In the current issue of Locus, Graham Sleight wraps up his admirable series of looks backward at the most important books of major science fiction writers with a contemplation on the works of John M. Ford, the guy we all called "Mike." It makes me sad to think of him because he died far too young, but we owe it to the man to bring him up every now and then.
As Sleight notes, Ford's career was all over the map -- poetry, gaming scenarios (he was one of the beta testers for Dungeons and Dragons), fantasy, science fiction, even Star Trek tie-ins . . . One year he won the World Fantasy Award for Winter Solstice, Camelot Station, a chapbook collection of formally perfect poems mashing together the Matter of Britain with Victorian transportation, which he sent out to his friends as a Christmas card.
Let me repeat that: He won the World Fantasy Award for his Christmas card.
Sometimes it seemed like Mike was trying desperately to fail -- and not succeeding at it. As a result, his reputation today is not a patch on what it would be if he had found one single nail and hammered on it to the exclusion of all others. Graham Sleight effectively apologizes for indulging himself in covering a writer whose fame didn't approach that of the others he'd written about. Albeit one who might have been as famous as any of them if he had only tried.
But so far as I could tell, success was never Mike Ford's intent. My best guess is that he was simply looking for tasks that would entertain his extremely fine mind. Jesus, he was smart! He couldn't have hidden that if he'd tried.
And, um . . . that's all I had to say. You might want to look up his fantasy novel The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History. It won the World Fantasy Award too. Even though I'm certain that was not his intent