Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nine Hundred Grandmothers” as Want to Read:
Nine Hundred Grandmothers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nine Hundred Grandmothers

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  655 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In all of science fiction, there has never been a writer like R.A. Lafferty, the highly acclaimed author of Past Masters and Fourth Mansions. His people are heroic, foolish, demonic or mischievous, but always unpredictable, and his stories soar with imagination even while they chuckle at themselves.

Here at last are the finest of Lafferty's shorter works, stories about:

A ma
Mass Market Paperback, Science Fiction Special 58050, 318 pages
Published January 1970 by Ace Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  655 ratings  ·  69 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Nine Hundred Grandmothers
Matthew Gatheringwater
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Ray Bradbury
After reading this collection of short stories, my first introduction to Lafferty, I realized he isn't interested in many of the standard trappings of science fiction. His aliens are more like elemental forces than detailed cultures. Technology is presented in an off-hand fashion, as if sentient computers, transcendent machines, or faster-than-light travel were the inevitable and not very interesting byproducts of human civilization. His stories don't seem intent upon inspiring wonder. Instead, ...more
Yorgos St.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-f
“I'm the commonest man you ever saw,”...“I am made from the clay and the salt of the Earth, and the humus from decayed behemoths.”

After i read nine hundred grandmothers it became pretty obvious to me that R.A. Lafferty was a literary genius and a criminally neglected writer. Thanks to Gene Wolfe (who mentions Lafferty in all of his interviews) and to some members of the Gene Wolfe Appreciation Society (thanks Marc) i learned about the man who was an influence for a lot of famous writers like Gen
Peter Tillman
Lafferty's only (ims) mass-marketed collection. Fortunately it's a great one. I need to dust off my copy for reread! TOC:

Update 5/23/20 : I went to price one, to give a friend. $75 & up, for the mmpb! Whoa!
In the meanwhile, you can read "Slow Tuesday Night", a classic reprinted there, online at
"Manus modules had no practical function, no more than had Sameki verses. They were attractive, of a psychologically satisfy
L.S. Popovich
4.5 stars.
My first encounter with R. A. Laugh-ferty. His humor and cleverness are quite astounding. He sets up gags and jokes in the middle of serious situations. His humor is often so unexpectedly outrageous it is harrowing. He made me catch my breath and squint my eyes. It is all a matter of subverting expectations. And he has a way of throwing out an offensively absurd line and then justifying it a few lines later. Anything can happen at any moment. And yet it all adds up to a satisfying conc
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Unfortunately difficult to find these days, this is the finest collection of "science fiction" shorts stories, imaginative, friendly and engaging. R A Lafferty was a unique and personable voice in the the genre of late 20th century writing in fantasy, fiction and history.
Richard S
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The wildest and most creative science fiction I've ever come across. It's in the Ray Bradbury line - light on the science, heavy on the creativity - as opposed to the Haldeman or Egan "hard" style. The stories are incredible, just over-the-top in their variety, style, theme, and are never boring, although sometimes predictable. The one overarching sense or feel of the stories, however, is the author's incredible sense of and variety of humor which fills each story.

The creativity is evident not o
Amanda Mecke
Mar 08, 2012 marked it as to-read
Just found this 1970s Sci Fi author on I'd love to know more about his neglected legacy. Apparently Neil Gaiman is a fan.
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Long time out of print, never published in Brazil, Lafferty was an author much as he is described by other authors that admire him ( huge list, Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, etc ) and say nothing less than he was a genius writer that lived in Tulsa, and wrote many excellent fantasy/science fiction tall tales. Spirituous, humorous ( not LOL of course ) and intrinsically fantastic.

My first Lafferty book.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers
- 5/5 About a spatial merchant trying to speculate ab
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of stuff in here. It reads like years of stories that were submitted to a magazine. Which is probably was. Each is self contained, but there are some inter related stuff.

I didn't like it quite as much as PKD "stuff," but it's wealth of unexpected speculative and sci-fi ideas. It might be fair to say that where Dick sits at the crossroads of existence and technology (and drugs), Lafferty sits there with our understanding of the world and alien understandings.

It's maybe not as spect
Jul 10, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
(not my review):
"It all goes back to Neil Gaiman. In the foreword to “Fragile Things,” he wrote that his short story “Sunbird” was his way of trying to write his own R.A. Lafferty story. So I found “Nine Hundred Grandmothers,” and it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s very blue-collar science fiction – all the familiar tropes of people going to outer space and to other planets. It’s hilarious, incredibly funny and at the same time it’s insanely dark. You get the feeling like it’s a guy j
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I just read one short story from this book called: "Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne"...the story involves Epikt the Ktistec machine and a group of scientists who work with it have decided to change the past and then everything goes wako....

