OUSFG is old. It's been going for about forty years; that's old by the standards of people, never mind the standards of university societies. It's old enough that there is at least second generation member - a member whose parents were members during their time at Oxford.
This page is not the place to discuss the reasons for OUSFG's longevity. It is, instead, a record of the origins of OUSFG.
New members are proudly informed
but incorrectly --MRW
that the society was founded by an acknowledged Grand Master of British SF, Brian Aldiss. If they hang around, they may eventually hear the full story, which goes something like this:
Back in the 1960s, Brian Aldiss used to hang out with CS Lewis. One evening, they decided the university could really do with a science fiction group, so they procured the necessary forms and sent the application before the Proctors. The Proctors, in their infinite snobbery, responded that 'science fiction' was a little too lowbrow for an institution such as Oxford and could the proponents possibly come up with an alternative?
And so, the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group was born.
==========MRW == Of course, just to spoil a good story, and correct it with the truth- OUSFG was dreamed up by Chris Miller and Marc Wigan, who sought out the necessary Senior members (required to found a University Society) and got Brian Aldiss to agree.. I cant remeber CS Lewis playing any part at all then or in the next 5 years, but perhaps Chris asked him to be a second senior member: anyway it never came up in committee or discussion..the initial Committee was Marc Wigan (Hertford); Chris Miller (Ch Ch), Pete Winchurch(Ch Ch) and Tony Miles(BNC). The name was the result of a long debate between us all, ending up with Speculative as means of not disempowering either fanatsy or scifi addicts- and attracting a few interesting modern writers (it worked) ==
(This is not the place to discuss whether the name might not actually have been a blessing in disguise, either.)
For a time, the group met at Brian Aldiss' house. Sooner or later, however, the Grand Master grew tired of the noise/arguments/mistreatment of cat/drinking of tea or more intoxicating substances (take your pick), and demanded that meetings take place elsewhere. And so, the current nomadic existence of the OUSFG Library was begun.
That's the story, anyway.
In Michelmas term 2002, Brian Aldiss came to talk to the society. All and sundry were stunned when he revealed that the Origin Of OUSFG was, in fact, pretty much as given above. There were some additional details provided, such as the fact that the house in question was Number 24 Marston Street, and the incident that provoked the expulsion was having to look after a sick member for a week. But in essence, the story is correct. He also confirmed that the tradition of people not returning borrowed books is as old as OUSFG itself.
(It should be noted that Brian was heard to say over dinner that either the above story is true, or he laid a great cosmic egg from which the society sprang, fully formed. It is left to the reader to decide which of these stories is more likely and, indeed, more desirable.)
==========MRW == Actually we had few formal meetings at Brians house (one has to admit that Chris Miller did have a habit of overdoing the alcohol: a gentle and inoffensive soul otherwise, and much loved by all for his kind nature). I can specifically recall only one significant large formal occasion at Brians: it was decorous party of the chat variety, and a very pleasant and interesting occasion it was too. .. most meetings from the pre-planning stage and onward were held in one or other of our rooms: initially Chris Millers or Pete Winchurch's in Ch Ch. A few odd meetings were held at Brians Marston St premises, but these quickly fizzled out as it was seen by the full Committee as an imposition (and the events Brian alludes to could well have occurred, but not as a formal OUSFG meeting I must add), and were restricted to rare and specific invitations after a short time.We were all very appreciative of Brians' occasional involvement, and did not want to prejudice its continuation.
Consequently I'm amused, though a little disconcerted, at the fictionalised version of events attibuted to Brain..(who of course would have more than enough of the necessary Speculative Fictional authors elan to carry it off) - it certainly makes a FAR better story. its just not true - sadly. I wish it was - its far more colourful, and adds new and most prestigious players to the script etc etc... ==
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