inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #51 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 28 Oct 01 18:24
    

Now you've got me curious:  what DOES draw hate mail?
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #52 of 74: John M. Ford (johnmford) Sun 28 Oct 01 19:12
    
    Linda -- what you got?
    Someone started DRAGON, discovered that the introductory note
(not, obviously, the novel) had used the construction "CE" instead of
"AD," and decided not to proceed further lest he be contaminated by
secular humanism or something.  And then decided to tell me all about
it at considerable length.  No, I don't still have the letter.
    I know someone who got a quite vile letter because one of her
books was the first of a series, and this was not stated on the dust
jacket.  As if authors decide these things.  (Many readers assume that
the author paints the cover, sets the type -- doubtless after casting
it -- and hand-stitches the signatures.)
     There are worse tales, but give them the oblivion they deserve.

    It's still a pretty swell job, though.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #53 of 74: double-axled haywains and Harpo Marx going honk-honk (lioness) Sun 28 Oct 01 22:36
    
Speaking of jobs, how many different spot on the food chain have you
occupied in the publishing world?

And what was good about 'em?
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #54 of 74: John M. Ford (johnmford) Mon 29 Oct 01 00:11
    
     Well, let's see.  I was an associate editor (that sounds nicer
than "assistant" at Asimov's and Amazing (working for the same editor).
 I believe I said something earlier about how that was a What Needs
Doing rather than a What's the Job Description spot.
     I helped deal with overflow slush at Tor (slush always overflows,
as Midwesterners all know), and was one of two paid readers for the SF
Book Club.  (The latter was to-be-published books, usually in
manuscript, though once in awhile one had to remind oneself that it
-wasn't- slush.  No titles.  On the other hand, I got to read some fine
books, like NEUROMANCER, ahead of schedule.)
     I did black-and-white art (maps and graphics, not
"illustrations").  The odd job there was a book that had several pages
of maps and family-tree charts.  So I did those, and then the author
changed the family names (this was supposedly a finished book).  A
number map names were also changed, but that could be fixed with
overlays.
     I did a certain amount of editorial work for Owlswick Press -- as
usual with small presses, this had an extremely broad charter,
including being the shipping and warehousing department from time to
time.
     Over on the game end of things, I've worked on (other people's)
manuscripts for more than one company.  This is usually a sort of
consulting detec -- uh, designer job, less than rewriting but more than
copyediting, often adding modest amounts of material without claiming
co-writer credit.
     I suppose if I had a business card for this sort of thing, it
would read "Hired Gun."  Though nobody is -ever- going to mistake me
for Richard Boone.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #55 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 29 Oct 01 13:33
    
E-mail from Rachael Brown:

Are there any plans for Tor to reprint "The Dragon Waiting," maybe as an
Orb trade paperback?  It's a brilliant book, and very hard to find.  It
took me years to find a copy.  I was especially impressed by the
intensely creepy opening chapter, and by the scene later on in which we
find out just how bad the effects of backfiring magic can be.  I am
literally shivering just remembering it.
 
Speaking of that book and your writing in general, do you have a degree
in history, or do you just read a lot and never forget any of it? 
 
And what will appear in your upcoming collection?  How far back will the
stories date?  Any poetry?
 
Rachel
 
She was a vixen when she went to school,
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
 
William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #56 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 29 Oct 01 13:35
    

This is a first.  We've never had someone send a single e-mail to two
different interviewees before.  I'm going to post a copy in each topic and
see how that goes.

