Back to previous post: Checking in

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. One)

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 25, 2006

John M. Ford, 1957-2006
Posted by Teresa at 07:07 AM *

Mike Ford is gone. The cause of his death is not yet known. Elise Matthesen found his body around two o’clock this morning. She said it looked like it was fast and easy, whatever it was.

He’d been in poor health for decades. This still comes as a terrible shock.

I keep thinking that Mike would know the right thing to say about all this. There’s a hole in the universe.

Against Entropy

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days—
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

—John M. Ford

(The circumstances of the poem’s composition. You won’t find a clearer demonstration of (some of) the reasons we’re mourning Mike.)

Some links to writing by Mike Ford:

Neil Gaiman: The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Death.
Today Neil posted a collection of wonderful things Mike recently sent him in email.
Another post by Neil, with the cleaned-up text of “The Final Connection”.
110 Stories
Troy: The Movie
The Infernokrusher Romeo and Juliet
“I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.”
“Declaration” and “Response”, by John M. Ford and Elise Matthesen
As Above, So Below (short story)
The Speculative Engineering store at CafePress

Some of Mike’s front-page posts here:

Harry of Five Points
In This Hour (during Katrina; on coping with the stress of bad news)
Judy Sings Holliday (on the Valerie Plame case)
You Can’t Dance to It… (on science fiction and prediction)
Earth Creatures Put One Right Past Martian Defense Force
TSA Gumbo Surprise
More Songs about Buildings and Food

Given how joyfully Mike disported himself in the comment threads, it’s a damned shame that ML’s “view all comments by” function is currently out of commission. To give you some idea, here are some of the comments Mike posted to a single open thread:

#103: Caster sugar.
#253: Kojak and the Defenestrations of Prague.
#268: Attendance at the Roman games.
#294: Liquid nitrogen; shrubbing.
#353: Poirot on Betjeman.
#359: Recasting McGonagall.
#382: Misanthropy and comedians.
#388: Mad fiendish mathematicians.
#404: Sir Francis Drake’s gold pocket calculator.
#472: Bother, dinosaurs, and sodomy.

Links to writing about Mike Ford:

NESFA’s Chronological Bibliography of his work.
Senseless Acts of Random Stuff helpfully provides links to a ludography, a collection of quotes, and Mike’s poem about Loren Wiseman.
Interview: John M. Ford in Strange Horizons.
Neil Gaiman’s Concerning Speculative Engineering, with notes on Exploration, the Scattered Oevre of John M. Ford, and an Unreliable and Vaguely Scatalogical Anecdote about Freud or Someone Like That, his introduction to Mike’s collection, From the End of the Twentieth Century.
The memorial threads at SFF Net.
A long thoughtful consideration of Mike’s influence on the Star Trek universe, by Eric Burns.
Avedon Carol: There could never be enough of Mike Ford.
Kathryn Cramer posts a memoir, with photo.
A Flickr photoset of everyone’s pictures tagged “John M. Ford”.
DDB’s photos of Mike.
A LiveJournal post from Pamela Dean.
Another post by Pamela Dean.
Madeleine Robins writes some anecdotes about Mike.
Peg Kerr’s memorial post.
Dan Layman-Kennedy’s.
Some words from Mike’s close friend Jim Rigney (Robert Jordan).
Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber.
Jane Yolen’s Journal, 25 September 2006.
Ellen Kushner on Mike’s handwriting.
Diane Duane’s long essay about Mike from the program book when he was GoH at Boskone.
A post by Will Shetterly.
Another post by Will Shetterly.
Roz Kaveney wrote a poem.
One, two, three, four reminiscences by Joel Rosenberg.
A post by Steve Jackson.
And one by Hilary Moon Murphy.
The Authorized Klin Zha Homepage.
Unqualified Offerings’ Jim Henley.
Ken MacLeod.
Kevin Maroney.
John Clute’s obituary in The Independent. (Elise: “He did well by Mike.”)

Note: Elise says:

“If people want to send messages, e-mail is best right now. It keeps the phone clear for various chats with medical examiners, medical examiner investigators, Mike’s attorney and the like; so if people could refrain from phoning unless it’s re next-of-kin stuff or immediate legal/logistical stuff, at least for the next 48 hours, it would be a kindness. Thank you. The e-mails are lovely, though I won’t be able to respond for a bit.”
Comments on John M. Ford, 1957-2006:
#1 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:20 AM:

I am very sorry for all of you. I'm afraid I only knew him through Neil Gaiman's blog (and here, of course) where Neil once posted a lovely version of the muppet song about rainbows Mr Ford did: The Final Connection.

#2 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:23 AM:

I feel awkward posting this, because I'm sure this board includes many of his friends and comrades, and I never really knew him, except through Making Light. But he was a good guy - and bright with it, and funny - and it's a damn shame.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

#3 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:23 AM:

Oh... oh... censored.

I'll never get to meet him. (more censored)

Crazy(I'll try to balance the self-centeredness by thinking kind thoughts for Elise the rest of the week, and longer...)Soph

#4 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:34 AM:

Well, that's a rotten way to start a Monday morning...

Condolences to everyone. This really sucks.

#5 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:41 AM:

Oh, no. I'm terribly sorry to hear it. My deepest condolences to his loved ones and friends.

#6 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:46 AM:

I just finished reading The Final Reflection on Saturday morning. I'm pretty sure it was the last of his published novels I hadn't read before.

Oh, no no no.

#7 ::: Fred A Levy Haskell ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:46 AM:

Oh, crap.

As you say, it's an awful shock, even though....

*sigh*

Yit-ga-dal ve'yit-ka-dash sh'mei ra-ba...

#8 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:53 AM:

Damn. I'm sorry.

#9 ::: Connie H ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:58 AM:

I'm so terribly sorry. I feel the loss deeply enough, and I was only mildly acquainted with him online and had never really had the chance to more than chat casually at an SF con -- a brilliant author, commentator, wit and so obviously a great human being who had done so much and certainly would go on to do much more of the same. To those who knew him better, what a blow this must be.

#10 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:00 AM:

I'm very, very sorry. I had only recently realized that the guy I've seen posting here was also the author of some of my favorite Trek books, and...damn. That really, really sucks.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:00 AM:

He was the world's ornament.

#12 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:01 AM:

*mourns*

#13 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:02 AM:

Oh,


I'm so sorry.
His last post.

#14 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:04 AM:

No more funny, wise Mike Ford posts to read. The world darkens, not a little, but a lot. I shall go and read him once again.

#15 ::: Vanessa ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:04 AM:

Damn it. I'm so sorry to hear this. I never met him, and only corresponded with him for a couple of rounds a while back, but his writing has pleased and comforted me for many years. Condolences to his friends and loved ones.

#16 ::: Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:11 AM:

Horrible news. I never saw Mike often enough, but each time I did it was an enormous pleasure. Kept track of him through our mutual friends, and of course through his comments here. One of the nicest and smartest people I've ever met.

Godspeed, Mike, and if it is possible, I hope to see you again someday.

#17 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:12 AM:

He brought so much delight to these conversations. We will all miss him.

May he rest in peace.

#18 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:17 AM:

I met him but twice, but I'll miss him.

May he rest in peace.

#19 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:21 AM:

Baruch dayan emet.

#20 ::: Myles Corcoran ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:21 AM:

Damn. That just isn't right.

Condolencences to his family and friends.

#21 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:22 AM:

I only got to meet him once, and it was wonderful. I love his work and I loved reading his posts here. This is a huge loss.

#22 ::: William Lexner ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:24 AM:

Robert Jordan had a blurb on Ford's covers that said "John M. Ford is the best writer in America, bar none."

It wasn't hyperbole.

He was one of my absolute favorites and I will miss his wonderful stories. I will always cherish having been able to meet him and hear him give a reading of his work.

#23 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:25 AM:

Oh shit!

I'm sorry to hear this. I didn't know Mikey all that well, but we'd been on each other's peripheries for about 20 years. I always found him endlessly entertaining, and I was always sorry that he wasn't able to travel more.

What's Else's address?

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:38 AM:

Aw, crap. I only met him once, and always expected in the fullness of time that I would meet him more times under better circumstances. I always enjoyed his writing -- it was an honor to accompany in the Grimm Cabaret.

May he rest in peace.

#25 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:39 AM:

May he rest in peace.

#26 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Dammit. My sympathies to everyone. I only knew him from here and his writing, but he was a bright spot in my day anyway and I always looked forward to reading his posts and comments.

Warm, comforting thoughts to all of you who are grieving.

#27 ::: Zeke ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:41 AM:

I knew him only through his posts here, but I'll miss him even so. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

#29 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:42 AM:

The sky should turn black, the mountains should tremble, it doesn't seem right that the world should go on as usual and Mike Ford not be in it.

I was holding it together really well until I read the poem.

#30 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:43 AM:

My heart is breaking with this news. A bright star has gone out.

He will be sorely missed.

#31 ::: Elizabeth McCoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:43 AM:

Oh no.

No.

There are no words.

Just...

#33 ::: Captain Slack ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:47 AM:

"This is magic, this is what magic is:
Grief too terrible to be borne."
— "A Holiday in the Park"

"The knowledge that the train may stop but the line goes on.
The train may stop
But the line
Goes on."
— "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station"

#34 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:50 AM:

There is a hole in the Universe.

#35 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:50 AM:

Oh no! )-:

I've been making my way through _Heat of Fusion_, and thinking what a brilliant, talented man he truly was. A terrible loss.

My deepest sympathies.

#36 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:52 AM:

Oh god. I knew him only from reading what he contributed here, and some of the links above, but... god. This is a tragedy. I'm so sorry.

#37 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:54 AM:

That's a stinking god damned shame.

#38 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:59 AM:

He'll be missed, his memory cherished, and his loved ones cared for in thier grief.

#39 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:00 AM:

Shit.

...


My sympathy to his friends and loved ones.

(I never met him in person, and now I'm feeling depressed because I never will, and from the sparkle in his written voice -- here and elsewhere -- he was someone I really wanted to meet.)

#40 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:01 AM:

That is indeed terrible news. I only knew him through his writing, but *man* what a writer. I'm a long time fan, and one of the best things about this board for me was his presence.

Please pass along condolences to his family. Is anyone taking up a collection to send flowers or some such?

#42 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:05 AM:

I was holding it together until I read this:

I keep thinking that Mike would know the right thing to say about all this.

Just so.

#43 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:05 AM:

Regarding Mike's longtime companion Elise Matthesen: her LiveJournal is here. She will probably be ground zero for memorials, arrangements, and so forth.

#44 ::: Matthew Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:06 AM:

Words fail me, though they never did him.
Is it terrible to mourn, at this moment, that we'll never see another Ford book? That that long, terrible wait is now extended forever?
I never met him in person -- exchanged emails once or twice -- but felt, as I suppose we all do with writers whose work we love, that I knew him from his books.

#45 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:08 AM:

I am so sorry to hear this.

#46 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:12 AM:

Oh, damn.

#47 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:19 AM:

Good lord, what a loss. I knew him only through his books and his posts here, which were more than enough to reveal his astonishing wit and deep humanity. I'd had been looking forward to meeting him in person.

#48 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:19 AM:

oh bloody hell :(

#49 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:20 AM:

I only knew him through his writing-- his books and his posts here-- but he was right at the top of the list of fabulous writers I wanted to meet face-to-face someday.

Condolences to those who knew him well, and sympathy to everyone else who'll never have the chance to.

#50 ::: Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:20 AM:

Mike did more to help me get over my fear of talking to people I admire than anyone else, and I never got the chance to say thank you. I just always assumed I'd trip across him, again, and be able to say...

He was an amazing man, and I'm so grateful he graced the constellations of my sky, if ever so briefly years ago.

To say he will be mourned is the worst sort of understatement, where you wish there were better words to convey what you feel, but there simply aren't.

#51 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:27 AM:

We grieve.

#52 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Damn.

Just damn.

#53 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:32 AM:

Like others here... "Oh, no. Oh, crap."

And like others here, I never met him in person, but hoped I would have the chance someday.

#54 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:33 AM:

No.

Mike is irreplaceable.

I always assumed -- hoped -- there would be more warning than this.

Why did a brilliant, endlessly creative mind have to be attached to a fragile body?

I always found Mike intimidatingly erudite, yet he always put me at ease conversationally. He was the kind of guy who would drop strings of joking references from everywhere into his conversation, but if you said you didn't know what he was talking about, he would cheerfully explain. His knowledge spanned, so far as I could tell, all areas, from popular culture to high culture, history to science; I always wondered how he'd found the time to know so much. It was as though he crammed multiple lives into one. It all came out in his writing, too. He was multiple writers in one. We've been reading him again over the last several days. There's a passage in The Scholars of Night about the grief of a young girl whose special uncle has committed suicide after being forbidden to see her anymore; it always makes me cry, and it will be worse now.

I don't know where to stop. This is terrible for so many people. And it's terrible for Making Light, terrible for the science fiction community.

There was nobody like him. It's not an exaggeration. We've lost one of our most fundamental people. I didn't know him as well as dozens of other people did, but he was a friend, too.

Goodbye, Mike.

#55 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:35 AM:

There is something much amiss in a world that can so readily hold itself too full of poets.

Praise ale when it is drunk, ice when it is crossed, a friend on the pyre...

#56 ::: CJM ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:39 AM:

I've never commented before, but have read for a couple of years now. My condolences to you all.

#57 ::: Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:39 AM:

He was a gentleman and a true artist. Grief has no words and can only stutter.

#58 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:41 AM:

I will miss his comments here. The song in your first link is utterly amazing. Time to go read some of the others.

#59 ::: Sherman Dorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:43 AM:

Oh,... he was a thoughtful and witty writer and will be sorely missed. The Dragon Waiting is my favorite.

#60 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:43 AM:

I only ever knew him through this community; as such, I echo: "damn; damn." Condolences to his families, of all sorts, and his friends.

#61 ::: Cynthia Gonsalves ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:44 AM:

Oh no, this is terrible. I only met him in person briefly and enjoyed reading him here. My thoughts go out to everyone he touched and most especially Elise. May his memory live forever unwithered.

#62 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:45 AM:

My condolences to his family and friends.

We've been on a Ford rereading binge here lately -- Heat of Fusion is open behind me, I just finished rereading Fugue State and The Scholars of Night -- and yesterday, in my book of blessings, I'd written his name.

What a blessing he was, to the community, to the world.

#63 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:46 AM:

God, this sucks. How can there not be a Mike Ford any more? As you said, yes, we knew he was poor health, and we should have expected it, and maybe we did, but we didn't and it's wrong and it's horrid.

I don't remember which book it was, but in the acknowledgments to one he thanked his doctor for "keeping the lights on." That phrase was so very him. A few words perfectly chosen that conveyed a whole range of emotions, a whole range of truths.

His books? His stories? His posts? Yes, yes, and yes. I'm also going to miss his chatter about 50's TV shows I never wanted to see. And wondering if we'll show up in Las Vegas and I'll get to talk to him for a couple of hours.

A couple of hours...

Does anyone else remember Pele, the Brazilian soccer player? Someone once analyzed how much time in a game he actually had the ball, and it was a few seconds. He could change the whole complexion of a game, just touching the ball for those few seconds.

I think about how long I spent, total, in Mike's company, and it only adds up to a few score of hours. Those few hours are filled with chewing matter for the brain, and laughter, and occasonally the awe that comes from being in the presence of genius--a word a don't use lightly.

Maybe a year from now I will start to accept how much richer my life is for there having been a Mike Ford in it, but now I can only hurt.

#64 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:46 AM:

My father died last night. I was OK with it. He was ready to die and so I came to work. I was OK. Then I checked my e-mail and got the message from Elise. I'm glad it was from her and that I didnít see it somewhere else first. But now I'm stuck at work and feeling very upset. I was going to go to see Mike this summer but one of my other friends convinced me to go and see her instead. I thought about calling him last night but then I got the call to go to my father's deathbed. I have an appointment to see my UU minister this afternoon about church business, but I'm afraid she's going to be counseling me instead.

I know he was loved my many people. He will be sorely missed. I wonder what will happen with the book he was working on. He let me read part of it, and he was going to send me an update. I think about all the things we all leave undone. There just is never enough time.

#65 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:47 AM:

Condolences to everyone and especially Elise.

#66 ::: Victor Raymond ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:52 AM:

I have no words. Damn, I'm going to miss you, Mike.

#67 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:53 AM:

I never really knew him, but the universe shouldn't be allowed do this to people I care for - take their friends away so suddenly and cruelly. What can I say? His was a life worth living, the best kind, where people love you and miss you. But this won't help those who are grieving now.

Great giants hugs to everybody who feels the world emptier and duller and more hurtful. I wish had had better words for you, my friends.

#68 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:56 AM:

How awful.

My thoughts are with you.

#69 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Echoing everyone else, damn.

I knew Mike Ford before I knew who he was, as a student working in the library at Indiana University. I processed his overdue fines, which is kind of a black humor, wake-ish thing to remember. But I wondered what on earth he was doing with such a vast number of unrelated books on so many different topics. When I met him again here and realized he was both that Mike Ford and the author of several very enjoyable Star Trek books, well -- it all came together and I started looking for his other books too.

It will make it that much more poignant to read his books now and know I can't ask him about anything in them.

#70 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Baruch Dayan HaEmet (Blessed be the true judge). I only talked with him once, at a readercon, but I've been a fan of both his writing and his doings at cons for a long time. He will be badly missed.

#71 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Oh, God.

#72 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:09 AM:
In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere śternam habeas requiem.
#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:09 AM:

Now Aspects will never be finished. I've been reading it in segments over the years as it's been written. It's a dense, inventive fantasy novel set in a highly original universe, and has (was going to have) (damn it) a fiendishly complicated plot.

#74 ::: Andrew Hackard ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Mike's witty signature lines at Pyramid always had me chuckling, at the very least. I'm grateful that, for a time, I had a job that gave me an excuse to swap mail with Mike. I didn't know him nearly as well as some of y'all, to my regret. I wish I'd gotten to meet him in person.

#75 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:10 AM:

I only knew him a bit, through his writing, and that was wonderful. The world is a bit darker for this loss. My sympathies to all who knew him better.

#76 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Words fail, all I can do is cry.


I'm really going to miss him.

#77 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:12 AM:

I'm just stunned. Like so many others, I only knew him from his books and from here, but you could always count on Mike for insight and that touch of genius that reminded us of what draws us to this community we share. It somehow seemed a bygone conclusion in my mind that someday I would meet him face-to-face and be all the better for it.

