On the Death of John M. Ford

I never met Mike Ford, though my acquaintance with him goes back many years. When I was very young I read the early Star Trek books. My favorite was The Final Reflection, a book that delved into the history of Klingons at a time when very little had been done on the subject.

Later, when I was interested in the role-playing game Paranoia, I picked up a module called The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. It was funny as hell, though I expect the Cold War-era humor is now dated to those who didn’t grow up in the war’s long shadow.

After that I read whatever of his I could get my hands on. His second Star Trek novel, How Much For Just The Planet?, was a farce that had Gilbert and Sullivan, jabs at Paramount, and more Klingons. Growing Up Weightless was a beautiful coming-of-age tale set on the moon. The Dragon Waiting was an alternate-history story set during the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III and that involved vampires.

From this you may start to appreciate how varied his output was. It was also much smaller than I would have liked. Fortunately for me, I discovered his postings at Making Light, the blog of Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a pair of book editors for Tor. Mike’s posts were entertaining and wild — his knowledge was wide-ranging and astounding, and he weilded language with verve and skill. Occasionally he’d post something that I would force my friends to read, like Harry of Five Points, where he took Henry V and turned it into a gangster play.

He died today, cause as of yet unknown. I’d always meant to tell him how much I enjoyed his books and his posts. Now I never will.

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