E-mail from Ed Prell:

this message is directed to John M. Ford and Harry Henderson.
 
you two could do an incalculable service to humanity by collaborating to
write, lickety-split, a gripping novel that would reach out to the
america snoozing in the pickup-truck belt and other places and grab them
where it hurts. the essential message i have in mind is that rednecks and
similar types will be dead meat after their usefulness to the rightwing
junta in amerika has run its course.
 
this novel would get to the present moment (early 2002) about 1/3 or
halfway through the book. this story line would follow true to history
but add in very plausable but unproven dirty tricks. from the present we
are taken, again very plausably, into a future that could be best
described as a worse-case scenario.
 
the fictional characters could be for instance a dysfunctional family in
which the patriarch runs a material yard or trucking firm in birmingham
or butte or points between. his sons assume the roles we would expect,
except for the black sheep that becomes a radical labor organizer.
 
as the big historical events take their twists and turns, our rednecks
take and give some punches, often with heavy metal objects being thrown
about. and eventually in their own way, they twist in the wind. done in
by the very folks they aspired so much to be like.
 
i am completely unqualified to write such a book. i hope a talented and
knowledgable author(s) can produce a piece that reaches and wakes up huge
numbers of folks. we, the already aware, do not have anywhere near the
numbers to make a difference.
 
thanks for your attention.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #57 of 74: John M. Ford (johnmford) Mon 29 Oct 01 14:21
    
   Rachel -- DRAGON will be republished by Gollancz next spring, as
part of their Pretty Good Fantasy series.  They will -not- be doing the
American edition, and I believe there's been discussion of a
complementary US Tor/Orb edition, but Patrick would know much more
about that than I do.
    I don't have a degree in anything (though sometimes I figure that
if a book is the equivalent of a thesis, I'm eligible for tenure now);
my college work was mainly in systems analysis/numerical methods.
    And I certainly forget things, but then you get to reread books,
which is nice.
    I don't know what will be in the collection.  Beth Meacham is the
editor, and while we'll certainly have a discussion when the time
comes, I trust her judgement.  There's no limit on date of stories,
though I doubt much very early material will appear, for the reason
lots of authors don't want their dawn-era stuff reprinted.  I would
certainly expect there to be some poetry.
    Beth compared notes with NESFA when 20th CENTURY was being
assembled, and there probably won't be overlap.  (The NESFA hardcover
will never be reprinted in that form -- it's a limited edition -- but
it could be reprinted in a different edition; NESFA itself did this
with Lois Bujold's Boskone book.)
     While I'm thinking of 20th CENTURY, someone earlier was talking
about finding used copies -- NESFA still has between two and three
hundred in stock, and Dreamhaven has a quantity of signed copies as
well (and if they run out, it's easier for me to walk to Dreamhaven and
sign more than fly to the NESFA Clubhouse).

    The simplest response I can give Ed Prell is to say that I don't
enjoy reading overtly polemical fiction, and therefore would be a poor
choice to write it.  Thank you for the proposal, however.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #58 of 74: Rob Yale (robert-yale) Mon 29 Oct 01 19:29
    
Hi John,

I'm not finished the book yet, but I'm enjoying it thoroughly.  I
especially like the notion of magic afoot in the world, and the way
that the non-magic characters are dealing with this new shape to
reality.  Although the book is clearly a fantasy, I find that it also
contains an element of science fiction.  This seems to emerge in the
way that the characters exhibit an awareness of the weirdness of
magical occurrences, and that they are learning how to cope with them
as well.  

I've also been thinking about the above points, and contrasting "The
Last Hot Time" with Tim Powers' "Last Call", where there is an air of
inconsequence with respect to supernatural events that begin to occur.

Looking forward to the rest of the book!
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #59 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 29 Oct 01 23:22
    

Mike, have you thought about how the events of Sept 11 might shape your
future work?

I keep wondering what kind of fiction fabulously creative minds like yours
will come up with in the aftermath.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #60 of 74: a fine woman but a very poor private soldier (pamela-bird) Tue 30 Oct 01 14:28
    
>DRAGON will be republished by Gollancz next spring, as part of their
>Pretty Good Fantasy series

Ahem.  Despite the man in the hat's blushes, that would be the Fantasy
Masterworks series by Orion Publishing Group (UK), with an alleged due
date of May 2002.

