The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"The Transcendent Tigers" by R.A. Lafferty: An Appreciation by Mike Morrow

In 2003 I discovered a yellowing Daw edition of R.A. Lafferty’s collection Strange Doings in a used bookshop in Madison, Wisconsin. My wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and that night while I waited for her to get ready for dinner, I dove in and read a short piece called "The Transcendent Tigers."

Big mistake.

"The Transcendent Tigers," like most of Lafferty's fiction, is a fast drug with a slow fuse. It deceives you with instant gratification, even while it changes your body chemistry so that you can never be the same reader again. The quick highs come right after one another: Lafferty was the best character-namer in history and a master of the deadpan, devastating sentence that can render the entire previous paragraph ironic with a single noun-verb pair.

But Lafferty leaves you thinking, thank God, he never reveals too much. So that you'll be enjoying a fine anniversary meal with your spouse and still thinking about how wonderful it would be if Armageddon did finally come at the hands of a seven-year-old with a red hat.

This will, in its own devious way, ruin your evening.

Your spouse will likely not want to discuss rhyming couplets that invoke devastation on the cities named within. Nor will she likely care to join you in speculating on whether or not Homoeoteleutic is really a word (it is).

But when she was ready, if she was ready, you knew you could point her to any number of Lafferty stories on the SCI FICTION site, "The Transcendent Tigers" among them, and you could grow old together basking in The Homoeoteleutic Power of a Lafferty story.

“Saddened benediction—


Link to story.


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