Jan. 23, 2024

SF Songs -Stardrive

SF Songs -Stardrive

In earlier blogs, we shared with you some science fiction poetry that dated back to the 1880’s.

For this blog post, I would like to share a science fiction SONG.

It was quite popular during the late 20th century and was played at almost every science fiction convention. It was made popular by Juanita Coulson, a famous science fiction author, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juanita_Coulson ) and was written by her husband, Buck.


“REMINDER” by Buck Coulson

The stardrive was discovered on a planet in Centaurus,
By a race that built their cities when the Earth was burning gas.
They swept across the starlanes in the dawning of creation,
And a billion years of empire came to pass.

Their successors were a swarm of mighty insects from Orion.
They did not have the stardrive, but neither did they die.
They smashed a dying empire and then settled down to rule it,
And another billion years or so went by.

The Insects were supplanted when the drive was rediscovered.
They could not stop rebellion when they could not catch their foes.
And the Tzen became the rulers. They were reptiles from Arcturus,
And they worshipped the dark swamps from which they rose.

But the Tzen were few in number and the universe is mighty,
And they felt their domination slip away between their claws.
Others fought for domination and the universe was chaos,
While on Earth a creature shaped flint with its paws.

Now the first ones are forgotten and the Insects but a memory,
And the creature called Man stands upon the threshold of his fame.
But remember, puny Earthlings, there were others here before you,
And still others who will follow in your flame.


This song was long famous in SF Cons and this poem/song was also highlighted in the book, The Bug Wars, by Robert Asprin copyright 1979

Here is a link to a video where Juanita Coulson sings the song


timestamp 30:28

While the above song was a long standing favorite of science fiction fandom, it was nevertheless parodied at SF conventions across the decades.  Here is one of those humorous variants written by fans.


Sung to the tune of “Reminder” Selected verses from the unnamed MN-STF songbook, “The Filthy Pierre Songbook”, The Conscription Program Songbook” (1990) and other sources.

The stardrive was discovered in 1927
In the city of Sheboygan by a man named Irwin Krause.
He shouted out  “Eureka” and his wife said, “You’ve been drinking.
Get out now and don’t you come back in this house.”
His successor was a journeyman machinist named O’Ryan
Who worked the four to midnight at the union Tool and Die.
One day he spilled some coffee and the drive shaft of his drill press
And it turned bright blue and took of for the sky.

But the union said that stardrives were not in his job description
And anyway he didn’t have the seniority.
So he tried to sell the stardrive to Astounding Science Fiction
Which rejected it in June of  ‘43.
                (JWC said it was weak on plot)
But just 29 years later in the town of Tallahassee,
A guy who worked for NASA drawing weather maps on Mars,
One night when sorting laundry, left his stash inside his pocket,
And the Bendix burped and took off for the stars.

So he sent a special package of his secret drive propellant
With a letter of instructions to his boss in Washington.
Now the letter never got there, and they busted him for dealing
While his package orbited the Pentagon.
Now the secret is forgotten and forever lost to mankind,
Safely buried in Dead letter at the US POD.
But somewhere near Antares, there’s an Army surplus Bendix,
And a drill press which is worshipped secretly.
Now the first one’s on the Beltway and O’Ryan’s in a rest home
And some guy from NASA cannot find it in his sums.
But remember little egghead, there were others here before you,
And they all wound up a bunch of drunken bums.


For those who are musically inclined, here is the written score to the melody

or listen here