CUSFS History and Traditions


The Cambridge University Science Fiction Society (CUSFS - pronounced "cuss-fuss") was established in 1963 with the goal of creating a consolidated library of books and magazines. Since then, the society has developed into a catch-all for things related to science fiction, fantasy, and other genres, like alternate history, which bear a spiritual relationship to SFF. If it is in any way relevant, we have probably discussed it, at some point or another.


That 'fantasy' in the last paragraph bears a little explanation. Despite the official name, we are very much the science fiction and fantasy society, but this is a more recent development. At some point -- perhaps in 1974, or thereabouts -- several members of CUSFS, in protest to what they saw as politicisation of the society (it being, at that time, involved in some sort of CUSU related campaign), formed Jómsborg the New, a separate society which developed into the de facto fantasy society. Some twenty years later, the radical elements of CUSFS having died down, the two societies noticed they had virtually identical member lists and merged.

What does this mean in practice? Nothing, really. CUSFS is the overarching organisational structure; within it, Jómsborg retains a nominal independence. It has its own, largely ceremonial committee; occasional meetings of the society are designated Jómsmeetings, with a fantasy-themed topic and the consumption of mead; and there are a couple of traditional Jómsborg annual events. But in the grand scheme of things, CUSFS is a single society with a unified membership -- if, admittedly, a membership that isn't quite willing to dispense with past traditions.

Early history

A fascinating record of the founding and early history of the Society can be read here. Our Archive -- essentially the Society site as it stood before 2013 -- has lots of interesting info about the Society's history, though it's not very well organised (sorry...).


The Veizla

We have an annual end-of-year dinner called the Veizla, usually in May Week. This marks the end of the academic year in traditional CUSFS style, featuring the consumption of much mead, and is when the committee handover takes place (elections are usually in the Lent term, in February or so).
The date of the 2017 Veizla has yet to be determined - watch this space...

The Wake

Once per year, during the Lent Term, CUSFS assembles for a midterm Games Night at a variable location. Thereafter, in the morning half-light before sunrise, we journey to the top of Castle Mound. Led by the Reeve, chief of Jomsborg, we carry out an ancient ritual to raise the Sun from its celestial slumber and proclaim its shape for the new year. This is a great time for CUSFSites past, present, and very occasionally future to join in orange soul-dom and really mess up their body clocks in time for Monday lectures.

The exact date of the Wake is different each year; this is definitely due to obscure and arcane reasons of planet conjunction and not because the Reeve occasionally forgets to organise one until Week 7. However, it usually takes place Saturday night to Sunday morning. The shape of the sun for some recent years can be found on the committee pages.

The Scarves

The essential (and, usually, sole) part of the CUSFS stash is our twelve-foot-long bright orange scarf, affectionately known as a Soul.
In times of yore the Soul was a Jómsborg item and CUSFS possessed a different scarf which was transparent with octarine polka-dots. In secret, however, the two scarves quarrelled; both knew only one scarf could truly rule the Societies. Thus, on 29th February 1985, the two scarves met in the moonlight before King's Chapel and, after an epic battle the likes of which scarfdom will never see again, the Jóms-soul defeated the CUSFS scarf in single combat. Thus, only the blazing orange of the Soul can today be seen in CUSFS meetings.

(According to the CUSFS Chairbeing of '85-'86, CUSFS did in fact once have a scarf: equal stripes of black, white and yellow and black, supposedly to represent the `society's port': mackesons and lucozade. What happened to it, none can say, or if they can they haven't gotten in touch yet.)