He will be sorely missed.

#78 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:13 AM:

To: Janet Brennan Croft

It might not have done you any good to ask him anyway. I did and the answers were sometimes so enigmatic that I still didnít know what he meant.

But to his credit he was always ready to explain and always ready to help. The best thing about Mike is that he was always ready to lend a hand, always ready to come to someone's aid in any way he could.

#79 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:16 AM:

I'm terribly shocked and sorry. Who's going to turn the perfect epigrams now?

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:20 AM:

Gigi, Janet: editing Mike was a long, humbling process of saying, over and over, "Okay, Mike, you lost me on that one ..."

#81 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:20 AM:

I understood that he hadn't expected to make it even this long. I can see the expression on his face, somewhat toward a giggle, as he describes the situation.

But I can't hear the words . . .


May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (Cong. Amen.)
in the world that He created as He willed.
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
swiftly and soon. Now respond: Amen.
(Cong Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He
(Cong. Blessed is He)
beyond any blessing and song,
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now respond: Amen.
(Cong. Amen)
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
(Cong. Amen)

He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
(Cong. Amen)


His memory for a blessing.
Just his three men in a bar joke still makes my head hurt.

#82 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:22 AM:

Boruch dayan emes.

#83 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:24 AM:

I'll miss him. I didn't know him well, but we've been exchanging hellos and chatting back and forth for years at WisCon and other places.

"of comfort no man speak: let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs; make dust our paper and with rainy eyes write sorrow on the bosom of the earth..."

Richard II

#86 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:29 AM:

The NY Times recently ran a piece on what Mozart might have done if he'd lived to a ripe old age. I'm feeling that way about Mike, now. This is the first time a post on "Making Light" has brought me to tears. Ave atque vale!

#87 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:30 AM:

My condolences to his family and friends.

I always looked forward to his posts here, and sought out his books on that basis. Sometimes, Iíd see a long patch of verse and know that Iíd have no time to read it and appreciate it so Iíd save it for later. I suppose that later is now.

Thanks Mike, and even though I never met you, Iíll miss you.

#88 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:34 AM:

The world feels a little smaller all of a sudden, on another fine blue autumn morning.

And I will go back to work in a little while, work that may in some very small way help make things better.

My sympathies to those of you who knew him well, his loved ones.

#89 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:37 AM:

I've had a few hours to get used to this now, and I still can't. My first reaction stands: "No."

I have long been grateful to know him. We were lucky to have such a friend, if for too short a time.

But now the road seems harder. I don't know what to do.

#90 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:40 AM:

A terrible thing to read first thing in the morning. Peace, and a wish that we'll see him again in the Web of Angels (whatever we may be at that time).

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:40 AM:

Oh, sh*t!

But maybe the Muses need a tenth for something.

#92 ::: Lisa Hirsch ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:40 AM:

Words utterly fail me.

#93 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Oh shit. This is so unfair.

We shared a birthday (date, not year) and had exchanged silly greetings ever since discovering this coincidence at Minicon in 1998. From his last email to me, a few weeks ago:

Curious Facts Dept.: circumstances not interesting enough to recount caused me to look up some data on Evelyn Waugh the other day. Were you aware that he died on our birthday, back in '66? At least that means I can't have been him in a past life, which is strangely reassuring.

Goodbye, Mike.

#94 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:48 AM:

Dammit, I want the rest of Aspects. And more time with Mike. The universe is not arranged to my benefit, and I understand that. It certainly was not arranged to Mike's.

I will miss him.

#95 ::: Chris S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:51 AM:

So very sorry to hear such sad news.

Here's wishing you all a little ease in the days ahead.

#96 ::: Donald Saxman ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:51 AM:

I knew Mike back from our 1970s college days at Indiana University when he and I and my ex wife were all in the Science Fiction Club, SCA, and played D&D (back when it was a Chainmail errata sheet) and steam tunnel LARPS (with frisbies and water guns). We drifted apart and although there were some close calls, had never managed to reconnect. Now we never will. Mike loved the whole idea of parallel universes and just maybe there is someplace where we are still meeting every weekend to playtest the newest game or hike to the midnight showing of the newest live action hero debut.

#97 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:52 AM:

I'm..."bereft" seems like both too much, when compared to what those who were closer to him have lost, and too little, when compared to what we all have lost.

I count myself very fortunate to have had the chance to meet him, and to spend what little time I did in conversation with him.

#98 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:53 AM:

I wasn't crying. Not yet. Because last week, we lost Charlie Grant, and I was still getting used to that.

So this was bad news, but I was still in the shock/processing stage.

But now I'm crying.

I can barely imagine a world without Mike in it, and now I have to live in one.

It doesn't seem right.

#99 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:54 AM:

.

#100 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:54 AM:

I never knew the man.

I only read a couple of his books.

I love that poem.

#101 ::: Laramie ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:56 AM:

I hear that he's gone, but I see him smiling, about to say something especially clever that will make us all laugh.

#102 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:56 AM:

I hate this.

My wife, smartly, got me the Infernokrusher sonnet mug for my birthday this summer, and I have it here with me at work. A small, good thing during a grey day.

What a talented writer, so quick with epigram or parody! I'll miss his voice terribly.

#103 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:56 AM:

This was not my first choice for how to wake up this morning. Or any morning, really. Crap.

#104 ::: Gabe Helou ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Damn. Damn and blast.

It's been several years since I talked with Mike (and mostly listened) and the topics of those talks have faded from memory. The feeling of enjoying the conversation, though, lingers on.

Blast.

#105 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Not fair. Not fair!
*************************

Lord, who enters your dwelling, an honored guest?
Who wins your hand clasp, sister and brother?

The just one, who walks steadfast in truth
whose tongue is a wildfire contained

who sows no dissension abroad
who honors the upright, despises the double deal

who turns the blood of the poor to no base deed
whose word is bond, whose oath is adamant...

Psalm 15
Daniel Berrigan, Uncommon Prayer
*********************************

Go in joy, Mike.

#106 ::: billhedrick ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:00 AM:

I met him through his work and finally in person in 2004. He was a wonderful person and one I feel I can call friend because of who he was, a warm, friendly humorous intelligent person that touched more lives than he could imagine. He he had a great imagination.

#108 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Flickr photofeed: tag JohnMFord. Right now it's our pix from Boskone plus a few more by other people. If you tag your photos JohnMFord on Flickr, they will show up here.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Oh hell and damn. He was just posting the other day! Dammit, dammit, dammit.

I only met him once, but his online whimsey has brightened many a day of mine. And for "110 Stories" alone, he'll be remembered. He definitely "got it" in a way few others have.

Sorely, sorely missed. Damn.

#110 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:03 AM:

This isn't going to hit me until the next time there's a thread where I think, "Hmmm, about time for a poem to show up"...and it doesn't.

Then again, maybe this has already happened.

"The air, the water, the background radiation, your guess is as good as mine."

#111 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:03 AM:

Oh dear. And eep. And sorrows.

---L.

#112 ::: Hilary Moon Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:04 AM:

I first remember seeing Mike doing the "Ask Dr. Mike" show at Minicon, and being blown away by it. Leter I discovered that he was a brilliant writer and a gentle & generous human being.

Mike, you will be sorely missed.

Hmm

#113 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Dr. Mike, how many angels?

#114 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:05 AM:

I didn't know about Charlie Grant's death. I don't get Locus, and we had lost touch over the years, but he was one of my first friends in sf. We spent many wonderful hours together in the 70s, when we were young and foolish and carefree.

Now I have two deaths to mourn. Oh, shit.

#115 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:09 AM:

I became a fan of his when I read The Final Reflection. I became more of a fan when I read The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. After that, I devoured everything of his I could find. I was always delighted to read his posts here. I never really knew him, and he certainly didn't know me, but I find his passing has cut deep.

#116 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:11 AM:

I've been looking at this thread, refreshing it from time to time, since it had 20-something posts this morning because I have no idea how to say this without sounding really silly next to everyone here who knew Mr Ford personally, or who met him, or who at least had some sort of exchange with him as a regular here at Making Light (myself being somewhat of a lurker), but now I decided I'll just go ahead and sound silly.

When I was about 13, I started reading Trek novels. Some were bad, some were good, but only one left a lasting impression on me. It was the first time that a book made me laugh hysterically, and I'm sure you guessed it already, it was "How much for just the planet".

Fast-forward twelve years. I've just recently started looking for good sci-fi/fantasy novels again--mostly by stumbling over things through this blog. After reading one of those very enlightening/amusing/amazing posts by Mr Ford, I decide to go and see who this guy is.

And suddenly I'm a 13 year old boy again, for a moment, laughing about McCoy seeing a ghost which asked him to boldly go where no man has gone before.

For a moment I considered writing Mr Ford a sort of horribly late fan-email. Silly idea, I decided, it's not like he's suddenly going to go away--and then I went ahead and did it anyway. I am now very happy I did, if only for the small chance that he actually read it.

I told him in that mail that I would buy "The Last Hot Time" and report back to him how I liked that, because 13 years was actually too much time for me to remember exactly what I liked so much about "How much for just the planet?". I did buy it, and I did read it, and I enjoyed it immensely, even though the end came too soon, but I was waiting to read it again so I could form a better opinion of it (and also solve some of the remaining puzzles) before I'd write him a second piece of fan-mail.

And then I come here and see this post and think for a desperate second that they must mean some OTHER John M. Ford. He couldn't have died a few weeks after I discovered him!

I finished "The Last Hot Time" a second time last night. And once again it was good, and once again the end came too soon.

Requiescat in pacem. May he rest in peace.

#117 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:12 AM:

Alas, and alas, and alas.

#118 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:13 AM:

I also only knew him from his poetry and hist posts here. But I can feel how the lights dimmed for many people, sense that they dimmed for me too, and grieve for it. My condolences to those close to him; may he rest in peace.

#119 ::: MamaDeb ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Damn. Hole in the universe fits. Too well.

#120 ::: Susan D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Like some others here, I only knew him through his posts. He made me think about being prepared for ... well, anything. And he made me laugh and cry. Making Light will seem darker for a time.

#121 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Carrie S. at 110: I've been reading the comments on "The End of Author Productivity" daily, waiting and hoping for something there to strike his fancy. Dammit.

Sometime last week I'd stumbled across a post in Elise's Livejournal (containing the word "mammalversary") that made me smile, at a time when that was what I needed. Dammit.

I know there's nothing I can do, but my sympathies go out to those affected.

"Word fail me (the poor craftsman blames his tools)" --John M. Ford, "Chromatic Aberration"

#123 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:18 AM:

My own valediction:

May you walk in joy in the Isle of Apples.
May you find peace in the Summerland.

Walk in beauty, Mike.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:19 AM:

I never knew him except through his books and what he posted here. His erudition, wit, and humour were all consistently impressive. I am deeply grateful to the fates that I was able to encounter him here. It may truly be said that the world is today a poorer place.

#125 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Like many, I only knew him from his (brilliant, clever, funny, erudite) posts and poetry here. I was planning on picking up some of his books to read on my upcoming vacation. I am so sorry that he is gone.

Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

#126 ::: Rosemarie Krist ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:21 AM:

I'm sorry to hear this. I liked his commentary here at Making Light and will miss it.

(I knew his name from fandom, although I don't believe I ever met him. I stay on the fringes and it's a long time since I went to a con.)

#127 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:27 AM:

what can one say at a time like this?

best wishes on the next voyage ....

#128 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Eek.

#129 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Oh, no.

I knew him only through his writing and his posts here, but those things added so much that there seems to be a hole where he should be, even just on the internet. It seems impossible that he'll never write another wonderful post or hilarious comment. How can it be?

It seems so wrong that the people who bring so much good into the world have to leave it too soon.

My sympathy to all who knew and loved him.

#130 ::: Kiwi ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:31 AM:

He wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, The Dragon Waiting. Now he won't write us any more fine works. Sigh. Goodbye, dear man!

#131 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:35 AM:

Gigi, condolences on losing your dad.

#132 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:36 AM:

How Much for Just the Planet has been a favorite book of mine for nearly 20 years. My heart goes out to Elise and everyone here.

#133 ::: Chris The Magician ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:37 AM:

I may be the 50 gazillionth to say this but ...

damn.

I *loved* his work, and always looked forward to whatever would come next.

He is sadly missed :-(

#134 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:37 AM:

I knew him only through his poetry, and that's loss enough. Many sympathies to those who've lost a friend as well.

#135 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:41 AM:

My sympathies and thoughts are with all of his friends and loved ones.

#136 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:42 AM:

With some trepidation I submit the following which I wrote just now. It isn't as good as I'd like it to be.

today with sorrow our good friend mike ford
has gone untimely to his final rest
the waiting dragon fallen on a sword

we feel the need for a final falling chord
to honour both the humour and the zest
today with sorrow our good friend mike ford

of swift verse master and of prose a lord
has sailed in quiet unto the utter west
the waiting dragon fallen on a sword

the movement's done the final page is scored
the sentiments appropriately expressed
today with sorrow our good friend mike ford

is gone and we can now but ill afford
the anger and the forlorn soul's unrest
the waiting dragon fallen on a sword

and now the closing, now the final word
with sadness spoken and with grief oppressed
today with sorrow our good friend mike ford
the waiting dragon fallen on a sword

#137 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Irreplaceable (adj) impossible to replace. ex: John M. Ford.

#139 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:49 AM:

No more Ask Dr. Mike.

For those of you who never got to see it: "Ask Dr. Mike" was Mike Ford in a white lab coat, standing in front of a chalkboard, taking questions from the audience. It was hysterically funny. I think the moment I remember best was the time an explanation of his about elections veered, as seamlessly as an Escher illusion, from politics to theology. I glanced around the audience and realized you could play "Spot the Presbyterian", because all of them were laughing so hard they were falling out of their chairs.

When I did programming for Minicon, the rule I worked out was that there was no use scheduling anything against Ask Dr. Mike.

Other things about Mike:

He had naturally weird eyebrows. They had vertical tufts in the middle that got longer as he aged. Looked like something out of anime.

He was was passionately into model building and theatre. He loved trains.

If you were sitting near Mike during a panel or conversation, and someone asserted that thus-and-such maneuver was impossible in fiction, you could practically hear the gears start going going 'round in his head.

More anon. Have to add some stuff to the main post.

#140 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Damn. I never got to meet him...

"Good night, sweet prince--

May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest..."

#141 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:55 AM:

If you had asked me if I would cry when I heard the news, I probably would've said, "Probably." The correct answer would've been, "Definitely."

#142 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:00 PM:

I saw him just one or two times, at conventions. I never spoke with him. I admired him desperately and furiously.

I started with reading _Just the Planet_ in a Crown Books, because I couldn't justify spending my allowance on it. After a while, I started to worry they'd throw me out -- not for finishing a book in the store; for laughing too loudly.

I finish, as a lot of us have, by waiting for _Aspects_.

#143 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:00 PM:

"I do not approve. And I am not resigned."

#144 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Sarah S.: Exactly. The same thought hit my mind, too.

Here's the whole thing for anyone who might find comfort in it.

#145 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:05 PM:

One thing that's impressed me, in my year or so of reading Making Light, was the agility, speed and breadth of Mike's mind. These are the people you always want to meet, just to enjoy the sparks.

Now this one I can't. And there won't be any more moments here where I either yell "yes!" or want to leap through the screen and throttle the guy for being so brilliant.

But I've still got *lots* to read, and _The Dragon Waiting_ and _The Scholars of Night_ to reread. (And even a bunch of back Making Light stuff, I do believe.)

So ... thanks for the ride.

#146 ::: Gordon Garb ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Ow, ow, ow.
Don't want to hear of a universe without Mr. Mike.
Will always think of his wit, his pleasure at having a new quip to spring, his face betraying the mischief to come.

#147 ::: Maia Cowan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:08 PM:

I met Mike Ford years (too many years) ago. I don't remember which science-fiction convention it was, I just remember the way the room quieted a little when Mike said something, so nobody would miss a word. I remember telling the friend who'd introduced us, "He gives me a deeper understanding of the phrase 'mordant wit'."

He was a good guy and a great talent, and it just ain't fair.

#148 ::: Yehuda Porath ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Damn.
A poet, a scholar, a great writer and a nice person.

This hits hard.
He will be much missed.

#149 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:13 PM:

I was walking with my daughter and a friend when my daughter-in-law Betsy (a Minneapolitan) called to say Mike had died. And all the way back to the house I couldn't comprehend it. Seven months ago he and Elise had been visiting to say their goodbyes to David. And now Mike gone, too?

I know he never expected to live as long as he did. The transplant added to his life. But not enough. Not enough.

Now, Dr. Mike--you can have a single malt or three with David, the two of you the smartest men I ever knew.

Jane

#150 ::: Rick Keir ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:14 PM:

damn.

Years ago, when I was feeling shy at a Wiscon, Elise M pushed me to go up to him and say "hi". Thank you, Elise. I'm thinking good thoughts for you and for all of John's friends and loved ones.

#151 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:14 PM:

monochrome.

today the world lost a little of its color.

#152 ::: Lynn Kendall ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:21 PM:

I am so sorry. And angry: I wanted to read more of his books. He was a powerful, subtle writer, one of the best we have. Had. Had, dammit.

#153 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Damn. I only knew his writing. I'll miss him.

#154 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Oh no, no, no, no. I can't stop crying, this is terrible news.

Teresa when we met Mike at Fiddlers Green Cullen, who has been very shy most of his life and rarely spoke to people he doesn't know, walked up to Mike and told him he had great eyebrows.

We loved him so much, even though we only met him in person that one time. He brightened everything he touched.

#155 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Oh, damn.

I just spent fifteen minutes digging through the bookshelves to find my dog-eared copy of How Much For Just The Planet?

It's been an embarrassing number of years since I last went to a con, but I have several memories of encountering Mike Ford and ending up laughing hysterically at something he said.

Every time I saw his name attached to something online, from GEnie on up to Making Light, I knew I was in for some sort of a ride.

My condolences to Elise, his family and friends, and to all who knew him better than I.

#156 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Damn. That's just not right.

#157 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:43 PM:

This is a huge shock, a horrible shock, a heartbreaker.

