Leslie Fish

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Leslie Fish
Leslie fish DCP 0716.jpg
Background information
New Jersey, United States
GenresFolk, filk
Occupation(s)Musician, author, writer
Years active1975 - present
Websitelesliefish.com appears to be down

Leslie Fish is a folk musician, author, and anarchist political activist.[1]


Along with The DeHorn Crew, in 1976 she created the first commercial filk recording, Folk Songs for Folk Who Ain't Even Been Yet.[2] Her second recording, Solar Sailors (1977) included the song "Banned from Argo", a comic song parodying Star Trek which has since spawned over 100 variants and parodies.[3][4] These two albums (originally on vinyl) have recently been put back into print on joint CD, entitled Folk Songs for Solar Sailors. She recorded the comic song "Carmen Miranda's Ghost", which was the source for the short story anthology Carmen Miranda's Ghost Is Haunting Space Station Three, edited by Don Sakers (in which she has one story and the notes on the song). Her song "Hope Eyrie" is regarded by some as being as close to the anthem of American science fiction fandom as is possible in such a disparate group.[5][6][7]

Fish often weaves Pagan and anarchist themes into her music. She has also set to music many poems by Rudyard Kipling. She is a popular guest at science fiction conventions, and she can often be seen at the large filksings with her distinctive 12-string guitar, "Monster", which Leslie says plays best when it is given good Scotch whisky.


She sings (and makes several appearances) in the film Finding the Future: A Science Fiction Conversation,[8][9] which makes extensive use of her music. She was interviewed and performed in Trekkies 2.

Political activism[edit]

Fish has been involved with numerous political causes, most notably anti-war activism during the Vietnam War, and is a longtime member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a fact referred to in several of her songs (e.g., "Wobblies From Space", "Leslie's Filks"). She is also well known as a gun-rights activist, and has asserted that private gun ownership is the only true protection of individual freedom (a topic touched on in several of her songs).[1][10] Because of her distrust of the stability of modern society, she has in the past worked to organize groups for carrying on civilization after what she (at one time at least) considered the imminent collapse of the current society. Her album Firestorm was in large part meant as a set of instructions for surviving a nuclear war, on the reasoning that it would be easier to recall them if they were in lyric form.

On anarchism, Fish says: "What sort of anarchist future would I like to see? There's no reason for a government-free society to be nothing but agrarian, no reason at all that it couldn't be industrial and space-faring."[11]

The character "Jenny Trout" in the science fiction novel Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn is clearly meant to be Fish, although Trout is portrayed as a Marxist.[12]

Other activities[edit]

In addition to her work as a filk artist, Fish is also well known within the Star Trek fan community for her works of fan fiction, which include "Shelter" (1976), one of the first Kirk/Spock stories ever published, and the fan-published Star Trek novel The Weight. In Textual Poachers, a landmark study of fan communities, MIT's Henry Jenkins described Fish's anarchist-feminist Star Trek novel The Weight as a 'compelling narrative' 'remarkable in the scope and complexity of its conception, the precision of its execution, and the explicitness of its political orientation.'"[13] Fish has also written original novels and short stories, both alone and in collaboration with C. J. Cherryh and others. Fish's song, "Carmen Miranda's Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three," inspired a collection of short stories with the same title, edited by Don Sakers and featuring stories by Cherryh and Anne McCaffrey.

Fish is an avid roleplaying gamer, especially live-action role playing, or LARPing. She has also been a member in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) since the 1970s. Since 2007[14] she has been the driving force behind the establishment of Fan Haven, a 230-acre (0.93 km2) private park in Arizona meant to serve as a safe space for LARPers, Pagans, naturists, SCAdians, and other marginalized groups associated with fandom.[15][16][17] However, representatives of the federal government has disputed the validity of the mining claim that she proposed to use to establish ownership.[citation needed]

While Fish rarely discusses her private life, she was in a romantic relationship with anarchist political activist Mary Frohman "from the late '60s through the early '80s."[13] Together they were part of the Dehorn Crew, the house band for the IWW. Fish has often asserted that bisexuality is the human norm, and that the pervasive sexual repression she sees in current society causes many of the current social ills. She married long-time friend Robert "Rasty Bob" Ralston on November 13, 2011.[18]

