Every field has its own jargon, and science fiction fandom is no exception.
When you first start reading and talking about science fiction you’ll come
across many terms which could be confusing. No, I’m not talking about the
ones sprinkled through the books (phaser, laser, scramjet, etc.) It doesn’t
really matter if you don’t know what they are. The life and death issue
is whether you can understand the terms used by the fans themselves. Words
and acronyms are sprinkled liberally throughout fannish conversation, and
especially through fanzines, and if you don’t understand them it can make
it very hard to communicate on an even footing.
Like any foreign language, it takes time and patience to learn fanese, so I’ve put together a short glossary (Well, it was going to be short when I sat down to start typing). By the time I finished, a week later, it was massive. The complete document runs to twelve pages, and then some. It’s probably still not complete, but it contains all the words I could think of. If you’ve got any extras, why not write them down (with a rough definition) and send them in.
In its original form, this rambling document looked set to consume my entire page count for this issue - I couldn’t let it go at that, and I couldn’t bring myself to cut it back, so I’ve broken it into slightly more managable chunks. Sit back and relax, as with no further ado I bring you the Fannish Glossary, Part One (A - F).
Note: Words and phrases in Italics have an entry of their own. Also, while there are many eminent fannish persons and fanzines which deserve mention, I’ve avoided giving them their own entries because a) there are just too many of them, and b) I don’t know enough details to be sure of getting the facts right. One day I may do a Fannish Bibliography and I’ll list them all then.
Extra Note: There are a few letters for which I was completely unable
to come up with an entry. I expect there are some relevant terms out there
- I just haven’t come across them. Can anyone help with J, Q, V, X and
Bid Parties: One of the delights of a Worldcon are the Bid Parties held by the groups vying to hold a future Worldcon. For obvious reasons, I’ve never seen one with my own eyes, but from all descriptions they’re good, especially if you enjoy bheer.
BNF: Big Name Fan. The movers and shakers of fandom. Through much dedication (and prolific output) these exalted souls have become known throughout the world as the Ones Who Really Matter. Many of them have unfortunately moved on to the Great Convention in the Sky, but there are always more BNFs moving up through the ranks.
Booze: Despite rumours to the contrary, not all fans are dependent on
this substance. Some are even teetotal to varying degrees. All the same,
when it comes time for the Worldcon bids, the most votes tend to go to
the city which throws the biggest booziest bashes beforehand. See Bid Parties.
Canfan: a Canadian science fiction fan. I’m not sure if there are similar abbreviations for other countries – if there are I haven’t come across them.
Caspers: The former name of the Canadian SF awards. They were renamed the Auroras in 1991.
Clubzine: fanzine produced by one or more members of a club for regular distribution to its members. There are far too many of these to list, but a typical example is the Melbourne Science Fiction Club’s Ethel the Aardvark (PO Box 212 World Trade Centre, Melbourne Vic 3005. See MSFC) mailed out every two months. Ethel was edited by Ian Gunn until his recent death and now by his widow Karen Pender-Gunn.
Con: a giant gab-session, all-night party and bad-movie-fest, otherwise known as a convention. Australian Cons usually draw an audience of 50 – 500 bodies, have a combination of special guest speakers, audience participation panels, and other entertainment, and last for a weekend. The exception to this rule will be Aussiecon 3, with all of the above but lasting for the best part of a week.
Concom: Those noble self-sacrificing souls who’ve put their lives on the line to bring you the convention you’re attending. Finding suitable premises and accommodation and putting forward the winning bid was only the beginning. They’ve also got to pay for the aforesaid premises (out of their own pockets if the Con makes a loss), organise enough programming to keep the attendees busy for however long the convention takes, and make sure that there are enough gofers, security people, general helpers etc. to keep the convention running smoothly.
Corflu: a) the correcting fluid used when you make a mistake on a mimeo
stencil. Once smelled, never forgotten.
b) the major convention for fanzine fans and old pharts in general. It’s normally held in either the US or the UK, on an annual (?) basis. One day it may even be held somewhere else. Corflu Down Under, anyone?
Crifanac: despite two years in fandom, there are still a few phrases of which I have only the haziest understanding. This is one of them. I know what ‘fanac’ is, but what does it mean when you put a ‘cri’ in front of it? Perhaps someone reading this can enlighten me?
Crudzine: Another phrase I’m not entirely sure of. I imagine it’s a rather flung-together fanzine with a very low standard of production values and content to match.