A Google search found this page:

http://silver-oak.com/fantasy/masterworks.asp

-P
who really hopes that there’ll be a Tor edition, or she’ll be shelling
out cross-pond shipping charges again
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #61 of 74: John M. Ford (johnmford) Tue 30 Oct 01 17:07
    
    Pamela -- yeah, that's the series, whatever they call it.  (And
Orion is a division of Gollancz.)

    Linda -- I'm not sure that 9/11 will have any direct effect on
what I do.  Partly, of course, it's that I don't do very much
contemporary/mundane fiction, and while this was a major event in "our"
world, it is not felt in Atlantis or Cockaigne.  (Islandia, maybe.)
    This is inevitably going to be misinterpreted, and I'll say up
front that I am in no way dismissing or trivializing the event, but
this is not the first major disaster, or even the first major urban
man-made disaster.  It has its unique features; all of them do.  We
learned some important things about how people respond to such events,
but the lessons are not all that different from those of the London
Blitz or the San Francisco earthquake.
    People have always wanted to believe that their era is unique,
that the big events of their time "change history."  Well, no event
changes history, because history, having already taken place, is
immutable.  (Obviously I'm not talking about attempts to correct
historical myths.)  And the future exists only in possibility.  What
changes are individual human perceptions -- you suddenly see your
future, and sometimes your past, in a different way.  And, again
without in any way diminishing the impact of this particular incident,
with time those altered perceptions become "normal," either by
assimilation or forgetfulness.  Until the next Lisbon earthquake.
     Near-future SF will have to absorb the event, as it does any
other (one thinks of all those stories that tossed off a line like "the
glowing ruins of San Diego" as local color).  Something set a hundred
years down the line probably shouldn't mention it, unless the story is
specifically set in Lower Manhattan ("We docked at the Trans-Solar
Trade Tower, two thousand meters above Battery Park") or involves
terrorism.  In five hundred years, it will be at the same remove as the
fall of Byzantium, which does still obsess some people, but rarely
makes the tabloids.
    
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #62 of 74: Patrick Nielsen Hayden (pnh) Tue 30 Oct 01 17:16
    

It is that kind of abrupt frameshift -- oh, right, this thing I think is
important really isn't quite as important, whereas this other thing may be
more important -- that's one of the aesthetic pleasures of SF.

I wonder what Mike Ford would be in an alternate world in which he
didn't float eastward and become a fantasy and SF writer.  I also
wonder what it was like to be Mike Ford growing up as a Southern
Baptist in Indiana.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #63 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 31 Oct 01 15:44
    
E-mail from Kate Nepveu:

I'm surprised at so many people saying that _The Dragon Waiting_ is
very hard to find; in the few years since I've been aware of its
existence, I must have found ten or so copies in used bookstores,
enough that I've _stopped_ buying copies on the theory that "someone
will want this"...

Are y'all telling me I should start up again?

Kate
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #64 of 74: Patrick Nielsen Hayden (pnh) Wed 31 Oct 01 19:05
    

(Aside to Kate Nepveau: As I recall, Avon's mass-market package for THE
DRAGON WAITING said "historical romance" more loudly than "offbeat
alternate-world fantasy."  So I wonder if people just aren't registering
it.)

(Of course, the canonical indicator of "offbeat alternate-world novel"
is a zeppelin.  Obviously Mike's mistake was neglecting to put Richard
III into one.)

I'm dithering about what to ask Mike in order to get him to talk about
poetry, since it seems to me that he's one of the very few writers of
any sort to successfully address and encompass the aesthetic effects
of SF and fantasy -- as opposed to their mere furniture -- in actual
serious verse.  I'm hampered a bit by the fact that a mutual friend
just forwarded me his most recent piece, which he may not consider
finished work.  Actual professional interviewers don't get themselves
into these tangles, of course.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #65 of 74: double-axled haywains and Harpo Marx going honk-honk (lioness) Wed 31 Oct 01 23:00
    
The science fiction poetry has a different flavor... Drat. Cannot find
words. Kinda like... no, there is no comparison I could make. But it
is no less poetry than science fiction, and no less science fiction
than poetry, and the intersection goes someplace very worth going. It's
not... limited by either, although that's the wrong way to say it.
(Drat. Double drat. Somebody else figure out what the useful words
there would be, please?) Have you spent any time in the poetry
community?

