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The Last Hot Time

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  384 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
That woman, it turns out, is important to another party on the scene: Mr. Patrice. Who, in his turn, appears to run a lot of the City. Doc knows he holds some kind of unusual power. Mr. Patrice knows it too. So does the beautiful Ginevra Benci. And so does the sorcerous Whisper-Who-Dares, who offers threats and temptations far beyond anything Doc ever imagined. By turns br ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Tor Books (first published 2000)
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Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cera by: Carl, Liralen, Rachel, Trip
A teenage boy, trained as a paramedic, runs away from his small-town Iowa home to magical gangland Chicago -- and this Chicago really is magical, as elves have returned to the world. An awesome book for the autumn, with some of the action taking place on Halloween.

I'm not sure I can say enough good things about this book, because Ford does all sorts of things I love. The main character grows to know and trust himself, and through doing so learns to know and trust others, but it's a realistic, ha
John Carter McKnight
I've long since lost my taste for literary fiction. The Last Hot Time is everything literary fiction is not: it's *painterly,* where the craft is more powerful for not drawing attention to itself with how clever it is trying to be. It is not mundane; it captures transcendent passions. It does not turn up its nose; it gets its hands deep into the muck of our souls.

The Last Hot Time tells a coming of age story, and a very good one. But what it mostly does is capture a hundred shades of sweet pain
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liralen by: Carl
This is one of those books that makes me want to go back th rough all my ratings and put everything down another notch just so I can rate this higher.

Again, I find myself loving it for what it doesn't say as much as what it shows. Definitely a true example of why it's important to show and never tell. Ford's prose always gets me. Solid, detailed, distinct and perfect for the character. I love how Danny's perspectives change, how his name changes, how he changes through the whole of it, and how t
Maura Heaphy
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Learning that this novel is set in the the Terri Windling-Emma Bull-Will Shetterly-etc. "Borderland" shared-universe explained a lot: I felt that there was a fascinating world to be explored here, but the author was coasting, letting the knowledge he assumed the reader would have do the work for him. As someone who hasn't read any other Borderland stories, I found the descriptions of the world -- the magic of the areas affected by elven magic, and the hints about the dystopian world the central ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
How have I missed this author?

There is a great tabletop role-playing game system called Shadowrun that was originally published in 1989. In it magic returned to the world in 2011, bringing with it mythological creatures and turning some humans into orks, trolls, dwarves, and elves. In the gaming system it's initially 2050 and it's a cyberpunk urban fantasy world that prefigures a lot of the popular fiction being written now, where mega-corporations rule the world and operate sort of like organiz
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Library book sales are always fun, and finding a J. M. Ford book that I don't already own is even better (and getting harder all the time). Ford is probably best known for his two Star Trek novels "The Final Reflection" and "How Much for Just the Planet" which were so awesome Paramount kicked him off their writers list for making everyone else look bad (this may not be literally true). But Ford was so much more than just Star Trek (even if he did write RPG supplements as well as novels).

This is
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
In an alternate America, a young paramedic drives away from his Iowa roots to the big city. In Chicago, which (like many parts of the country) shares an uneasy boundary with a land of elves and magic. Some magic spills across the border, and some elves make their homes, or make dangerous mischief, on the human side. Our hero falls in with a powerful, but cultured, gang leader and his companions. He befriends an elf, falls in love, struggles to come to terms with his own dark side.

This sounds lik
Alex Sarll
I used to love urban fantasy, but now the field has become so oversaturated and formulaic that I tend to steer well clear. But, this one is by John M Ford - and the only other book of his I've read, The Dragon Waiting, overcame the similar reluctance I now feel about alternate histories and vampire stories, simultaneously. This is also very good, keeping the essential strangeness of elves in Chicago intact, even as we come to know individual elves. There are nods to Dunsany, who managed a simila ...more
Sasha Twyst
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Calling this Urban Fantasy seems a little misleading, but with the Tommy guns, poker games, Chicago landmarks and elves, it's hard to use any other shorthand. It would be more accurate to call it literary jazz, backed by dancers made of magic dust, but that probably isn't a category at Barnes & Noble.

