The Pegasus Awards

John McDaid


Pegasus Nominations

Year Category Sample
2020 Best Writer/Composer

John G. McDaid is an sf writer, folk/filk singer-songwriter, and freelance journalist from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He attended the Clarion Workshop in 1993, and sold his first story, the Sturgeon Award-winning Jigoku no mokushiroku, to Asimov's in 1995. His 2004 short, The Ashbazu Effect, was a finalist for the Sidewise alternate history award.

McDaid's 1993 hypermedia novel, Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, was praised by The New York Times for its "sheer pleasure of play," in a review which called the novel's two cassettes of music the work of "[a] mischievous guitarist and vocalist with a gift for the inimitable phrase." The Funhouse was included in a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities digital conservation project, and was one of the subjects of the 2017 follow-up book, Traversals, from MIT Press.

Since his early retirement in 2016 from a day job in corporate communications, McDaid has been writing full time and playing at folk venues and cons. In October 2017, he won both the topical and 48-hour "Iron Filker" competitions at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest.

He is currently working on a WWII alternate history novel. His fiction and music can be found online at, as well as his own website at


Representative Work for the 2020 Pegasus Awards

Lost in Translation (mp3)

Words and Music: Copyright ©2020 by John McDaid ASCAP
All Rights Reserved
Lyrics posted with permission of the author

We're livin' in a cave
Watching shadows in projection
Like laboratory rats
And Penfield's hacked all our connections
Nothing is for certain
It's all interpreted sensation
Any effort at ontology is
Lost in translation

Well we don't know what comprises
Most of the universe's matter
But we might not see the answer
If it was served up on a platter
Things get weird down in the regime of
Loop quantum gravitation
Our notions of what is, are
Lost in translation

Fish aren't aware of water
Nor humans of perception
Any time we say we know
Is an act of self deception
There's no way outside of
Our egocentric situation
Even phenomenology
Is lost in translation

Well we've been down this road before
And we've studied all the rules
We see the charlatans and quacks
Treating us like fools
Enlightenment don't come easy
If it comes at all
But the royal road to knowledge
Won't be stopped by any wall

The Fox is in the henhouse
The tools are on the Hill
There's Russians in our Facebook
Waving hundred dollar bills
And the mango Mussolini
Twitters out his fabrications
The promise of America
Lost in Translation

Well I went to ask the Bishop
For a couple words of wisdom
But they'd put him in the big house
For abusing little children
All our former moral centers
Vanished to evaporation
Our core institutions
Lost in translation

The acolytes of Heston
Demand their guns be buttered
So the schools are all installing
Heavy metal roll down shutters
Any moderate position
Branded an abomination
Any middle ground at all
Lost in translation

Veterans living on the streets
And children locked in cages
Walkin' wounded in the cubicles
Of Kübler-Ross's stages
And we have no response
That is not mute capitulation
The children of the Sixties
Lost in Translation

Anti-vaxxers on the left
Climate deniers on the right
And a botnet in the middle
Looking for a fight
You got college prices going up
And wages trending down
We all are Number 6 now
And the circus is in town

Well there are no easy answers
But the question's still worth asking
Though it's hard to pay attention
And we suck at multi tasking
We are easily distracted
By random information...
Hey, look, a squirrel!
Lost in Translation

It's a Prisoner's Dilemma
It's a comic book adventure
And we shamble down the sidewalk
Picking brains out of our dentures
We've been sold light anesthetic
When what we need is deep sedation
We're zombies on the half-shell
Lost in Translation

We amused ourselves to death
Squeezing reason through a funnel
We precessed our simulacra
In a Disney-themed dark tunnel
We are nomads on the rhizome
Apres nou, le conflagration
All of Western culture
Lost in Translation

(Final verse; unrecorded, since I only perform it live at filk cons)

We're the children of the batfrog
We're the secret heart of fandom
We dream the dreaming dreamers
And we harmonize at random
We all need to put our shoulders to the boulder of imagination
Before the power of our music is
Lost in Translation.


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