I lack the eloquence to describe just how highly I value Mike's work, how I'd snap the latest up off the shelves the instant it was put there and start reading while standing in the checkout line; how I push his books contantly, at everyone, regardless of whether they read SF or not; how nothing he's written has ever disappointed me, has ever done less than astound and excite and touch (and often mystify) me; how I like to reread his poetry out loud, and often cry at the end.

I loved and respected him so much, but never had the chance to meet him and even if I had, would have been too shy talk to him in person, so when I saw that he posted here, I was delighted at the chance to see a wee glimpse now and then of the personal.

So I knew he had health problems, but never knew how serious they were.

I still can't get over the fact that there will be no more Fords to read. That.. my god, I can't tell you how much that sucks.

Goodbye, Mike. Be well, and happy, in your new digs.

Dammit.

#158 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:50 PM:

This is just horrible. I had really hoped to meet him some time. That he wrote the entropy poem off the back of a piece of mine is something I will always be proud of. Miserable condolences to everyone who knew him.

#159 ::: Adam ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Aw, damn. Damn, damn, damn.

#160 ::: Gregory Rihn ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Blast! Just had several good chats with him at WisCon. He was a fine writer, a great mind, and a mordant wit, and there are mever enough of those.

#161 ::: pegkerr ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:02 PM:

I am in shock. The grief hasn't quite set in yet.

My tribute is here:

http://pegkerr.livejournal.com/715746.html

#162 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:02 PM:

Sharp, funny, always full of wit,
His words were crammed with knowledge, sharing it.
Kind, cool, creative, pertinently said,
and slipped in half-way down a thread.

#163 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Gah. I've had a knot in my stomach all morning, and I just want to throw something right now. This sucks.

#164 ::: Ester Mish ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:07 PM:

My heart goes out to all those who are grieving most. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

#165 ::: salvador dalai llama ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:07 PM:

Damn. I knew him at WisCon; it took me the first year to realize he wasn't just a damn funny and intelligent fan, but a fine writer as well. I looked forward to those little exchanges, in the con suite, on panels, at parties... I think of what Steven Brust said above--total up the time and what do you have? But add it up in soul-space, and it's much much larger.

Though I don't think some of the tone of the original applies, I'll quote from Auden's elegy to Yeats:

The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

#166 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:09 PM:

I just saw the news on LJ, and came here to confirm. I keep saying, "Oh, my God".

It's completely inadequate, and would be even if I were a theist of any sort. But I can't help saying it, because it's such a shock.

Wherever he's gone, if there's anywhere to go, is the richer for his gain, and we the poorer for his loss. And if there wasn't anyplace to go before, he's exactly the person to write it into being.

My condolences to Elise and to everyone who knew him.

#167 ::: Shawn Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:12 PM:

So the chill gray waters of Tokyo Bay take another talent...

Peace, and peace, and peace be unto him.

#168 ::: Carl Dershem ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Well, hell.

I never got a chance to meet him, but I always looked forward to anything he wrote, wteher between the covers of a book or magazine, or here in pixels. He was a fascinating person with an unique view on the universe, and a rich and varied talent for revealing it, in words and ideas.

He will be missed.

#169 ::: Jon Manzo ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:18 PM:

I got to know Mike before I knew he was John M. Ford; I'd gone out to dinner with him and Greg Ketter on a couple of occasions when I was up in Minneapolis for a convention or a bookstore event at DreamHaven, and it wasn't until at least the second meal that I realized that I was actually dining with a writer that I admired.

He was a great writer. And he was a funny dinner companion. I always looked forward to seeing him when I came up to MiniCon, or when he would come down to WisCon. Gonna miss Dr. Mike....

My thanks to Greg Ketter for introducing me to Mike, and my condolences to Mike's family and friends.

Now, go and read one of his stories. And get at least two of your friends to do the same. And so on. They are worth passing on.

#170 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:33 PM:

I really hope this doesn't come out sounding insulting or belittling or whatever. I never read any of his books, or anything. Just saw his name, mentioned by interesting people in passing, and usually accompanied by some little doodle of genius writing. So to me he was like a bit of inspired local color in a science fiction or a fantasy, which just makes you believe in the world, and that it's a little more beautiful and deep than the one you normally inhabit. On the edges of your vision, but making the world vaster and more lovely by implication.

#171 ::: Rose White ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:37 PM:

I've only known him here, but he's made me smile, and think twice, so many, many times.

Be well, everyone.

#172 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Aw damn. I only knew him from making light (unless I also read him on Usenet, I don't recall), but he was the brightest light here, I felt. (Among many bright lights).

Also, he often was the only one to respond to my modest efforts at wit.

It's a weak gesture, I know, but I've set my Mac screen to monochrome for a while. (Universal Access in system preferences).

- Jon Hendry

#173 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:41 PM:

I didn't know him at all. I knew his words, a bit. I'm not a Making Light regular.

But I have just the barest sense of what he meant to everyone here, and my heart goes out to all of you. I am so very sorry.

#174 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:42 PM:

What a dreadful shock.

I never actually met him, but knew him from here and from his writings (I still have some in my "to read" pile). Every time I saw his name on a post I knew it would be something interesting: fun, or thought-provoking, or both. I will miss those a great deal, especially the "both" kind.

Deepest condolences to all his family and friends, especially Elise.

#175 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:43 PM:

The first paragraph of his epic-in-progress Aspects:

It has been said that, if a person is going to die, he should do it in the morning: when the day is new and clean and full of unanswerable questions, when the sun has just risen to cast an afterglow on the things that have been done by night. It has also been said that, if a person is going to die, the circumstances are irrelevant.
(Thanks, Beth.)

#176 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:44 PM:

I knew him only from Making Light as well; his comic verse was a joy to find. It always appeared, unexpectedly but with great timeliness.

My condolences to his family and his thousands of friends.

#177 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:46 PM:

I'm very sorry for the loss. I only knew him from his warm and witty posts here, but I am, nonetheless, saddened.

#178 ::: Sharon Mock ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:50 PM:

I knew him only from The Dragon Waiting and his Paranoia supplement and his posts here. Still, I'm heartbroken.

It doesn't seem right that he's no longer here.

#179 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:52 PM:

I didn't know Mike well, but I knew him well enough to know that, in addition to being a wonderful writer and a dazzling intellect, he was a hell of a lot of fun to talk to, and beloved by many.

I'm so sorry.

#180 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:52 PM:

A great loss.

I too only knew him from his comments here.

But it only took reading one of those comments for me to realize he wa a prodigious talent.

A prodigious talent lost. I'm very sorry to hear it.

You who knew him better, and lost far more in his loss: you have my deepest sympathy.

#181 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Like others, I only knew his writing and his words.

That is still enough to mourn, and yet still too little. Too few words, I long for more, too little knowledge of one I wished to have met, and seen, and heard, to know an inkling more of what was behind the words.

#182 ::: Allison Kaese ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:58 PM:

It just got a lot colder & darker in the world.

Damn.

*lifts a glass in his memory*

#183 ::: Rev M ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:04 PM:

His writing was magical and always made me view the world is a different light. I'm so sorry he has left us. He will be missed.

#184 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Until today I had never connected the man who wrote those marvelous sig lines on the Pyramid boards--and not only the sigs themselves, it was always a sign that I should go back and reread that post because it was saying something I'd want to read, no matter what the topic--with the man who wrote my two favorite Star Trek novels. And I'd never realized he'd written books other than those two. And now that I know all this, it's with knowing that what he's written that I can go find is the finite point, that there won't be a chance to go look for something more from him.

I feel so selfish to look at it that way. And yet I'm crying. I wish I'd known the man.

#185 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:06 PM:

My God, this is terrible. And, selfishly, I want all those books I'm never going to get a chance to read. Condolences to Elise and everyone else.

#186 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:22 PM:

I saw the news first on Neil Gaiman's LiveJournal feed through my friend's list and blinked, thinking, Surely, he's talking about some OTHER John M. Ford. But no, Making Light was mentioned right away--the only venue through which I have had the pleasure of knowing his writing, alas.

I'm terribly sorry to hear this news, and extend my condolences to Elise and his friends and family. I'll miss seeing that familiar line above posts here. I love reading your memories--I have never met him, nor indeed, any of the other regulars here, but I am tearing up just reading about the fireworks or the Declaration/Response.

#187 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:29 PM:

John Dunne, and all that.

The world is great, and small. I've never read his books (that I can recall) and when Elizabeth Bear said "Mike Ford" was dead it was sad, in a disatant sort of way. I placed him, vaguely, in the pantheon of writers.

But then I saw Kathleen Cramer say it was, John M. Ford and I was, "awh.. shit." because I knew John M. Ford.

And not seeing him here, and not seeing people quote him, that's gonna suck. In that nagging way of thinking something ought have been.

Condolences to one and all, and esp. to those who knew him well, and have the greater loss.

#188 ::: Michael Mornard ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:31 PM:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHH!!!!

Mike was a good friend - just a few days ago we were exchanging Emails about starting to work on his model railroad -- I, too, am a modeler.

I have no words.

#189 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:35 PM:

I think jonquil found a really good word

#190 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:36 PM:

I'd never met him; as much as I've known him has been through his posts here. But I had recently thumbed through a copy of Faces of Fantasy (published by TOR), which allowed me to match a face to the words. I had hoped to meet him someday, just to say how much I appreciated his wit.

#191 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:40 PM:

His wit sharp,
His comments pointed.
Words that would reach to
The heart of the matter.
Joy, pain, hilarity,
Words, just right, always.
His ability to share his vision
Will be sorely missed.

#192 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:41 PM:

The Scholars of Night is the book of his I love the most, and I particularly love the scene where the two women refrain from klilling each other.

#193 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Sarah (and 'adamsj'), thank you.

Sometimes you just have to submerge yourself in the grief before you can move through it...

#194 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Damn. Just...damn.

Our sympathies and best wishes to those closest. Words can't do it.

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Now that I've gotten the initial thought out of my mind, and read my way back to myself...

This is a great wake. I am teary, and wistful, and clapping my hands with (mordant) glee at the recollections.

So, I guess I'll have to get some ale, and cross some ice, so I have something more to praise today.

Thanks to one and all, for making me more grief-ful, and less.

#196 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:51 PM:

"@#^%*$%#$%@&!!!"

#197 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 02:58 PM:

One more voice from those who, knowing Mike only from his words here in Making Light (plus a few of the books, but the posts gave us more of the scintillant living mind reacting and responding to stimuli) --knowing him only from his words, are yet truly grieved at the news of his loss.

I suspect that much of the clarity of his words, and his wisdom, were bought by his proximity to the refiner's fire by which he spent so many years.

My condolences to all his friends and family.

Harriet

#198 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:00 PM:

I've been torn now all day, knowing I don't have anything like the same right to grief as so many of you here do, and yet feeling this loss with such terrible acuteness that I hardly know what to do with myself. The world has been lessened, and the sadness of things made greater. And I feel very much as if I walked in halfway through the last act of a dazzling, funny, haunting, mystifying, and utterly beautiful play, concert, and vaudeville show all at once, full of all the things I love being perfectly performed, only to find the run's been cancelled forever.

In any case, I know I've been desperately following the links hoping that the words of people who knew him will make some sort of sense of it all for me; so on the chance that they will be of some small comfort to anyone, my own thoughts are here.

#199 ::: Linda Fox ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:05 PM:

I've known Mike for 30 years. I haven't seen him since the one and only MiniCon I got to. Always thought I'd see him again.

Damn. Damn DAMN.

#200 ::: Russell Borogove ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:09 PM:

I've always been a reader of science fiction, never a part of hardcore fandom. So in the past, the death of any given SF author has elicited from me little more than a brief "oh, that's too bad."

I never met John M. Ford, but I'm grieving. In The Final Reflection and the stories he wrote in the Car Wars game setting, he brought more seriousness, depth, and dignity to the table than many people would have thought the subject was worth, and at the same time did it with brilliantly inexplicable humor.

Just a few weeks ago I stumbled across his Mammoth Salad recipe which had me giggling for hours. A brilliant piece, whipped up and tossed into a thread for no other reason than to make people smile.

And now, no more.

#201 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:11 PM:

My deepest sympathies to Mike's loved ones for their loss.

#202 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Thanks, Russell. Mammoth Salad made me grin, and now I'm crying again. Pretty soon I'll start throwing things, and then maybe I'll laugh some more.

Thank you, everyone.

Damndamndamndamndamn....

#203 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:22 PM:

.

Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.

#204 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:27 PM:

Drat.

The Final Reflection was one of two ST books that made the final cut of 200 to ship across the Atlantic, when I was 23 and newly married. It's a book whose scenes replay at random times to me, for no reason at all, whose characters are like acquaintances with whom I once spent my time.

I came here and was astounded by the poet who could make the language dance where I can only make it grimace. He turned out verse on the most improbable subjects (I wept with laughter reading the one about the bird flu). When I realised that he was the same John M Ford, I was intimidated, but he never seemed to value his own work the way the rest of us did. Like beauty, genius is a title bestowed rather than claimed.

So the world narrows. Once I knew of two geniuses, then they coalesced into one. And now he's down to zero.

Drat.

#205 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Terrible news. It was fun to read him, here and elsewhere.

#206 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:29 PM:

I rather like the thought of Mike and David having that drink. Thank you for that, Jane.

We are all in agreement, then.

Let's all raise a glass.

(And Lizzy, me too, I didn't know about Charlie, and have fond memories from the '70s.)

#207 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:30 PM:

I am shocked and grieved to read this.

#208 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:33 PM:

My condolonces to all..
his writing gave me so much comfort and pleasure...

#209 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:58 PM:

I canít say that I had read anything else by him except for comments here, but he made an art form out of posting a comment. Seriously, how many people respond with comments in verse? And good verse at that?

I always relished what he had to say. He was a part of what makes this website so great.

What a great loss. My condolences to friends and family.

#210 ::: Anton P. Nym ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 03:59 PM:

I wait for it to all turn out to be a bad dream; and I remember that John M. Ford would never write anything so cliched.

I wish we'd had the expected score-and-one years more with his presence.

Ave atque vale, Mike.

-- Steve

#211 ::: Amy Thomson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:08 PM:

The world is a great deal duller without Mike's razor-sharp wit. What a huge loss.

Virtual Hugs to all in grief
Amy Thomson

#212 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:17 PM:

I'd been getting back to reading here, in a desultory way. And then Geri Sullivan called me about this, and it's the first place I came.

I didn't cry when I was told. I'm sitting here sobbing now, after reading what all of you have written.

The first time I met Mike, he handed me some sonnets that he'd written and I sat and read them, right beside the table where he was eating. I wanted to take the time to really savor them, and he kept interrupting that; rather as my father used to do. I got the strange impression that he was actually, in that moment, trying to impress me. THN was there, I remember. As I look back, I think it was something else (a game I play too) -- he was looking to see how much of it I got, to find out what levels we might get to play on. We never became close (guess I didn't pass the test!) but we did enjoy several interesting conversations with multiple levels through the years.

And I'll never get to tell him about the woman who came into The Other Change on Saturday, one of our bouncy intelligent regulars, who was burbling on about how much she loved The Last Hot Time, and how she didn't read media tie-ins but that the copy of How Much for Just the Planet was one of the funniest books she'd read in years, and what else has this guy done and I want it all now! I was going to drop an e-mail this week, and I figured I'd have time.

I'm sad I was wrong.

Hell, I'm just sad.

#213 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:23 PM:

I mostly knew him through his writing, although I met him once at a party, and his company was as fine and fascinating as his work had always suggested. If we are very lucky, he will step up and take a few shifts as watchman and muse for all of us who remain.

My heart goes out to those who grieve.

#214 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Damn.

For those who might want to contribute something, I remind you that Mike's CafePress store is still up and running.

#215 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:27 PM:

I'm very sorry to hear it. I can't say I knew Mike real well, but I've had many interactions with him over the years, since about 1989 or so, most recently when he was in NYC at your place. His knowledge of arcane TV and movie lore never ceased to amaze me, as did his talent for verse. He was certainly one of the most continually verbally imaginative people I've ever met. The world is deffintely a more boring place without him.

#216 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:47 PM:

I never met him, but I don't think I've read anything by him that I haven't enjoyed. He was one of the many good reasons for hanging around here. I always looked forward to reading another gem from him.

Someone else to miss, dammit.

#217 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:51 PM:

Oh bloody hell.

I didn't know him at all, but I've been basking in the warmth of his wit and charm for years. I will really miss his presence - he came across as a nice guy, as well as an insanely clever one.

#218 ::: darrell schweitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:52 PM:

A brilliant, witty fellow, whose death diminishes our lives. I remember his wit more than anything else. The best comeback man since Groucho Marx. His accomplishments in the novel and short story are obvious enough; he was also one of the best poets our field has ever produced. I would like to see someone do a memorial volume of his poetry. -- Darrell Schweitzer

#219 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 04:57 PM:

I'm sorry I never knew him beyond the occasional followup here. I don't expect I will ever fully appreciate what has been lost by his passing, and I'm sorry for that too.

I'd write something original for the occasion, but I'm afraid to try and I'm sure it would fall flat. I'm reminded of a song by the Pogues, but I don't know if it would be in poor taste to quote from it, so I won't. My sad condolences to all.

#220 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:08 PM:

I'm very glad for the dinner and party conversations I got to have with Mr. Ford at Wiscon a couple of years ago. I'm sad for myself, and much more so for everyone who knew him better than I was able to.

#221 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:17 PM:

Oh god, I am so sorry. PNH, thank you for giving me his collection. I never would have known his writing otherwise and it's wonderful. I share it with as many people I can. TNH, thank you for giving me the chance to meet him. I wish I had known it would be my only one.

And mostly, I think, I am just honored to have been parodied by him.

Thank you both. I am so sorry.

#222 ::: AzureLunatic ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:24 PM:

I had wanted to meet him. The world indeed is darker.

#223 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:24 PM:

My condolences to his family and friends.

I always looked forward to seeing his posts here, because I knew they would put a smile on my face, even when they also brought a tear to my eye.

The first book of his that I read was "The Last Hot Time". After that, I read "Web of Angels" -- and only much later realized they were written by the same man. I recently read "Princes of the Air," and again was surprised by that fact. I haven't yet read "How Much For Just The Planet," even though it had been recommended to me for years (I rarely pick up TV tie-ins, you see).
I'll have to do so now.

-Malthus

#224 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:34 PM:

I'm not going to read the rest until I get back here later. I just signed on and got the news from Natter. I'm devastated. I'll miss Mike's humor, words, ideas, but mostly, I'll miss Mike.

