If you think of some contemporary greats in the genre field, names like Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman come to mind. And in interviews with these men, or in discussions with the esteemable SF critic, Gary K Wolfe, you may hear of a short story/novel writer by the name of R.A. Lafferty.
I have only read a couple short stories by R.A. Lafferty, but have found in my readings that he has fantastic ideas and a magnificent control of the language. He is the kind of author that science fiction readers would want to point to when the literary elite look down upon genre fiction.
So where are his books? The short answer is they are out of print. If you want to pick up a copy of one of his more popular collections, Nine Hundred Grandmothers, you are probably looking at spending $30-$50 for an old, ragged mass market paperback. Or if you have the patience, Centipede Press is coming out with a limited edition series with each book selling for $60. I do not criticize Centipede Press or their price. It is a limited run and the books come signed by the person writing the introduction and the cover artist. The price is competitive for what it is. It would be nice if they matched the limited edition with a trade paperback version that had a higher print run.
If we are to try to promote science fiction and literacy, it is time we make great works available for people to read. I could afford to purchase the new Centipede Press title and will strongly consider it, but it shouldn’t require a book collector or a person of financial means to be able to read good writing. Or maybe I am just picking out an author that just isn’t on the populace’s radar.