John M. Ford (YGtCTO Words #41)

The Last Hot Time

Book written by John M. Ford

The way of the polymath cannot be easy. Something new and interesting always lurks around the next corner. Not surprisingly, this can lead to dilettantism as the next shiny object attracts attention away from the current fixation. This is just supposition, of course. Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison, among so many others, are never thought of as dilettantes, though their contemporaries may have felt otherwise on occasion.

Genius can be hard to pin down, making it even harder to identify. Human beings can lose focus bringing all that curiosity and acquired knowledge to bear on an artistic pursuit that requires great craft and inspiration. Perhaps the only upside is that the ability to absorb vast swathes of information sets those inspirational fires burning.

I never knew John M. Ford, but his writings were everywhere in science fiction circles for a few, too brief, years. The obvious takeaway from any first encounter with his words was that the man knew stuff. Repeated encounters made you go back to the other works and wonder if this was in fact the same person. While we can accept that someone might know all of these things, the difficulty comes in seeing how he wore the particular work at hand like a glove. (That’s saying something, ain’t it?)

John M. Ford

Recent decades

have moved us away from the concept of a “genre ghetto,” but science fiction, mystery, horror, and romance have all been characterized thus. Each genre has been associated with certain tropes: space ships to ripped bodices. None of the genres is actually limited by such perceived requirements. In short, a lot of work gets promoted as one thing or another and then that’s what it is.

Ford never published outside the science fiction and fantasy realm. He wrote a lot of non-fiction for Asimov’s Science Fiction, as well as two of the best Star Trek novels. He wrote wonderful poetry. And then there were the stories and books- too few.

It can be easy when Alan Moore writes for DC Comics or Ford writes in the Star Trek universe to expect quality as we know they have skills. But then it becomes apparent that they have fully digested the specific needs of the fictional playground and made it so much better than it could have been.

Then, the artist goes on to continue to create their own original work. Moore and Ford both demonstrate a remarkable facility to make their talents serve the work at hand. Like Picasso and Tesla, they take us somewhere new while never forgetting to leave enough breadcrumbs for those willing to follow.

In the first instance, the artist puts the lie to any thought of selling out. In the latter, they help us move just a little further along on discovering our potential.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 178 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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