CUFF: the Canadian Unity Fan Fund. Canada is a very big place, and this
fund sends one Canfan per year across the country East-West or vice-versa.
This fund almost reached a premature ending when candidates couldn’t be
found for quite a number of years, but it was single-handedly saved from
demise by the efforts of R.Graeme Cameron, 1997 winner and 1998 administrator.
The latest CUFF travellers were Yvonne and Lloyd Penney, so now they’re
in charge. Contact them or send donations to 1706-24 Eva Rd, Etobicoke,
Ontario, Canada, M9C 2B2.
Ditmar Awards: the Australian equivalent of the Hugos, presented at the Natcon each year. Their proper title is the ASFAAs (Australian Science Fiction Achievement Awards) but no one uses it. All Australian fannish persons are entitled to nominate deserving fanzines/writers etc, but voting rights cost $10 (free to Aussiecon 3 members.) Want to take part? Marc Ortlieb is running the 1998 awards (actually held in 1999, but for SF achievements during 1998) as an offshoot of Aussiecon 3, so get in touch with him and he’ll send you a nomination form. Vote early/vote often.
DNQ: Do Not Quote. Normally, anything you write in a letter to the editor of a fanzine is fair game. They need material, and if they think that the rest of the fannish world would be interested in your new cat/baby/messy divorce they’ll print it in their next issue. But maybe you don’t want the world to know that your ten-year-old son still wets the bed (I’m sure the kid wouldn’t!) or that in your opinion the last convention you went to was run by a bunch of brainless idiots who didn’t know enough to tie their own shoelaces… What can you do? Just put these three little letters next to the offending information and it should be perfectly safe. Just make it clear whether the DNQ applies to the whole letter, or just a particular part of it.
DUFF: The Down-Under Fan Fund. This fund runs between Australia and
the USA. The first year, DUFF sends an Australian to the USA (latest recipient
Terry Frost), and the next year the Americans return the favour. The 1999
DUFF race is now on (candidates are Andy Hooper, Lise Eisenberg and Janice
Gelb, and the lucky winner will get to come to Aussiecon. Ballot papers
are available from Terry Frost 4/8 Walker St, West Brunswick Vic 3056 AUST,
or Janice Murray PO Box 75684 Seattle, Washington 98125-0684 USA. Closing
date for votes is 31st March.
Egoboo: the warm fuzzy feeling you get when hearing Good Things about yourself, either in print or in person. What, you don’t know what Good Things are? Substitute any of the following terms – positive strokes, ego-building comments, praise and congratulations, warm fuzzies. Of course, like everything else in life, too much egoboo is a Bad Thing as it results in a nasty case of swelled-head syndrome.
Fanac: despite what some mundanes might think, this commonly used term does not have any relationship to the word ‘fanatic’. It’s simply a merging of the words fan and activity.
Fan Average: XL. Like everyone else, fans come in all shapes and sizes. However, if you look closely at a typical fannish gathering, you’ll notice that many of them tend to be, like myself, on the shall we say ‘largish’ side. As the ‘average’ size of any group is found by adding up the totals for each member and then dividing by the first number you thought of, Fan Average comes out considerably heavier than Health Club average. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that reading and writing are sedentary activities… Unfortunately, Fan Average has also contributed to an astoundingly high fan heart-attack rate, especially among its middle-aged male members.
Fandom: to the uninitiated, fandom might seem like one big happy family. It is, but as well as Mum, Dad and the kids, there’s Great Grandma (who isn’t quite all there any more, but she’s a dear), and Uncle John (who lives with his friend Bill and runs an antique shop), not to mention Cousin Bob who likes to drop around with his wife and 2.5 children. What I’m trying to say is that not all fans are the same. The fannish umbrella covers a wide range of sub-groups, ranging from people who read non-stop to people who don’t even own a book. The three main groupings are media fans, lit fans, and fanzine fans but there’s a lot of overlap with some people, like me, embracing all three.
Fan Funds: Fandom is a multi-national community, and like all communities, its members want to get together occasionally. Unfortunately, degree of fannishness doesn’t often correlate positively with income level (sometimes I wonder whether in fact there’s a negative correlation) and attending conventions is an expensive business. The Fan Funds combine lots of people’s spare pennies, so that the lucky recipient of the fund’s beneficence can flit around the world for a few months re-forging their multi-national links. The only condition laid on the recipients is that they publish a lengthy and interesting trip report upon their return, and then take over the fund-raising duties until they can find a replacement traveller (usually, but not always, the next calendar year). There are more Fan Funds than you can shake a stick at, including DUFF, FFANZ, TAFF, and CUFF (see the appropriate entries) and understandably in 1999 they’re all running on the coming-into-Australia leg.
