Raphael Aloysius Lafferty“No true reader who has read as much as a single story by Raphael Aloysius Lafferty needs to be told that he is our most original writer. Just about everything Lafferty writes is fun, is witty, is entertaining and playful.” Gene Wolfe

And now for something completely different. Today’s book is a strange one. Very, very strange. ‘The Reefs of Earth’ is the story of six alien children (‘seven if you count Bad John’) or ‘Pucas’ who are determined to rid themselves of the pesky inhabitants of Earth (except for Native Americans and dogs) and take it for their own. They attempt to destroy their victims using ‘death-rhymes’, or Bagarthach verses. The book itself is full of verse, the title of each chapter forms the line of a poem, describing the story.

‘To Slay the Folks and Cleanse the Land
And Leave the World a Reeking Roastie
High Purpose of the Gallant Band
And Six were Kids, and One a’ ……spoilers!

Probably the most famous children from another planet feature in John Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos. Despite their tendancy to make people who annoy them die, they were blond and blue eyed. The Puca children however, resemble ‘strangely nightmarish gargoyles’ when you look at them sideways. But don’t be afraid, the story is written with humour, a quality found in most of Lafferty’s books. In fact, Arthur C. Clarke is quoted as saying that Rafferty was “One of the few writers who have made me laugh aloud”.Dennis Dobson - 1970 First UK Edition

Raphael Aloysius Lafferty was born in 1914 in Iowa. He didn’t start writing until the 1950’s, but still managed to produce 32 novels and over 100 short stories, mostly science fiction. His work is not easy to categorise, his stories being more ‘tall tales’ than straight sci-fi. His books usually include Native American influences or characters and in 1972 Lafferty wrote ‘Okla Hannali’, a historical fiction about the Chactaw in Mississippi which was highly praised by fellow novelist Dee Brown, author of ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’.

Hardback copies of ‘The Reefs of Earth’ are few and far between. Copies with lovely unclipped dust jackets are even rarer. I am extemely pleased to offer such a copy for sale. You can buy it by clicking on the pics below. Until tomorrow, watch the skies….

Dennis Dobson - 1970 First UK EditionDennis Dobson - 1970 First UK Edition