Science Fiction Alliance History: 1985 - Last Updated
Origin and The Doctor Who Years
Frosh and Doctor Who fan Linnea Johnson '89 arrives at Carleton and immediately begins to search for other fans of the long-running BBC series. She takes out an NNB ad to organize a club devoted to viewing the adventures of the peripatetic Time Lord and manages to get a small group together to watch Doctor Who on Saturday nights as it airs on KTCA (Channel 2) in Myers lounge.
The Doctor Who Club becomes a regular fixture in the Myers lounge during the weekends. The show is viewed on some Friday nights as well as Saturday nights, and occasional prerecorded episodes are watched from tape as well as seeing the shows as they air on Channel 2.
Star Trek: The Next Generation begins its seven-year run. In 1989, Doctor Who is cancelled by the BBC. Channel 2 stops airing the show shortly thereafter. The Doctor Who Club continues watching recorded episodes of the series, and begins branching out into other forms of Science Fiction. In the 89-90 year, the club installs a signal enhancer on the Myers TV set to ease the VCR hookup task. Complaints about the device led to its removal and subsequent immortalization on that year's T-Shirt.
The Doctor Who (and Other Types of Science Fiction) Club continues its existence in various lounges on weekends, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation as it airs at 6pm Saturdays on KARE (Channel 11) and prerecorded episodes of other series. The meeting place of the club is subject to the whims of other roving bands of students, but is mostly Myers in 90-91 and mostly Watson in 91-92. Says Peter Gunn:
From '89 to '91 we moved around from lounge to lounge a lot, at the whim of whatever crowd had taken over the various lounges to watch a show or a video or have a party. We spent a couple of weeks in the Goodhue basement, several discontinuous weeks in Nourse Lounge, a few in Watson (with it's wonderful tub chairs), but most of the time in Myers. In my senior year, '91-'92, we finally sort of settled in to Watson. The crowd that turned out to watch Trek was so much larger than it had been in years past, that we really could hold sway in Watson pretty regularly.
The club is reorganized into a CSA chartered organization with co-Presidents Blake Bramhall '94 and Karen Swanberg '94.
The SFA is Formed
The name of the club is changed to the Science Fiction Alliance at the first meeting of the year. According to Blake Bramhall (posting on NOTES, now on Caucus in Cobwebs),
"The Alliance was 'formed' by renaming the Dr Who club one Saturday night in Watson. Karen Swanberg and I asked for a vote on whether we should be elected co-presidents of the Dr Who club, and when duly elected, informed the populace that we were going to change the name of the group to reflect what it actually did. There were no objections."
"Actually we may have informed the populace that we had _already_ done the name change... although I forget what official act we had taken (new charter, maybe?). Anyway the charter was rewritten (since the CSA had lost the old one) with a slight modification -- the SFA, unlike the Dr Who Club, was allowed to ask the CSA for money."
"We chose the (Carleton) Science Fiction Alliance cuz 'the Alliance' sounded cool -- and of course everyone calls it the SFA, not the Alliance. Oh well."
The club changes locations to Watson Lounge. The normal viewing schedule this year consists of ST: TNG as it airs at 6pm on Saturday, then disbanding and reconvening at 10:30 for Blake's 7. In January, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 begins airing on Tuesday nights. The episodes are recorded and shown at 7pm on Saturdays. The SFA makes a push to get a special interest house rather than take over a dorm lounge every weekend, and Residential Life grants them Parr House (now the Arb Office, next to Farm House) for the following year.
