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From the Issue: The Eclectic Traditions of the Sci-Fi Society

Be on the lookout for the February issue of The Blue & White, on campus now! Bwog will again honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include the first part of a discussion on the Columbia School, an investigation into Columbia’s animal testing practices, and a talk about, well, self-pleasure. Below, Augusta Harris explains the many mystic traditions of the Science Fiction Society.

Illustration by Chantal McStay, CC '15

Fandom Death Match is a semesterly game in which the Columbua University Science Fiction Society fills a March Madness-esque bracket with eight characters that its members pick out of a hat. The characters are paired together and enter a metaphorical steel cage death match and literal debate in which members argue for their characters. There are two brackets: one for mortals and one for immortals. “You can’t put Gandalf against Luke Skywalker. Gandalf would obviously win because he’s a wizard,” president Suzanne Walker, BC ‘12, said. Some winners from the mortal bracket, among them River Tam from Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Minerva McGonagall from Harry Potter, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, have earned “god status.”

The degree of sci-fi knowledge necessary to play Fandom Death Match points to how well-versed in the genre CUSFS’s members are. However, the game is only one of many such genre-dependent traditions. Some of the traditions—such as the Baggins’ Birthday Bash and the Sacrifice to Cthulhu—have been in practice for years.

Frodo and Bilbo’s Birthday Bash is an annual tradition in which members stage an outlandish reading of the first chapter of Tolkein’s The Fellowship of the Ring, by the end of which, Walker explained, any innocent memories attached to the story will be long gone. “My favorite one is at the end of the chapter when Bilbo is about to go off and it says something like “Three dwarves emerged from the room, where they had been busy…’” she said.

Then there’s the annual Sacrifice to Cthulhu, based on the novels by H.P. Lovecraft. A “virgin” is chosen and carried down all five ramps of Lerner while shout- ing “Ia ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!” “The first year, my arms were sore the next day, because I was carrying a 125 pound guy down the ramps of Lerner,” Walker recalled. The “virgin” is then hauled on top of the Sundial and struck with a sword. Sometimes there is fake blood, but according to Walker, that’s “a bitch to clean up.”

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10 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What idiots. Lord of the Rings is FANTASY. If there’s magical talismans, or a magic sword, or wizards, or fucking crazy not-real animals–all these basic things that break the laws of reality–that shit’s all fantasy.

    I’m into hard Sci-Fi.

    1. CUSFSian says:

      @CUSFSian Thanks, we’re obviously aware of that. Despite the name CUSFS covers fantasy as well as science fiction. And a lots of other fun things that don’t necessarily fit into an acronym.

      It’s all good.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Honestly, this is a pretty weak troll. At least try to be subtle about attempts to piss people off.

      And Sci-Fi and fantasy aren’t that different, as pointed out by Clarke’s Third Law.

    3. party says:

      @party down

  • Correction says:

    @Correction They don’t randomly choose “virgins.” The incoming president is symbolically supposed to represent the “virgin sacrifice.”

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Actually, we use real live virgins. How else could we win the favor of our god?

  • Correction says:

    @Correction Actually it seems I didn’t understand. The incoming president *performs* the sacrifice, but actual *virgins* are used. Go figure.

  • I VOLUNTEER! says:

    @I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER AS VIRGIN!

  • !!!! says:

    @!!!! I <3 YOU SUZANNEZIBAR!

  • oldtimer says:

    @oldtimer Legolas’ face seems to be suffering from a case of the Mark Bittmans.

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