#225 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:37 PM:

I only knew him from here, but I'm still so sorry.

#227 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Patrick (@ 175)--yes, those two lines are both apropos, and both true.

News like this darkens the day, but it would darken the night too, and isn't quite as difficult to take by daylight.

#228 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I submitted the link to that Pygmy Mammoth recipe to bOING-bOING. Thanks to Russel for digging it up.

#229 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Teresa: He was was passionately into model building and theatre.

Did he ever try his hand at playwriting?

#230 ::: Katya Reimann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Not being an intimate, I hesitate to post here, but my experience of Mike was on a different side, which I've yet to see recognized in these posts.

As a true polymath, Mike lived many different lives in his years; one of them, some may be surprised to remember, was as a gifted mapmaker. When I was working on Cherry Wilder's last book (~2004), one of the few artifacts of her world was Mike's beautifully drawn map of the Lands of Hylor. This map was/is the antithesis of mass produced, with graceful original calligraphy as well as the lovely drawing, and bearing little relationship to the boilerplate maps that are mostly what gets produced today (not least because the calligraphy fonts are so temptingly easy to use). I was focusing on picking his brain about Cherry at the time-- my strongest memory of that conversation was his intellectual generosity.

I remember afterwards talking with an editor at a party--wow, yes, Mike used to draw great maps, but wow, well, the thought of him doing that instead of his writing, thank goodness he put that gig behind him. And I guess that editor was right.

Still--it's a lovely map, and now a lovely artifact of Mike.

My deepest condolences to the family of his friends.

#231 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:49 PM:

Gah. I'd only just figured out that the John M. Ford from here was the one who wrote one of my all-time favorite Star Trek novels... and I'd been working up my nerve to say so.

Hail, and farewell.

#232 ::: zorch frezberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 05:56 PM:

The most wondrous man I never met, a fellow rogue and scalawag was he.
We set a sail with P.T. Barnum our Northern Star, and our tale reached down under.
Of Kirk and Spock at Starbase Los Angeles, and slouch brim fedora hats affixed.
We sailed the Egress Sea together, and yet we never met.

Even Forry loved it so, and still it may be done...and Barnum shall still shine.
But the loss of Doctor Mike, whom I have never met, makes that shine less glowing.

I'm as old as he, and might have been taken sooner were it not for his words.
And with each piece I found of him, my interest grew more and more.
A friend, sweet Sethra, allowed us to never meet, sharing words on paper and electron.


My dearest friend and confidante, whom I have never met.
His passing is too early, and our loss is deeply felt by all.
The Barnum we swore, shall rise some day, and in its glory prevail.
And to his name, Doctor Mike, will this be dedicated on that day.
The writer, the jester, the philosopher and thinker...the man I never met.

-zf-

#233 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:12 PM:

I knew him from his books and from Paranoia, and when I first posted here I remember the sense of achievement I felt at sharing a comment board with him. I still know nothing I write will be as well-turned as anything he wrote. I'm really sorry.

But maybe the Muses need a tenth for something.

That's all I can think.

#234 ::: David Deitrick ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:16 PM:

My condolences. I worked with Mike on various gaming products for GDW and FASA years ago and found him to be that rare blend of intellect, courtesy and compassion.

He will be missed.

#235 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:24 PM:

#229: Did he ever try his hand at playwriting?

Michael, try "Erase/Record/Play" published in Starlight #1 and the "Heat of Fusion" collection.

Agh! Mentioning that reminds me that no one else could possibly have written it.

#236 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:33 PM:

This sucks.

I met and had conversations with Mike several times over the years, most notably when he and Elise stayed with us, but not as many as I would've liked. He was one of the most formidably intelligent and well-read people I ever met, but he wore it lightly. What I appreciated most about him was his dry sense of humour and sharp wit.

My condolences to those who knew him better, and to his loved ones. He will be missed.

#237 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Torie writes at #221: "And mostly, I think, I am just honored to have been parodied by him."

He flamed me for a silly typo here, and I felt the same way.

#238 ::: Matt Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:39 PM:

I only met him once, at a convention, but his books and poems number among the best I've read.

My most sincere condolences to all those who loved him.

#239 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:44 PM:

I only ever knew Mike through here, Neil's blog, and briefly over at the Well.

Still, I'll miss him greatly. I don't recall a single comment he ever posted that wasn't a delight, and I loved his fiction.

#240 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:47 PM:

231: Thena, I did that two months ago, and I'm so happy I did send him a mail (even though it was rambly and not at all well written and I can't even be sure he really read it). I have since also read The Last Hot Time, and I highly recommend it, and I was about to write him a rambly fan-mail about how much I liked that when today happened.

#241 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Most here in Minnesota will never know why the Northern Lights are dimmer now. I had hoped to maybe meet him one wintery day. To those who knew him best, my heartfelt sorrow. To those (like me) who will never get to know him better, a sense of opportunity lost...

RIP Mr. Ford...

#242 ::: Yves Meynard ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 06:58 PM:

I crossed paths with Mike a few times, at Readercon. I've read most of his novels and found him to be a hugely talented writer, surprising and always delightful to read. The world needed more of him. Thank you, Mike, for what you gave us.

#243 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:00 PM:

What the hell?!

...that's all that comes to mind to say. "What the hell?!" I have no eloquence. There's none left for any of us. He took it with him.

#244 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:21 PM:

Boing-Boing picked up the link to the Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth recipe.

I didn't realize it at the time, but this is the thread where dinosaur sodomy was first discussed.

* * *

I believe I will construct a John M. Ford Memorial Dinosaur MP3 player.

#245 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:28 PM:

another one who only knew him from here.

even here, i am mostly a lurker, but it always amazed me how he'd come in with with a pastiche or a poem so apropos, so perfect, so quick & so often. i really can't imagine what kind of person had that wit, knowledge & ear just knocking about in his head, coming out at a minute's notice.

i am sorry i never met him, but that was unlikely anyhow, considering that this blog is as fannish as i get. i am grateful i got to read him in this blog for as long as i did. & i remember just a few weeks ago, getting the squeeing privilege of something i said getting riffed on by him.

i haven't read any of his books. i sure do want to now. iguess that means there will be some new mike ford words for me left in the world. for a little while.

one last thing: those dates. god, he was so young.

#246 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:35 PM:

I was never lucky enough to know him, but had actually contemplated phoning him two weeks ago to thank him for his temperate words in the middle of the stupid Affair elsewhere on the web. What a loss.

D

#247 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:47 PM:

miriam @245: "i haven't read any of his books. i sure do want to now

I just placed everything my local library has of his on my requested list.

#248 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 07:57 PM:

"@$^*$%#$%!"

For about the third time today, I loaded up Making Light, saw "John M. Ford" on the recent comments list and for the briefest instant thought . . .

"Oh, good, he'll have something interesting and amusing to say about this."

"@$^*$%#$%!!"

"@$^*$%#$%!!!"

#249 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Back in the 1970's, Mike and I were the heralds for Indiana's two largest SCA groups, he at the Shire of Mynydd Seren (Mountain of Stars) in Bloomington/IU, I at the Barony of Rivenstar in West Lafayette/Purdue. I'd happily drive half the height of the state to attend events held by IU's SF club, of which he was the secretary, and always enjoyed visiting him at his apartment. He also ran role-playing games, and kept his moderator notes in Tsolanyi (M.A.R. Barker's invented language for the Empire of the Petal Throne); this alone impressed me greatly, as that's a damned difficult language to learn.

SCA heralds are expected to make puns -- though really they just cant -- and we both took it as our personal calling. We also shared a love of verse, tall tales with twists and turns, and utterly straight-faced dry humor. He was much better at all these than I was (Mike peering over his glasses could do an impeccable Dickensian clerk or stern schoolmaster), and I sometimes felt like a Salieri to his Mozart, so I treasured all the more those moments I could catch him speechless -- for their sheer scarcity value.

Mike was brilliant, intricate, likeable, quirky, sometimes light and sometimes brooding. His stories not only reflected these aspects of him, but paid his readers the delightful compliment of assuming they could keep up. So his getting published and making a career of it came as no surprise, just a continuing pleasure.

As the 1970's ended, we both moved to other states, and after that only occasionally crossed paths online... but I tried never to miss a book, or story, or poem of his. Now I'll miss all the ones he would have written, and him. Oh damn. Oh damn.

#250 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:18 PM:

Tying recent threads together, we have further evidence that maintaining Making Light has become a job beyond my modest technical skills. And we need the help of someone who can sling MySQL.

You know those dumb things you do when you're still staggering around after hearing the news? I did one of those this morning, removing Mike as a Making Light "author" in Movable Type.

I had no idea that doing this would cause his byline to vanish from every single one of his front-page posts. They all now say "Posted by" and then nothing. Recreating his name as an "author" and then rebuilding doesn't fix it.

This is obviously fixable by anyone who knows how to edit an SQL database, which is Making Light's back end, but that's not me. Would anyone be willing to help us with this? I will happily create an account on the system. What I don't have the spare brain for is a course in how to do it myself. But it seems entirely wrong for Mike's byline to go missing from his front-page posts around here.

#251 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:21 PM:

I must own up or confess
I came not to trespass
I only read this blogging site
Wishing to read a word or two from Mike

His genius overwhelmed the scale
His gallantry was always beyond the pale
He was my Lancelot, a true SF knight
Bestowing me with his knowledge of zeit

He was cruel and he was kind
He understood and yet he was blind
To my faults and my fancy
My affections were but ennui

And when I grew older still
He was but wisdom and goodwill
And friends we again became
Everything was just the same.

And now that he is gone and I am in tears
Regretting so much the intervening years
All the time with him I could have spent
What a sorry excuse, but a genuine lament

Ich weiŖ nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
DaŖ ich so traurig bin

#252 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Oh shit. I knew him only from his books and from here. I really wanted to meet him one day. I'm crying.

#253 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:29 PM:

Patrick, it's not just Mike's posts. The "View All By" function doesn't work on your post (ID), or mine, either. If I then overtype the URL's "makinglight" to "electrolite" I do get results, just not the right results. You did notice that the main site URL's "electrolite" turns into "makinglight" on the individual article URLs, right? I think this may be part of the problem. Good luck!

#254 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:29 PM:

That is just completely unfair.

We shall not look upon his like again - no, I don't believe that. I can't.

#255 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Damn. I've been morose all day, found out about it this morning when I popped into my LJ Friends space.

I was most familiar with him here, and I will surely miss his wit.

Yes, he was way too young. (He was younger than I am...yikes!)

Condolences all as well as warm wishes and hugs across the eways.

#256 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Katya Reimann @ #230: I remember being surprised and impressed when I learned that the person who'd done the map for the Wheel of Time books was *that* John M. Ford. So you're not the only one.

P.S.: I know that some people reflexively slag off the Wheel of Time books whenever they are mentioned. Please don't. It would be inappropriate here in any case, but especially so because he and Robert Jordan were extremely close (his blog post).

#257 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Glenn, I could be wrong, but I believe any further income from his CafePress store will belong to the next of kin Elise and crew are still trying to track down.

#258 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:39 PM:

Patrick : I'm guessing that the posts in question now don't list any author. (I could be wrong. But that would be a useful diagnostic.) As a last resort, it might be possible to just go in by hand and add the author back to each post.

#259 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:39 PM:

God, this sucks. How can there not be a Mike Ford any more? As you said, yes, we knew he was poor health, and we should have expected it, and maybe we did, but we didn't and it's wrong and it's horrid.

Yeah. That.

#260 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:45 PM:

And we need the help of someone who can sling MySQL.

I may be able to help you with this, if you still need help. I'll send an email with contact info.

#261 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Dittos to pericat. I'm an advanced amateur in MySQL at best, but if I can be useful I will. Sending email shortly.

#262 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Raven, the broken "view all by" function is a different problem. We'd love to get that fixed, too, but it's less immediately urgent.

Pericat, yes, we'd love to hear from you.

As for Robert Jordan, what Kate said. Robert Jordan and Harriet McDougal were fast friends and boon supporters of Mike for decades. They are heroes, period.

#263 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:56 PM:

Nicole, your post crossed with me. What I said to pericat.

#264 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:57 PM:

Thanks, Kate. I'll add that.

#265 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:08 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. You have mail.

#266 ::: Anna Waltz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:12 PM:

I sat across the supper table from him once. He was one of the most mentally awake people I've ever met. His "Ask Dr. Mike" shows made me laugh so hard. To this day I can't pass an Assembly of God church without asking myself what tools are required, and whether the instructions are in clear English!

(*pauses to pull some Kleenex from her pocket*)

Dear Mike, I hope to run into you again some day, perhaps at that ultimate sf convention!

#267 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:18 PM:

To this day I can't pass an Assembly of God church without asking myself what tools are required, and whether the instructions are in clear English!

Oh jeebus, I'm going to be thinking of that too, now! (Right up there with 'Huge Garage Sale': how much for the garage?)

#268 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:24 PM:

I'm going with Jane's theory: he's hanging out with David Stemple.

#269 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:34 PM:

Teresa, forgive me if this question is in any way out of line, but is there any hope of publishing Aspects anyway?

Because - well, hell, it's a John M. Ford book! I don't care if it's unfinished; I'd buy it in a hot NY second.

#270 ::: Stephanie Zvan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:43 PM:

I've only talked to Mike a few times at cons, but my reaction to the post this morning was the same as Jo Walton's: "Dammit! I'm not done yet."

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who will miss those eyebrows. They were almost as articulate as the man himself. As long as they were, they couldn't help communicating what he was thinking. The only time they were ever still was when he was about to say something devastating and didn't want to give it away. They made an excellent early warning signal, but I wouldn't have told him so for love or money.

Nope. This is going to be one of the ones that's impossible to comprehend. It's going to keep hurting every time the world tries to make me believe it.

My best to every one who was rich enough to understnd how much poorer they are today.

#271 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:46 PM:

Here is the answer to the question everyone is asking about Aspects. Listen carefully. Answer coming up.

Ready?

Ferdie! Bonzo! Do you have something you'd like to share with the class? I thought not. Well then.

Everyone listening?

Answer here:

We'll see.

#272 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:48 PM:

Add me to the list of people who knew him only from here and his books. I'm sad, and worried about those who really did know and love him. But mostly I'm bewildered. How can the Muses' need be more urgent than ours?

#273 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:54 PM:

j h woodyatt, 237: He flamed me for a silly typo here, and I felt the same way.

Me too. When a recent post got this reaction, I felt honored.

May he find eternal rest,
and let light perpetual shine upon him.

#274 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 09:56 PM:

I was surprised how saddened I am by the news. I had read some of his books, I had found his posts here, I had even worked up the courage to trouble him for his signature at this year's Boskone. But I can't say I knew the man.

And then I realized - Mike Ford had made me laugh out loud on what had been some dark nights for me. That's what friends do.

We didn't know each other, but, just by following his conversation, I came to think of the man as a friend. If I saw his name on "recent comments", I would take the time to catch up on the thread. And reading him would always brighten my day.

And now I'm sorry I never got to thank him.

#275 ::: Enid ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:09 PM:

My friendship with Mike dates back to the founding of Mynydd Seren (SCA group) in Bloomington. I remember someone with a wicked sense of humour. Yes, he was a polymath, he remembered everything he ever heard in a conversation and would use that information later, when it was useful. He had a particular trick, in a room full of people, of picking *one person* aiming a series of obscure and erudite jokes *just at them* and watching them completely disssolve while every one around them went "Huh?"
I rememeber encouraging him to crash the Writers convention at IU to meet Roger Zelazny (who had just read his first published short story in Analog and encouraged him). I remember reading his first short story in manuscript. I remember him coming to Ottawa for the World Fantasy Awards and winning for the Dragon Waiting, and eating breakfast with him the next day and his asking if anyone had Motrin.
I know he didn't expect to live as long as he did, and his presence and writing have been a vivid gift to so many.
Bright star, Ave atque Vale!
Enid (Jennifer Bulman)

#276 ::: Brian ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:22 PM:

Terribly sad news.

My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

#277 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:46 PM:

Oh, hell. I can't say I really knew him in person; saw him at MiniCon most years (I didn't make it this year) and wouldn't have missed Ask Dr. Mike for the world. Read some of his books. Always looked forward to seeing him here.

The world has another hole in it.

#278 ::: Merav ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:53 PM:

The thought has been in my head all day that Mike was the poet laureate of science fiction, and so I come to lay my wreath.

He will be much missed.

#279 ::: Allen Varney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 10:57 PM:

I'd like to see a small .PDF collection of the best of Mike Ford's Making Light/Electrolite posts and comments, presented in context by the moderators and interested friends.

#280 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:11 PM:

I couldn't believe it at first when I started scanning my Livejournal friends page today, and stumbled into Jo Walton's post. :-(

Like many others, I knew Mike Ford primarily as one of those who Made Light. He was funny, clever and wise, and his posts brightened my day. I know through mutual friends that he had been living on borrowed time for many years. I am grateful for the time with him we were given, and sorry that it has come to an end.

There's a large Mike-shaped hole in my world today, but how much larger it must be for those who knew him well. My condolences to his friends and family.

#281 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:16 PM:

Michael, try "Erase/Record/Play" published in Starlight #1 and the "Heat of Fusion" collection.

Thanks, Lenny.

I even have Starlight #1 someplace but I can't find it at the moment. And now that you mention it, I do have a vague recollection of there being a play in there, but that was so many read books ago...

#282 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:27 PM:

It's evening in California -- my work day's done, and I'm sitting with a Mirror Pond Pale Ale (passable, but not recommended, I've had much better ales). A toast for Mike Ford -- Godspeed! And another for Charlie Grant: to good times and absent friends!

#283 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:32 PM:

It's not really a play. It contains a play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Also torture, mind control, and the impossibility of sorting out victims from perpetrators.

It is one of the most disquieting works of science fiction I have ever read.

It was rejected by most of the major SF markets before I bought it.

It was pretty much precisely ten years ahead of its time.

#284 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:33 PM:

Lizzy, I'm in Brooklyn with a small glass of rye. Here's back atcha.

#285 ::: Jack Wickwire ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:45 PM:

By this time my memories of Minnesota have blurred & fused like years of snapshots overflowing a refrigerator door. But during my last visit to the Twin Cities I spent an afternoon talking with Mike about anything, everything.

