I don't know how or why he came up with it, only that he did. It was our sophomore year. We would meet weekly to watch or otherwise discuss science fiction. Us being us, I think we put more work into the organizational structure than anything else. According to our Constitution (written by Chris and revised by our friend James):
We the fans of science fiction declare in one voice, not a voice of Star Trek, Star Wars, or Babylon 5, but the harmonious voice of all science fiction, that this document shall bring order to chaos, provide an open forum for all of science fiction, and secure the Blessings of the future to ourselves and our school, and thus do ordain and establish this Constitution of the Science Fiction Club.Additionally, according to Article V, Section 2: "Membership as well as suffrage cannot be denied due to grade level, science fiction preferences, or political preferences. Membership and suffrage is a right of all students of St. Xavier High School."
Other clubs had presidents; presidents were boring. We would have a Lord Chancellor. Other clubs had vice presidents; vice presidents were boring. We would have a Vice Chancellor. Other clubs had treasurers; treasurers were boring. We would have a Minister of the Purse. Other clubs had secretaries; secretaries were boring. We would have a Minister of Information.
Though then we ran into the problem that our core friend group ran five deep, and we had only come up with four positions. Well, why not an ominously titled organization with a vague remit so that we could enact secret powers? Hence, we had a Minister of Internal Affairs.
Our executive committee equivalent was called "Starfleet Command."
Soon executive departments were proliferating (I think this is what other people would call ad hoc committees). According to my executive orders (still saved on an external hard drive!), we had a Party Commission, a Book Commission, a Commission on Patches and Shirts, a Bureau of Web Affairs, a National Interests Authority, and a Department of Organization and Rules. Somewhat astoundingly, in retrospect, I wasn't part of that last one.
(According to the public document, the NIA "[a]ssist[ed] in the smooth functioning of the Science Fiction Club by providing cross-departmental coordination," but according to a secret document, it "defend[ed] the Science Fiction Club from outside forces and protects its well-being. Also provides for a militia." The DOR had the secret task of "[f]urther[ing] Starfleet Command’s control of the Science Fiction Club by creating slowdown procedures and extensive paperwork to stifle unwanted resolutions"!)
((I'm not sure why this was needed at all, because the constitution itself was pretty un-democratic. The Lord Chancellor got to decide if issues submitted by members were major or minor; minor issues got voted on by the whole club directly with a simple majority, but major issues needed first majority approval by Starfleet Command, and then two-thirds approval by the membership. So I could basically kill any unwanted motion by declaring it major. Starfleet Command was appointed by me, so it's not likely they'd go against my wishes!))
Most of the time we'd watch random movies. That's where I first saw Stargate, Gattaca, the John Hurt 1984, and Blade Runner, for example. Sometime we'd do theme months: for a Cyborg Month, we watched one installment of Remembrance of the Daleks a week and then an episode of another show featuring a cyborg (e.g., "The Best of Both Worlds"). My senior year, I was responsible for driving home my brother and his friend Kurt and the German exchange student living with Kurt; Kurt was a participant. I remember Kurt making fun of the Daleks during episode one of Remembrance... and him excitingly explaining to Georg how awesome the Special Weapons Dalek when we were driving home after watching episode four.
We had a Time Travel Month, and every year we did an Anime Month. (That was to appease the club's anime-lovers; without that sort of designated slot, I think they would have pushed for us to watch anime all the time.) I complained a lot at the time, but given it was my introduction to Patlabor, I probably shouldn't.
Some of the best stuff was not movies, though. We had a Klingon Month. Weeks one and two we watched Star Trek VI, but week three we did Federation vs. Klingons capture the flag, and then week four we did a Klingon feast. I made bloodwine by mixing red koolaid with red Jello. I think someone else made bloodworm pie with gummy worms. We played the Star Trek: The Next Generation VCR Board Game and Star Trek Monopoly. We borrowed buzzers from the Quiz Team to do a Star Wars trivia match (using cards from Star Wars Trivial Pursuit), and I was made quizmaster, because everyone knew I would win if I played.
We occasionally did "literary bonanzas" where people read bits of books aloud. I don't remember specifically, but I am sure James probably read a political treatise part of 1984; it's exactly what he would do. I remember reading all of Italo Calvino's tremendous "The Light Years," which took a lot longer than I expected (I think 30 minutes!) but seemed to go over well.
I have some pretty good memories of those days.
It's because of Science Fiction Club that I ended up making Doctor Who audio dramas for fun, and from there Star Trek and Star Wars and original sf ones. One of those Star Trek audio dramas provided the kernel for (and shares a title with) my Star Trek novel, A Choice of Catastrophes.
It did persist beyond the five of us. I don't know exactly how long, but Chris once went back and talked to a group of club members, none of whom had ever actually known us, just knew our names from the founding documents, and approached us with awe and respect. (Like the Thermians in Galaxy Quest, at least according to Chris's telling.)
I went back once myself; they were watching Red vs. Blue. It was dreadfully unfunny. Like all once-great institutions, it had decayed into a shadow of its former self. I don't know if it still exists, though it seems unlikely to me.
I don't know if my friends did, but I always listed the SFC on my extracurriculars when applying to college. At a scholarship interview at Xavier University, an admissions official asked me, "...but why Lord Chancellor?"
"Because it's cooler than a president."
#417: What role do school clubs and teams play in your life?