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John M. Ford

I'm scouring LJ for news of and reactions to John M. Ford's passing - see elisem,papersky and wild_irises - I wish I'd gotten in early enough to post a simple, shocked "No comment" and let it go at that. But that would be disingenuous at this point. I was a junior editor at Pocket Books working with David G. Hartwell on the Timescape line, when Mike published his very first novel there, and got to know him well then - my roommates & I encouraged him to leave the stifling Midwest where he was working as an orderly in a nursing home or something, and come to New York to try his wings. He lived in our apartment for some time, and housesat for us when we were away. He had the most extraordinary handwriting: an elegant italic, from which flowers grew. I am very sorry that the hordes of people who fell in love with him for his online posts never got to experience his words as they were pre-computer: the arrival of an envelope with close pages of lined paper filled with that hand . . . .


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
I remember those days. He proclaimed then, loudly and often, that he wouldn't live to see 50. It seemed very romantic, then.
Sep. 26th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
You know, that was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the news this morning. But not in the cynical oh-Mike way that one might think -- it was more as if he were from the line of the Kings of Gondor, and had the privilege of deciding when to resign his life. And he'd decided early on that getting old was Right Out.
Sep. 25th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
One odd tribute
Where two people so far have chosen to honor him with humor, which he would have probably appreciated (though one got his name wrong, not knowing he went by Mike, is my post at 42answers. One reply is in his own words. My post is a quote from Dracula, which is also a tribute to Mr. Ford, since I consider The Dragon Waiting to be that novel's most worthy successor.
Sep. 25th, 2006 11:52 pm (UTC)
See the most recent post by jedediah (LJ RSS feed of Jed Hartman) or his original blog entry: R.I.P., John M. Ford.
Sep. 26th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
Hi, Ellen --
I didn't know Mike or his writing, and have read several things about him today (e.g., Neil's journal. Also a bit on The Whatever and Making Light.) The posts were just news about someone I never knew until I read your paragraph ... and felt the sadness; the special person with that beautiful hand-script will write no more. I'm so sorry you lost a friend.
Sep. 26th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Sep. 26th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
I have a couple of lovingly-preserved manila envelopes with extremely peculiar return addresses, in that hand.

Sep. 26th, 2006 12:59 am (UTC)
Oh, yes - those return addresses!! I've got them, too, I'm sure, in a big box somewhere . . . . Stardustgirl will know.
Sep. 26th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
Blast and damnation! I was just re-reading one of favorite's...
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Sep. 26th, 2006 01:01 am (UTC)
Yes, of course.

That is good news indeed! I pity the person who would have to transcribe my own hieroglyphic novel handscrawls . . . that clear and lucid writing is one final gift he kindly left behind.
Sep. 26th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
Thanks. I heard this morning, along with tout le monde, and I'm still feeling odd and disoriented about it.

But I'm very glad to hear about the manuscript recovery. Really, there should be an image archive of his manuscripts somewhere some day.
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Sep. 26th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)
But he *loved* talking about his works-in-progress! He'd go on at great length to anyone who would hold still - especially if Chinese food were involved. Surely we can convene a troupe over dinner with a few cases of beer to reconstruct the essential thoughtline(s)?

Or is there not enough beer in the world, or enough people, either, to create all those lines?
Sep. 26th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
is there any way any of it can be salvaged?
Sep. 26th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
If you're looking for LJ posts...



The only work of his I'm familiar with is How Much for Just the Planet, which is wonderful, and if he's even half the person he would seem to be from having written it (and by all accounts he was much more), then we are all the poorer for his passing.
Sep. 26th, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)
Don't miss THE DRAGON WAITING! Fans of Dorothy Dunnett will particularly appreciate that one, as do I. The French editor referred to in Jo Walton's reminiscence is in fact bringing it out this year in French, I think, for his prestigious new line of crossover fantasy.
Sep. 26th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC)
Also the only Ricardian novel I can read without spitting teeth...

His research was impeccable, as witness the chase in Company of Night which is not only instantly recognisable to anyone who lives or works in that part of London, but 100% accurate.

I regret so much that I never met him, or heard him speak, but only knew him through his books. I reget even more that there will be no more books.
Sep. 26th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
Between his writing, which I love with the heat of a thousand burning suns, and the too brief moments I spent in his company I have the barest hint of what a loss this is for us all.

Thank you, Dr. Mike. You'll be missed.
Sep. 26th, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
Well, I know perfectly well that I only knew a very small portion of his life and personality.

But on the other hand, and least I got to know /something/.

Sep. 26th, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC)
The whole thing is terribly sad. I wonder if his unfinished novel will ever see print?
Sep. 26th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
The word on that front is, "We don't know yet."
Sep. 26th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC)
One would think that if a "major" publisher wouldn't jump at the chance for a retrospective including it that CEMETERY DANCE or SUBTERRANEAN or somesuch would do one of those "everything that's never been collected collections" a la the one that came out when Karl Wagner passed.

Still, it's incredibly early at this point . . .

Sep. 26th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's the thing, it is /damn/ early. The folks on Making Light (editors at Tor, both of them) are like, "We don't know. We'll see. Give it time."

And they loved him, so it's not like they're trying to repress anything or something. (See also some of the comments upstream, here.)
Sep. 26th, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
I had not heard, and only knew him from his books, but he was one of those authors I kept hoping to hear news about more books or short stories, am (selfishly) very sorry to hear it, my sympathies to his friends and family
Sep. 26th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
When I read the news on elisem's journal, I was shocked and dismayed. I knew Mike only peripherally, from my days commuting to Minneapolis and staying with Elise and Juan, and from various local conventions. But I have to say that the moment I learned of his passing I felt that the world had lost an inestimable talent, that our generation had seen the passing of another Lord Byron or Mozart--talents beyond our scope and too soon taken away. And like others, my regret is that I didn't know him better. My sin is in believing there would be more time.
Sep. 27th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
Making Light has, I guess, the major wake. I've posted there and to my blog, recycling an email I wrote to osewalrus when he asked, with apologies, who Mike Ford was. I should post something shorter on the labcats blog, on the off chance that someone who reads that might not already know.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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