And is "All Our Propagation" out anywhere? 

(There are two lines in that poem that rank up there with a poem by
Ono no Komachi, in terms of talismanic words, words of opening.)

Does writing the science fiction poetry feel different than writing
the fantasy poetry, or do the buckets come up out of the same well?
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #66 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 1 Nov 01 22:51
    
E-mail from Kathy Li:

Elise, "All Our Propogation" is in FROM THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY, and 
yeah, it takes my breath away, too, and no, I have no words, either.

Ok, here's questiony sorts of thingies for Mike.  What is it, do you think, 
that has caused a seeming schism between art and science in this century so 
that when a writer is capable of combining the two together into a work 
where the concept of the piece is bound in a scientific idea, such as in 
"All Our Propogation" or Stoppard's ARCADIA, it is a rarity?  Is it really 
that rare for an artist to use scientific/mathematical material as an 
aesthetic basis or for a mathematician/scientist to have no appreciation 
for aesthetics? (I can't help thinking that it's the lack of that schism 
that gives Elizabethan/Jacobean literature/poetry some added fascination 
for me).

And, what's the difference between writing poetry and writing song lyrics 
that don't have tunes (e.g., "Monochrome")?

And, have you ever written a play? (and is it/would it be in verse or prose?)

--Kathy
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #67 of 74: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 1 Nov 01 22:52
    
E-mail from Kate Nepveu:

Patrick, you're right about the paperback cover; I have the hardback
with the nifty picture of the medal on it.  But I've had quite a few
copies of that (probably more than the paperback) pass through my
hands, too.

lioness--nice to meet someone else who loves "All Our Propagation."
It's in the NESFA collection _From the End of the Twentieth Century_
and it's my favorite thing in it, notwithstanding such wonders as
"Troy:  The Movie" and "Walkaway Clause."

And an actual question for Mike (go figure...).  I see someone
upthread mentioned _Last Call_, a fabulous book, though not one that
_The Last Hot Time_ reminds me of.  Anyway, I once mentioned it to an
author who was working on something about poker, who responded that
it was now off-limits _because_ it was about poker.  I've seen a
number of other authors say similar things--that they can't, or don't
want to, read things close to what they're doing.  And not just on
the same topic; I believe Terry Pratchett has said that he mostly
reads things other than fantasy.  Do you find yourself doing
something similar?  (And regardless of what genre, anything in
particular you'd like to recommend?)
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #68 of 74: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 2 Nov 01 17:04
    
It's hard to believe two weeks have gone by already! It's been such a
pleasure having you here, Mike. Thank you for joining us in Inkwell.vue. And
thanks to you too, Patrick, for leading the conversation.

You're both welcome to continue, of course, if you wish. The topic will
remain open in case you'd like to carry on. Here's hoping you do!
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #69 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 2 Nov 01 21:31
    
Definitely! 
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #70 of 74: John M. Ford (johnmford) Fri 2 Nov 01 22:02
    
        Got way behind here, sorry.     


