Alec Austin (alecaustin) wrote,

Farthing Party con report: III

Been completely smashed by work. Wrote this earlier in the week but never got around to posting it due to the tired.

9/28 - 3:30 - John M. Ford
papersky moderating

This ended up being more a memorial panel than a discussion panel. As mrissa noted in her Con Report, this was probably inevitable - there is a great deal of chewy stuff that one could dig into in any given Mike Ford novel, and they are sufficiently different from each other that it would be challenging to generalize except at a very high level.

Relevant Points:

* JMF changed the rules of every form he worked in. For example, in Original Series Star Trek novels, Kirk & Spock must now appear as non-infants, and before page 120 or so.

* He had a horror of being obvious. If he had a fault as a writer, it was in the opposite direction. His work does not resemble itself particularly, and came out during a time period when this was more or less career suicide. These days, editors can tell their marketing staff things like, "Don't sweat that every one of her books is in a different subgenre - she's Gene Wolfe." This was not a viable option at the time.

* Mike did amazing work in gaming as well as SFF. He wrote the award-winning Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues for Paranoia, as well as GURPS Time Travel, in which he explained time travel's possibilities in depth for basically nothing. (That's a 100+ page sourcebook for ~$2,000. Writing RPG books is just not worth it economically unless you're writing for WotC, as I have grounds to know)

* Mike had a very strong moral sensibility - not the censorious kind, but the genuinely humane sort - both in private life and in his work. On hearing a story about foster children getting up from table before dessert and explaining it by saying "Ice cream is for your real children," his response was, "There's more of human evil in that than in all of Hannibal Lecter."

* Mike died intestate, which led to huge issues due to his (hostile) family getting the rights to his work and denying publication. If you're a writer, make a will that addresses your literary estate. (Also, get used - or new, where available - copies of Mike Ford's books and pass them around. They're brilliant.)

* Mike's unfinished novel, Aspects, will be released by Tor relatively soon. It's scaled-up continental fantasy w/ Trains, and Tooth & Claw was written in conversation with it. Multiple panelists felt strongly that it should have been a key part of the fantasy genre's conversation with itself for the last decade or so.

Good Quotes:

* (To JMF) "Mike, you've lost me here, and if you've lost me, then you've lost a lot of other people."

* "Mike was better at leaving me confused and being okay with it than anyone else."

* "Mike had this weird tendency to get bad copy edits, for some reason."

* JMF quote in response to copy edits: "I think someone is being stupid here and I don't think it's me."

* (Paraphrased) "Mike's work was proof that excellence is possible. It's right there, look!"
Tags: cons, farthing party
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