This is my first and only John M. Ford book and I can't remember how it got into my "to read" stack. I know I've had it for a while. I'm glad I read it when I did, after having gotten back in t
Anna Asplund
This is fantasy/film noir set in modern-day Chicago.
Yeah, I was confused, too. And reading the book didn't make things much more clear.
The Last Hot Time follows Doc, a young paramedic, as he navigates the new and confusing world he's found himself in.
This book had the potential to be really interesting and really fun, but I had a few issues with it.
First of all, hardly anything happens. The book spends so much time explaining the world and the people to Doc and to the reader that there isn't muc
Peter Tillman
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
My 2oo1 booklog note: "B", unmemorable fantasy.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is a contemporary fantasy set in the outskirts of Chicago. Danny, a young country boy, finds himself a witness to a road accident on his way to the big city. His training as a paramedic allows him to gain favor with Mr. Patrise, one of the town's most prominent patrons. Ford introduces us to a large and varied cast of characters, including Cloudhunter, one of the Elves who has returned (along with the presence of magic) to this world.

Danny finds himself given a new identity (Doc Hallow
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As a regular reader of, I've seen quite a few book reviews posted by author Jo Walton. Walton has a penchant for picking out books that have been out for some time--and which, consequently, are currently rather hard to find. Such is the case with John M. Ford's The Last Hot Time.

I previously knew of Ford only as the author of the comedic Star Trek novel How Much For Just the Planet?, and so was quite intrigued by the prospect of reading something entirely different by him. Originally pub
Lissa Notreallywolf
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This isn't a Liavek novel, like Casting Fortune, but it still has a very similar feel to the Borderlands, another more broadly shared world. I found two characters of the police force that I beleive I recognized from Emma Bull's Finder. There is a strong pong of Dashiell Hammett in this fantasy Chicago and many references to the organized crime era during and following Prohibition. Sometimes the costuming seems a little strained, but some folks like to dress well, and some folks like to dress th ...more
Colin Birge
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like many of John M. Ford's longer works, the "The Last Hot Time" is, at heart, a coming of age story. Years after the gates to Faerie have been reopened, Daniel Holman is running: away from his Iowa childhood, toward something better, or at least different. A road accident throws him into the orbit of a literate, powerful patron named, appropriately, Mr. Patrise. Patrise, it seems, is one of the leaders of the world between the worlds, and Holman, now renamed Doc Hallownight, learns much about ...more
James Cardona
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A contemporary fantasy set in present day Chicago, One Last Hot Time is a story of a paramedic’s adventure into a world where the Elfland dimension and the human dimension have collided creating a permanent intermediary zone that bridges the two worlds. In this “Levee” elves and humans intermingle and the rules and norms of both societies are intertwined.

Interestingly, much of the contemporary feel of the book was not contemporary at all but had more of a 1920s, Chicago gangland, Al Capone feel.
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf
This is a new Bordertown story. It does stand on its own; nothing requires the reader to even suspect the existence of the other stories, much less have read them. Danny Holman, a young man with considerable experience as an emergency medical technician, flees his old life for the City, and along the way he gets hooked up with Mr. Patrise, who appears to be a somewhat senior gangster. Danny, with his EMT skills, becomes Doc Hallownight, and settles in, more or less, to his new life, providing mu ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This is something I had read previously but neglected to note on Goodreads. Upon re-reading, it seems less cheesy than it did before, but one aspect of the ending still strikes a slight false note. Still, I recommend it for all fans of old-style urban fantasy. (Caution: this book is just a little bit hurtful. Not harmful, but it may well remind you of times when your heart was broken long ago. That probably sounds too melodramatic, but it's the best way I can thing of to describe the aspects of ...more
Apr 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is a relatively short book in the days of scifi-fantasy publishing where most books are around 400 pages minimum. It also manages to pack in a lot behind the seemingly simple plot of gang warfare in the streets of a Shadow Chicago where elves and humans coexist in a world of twisted laws and politics. Ford's writing style, slow and a bit superficial, sets the tone, reminiscent of the old gangster movies of the Depression era. This is intelligent fantasy and Ford appears to make an effort to ...more
Garret Reece
Nov 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a deeply satisfying book with a few odd moments, but the oddness is well in keeping with the overall feel and theme. I have a great weakness for books about competent people being competent, and that's exactly how this book starts.

