Like many, many others in fandom, I was devastated this morning to learn that John M. Ford died late last night.
I knew him mostly by his delightful (brilliant, funny, erudite) posts on Making Light; I knew his writing largely by reputation, though I'd just gotten around to rereading his story "Chain Home, Low" in The Sandman: Book of Dreams and marvelled at its loveliness, determined to find more of his work now that I knew who he was. And, of course, I knew him as the author of this, which remains, five years later, the most poignant, touching, fitting memorial to the events of September 11 I've yet seen.
I didn't have much interaction with him even on ML, and certainly never felt familiar enough to address him as Mike, as his friends did. He did leave one perfectly-turned response to a comment of mine (itself a reply to this), which had me giggling for hours; I wondered if he knew how much it made my day. I thought, in the way of fen who come to be in touch with the community of their literary heroes, that I might find a way, someday, to craft something smart and witty and poetic enough to properly repay him for it. I am sad beyond words that now I will never have the chance.
I will say this, though: John M. Ford was what I want to be when I grow up.
The world is too soon without him, and he is already sorely missed.
We work so hard to contain the fires of our spirits, and every day I am more convinced that this is an error and a tragedy. Better by far to be a bright sun burning fiercely against the vast cold dark. The other stars are closer than you realize, and they go out sooner than you think.