It's better I heard the news after the sun had set. Tomorrow it will be back a little dimmer, a little colder and I can walk and think about that wise and funny man.

Peace to you, Mike

#286 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 11:54 PM:

... and I'm raising a glass of scotch up here in the not-so-frozen north.

#287 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:08 AM:

When I was younger Mike Ford's fiction never really clicked with me.

I think there were two reasons for this. First, that his utter mastery of language was too subtle for me to see at the time. Second, that his themes frustrated my expectations: I was used to reading about people solving problems, while he was writing about people learning to live with impossible situations.

Then a few years ago I read (technically re-read, in practice read) The Dragon Waiting and it blew me away -- so much so that I was provoked to make a horrible gaffe on RASFF. And I read the two recent story collections and saw that the stories that had once not engaged me were in fact gems.

And of course I appreciated the casual brilliance he put on display here.

I met him in person only thrice, at the Minicons I went to. He seemed as brilliant in person as online. My heart goes out to those who were fortunate enough to be closer to him.

#288 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:15 AM:

I have the people memory from hell. Mike Ford was one of the very very few people who the first introduction was the only one, because it stuck. There was the scintillating sparkly shininess all over the surface, and yet there were depths, too.

It took a week at a DARPA Strategic Space Symposium hearing technology "extrapolation on log paper" (Jeff Hecht's phrase for material analogous to what was at the symposium)before I was able to read The Dragon Waiting : it was so very dense, and so much was going on in it, and every time prior that I had tried to read it I kept getting defeated by by its density and the distraction of trying to figure out what was historical, what was ahistorical, and what was subject to interpretation either way, and not be distracted by the equivalent of landmines going off all over the sidelines. A week of extrapolation on log paper years in the future, however, left me with "I don't want to think about contemporary, much less future, technology. I've had enough science fiction and can't deal with Industrial Revolution and beyond tech-anything! And I dove into The Dragon Waiting for relief and was finally able to read it through, with the modern world put at bay and me needing to put it at bay for that nonce, and finally able to muster the focus necessary to read it.

There was the World Fantasy Convention when at near the last minute I turned into one of performers of a musical playlet the words to which had been written by Mike, e.g. "That's the sound of the dwarves workin' in the gold mine..."

With regards to his mapmaking and calligraphy, I remember him describing how if there weren't calligraphic pens about, to trim a fiber-tipped pen's fiber tip into a chisel point pin to use instead.

In a literary field full of characters, he was one of the quieter sorts generally, and not someone who went out in shameless self promotion. It was a surprise to so very many people that the fellow who could seem so quiet except for the sudden bursts of appalling pun or the sudden repartee was the person who wrote those Star Trek novels, or The Dragon Waiting, etc.

The same person is a different person to different people. The Mike Ford I was acquainted with wasn't exactly the same person that everyone else knew, but again, no one (or almost no one is the same person to everyone else. Someone suych as Mike Ford was with his his vast range of interests and knowledge, there so were so many different people in there--the prose writer, the poet, the mapmaker, the gamer, the musician, the playwright, the librettist, the speaker of the line, "You kill it, you eat it," to Jerry Pournelle who apparently had been waving a toy futuristic gun around saying "Zap, you're sterile!" as a Chicon; the convention-goer, the fellow who almost fell out of his seat the Minicon I ordered a boilermaket... some of those Mike Fords I knew, some I didn't. Other people knew him much better than I. He was shiny, he glittered--not to everyone, apparently, but the hundreds of messages here are proof that he did indeed shine brightly, very brightly, to many, and now that light's gone from here, leaving behind the light of people's memories, and the glow of his surviving works.

#289 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:18 AM:

I'm drinking oatmeal stout, and celebrating a birthday.

If he liked whisk(e)y, I have a bottle or two I can tap a bit of.

#290 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:25 AM:

Paula, that was great. Thank you.

#291 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:27 AM:

I never knew the man.
I wouldn't have known him if I'd bumped into him on the street.
But I read how he touched the lives of others
And all of a sudden I'm grieving.

Grieving because I'll never be able to share in this
Grieving because I never had the chance
Grieving because the nearest I'll get is these memories.

He sounds like such a wonderful person
I'm sorry I never met him.

May his gods welcome him with open arms
May his memory be forever blessed
May his spirit find what it seeks.

#292 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:28 AM:

Damn.

I'm sorry.

And upset.

I knew him way too little.

#293 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:51 AM:

This is just awful.

John M. Ford has been one of my favorite writers probably since I read The Final Reflection in what, 1984? Certainly since I bought a copy of The Dragon Waiting in 1988. I was delighted to find him posting on Usenet, on the Pyramid newsgroups, and here, for reasons obvious to everyone. Everything he wrote was worth reading.

I deeply regret not speaking to him at the 2004 Worldcon, which turned out to be my only chance. I did get to see "Ask Dr. Mike," which was as Teresa describes.

It was a privilege just to be in the same online locale as him, and one I miss terribly. And if I, who did not know him, miss him that much, I can't imagine how all of you who were his friends feel. You have my deepest sympathy, thin gruel that it is.

#294 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:59 AM:

And I agree with Allen Varney and Darrell Schweitzer and anyone else proposing collections of his poetry, Making Light posts, or what have you (many of his Pyramid posts would be good to see again, although I know he expressed negative interest in seeing a collection of them). Reading his old posts again is a poor substitute for having new ones, but...

#295 ::: Steve Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:05 AM:

I think I had less than 24 hours actually *with* him, but he was one of the people I liked most in all the world. He would not want us to be unhappy, but he'd understand. He was good at understanding. So I'm going to have my cry, and I'm going to get over it and go on, and at least we got to know him. You who didn't are missing some pain now, but we who did have the better part of the bargain nevertheless.

Ave, Mike!

Permalink to my inadequate appreciation on the Daily Illuminator here.

#296 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:15 AM:

Damnit. Damnit. Damnit and another "I wasn't done yet." from this corner. But I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't know quite how it happened, but the last time I saw him (and I only met him a handful of times), I was lucky enough to get Mike all to myself, for a walk along Nicolet Mall at night, and I remember chatting of Shakespeare and Sabatini by starlight with him. Damnit, I hope they appreciate him, wherever he is.

Weep not at the end of day, the morning's where it's leading
I can't make the verses knit, the loom is out of tune
Put the words and notes away, my eyes are red with reading
Shut the heart against the spirit falling from the moon.

--Aspects

#297 ::: Scott Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:37 AM:

I rarely ever come out to play here, so to speak; I don't have much to offer, and I am content to lurk.

I never met John M. Ford, and (though I've read "How Much For Just The Planet?," and gotten a lot of good laughs from it) knew him best from his posts here. There were always worth tracking down and reading. The world was always just that little bit better with him in it.

I saw the news over at the Whatever, and when I saw "Mike Ford," being terminally naive, I thought, oh, it can't be that John M. Ford, it's a different Ford. Naive, and stupid, and I wish those qualities could win the day. Not that anyone else should die, but that he should still be here.

And even when I came here, and saw that it was, indeed, "that" John M. Ford, it didn't really hit me. Until I read through this thread... which is what finally got me crying.

I'm so sorry for all of you who knew him well. I only knew words on a page and words on a screen, and I still feel as if I've lost a friend.

Alas, and alack.

#298 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:23 AM:

I too knew him only from his words, but such words! Nor do I claim anything more than admiration of what he wrote here and the memory of many relieved laughs as he cut through fuzz or fury with phrases of economic perfection. He was funny, wise, and kind, as are the best humans.

#299 ::: Nenya Kanadka ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:24 AM:

Never met him, but knew that when his name showed up on Making Light comment threads it was almost always going to be something worth reading--he was someone whose name I was starting to look for on here. Rest in peace.

#300 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:28 AM:

two or three years ago I purchased the Dragon Waiting, and I can't remember the impetus--it was before I'd begun to read Making Light and made the connection that he was one of the illuminators. His was an incandescent talent and he gave freely of it. Though I did not know him personally I have been in tears twice during this virtual wake.

My deepest sympathies to his loved ones and those who loved him.

#301 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:37 AM:

Oh, bad words.

So very sorry. My heart to all who knew him well.

#302 ::: Kathryn away from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 04:05 AM:

I am sorry for your loss.

Like several others, I only knew Mike Ford through his writings here. To find out that he was as amazing in person as in paper- there are too few people like that.

People whose throwaway lines tie two previously unconnectable concepts together. People who play ideas like a good jazz player riffs on themes. People who make you glad you studied through some philosophy class 20 years ago just so you could understand one point in their essay today. Too few people can do that.

People who make laughter, who build complex structured funny- giant mechanical elephants of laughter. Mammoth salads of laughter. There are just too few people who do that.

I didn't know Mike Ford, but what you (who knew him) write reminds me of rare people I knew- people who are lens and light and funhouse mirror and obsidian edge all at once. They're a person made of glass- everything is sharper for seeing their views on the world. (And, like glass, they're too often brittle in ways we didn't know until after.)

They're the people who you might once have thought could only exist in books, and then you meet one. Because in a book they'd be larger-than-life, meeting them in the world they make life larger. Too few people make that.

I am sorry for your loss.

#303 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 04:08 AM:

Aw. Hell. I never met him, but whenever I ran across something brilliant and beautiful in a thread here, it was him one time out of two. That's a lot of brilliant and beautiful.

I don't believe things just go nowhere. So I believe there's a very, very bright mind somewhere in the world, where it wasn't before. The crying shame is nobody knows where that is.

#304 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 04:45 AM:

I'm sorry. My thoughts are with you all.

A sad loss.

#305 ::: Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 05:13 AM:

Damnation.

I never met him, but the sun will rise a little paler come tomorrow.

#306 ::: Heather Wood ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 06:28 AM:

So Mike's gone to the Big Party. A couple of pictures (1990) Mike and 'roo, Mike and koala.

Great mind. Good friend. Shall miss.

#307 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 06:40 AM:

miriam beetle #245: Thank you for putting into better words everything I was thinking.

#308 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 07:42 AM:

I am so sorry to read this and my heart, love and thoughts go to his friends, family and loved ones. I've so enjoyed his posts here, his writing and was so touched by his willingness to take the time to email me with answers to my silly questions about diabetes related ephemera.

I didn't really know him other than through this virtual community and his work, but will miss him very much.

#309 ::: MLR ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:27 AM:

I knew him only from his writings here. I had to read this headline several times, before it made sense. It just seems unreal.

His posts were the kind you didn't skim, because you knew he would say something interesting. He must have been wonderful to know. My sincere condolences to his loved ones and friends.

#310 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:29 AM:

I spend last evening rereading _How Much for Just the Planet?_ and falling off my chair laughing in tribute. Hope he's having an ale at the Bogie and Birdie...

and a chapbook of choice posts and poetry from Making Light would be delightful if feasible.

#311 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:35 AM:

What David Goldfarb said rings so true. I think Mike wrote about people living with impossible situations because that is what he did. It wasnít that he didnít solve problems but he knew that some problems cannot be solved. Mikeís command of the language was daunting for me at 18. I remember him standing over me as I read his first published story. (I hate when people stand over me even now, which is ironic as I am a teacher.) He was both seeking approval and insuring that I understood what he had written. I started crying at the end of the story and that upset him. (He was very sensitive.) To me that meant he wrote a wonderful story, but it was disturbing to me because I was saddened that he didnít believe in an afterlife. Now I am honored that he asked me to read his work and that he cared what I had to say about it. When I was young I didnít appreciate what a great thing that was.

I said that he was always helpful in an earlier post, but I have two examples to illustrate my point. At my wedding to Don, Mike was the best man. He stayed up long into the night helping my mother make all the food, especially the Swedish meatballs. My mom remembers them laughing late in the night, forming meatballs. He could have slept, but instead he helped. And then a few years ago when I went up to Minneapolis to visit Mike and Elise I remember him helping a disabled person get a seat on the bus.

Paula Lieberman said that ďThe same person is a different person to different people.Ē Iíve met a more than a few people who didnít like Mike. I personally thought they were crazy. But then I think they just didnít ďgetĒ him. I fell in love with him the minute I met him and have loved him ever since. Heís on my list of lifelong friends. Itís not a very long list and even though I rarely saw him, Iím mourning his loss. I agree with those who have said they know him from his books. That has always been a wonderful thing about Mike. I could read John M. Ford and be with him any time I wanted. And the most wonderful thing is that even though I canít call him, I can still pick up his books and he lives on. He made his own afterlife.

#312 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:40 AM:

Another person who only knew him through his writings, here, on usenet, the Pyramid newsgroups, and (too few of) his books, but who will miss his unique voice.

My world is lessened.

#313 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:03 AM:

This is sad and shocking news. My deepest sympathies to family and friends.

#314 ::: rebekah ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:05 AM:

my condolences. your loss is our loss.

#315 ::: Electric Landlady ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:38 AM:

I'm so sorry. I only really knew him from his posts here, and I'm deeply saddened -- I can only imagine how his friends and family must feel. My thoughts are with everyone who knew him.

#316 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:43 AM:

I'm so sorry.

#317 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Thanks to the person who linked to his last post, made at September 23, 2006, 12:14 AM

He was so funny.

Condolences to all his friends and loved ones.

#318 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Over the years, and many moves, my science fiction collection has dwindled - part from wear, part from loss, part from simply growing beyond some of it.

But _How Much For Just The Planet_ was always there and still is, and will be.

#319 ::: Mary Anne Mohanraj ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Elise, sweetheart, I'm so sorry. I don't want to pester you with e-mail right now, but I imagine you'll read through this thread at some point, so please know my thoughts are with you. My condolences to the rest of his family and friends as well.

I didn't know Ford personally at all -- I don't think we ever met. But I've admired and enjoyed his writing for many years. I'm glad Fred Bush and I got the chance to interview Ford for Strange Horizons a few years back. Coincidentally, I just re-read The Final Reflection a few weeks ago. It's still as good as I remember.

Ford clearly touched a tremendous number of lives, both in his person and in his writing. These accountings remind me of a bit from a Star Trek novel -- not one of his, but I think he would have approved the sentiment. It's in reference to a young pilot who has just died:

"He was all fire, that one; they burn bright, and burn out. He knew what he did, and he did well. Leave him his brightness."

-- Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, The Romulan Way

Every time I encountered Ford's work, I was similarly impressed and intimidated. Often I wasn't sure I was smart enough to follow exactly what he was doing; sometimes I wondered why I bothered trying to write at all, given that I'd never have his casual brilliance. Which, of course, is obviously not the way he would have wanted me to think. I suspect the best I can do to honor his memory is put aside my anxieties and try to write something good, and honest, and true.

So, saddened, back to work.

#320 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:21 AM:

I keep looking at those dates in the header, and Edna St. Vincent Millay has haunted me since I read the news. Maybe if I quote her, she'll go away:

"My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light."

I think Mike was more of a Roman candle rather than a wax one...

#321 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:36 AM:

No. Oh no.

A note from John M. Ford (see Dangling engineer, June 01, 2003) was my very introduction to this place, which has kept my hope in humanity alive through some hard times.
Even only knowing his online persona, I can repeat what others have said in so many ways: he was one of those who Made Light, who make life larger, and our world is darker and smaller without the hope of his continuing contribution. So much more for those closer to him. My thoughts & wishes go out to you.

For what he did, and left behind, I am grateful & very glad.

#322 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Mez, I now have tears of grief and laughter flowing simultaneously. If that's even possible.

Maybe they needed a new muse for blogs? Because I think he'd be incredibly good at it. Or as the muse of improvisational something-or-other.

#323 ::: OM ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Boy, was this the type of news you don't ever want to wake up and find out or what? In any case, I share everyone's grief and loss here, but am comforted in the fact that Mike's works had a positive effect on all of us. In my case, one particular work influenced and directed one major aspect of my life for exactly one decade - my BBS.

I met Mike once about 15 years ago, when my Klingon Empire BBS in Austin, TX - yeah, *that* Klingon Empire - was at its peak. We talked briefly about the BBS and how I'd adapted the themes to fit his version of the Klingons - which I'd made clear were IMO superior to those Paranoidmount had deliberately designed to negate his so as to avoid having to pay any royalties, etc - and about his concepts in general. That was when he hinted that another Klingon novel was in the works, but he promised that it wouldn't be like anything anyone was expecting. That novel turned out to be "How Much For Just The Planet?"

Had BBSing not been on its downward swing at that time, in hindsight I could see myself tweaking KE to a more comedy-musical format. Alas, that was not to be, as on 11/1/96, ten years to the day that KE went online, I retired from BBSing after having seen the Internet writing on the Web. Ironically, a few months ago I started looking into doing a retro telnet BBS on one of my servers just for grins, and yes, it would have been KE revived in its former glory. Especially since I *think* I've got some old backups with the actual data files from those last two years stashed somewhere! But time hasn't permitted that yet, but it did allow for what's possibly the 121st re-read of The Final Reflection, which I completed last night. As I said to Steve Jackson in e-mail this morning, call it cosmic irony or cosmic coincedence, but the loss is there.

Mike will be missed, and the Naked Stars will remember his deeds!

#324 ::: Hilary Moon Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:57 AM:

My tribute: John M. Ford, Community Treasure.

#325 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:23 PM:

Reading the comments here from people who knew him, I can see that he wasn't just different things to different people -- he lived many lives to the fullest extent possible, in the space of too few years. A roman candle, and more: an entire glorious fireworks display. I hope those simultaneous lives brought more joy than pain to him, for he certainly brought joy to the rest of us.

#326 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 12:33 PM:

We are all a little bit lonelier in a world gone a little bit colder...

#327 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:00 PM:

As someone said upthread
"@$^*$%#$%!!!"
"@$^*$%#$%!!!"

I only knew Mike from his writings, conventions, and here. But "Ask Dr Mike" i/s/ was the jewel of Minicon as the Tiptree Auction is the jewel of Wiscon.

I can't believe that wit (and those eyebrows) are gone.

#328 ::: Kurt Siegel ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Mike and I are/were the same age. But he was both so much older, and so much younger than I.

Two shining moments with Mike stand out - the first, while in a car with Mike and Joel Rosenberg (both of whom make me feel slow and tongue-tied) where each started giving contradictory directions to the driver. As they discussed, and amended, and finally began to reconcile each set of directions into a single, cohesive set, there was a moment of silence. I interjected "And the flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true".

After the laughter died down, Mike turned to me, and said, "I really wish I'd said that."

I felt as if I'd just been accepted into the family.