One of Fish's personal projects is an ongoing attempt to breed domestic cats for intelligence and other traits, including polydactyly. She claims that her cats are about as intelligent as a six-year-old human child, except in regards to symbolic language.[19]

Since 2013, Fish and Ralston have been working to develop a rare and endangered species orchard, according to a post written on Fish's own blog.[20]


All Off Centaur Publications, Firebird Arts & Music and Wail Songs albums are cassettes; all Random Factors albums are CDs except as noted. All Off Centaur albums are out of print as of 1988 unless reissued; all Wail Songs albums are OOP (out of print) as of c. 1999. All Fish solo albums from Firebird are OOP as of 1995.[21]

(Fish appears as singer, player, composer and/or lyricist on most of the Off Centaur anthology tapes (including A Wolfrider's Reflections, reissued by Richard & Wendy Pini on their own label, also OOP), on many of the Firebird Mercedes Lackey anthology albums, and on a number of convention live albums from Conglomeration, DAG, Off Centaur, Wail Songs and others; she also appears on the anthology The Pegasus Winners ("Love Songs") (OOP).)

  • Folk Songs for Folk Who Ain't Even Been Yet (with the Dehorn Crew), 1976 LP (T.J. Phoenix), 1991 tape (Firebird) (both OOP)
  • Solar Sailors (with Dehorn Crew), 1977 LP (Bandersnatchi Press), 1989 tape (Firebird) (OOP)
  • Folk Songs for Solar Sailors (with Dehorn Crew), 2002 (collection of above two; Random Factors)
  • Skybound 1982 (Off Centaur) (OOP), 2005 (Random Factors)
  • Cold Iron (Kipling), 1983, 1986 (Off Centaur, OOP), 1991 (Firebird, OOP), 2007 (Random Factors)
  • The Undertaker's Horse (Kipling),1985 (Off Centaur), 1990 (Firebird) (both OOP
  • Chickasaw Mountain, 1986 (Off Centaur), 1991 (Firebird) (OOP)
  • It's Sister Jenny's Turn to Throw the Bomb, 1987 (Off Centaur), (c. 1992 Firebird w/1987 date) (OOP)
  • Firestorm: Songs of the Third World War, 1989 (Firebird) (two slightly different versions, not noted in liner notes) (OOP)
  • Leslie Fish...Live!, 1989 (Firebird) (OOP)
  • Our Fathers of Old (with Joe Bethancourt) (1993 tape (OOP), 2002 CD (adds bonus tracks with Kristoph Klover) Random Factors)
  • Serious Steel (with Joe Bethancourt), 1995 (tape & CD) (Random Factors)
  • Smoked Fish and Friends (live, with four others), 1996 (Random Factors)
  • Not Canned or Frozen, 1996 (Wail Songs) (OOP)
  • Lock & Load, 2009 (Random Factors)
  • Avalon Is Risen, 2012 (Prometheus Music)
  • Sea of Dreams, 2022 (Prometheus Music)


Short stories[edit]

The following short stories were produced as part of the Merovingen Nights series of science fiction books. The series was edited by C. J. Cherryh.

  • "First Night Cruise" in Festival Moon
  • "Guardian" in Festival Moon
  • "War of the Unseen Worlds" in Fever Season
  • "Treading the Maze" in Troubled Waters
  • "Fair Game" in Smuggler's Gold
  • "Run Silent, Run Cheap" in Divine Right
  • "Walking on the Waves" in Flood Tide

The following short stories appeared in the War World series, a shared universe created by Jerry Pournelle:[22]

  • "Janesfort War" (with Frank Gasperik), in CoDominium: Revolt on War World
  • "Nothing in Common", in War World: Discovery
  • "To Win the Peace" (with Frank Gasperik), in War World: Takeover
Fanzine article

Writing as F. Sigmund Mead, "A Summary of the Physiological Roots of Andorian Culture" (Journal of Xenoanthropology, June 2341), edited by Leslie Fish. Fictional article on Andorian culture first published in Sehlat's Roar No. 2, a Star Trek fanzine of the 1970s, published by Randy Ash.[23]


