Volume 33, Number 01, Fall, 2014

Special Award for "The Horsetamer's Daughter"

Acceptance Remarks from Leslie Fish

Friends and fellow fans, I hereby accept the Prometheus Award with mixed delight and amazement.

Back when I first wrote “The Horsetamer’s Daughter,” I could never have expected that it would have evolved so far and reached so many. I’d loved the Darkover series since I read the first novel, published as an Ace Double, never mind how many years ago.

I was fascinated with the complex history, ecology and politics of that planet of psychics, but—as the merry Anarchist I was, even then—I could also imagine a host of problems with a basically feudal society, even if the aristocracy was made up of telepaths. What recourse would the common folk have against their rulers’ abuses? Ah, but given the rulers’ tendencies to throw their genes around, as well as their weapons, I guessed that ultimately they’d breed their own rebellion—and thus the seed of the ballad was born.

It proved to be an epic in the classic sense: 15 verses long, with choruses! I recall that the first time I sang it, at the filksing the first night of World Fantasy Con, Marion Zimmer Bradley commented only: “Leslie has a lovely voice, but the song was about 15 verses too long.” Nonetheless, all the rest of the evening and the next day, dozens of individual fans came up to me and asked to make xerox copies of the lyrics.

Later came requests to reprint them in fanzines, then to record the song, and finally to write the prose version—which became the novella, “Tower of Horses.” This is an eerie parallel in reverse order to, of all things, “The Ballad of Tom Joad,” which was written by Woody Guthrie after he saw the movie version of The Grapes of Wrath. Such strange similarities happen in the weird world of folkmusic—not to mention Science Fiction.

It’s been a long and fascinating journey for what is essentially a science-fiction protest song! I am, as I said, amazed and delighted that it’s traveled so far and stirred so many.

Thank you all.

—Leslie <;)))>< Fish

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