The bulk of the plot is the protagonist, a young kid from the sticks, learning to navigate the dangerous and delightful streets of what was Chicago, and probably still is, but it got pulled into a strange halfway state between the world we know and the world in
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up, purely because it's by John M Ford. I read his two Star Trek novels, How Much for Just the Planet, and The Final Reflection, and very much wanted more of his work. The Final Reflection, in particular, really impressed me.

So I didn't quite know what to expect from The Last Hot Time. I had to readjust my expectations several times, but this wasn't at all a bad thing. The book is gripping, fast-paced, powerful urban fantasy. The setting starts out real-world, and you get to
Lupine Smile
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read books twice. I feel that there is so much out there to read, and since I have a long memory, books do not hold their magic as well the second time around. This book is the exception. I have read this book four times over the course of as many years, and I think I may dive back in again. There are so many hidden details that I keep finding with each read. At first it seems to be a very straight forward story, but then you start to think about things you read. This is a cross worlds s ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
This is a really peculiar fantasy, along the lines of Elsewhere and Nevernever, but not so YA. The setting is a somewhat (but not entirely) 30's-ish Chicago "Mafia" milieu, rather than the bohemians and teens of those books. As far the writing, it is so minimalized, kept to just the plot and no explanation, that it rather leaves me scratching my head. But it is easily unusual enough to be worth thinking over afterward. I don't much care for the main character though - a very boring "Everyman" ty ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A real hidden-gem of an urban-fantasy noir by John M. Ford found by chance at a used book sale. I love the depth, world-building, magic, politics, mystery, action, and change explored in this alternate Chicago. Easily a new favorite! It works well as a standalone novel, but oh, how I wish it was part of a series that really expanded on all of the material just touched upon here! I suppose I really need to read the Bordertown series which inspired this tale.

Also, as a person who works with paint
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I bought this book when it came out in 2000, and I read it cover-to-cover in one night. At the time I loved it unreservedly. Sixteen years later I re-read it, and it doesn't hold up as well as I'd hoped it would. The world and the characters Ford created are fascinating, but the worldview of all involved is too bleak and nihilistic for me. This is a book best enjoyed after the fact, when all that remains in memory is the scenery and the numerous references to old movies and jazz.
Wow. Another book sitting on my shelf for too long before I read it.

This is a fantasy or a coming of age story or a gangster book or a test of literary quote knowledge or all of these or something more than that. I can't tell until I reread it in a couple of years.

But if you haven't read it, read it.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous book. Fits together Mike Ford's standard--excellent worldbuilding, fascinating characters, and unusual bizarre plots, with an unusual grace--the narrative is much tighter than any book of his I've read. Would definitely recommend.

The subtitle is "A Contemporary Fantasy", which leaves me to wonder if the genre "modern fantasy" should be reserved for works from 1560 to 1820.
Chris Bernard
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Ford has this annoying habit of obscuring what person is talking at what moment, which can make his novels hard to follow. That said, this has to be the only mainstream fantasy novel I've read which is primarily about the main character's acceptance of himself as a Dom. Set in the Teri Windling "Borderlands" universe, but he doesn't make a big deal of it.
Set in an earth where elves have punched holes into our reality and magic works intermittently near the holes. A paramedic stops to help a gunshot victim and gets pulled into a world of magic-wielding mobsters, elves, chic nightclubs, and the occasional raid (where his medical training comes in handy).
Oct 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noir-ish urban fantasy where elves and their ilk have mixed into gangster-era Chicagoland. The writing was tough to follow sometimes. The author is a skilled writer, but tends more to the "auteur" approach to story telling for my simple tastes. I don't like to reread passages several times to figure out what's going on.
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John Milo "Mike" Ford was a science fiction and fantasy writer, game designer and poet.

Ford was regarded (and obituaries, tributes and memories describe him) as an extraordinarily intelligent, erudite and witty man. He was a popular contributor to several online discussions. He composed poems, often improvised, in both complicated forms and blank verse, notably Shakespearean pastiche; he also wrot
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