SF House is created; The Parr House Year: 1993-1994
Due to the size and remote location of Parr House and the poor TV reception, the SFA continues viewing Star Trek: The Next Generation in Watson Lounge for its final season (still airing at 6pm Saturdays, but now on Channel 29). The crowd for this show often exceeds 75 people. The club then makes the trek to Parr House for prerecorded episodes of DS9, Blake's 7, The Prisoner, and two half-hour episodes a week of Doctor Who. When Babylon 5 begins regular airing in February, that is also added to the schedule. The SFA begins keeping a library of people's donated and loaned science fiction and fantasy books, with approximately 200 books total at this point. Fer Horn starts the event cookies tradition and, to buy the ingredients, the pop fridge (which sells soda for 25 cents a can on the honor system) is instituted. Living in SF House for its first year are Blake Bramhall '94, Martine Kalke '94, Jennifer Ziebarth '94, Patricia Memmott '95 (fall term), and Karen Swanberg '94 (winter and spring terms). The SFA gets a house again for the following year-Berg House.
The Berg House Years
The SFA continues viewing SF shows every Saturday night in Berg House, despite the fact that no local TV station is airing SF on Saturday nights for the first time since the club's inception. They successfully petition Res Life to get cable installed in the house-the first off-campus house with this feature and the only cable TV on college property at the time other than in Sayles-Hill. The SFA library grows in leaps and bounds thanks in large part to donations from the Northfield Public Library. There was a Wednesday night event -- Story Hour. A fairly regular group would show up and take turns reading short stories out loud. Shows watched this year include DS9, Babylon 5, The Prisoner, Blake's 7, and Doctor Who. Living in the house this year are SFA President Curtis Mitchell '95, Jason Goodman '95, Reebee Kavitch '96, Michelle Herder '97, Helene Wecker '97, Rowan Littell '95, Kareem Kazkaz '95, and Naomi Kritzer '95.
In its tenth year, the SFA continues existence from its home in Berg House and regular SF viewings happen nearly every Saturday night. X-Files is shown regularly on a seperate night from the other shows. The library continues to expand. Every other Friday consists of 4-hour Doctor Who marathons. Alternate Friday nights are given over to other events, including movie nights and one round-table discussion with Twin Cities science fiction and fantasy authors Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Patricia Wrede, and Pamela Dean. The first Science Fiction-themed dance party occurs fall term (a brainchild of Becky Hrobak), with a second in the spring. House residents this year are SFA President Reebee Kavich '96, Chris Johnson '96, Daniel Martin '97, Nathanael Nerode (originally '98), Drew Johnson '96, Chrysoula Tzavelas '98, Michelle Herder '97, and Becky Hroback '96 (fall and winter term).
Third year in Berg House. SF viewings continue on Saturday and most Friday nights, including DS9, Babylon 5, and Voyager. The library has grown to the point where the books can no longer be held in the main room in the basement and are moved to a former storage room commonly referred to as "The Den of Iniquity" or "The Pit of Despair". Unrelated problems force three house residents to take leaves of absences during the school year, including President Michelle Curtis '97. Attendance is down to an average 10 people per Saturday from a high of up to 50 people during 1994-5. Res Life grants Berg House to the SFA again for the next year, but on probation due to the drop in attendance.
Fourth and final year in Berg House, under President Anne Forbes '98. SF viewings continue on Saturday and most Friday nights, but attendance fails to improve for most events. Res Life denies the SFA's request for a special interest house the following year. At the end of the year, the library is dismantled and moved into storage.
The Year of Exile: 1998-1999
Membership and interest in the SFA makes a sudden surge, despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of a house. The SFA library lives in Campus Activities in boxes. Meetings continue every Saturday night, in various locations, including the lounges of Evans and Nourse, but most commonly in Watson Basement and the Cave. With the end of Babylon 5 in mid year, the anime series The Vision of Escaflowne is added to the weekly lineup. This helps to tie the Anime club (founded in 1995) and the SFA more tightly together than they had been in the past. President Maria Sloughter '99 presides over the year of exile. Great help comes from Northfield Option students Warren Overholt '99 (who holds the television) and Nathanael Nerode (now '00, who keeps tabs on the library). Res Life grants Benton House to the SFA for the following year.
