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Three Laws of Thermo

Lyrics © 1991 Michael Rubin
Tune: "And the Band Played 'Waltzing Matilda'" by Eric Bogle


When I was a young man I wrote fantasy, just like Tolkien a trilogy writer.
But the blood, guts and magic were getting me down, and I thought that sci-fi would be lighter.
I submitted my story; the editor said,
"That man can't breathe argon, he ought to be dead.
And your planet's unstable; use a round one instead.
Mister, you've got to learn some more science."

So I set my next story right here on the earth, and not upon any strange planet.
Dr. Fnord makes perpetual motion machines; oil companies want him to can it.
There's some neat techno-gadgets and almost a war;
Dr. Fnord gets away in his fuel-less car;
On my editor's desk it didn't get far,
Never knew there were three laws of thermo.

For you cannot win nor break even
And you cannot get out of the game
There ain't no free lunches in physics, I found --
And writing behaves just the same.

Then he tore up my story of cyberpunk-land where the rules of mechanics go crackers.
You can turn into anything, go anywhere, dodging viruses, wizards, and hackers.
Laws of fantasy work here; I had a sure bet
As the characters' engrams encompassed the net
Of computers on Earth, Saturn, Neptune and yet --
He still found nits to pick with my science.

"Networks can't go faster than lightspeed;
It's four hours from Neptune to here --
And like it or not, that screws up your whole plot.
Even punk can't have errors this clear."

So I went to a con and cried into my bheer, started writing and singing this ditty
When an elderly member of SFWA came by, heard my story and showed me some pity.
"I see all these rejections are driving you mad;
Even F&SF won't take science this bad;
Have some friendly advice: sell to Omni, my lad,
They're closer to Penthouse than science."

So I'll win or at least I'll break even
I've decided to stay in the game
And to prove it I'm getting a Master's degree
In Science to put on my name!

Three Laws of Thermo, Three Laws of Thermo, Three Laws of Thermo and Entropy:
You can't gain heat, or move it without losing some;
A closed system gets more disorderly.

The moral of the story is: "I canna find the laws of physics, Captain, we'll have to make do wi' loopholes!"

Pigs & Fishes > Filks > Mike Rubin's Filks > Three Laws of Thermo
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Last updated: Wed, 31 Dec 1969, 04:00 PM EST