Because I once wrote the introduction to the R. A. Lafferty collection Iron Tears, a fan of the great man contacted me to see if I had any idea where he could get ahold of a copy. So I did a little research and discovered that every single book Lafferty ever published is out of print. Let me repeat that. Everything ever written by one of American literature's greatest short fiction writers is out of print. Which means, as a book dealer friend told me, that a copy of Iron Tears would probably go for a couple hundred bucks. The cheapest anybody is offering the Ace paperback of Nine Hundred Grandmothers for is fifty dollars! Eek.
It appears that the Lafferty estate was systematically withdrawing his works from print preparatory to offering the collective copyright for sale. I poked around and found the following statement by Elizabeth Kennington, the executor for the estate:
On May 1 the Lafferty Estate tentatively plans to sell the rights to the entire literary output of the science fiction writer, R.A. Lafferty, to the Locus Science Fiction Foundation for $70,000 plus 50% of any future profit from the Lafferty rights in excess of $30,000 in any single year. The sale will proceed unless someone makes a more favorable offer.
The Locus Foundation is the legal entity which owns Locus Magazine, and has a mandate to perform good works in the service of science fiction. So this is welcome news. I have no idea what they plan to do with the dozens of novels and hundreds of stories they've just acquired -- presumably they'll tell us when the deal is finalized in May. But I can't think of anybody I'd trust more with the rights.
Incidentally, if you've got any duplicate Lafferty books, this is probably a good time to place them on eBay.
Above: Me standing before one of the worst portraits of Yuri Gagarin ever committed to canvas.