The Cafe

HISTORY A Short, Incomplete, and Opinionated History of the O*W*C

The Other*Worlds*Cafe is a group of science fiction fans and writers who meet online regularly to chat. We work hard to maintain a friendly, casual, interesting atmosphere at the Cafe...if you're old enough to type and you like science fiction, you're welcome!

We rejoice in the fact that our members view the Cafe as a place to meet with friends and enjoy intelligent conversation. As with any group, a few inside jokes have sprung up, mostly involving a fixation with squid.

The O*W*C was founded on the American Online service, circa 1993, which makes it ancient in terms of online chats. It was the brainchild of JaniceMars, who recruited two other hosts, Patterner and DreamMindr.

All three were hosts for OMNI, a now-defunct forum on AOL. OMNI--which had three chat rooms: SF, Antimatter (paranormal) and Commons (Horror, This Week in Science, and other non-specific chats)--had no scheduled SF chat on Monday evenings, so they kindly permitted the O*W*C to borrow the room for their chats (there used to be only one chat per week). They also provided them a folder in their SF message board. The O*W*C was an "unofficial" chat, and the hosts maintained it out of sheer love. At that time, OMNI hosts were "paid" in credited time...for each hour you worked, you received two hours of credit. The O*W*C hosts hosted in OMNI largely to support their O*W*C habit. Because of the close relationship, OMNI and O*W*C also occasionally sponsored joint events, such as author interviews.

After a year or so, DreamMindr dropped out and was replaced by Shadowjakk (another OMNI host). JNRChip, yet another OMNI host, was asked to join the team in 1996.

Very soon afterward, OMNI folded (Chip swears she didn't have anything to do with it), and the O*W*C found themselves without a home. Gypsies at heart, they continued meeting in the now-ghostly OMNI SF room, then in private rooms, whilst looking around for a new home. Two forums were willing to take them in--the STAR TREK forum, and Fictional Realm. Janice wasn't real wild about either of these choices and, because real life was intruding rather heavily anyway, she decided to leave the team. She maintained our Website--which she had originated--for a while longer, but Chip eventually took that over as well. (She is not alone in this; the other co-leaders, hosts, and members provide her with much of the content here. They all contribute to the site for no other reason than the fact that they love Science Fiction--and the O*W*C--and they enjoy sharing that love with others.)

The O*W*C held one or two chats in the ST forum, but quickly decided that Fictional Realm was a more appropriate area for them. FR gave them their own mini-forum, the hosts took RELM names (the first time they hadn't hosted in their "civvies") and they began holding nightly chats. They quickly recruited the best of the ex-OMNI hosts, and started building up their membership. As they grew, they began recruiting promising chatters as new hosts. They also expanded our influence on AOL, first becoming a bigger presence in Fictional Realm and then taking over the main science fiction forum as well.

The hosts eventually changed screen names again, to a HOST EBK (Entertainment/Books) prefix. At the end of 2002 they moved into the Research and Learn area of AOL and swapped yet again, this time to a HOST RL prefix. AOL changes host names as often as most people change their underwear. (HOST RL, by the way, stands for "Host in the Research and Learn community.")

Finally, in late May of 2005, AOL sent all volunteers an e-mail stating that they would be abruptly cancelling the Community Leader program. The O*W*C hosts found themselves "officially" out of jobs, but refused to let that slow them down. They continued to host unofficially for a while on AOL, then in late 2005 they finally jumped ship to a Web-based chat forum here on our very own Website.

So there it is. Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Other*Worlds*Cafe (but were too apathetic to ask). We've come quite a long way, and have definitely enjoyed the ride.

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