        For poetry as “real” sf/fantasy, I suppose I’d look at the
negative definition: if it’s something else, what?
        Much of what’s published as poetry in the field is light verse --
limericks about the young man from Centauri and so forth.  I’m not
sneering at this; I’ve done some of it.  And then there are the
pastiches, usually of Kipling or Robert W. Service.  I think there’s
some resistance in the general sf/f magazines to “difficult” poetry. 
It’s always hard to say how much of that resistance really reflects the
readers’ views, but some of it’s real enough.  (I’ve seen reviewers
simply sneer at blank verse, claiming it’s just prose with funny
typesetting.  These people are entitled to not like it, but they would
seem disqualified from reviewing it.)  One doesn’t see many convention
panels on poetry, and I can’t think of one on interfaces between poetry
and prose.
        There are certainly enough excellent poets in the field.  To grab
some names, Bruce Boston, Mike Bishop, Joe Haldeman.  (And Ray
Bradbury, but, well, Ray Bradbury.)
        I don’t want to get too far into the “so what is poetry anyway?”
arguscussion, but I do think that it differs from prose not just in 
rhyme and meter (which are optional anyway) but in the essential
approach to language.  A poem can be construced entirely out of the
simple declarative sentences that waaaaay too many genre writers
iconize, but in an authentic poem, they will have a cumulative effect
far different from those simp. dec. sents -- even the same ones -- set
out as the equally iconic clear expository paragraphs.

        The SF and fantasy verse doesn’t seem much different in the
production to me, but neither does the prose.  “Camelot Station” is
pretty crisp-edged for an Arthurian fable. while “Propagation” deals
with literal electromechanical components in wildly nonliteral terms.

        Oh dear, C. P. Snow Falling on Cedars.  Do the absolute art-bohemians
and white-smock-scientists actually exist, outside of NEW YORKER
cartoons?  The people I know (possibly a biased sample, but whose
isn’t?) usually lean professionally one way or the other, but that’s
not an intellectual limitation.
        I would think the success of books like LONGITUDE and shows of
“industrial art” indicate a broad audience for sci/tech artistically
presented.

        I dunno about “song lyrics that don’t have tunes,” because the lyrics
all do.  Unless you mean, is there a difference in writing a lyric
that’s intended to be read as part of a prose work, in which case there
sometimes is -- a strongly metric verse will probably read better than
something heavily syncopated or actually arrythmic (some of Ani
diFranco’s lyrics, for instance).

        I’ve written short plays, and parts of longer ones.  “Amy, at the
Bottom of the Stairs” was originally conceived as a play, and could
probably still be staged with a little adjustment.  I’ve tried a couple
of times to write an sf (not fantasy) stage musical, but I’ve never
been happy with the books (some of the lyrics were okay).

        The “do you avoid books that are too close to what you’re doing?”
thing -- I suppose I do, but it’s not a deliberate avoidance.  I read a
lot more nonfiction than fiction (this was not always true).  Many of
the writers I admire most aren’t “dangerous” in this regard, because
actually trying to imitate Gene Wolfe or John Crowley (for instance) is
not a sensible notion.  In a broader sense, I’m not very worried that
I’ll do something that’s “too much like” someone else’s handling of the
same topic or theme -- and of course the first refuge of the field’s
wannabe critics is looking for “influences,” it being a lot easier to
notice that this and that author both had a funny sidekick with a
disability than to figure out if either one brought anything
interesting to the character, his jokes, or the viscera.
        
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #71 of 74: It would have made more sense over tea (wren) Mon 25 Sep 06 07:15
    
I'm sorry to do this, and not sure if this is the right way to do it,
but John M. Ford died this morning. There is a little more information
at www.nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/, but everyone is stunned. Those
who knew him knew that Mike's health was never good, but it's still a
shock.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #72 of 74: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 27 Sep 06 15:16
    

That's sad news. I'm sorry to hear it, wren.
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #73 of 74: Daniel (dfowlkes) Fri 29 Sep 06 15:19
    <scribbled>
  
inkwell.vue.126 : John M. Ford: The Last Hot Time
permalink #74 of 74: It would have made more sense over tea (wren) Mon 30 Oct 06 08:06
    
Two articles: the first is about the memorial in Minneapolis, the
second about the memorial in London:

http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/15868982.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/wormseyeview/story/0,,1929491,00.html
  



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Non-members: How to participate


Non-members: Please enter your comment or question:
All non-member comments are read before posting. All spam is discarded.

Your email address:
We will only use this email address to contact you for clarification.

Your real name:
Your name will be used to identify your comment if it is posted.



Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us