September 26, 2006

John M. Ford

I remember as a younger person reading one of those new-fangled franchised sci-fi novels. This one was for Star Trek, the franchise Sci-Fi leader, and was a bit different. It didn't chronicle the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the Enterprise - at least, not really. Nope. It was about a Klingon. Not only that, a Klingon who lived forty years before NCC-1701 left the builder's ways.

It was riveting, and it opened my eyes to the potential of a universe richly detailed by television both good and mediocre being taken up by professional writers. Not only taken up, but stretched in a new direction, in this case expanded backwards in time, as well as from a different point of view.

That book was titled The Final Reflection, and it remains one of the finest pieces of Star Trek-related writing I have ever come across - and yes, I'm a Trek nerd, and I have examined a fair stack of it. It was written by John M. Ford.

He wrote another, later, titled How Much for Just The Planet? which was almost a Shakespearean comedy version of Star Trek. Also excellent, but it didn't stay with me.

He seemed to produce gem-quality work on a haphazard timeframe, i.e. 'when it was ready' and 'when he felt like it.' I didn't run across his short stories until later, when recent collections of them were published (Heat of Fusion, Leaving the Twentieth Century, etc.) He wrote an excellent piece of nearly literal Space Opera titled The Princes of the Air; he wrote my favorite magic/tech crossover book ever, The Last Hot Time. He revealed his fascination with railroads to me in Growing up Weightless.

I see, via Neil Gaiman's blog, that John M. Ford - who, I found out from reading about him, was properly addressed as 'Mike' - passed away a few days ago. I never met the man, but his works still leave my shelf for a good read every few weeks. I'll take a moment of silence, and a quick moment to push myself to keep writing - not to match him, but to follow his lead.

Goodbye, Mr. Ford, and thank you.

Posted by jbz at September 26, 2006 5:38 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Hmm, perhaps you should purchase a piece of StarTrek history:
http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/search/LotSummary.asp?displayResults=textImages&sortResults=estimateHigh&resultsPerPage=50&skipTo=&SID=&intSaleID=20723

Posted by: Christine at September 26, 2006 12:25 PM
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