Goblins, orgies, and sci-fi hellfights

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Goblins, orgies, and sci-fi hellfights was an article written by David M. Ewalt for the Long Island Voice about the Science Fiction Forum.



Original Text

"goblins, orgies, and sci-fi hellfights"
by david m. ewalt
from the long island voice

"Okay... Molly Ringwald versus Claire Danes, if they both have shivs or something... who wins?"

Glenn "Squirrel" Given leans back in his easy chair and smiles widely. His eyes dart across the office, finally resting on Phil Russo, the resident Goth guy.

"I think Molly Ringwald would kick her ass," Phil says. "That Molly Ringwald is a street bitch."

Welcome to the Science Fiction Forum.

Every college campus has its own version of the Forum: the freaks, weirdos, geeks, nerds - whatever you want to call them. They're often an unseen presence on campus, lurking about the dormitories and passing Star Trek books from hand to hand.

At SUNY Stony Brook, however, their presence is announced, loud and clear: from the rocket ship logo painted on the door of their office in Harriman Hall, to their penchant for swordfights and scavenger hunts that rage across campus.

The Science Fiction Forum is one of Stony Brook's oldest clubs, founded in 1968. It's a student run and funded organization, meaning it gets its funding from Polity, the student government. Nonetheless, it's not much like any other club on campus.

"We've had babies conceived in the Forum," says member Samantha Berg, by way of example.

"Can you say that we're perpetuating the delinquency of minors by providing them with alcohol and cigarettes?" Squirrel interjects.

Official Forum membership numbers range between 60 and 70 active members, defined as those who stop by at least once a week. Even more show up occasionally, including those who no longer attend the school.

"We get people coming down here for years," says Erik Soto, currently the vice president of the Forum. "We get a lot of people who hang out here so much they get jobs around the school."

"If you come in here once you're a member," says Erik. "If you come in here twice you're a Forumite. Technically, Isaac Asimov is a Forumite."

The Forum was started by a handful of students who wanted to maintain a science fiction library. They began their work in a back room of a dormitory, collecting whatever books they could find. A few thousand volumes later, disaster struck, and the library burnt down.

"We lost everything," says Erik, "except, oddly enough, Fahrenheit 451. That's the only thing that survived."

The Forumites pressed on, however, and now can boast of one of America's finest science fiction libraries.

"We have sixteen thousand books, give or take three thousand," says Erik. "I think we are the largest science fiction library on Long Island... and one of the largest on the East Coast."

Outside the library, Forumites generally spend their time immersed in sci-fi.

"Wednesday night we show TV shows," says Erik. "Our activities coordinators tape stuff off TV, like X-Files, Babylon 5, whatever. Once a semester we like to have a movie marathon, where we'll take the whole weekend and watch a bunch of science fiction movies."

Quite often there's people here until four or five in the morning, especially on movie night. A lot of times you come down here in the morning and people are just leaving."

Those late hours often lead to scintillating conversation.

"There have been some particularly annoying arguments," explains Erik, "like Star Wars versus Star Trek. That lasted for a good long time, and it fought to a stalemate, which was pretty sad."

"Usually it's cross-genre stuff," he continues, "like a Star Destroyer versus the Enterprise. That's a real annoying argument, because there's no basis for comparison."

Samantha, one of the few females in the office, jumps in.

"My favorite one was Physics of the Light Sabre," she says. "'It's focused light! No, what are you talking about, it's a molecule!' It went on for hours."

But not all Forum activities are so stereotypically geeky. On October 14th, several members - dubbed the Sci-Fi Forum Tactical Squad - went on a skydiving expedition.

"Jen, our President, said, 'We're gonna test gravity!'" explains Samantha, one of the brave souls who participated.

"I think twelve people actually jumped," she adds.

There are other strange clubs on campus, but generally they're all related to the Forum in some way. The Gaming Club, I-CON, and the Medieval Guild all formed as breakaway groups from the Forum.

Erik, who is also active in the Medieval Guild, remembers when he put together the club's bylaws.

"In the Medieval Guild's constitution," he says, "I actually wrote, 'Polity allows us to have a standing army, and equip them with weapons of our choice... and it got approved."

"They wouldn't let us put in a ban against goblins, though, because it's against discrimination laws," says Grace Hsu, another Forumite/Guild member. "I think we should be allowed to discriminate against goblinoids... they slobber and get the floor all dirty."

"Yeah, but so do half the Forumites," interrupts Samantha.

But drool doesn't necessarily keep romance out of the office. Rumors have circulated across campus for years about wild Forum bondage parties and pagan orgies.

"Never!" denies Erik. "Especially not on Halloween!"

Eventually, he relents, and goes on record.

"Orgies do happen, but they are not officially sanctioned by the Forum."

-David M. Ewalt