The second instance was the last time I saw Mike. Boskone, 2006.

We'd bumped into each other in the dealer's room, adn were talking. About everything. About nothing. Picking up on conversations from Noreascon 4. Discussing the state of politics, television, cartoons, comic book - we might have talked about music, sex, and jewlry too - I don't know. It was just a rolling, wonderful, random conversation of the type that is important to have - not for the content, but for the having. We would probably have just kept talking on and on, except that Elise reminded Mike that they were supposed to be somewhere 5 minutes ago. Even then, our parting wasn't abrupt, merely an elipsis.

I guess what I'm remembering is that whenever I talked to Mike, he focused on me, and made me feel like the most important person in his universe at that time. It is a quality I can only hope to emulate, and one I can never forget.

Mike, I miss you. I'm glad I'll always carry a part of you with me.

#329 ::: Karl Hiesterman ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:23 PM:

It's been a long time since I last communicated with Mike, but working with him and his material for FASA was a highlight of my career. I'll miss his wit and charm, all of it.

But my one consolation is that, unlike so many people, Mike has left a real legacy: His work. We can always bring a little bit of John M. Ford back to life by reading his works, and snorting, or crying, or laughing...

#330 ::: MD≤ ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Il n'y a pas de vers pour l'inconnu,
Juste la chute et le silence,
Un recadrage,
Un peu moins de lumiŤre, moins de prťsence,
La meilleure part laissťe ŗ l'extťrieur
Sans un regard.

Il n'y a pas de sens au mystťrieux,
Mais la copie d'une copie
Incomparable
Qui ne comprend pas ce qu'elle prend,
Dans le reflet qu'elle laisse
Infiniment absent.

My thoughts to the people that knew and love him, for what it's worth. The man had been a ray of sunshine to many of my cloudy lurking days.

There should be a law against some people dying.

(And now I can just picture a story about an aristocracy of artists whose very few select members can extend their lifetime indefinitely as long as some fans are willing to abandon their lifeforce to them, and about that tiny minotiry in them who's not allowed to die anymore for statutory reasons... all that with dinosaurs and sodomy and all the stuff.)

#331 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:38 PM:

MD2: did you write that? It's gorgeous.

#332 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:43 PM:

I've called around to all of the local used book stores. After work today I'm going to buy every John M. Ford book I can lay hands on, then give them away to the crowd before the Neil Gaiman reading in D.C. this Friday.

It's the least lame thing I've come up with so far in the way of honoring Mike's memory.

Unless removing all of Mike's books "from the wild" and diverting them to a sub-population the exact wrong thing to do. I hope not.

#333 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Ten years ago, almost, the Boskone people asked me to do something for the program book for Mike's GoH appearance. The text is here, for those who might like to have a look. It's pretty much all I can say right now.

#334 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Sad to hear. His 'Final Reflection' was one of my favorite Trek books.

#335 ::: MD≤ ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:07 PM:

@TexAnne: well, yes, I did. I just thought I owed the man - and all the people mourning him - at least a little something, even if not much, for all that had been given.

Too bad I didn't find/make an occasion do to that when he was still around.

Glad you liked it.

#336 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 02:09 PM:

I'm so sorry to hear this. My sympathies to all of you who knew him and loved him. I only knew him from his writings here, but he stood out here, and his was one of the names I scanned for when I didn't have time to read every comment in a long thread.

#337 ::: Marcus Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Since some of my SF friends aren't familiar with John M. Ford's work in gaming, or vice versa, I'm posting links to some comments from both communities, in no particular order.

Diane Duane
Kenneth Hite
Matthew Pook
Steve Jackson
John Kovalik
Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman again
Roz Kaveney
Peter Morwood

There's also been a lot on gaming industry lists which I can't repost here, in SF and gaming newsgroups, etc. He'll be greatly missed.

#338 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 03:27 PM:

I'm terribly sorry to hear.

I barely knew him at all, and yet I will still miss him.

My condolences.

#339 ::: Kara Dalkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 03:37 PM:

I heard the news today, oh boy...(to quote another passed-on genius).

It's been a long time since I'd spoken to Mike though I knew him well in my Minneapolis days. He was a...complex person, as the best characters are. Many layers, unexpected motivations. And his end was both surprising and inevitable, as the best endings are.

I'm glad to see, in the words of other people responding to the news, that his works large and small (which we fellow writers sometimes despaired were too intelligent to be "accessible") touched many nonetheless.

#340 ::: Jim Young ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 03:40 PM:

I got to hang out with Mike quite a bit during last year's Minicon, and we spent a great deal of that time talking about China, and "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms," and how that related to Cordwainer Smith, and then, inevitably, we turned to U.S. politics. For the last several days I've been thinking that I had to get hold of Mike and talk to him again because I've been thinking seriously about moving back home to Minneapolis. I guess that was a presentiment.

All I can think of to add to that is to say that I'm grateful for having had him with us as long as we did.

#341 ::: Jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 03:58 PM:

I was sad to hear about Mike. We hadn't met, but I would have liked to. He seems to have passed along great contributions to the meme pool! In the absence of a god, we need more people like Mike.

#342 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 04:29 PM:

My condoleances to everybody who knew and loved him.

I first heard of him on rec.arts.sf.written, where discussions about How Much for Just the Planet occurred frequently and he became one of those authors you "keep an eye out for" when visiting the sf bookstores, but it was here that I got to know exactly why so many interesting people not just liked his books, but liked him. His name was one you not only instantly recognised on threads, but actively looked out for because whatever he had to say, on any subject, would be interesting or funny or both.

I will miss doing that (and couldn't stop myself from doing so in this thread). I can only imagine what his loss is like for the people who truly knew and loved him.

#343 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 04:40 PM:

I only knew his writing from here, I hadn't had a chance to read any of his books, and hadn't even made the connection to The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues (a real favourite) until yesterday. But I'm sad for all of you who did know him well.

His post during Katrina (In This Hour) was - necessary, at that moment. I really appreciated it.

I'm sorry & sad for him and all of his friends.

#344 ::: Beth Hansen-Buth ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 05:13 PM:

A terrible gaping hole is left where he was. My contact with Mr. Ford was extremely brief, but memorable. His ability to amaze and entertain a roomful of people or a few sitting around a table was a treasure. The wit and wisdom he scattered with his words as often as not fell on fertile ground, and stories sprung up to life behind him.

I'm so sorry, and my heart goes out to all who held him dear.

#345 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Damn.

#346 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 05:54 PM:

What Anarch said.

#347 ::: Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Marcus Rowlands has published a number of links to comments on Mike's death at here

When we were talking Marcus reminded me that Mike was as beloved in the gaming community as in other bits of the sf and fantasy world - some of these links reflect that.

#348 ::: Ellen Seebacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 06:10 PM:

His work had such amazing breadth — from the hilarity of How Much for Just the Planet? to the almost unbearable clarity of 110 Stories. When I discovered Making Light and his comments here, I was unsurprised to find both the hilarity and the clarity in evidence. His poetic gems were reason enough to browse each new thread.

While I never met or corresponded with him, I am sad to lose his voice. I am truly sad for the people who knew him — but I'm glad that you did.


#349 ::: Sarah Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 06:40 PM:

I was very sad to hear the news.

I knew Mike Ford well twenty years ago during his East Coast period, after Indiana and before Minneapolis. For personal reasons I saw more of the negative side of his personality than most people here, but in the end I still loved his work, wished him well, and hoped that heíd be happy and productive.

Iíve been trying to think of a good anecdote to share, but everything that has bubbled up to consciousness so far is too personal, too painful, or both. What does come to mind, though, is an image that Iíve been seeing very clearly since yesterday afternoon: Mike sitting on a train, looking out the window with that little smile on his face, off on a new adventure.

SoÖ Bon voyage, Mike. Iím glad that you were able to make your departure quickly and easily, without prolonged unpleasantness. Have a good trip to the Undiscovered Country. All of us back here, in our various ways, will miss you greatly.

#350 ::: Booklegger451 ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 07:24 PM:

John Mike Ford
May you live on
In your words
And in those who have read your words
And in those who shall yet read them
And in the words of those you've inspired
And in those who read them
ad infinitum
so long as there are words
and men.

#351 ::: David Jaques-Watson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 07:48 PM:

Dear Folks -

First heard about this yesterday on the Traveller Mailing List, in digest #415:
>>John M. Ford passed away last night.
>
>Steve Jackson told me earlier today. I have no words right now. Maybe later.
>
>LKW

Maybe some of his own?

"When one of us dies - well, to each his own field,
A body on shipboard must earn cargo prices.
So they go to vacuum, are launched on their way,
And we go to landing-grounds, soil spaded over,
Some till and some sow. What else is there to say?
So that's what they mean, "how can you bear the quiet."

The crew's on the field. We'll look each other over,
We'll argue the prices, find hard things to say,
They'll go on their way. We'll go back to the quiet."

- John M. Ford, excerpt from "Sestina: Midnight Stations", GURPS Traveller: Starports by John M. Ford with James Maliszewski, SJ Games, c.2000.


John wrote the first Amber Zone I ever played in, "Aces and Eights", and was the author of some of the most off-beat and fun! fun! FUN! Amber Zones ever written:

JTAS Issue No. 10 Geria Transfer
JTAS Issue No. 14 Aces & Eights
JTAS Issue No. 15 Chill
JTAS Issue No. 16 Last Flight of the Themis
JTAS Issue No. 18 Ref's Note: Jack of all Trades
JTAS Issue No. 19 Skyport Authority
JTAS Issue No. 23 Roadshow

plus the odd tech article like:

JTAS Issue No. 12 The Ship's Locker: GAATV


I remember for years thinking, "wouldn't it be great to expand John's starport article into a book?". Then when I found out who was writing GURPS Traveller: Starports, I quietly put away my scribbled notes and instead awaited the work of the master. And was not disappointed.

"Because it's tough to save the universe on an empty stomach."
- John M. Ford, GT: Starports, p4.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
David "Hyphen" Jaques-Watson ..at.. Beowulf Down (Tavonni/Vilis/SM 1520)
http://users.bigpond.net.au/beowulfdown davidjw@bigpond.net.au
"I file things in historical order, with a hashing algorithm of gravity"

#352 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Mike always had an ear cocked for the peals of the horns of Elfland, the wild hunt sent to take him home.

I got to meet Mike a few times over the years, talk projects with him. The timing, or his health, or my schedule never quite let them come to fruition.

An exhortation he gave to me, and which I've given to writers under my tutelage boils down to "We're all living on borrowed time. The trick is to come up with works of sufficient interest to pay off the debt."

You can probably picture Mike saying that.

I suspect his last dialogue wasn't bargaining with the ferryman. It was Mike trying to charm the Muses into letting him stay for one more story, for one more chance to sit there and smile at Elise for all the reasons in the world, none of which need be stated.

Mike was only lent to us by the Ladies of Parnassus. All of those writings and witticisms and that quiet, understated charm were the result of the Muses coming down from the mountain to take him home, and him saying, "Ah, but I have one more story to tell...", and entertaining them until dawn, where as shy creatures of myth, they had to leave without him.

We got 30 years of Mike dazzling everyone within earshot and the range of literacy, and that time was all borrowed by his own admission. Elise gave him several reasons to live, and by doing so, kept him around for a longer span of time than we'd've overwise seen...and for that, Elise, every blessed one of us is in your debt.

I'm sure, in spite of the fawning company of the Muses of Parnassus, he's looking for the one with her head tilted, trying to read the words on everyone's lips, her hair all fey and silver, her hands twisting bits of metal, wondering why he's got all these lyrical ideas to share, and no Elise to share them with.

-- Ken Burnside
Ad Astra Games
design@adastragames.com

#353 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:11 PM:

My first exposure to his writing was, appropriately enough given the reminders of his gaming writing, Alkahest: The Deathtoll Solution from Autoduel Quarterly.

The driver's door gullwinged open and a man leaned out. He was dressed like he'd found Georgie Patton's spare footlocker, and around the leather and whipcord he wore steel rods and fluidic actuators. An exoskeleton. Somewhere, Jack Kirby was smiling.
My first exposure to him in person was at the Boskone 24 "Meet the Pros" event; I recognized the name on his badge as the author of that story, and had the chance to tell him in person that I'd liked it very much.

#354 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 09:44 PM:

He speaks no more, and yet shall speak for ever,
The voice is silent, yet it shall be heard.
The shears have closed, and yet they cannot sever
From many, one. His words become the Word.
They shall be his, yet ours, because he gave them.
Because he gave them, they are ours to give.
Because we give them, we shall surely save them,
To keep them for ourselves. And he shall live.

#355 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:06 PM:

So sorry to see this. Never met him, loved his books ... my words are so inadequate. I reviewed The Dragon Waiting once for the Richard III Society newsletter, basically saying what's true: it's the best novel about the real Richard III there is, even though it's in a completely impossible alternate universe with vampires. And even my husband, no Trekkie, loved How Much for Just the Planet? No more from him ... such a shame.

#356 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 10:36 PM:

I knew him primarily from Making Light, and what to me was even more exceptional than his wit was his generosity in sharing it with us. We are a poorer community for having lost him.

My condolences to his family and friends.

#357 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Last year I bought, at a Goodwill store, a copy of "STAR TREK III" . . . not a novelization, but a tie-in boardgame. Three games in one, in fact, designed by Greg Costikyan, Doug Kaufman, and John M. Ford.

The set was missing one of the rules books. I had email addresses for both Greg and Mike, but just happened to ask the latter first. Hole in one; he still had a copy of the game. He photocopied it and sent it Priority; I sent a check.

I bring this up because I'd like, if anyone arranges such a thing, to donate the now-complete game to any fundraising auction that might arise. (For, say, a Clarion scholarship or some-such.)

#358 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:06 AM:

I heard about Ford for the first time in the announcement of his death, loved his poem, want more, and that brings me to the WTF moment. Why isn't it all in the one place?

There's no reason any of his ephemera should be lost. If one person of that last 350 commentators (leaving the toroidals out of it, they're busy) will put their hand up they can create a site with his every posting, his every public domain item, most of his occasional poems, anything that won't attract lawsuits, the equivalent of a Victorian Works. Hell, my set of Swift has his marginal annotations in other people's books. His editor's notes?

Who is going to take on a job that combines a hightone hobby with a well-regarded public service? Not me, I have a crusade already and, as I say, I hardly know him. It'll take ten minutes; set up a website with Google, pop a notice into Making Light asking for contributions, and you've got an imperishable temple for the ages.

Praise without works is vain.

#359 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:26 AM:
Who is going to take on a job that combines a hightone hobby with a well-regarded public service?
His literary executor would be responsible (or need to authorize) any such endeavor, I should think. I don't know who that might be, but in any case I think it is reasonable to expect it to be a while before he or she is on the job.
#360 ::: Kayjay ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 01:16 AM:

Like so many others, I knew him mainly from Making Light, and ike so many others I will miss his presence here greatly. My condolences to all who mourn him, especially those who knew him more deeply in life.

"And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain... the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."
- Tolkien -

#361 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:00 AM:

John Houghton wrote in #113:
Dr. Mike, how many angels?

I'm pretty sure it's too difficult to get an accurate count at the moment because they keep laughing at something Mike says, and then a bunch of them fall off.

#362 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:03 AM:

Took some time tonight to read through some things, because I'm now at the point where a bunch of the practical stuff has been handled and/or handed on to the people who will do the work, and ended up reading later than I intended, but it's helping. A lot.

Thank you all. I hope you know how much you all meant to Mike, because that was a lot, too.

#363 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:08 AM:

Also, Jane, yes: David and Mike, hanging out together, sharing a good drink.

Peter Hentges said something on LJ about missing Gordy Dickson and about being comforted by the thought of there being a big party somewhere that Gordy was at, and about now thinking of Gordy welcoming Mike to the party.

That's a really good party, is all I can say.

OK, all weepy again. And have to go to sleep. Am glad of the thought of these things, though, even with the weepiness.

Hugs to you, and everybody else who needs some. Gigi, here's extra ones for you.

#364 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:37 AM:

Re 362: Ah, then the drink of choice is likely Tullamore Dew -- from the stoneware jug, not the bottle. Sláinte!

#365 ::: Yeshe Choden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:42 AM:

Amazing. I'm surfing around late on Sept 25, and start googling some old-friend names just for the hell of it, wind up dredging up names of people I knew in the Indiana University Science Fiction Club 30-odd years ago. I knew Mike Ford when Ben Bova bought his first published short story. I have enjoyed his novels even as I drifted away from SF/Fantasy onto my own personal track. So I do the obvious, find Mike's Wikipedia entry, and ... WTF??

I've spent the past two hours going through the thread, and following other links. Amazing.

Mike made me laugh loudly 30 years ago. His novels made me laugh harder than any other SF or Fantasy work. Evidently his audience grew vast, all of them laughing.

And amazed.

#366 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:42 AM:

I'm not sure I can find words that haven't been used.

But it strikes me that I've been hanging around the guy, here, and there was so much about his life that never got mentioned. I didn't know where he lived, or who with, until he died, and yet he wasn't reclusive.

This Internet thing can be an odd world sometimes. And none of that oddness changes anything that matters.

He'll be missed.

#367 ::: Luis M. Rebollar ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:45 AM:

I'm very sad to hear about his dead. His constant posting here and there, alongside with the rest of the fans said *a lot* about him.

I wish I had the words, but it seems he had them all already.

#368 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:50 AM:

Like many others here, I only knew him from ML-- but after two days with the news, the only response I can still think of is to mutter "Damn." and forlornly wear the SpecEng swag I bought last year.

My condolences and wistful envy to all who knew him better.

#369 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:56 AM:

One day the voice you heard just isn't there.
You half-expect to hear it, but you know
transmission has been lost beyond repair.

From Nova Zembla down to Finisterre
the static crackles on the radio:
one day the voice you heard just isnít there.

The station has been taken off the air:
despite the chatter crossing to and fro,
transmission has been lost beyond repair.

A final broadcast always seems unfair:
we have recordings, but weíve lost the show.
One day the voice you heard just isnít there.

But none of this is reason for despair:
the words may still be uttered, even though
transmission has been lost beyond repair.

Cíest magnifique, mais ce níest pas la guerre,
but this, I guess, is how things have to go.
One day the voice you heard just isn't there:
transmission has been lost beyond repair.

#370 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:00 AM:

I'm so very sorry to hear this. My condolences to all Mr. Ford's friends, fans, and family.

