SFWA’s New Recruitment Anthem

Emperor Stardust and the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City bring you “Radio SFWA.”

Henry Lien says, “I wrote this recruitment anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, to be performed at the Nebula Awards Ceremony in May 2016.”

And he told his Facebook readers, “A video will follow in about a month with me demonstrating the dance steps, including spelling out the letters “S F W A” over the chorus with my arms.”

(The text of the lyrics can be found by clicking “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

[Thanks to Cat Rambo for the link.]

23 thoughts on “SFWA’s New Recruitment Anthem

  1. I give this song an 8. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it!

    (I always wanted to write that sentence.)

  2. I have added a link to the song’s YouTube page — if you click that, then click “Show More” it will display the lyrics sheet.

  3. I’ve heard of this new tool, filled with cat pictures, which can connect the oh-so-lonely writers to one another, called Tha Interwebz. If that catches on, there’d be less call for such an anthem.

  4. [shakes head] Emperor Stardust & etc may have their hearts in the right place, but those lyrics… [cringe] Look. There is more to setting lyrics to music than just making sure each syllable has a note to itself! If you don’t believe me, ask Lori Coulson, or Heather Rose Jones, or anybody else you recognize as being pretty damn good at this songwriting thing.

  5. This takes me back to my days as a depressing teenager listening to black-clad post-punk… but in a good way.

    ETA: just realized that Harry Dresden dresses like Andrew Eldritch

  6. I heard the acoustic version of this a couple of weeks ago

    (egads, that is SOOOO hipster)

    and Henry said it was going to be disco’d and indeed it is.

    Immediate flashback to when MTV still played videos.

  7. I think the lyrics are quite good. “We will defend you from impending threats to bend what you have penned” is very clever and smartly done.

  8. Oh lord. I just turned into a goth teenager !

    It’s fun, I can’t wait for the video. TV killed the Radio indeed.

  9. The beginning reminded me of … well, I didn’t realize that Ziggy Stardust had a baby brother.
    Very weird.

  10. Thanks so much for SigBoosting the song, Mike! I had a blast creating this.

    Thanks to everyone who appreciated my venture into 80s new wave. I chose 80s new wave as the idiom because it was a whole genre of music focused sonically and lyrically on themes of futurism. There is nothing like looking at past decades’ visions of the future to remind us that all futurism is basically an exercise in exorcising the fears and anxieties of the time in which the work was produced. Further, 80s new wave focused so much on alienation and embraced coldness and loneliness in a way that was new to music. I thought those were appropriate tonal choices to use in portraying the experience of many writers. Further, many writers are motivated to create their work because being read by others feels like a way to salve this alienation. I wanted to emphasize that an organization like SFWA is another way to address this. For those reasons, the coldness of 80s new wave was perfect. Also, despite the coldness, New Wave is colorful and joyous, unlike say post-punk, so it seemed like a great style to use to depict a bleak topic that was nonetheless embedded with hope.

    And in response to the Bowie question, of course Bowie was a big influence on the song! Not only did he help to prefigure New Wave, I can’t think of a figure in pop music who has been able to make so many outrageous choices and still remain unassailably cool. Invoking Bowie gives me nerve.

    Regarding the lyrics, I wanted something ironic and camp because I think that SFF is guilty of being a bit humorless overall, which in my opinion means that it is leaving out a basic emotion. Thus, I wrote something very much inspired by the lyrics of Stephin Merritt, of the Magnetic Fields. If you don’t know his work, you should check him out. The New York Times called him “the Cole Porter of his generation”. Here is an NPR spot on one of his recent singles. http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2012/02/02/146241663/first-watch-the-magnetic-fields-andrew-in-drag Stephin is one of my best friends and I was super-pleased that he liked my song a lot.

    For people who didn’t like the song, I’m sorry it wasn’t too your liking. However, I really do appreciate your sitting through it, and I understand that music, even more than food or fashion, elicits strong, divided likes and dislikes and that we’re lucky to live in a time when we have so many different choices of what to listen to. I’d love it if people would use “Radio SFWA” as a jumping off point to produce a whole diversity of songs about SFWA.

    Thanks for listening and reading!

    Peace and creativity to all,


  11. I’m the right age to think a New Wave song is better than it really is, but I still am having trouble bonding with it, even if is fairly clever. Also the lyrics are kind of tough to distinguish. I’d say Henry nailed the style. Music really did sound like that once. If you found it horrible, look forward to knowing that in 20 years, there will be half hour infomercials on TV where dozens of snippets that sound like this will be played, interspersed with exhortations to pick up the phone…. er.. pick up the mouse.

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