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Best known for his science fiction works, Oklahoma novelist Raphael Aloysius (R. A.) Lafferty was born in Neola, Iowa, on November 7, 1914, to Hugh David and Julia Mary Burke Lafferty. The younger Lafferty moved with his family to Perry, Oklahoma, at age four and later attended the University of Tulsa. He served in the U.S. Army in from 1942 to1946. Afterward, he worked for many years at Clark Electrical Supply Company in Tulsa, and he began writing in his forties.

Lafferty was a prolific science fiction, fantasy, and short story writer, creating more than two hundred short stories and at least twenty novels. Many of his works have a religious theme, juxtaposing good and evil or exploring utopian worlds, as in Past Master, a Nebula Award nominee in 1968. He won a Hugo Award for "Eurema's Dam" (1972). Other notable short stories were collected in Nine Hundred Grandmothers (1970), Strange Doings (1972), and Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add? (1974). Okla Hannali is an historical novel of the Choctaws, embodied in the fictional character of Hannali Innominee and set in Oklahoma. Other novels include The Reefs of Earth (1968), Space Chantey (1968), The Devil is Dead (1971), and Fourth Mansions (1969). Throughout his work Lafferty combined irony and comic wit to examine the human condition in a style uniquely his own.

Recognized for his literary achievements, Lafferty received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. In 1995 the Oklahoma Center for the Book honored him with the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award. Raphael Aloysius Lafferty passed away on March 18, 2002, following an extended illness.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Chris Drumm, R. A. Lafferty Checklist: A Bibliographical Chronology with Notes and Index (Polk City, Iowa: Chris Drumm Books, 1983). James G. Lesniak, ed., Contemporary Authors (New Revision Series; Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, Inc., 1991). Patricia Ower, "R. A. Lafferty," in Dictionary of Literary Biography, ed. David Cowart and Thomas L. Wyner, Vol. 8 (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, Inc.,1981).

Kitty Pittman

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