#371 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:40 AM:

Candle, that's really good.

Also, Ken Burnside's post Really Got Me.

#372 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:29 AM:

Years ago, I richly earned the wrath of Mike Ford through a mishandled attempt to invite him to ArmadilloCon as an unofficial Gaming GoH (without the support of my fannish betters on the convention committee, since gaming exists in a sort of "separate but equal" status at that mostly literary convention). I don't think I adequately apologized for that incident, and that weighs heavily on me now that he's gone.

#373 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:25 AM:

I want to put my wreath down, too.

When Asimov died, I was aware that there was an Isaac Asimov-shaped hole in my universe. It didn't matter that I never looked for him at Lunacon; he was part of New York fandom, and there was this emptiness where he should have been.

When Hal Clement died, I listened to people who knew him, and said to one, "He was your Isaac Asimov, wasn't he?"

And, I knew Hal better than I knew Mike. We were on the same fannish tour in Britain in 1995.

The one conversation I had with Mike was me asking if he could please explain the ending of The Final Reflection and Web of Angels. If I'd read Growing Up Weightless by then, I'd have asked if he could explain that one, too.

He couldn't, possibly because I had no coherent question beyond, "Huh? What happened at the end?"

And I am missing him so much worse than I miss Isaac or Hal.

Is there anywhere a complete bibliography of his work (not counting posts on 'blogs and fora and the like)?

Is there anyone who has or might be persuaded to, I don't know, write sort of a guide to all the stuff that people probably miss figuring out in his work? I've read The Dragon Waiting, and it's very frustrating knowing that I don't even know what I'm missing there.

-Lisa Padol

#374 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Thanks for the Elise, you deserve praises galore, and lots and lots of hugs! You took broken parts and made them whole. You gave me back someone I'd lost. The old clichť that there is a good woman behind every good man was never as true as it was with you and Mike. In his Mikeness way he told me how much he cared for you and it is a truth that the whole world could see.

To Earl Cooley III-- many of us have earned the Wrath Of Mike. Iíve done lots of stupid things. Of course he earned my wrath once or twice tooÖ but thatís another story. You must forgive yourself. In my opinion he would probably tell you that it would be your place to forgive yourself and not for him to forgive you. We all have things we regret when someone is gone; itís just part of the grieving process.

I want to thank Theresa and Patrick for being there for all of us. I have appreciated the language, folly, knitting, and the community that is here. If Iím missing fandom or I want to connect with that part of me, I come here and read. Even though Mike is no longer here, I will still come here when Iím feeling that need. Iíve made connections here that I would not have otherwise. Itís also interesting seeing people on here that I know I should know but donít remember their names. I wish I could see their faces, because Iím much better with those.

With appreciation,
Geneva Rose (Spencer Saxman) Fry

#375 ::: John W. Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:50 AM:

The Final Reflection is a book that I've read to the point of having it memorized! I had always hoped that Mr. Ford would write more books about Captain Krenn, Kelly, Maktai, and the rest of the "Fencer/Mirror" crew. As a matter of fact, I just finished reading The Final Reflection again less than three days ago. Rest in peace.

#376 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:00 PM:
Is there anywhere a complete bibliography of his work (not counting posts on 'blogs and fora and the like)?
The bibliography on NESFA's site that Teresa links to in the main entry appears to be mostly complete up to its compilation date. It naturally does not include anything after that, and is missing at least one story from before that ("Street Legal," from The Space Gamer, issue to be looked up), but it's probably the best there is at the moment.
Is there anyone who has or might be persuaded to, I don't know, write sort of a guide to all the stuff that people probably miss figuring out in his work? I've read The Dragon Waiting, and it's very frustrating knowing that I don't even know what I'm missing there.
Beats me, but I wouldn't mind such a thing myself. I like to think I get most of what is going on in his work, but I know I keep missing some of it (particularly in "Fugue State"), and I may be flattering myself in the first place.

What would be ideal would be annotated editions of his work, like The Annotated Alice...

#377 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:42 PM:

Dan #375 -- Right on, say I.

For starters, I have a notion that I saw Joel Rosenberg say that he asked him a number of questions about Fugue State and took notes. Perhaps we could get him to recount that for those who didn't have the foresight to do the same.

#378 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:45 PM:

To: Dan Blum and others who have discussed compilationsÖ

I think it would take a committee to do this because he was such a multi-faceted person. He also did some writings under pseudonyms that only his editors (or his banker) might know. I read juveniles a lot (being a teacher and because Iím lazy and they are quick reads) and I asked him if heíd done any others besides the Michael J. Dodge one. He said he had, but wouldnít tell me what they were. I gathered he wasnít proud of them and it was one of those things he did for money. (I asked him if that was the case and I got no answer. I can be tactless (rude) like that, and he can be enigmatic like that.)
SoÖ Who knows-- maybe he was just afraid Iíd go and blab it to the world?
I did try to do some detective (Internet) work to figure it out, but I finally gave up, there are just too many juvenile fiction writers out there to find him among the swarm.
I think it is wild how Wikipedia has been updated so much on him. Iíd thought of giving some facts to different Internet sites in earlier years, but I figured if he wanted them to know, heíd tell them. He valued his privacy.

And totally off topicÖ
Mike called me Gracie (Allen) once and I thought I should be insulted, until one day when I read her biography, then I was thrilled. Seriously I think he gave me more credit than I deserved, though at one time I was very good at playing innocent (dumb) straight woman to his comedy.

#379 ::: DBK ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 12:47 PM:

My condolences, my regrets.

#380 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Dan, The Annotated Alice has, among other things, a diagram of chess moves that parallel the encounters in Through the Looking Glass (a white pawn advances across the board to become a queen).

Could the same be done for Mike's The Princes of the Air? And if so, what would the board look like?

(D'ye think Martin Gardner could be drawn out of his retirement in Norman OK, to edit The Annotated Alternity?)

Has anyone tracked a causal relationship between Mike's Web of Angels (1980) and the naming of the World-Wide Web over roughly the following decade?

Oh, and whoever's doing the JMF Wikipedia article, the pseudonym citation could be the above-mentioned NESFA Bbliography, which mentions "Michael J. Dodge" and "Milo Dennison."

Mike's middle name actually was "Milo," by the way; and his SCA name was "Miles Atherton de Grey."

Oh, and has anyone been able to reach Samantha J---- [name redacted for privacy], his girlfriend during his IU days? Last I'd heard (late 70's), she'd moved to Evansville, and I never saw sign of her after that.

#381 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Wait, Martin Gardner's HERE??! Wow!

#382 ::: Rich Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Back in the 1970s and `80s when I lived in Tennessee, I crossed paths with Mike fairly frequently and we were friends. He and I were even in an apa together for a while (The Cult). I think I saw him only a few times after Nicki and I moved to Maryland in 1988. I remember, back in the late 1970s, not long after his story "Mandalay" had been published, I told him I thought it was so good that he should expand it or write more of same, not knowing that he had already sold more stories in his "Alternaties Corporation" series. He just smiled and told me that "he might get around to it someday" or something like that. And then he laughed, and then I did too, realizing that I was going to get my wish. It was truly one of those funny and happy moments. I'm already missing him.

#383 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 02:56 PM:

Wait, Mike was in the Cult after I left?

Damn, knew there was a reason I should have stayed.

The bucket is one lighter.

#384 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:37 PM:
Dan, The Annotated Alice has, among other things, a diagram of chess moves that parallel the encounters in Through the Looking Glass (a white pawn advances across the board to become a queen).

Could the same be done for Mike's The Princes of the Air? And if so, what would the board look like?


I don't know - despite the large number of chess terms used in the book, it had not occurred to me that one could match characters to pieces as precisely as all that. Can one? (Orden is clearly a white knight, Rachel must then be the white queen, Daisho then is the black king, but where does that leave Kondor and Thorn?)
(D'ye think Martin Gardner could be drawn out of his retirement in Norman OK, to edit The Annotated Alternity?)
If I had to guess, no. I would be happy if he would do the other four volumes of Chesterton's Father Brown stories, myself, but I doubt that will ever happen.
#385 ::: R Emrys Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Damn it.

I've read and loved his writing for years, but only met him once. When I found out I was going to be on a panel with him at Wiscon, I woke up my wife. "I can't do this," I said. "The guy sneezes sonnets. I won't have anything intelligent to say to him." And of course it was fine, and I had a front row seat to him slinging puns with Jordin Kare, and I spent an hour afterwards listening to him EMT-geek with my wife. And he cited me in a panel the next day, which thrilled me no end. I would have liked to know him better, or know him longer, or just know that he was still out there making wonderful things.

#386 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:23 PM:

I just found this copy of an old post of Mike's from the Steve Jackson Games subscribed forums that I'd saved for obscure reassons:

On Fri, 4 Jul 2003 21:42:58 +0000 (UTC), cgoodin@sfu.ca (Chuk Goodin) wrote:

> Is there some reason that people might be concerned that you may die
> sooner than most people your age?

Long-standing Type I diabetes (36 years), kidney failure (I had a transplant in 2000, but that's a fix-up, not a return to the status quo pro ante), an MI a number of years ago (though none since, and miscellaneous complications of All The Above. It's mostly all connected.

Up against that, I've got a whole batch of words out there, have been to all the states but Alaska and more than a dozen other countries, have friends spread over most of the world, and, for more than ten years, there's been Elise. And, of course, I -am- still here. One more than gets by; one has a pretty darn good time of it.

John M. Ford
Div. of Inappropriate Technology
Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow
Creators of LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND GURPS:
Never count the Disad points.

#387 ::: Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:26 PM:

When Harlequin grew old,
His diamonds shiny tatters on his back,
He stumbled through his capers in the street,
Yet made an elegance from every fall.

When Harlequin grew old,
White hair hung elflocked where his cap was torn
His eyes were filmed inside his ragged mask
His tight-lipped half-smile hid his broken teeth
Yet charmed and broke the hearts on whom it shone

When Harlequin grew old,
He shivered in the wind that blew from death
And improvised a sonnet made of groans.
He leered through cataracts at passing whores
Who paid him farthings for his compliments
And gave him alms to feed his three-legged cur.

When Harlequin grew old,
Death tapped his shoulder, pulled him from his dance
Death dressed him in the coat without a seam
Death housed him in the home that's safe from winds.
Death honoured him whom life had made a clown.

#388 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:34 PM:

Raven (@ 379),

There almost isn't a single "whoever" doing the Wikipedia article; you'd do better going in and making that fix yourself. (I barely touch Wikipedia these days, and suspect that makes me the most active Wikipedian reading this thread.)

#389 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:18 PM:

Re 387, Vicki, someone (credited as an IP# not a name) had made the suggested changes within about half an hour of my posting, not only adding the two pseudonyms and the NESFA Biblio link, but also expanding "John M. Ford" to "John Milo 'Mike' Ford". I figured the anonymous editor was reading here, because the article already linked to this thread as a source.

I haven't done any Wiki editing yet, and didn't want to screw up what someone else was clearly spending time and effort to do right.

#390 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:28 PM:

Whoops, sorry, my mistake, at a closer look, several editors appear involved in today's updates, IP#, Danguyf, and JHunterJ. Thanks, all three!

#391 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:58 PM:

I've reached the stage where it comes in waves, then ebbs away. The latest wave hit when I started to make dinner.

To wear when I use sharp knives and the mandoline (because narcoleptics are variably deft and clumsy), I have a pair of gloves, knitted of synthetic fiber over a steel core. They were a gift from Mike, to keep me from chopping my fingers to shreds. They were paid off in full the second day I had them, when an onion turned suddenly in the mandoline, and the heel of my right hand hit the blade.

If a friend of mine had the kind of injury you get when you jam the blood- and tendon-rich lower margin of your palm into a very sharp blade, I'd happily pay the cost of those gloves to make it right again, and think it a bargain. But spotting the variable clumsiness, understanding the implications, identifying the gloves as the right answer, and sending them as a gift, is something far beyond that simple desire to fix the hurt.

Thanks, Mike.

Damn, damn, damn.

#392 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:37 PM:

Well, I feel like someone stole my car.

I didn't know much about him, except for a few things I read online. And his books, which were brilliant and strange and stood out violently from the others in their group.

It's probably good I never met him, because the only thing I really *wanted* to ask was: "Mister, you have a brain like a fusion reactor. What on Earth are you doing fiddling around with Star Trek books?"

A rude and unreasonable thing to say, considering how much I adored "How Much For Just The Planet," a book which made me completely love my mind in the high school library.

I kid you not, they almost called my parents. Mrs. Kirschner had to pick me up under the armpits, and I was dragged out, wheezing and squeaking, and deposited in the hallway to laugh what was left of of my head off. (It was Captain Kirk musing: "I seem to be wearing a piano," that did me in.)

The funny has sad smeared all over it now.
I think I'll go out to the shelterbelt and yell "WELL, SHIT!"

#393 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:40 PM:

A week ago, I cursed Mr. Ford for making me laugh. His one liners could come at you sideways, slap you around a bit, and leave you wondering what the heck just happened. My curse ends with a smiley face, which meant it wasn't really a curse at all, but an appreciation of his humor. But for some reason, I can't stop the thought going round in my head: "I hope he knew I was kidding". Obviously, this is a man whom nothing slipped by, so, rationally, I know he knew. But I'll be damned if I can't shake the nagging voice in my head that the last thing I said to him was "damn you", even if it was in jest.

#394 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Thank you, Mr. Ford.

#395 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:59 PM:

Today, I was telling Kevin about how Moby-Dick is the slashiest novel ever written, and he asked "What about Shakespeare's Gay Boys in Bondage?"

And we both realized that if we'd had that exchange a week earlier, we could have mentioned it here and a few hours later there'd probably be a few dozen lines of it.

#396 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:09 PM:

We could write 'em ourselves, but it wouldn't be the same.

#397 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:16 PM:

I think we had a work of his on the fridge at Crossover: A list of glyphs from a dingbats font (Carta, I believe), with "translations" into English. Was that one of Mike's?

#398 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:29 PM:
I think we had a work of his on the fridge at Crossover: A list of glyphs from a dingbats font (Carta, I believe), with "translations" into English. Was that one of Mike's?
Yes, it was called "The Roseanna Roseannadetta Stone" (I think I have that right) and appeared in NYRSF originally, and later in the Boskone program book for whichever year he was GoH (1996?).
#399 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:31 PM:

Should have checked the NESFA bibliography - it's "The Rosetta Roseannadetta Stone: Preliminary Translations (after Champollion) of Dingbat-Linear-A."

#400 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:41 PM:

Ah! Thanks, Dan. That's issue #18. I wish I'd asked yesterday.

#401 ::: Bert Ricci ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:59 PM:

Everything has been said, except what Dr. Mike had left to say.

Ave atque vale, Dominus.

#402 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:27 PM:

"The Roseanna Roseannadetta Stone" started out as a chart I printed out of the dingbats and symbols available from the Carta font on my Macintosh computer. (This was back when I was Managing Editor at Tor, and had finagled the first Mac the company ever owned.)

Mike got to feeling ill when he was visiting one day at Tor, and I had a bunch of stuff to do that would take me away from my office, so I let him hole up there until he felt better. I'd left my chart of the Carta symbols sitting out on my desk. When I came back, Mike had translated it as though it were written in a hieroglyphic language. The two bits I remember best were the World Trade Center emergency exits and "oatmeal to go".

#403 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:50 PM:

I was telling Jon and Merav about the Carta thing the other day, and I mentioned the WTC exits (and sketched out the glyph) as one of the items that wasn't funny anymore. Or maybe funnier, depending on your sense of humor.

#404 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Teresa, those two translations you remember almost resulted in a new keyboard!

[We'll know how things are when improvisations start coming from unlikely people. We have a blog-muse somewhere.]

#405 ::: Gary Mosier ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:11 AM:

I will always remember Mike GM'ing Traveller at the Bloomington friday night game group. Thirty years ago? If not, close to it. Once we became involved in a high stakes poker game aboard the casino ship "SS Golden Nugget". Five card stud, nothing wild, and Mike's little smirk as he dealt himself eight cards with the comment, "Rumor has it that this game may be a little crooked.Ē

#406 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:22 AM:

I sell a tee shirt (my company prints and sells them), that makes me think of Mike.

"I've had Ups and Downs
with Top and Bottom.

Now I'm looking
for Strange and Charming"

The next time met him, I was going to challenge him to write a sestina on those mingled themes (the six flavors of quark, and the need to look for compatability over kink).

Damn. Need to write that one myself, now, and my talent for prosody is nowhere near his.


#407 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:11 AM:
The two bits I remember best were the World Trade Center emergency exits and "oatmeal to go".
This church is serving as a nuclear test site to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Skiers should insure with The Hartford.

#408 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:18 AM:

I can't say that I knew John M. Ford well, or even a little. I think I passed him in the hall at Minicon last spring. I didn't go to Ask Dr. Mike; I was tired, and I figured I could catch it next time. I've read The Last Hot Time and that's it.

Now I wish I had taken the time to talk to him, see the show, laugh at the jokes, all those things that make a person not a stranger.

#409 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:09 AM:

I didn't know him, but I liked him. I know that scans oddly, but it makes sense to me.

Dammit.

The man made me think. He was/is part of my grey matter exercise plan. He made me laugh. He generously shared his gifts with the world. Now he's gone. It's not right and it's not fair.

Earth is a more prosaic place without John M. Ford. He is missed by many of us who didn't know him, but still liked him.

#410 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 05:54 AM:

...But mostly I'm bewildered. How can the Muses' need be more urgent than ours?

I think the decision from the Court of No Appeal came down: the one on the non-discrimination suit. They had to hire a male, stat. And so they did...

#411 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:30 AM:

Diane that was wonderful! I was ROTFLOL. (This was rather embarrassing as I am sneeking a peek at this at work.) No doubt Mike will bring something new to the Muses' job description and add to their repertoire and repartee.

#412 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:40 AM:

As I mentioned I would previously, I went around and bought up all of Mike's books that I can find locally in order to give them away this Friday. I'm hoping to find a few more in D.C. on my way to the reading.

I'm also working on a pair of bookmarks to include in the books. If anyone sees an errors or faux pas, please let me know; I'll print them out and slice them up tomorrow morning if/when I find a decent weight paper that doesn't kill the laser printer at work.

