Did It.

The impossible feast is served.

Once upon a time, a Lafferty fan named David Cruces created an R. A. Lafferty fan group on Facebook and named the group "East of Laughter." It is a great and active group of fans, with a growing and vocal membership.

One day, sometime in early October of this year the discussion in the group turned to Lafferty stories and essays reprinted in old fanzines. After much discussion of where to find these old 'zines, I piped up saying we should just create our own 'zine. I even offered a sonnet about Lafferty to serve as a first submission. A number of members leapt at the idea, promising new essays and proposing old essays to include.

We proceeded apace, placing a few essays, more poetry, and a half-draft of a story in a shared folder. I had visions of a PDF 'zine circulated among fans, maybe reaching to 50 or even 70 pages--we were getting some good content. We decided on a name, Feast of Laughter, because firstly, it mimics the name of the group. Second, it resonates with Dan Knight’s Introduction to his magazine, "The Boomer Flats Gazette:"
The table was prepared and the bar was stocked for as big a bash as ever was seen. There was something for everyone. A magical feast. Take as much as you want. Stuff your pockets and fill your purse. It would make no difference. There would be just as much when you were done as when you started. This is fish and loaves stuff. (Are not all good stories fish and loaves stuff by their very definition?)
And third, most importantly, laughter is a strong part of Lafferty’s storytelling. Can you read any of his stories without a deep belly-chuckle? Sometimes the more horrifying stories contain the strongest humor, and sometimes, like in “Hog Belly Honey”, every sentence is such a joy to read, you laugh yourself nearly comatose before half finishing the story.

We decided to try to finish our submissions by October 31st, so I would have time to edit, proofread, and format the final file by Lafferty's 100th birthday on November 7th. This left us only three and a half weeks to assemble the content, but a lot had already been written.

Then a couple of near miracles occurred: first, Michael Bishop joyfully, enthusiastically, jubilantly gave us permission to reprint his Lafferty-inspired story, "Of Crystalline Labyrinths and the New Creation" (a life long thanks to John Owen for contacting Michael Bishop and so eloquently requesting the story). Then Lissanne Lake, already famous among us Lafferty fans for her beautiful Lafferty book covers (especially Lafferty in Orbit) and famous to the world at large as a fantasy painter and illustrator, gave us her contribution, a stunning rendition in paint of Lafferty's story "Days of Grass, Days of Straw."

Days of Grass by Lissanne Lake
You can see a higher resolution scan of the painting at www.feastoflaughter.org

Then the content really started rolling in. We figured out how to handle the copyright correctly to reprint "The Six fingers of Time," Andrew Ferguson agreed to give us his essay on "The Six Fingers of Time," more writers agreed to let us reprint seminal Lafferty essays they had published before, and David Morrow, a professional designer in Glasgow, Scotland agreed to design our cover from Lissanne's amazing painting. More essays and fiction were being written and submitted from a truly impressive cadre of fans.

John Owen (again John Owen--somebody give him a gold star (or a gold asteroid, "Golden Trabant" reference anyone?)) had some experience self-publishing with Amazon and agreed to take us through the process with CreateSpace.

Things were falling into place Very Quickly and in Large Volume. I found myself staying up until sunrise on Halloween weekend--hey, if everybody was willing to work that hard, I owed it to them to put in some grand effort assembling their work. Much back and forth, much discussion in the East of Laughter Facebook group--thousands and thousands of comments (I am not exaggerating), Amazing proofreading work from Rich Persaud and John Owen and Noah Wareness among a small army of others. On Lafferty's 100th birthday, November 7, 2014, we had a website up with a complete copy of Feast of Laughter, Issue 1: www.feastoflaughter.org. Within a few days and a bit more midnight oil, we had our first edition available in paperback via Amazon.


Feast of Laughter, Issue 1

To say I was floored by how beautiful the final book came out would be an extreme practice of the art of understatement. I have been unable to contain myself. I keep giggling over it. And the giggling has only increased: by Day 2, we had sold enough copies to be #4 on Amazon's list of the 100 best selling books in the category "Science Fiction History and Criticism," beating out books about Middle Earth and Harry Potter (beating everything but some companion volumes to George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books and a book about Hobbits). And then Andrew Ferguson posted a beautiful review on his Tumblr, "Continued on Next Rock." And then Neil Gaiman bought our book and blogged about it!

Feast of Laughter in Amazon's list of Best Sellers in Science Fiction History & Criticism

I am still over the moon over this experience. I could never have imagined such amazing things could have happened from an offhand mention in a Facebook group. It is impossible that it happened so quickly. We radically exceeded our own expectations. There is a small army of Lafferty fans to thank for building this. It was a truly collaborative effort at "Slow Tuesday Night" speed.

The Feast of Laughter is now a living periodical. We will publish two issues a year on November 7, Lafferty's birthday, and March 18, the day he died. Every issue will try to include:
  • Essays about his writing.
  • Reviews.
  • Original fiction and artwork inspired by Lafferty.
  • At least one Lafferty story.
Our mission is to help raise Lafferty's profile and establish his place in American Letters, to bring Lafferty to a wider readership, and to do all of this while being scrupulous about copyright and permissions. That way we can keep working with authors and copyright holders for many years to come. The next four issues are being prepared, and you are invited to contribute. Leave a comment or contact editor@feastoflaughter.org with your ideas. 
  • Feast of Laughter #2: March 18, 2015 - deadline for interest: Jan 31, 2015, deadline for content, February 20, 2015.
  • Feast of Laughter #3: November 7, 2015 - deadline for interest: September 19, 2015, deadline for content, October 11, 2015.
  • Feast of Laughter #4: March 18, 2016 - deadline for interest: Jan 31, 2016, deadline for content, February 20, 2016.
  • Feast of Laughter #5: November 7, 2016 - deadline for interest: September 19, 2016, deadline for content, October 11, 2016.

