Patrick Nielsen Hayden called about 7:30 this morning to let us know that Mike Ford (John M. Ford) had been found dead in his apartment overnight. I don't have anything particularly articulate to say about this. I think what I said to David when we got off the phone with Patrick is that I wasn't sure whether to be surprised that he'd died or that he'd lived so long.
The most intensive time I spent with Mike was when I first moved to New York, around 1985. He was a hot young writer who hung around the Tor offices a lot. Many were in awe of him and his precocious writing talent.
I needed a place to stay, and Mike was staying in Ellen Kushner and Mimi Panich's rather large apartment on the Upper West Side, so Mike put me up. (Ellen was quite surprised and a bit taken aback to discover later in conversation that I had stayed in her bedroom for two weeks.)
He and I talked a lot then, though I don't remember about what. What I do remember is that he had lost the use of his little finger for reasons having something to do with diabetes. I was 23 and he was only about 5 years older, and I remember being shocked at the extent to which he seemed to expect to die young; that in that context, the loss of the use of a finger didn't seem to strike him as that big a deal.
I think the last time I saw him was at Boskone in February. I had been having a pretty wild year and was full of the energy of it. He talked about some arcane part of his immune system not functioning, though I don't remember the details. I remember thinking that if Mike had lived this long, so far beyond what I guess I'd expected, I figured he'd surprise us all and live to 65. It's bewildering to me that it didn't turn out that way.
Someone else used the word "expected" to describe his death. Having expected his death for twenty years, I guess it seemed to me that he had transited into some kind of immortality.
Condolences to Elise.
Mike (center) with the Making Light Crew at Boskone in February.
Photo on the upper left: Mike in the late 1980s.
(I have tagged all our photos of Mike on Flickr "JohnMFord." Click HERE for the John M. Ford Flickr feed: Our photos plus a few more.)