Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Chromatic’ by John M. Ford

with 6 comments

This is a series of vignette-length fables set in an imaginary post-revolutionary country and based around a new set of metaphorical (and ideologically pure) colours. As I have come to expect from my meagre exposure to Ford’s work, it packs a heartbreakingly dense emotional punch into an extremely economical set of words.

Quality: ****
Hardness: *

I’m sure I said I would stop posting the introductions to the stories but I just can’t help myself. Every time I think H&K have reached the limits of their ability to contort the definition of hard SF they surpass themselves:

John M. Ford is equally adept at fantasy and science fiction, but is known more for the variety and richness of his works than for his rigorous use of science. He is impatient, it seems, with conventional approaches; in such stories as this one, he applies the techniques of and exploits a conventional setting of the school of magic realism to embody the idea of paradigm shifts (from contemporary philosophy of science)… It also demands, by implication, some familiarity with the tradition of “alternate universe” sf — which is usually not hard sf… Since this need not involve either science or technology, this has become as useful to writers out of the genre as in, resulting in a blurring of genre boundaries… What we have here is a story at the very fringe of science fiction that teases at genre definition, yet plays by the rules as Ford perceives them.

Written by Martin

2 February 2011 at 10:09

6 Responses

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  1. I can’t remember if H&C mention this, but there is a sort-of justification for considering the Ford as a literalisation of Thomas S Kuhn’s idea of paradign-shifts in science: old colours -> new colours with the suddenness of old politics ->new politics.

    Did you catch the acrostic-thingy encoded in the first words of each section?


    8 February 2011 at 14:08

  2. Oh, soddit, ignore me, my eye skipped the line where they mention paradigm shifts (but not Kuhn).


    8 February 2011 at 14:08

  3. I can see there is a connection but I don’t think the connection is strong enough to make using “the school of magic realism to embody the idea of paradigm shifts” into hard SF.

    I didn’t catch the acrostic-thingy – it is not the sort of thing I keep a lookout for! – but I will check the story tonight.


    8 February 2011 at 14:26

  4. I’ve now looked up the acrostic and I’m not a fan, truth to tell. It is rather cheap.


    8 February 2011 at 19:39

  5. Ah well. I note that there are copies of Ford’s _Heat of Fusion_ on Amazon from £2.65…


    8 February 2011 at 20:08

  6. […] Last Question’ by Isaac Asimov ‘The Indefatigable Frog’ by Philip K. Dick ‘Chromatic’ by John M. Ford ‘The Snowball Effect’ by Katherine McLean ‘The Morphology Of The Kirkham […]

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