Fan Lounge: When you’re all partied and panelled out at a big convention, take a little time out to sit and relax (or stand in a corner if it’s packed) in the Fan Lounge or hospitality suite. Usual features are comfy chairs (Not the comfy chair!), free food and drink, a profusion of reading material in the form of fanzines, and plenty of company if you want to chat. The Fan Lounge at Aussiecon was to have been run by Melbourne’s foremost fanzine fans Ian Gunn and Karen-Pender Gunn, but now, alas, Ian won’t be here to see it.
Fanzine: See Zine. Note – not all fanzines are science fiction related, or even produced by members of the SF community. Strictly speaking, a fanzine is simply a publication produced, with no expectation of financial gain, by someone who’s very enthusiastic about their particular hobby or profession i.e. for the love of it. These fanzines can be about almost anything, for example a rather interesting zine I just received from an archaeologist (Ichthyoelectroanalgesia, Sean Mclachlan PO Box 3734 Tucson AZ 85622-3734), which is largely devoted to matters historical. Interestingly, every major zine-publishing subgroup (skateboarders, underground musicians, petrol-heads, etc.) thinks that they were the ones who invented the ‘fanzine’ and that everyone else copied.
Fanzine fans: people whose main involvement with fandom comes through reading and contributing to fanzines. There’s one big plus in being a fanzine fan – the fanzine community is multi-national, and in return for a relatively small amount of effort and expense (printing and postage costs) you get to share in the thoughts and lives of people from all around the world.
FAPA: Fantasy Amateur Press Association. The oldest continuous APA in existence (it started in 1937) FAPA is a renowned haunt of BNFs and professional SF authors. There are normally 65 members in FAPA, but the roll-call’s a bit short at the moment, so they’re looking for fresh blood (or they were in November, when I signed up). Mailings run to about 300 pages, four times a year. If you’ve got a known track record in fanzine fandom (ie.produce/contribute to fanzines) and are interested, write to Robert Lichtman at PO Box 30, Glen Ellen, California 95442 USA and he’ll explain the details to you.
Fen: plural of fan.
FFANZ: the Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand. I didn’t know that there were any fans in New Zealand apart from Lyn McConchie, but there must be as this Fan Fund is still going strong. The latest winner was a small stuffed toy named ‘Renaldo the party sheep’ who went over to the Land of the Long White Cloud to catch up with his relatives. As stuffed toys have a bit of trouble writing trip reports/managing Fan Funds, his fellow FFANZ candidates accompanied him on his trip and will presumably take responsibility for the next FFANZ race.
FIAWOL: Stands for Fandom Is A Way of Life. You are warned.
Fillo: a small illustration or cartoon used to fill a gap in a fanzine. Fandom’s most prolific-ever producer of fillos would have to be Bill Rotsler. Although he died in 1997, he produced so many fillos during his lifetime that new ones will still be appearing in the year 2010.
FOOLs: no, not people who don’t like science fiction. These are the
Friends Of Old Langford (I don’t know who dreamed up the acronym) supporters
of a special once off Fan Fund (the ALF) to bring Dave Langford out to
Australia for Aussiecon. I don’t know who’s in charge off the top of my
head, but you could try asking Marc Ortlieb – he knows everything.
These were used to check my facts – dates, places, names and addresses. Oh, I guess that’s just about everything I wrote…
ä The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
by John Clute and Peter Nicholls,
St Martin’s Griffin 1995 edition.
I recommend this book highly to anyone looking for a general SF reference. It’s not cheap, but it’s the best $50 I ever spent. I discover new and interesting things every time I get it out. I have to say I’m still amazed to see people who I’m coming to know written about in a textbook. I wish they’d hurry up and produce a paperback edition of the companion Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA T2P 2E7
ä Thyme/The Australian Science Fiction News Magazine
Alan Stewart, PO Box 222, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Vic. 8005.
ä The Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet
Marc Ortlieb, PO Box 215, Forest Hill Vic 3131
ä The Space Cadet Gazette #9 & 10
R. Graeme Cameron, 1855 West 2nd Ave, Apt. #110, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6J 1J1