I will probably read the others because i found this one very funny...
Al Maki
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
As someone wrote in a review of another of Lafferty's books, they were perpetrated rather than written. Imagine Spike Milligan parodying a Stanislaw Lem novel and you have some notion of the tone. If you can find this book, and you've never read him, read it. We'll never look upon his like again.
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: collection
Simply my favourite short story collection
Tom Lichtenberg
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
peerless. some of the best speculative stories I've ever read, the title story may be the very best, right up there with Roadside Picnic.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
There is no rating. There is every rating. Lafferty just is what he is and you ingest his off-logic like a drug and follow the ride. Never get too emotionally invested, yet giggle along with his great human pessimist joke. I love this stuff and yet it never gets me too deep, so I'm compromising on a four. I agree with whoever it was who said Lafferty is weird like Dick but interested a lot more in systems than people. It's all ABOUT systems, great big Rube Goldberg devices of systems that chew f ...more
Ben Brackett
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short story collection is a real doozy of a mindfuck.
Sean Leas
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm going to dispense with my parting thoughts and go straight to rating the individual stories.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers 5/5 - Favorite
Land of the Great Horses 3/5
Ginny Wrapped in the Sun 5/5
The Six Fingers of Time 4/5
Frog on the Mountain 4/5
All the People 5/5 - Reminds me of PKD The Simulacra
Primary Education of the Camiroi 5/5 - Favorite and full of irony and satire
Slow Tuesday Night 3/5
Snuffles 5/5
Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne 3/5
Name of the Snake 4/5
Narrow Valley 5/5 - Brace yourself for
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, and excellent (very) short story from Hugo award winning R.A. Lafferty about an explorer of sorts who becomes obsessed with uncovering the origins of a strange alien species, that gets weirder and weirder the further he unravels the mystery.

Available free online at the Internet Archive -
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
"Excitement is in the discovery of the machine..." This is a great collection of short stories; a few of which have continuity to each other. "Nine Hundred Grandmothers" is a spiraling inside joke and a nested doll. "Land of the Great Horses" is a great migration to a gap in space and time. "Ginny Wrapped in the Sun" is a particular favorite having an all-knowing monster-child at its center; the same goes for "Seven Day Terror". I loved the Benjamin Button-like challenge laid out in "The Six Fin ...more
Amy Westgarth
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
"This is the slowest I've ever seen you read. Also the most depressed I've seen you about reading." — my boyfriend
I think we all knew this wasn't going to be my new favourite book. I'd got into a conversation about books with a work colleague that ended in me agreeing to try some Sci-Fi as I have very little experience with the genre.

For the most part I found the stories very confusing. I don't care if I sound dense, but I didn't understand what the heck was going on in half the stories. I don
Theo Logos
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction, scifi
Lafferty's books are called science fiction by default. When he wrote them no one could figure what else to call them. Sure, some of them give a nod to sci/fi tropes, and all of them are fantastical, but if you are looking for traditional science fiction you should keep on moving; Lafferty isn't likely what you have in mind.
Some reviewers have described what Lafferty actually created as tall tales or shaggy dog stories. That description may get you to Lafferty's neighborhood, but it falls short
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I tried a Lafferty novel once, Past Master, found it confusing and weird then gave up. Then later I decided to try this collection as some things I'd heard of him intrigued me. He started in SF in middle-aged, was beloved by the counterculture and yet was an arch-conservative Catholic whose works show a strong interest in 14th-16th century Catholics. (Thomas More, Teresa of Avila, a few others) So I tried this collection and for the most part really liked it. His stories are sometimes in more of ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a time, R. A. Lafferty was the most original short story writer in America. Nominally SF, Lafferty's work is a heady amalgam of Fantasy/SF tropes, folksy tall tale form, dazzling linguistic japes, theological overtones, and a sneaky, absurdist sense that the world was somehow out of whack. In short, he was wholly unique; he seemed to be a combination of Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison on laughing gas.

This, his first collection, is a superb introduction to Lafferty 's world. From the ironic
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lafferty writes as though he were half madman, half child. His stories are the stuff of garish nightmares and baroque fantasy, which may both entrance and revolt within the same page.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers is set up like an anthology of short stories, typically unrelated, but thematically similar. Some stories do seem to follow the same characters, same plot, but those were less interesting in my opinion. I prefer when Lafferty opens the can of worms and leaves them squirming on the table fo
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly weird, excellently absurd, and very funny story collection. Lafferty is a master of tone - he's kind of a progenitor of Garrison Keillor if Keillor wrote science fiction and was more edgy (at all edgy?). Mark Twain is a better comparison, because Twain took more risks and was more pointed. Anyway, Lafferty is very much worth discovering. In particular, "Ride a Tin Can" and the title story, "Nine Hundred Grandmothers" are true classics.
Ed van der Winden
Reread this story collection after many years. Incredibly creative, quirky and just plain weird at times. Incomparable to any other writing I know. Has not aged at all. Great. (Only drawback is that the translation was really bad at times... Luckily, it was so bad that I often could guess the original English words.)
Michael Moe
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full of wonderfully off-the-wall stories. Why did it take me this long to try Lafferty? Don't make the same mistake I did--track down his works now and try him out. And don't just take my word for it--Neil Gaiman has named R.A. Lafferty as one of his writing gods.
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fantastic. Lafferty is one of a kind. These are his best stories. Out of print.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
1993 grade D

short stories
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are some great stories in this collection, the greatest by far being the titular Nine Hundred Grandmothers. Other delights that I will never tire of include Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne, Land of the Great Horses, The Six Fingers of Time and Seven Day Terror - but they're all great. They're all great because no one else writes in this fragile, frenetic, mythopoetical style with as much consistency and poise as Lafferty. He's often very child-like. He would have been 12 in 1926. The swagger ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Flesh Eaters
  • Coal Bones
  • Steel Ashes
  • Blood Tracks
  • The Tiny Wife
  • Goth
  • Moonfall
  • Illegal Alien
  • Chasing the Dead
  • The Tribe
  • The Eleventh Black Book of Horror
  • The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike
  • Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers
  • How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1)
  • The Dark Side of the Sun
  • The Luxembourg Run
  • I Who Have Never Known Men
See similar books…
Raphael Aloysius Lafferty, published under the name R.A. Lafferty, was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure, as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, a history book, and a number of novels that could be loosely called historical fiction.

Related Articles

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
48 likes · 25 comments