We've reached the Second Round in our quest to find the ultimate work of science fiction and fantasy, and we've got some brutal match-ups for you to decide. Blade Runner vs. Back to the Future! Star Trek vs. Firefly! Game of Thrones vs. A Wrinkle in Time! Sandman vs. Buffy! Dune vs. Ender's Game!
Now it's time for all of you to pick which of our 32 surviving competitors will make it through to the Sweet Sixteen. All the polls are at the bottom of this post and will remain open until midnight Pacific time tonight! So VOTE NOW, and let's take the madness to the next level!
A complete explanation of the rules and thinking behind this year's tourney is right here, but here are the key points: Last week, we selected 68 classic works spanning all media and all sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy, and those works are now battling it out for our amusement. The competitors are divided into four loosely defined categories: Space Opera, Dystopia & Mad Science, Epic Fantasy, and Magic & Monsters. The updated bracket is below, and you can click here for a really big version of it.
The back half of the First Round finally brought the madness, as we saw two of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far. The 13th-seeded X-Men followed on from their play-in victory over the Avengers with a convincing 60-40 upset of Jurassic Park. But the real shock came over in the Magic & Monsters regional, as 14-seed Hellboy squeaked out a narrow 52-48 win over Godzilla. That almost wasn't the biggest upset in the region, as 2-seed Harry Potter won 52-48 and held off a spirited challenge by The Ghostbusters. (And no, pun not initially intended, but now I'm committing to it.)
Even then, neither of those upset bids was the closest match on Monday. We had to break out the decimal points for the Frankenstein/Evil Dead match-up, with Mary Shelley's creation winning by a mere six-tenths of a percentage point, 50.3 to 49.7. While most of the other matches weren't especially - though Sandman had a close 52-48 match with Alice in Wonderland - we didn't see any of the routs that defined the opening day of the First Round. The only work to crack the 80% threshold was Blade Runner, which defeated The Time Machine 81-19.
So then, what does today's Second Round have in store? The Space Opera regional features the match-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, pitting against each other science fiction at its most profound and its most absurd - I'll let you decide which is which. A pair of Hugo-winning giants face off in Dune vs. Ender's Game, while Star Wars takes on one of the most famous attempts to recapture the Star Wars magic in Battlestar Galactica - at least before the show evolved into so much more. And if Firefly is going to make another run, it's got quite the gauntlet ahead of it, starting with the combined might of the Star Trek franchise.
Meanwhile, Dystopia & Mad Science features the extreme ends of 80s cinematic science fiction, as Blade Runner and Back to the Future fight it out in a battle of the fan favorites. After Terminator's resounding First Round victory, can it be the first competitor to topple a 1-seed, or are there enough fans of classic literature to keep George Orwell's masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four in the hunt? In Epic Fantasy, can The Chronicles of Narnia rebound from its weak performance against The Dark Tower and hold off Highlander? And the highlight of the Magic & Monsters regional sees Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon fighting it out with Sandman vs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That match-up could well trigger nerd Ragnarök, so plan accordingly.
But enough of my yakking! It's time for YOU to VOTE NOW, as our polls remain open until midnight Pacific time tonight! And be sure to come back on Friday for the Sweet Sixteen, and check out the complete upcoming schedule at the bottom of this post.
Friday, March 21: Sweet Sixteen
Monday, March 24: Elite Eight
Wednesday, March 26: Final Four
Friday, March 28: Championship