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1: The Man Who Made Models: The Collected Short Fiction, Volume One
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The stories here almost all hit the mark for me. I especially enjoyed Frog on the mountain and Rivers of Damascus. Some of the recurring characters feature. He is a pretty unique writer as everyone observes, there is a sense of fun and humor along side some serious themes. The use of history (or alternate history) is reminiscent of Avram Davidson (a bit) and the weird view of reality sometimes is like Philip K Dick, but Lafferty is different to both.
I am looking forward to the remaining volumes (and have started volume 2 hot on the heels of this first one).
The Man Who Made Models
The Six Fingers of Time
The Hole on the Corner
Square and Above Board
Jack Bang's Eyes
All But the Words
The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos
Frog on the Mountain
Condillac's Statue or Wrens in His Head
About a Secret Crocodile
Days of Grass, Days of Straw
The Ninety-Ninth Cubicle
Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street
Rivers of Damascus
If you have never read anything by this master of a unique style of writing all his own, I urge you to treat yourself to a really wild ride. Truly, there is nothing else like Lafferty. He is the best. Period.
Don't be too put off by the high price, which is necessitated by the limited edition size. If you tried to acquire these stories by finding the many out-of-print books and magazines that they first appeared in, you would probably end up paying even more. It is worth the price. Lafferty? Priceless.
I universally recommend anything Lafferty. But if your level is restrained to Star Wars tie-in books, don't bother. He ain't that kind of writer.
I had hoped this book would contain more of his stories, would be close to a complete compilation, but it only contains seventeen, and is only the first volume in a projected series of a dozen. I was expecting a bigger book, but it was average size, 339 pages and about a hundred thousand words. A bit expensive, but beautifully designed, with cover art, a bookmark ribbon, and the first three hundred copies are signed by editor, cover artist, and Michael Swanwick, who wrote the introduction.
I had already read at least ten of these seventeen stories, with difficulty, leafing through stacks of old science fiction magazines in used book stores, scouring the tables of contents in paperback anthologies and "Best of" annuals. Two of these stories, "Narrow Valley," and "The Hole on the Corner," are oft-reprinted classics, funny, unique, unforgettable. Writing just doesn't get any better than this.
The title story, "The Man who made Models," is worth the price of admission alone. The next new story for me was "Jack Bang's Eyes." After four sentences I had to close the book because I was crying and needed to find and corral pieces of my mind. When I opened it again, four paragraphs later, I was laughing uncontrollably and had to stop and regroup. Now I'm only halfway through the story, but twice have blown my mind. Reading Lafferty is something like climbing Everest without oxygen. You may make it, or you may die in the attempt. You should try it, because it's there. And if you die, Lafferty, who has ascended before you, is there to welcome you to the other side.