Pegasus Awards[edit]

  • 1984: Best Original Filk Song—"Hope Eyrie"
  • 1986: Best Original Filk Song—"Witnesses' Waltz"
  • 1986: Best Female Filker
  • 1987: Best Writer/Composer
  • 1989: Best Fantasy Song—"Wind's Four-Quarters" (with Mercedes Lackey)
  • 1999: Best Hero Song—"A Toast For Unknown Heroes"
  • 2002: Best Song That Tells A Story—"Horsetamer's Daughter"
  • 2003: Best Classic Filk Song—"Banned from Argo"
  • 2005: Best Space Opera Song—"Signy Mallory" (with Mercedes Lackey)
  • 2005: Best Sword & Sorcery Song—"Threes" (with Mercedes Lackey)

Other awards[edit]

  • 2014 Prometheus Special Award for Novella (Tower of Horses) and Song ("The Horsetamer's Daughter").


  1. ^ a b Leslie Fish Links
  2. ^ FilKONtario. Filk Hall of Fame: Leslie Fish – 1995 Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Creasey, John; Creasey, Mary, eds. (2001). The Bastard Children of Argo. Random Factors. Archived from the original (8 1/2 x 11, comb binding) on April 1, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016. (82 songs)
  4. ^ Gold, Lee, ed. (June 2002). Xenofilkia No. 83 – Bastard Grandchildren of Argo (8 1/2 x 11, stapled). Los Angeles, California, United States: Xenofilkia. Retrieved August 2, 2016. Special issue of bimonthly magazine Xenofilkia (20 songs)
  5. ^ Mailander, Jane (2007). "Appendix B – Inside Jokes in Filk Fandom". FILKING 101: The Folk Music of Science Fiction. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Leslie Fish's song honoring the Apollo 11 mission; it embodies the hope of the space program. The anthem of filk singing. Always sung with respect and solemnity. Many filkers actually insist on standing at attention during this song.
  6. ^ Filk Hall Of Fame Inductees and Citations – 1995–1997 Archived November 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Launius, Roger D. Got Filk? Lament for Apollo in Modern Science Fiction Folk Music, IAC-04-IAA., presented at the 55th International Astronautical Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the International Institute of Space Law, Vancouver, Canada, Oct. 4–8, 2004
  8. ^ Leslie Fish
  9. ^ Finding the Future: A Science Fiction Conversation (2004) (V)
  10. ^ Leslie Fish Lyrics
  11. ^ Leslie Fish: Autobiography
  12. ^ Larry Niven Bibliography Leslie Fish [identified with] Character Jenny Trout Page 114
  13. ^ a b Walker, Jesse (2005-06-09) American Anarchist, Reason
  14. ^ "Fan Haven community grows in Arizona desert | SCAtoday.net". www.scatoday.net. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  15. ^ ""Fan Haven 2", Leslie Fish". The Diggings. February 11, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016. The last action for this claim—land status checked—occurred on March 3, 1998. Information on the claim was last updated on February 11, 2016.
  16. ^ ""Fan Haven 4", Leslie Fish". The Diggings. February 11, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016. The last action for this claim—land status checked—occurred on March 3, 1998. Information on the claim was last updated on February 11, 2016.
  17. ^ Shapero, Kay. "Fans, Pagans, SCAdians Wanted to help buy land for a Fan-Haven". Kay Shapero's Website. Kay Shapero. Archived from the original on February 18, 2006. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Fish, Leslie (August 25, 2011). "rec.music.filk: Congratulations, Leslie Fish!". Google Groups. p. 5. Retrieved August 2, 2016. I'll be getting married on November 13, to my old Berkeley Pagan buddy, Rasty Bob Ralston.
  19. ^ Leslie Fish on Cat Breeding... Excerpted from an autobiographical letter by Leslie Fish (Fall, 1992. Edited by Mary Creasey). Retrieved March 24, 2013
  20. ^ "LeslieBard: The Stuggling Orchard". June 4, 2018.
  21. ^ Notes on albums from personal collection and company records, Mary Creasey of Random Factors
  22. ^ Bibliography of Jerry Pournelle's Future History
  23. ^ The Andor Files

External links[edit]