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An Introduction to Leslie Fish

D

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This is an unauthorised biography, so it's quite possible she will contradict considerable parts of it. However, it's written strictly from the perspective that I have as one of her fans. I'm not really sure when I first knew who Leslie Fish was, but I think it was an mp3 circa 1999 of a song called The Sun is Also a Warrior, which entranced me. Who knows who gave it to me (my first introduction to fandom was Pern, so maybe one of my fellow online-RPers on AOL?) or who ripped it. Around the same time, I read an amazing novel called Death Count, it's one of the best Star Trek novels (The Rihannsu novel, The Great Starship Race and Dreadnought are some of the others, along with the Final Reflection, of course). It was by this author named L.A. Graf and I didn't have the faintest idea of who said author was.

It turns out it was a collaboration group including Leslie Fish, standing for "Let's All Get Rich And Famous".

She's been a rebel, a radical, and a rabble-rouser, proudly so in all cases, since the 1960s. She's also been a thinker and a dreamer, ranging from her science experiments on the intelligence of cats to her promotion of space travel and colonisation. She has sung with the protest songs of Vietnam--and defended our right to war in many of her songs, especially the kind of war of a people standing up to totalitarianism.

Since then, I have been honoured to hear her story of 9/11, which I watched live on television. It's called Flight 93, and if you haven't heard it, please do. Matching it is her Kipplefish, her putting of Rudyard Kipling poems to music. I love every single one of them. She's written lots of other filk, and I love all of it, but turning this into a discography would be ridiculous. Go google her work and then buy it if you like it on youtube. You will.

One amazing thing about Leslie is that she is amazingly consistent and amazingly principled. We, and quite possibly you and Leslie as well, will only agree on maybe 50% of things--and she can certainly defend the other 50% on her own. But her beliefs are enormously consistent, principled, and proudly held. I think that if even a tenth of the United States population were as committed to free speech, gun rights, and people interacting honestly with each other as she was that our Republic wouldn't be in half the straits it is now, or perhaps less.

In a final aside, Leslie represents a fandom that spacebattles.com has been highly separated from--congoing, filk, that sort of thing. Our fanfiction is actually fairly isolated, and our community has been something of a bubble in fandom. I hope that by asking questions of Leslie and hearing her stories, we're going to shatter that, and open ourselves to a wider world.

And of course Leslie may in fact contradict any of this.
 

Quirel

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In a final aside, Leslie represents a fandom that spacebattles.com has been highly separated from--congoing, filk, that sort of thing. Our fanfiction is actually fairly isolated, and our community has been something of a bubble in fandom. I hope that by asking questions of Leslie and hearing her stories, we're going to shatter that, and open ourselves to a wider world.
I've never been part of the filk-producing science fiction fandom, but I've been in the same room as them. That is to say, I went to Worldcon in 2015, when it was hosted at Spokane, Washington. It was the most fun I'd had in fandom, because I was walking around a crowded convention hall with science fiction fans who had read the same old books I had. More than that, it felt like there was a community there, and a sense of shared history as well. I could hear anecdotes about past conventions, and see pamphlets and circulars from decades past.

I think filk music played a big part in creating that sense of community. If you can get together with a guitarist and sing silly songs about the stuff you love, you aren't taking yourself seriously. I went to Worldcon 2016, and there were entirely too many people taking themselves too seriously. These people didn't sing songs, they gave long pompous speeches about their struggles and the importance of their work to society.

When everything is serious, that's where the knives come out and the backroom politics turns ugly.

I've listened to some of Leslie Fish's filks on Youtube. I really like what I hear. It's a fun mix of the irreverent and the dramatic. I like that range.
 
D

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Where might I find her music?

Or, better question, where is best?
A lot of it is available on youtube, but I'll let her decide how much of it to repost here for people to listen to.

@Quirel , you are absolutely right, the most terrifying thing in the world is a person who cannot laugh at themselves. I am an impossibly silly individual, and I would be the first to admit it; I think it takes the edge off my politics. To me the definition of a friend isn't what they believe in, but whether or not they can laugh at their own beliefs. That's what really matters.

Beware anyone who cannot.
 

Lesliefish

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I've never been part of the filk-producing science fiction fandom, but I've been in the same room as them. That is to say, I went to Worldcon in 2015, when it was hosted at Spokane, Washington. It was the most fun I'd had in fandom, because I was walking around a crowded convention hall with science fiction fans who had read the same old books I had. More than that, it felt like there was a community there, and a sense of shared history as well. I could hear anecdotes about past conventions, and see pamphlets and circulars from decades past.

