Jeffrey Ford reads stories fantastical and uncanny

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

A young couple finds distraction in a haunted house, demon children and possessed cats dancing their attentions from what they truly want to understand. A city of miniscule people lives inside a milk bottle and discovers the metaphysics of their own reality. The scientist who created them goes insane.

These are just a few of the images fiction writer Jeffery Ford sent unbridled into the Scheuer Room on Wednesday, January 31 during the readings of two of his scintillating short stories. His captive audience contained Swatties of the past and present, some aspiring writers and others avid fans.

Ford stated openly that he did not really consider himself a science fiction writer. Nevertheless, he has been the recipient of several awards in the genre, including the International Horror Guild Award and the Edgar Allen Poe Award.

The writer’s first reading was from an unpublished work entitled “The Bedroom Light,” and focused on a young couple living in a rather creepy house that begins to infiltrate the more uncanny facets of their imaginations. The second was the more “science fiction”- related of the two, concerning a scientist who manages to shrinks human beings and creates an entire society inside a milk bottle. Everything goes inevitably awry afterwards, but the image of a miniscule race discussing its own place in reality was a rather beautiful image.

In his stories, Ford incorporates many of his own dreams and experiences, which may contribute to the richness of his work. When asked about the writing process in general, he had many insights to share, including an observation that many beginning writers make the mistake of filling their work with symbols, like “filling cream donuts on the graveyard shift.” Witty remarks like these, as well as his vivid stories and voyages into the human imagination created and incredible experience, the likes of which Swarthmore will hopefully host again in the future.

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