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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Get Interested: Sci-fi House Bent-on fun

<itor’s note: Get Interested is a weekly feature on different interest houses.

The posters covering the walls of the Benton House lounge say it best. From Harry Potter to X-Files and Star Wars to 300, the interests at Science Fiction (Sci-fi) House are broad to say the least.

“Sci-fi as a genre is much bigger and much cooler than people think it is,” house manager Jeff Rzeszotarski ’10 said. “If you participate in any way in the genre, you’re going to find out it’s different than expected.”

A fixture at Carleton since 1993, Sci-fi House is closely tied with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance (SFA), which boasts a mailing list of 144 Carls. Its residents host Sci-Fridays each week to watch and discuss television shows and put on a different SFA event every Saturday night.

Beyond the scheduled events, though, the house’s main purpose, its residents say, is to “provide a community.”

“We’re more than happy to have people come here and watch movies or just use the house,” Rzeszotarski said. “We want a community around us. It’s nice to be in a place where there’s an extended community dropping in who you want to get to know, and they want to know you.”

Whether you’re a hardcore sci-fi buff or just getting used to the genre, Benton residents welcome everyone.

“Because sci-fi and fantasy are very inclusive genres, it makes sense to be as accessible as possible,” Rzeszotarski said. “We always make an effort to structure things so they are more approachable.”

This means offering a range of events spanning from readings of Vogon Poetry—“the third worst poetry in the galaxy,” according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy—to once-a-term viewings of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

According to Margaret Taylor ’10, Benton’s most popular event is the Fantasy Feast, a potluck with fictional fare including Star Trek-inspired Romulan Ale and an outpouring of Harry Potter and Redwall delicacies.

“We all look at each other’s creativity and just have fun,” she said.

Taylor plays a significant role in attracting people to Benton House, as she manages its 1,600-volume science fiction and fantasy library on the house’s first floor. Full of donated books as well as some purchased with a grant last year, the SFA library is open to the entire Carleton community and lends books for the duration of the term on an honor system.

A catalogue of the books is available for viewing at, and users can check out a book any of time of day simply by putting their name on a sheet of paper.

“We’ve been getting a lot more traffic this term than before,” Taylor said. “I’ve used two pages already.”

With all the activity brought in by the library and events, “it’s tended to be a very active community,” Kelson Bain ’12 said. “A lot of times a [dorm] floor won’t be, and you can’t judge that” during room draw.

Upcoming events at Sci-fi House include a viewing of the TV series Battlestar Gallactica, scheduled for tomorrow at 7 p.m. to discuss the series in light of the release of The Plan, which, according to Rzeszotarski, came out “to peace everything together” from the series, and a song and dance get-together called Filk Night Nov. 14.

Celebrating a brand of sci-fi and fantasy-themed folk music called filk, the night includes a performance by Mark Heiman, Senior Web Application Developer in Carleton’s Information Technology Services department.

“He comes and sings various ridiculous filk songs until his voice goes out,” Rzeszotarski said.

It’s one of several events Benton residents say appeal to people across and outside of the SFA community.

“We don’t all like Star Trek, and we don’t all love Star Wars,” Rzeszotarski said of the group’s diversity. “For the record, not everyone likes light sabers.”

“I encourage you to visit once,” Bain said. “A lot of people just want to come and never do so, and then they come the first time and end up coming again and again.”

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