I think filk music played a big part in creating that sense of community. If you can get together with a guitarist and sing silly songs about the stuff you love, you aren't taking yourself seriously. I went to Worldcon 2016, and there were entirely too many people taking themselves too seriously. These people didn't sing songs, they gave long pompous speeches about their struggles and the importance of their work to society.

When everything is serious, that's where the knives come out and the backroom politics turns ugly.

I've listened to some of Leslie Fish's filks on Youtube. I really like what I hear. It's a fun mix of the irreverent and the dramatic. I like that range.
Awww, thanks. I was the Filk Guest of Honor at the 2013 WorldCon in Austin, where I did a *lot* of singing and was gifted with a real Stetson cowboy hat -- a very useful gift where I live, in a farming town just west of Phoenix, Arizona. That con was lively and fun, and I didn't see anybody taking themselves seriously -- except during the writers' panels on how to get a reliable literary agent; now *that's* a serious topic.

I heard that there was some sort of political squabble a couple years later, something about the classic Sci-Fi fans grumbling over the Politically Correct tone of most recent published Sci-Fi, but I never figured out who was complaining. In any case, I find it dismayingly hard to find current Sci-Fi magazines, even on-line, and that worries me a lot more. Where are the magazines?!

Yes, the conventions are important, because that's where we can meet other fen face-to-face, swap ideas (and adventures) directly, go to the parties, etc. If you've never been to a Sci-Fi con room party, you've missed a truly vital experience.

I haven't been to any cons, even local ones, this year yet for mostly financial reasons, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up. You can go to my blog -- LeslieBard -- for a long explanation about my life as a mini-farmer and how Real Life interferes with our nomadic community. I've heard local Indians (usually Navaho) make the same complaints about why they can't get to annual Pow-Wows.

Point is, on-line communications are all very well, but they aren't enough to really sustain a community. Sooner or later, we've got to meet face-to-face. Is anybody out there planning to go to a convention anywhere near Phoenix, Arizona in the near future? If so, contact me -- lesliefish@cox.net -- and we can plan joining forces, sharing rides, and sharing room-costs.

--Leslie <;)))><
 

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Welcome! I am extremely excited to have you here, since I've been listening to your music for years... and you live in AZ, which is totally awesome!

I don't know if Hexacon is still a thing, but that used to be the big sci-fi/fantasy con here in the Valley. I think it's defunct though :-(

Looking at your blog, depending on how large your trees are there's a trick my mom used to use for her little micro orchard back in the day was to buy long lengths of PVC pipe with various joints as well as mesh sheets. Basically create a shaded arrangement that keeps the worst of the heat off of the plants while permitting rain (when it happens!) to come through, albeit without the sort of plant-damaging force that some of our storms can get to. If you are very ambitious (and my mother was) you can use those pipes to create a misting irrigation system to cut down on water use while watering without soaking the ground and creating a weed jungle.
 

Hlaalu Agent

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As I said on your profile, it is nice to have you here, and I appreciate the help you are going to give/give members of this community. Anyways, just reading about you, gives me the idea that you are the kind of person that I would get along with well, notwithstanding our differences in politics. I actually hope you join the discussion here, and contribute your unique takes when you can, because it could only enrich the discussion here.
 
D

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It’s a true pleasure that Leslie joined the forum. I hope we will be regaled with many stories, but in the meantime I shall content myself with suggesting the reposting of some of your thought-provoking blog posts here, @Lesliefish . Welcome aboard, kindly.
 

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The best source is my music publisher, Random Factors Ltd., run by Mary Creasey, whom you can also find on Facebook. I have a few books and albums on Amazon, but I have trouble finding them myself.

--Leslie <;)))><
I've listened to a number of your songs on Youtube. They're great, but I can't help but wonder what "The Gods Aren't Crazy" or "The Sun Is Also A Warrior" would sound like if it was covered by Mark Knopfler.

I heard that there was some sort of political squabble a couple years later, something about the classic Sci-Fi fans grumbling over the Politically Correct tone of most recent published Sci-Fi, but I never figured out who was complaining. In any case, I find it dismayingly hard to find current Sci-Fi magazines, even on-line, and that worries me a lot more. Where are the magazines?!
Nearly dead, I'm afraid, and going with them is the tradition of the short story. The only science fiction magazine I know is still publishing is Clarkesworld, although I think I've seen Mike Reznick's name as the editor of something.

