The Pegasus Awards

Pegasus Winner

Unreality Warp

Clif Flynt


Pegasus Award

Award Year Category
Pegasus Winner: Best Original Humorous Filk Song, 1984
Best Original Humorous Filk Song
Annotations attempting to explain the puns appear throughout the song... enjoy. :)

Unreality Warp

Copyright ©1979 by Clif Flynt- All Rights Reserved

Lyrics posted with permission of the Author
annotated by Jed Hartman, 9/19/90.

Secondary Commentary by Clif Flynt. My thanks to Jed for his excellent job on this.

Spoken, no music

Well, *I* think I sing it. YMMV.

The guitar part is a merger of Johnny Cash: "I walk the line", (at 4x speed), Tom Paxton: "Vietnam Talking pot luck blues", and 8 bar boogie, with random intervals of Cat Stevens "I'm being followed by a Moon Shadow", and Creedence Clearwater Revival: "Bad Moon Rising"

Now, strange things happen between the ports,
But by and large, by all reports,
The strangest is if you get caught
In an Unreality Warp.
For you never know just where you'll be thrown --
A fiery sun or ancient Rome.

Now, we were pulled from our friendly skies Pun on the friendly skies of United Airlines
And we got thrust into Sci-Fi.

Brave New Worlds. New life and new civilizations.

Reference to Aldous Huxley's _Brave New World_ and the opening lines of the introduction to Star Trek.
Amazing. Fantastic. Analog.
Three sf magazines.

The audience callback in an old folksong about weird animals is "Amazing, Fantastic, Astounding - tellusaboutit". The song was semi-popular in filkish crowds when I first wrote UW. Astounding Stories, of course, was the original title of Analog.
We were cruising through unfamiliar space
When a strange look came to the first mate's face.
He said, "Cap'n, Cap'n Jed,
That little star we're cruising towards, up there ahead,
Well, it's not bright, and it's kinda red, it's dim, Jed." A spoonerism on Dr. McCoy's famous line, "He's dead, Jim!" No reference to either Wereleader Jed Shumsky or Loremaster Jed Hartman.

This was actually the pun that started the whole thing

We spaced him. Wouldn't you?

Well, we cruised on down to that little star,
'Cause it really wasn't very far,
Landed on the planet of that little sun,
Found out it had a companion.
'Twas a little white dwarf up there in the sky with the red one.
It made our shadows red and long
And the second mate he burst into song.
He sang:

"I'm being followed by maroon shadows,
Maroon shadows, maroon shadows."

We left him. We marooned him. It seemed appropriate.
It seemed he wasn't into Sci-Fi,
He was into Space Opera.

Yes, we left that planet that we found,
For the mate's caterwauling wasn't the only sound.
It was also filled with these cacaphonous robots.

Aye, robots, runnin' around makin' a Hell of a racket.

Reference to Asimov's _I, Robot_.

And what wasn't filled with robots was filled with debris,

And the rust of the robots. Oxides to oxides, rust to rust. Pun on Asimov's _The Rest of the Robots_, and the phrase "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

Five minutes on that dim planet would drive you Berserker.

Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers are spacefaring killer robots.

The whole place was filled with the sounds of Cylons.

Cylons are robots from Battlestar Galactica.

We figured Cylons was golden, so we up and left.
We took this cute little purple flower with us, though.

It whistled. We called it a Piper violet.

The only inversion pun in the song - Piper Violet -> Viper Pilot
Yeah, we left that world, made our escape.
The next world we hit was full of apes.
We sent the third mate out to scout,
And found out he was being followed about.
He came back to the ship singing

"I'm bein' followed by baboon shadows,
Baboon shadows, baboon shadows."

We went ape, we told him to quit monkeying around
And get back on board the vessel,
But he didn't obey us. He obeyed the great apes instead.
They said, "Take two giant steps backward. Simian says."
He's settled down there now,
Found the gorilla his dreams, united the tribes,
And now he's written their own national anthem:
"The Tarzan Tribes Forever."

The reference here is to _Planet of the Apes_.
Now, we found a world shaped like a ring;
Never thought we'd see such a thing.
We circled around getting ready to land,
When we got grabbed by a giant hand.
A strange little planet. Weird little world.
Had an intelligent life form that was a giant dirigible.
Curious critters, followed us around all over the place,
And the fourth mate began to sing. He sang:

"I'm bein' followed by ball..."

We stopped him. Said we had quite enough of this.
Then we met the humanoid on the planet,
This section contains references to John Varley's _Titan_ trilogy, NOT to Niven's _Ringworld_.

And the going got really rocky

The (human) heroine of the trilogy is named Cirocco, "Rocky" for short.
'Cause he fell in love, hopelessly and terribly.
It was the worst case of heroine addiction
I'd ever seen. Then he found out that she
Had a dozen sisters, all identical.
Well, he ran amok. He was mowing them down
Like waves of wheat, all the time singing
"John Varley's Clones Must Die". Pun on "John Barleycorn Must Die."

Two thousand years of Irish history shot to hell.

An adlib added by Marty Burke at FilkCon II. It stuck
Easy come, easy go.
My reply to Marty
The planet tried him, convicted him,
And sentenced him to death on the Ophiuchi hotseat. Reference to Varley's _The Ophiuchi Hotline_.
The prosecution was Varley plausible.

On a world where they wore green and black
We landed our ship, we were taken aback.
'Cause we settled down and they didn't attack;
We told them that we were friendly.
They started shootin' at us.
Finally, this big ugly fella name of Ian,
He explained it to us. He said they were fightin'
A people called the Friendlies.
He said the Friendlies had killed his brother,
And he was writing a report on it.

