Monday, September 25, 2006

John M. Ford

I got an email from my friend Mike Ford -- author John M. Ford -- a couple of days ago.

Emails from Mike were always wonderful things. This one was called Speaking of closing tabs and went...

. . . some of the literoid crap from Making Light. The reason I sent you the first one will be apparent enough. The others, heck if I know.

1. And it came to pass after a decent interval of shoveling much dung, and the creatures that did eat of the fishes of the sea departing with rejoicing to do the same for the first time in an month, that they piled out of the boat, and smelt air that did not smell.

2. Whereupon the mighty lizards, those that had not already been skinned to maketh luggage and upholsterings, and who had early in the voyage eaten all the creepy-looking Precambrian thingies, went forth to find them places zoned for extinction.

3. And Noah looked about at the world, which was vast and empty and damp, and thought, well, we hadst best get around to it. An good thing the world is the Tigris and the Euphrates and the land between and that is it, or I would be one tired patriarch.

4. And he looked upon his wife, who went off in haste to gather something or other.

5. And he looked upon his daughters, and up at the heaven, and it did not darken.

6. Okay, he did say, and unto the maidens, Yoo Hoo.

7. And as he approached them, there came an hurtling stone, that struck him on the head, and he looked up again, wondering.

8. And there came a voice behind him, saying, "Sorry, friend. I wasn't looking. Name's Deukalion. This is the marina, right?"

9. Noah looked in the direction of the voice, and saw another boat, and it was big, and it had a promenade deck and a lapstrake hull.

10. And Noah's spirit was troubled.

11. But before he could cry unto the Lord something about bad jests, there came another voice, and he turned to see a modest multitude.

12. And they had no beards, and did carry their young upon their backs, and had their goods on wooden draggy things.

13. One of them raised his hand, saying, "Hi. Boy howdy, that was an long landbridge."

14. And as if there were not enough weirdness thereof, a great beast, with as it were an hangover, came up from the sea, and said, "Have you seen my mom?"

15. But another man, mighty in thews and all that, came up from yet another way, and did tear off the beast's arm and did beat him silly with it. And the warrior said his name was Bee-Wulf, which is being translated, Lupus and Wild Honey.

16. And Noah went unto his sons, Ham, Spam, and Jay-Z, and he rent their garments, because his own was the only warm thing on the boat.

II Crossovers, 1:1-16

This one, well, will likely be self-explanatory in light of Recent Literary Events.

"So, Poirot, this Betjeman chap is some sort of a poet, eh?"
"Yes, 'Astings. Somewhat."
"Good thing there's only a couple of suspects in the case, then."
" 'Astings, for a man who spends his leisure time with the world's greatest detective, your mysterious mind is perpetually stuck in what you call the neutral gear. It is exactly because there were only two Betjeman biographers of note at the time of the affaire d'acronyme that the mystery is so fascinating. What if this obviousness hides an inobviousness within its -- never mind. Suppose that it were someone not in the -- what was the fellow's word?"
"'Fetid swamps.'"
"Yes, what if he were not of the standards of the bog? Suppose it were, in fact, Michael Moorcock?"
"Uhm, I don't --"
"Your supposer is broken, 'Astings. Rub your two little gray cells together in their nourishing mix of gin and IPA. Could it not have been John Clute?"
"Wasn't he in that movie with Jane Fonda?"
"There are days when I only wish you were played by Donald Sutherland."
"Well, if anyone could have written it, then, well, I could have."
"'Astings, I have seen you Googling upon the 'peotry,' and being satsified with the result. In my suspect list, you are between le Voldemort and la V. C. Andrews."
"I say, at least one of them is dead."
"I only 'ope to sell so well when I am dead. Voici, this log of the web. Could not this literary rudite-crudite have been produced by the evil master-mind of the Langford? Or his evil but much shorter and if possible narrower American time-twin?"
"I'm afraid you're in Doctor Who country now, Poirot. And anyway, wasn't the American clockwork fiend's evil twin the Mike Harrison bloke?"
"You 'ave 'idden 'epths, 'Astings. And you will never again be invited to a First Thursday meeting."

And this one I can blame (politely) on Jo Walton, who said something about the BBC running a pome of mine in their readings of 9/11 pomes. I offered this as an audition piece.

Hail, thou Bridge on the northerly Forth!
Twixt Queensferry South and Queensferry North
Bearing high traffic loads on an over-Firth courth.
And after the Tay, which was quite blown away
On a terrible, horrible, rather wet day
And the train out of Scotland was dunked in the bay
Still the builders did say, in their style gravely gay,
That double cantilevering pointed the way.
And so no further locals should fall in the drink,
They brought iron and steel and the oxide of zinc;
And thanks to the girder, the bolt, and the pin
Since the day it was built, it has not fallen in.

. . . but you know, you can't really parody the poor bloke, in the same way that attempts to simulate Really Bad Slush by good writers never quite get it right.

And I mentioned that I was thinking about doing a Short Story once I was done typing in the mass of handwritten Novel. Just on the moment, Graham Sleight and Farah Mendelsohn reminded me that I promised them just such an outpouring for Foundation #100. (I had not forgotten this, but I thought I had long ago missed the deadline.) It is, as you would expect, humblingly fine company to be in -- Nalo, Margo Lanagan, Eileen Gunn, Andy Duncan, and so on.

Yes, spellchecker, "humblingly" is a word. Now, anyway.

So I had best go off and Get a Few Things Done.
Best as,

I hadn't replied, although I meant to, and Mike never seemed to mind if I did or I didn't.

And now I never shall, because I just heard that Mike passed away this morning. And I miss my friend already...