Janis Ian’s Welcome Home Deconstructed–by Janis

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Janis Ian posted this as a comment, but I’m reposting here in case you didn’t look through the comments section.  If you want to know the references in her marvelous song, check below.

From Janis:

Here’s a breakdown of the references. Anyone wanting to download it can go to my site http://www.janisian.com , and head for the Music – Free Downloads page. You’re welcome to disseminate/reprint it; all I ask is that the copyright info and writer credit be used.
And thanks for enjoying it! I love when music goes where it’s supposed to go.
Janis Ian

I learned the truth at seventeen
That Asimov and Bradbury — Isaac Asimov & Ray Bradbury
and Clarke were alphabetically — Arthur C. Clarke
my very perfect ABC’s
While Algernon ran every maze — Daniel Keyes’ short story “Flowers for Algernon”
and slow glass hurt my heart for days — Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days”
I sat and played a sweet guitar
and Martians grokked me from afar — Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger In a Strange Land”, and the Martin word “grok”, or in its verb form, “to grok”, as in “to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity” (Wikipedia). Really untranslateable, much like the Portuguese “saudades” or the Japanese “wa”.

Odd John was my only friend — Olaf Stapledon’s novel “Odd John”
among the clocks and Ticktockmen, — a combination of Harlan Ellison’s “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman” and The Wizard of Oz mechanical man Tik-Tok.
while Anne Mccaffrey’s dragons roared — the dragons of the Pern series.
above the skies of Majipoor — Robert Silverberg’s “Majipoor Chronicles”
Bukharan winds blew cold and sharp — M. J. Engh was the author honored when I was toastmistress of the Nebula Awards; as part of my preparation, I ordered and read her classic “A Wind From Bukhara”.
and whispered to my secret heart
“You are no more alone
“Welcome home”

Tribbles came, and triffids went — David Gerrold’s “The Trouble With Tribbles”, and the cult classic movie “Day of the Triffids”
Time got wrinkled, then got spent — the first hardback book I ever bought (and still own, inscribed now), “A Wrinkle In Time”, by Madeleine L’Engle
Kirinyaga’s spirits soared — referencing the collection of short stories, called “Kirinyaga”, by Mike Resnick – his story “For I Have Touched the Sky” influenced my own work heavily
and Turtledove re-write a war -i Harry Turtledove’s various alternate histories
While Scanners searched, and loved in vain — Cordwainer Smith, “Scanners Live in Vain”
Hal Nine Thousand went insane — the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark “2001: A Space Odyssey”, referencing the rogue computer Hal 9000
and Brother Francis had an ass
whose wit and wile were unsurpassed — from Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Liebowitz”, first a short story, then a novel

Every story I would read
became my private history
as Zenna’s People learned to fly — Zenna Henderson’s “Pilgrimage: Book of the People”. More writers than I can count say Henderson was an enormous influence on them, from Orson Scott Card to Connie Willis.
and Rachel loved until we cried — “Rachel In Love”, by Pat Murphy
I spent a night at Whileaway — Joanna Russ’ short story “When It Changed”
then Houston called me just to say — James Tiptree, Jr.’s “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”
“You are no more alone
“so welcome home”

Who dreams a positronic man? — the novel “The Positronic Man”, by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
Who speaks of mist, and grass, and sand? — Vonda McIntyre’s short story “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand”, which became “Dreamsnake”
Of stranger station’s silent tombs? — from “Stranger Station”, by Damon Knight
Of speech that sounds in silent rooms? — from the amazing “Speech Sounds”, by Octavia Butler
Who waters deserts with their tears? — from Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, and the Fremen and Maud’dib
Who sees the stars each thousand years? — Isaac Asimov’s story “Nightfall”
Who dreams the dreams for kids like me
Whose only home is fantasy?

Let’s drink a toast to ugly chickens — Howard Waldrop’s “The Ugly Chickens”
Marley’s ghost, and Ender Wiggins — Jacob Marley, who haunts Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Ender Wiggins of Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”
Every mother’s son of you,
and all your darling daughters, too — Connie Willis’ “All My Darling Daughters”
And when the aliens finally come,
we’ll say to each and every one
“You are no more alone
“so welcome home
“Welcome home”

I believe that science fiction is the jazz of prose. An outlaw form, made for those of us who never quite fit in, who spend our lives with our noses pressed against the glass, who finally find a home in these stories, and their absolute, unshakeable belief that somewhere out there, we can find our own kind.

1 thought on “Janis Ian’s Welcome Home Deconstructed–by Janis

  1. I wanted to say a very heartfelt thank you to Janis. This song gets me everytime. I actually cheered when she mentioned ‘Of Mist and Grass and Sand,’ so imagine my surprise when I found out there was a novel. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it, but in my defense, it came out when I was three. So thank you once again Janis and Kris.

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