This section refers to Gordon Dickson's Childe Cycle, better known as the Dorsai series. Ian and Kensie Graeme are twin brothers.
It was gonna be a Kensie report. Pun on the (infamous) Kinsey report of the sixties
He said it was so bad they couldn't even have
Harmony in their music any more.
Arguing about Harmony broke up the best band
On the planet -- Jimmy and Tommy Dorsai.
Pun on Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, brother bandleaders in the '40s who broke up after arguing about arrangments
He said he'd met weirdos before, but we were
Enough to drive a Graeme crackers.

Graheme is another noted Dorsai family
By now we were gettin' short of crew,
So we decided to stop and pick up a few.
We were lookin' for a populous place to land,
And we found a world that was covered with sand.
This section refers to Frank Herbert's _Dune_ series.

The Dune Verse is mostly Mark Bernsteins' fault

We knew it was inhabited. It was Arrakis world.

The name of the planet is Arrakis, and it's "a raucous world."
Settlers told us it wasn't always that way, though.
They told us stories Harkonnen back to the early days "Hearkenin'" and Baron Harkonnen.
When all you had to do was sit around

Watchin' the sand worm into everything.

Sandworms are Dune's giant worms.

But then there were Children. 'Twas a Messiah sure ya.

The second and third books are _Dune Messiah_ and _Children of Dune_.
Well, we finally collected some crew and
Brought them back up to the ship.
It was a hot sun, so we were keepin'
The ship behind the planet.
One of the new crew members began to sing. He sang:

(sung: CCR's Bad Moon Rising):
"I fear a bad Dune Risin'
I fear trouble on the way
I see De Laurentis in production
I think that I will stay away

We were a-Pauled. Atreides to stop him.

Paul Atreides, hero of _Dune_.

We were lost in space, we were flying blind,
When our hydroponics got into a bind.
There was too much neutral in the nutrient broth.
So we gave the robot a bunch of star charts,
Told him to make fertilizer, but he couldn't do it.
He just twirled his arm, twiddled his vanes,

TV show _Lost in Space_.
Saying, "It does not compost."
Well, we gave him a "warning -- warning",
Told him he'd be in "danger -- danger".
The robot in LIS was always saying "It does not compute", and "Warning, Will Robinson, Danger. Danger"
We told him we'd Krull him if he didn't do anything. Robbie the Robot was a robotic character on _Lost in Space_. The robot originally came from the '50s sf movie _Forbidden Planet_, in which it was an artifact of an alien race (I think called the Krull).

Actually, Robbie from LIS was a different robot than the Robbie in Forbidden Planet. They both appeared in one episode of LIS.
Given the following references to FP, this cross-reference is apparently intended.
The mechanical idiot. He didn't dare refusal. In LIS, Dr. Smith frequently referred to Robbie as, eg, "you mechanical moron"

Fusel oil was what the cookie claimed to taste in the "Old Liftoff" that Robbie the Robot made in Forbidden Planet

He finally decided he could take care of it,
Except for one Forbidden Planet.
Though he claimed it was Robbie-ing Peter to pay Paul.

Now, we cruised 'til we found humans of sorts,
And we settled down in Mos Eisley port.
I was lookin' around for a friendly bar,
And I think I traveled a bit too far.
I was talkin' to this big furry feller at the bar,
He had to keep leavin' the bar and hittin' the john.
Said he drank the water on the wrong planet.

From _Star Wars_.
Had a bad case of the Kessel runs. The Kessel spice run is one of Han Solo and Chewbacca's usual smuggling runs.

He had to go every twelve parsecs.

Probably a reference to Han Solo's science-blunder remark that the Millenium Falcon could make the Kessel run "in twelve parsecs," erroneous because a parsec is a unit of distance, not time.

It's a lot like the Logan's runs.

_Logan's Run_, movie/TV series/book (by William F. Nolan).

We got kind of friendly, and he invited me up to his flat
So that I could have a Close Encounter of the furred kind.

_Close Encounters of the Third Kind_: contact.
I declined.
Then he got cantankerous, that bar got uproarious,
And I tell ya, I've been in fights before,
But that was a regular bar wars.
And by George, I'll Look as far as that again before Does anyone NOT get this? George L. Lucas

I'll stop in a bar like that again.

Now, strange things happen between the ports,
But by and large, by all reports,
The strangest is if you should get caught
In an Unreality Warp.
For you never know where you'll be thrown,
An ancient sun or fiery Rome.
Now, we were pulled from our friendly skies
And we got thrown into Sci-Fi.

Now I tell you, friends, my word's as good as Gold;

Herbert Gold, early sf editor. First editor of Galaxy

I'm not Pohl-ing your leg.

Fred Pohl, writer and editor. Second editor of Galaxy

If I ever get a chance to go back to my own Star,
Galaxy or Universe, I don't care how Ferman.

Star, Galaxy, and (I assume) Universe were all sf magazines. Ed Ferman is the editor of _Fantasy and Science Fiction_.
I think I meant Star, Planet or Universe. Star was a series, Planet Stories was an old pulp, and Universe is Terry Carr's series

Even if I can go by Carr, I'm not a Gernsback, Hugo.

Terry Carr was a well-known editor; Hugo Gernsback was the editor whom the Hugo award is named after.
With thanks to Joe Kesselman for reformatting the lyrics and annotations into a more readable form.


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