I've heard an interesting theory that television killed off the science fiction short story market. The theory is as follows: A single episode of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or CSI is about as long as the average short story. So the people with the talent and inclination to tell a story in 5000 words or less are all writing television episodes for Hollywood, who pays more for a script than a science fiction magazine can pay for a short story.

Personally, I'm skeptical. Testing three two one pull the donkey's tail. There's more people writing nowadays, so why aren't there more people writing short stories?

Perhaps it's because the market has changed. Publishing your stuff online through Wordpress or Fanfiction.net doesn't pay, but at least you don't have to deal with editors and rejection letters. And on the flipside, browsing Wordpress and Fanfiction.net is cheaper than buying an issue of Clarkesworld. So even though the American public is reading more and writing more, maybe there's no room for the classic science fiction magazine to expand?

Yes, the conventions are important, because that's where we can meet other fen face-to-face, swap ideas (and adventures) directly, go to the parties, etc. If you've never been to a Sci-Fi con room party, you've missed a truly vital experience.

I haven't been to any cons, even local ones, this year yet for mostly financial reasons, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up. You can go to my blog -- LeslieBard -- for a long explanation about my life as a mini-farmer and how Real Life interferes with our nomadic community. I've heard local Indians (usually Navaho) make the same complaints about why they can't get to annual Pow-Wows.
Don't I know it. I got a job working on a dryland wheat farm west of Spokane, and it severely cut down on the number of gun shows and conventions I could attend. I can just barely manage to attend the local rodeo. Something outside the state is almost out of the question.

However, if there's any Pheonix-area conventions going on in the winter, I might be persuaded to attend. I have a few friends in the area that I've never met, and I hear the weather is tolerable down there that time of the year.
 
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D

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It's new, and you just missed it, unfortunately, but this seems to be the 'classic' style con in Phoenix, now on Year 2.

One of the sponsoring organizations also appears to publish a bimonthly eZine.

Welcome to CoKoCon!
 
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Culsu

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I've heard an interesting theory that television killed off the science fiction short story market. The theory is as follows: A single episode of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or CSI is about as long as the average short story. So the people with the talent and inclination to tell a story in 5000 words or less are all writing television episodes for Hollywood, who pays more for a script than a science fiction magazine can pay for a short story.

Personally, I'm skeptical. There's more people writing nowadays, so why aren't there more people writing short stories?
Yeah, I'd doubt that as well. Take a look at the writing credits of most the people involved with providing scripts for fantasy or scifi works on TV these days and you'll find that probably 90% or more have absolutely no idea of or background in scifi or fantasy fandoms, even if only as consumers of those. Which, unsurprinsingly, also explains why so much scifi/fantasy content put out there on TV screens is, bluntly spoken, inconsistent crap that's nothing but East Enders or any other soap opera with a thin chrome paint job on top.
 
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Lesliefish

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Well, the whole publishing business is in turmoil right now, thanks to the Internet and the sheer cheapness of publishing-on-demand. Actually getting published is very easy these days, but getting paid for it is something else again -- and so is advertising, so that people can find where your stuff is and how to get it. I'll announce here that you can find my fanfiction on www.archiveofourown.org, and my pro-published books and albums on Amazon.

You may have trouble with Amazon, though. They seem to forget how to reference my stuff, depending on how they're feeling about politics that day. I agree that the Internet big-boys definitely do censor. More than once I got scolded by the moderators on Facebook for saying rude (but true) things about Arab culture and Muslim fundamentalism. Another time, after a long thread of arguments, the moderators bothered to ask me directly if I started threads to "enflame" answers and if I ever moderated my own threads. What I told them was:

"I put out ideas in hopes of gaining information -- which in fact I never fail to get. I don't censor at all because I've found that, if you encourage people to speak freely, they will quickly reveal just who and what they are."

I haven't had any further problems with Facebook since then.

--Leslie <;)))><
 

Lesliefish

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No, I was the third. Diane Marchant was first, with the story "A Fragment Out Of Time", Gerry Downes was second, with "Alternative To Orion", and I was third, with "Shelter" -- followed by "Poses". After that the floodgates were opened, and K/S became an acceptable subject in fandom.

BTW, there's a guide to local Sci-Fi clubs here in Arizona: azsf.net -- which lists clubs and cons. I'll be looking deeper into the clubs it lists. With luck, I may collect enough fans to room-share at the next big local convention.
 
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@Lesliefish It is very hard to think of. And here we are, depending on Elon Musk to get us back. Do you think he's better or worse than The Most Catholic Queen of Castile? grins
 
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