The next feast is being prepared, and you are invited. But it's a potluck affair. Take as much as you can consume, but bring something to share.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dan-Ktistec

Searching around the web last night for references to "Pan-Ktistec" to perhaps get a gleam of where Lafferty came up with Epiktistes' name, I found quotes from Arrive at Easterwine and quotes from an August 2003 interview with Steely Dan for Sound on Sound magazine: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug03/articles/steelydan.htm

And I quote:

"I can do a pretty nice defibrillation with the Ktistec machine," adds Becker, helpfully...

and

Given that Fagen and Becker live in New York and Hawaii respectively, one might expect them to have taken advantage of digital and Web-based technologies in their songwriting collaboration. Have they? If so, they don't seem keen to talk about it...
"We don't usually write music over the phone, like sending files and stuff," says Becker. "When we work over the phone we do it to write lyrics, and that works very well. Writing on the phone is a little like being in analysis, because you're not reacting to the facial expressions of the other person."
"But we can surmount that with the Ktistec machine," insists Fagen.
"We choose not to use the Ktistec machine sometimes. Having a great piece of technology doesn't necessarily mean you use it all the time. Some things are better done..."
"...in secret."
[...]
"We like to write music in the same room. It's hard enough to get anything done when you're eyeball to eyeball, let alone when you're at a distance. But that may change now that we have the Ktistec machine. Make sure you get the spelling correctly."

It's a wonderful interview--almost entirely nonsensical and laced with references to the Ktistec machine.

Who'd a thought Steely Dan were Lafferty fans? But listening to their sardonic, erudite lyrics, I guess it shouldn't be surprising.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

In the Beginning

Western literature has a long tradition of riffing on the Bible, and Science Fiction with its constant exploration into the meaning of life and the future of our species has developed a strong tradition of riffing on the book of Genesis. Take for example the cycles of life in the Samuel R. Delany story, "The Star Pit." Take for example the opening of the Philip K. Dick novel Humpty Dumpty in Oakland: A mechanic walks in to open his shop in the morning:
Here it began. He squinted and spat out the first stale breath that
hung inside the garage. Bending, he clicked on the main power. The dead
things creaked back to life. He fixed the side door open, and a little
sunlight came in. He advanced on the night-light and destroyed it with
a jerk of his hand. He grabbed a pole and dragged back the skylight.
The radio, high up, began to hum and then to blare. He threw the fan
into wheezing excitement. He snapped on all lights, equipment, display
signs. He illuminated the luxurious Goodrich tire poster. He brought
color, shape, awareness to the void. Darkness flew; and after the first
moment of activity he subsided and rested, and took his seventh day--a
cup of coffee.
You can't help but smile and at the same time think "Man, I wish I could write that well"

All of this is by way of introducing one of Lafferty's riffs on Genesis. The opening of the first chapter of Archipelago:

All this begins in a southern city and at nine o'clock in the morning, the same hour at which the world was made. It was a Thursday, when originally man was not.

Indeed, in these latter days there were few people in the streets and not many in the pubs. But beer was available (barley and hops had been made on the third day), and the morning had a freshness as in the earliest weeks of the world, as the older people remember them. A fast wind was driving the clearing clouds, and the pavements were wet. (When the world was first made it was as though it had just rained. )

The first man in the world was drinking the first beer. He was Finnegan (not in name, but in self), and he looked at himself in the bar mirror. He saw for the first time that first face, and this was his appearance: he had a banana nose, long jumpy muscles along cheek and tempora, and a mouth in motion. He was dark and lean, like a yearling bull. His eyes had a redness that suggested a series of stormy days and nights, were not previous days and nights impossible. He was a little more than half Italian and a little more than half Irish, as was Adam his counterpart in a variant account. 

After which, all you can do is just sit and laugh and admire.


An Act of Great Kindness

About a year and a half ago, I noticed brand new copies of East of Laughter and Serpent's Egg for sale on the site of an English books store, Cold Tonnage Books (www.coldtonnage.com), for £5.00 GBP, so I ordered them.

I'm working in California now, and commuting home to Albuquerque on the weekends. The other day I brought Serpent's Egg with me to read on the flight. However, I left it in the airport or on the airplane! Arrrghh! I had only made it about 3 pages into the book.

I looked on Cold Tonnage's site and they still have copies for £5.00, so I ordered another. It arrived yesterday. The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was a note on top of the book:

In what I can only describe as an act of great kindness to a complete stranger (me), they had given me the signed limited edition!

The only way I know to respond to this (beyond sending them a very nice thank you note, which I am doing) is to pass on some form of Lafferty-related kindness.

I have an extra copy each of Past Master and Strange Doings. If any of you need a copy of either, I will be very happy to give it to you. Leave a comment, drop me a note on the East of Laughter Facebook group, or e-mail me. I'll get your address and send it to you. 


And check out Cold Tonnage's web site. They several more Lafferty books--some at very good prices. As they ship from England, shipping to those of you in the UK and EU ought to cost less than shipping from America.