I've been getting emails from readers outside the U.S. wanting to know if I could find them this title or that, so apparently there's a desire if anyone else wants to scour their local shops and offer them up. A few people have already contacted me and are doing just that.

#413 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 09:36 AM:

Diana,

That's one way you can spot the good ones: When they write something that's strictly commercial, like a Star Trek novel, they still do a wonderful job of it. Grahame Greene is a good example: He wrote novels and he wrote "entertainments" and you can tell the same sharp mind wrote both. Likewise, The Final Reflection is an awfully good book by any reasonable standard.

#414 ::: Dennis ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:41 AM:

I never met John M. Ford in life, but I met his work when I was a teen, and two of my great interests were Star Trek and Richard III. His takes on both topics delighted and amazed me, and continue to do so whenever I read them.

Since then, I have discovered more of his work, and my initial reaction has never changed. I'm so sorry he's gone, and my deepest heartfelt condolences go out to everyone who knew and loved him, both in his work in his life.

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:43 AM:

Teresa, what kind of rules does Cafepress use for artwork? I'm trying to do 'LN2', just because. I don't want a store, I'll donate ti to someone else's.

#416 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:04 AM:

This is a funny thing, and sad to see (in the way that traggic events, well played enrich the viewer), but I feel richer now for his passing.

Quaker funerals are like this; a good wake is like this (and wake is what this is), a sharing of the good things a person did, and sadness at the good things never more to come.

But my picture of Mike is larger now, and my sense of what might have been is greater. So thanks to all of you who have stories larger than my memories.

#417 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Atheist that I am, I still imagine him in the Afterlife, punch-drunk on all the praise and wonderful memories in this online wake -- and riffing brilliantly.

#418 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Diana (#392) asked: "Mister, you have a brain like a fusion reactor. What on Earth are you doing fiddling around with Star Trek books?"

This is just a guess, but I'd be willing to put money on it: He liked Star Trek a lot.

Let me amplify on that a bit. Today, ST:TOS seems (justifiably) dated, trite, and poorly done. At the time, though, if you wanted to watch skiffy on TV, it was pretty-much Trek or Irwin Allen. Not to slag Irwin Allen--his production values were OK--but Trek had scripts written by the likes of James Blish, Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold.... There was some really good SF there, hidden among the dreck. I think many of us who watched the show religiously as kids edited out the crappy episodes in our minds and made our own good-parts versions.

I would guess, though, that some of the future writers in the audience were inspired by it, and would work to come up with entertaining and self-consistent justifications for the crappy episodes. Hence "The Final Reflection" and "How Much for Just the Planet?", works that demonstrate clearly how familiar Mr Ford was with the show, and strongly indicate how much he must have loved it.

JBWoodford

#419 ::: Adrienne Travis ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:29 PM:

I didn't know him, at all, other than to know he wrote great books and better poetry.

Edna St. Vincent Millay's already said everything i've ever felt i had to say about the subject. Perhaps she'll comfort someone else as she often has me:

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

#420 ::: Terry Garey ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 07:57 PM:

He was glorious while he was here. We're all very lucky to have known, read and enjoy him. Many thanks to those who cared for him, looked after him, and made sure he remembered to eat sometimes, especially Elise and Pamela. And many thanks to Mike, for existing so amazingly thoroughly. What a lovely light he made.

Terry

#421 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:56 PM:

JBWoodford,

I think you've come closer to the mark in this case than I have. Thanks for a thoughtful (and corrective) post.

#422 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:05 AM:

What Terry said.

And what Mike said, in the poem at the top. I regret never having told him what I thought of his poetry: that it wasn't just the best SF poetry ever written, but among the best poetry being written. He was also the greatest wit I ever met. The first bright thought I've had since reading of his death here was suddenly recalling him saying, on a panel, 'Darkness at Noon. Film at 11.' And later on that same panel, murmuring: 'There's always Dan Brown ...' You had to be there. I'm glad I was.

Condolences seem inadequate, but: condolences.

#423 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:06 AM:

Re 411, Gigi Rose:

No doubt Mike will bring something new to the Muses' job description and add to their repertoire and repartee.
Also their repertory, given that he's a dramaturge.

He's collaborated so much with several of them already that the remainder were demanding equal time, and -- mortal time being limited -- that would have required Mike to make choices. After how that whole Choice-of-Paris business turned out, it just made better sense to add him to the team.

Expect a lot of musical comedies (and musical tragedies) with historical or alternate-historical or fantastic themes, dazzling and technically proficient (if arcane) verse, and intricate multi-referential banter to start percolating up from the collective unconscious.

#424 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:37 AM:

Re 418, JBWoodford:

I think many of us who watched [Star Trek TOS] religiously as kids edited out the crappy episodes in our minds and made our own good-parts versions.
As with other things (and people) that engaged our imaginations, encouraged our dreams, and challenged us to live accordingly.

We could see past the flaws in what they were, to the shining cores of what they should have been and often tried to be.

That was, after all, the skill they taught us to apply to the world around us.

We have joined in joy and sadness with each hero in his plight,
Shared the fine inspired madness of La Mancha's woeful knight;
Parents little know the path they chart for children when they bring
All the stories, songs, and sagas about Camelot in Spring.
...
What if we should be forgotten, all our efforts go in vain,
Hopes and plans die misbegotten, with but insults for our pain?
What if no-one hears our story? Still, they'll know us when they sing
Of all those who dreamed the glory that was Camelot in Spring.

                — "The Dream" (1991)

#425 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 08:17 AM:

Heh. I've spent all week rummaging through two cross-country moves worth of packing boxes looking for the one that had the dog-eared twenty year old paperback Star Trek novels in it, from back in the day when I was young and impressionable and had both reading time and discretionary income in sufficient quantities to support the mass-market paperback industry.

Opened the box. Right there on top: The Final Reflection. Thanks, Mr. Ford.

Oh, Diane Duane? Right under that were My Enemy, My Ally and The Wounded Sky. Thank you.

#426 ::: Joel Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 11:18 AM:

It's probably good I never met him, because the only thing I really *wanted* to ask was: "Mister, you have a brain like a fusion reactor. What on Earth are you doing fiddling around with Star Trek books?"

He was asked that, more or less, several times when I was around. His answer tended to vary, but basically came down to that he had decided that -- the two books that he wrote, and at least one other, and definitely not some others that he had read -- they were worth doing, and, when it came to his two -- and he could be direct on this, when he chose to, although he tended to put it more delicately, most of the time -- it was his call, and not anybody else's.

#427 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:02 PM:

In reply to AdamsJ and JBWoodford:
I absolutely hear and agree with what you're saying, sirs. There's no way I could miss that Mr. Ford loved Star Trek all to pieces, and that he wrote it from joy and by choice.
I throw myself upon the mercy of the court. :) I'm a victim of my environment! Surrounded by folks who think SF in general, And ST in particular, is, as a hobby, just above collecting dirty underwear, I have become like Ellison's Invisible Man and attack that which I love and myself.
Wow. That was liberating. I think we've made progress this week, Doctor. So, what do I owe you?

Graham Greene is an excellent comparison, and one that made me 'squee' a bit. And I'll connect that point with my last one to say, "But I could hand "A Burnt-Out Case" to anyone I know. They may hand it back with "That was depressing" or "Dude, lepers?" or "You're weird," but they will hand it back because they took the book."

It's an utterly selfish thing to want, but I wanted to see him write something...I'm not sure "mainstream" is the word...something more acceptable. And I'd loan it to my Mom, who refers to all SF as 'boogie-woogie stories', and pass her doorway at 4 AM to see her still bent over Mr. Ford's book. And she would hand it back saying "That was damn powerful".

And of course, that would have been the truth.

#428 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:05 PM:

It occurs to me that writing in a series like the Star Trek series is not unlike writing formal poetry. You've got the constraints of the form to work with and against. Part of the fun is in seeing what you can do inside those constraints. It's not for everyone--I doubt I'd enjoy writing in someone else's series, but I do enjoy writing formal poetry--and here the analogy fails.

#429 ::: John Psinas ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:27 PM:

He had a damn fine imagination and a was a good writer...

The Final Reflection, and GURPS Infinite Worlds say it all.

I only regret I never got to meet him.....

#430 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:58 PM:

adamsj (#428): this might be a form of Venturi effect of the imagination.

#431 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2006, 03:12 PM:

So... I've been honoring him as best I can - and as I think he would have appreciated - by rereading his books that I've read, and searching out those I've never read. Having read only a couple of his books and seen mostly his lighter poetry here, I really didn't appreciate the force and quality of his poetry until I began reading the Heat of Fusion collection. Margaret Atwood comes to mind as the closest comparison for his force of imagery.

I asked the state library here to dig The Dragon Waiting out of their archive stacks for me. Nobody had checked it out since 1998; what a shame. It's still nearly as powerful and subversive a shock as it was for me when I first read it in 1985 or so. (Later when I read Growing Up Weightless I didn't realize they were by the same author, the voice was so different.)

I don't read Star Trek genre novels, but I think it's time for me to break that rule. (I hope some of those who have only read his Star Trek books will stretch themselves in the other direction.)

I'm grateful for what I had of Mr. Ford, for his words here and his delighted play with us, and his books, those gifts to the world; sorrowful that I will never get to meet him and know him as his friends did, sorrowful that there will be no more, but grateful for what he gave us.

#432 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Aha! Clifton, you and I are fighting over the HSPL copies! I have "The Last Hot Time," "Heat of Fusion," and "How Much for Just the Planet" waiting for me at the Aiea branch.

#433 ::: Russell Borogove ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2006, 06:05 PM:

My first exposure to his writing was, appropriately enough given the reminders of his gaming writing, Alkahest: The Deathtoll Solution from Autoduel Quarterly.

I'm remembering another of his Car Wars stories, "Street Legal":
...the wrong way down both one-ways, and threw two objects out. Fortunately only pedestrians were killed in the incident.

#434 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:13 PM:

Oh, no! I get a week behind here, and one of my favorite writers from the comments threads is suddenly gone forever. I always loved and admired the parodies and poetry (and other neat things) he would come up with here.

Drat. Well, clearly I will have to console myself by buying one or more of his books.

#435 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:18 PM:
I'm remembering another of his Car Wars stories, "Street Legal"
Probably the only story featuring a nun with a 50-gallon drum of Miracle Whip. (Well, the only one suitable for children, anyway.)
#436 ::: Wristle ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:59 PM:

For those who wish to spread the word by spreading the books, Book Closeouts has copies of The Heat of Fusion and The Last Hot Time.

#437 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 08:40 PM:

Diana 427: try her on The Scholars of Night, an excellent political/spy thriller. No SF/F elements in it.

#438 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 08:23 PM:

I've posted a brief notice on the passing of Miles Atherton de Grey (mundanely, John M. Ford) to the Usenet group rec.org.sca (article link), and the website scatoday.net.

As this seems to be the central node of info, I've included links to Electrolite and the several specific threads, including for the memorial service, as well as Mike's Wikipedia biography.

#439 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 11:00 PM:

Dave L: yes.

Michael Weholt: I asked Mike once about the play in "Casting Fortune"; he said it hadn't gotten further than the descriptions -- which were even better than How Much.... He did two sets of songs-with-comments, for Boskone in 1997 and 2006; not really plays, but possibly the closest he's come.

I'll miss the likelihood of finding here, almost every day, some well-crafted assault on what was staid, stolid, and ordinary in the universe -- not by fervid denunciation but by gentle mockery that made us laugh with him.

Read "Janus". It tells the vitals in 14 lines; brilliant, fascinated with abstruse puzzles, and more heart than anyone who feigns to think either of those are unhuman.

#440 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 04:23 AM:

John Clute's obituary for John M. Ford has been posted HERE.

That's a free-to-read Usenet Posting. It costs £1 to read the original in the Independent.

Trivia point: tinyurl.com assigns its "hash" codes without reference to the content of the link. So it's simple chance that the tinyurl for this particular post, http://tinyurl.com/oeouj, has a code (oeouj) that sounds out as "Oh, we owe you, J." Indeed we do.

#441 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2006, 06:14 PM:

I'm very sorry to hear about everyone's loss. You have my deepest sympathies.

#442 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 07:05 AM:

The day comes at last when it is necessary to write a sestina.

I woke up this morning at 04.52, from a dream in which I was writing this and posting it here, so I got up and wrote it and here you go.

John M. Ford Sestina.

He always was a man of many aspects,
Who spoke with tongues of aliens, people, angels,
Who corruscated, glorious in his time,
Whose chosen words burned through the lambent air
To warm the heart however cold the night
Whose offerings were joys we kept a-waiting.

There'll be no more, though we are still here waiting.
He'll never finish his last novel, Aspects.
Death like a steam-train bore him off at night,
One distant whistle to alert the angels
But no new words will here delight the air
He left too soon, he just ran out of time.

Though some said he was spendthrift of his time.
His books were late, though editors were waiting.
He frivolled erudition on the air
Shared with the world, unguarded in his aspects,
With parodies of Woodhouse, Tolkien, angels
Dancing on pins, much written late at night.

He wasted not one word, there in the darkest night,
He knew his health would hardly give him time,
And yet before he caught the train of angels
He did not wish to be his sickness, waiting.
For life was sweet to him in all its aspects,
He'd things to talk of while he still had air.

His words on some occasions rent the air.
He made the shield to hold against the night.
110 Stories's lines are different aspects
Are lives touched by the towers fall at the time
Written while most of us were speechless, waiting,
For some reaction handed us by angels.

How Much For Just the Planet, Web of Angels,
Growing Up Weightless, Princes of the Air,
From the End of the Twentieth Century, The Dragon Waiting,
Some poems, Casting Fortune, Scholars of Night,
Time Steps, Heat of Fusion, The Last Hot Time,
Three wonderful game books and part of Aspects.

That's all he left us, stations in the night,
Enough to make his name shine for all time,
So much, so little, and so many aspects.

#443 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Re #442, Jo Walton: Beautiful, moving, a fitting form (and fitting seed end-words, from his titles).

Will you be attending the memorial service in Mpls?

Elise, might there be a place, in either the service itself or a booklet there, for such tributes?

#444 ::: Sam Tomaino ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2006, 03:32 PM:

I am late to this horrible news but had to post here.

Like Don Saxman, I was a member of he IU Science Fiction Club in the mid 1970's (remember me Don? When you were Doc Savage at the Halloween party, I came as Monk).

I got to know Mike very well. We would talk about books, comics, movies or anything well into the night.

I was there when he got his first story published (in ANALOG).

I saw him from time to time at various conventions, mostly World Fantasy Conventions. At last year's in Madison, we had dinner together on Friday night. I'm sure glad we did. I was looking forward to seeing him again this year.

Needless to say, I loved his writing. But I loved more his wit, erudition and his friendship.

Goodbye, Mike.

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Gone... I just found out. Damn. Damn. Damn.

#446 ::: Robert Devereaux ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2006, 11:52 AM:

That's such unhappy news.

I was privileged to meet John M. Ford and to host a Santa Claus panel featuring him and Robert Sheckley, maybe three or four World Fantasy Cons ago.

A fine gent indeed, and one who will be sorely missed.

#447 ::: fidelio sees a spammer with even less shame than usual ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 07:19 PM:

They should be haunted.

#449 ::: Sugar sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2006, 07:01 AM:

#449-456. I agree with fidelio. This is shameless, or it would be if it was actual humans doing it.

#450 ::: fidelio sees a spammer with even less shame than usual ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:21 PM:

Call out the spam posse, now.

#451 ::: JESR sees cruel spam here ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Some people have no nice manners.

#453 ::: William Barnett-Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:48 PM:

I've been looking at this page, off and on, since the day it was started. Even though I only knew him via the magic of email, I still hurt like one of my family was gone.

And my greatest regret is that, even though I tried for years, I was never able to convince him that a sequel to "The Princes of the Air" was a viable project... ah, much as I loved everything else, that one just rang so real to me.

To absent friends.

William

#454 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 12:04 AM:

By co-incidence, I just picked up a thrift shop copy of "The Princes of the Air."

Sadly, Powell's is dreadfully un-Forded.

#455 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 12:47 PM:

The link to "Another post by Neil, with the cleaned-up text of ‚ÄúThe Final Connection‚ÄĚ."

should go here instead

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/09/quick-one.html

#456 ::: Joel Polowin sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2007, 12:54 PM:

I Send Spam

(To: "I Pop Pills" by Nate Bucklin)

All my neighbors in the trailer park ask how I spend my time
And why I hog the bandwidth on the cable modem line
What is it that defines me and describes just who I am?
Well I've got one simple answer: I send spam

I send spam for easy money to consolidate your bills
For doctoral degrees from high-prestige diploma mills
I send spam for 4-1-9ers, I don't care if it's a scam --
If they're paying me to send it, I send spam

[Chorus:]
I send spam for fake Viagra, I send spam to grow your breasts,
I send spam for low-rate mortgages and toner cartridges
There's the teenage nympho lesbian farm-animal web-cam --
I don't care if you don't want it, I send spam

I forge someone else's address as the sender of my spew
It shields me from complaints, and helps to get past filters too
With a hundred thousand bounces someone's mailbox will get jammed
But that's someone else's problem, I send spam

All those folks with high-speed access and with no security,
No firewall to prevent them from relaying spam for me
If they didn't want me in there then they should have blocked my scan
But they didn't, so they help to send my spam

[Chorus]

I could stand on a street corner with the people passing by,
Spitting on them in the hope of catching someone's eye
Then trying to engage them in some shady business plan
But that way I might get punched, so I send spam

Someday I'll have a plot of land they can't take back from me
With a gravestone and inscription that the visitors can see
As my body poisons earthworms, with my soul forever damned
"He was born, he kicked the bucket, and he spammed."

[Chorus]

I don't care if you don't want it, I send spam

#457 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 06:06 PM:

My two copies of the Janus: Sonnet poster print have arrived.

One is going to my father as a gift.

The other is getting this written on the bottom:

"Thanks for the miracles, Mike."

It will be laminated and put on a telephone pole in the skateboarding park, where the street poet scene here posts their versifications.

Seemed the best way to mark the anno sombre

#458 ::: Cally Soukup sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Can this spammer be blocked? Please?

#459 ::: thomas sees more SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Another spammer, yemach shemo

#460 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2010, 01:16 AM:

Lower than a snake's arsehole.

#461 ::: Lee sees spam EVERYWHERE ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 02:14 AM:

On at least a dozen threads. I'll try to mark them all.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.