Cage Match 2017: Sci-Fi vs Fantasy

Round 1

Tom Bombadil vs IT


Tom Bombadil

The Fellowship of the Ring


A Wrinkle in Time

Tom Bombadil

The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Age: Oldest and fatherless
  • Species: Great question, actually
  • Weapons: Immense, mysterious magic power, deeply unsettling songs
  • Special Attack: The element of surprise


  • Is unaffected by the One Ring
  • Is ageless, possibly immortal
  • Exercises great power with little effort
  • His voice defeats enchantments


  • Seems to be bound to the Old Forest
  • Is a bit unreliable
  • Oblivious to concerns of mortals
Cover art for the book The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

By J.R.R. Tolkien


A Wrinkle in Time
  • Age: Ageless
  • Species: Bodiless telepathic brain
  • Weapons: Telepathy, mind control
  • Special Attack: Bending others to ITs will


  • An utter lack of empathy
  • The ability to enforce absolute conformity via mind control
  • Connection to the Universal Evil


  • Unable to love
  • Is, ultimately, just an oversize brain on a platform
Cover art for the book A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L'Engle
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Match Prediction

By Sarah Beth Durst

3:00 p.m.

Wheeled into the cage by his ominously red-eyed lackey, the bodiless brain known as IT was precisely on time for the match.  IT was always precisely on time.

Leaping to their feet (and tentacles), the men, women, wizards, and aliens in the audience cheered and booed, spilling their popcorn and sodas.

3:01 p.m.

Alone in the cage, IT amused ITself by overwhelming the minds of everyone in the audience.

The audience began to clap in a precise rhythm.  No one spilled anything.

3:33 p.m.

Speaking for IT, the Man With the Red Eyes said, “If our opponent does not arrive in the next twenty-seven minutes, this match is forfeit.”

Clap.  Clap.  Clap.

One boy asked for a hot dog.  He was taken away to CENTRAL Central Intelligence.  He didn’t ask for anything ever again.

3:58 p.m.

The stadium door was flung open, and a cheerful voice rang out, “Hey dol!  Merry dol!  Ring a dong dillo!  Ring a dong!  Hop along!  Fal lal the willow!  Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!”

“Your statement does not make sense,” IT said.

A merry fellow in a bright blue jacket and yellow boots pranced through the audience, pilfered a cup of soda and glugged it down, then chased it with a handful of popcorn.  “Come derry dol!  Hop along, my hearties!”  He threw popcorn into the air and danced as it fell, and then he leapt into the cage.  “Now let the fun begin!  Let us sing together!”

“It will do you no good to try to oppose me.  Indeed, there is no need to try, for soon you will not have the slightest desire to do so.”

Tom Bombadil skipped in a circle and clicked his heels.  “Fear no alder black!  Heed no hoary willow!”

The brain pulsed rhythmically.  “There are no trees in this cage.  How about we say the multiplication table together?  Once one is one.  Once two is two.”

Still clapping, the audience murmured along with IT, “Once three…”

Tom Bombadil waved his arms at IT.  “Get out, you old wight!  Vanish in the sunlight!”

IT paused ITs multiplication tables, though the audience continued to chant in creepy unison.  “Look into my eyes,” IT said.  “Look deep within.  You cannot resist me, for I am linked to a force as old as the universe.”

“Hah!  Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn!”

“But… that is not older than the universe!  Obviously, you need a universe before you can have rain and acorns.  Rain cannot fall without an atmosphere.  Acorns cannot grow without a planet.  Do you not understand?  I am eternal evil!”

With a wink, Tom Bombadil said, “Tom knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless.”

“What does that even mean?  And why are you talking about yourself in the third person?”

He scooped up a stray kernel of popcorn, tossed it in the air, and caught it in his open mouth.  “Eldest, that’s what I am.”

“No, no, we already established this: first universe, then acorns.”  IT was pulsing faster.

Clapping faster, the audience sped up reciting the times table.  “Thrice times three is nine.  Thrice times four…”

Spreading his legs wide and putting his hands on his hips, Tom crowed, “Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow!”

One man in the audience tripped over saying “trice times five.”  And then, all around the stadium, people began to falter.  One said, “Thrice times mice…  I mean thrice times thrice…  I mean…”

Veins began to throb all over IT.  “You cannot resist me!  You must conform!”

“Come never here again!  Leave your barrow empty!”

IT howled, “Nooooooooooo!”

“Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness!”  With a hearty laugh, Tom Bombadil clapped his hands together in a mighty clap, out of sync with the audience.

The audience’s rhythm broke down.  A few remembered they had popcorn and sodas.  One of them thought to ask about the boy who had wanted a hot dog.

Tom Bombadil belched.

And the giant brain exploded.

Predicted Winner: Tom Bombadil

Tally of Votes Cast:

Tom Bombadil:



A photo of Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of eleven fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults, including Drink Slay Love, the basis for the upcoming TV movie of the same name, airing on Lifetime in 2017. Her latest book for adults, The Queen of Blood, came out in September 2016 from Harper Voyager, and her next book for kids, Journey Across the Hidden Islands, comes out in April 2017 from HMH/Clarion Books. Sarah won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. Sarah attended Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat.

Cover art for the book The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Blood

By Sarah Beth Durst