Daily Archives: September 25, 2006

John M. Ford, RIP

John Milo “Mikey” Ford, author of science fiction and fantasy novels, songs, poems, and gaming modules, and game designer, has passed away unexpectedly at his home. He had apparently had health problems for a long time, but still, he was only 49.

May that perpetual light which is brighter than the stars shine upon him.

Among his works:

Novels: Web of Angels, The Princes of the Air, The Dragon Waiting (World Fantasy Award – not my cup of tea, but might be yours), The Scholars of Night (interesting novel about the spy world and Shakespearean scholarship), Growing Up Weightless (a Heinlein-like YA sf novel), Casting Fortune (a Liavek collection), and The Last Hot Time (urban fantasy from an alternate Borderlands). At the time of his death, he was somewhere around chapter 7 of Aspects, which would have been the best fantasy train novel ever, according to Jo Walton. I believe it.

Gaming materials: The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues (an awardwinning Paranoia roleplaying game module. Including songs), GURPS: Infinite Worlds (cowritten), and Discworld RPG: Adventures on the Back of the Turtle (cowritten).

Star Trek novels: The Final Reflection, the best novel about Klingons ever, and one of the best about games; and How Much for Just the Planet?, the funniest Star Trek novel/musical/film ever, with many fannish injokes and guest stars. (Btw, The Hand of Kahless is a reprint of The Final Reflection bundled with Michael Jan Friedman’s novel Kahless.)

Songs, stories, and poems: many. Perhaps his most enduring work will be “110 Stories”.


Teresa Nielsen-Hayden gathers most of them.

Will Shetterly also remembers.


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Recognizing Truth

One of our Catholic bloggers is having a crisis of faith right now. (Pray for her, btw.)

There were a lot of sympathetic commenters, of course. But one of those comments seemed not quite true. Every thinking Catholic has a crisis of faith over church practices and doctrine?

Um, I thought crises of faith were when you have the sudden conviction that God doesn’t exist, or that God is evil and hates you. Or you have serious artistic differences with God over how Creation was designed. So I always thought that faith crises = personal problems and arguments with God. Having one over anything else, especially elements of church teaching and practice… why, it just seems so… civilized.

I suppose it’s not, though. Any time that emotion and thought and the soul get all tied up in knots, it’s not going to be pleasant to work through. So I guess intellectually I can understand it, and certainly it’s important to figure out what’s true and what’s not and why. But I just don’t think that way myself, so it’s hard to grasp. (And let me make it perfectly clear to God and everyone that I am not anxious to gain my own personal experiential information about the topic. Noooo, thank you.)

I collect information. As I collect it, I compare it against what I already know. If it doesn’t fit, I consider whether this piece of data or the previous piece was in error, and discard pieces accordingly. If it does fit, I slot it away and don’t worry about it. If I can’t figure out whether it fits or not, I let the piece sit and wait for other pieces of applicable data to come along. But most of the consideration takes place on an intuitive level; I only have to think consciously about things flagged as contradictory. It’s more of a pattern recognition process than inductive and deductive reasoning. (Though reasoning is useful for figuring out what’s wrong about a wrong thing.)

So it’s not that I don’t study theology. Heck, I study science, too. But either I think a theory is true, I think it’s mistaken, or I think I don’t know. I don’t spend a lot of emotional energy on the matter. I’m pretty sure that all the stuff the Church officially teaches is true, because that worked out early on and has continued to fit the data; and I’m pretty sure that the theory of why the sky is blue is right, and for the same reason. Working out the beautiful consequences of a theological concept or the refraction of light through the atmosphere — that’s much more fun to contemplate.(OTOH, the existence and propagation of wrong information tends to make me angry. I’m not saying that bad data is morally as well as factually wrong, but it sure feels that way!)

But I suppose that the lack of argumentation and angst in my head is why I’m really abysmal at explaining the faith to people. I can tell them the facts, but in the back of my head, I expect them just to recognize those facts as true and act accordingly. (Which just ain’t gonna happen, in the general run of things.) Meanwhile, folks who’ve angsted over every theological and doctrinal detail, instead of just sucking ’em in, can recap their own arguments with themselves for other people.


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