Fantasy Sci-Fi League Fun
I’ve never really been that into sports. I’m fine with watching football or hockey and count myself as a supporter of our local franchises, and I’ve been known to enjoy a round of Wii Golf on occasion, but I hardly ever attend games or read the sports page. I guess I know enough about sports to get by as our culture expects from someone of my gender. I can hold my own in a discussion of sports with someone as long as things don’t get too technical. My favorite sporting event is the Winter Olympics (curling being my favorite event), so I only get really excited about sports every four years, which suits me fine.
However, I’m a huge fan of science-fiction, fantasy, comics, and the like, and I’d much rather spend my time watching, reading, discussing, or thinking about something in those realms. I also like to write – a lot.
Enter Galactic Watercooler‘s Fantasy Sci-Fi League.
GWC has been my favorite podcast for a long time. It’s also a great community of folks, made up of the crew of the show and fans, based on the GWC Forum, Twitter, and now Facebook and Google+. A few years ago, they started doing this thing called Fantasy Sci-Fi League, or FSL as it is most commonly abbreviated. The premise is simple: draft your team of four characters from science fiction, fantasy, comics, video games, and related genres and compete in challenges ranging from rescuing a hostage from Klingons to saving the planet from a deadly asteroid.
For the original FSL, each team was comprised of a robot, a scientist, a warrior, and an alien. The second FSL was “black ops” themed, and each team was comprised of a pilot/driver, a martial artist, a tech expert, and a reconnaissance expert. For the first two versions, the GWC hosts – Chuck Cage, Audra Heaslip, and Sean O’Hara – picked their own teams and played along with the listeners. They picked one listener response to go head-to-head with their solutions.
I listened to the first two FSL series, but to due time constraints with work (and feeling a little intimidated by the talent) I didn’t participate. I did, however, pick teams in my head and make up solutions as I listened along. I really wanted to make the point of participating in FSL 3.0, so when the announcement was finally made, I was really excited.
The third iteration of FSL was “invasion” themed, and participants were asked to select a four-person team made up of heroes and their respective nemeses. For example, Batman and Superman would have to work together with the Joker and Lex Luthor to repel an invasion that threatens the planet.
I was instantly in love with premise because I love stories that have lots of conflict, dramatic twists, and eventual cooperation to defeat a common foe. The announcement on the GWC Forum sent my mind racing to come up with a team. Since no one can choose the same characters, I knew I had to move quickly. Within the hour I had arrived at my final selection.
For the first half of my team, I selected two archetypal rivals: Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. As an added twist, I selected the versions of the characters from the modern-day BBC series as played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott. Yes, it is possible to select different versions of the same character (this has been discussed at length on the GWC Forum), so someone else could have potentially chosen the classic literary versions of the characters, or their film versions, but no one did. I knew it was going to be a challenge to write characters so complex, but I wanted to push myself.
The second half of my team was easy to choose. I drew on my aforementioned love for the Disney animated series Gargoyles and drafted Goliath and Xanatos, the central hero and villain of the series. Xanatos is perhaps my favorite bad guy of all time, and I had to have him for my team. Goliath is a great foil for Xanatos and added some muscle to the team.
When the first challenge was posted, I already had an idea of what I wanted to do with the characters and a rough sketch of the story arc I wanted to follow, even though I didn’t know what the subsequent challenges would be. GWC host Sean O’Hara writes all the challenges, and they can be pretty interesting, to say the least. The first challenge involved a cruise ship besieged by carnivorous tribbles, and other challenges involved a strip club full of trolls and a baseball game against the Empire.
Responses to the challenges are posted to the forum, where individual posts are limited to 10,000 characters. Most people only write one-post solutions to the challenges, with the exception of a few GWCers like Omra who routinely write multi-part solutions. I knew going into the challenge that I would need more than one post, which would likely disqualify me from having my response read by Sean on the ‘cast, but I didn’t care. My responses averaged four or five posts each, and most of them bumped right up against the character limit.
Within the framework of the challenges, I wrote a complete story filled with twists, turns, conflicts, and – oh, yeah – awesome solutions to the task at hand. I had a great time writing them and even won an award: Sequel Master! I saved my responses as PDFs and posted them to my Dropbox, so you can check them out below:
Hope you enjoy reading them, and maybe I’ll see you in FSL 4.0!