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April 23, 2009

“From then on a bubble of hope grew inside me until it burst and left me almost speechless when my book came last and I had won”
Posted by Patrick at 04:28 PM * 32 comments

Blogger, journalist, Mike Ford admirer, and occasional Making Light contributor Andrew Brown has won the Orwell Prize for his book Fishing in Utopia.

In the fluorosphere, of course, Brown is well-remembered for having inadvertently inspired Mike’s “Against Entropy” sonnet, the last line of which now adorns our masthead.

At any rate, congratulations!

Comments on "From then on a bubble of hope grew inside me until it burst and left me almost speechless when my book came last and I had won":
#1 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Does this mean that fly-fishing is an official trope for memoirs?

Anyway, congratulations.

#2 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:48 PM:


#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:53 PM:

That's a great sentence, and a wonderful thing.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Here's cheers!

#6 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:17 PM:

I'm off to explore all the links!

#7 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:37 PM:

How often will I have to go back to the De Vermis post and its first comment before I stop getting goosebumps? And has anyone ever recorded a decent reading of that poem? Not that anyone could do it justice, but I like to hear things I admire read out loud.

#8 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Oh, that's wonderful. Congratulations!

Daniel @7: As far as I can tell, the goosebumps don't ever stop.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:23 PM:

Bravo, Andrew!

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:27 PM:

Andrew is a fine journalist, and does not hesitate to hold his own side up to the light. That's the important thing.

#11 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:36 PM:

Daniel, there was a good reading of it at Potlatch this year during the program item featuring the poetry of Ursula K. Le Guin and John M. Ford.

Ursula sent a note complimenting the reading as a whole, so that's indicative that it worked.

#12 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:28 AM:

Congratulations. Don't tell Nick Cohen.

#13 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Many, many thanks for posting the link to John M. Ford's poem. As others said then, wow!

I noticed the tag line on the Making Light masthead some time ago but had no idea that it came from a longer work.

Aside: A link from the masthead quote to the original comment thread would be nice, assuming it's possible.

#14 ::: Claude ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:43 PM:

One of the amazing things about that "Against Entropy" sonnet is that he posted it as the FIRST comment - he must have written that almost as quickly as it takes to read it out loud. I mean, it's one thing to have written such a good poem, but for it to also be an instantaneous first draft, wow.

In Brown's memoriam, he mentions:
>> he wrote, for instance, one sonnet
>> which is almost a perfect palindrome,
>> so that the last seven lines unwind the
>> despairing coils of the first half into
>> a sturdy optimism.

Which poem is this?

#15 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Claude (14): I can't find the original quickly, but it's here at his CafePress store. (View Larger on one of the items to read the text.)

#16 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:14 PM:

yeah, i followed the link to andrew's memorial notice, where he quotes a mere four lines from "110".

less than 4%, and it had me in tears. the poem is almost too good to revisit.

no rage in it; andrew's right. and yet rereading it fills me with rage.
against the bastards who did it, against the bastards who let it be done, who defiled and still defile their airy graves.

#17 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:46 PM:

I'd never seen that poem. Man, but I miss him. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him just once and tell him how much his words inspired and awed me.

#18 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 01:53 AM:

I'd not even heard of Mike Ford until the day after he died; at that point I read "Against Entropy" and realized just how much I'd missed. We'll not see his like again soon.

Claude @ 14: Not to minimize the incredible feat of writing that sonnet at all, if you look at the timestamps you'll find that he posted it almost 8 hours after the original post. Time enough for a couple of drafts, at least. But no number of drafts would have allowed a lesser poet to write that.

#19 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:49 AM:

Thank you Patrick, and all others. That's lovely. I see that one of the links in your piece is broken; I will fix it. The archives on the site have been a mess for a while, and I needed a prod to fix them.

An anecdote for the fluorosphere: at the awards dinner, I was seated next to a rather grand and important publisher, and he asked me what I was planning to do next. I said I wanted to write a book about people, so I would attempt some science fiction. I further explained that this was because I believe it's the only honest way to write about the present. I could see this idea involved, for him, a type error that stopped my program from compiling. So I quoted Gibson about the unevenly distributed future. He hadn't read any Gibson. I quoted, from memory, the "sky over the port" line. "That's very good writing" he said. And I thought -- "Its very good twenty-year-old writing. If you care about books, why haven't you read it yet?"

#20 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:53 AM:

Claude, the sonnet is "Janus", in Heat of Fusion.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 06:31 AM:

I should hope we all justly prize Andrew for his own writing, as well as for having inspired Mike's.

#22 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 07:08 AM:

Teresa #21: Well, his "Rage of Nerds" post was the one that got me to bookmark his blog.

Total sympathy, especially as I'm still struggling with the fonts on Ubuntu 9.04:

#23 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:00 AM:

David Harmon @22, do you remember where that post is? Google didn't show it to me.

#24 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:32 PM:

Sorry to go on about Mr. Ford for a moment. (Teresa is right, that was a terribly impolite derail, even on Making Light. Have pre-ordered the book as an act of contrition. And because it actually sounds very interesting ;P)

First, elise at 11: very good to hear! Living on the wrong side of the Atlantic as I do, though, I wonder if anyone knows of a recording existing anywhere on the internet?

Second, Claude at 14: he did have a bit of time. If you look carefully, the blog post was posted at 9:50am and Mike's reply is from 5:41pm, so that's a little under seven hours (it seems Making Light was nowhere near as busy back then). Seven hours is still ridiculously little time for a poem like this, and I do wonder how long he spent writing it. Much of his stuff does come across very spur of the moment and that's the impression I get from all the anecdotes people who met him tell.

I know I've already go on too long about something this thread is not about, but I feel compelled to share this. At the gym today I had my well-thumbed copy of Heat of Fusion with me, revisiting Erase/Record/Play for the nth time (still looking for more parallels between Midsummer Night's Dream and the camps--I mean the obvious loss of identity stuff I get, but why does he deliver the plot of the play in such detail if it doesn't correspond to things the interviewer discusses with the doctor in some detail? Argh!). After my workout an older man approached me and asked me about the book I was reading. I told him it was a collection of short pieces, science fiction, John M. Ford. He then opined that "science fiction is pretty much the same plot over and over again". I have no idea where he got the idea from, but here I was, holding in my hands the most unorthodox and amazing author known to me, and I just couldn't not argue. It developed into a very pleasant conversation and he promised to google John M. Ford.

This was the first time I've spoken to a complete stranger about something this dear to me, and I found myself speaking with passion and, I hope, making a decent case for "genre" literature (of course I mentioned Ballard, and repeated the observation I picked up here on ML how once he was successful he couldn't be considered sci-fi anymore). Normally I don't open up like that to strangers, but the combination of this friendly man labouring under such an odd misconception and me holding the very evidence to the contrary in my hands left me no choice.

But, uh, Sweden, yes. I hear it's a socialist dystopia.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 06:16 PM:

For those who might be interested, here is a link to Mike's Zeppelins of Phobos.

#27 ::: lauren ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 05:50 AM:

Congratulations! I read of the award in the Guardian. It's thrilling when great writing gets the attention it deserves.

#28 ::: D. Potter spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 12:56 AM:

Lengthy spam. Pity one can't charge spammers.

#29 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2014, 09:40 AM:

This moose would like to charge spammers, preferably using the insulation breakdown tester that can be cranked up to 12kV.

#31 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Rather amusing spam, formatted in the style of free-verse as if they knew we nourish poets here, but spam nonetheless.

#32 ::: Lin Daniel sees spam! ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Much words. Many spam

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