The Benton House Years
Benton House proves to be a good home for the SFA as it begins its 15th year of existence. The Alliance convinces ResLife to allocate a residential room for the SFA library, which is impressive given the housing crunch occuring at the time. Large amounts of anime are viewed in addition to regular SF and fantasy. The new President this year is Jennifer Rosenbaum '00. Other, non-television events this year include a "feast" of infamous SF dishes including breen, gazpacho soup, gagh, and Nanny Ogg's Banananana Surprise. Residents are Nathanael Nerode '00, Dan Harris-Warrick '00, Bess Olsen, Robin Smogor, Christine Williamson, Sean Megeath, Mike Borchert, Becky Weisgerber, Abby Hedden, and Shilpa Kamat
Second year in Benton House, now under President Bess Olsen '01. Regular viewings of current and archived SF programs continue on Friday and Saturday nights. House members are Kelly Tolle '02, Dan Brewer '03, Christine Williamson '02, Robin Smogor '02, Sean Megeath '01, Mike Borchert '01, Thorin Tatge '02, Becky Weisgerber '01, Abby Hedden '01, and Katie Westby '03.
The club is granted Benton House again, but on probation. ResLife cites a lack of advertising as well as several other factors. The group reacts by running perhaps more events than ever before and advertising like mad. The tradition of SF Saturday Nights at Carleton remains strong from its inception over 16 years ago and shows every sign of continuing so for many more years. In addition to Sci-fi Saturday, taped radio shows (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Star Wars) are played in the library on Wednesdays during Winter and Spring terms. Enterprise and Buffy are taped for the library's collection and hold reserved time slots on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Friday nights are usually occupied with a special event. The SFA helps run ERPL (the Experimental Role Playing Laboratory) twice. The count of library books now approaches 2000 as new shelves are added to accomodate the collection.
The club doesn't really have officers this year, but since the CSA requires chartered organizations to name three, the title of "Officer" went to Thorin Tatge '02, Kelly Tolle '02, and Hanna Bennett '04. Librarian and webmaster is Matthew Strait '03. House residents are Matthew Strait '03, Kelly Tolle '02, Lewis Keyte '04, Jonathan Wichmann '04 (Fall) John Parejko '02 (Winter/Spring), Ethan Sommer '03, Thorin Tatge '02, Hanna Bennett '04, Mari Konkel '03, Andy Exley '03, Denise Daniels '02 (Fall), and Robin Smogor '02 (Winter/Spring).
The 4th year in Benton House (now off probation). Officers are: President Andy Exley '03, Treasurer Steven Glowacki '03, Publicity Czar Derek Deren '05, Librarian and Webmaster Matthew Strait '03. House members are Matthew Strait '03, Derek Deren '05, Steven Glowacki '03, Takashi Endo '05 (Fall/.4 Winter), Lewis Keyte '04 (.6 Winter/Spring), Josh Ourisman '04, Hanna Bennett '04 (Fall), Emily Alter '04 (Winter/Spring), Erica Cande '04, Callen Hyland '05, Kathy Riddlebarger '04, and Andy Exley '03.
The 5th year at Benton. This year's officers are: President Alison Campion '05, Treasurer Kathy Riddlebarger '04, Publicity Czarina Emily Alter '04 and Librarian Callen Hyland '05. House members are Steve Glowacki '04, Emily Alter '04, Erica Cande '04, Derek Deren '05, Callen Hyland '05, Bitsy Perlmam '06, Wakey Nelson '06, Ashley Rall '06, Des Kidney '06 and Tim Nelson-Hoy '06.
SFA recordkeeping lapses. In the immortal words of Galadriel, "Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it."
The year of the Great Library Reorganization, spearheaded by Katie Pacala '08. The library's full-to-bursting shelves get thoroughly culled and the remainder of the books are alphabetized, catalogued, and labeled. The entire process takes at least 80 person-hours, but the library has never looked better. The club steps up its advertising in response to a rumor that Res Life will be rearranging the interest houses.
Current year. Officers this year are Michael Sawi '09 (president), David Guild '09 (secretary), and Nora Driscoll '11 and Jeff Rzeszotarski '10 (co-treasurers).
[SFA Historical Timeline]