Vintage Treasures: Annals of Klepsis by R.A. Lafferty
I haven’t used Goodreads much, but I’m beginning to see that’s a mistake. It truly is a marvelous resource for those looking for a wide range of opinions about books — especially those that have been out of print for decades. For example, here’s a small sample of reviews for R. A. Lafferty’s gonzo space-pirate novel Annals of Klepsis, published as an Ace paperback original in 1983. First up is Andrew:
A surrealistic apocalypse from a master of surreal apocalyptic fantasy. Lafferty’s novels function with the logic of a Bugs Bunny cartoon written by Kafka.
Astonishing how on-point that is a 2-sentence review. Here’s a snippet from a much more in-depth review by Printable Tire.
The book’s setting is sort of a blend of science fiction, in that it takes place on another planet, with “zap guns” (not called that) and everything, and fantasy, in the way Alice in Wonderland is fantasy. The very loose sprawling story takes place on Klepsis, a pirate planet, who for the last 200 hundred years has been in a state of pre-history, a state of legend. One of the thousands of things Lafferty postulates is that all pre-history and pre-legend does not take place in linear time, but because it is pre-history it all takes place at the same time; thus Hercules was a contemporary of Achilles, and thus the proportion of ghosts in this book.
And finally, here’s a sample from my favorite Goodreads review, from Raymond St.
[Click the images for Lafferty-sized versions.]
As a kid, I read only fantasy and sci-fi short stories. I read anthologies, never paying attention to author names. Upon reaching a certain amount of years and bodily hair, I moved to books. I stumbled across a lunatic wonder called Apocalypses.
Working backwards in thought, I was able to identify stories years past that must have been written by Lafferty. The style-characteristics were consistent:
1) they moved freely outside all lines.
2) they were funny and weird, yet comprehensible; even eloquent.
3) They were marvelously crafted, always my latest favorites.
Annals of Klepsis is:
1) A short novel about a mad planet of peg-legged Irishmen.
2) A deep analysis of the concepts of history and reality within social paradigms.
3) A dream shared by escaped asylum inmante sitting next you on the bus.
4) All of the above. <— correct answer
…The shear power of imagination and ‘I don’t care what anyone else thinks’ is seldom seen in fantasy. Anyone looking for it? Go visit Klepsis: planet of peg-legged Irish pirates.
Check out all the reviews at Goodreads here.
Our previous coverage of the great R.A. Lafferty includes:
R.A. Lafferty: An Attempt at an Appreciation by Matthew David Surridge
The Hilarity of the Strange: The Man Underneath: The Collected Short Fiction of R. A. Lafferty, Volume 3 by Steve Case
Vintage Treasures: Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R.A. Lafferty
R.A. Lafferty Literary Estate For Sale
Annals of Klepsis was published by Ace Books in August 1983. It is 212 pages, priced at $2.50. The cover is by Jim Gurney. It has been reprinted precisely once, by Wildside Press in 2001; it is now out of print. Gateway / Orion released an ebook version in the UK in 2016. I purchased the unread copy above as part of a collection of 16 vintage paperbacks I bought on eBay last month for $8.50.
See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.
I’ve known his name for ages and was thinking that I’d read him maybe once. I started searching his books ( by cover, I’ll always recognize that) and found that I ddn’know any of them. And that’s really weird. I’ve worked for bookstores, been the SF buyer for one, constantly wandering into used bookstores trying fill in gaps in my SF reading, and I know his name. Very strange. I don’t know how I know him but don’t.
Have you read any of his short fiction? Lafferty was a genius at short, funny, wildly quirky SF. He was consistently in YEAR’S BEST anthologies, and places like ORBIT, in the 60s and 70s.
I’m pretty sure the only Lafferty I’ve ever read is the short story, “Been a Long, Long Time”, which I encountered many, many years ago in Brian Aldiss’ Galactic Empires anthology. At the time, of course, I had no idea who the author actually was (I mean, his name was on the story, but I had no idea who he was, assuming I even paid attention to the name).
Great story; highly recommended.
This one also looks like it’d be a lot of fun.