Intro A-D E to G H to K L to Q R to S T to V W to Z


Over the years science fiction fandom has developed its own specialized vocabulary, either to express concepts not found in the mundane world, or to avoid undue repetition of commonly used expressions by substituting suitable acronyms. Some fanspeak terms eventually found their way into general usage, such as the word fanzine, first "officially" defined in the 1978 edition of the Randon House Dictionary. Similarly, many of the acronyms (such as HHOK) have today become part of popular Internet chatroom and news group usage.

On the other hand, many formerly common fannish expressions have become obsolete as new personalities, issues and technologies have replaced the old ways. Twonk's Disease, for example, referred to the soreness in back and arm muscles that results from operating a hand-cranked mimeograph or ditto machine over a long printrun. No one prints fanzines by hand anymore, however, so Twonk's Disease is no longer a commonly shared experience, and the term has fallen out of use.

The following, then, provides a basic glossary of fan jargon still in use today.

Ad Astra:
Annual convention in Toronto. (Latin: "To the stars")
The anniversary issue of a fanzine or apa.
Also known as; denotes a pseudonym.
Amateur press association or amateur press alliance.
A fanzine written for, or distributed through, an apa.
Aurora Award
The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Achievement Awards, presented each year at CanVention. Voting is by ballot and open to all Canadian fans. There are separate awards for professional works in English, professional works in French, and for fan activity.
Bug-eyed monster.
(1) An offer of money at an art auction. (2) The campaign platform of a slate of candidates running for election as a convention's executive committee. (3) A campaign to have a particular city selected as the site of a future edition of an established convention (e.g., Toronto won the bid to be the site of the 2003 WorldCon).
bid committee:
(1) A slate of candidates running for election as a convention's executive committee. (2) A committee working to have a particular city chosen as the site of a future convention.
bid party:
A room party hosted by a bid committee to lobby convention attendees.
(1) A web log: an on-line diary or frequently updated personal web page. (2) A strong fannish punch featuring dry ice. (2b) By extension, any strong fannish punch.
Big name fan. A fan who is universally known and respected in fandom.
(1) Quebec's main sf convention, held in a different city each year. (2) The annual Awards for Francophone sf, presented at the convention of the same name.
The annual Canadian national sf convention, held in a different city each year, alternating between east and west.
Former name for the Auroras, The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Achievement Awards, presented each year at CanVention.
club fan:
A fan whose primary involvement in fandom is through a local club.
Central Mailer. Generally the chief official of an apa, the officer responsible for collating and mailing each issue. Variant of Official Editor.
Change of address.
The section of any publication which provides basic information on itself (e.g., date, address, availability, and so on).
closed party:
An "invitation only" room party at a convention. Note: While room parties are traditionally "open", a few are restricted to members of a particular group (e.g., a reunion of apa members).
Convention committee. The committee responsible for organizing a convention.
con fan:
A fan whose primary involvement in fandom is through attendance at, or the organizing of, conventions.
Convention report.
A hotel suite rented by the convention where con goers may interact socially; generally includes a no-host bar.
Calgary Alberta's major annual sf convention.
(1) An annual sf convention, held in a different city each year, devoted to fanzines and fanzine fans. from (2) Correction fluid. A special red fluid used to correct mistakes typed on mimeograph stencils. (Obsolete)
v. (1) To go to bed, especially if exhausted. Also: crash out. (2) To stay with friends rent free. (3) To share hotel accommodation at a convention with other fans, especially if for free.
crash space:
n. A place to sleep, especially if for free.
A worthless fanzine.
Comment to. Usage: In apas it is often necessary to specify the context of a current mailing comment by referring to a mailing comment in a previous issue (e.g. "In your ct Ralph last issue...").
Canadian Unity Fan Fund. An annual fan charity to bring a fan from Western Canada to CanVentions held in Eastern Canada, or vice versa.
A subgenre of sf which combines elements of punk subculture and high tech to predict a bleak and violent future. The original and still best example is Bill Gibson's Neuromancer, which won every major award in the field.
Dead Dog Party (sometimes Dead Cat, Dead Smurf, etc.):
A party held for anyone still around after the official closing of a convention; traditionally a subdued event as fans recuperate and prepare to return to the mundane world.
Ditmar Awards:
Annual awards for Best Australian Fiction, fan activity, etc.
(1)Any brand of spirit duplicator, an inexpensive but now obsolete method of printing once used by fans and grade schools. It was available in several colours but was most commonly a faded purple. (2) Ditto: An sf convention devoted to fanzines and fanzine fans, modeled on Corflu.
Do Not Print. Used in correspondence, especially with fan editors, to indicate material not intended for publication.
Do Not Quote. Top Secret! Don't tell anyone ever!
One who behaves in an obnoxious, irritating, boorish or boring manner. A turkey, a jerk, a loser. adj.: dozmoid
(1) A participant in Dream Quest, a fantasy role-playing game/club in Edmonton, Alberta. (2) By extension, any fantasy role-player.
Utterly worthless prose, poetry or artwork.
n. One who attends a convention in costume, especially role-players or persons who wear costumes continuously. Usage: Derogatory. v. To wear a costume somewhere other than a convention (e.g., "They arranged to drobe the Star Trek premiere.")
Down Under Fan Fund. A fannish charity which raises money to bring Australian fans to North America or to send North Americans to Australia, usually in connection with a WorldCon.
The Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Art Society. Incorporated January 1976, the largest and most active fan group in Canada during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Collapsed in the early 1990s.
The Edmonton Science Fiction Old Guard. A splinter group of former EsfCAS members.
Praise or positive feedback; a boost to one's ego.
To look through a fanzine or apa mailing to see if one's name is mentioned.
Awards presented in several categories at V-Con for worst sf of the year. (Organizers officially deny the award is named after L. Ron Hubbard.)
(1) A fanatical fan, especially one concerned with maintaining fannish traditions. (2) One who is more interested in fandom itself than science fiction. Also: faaan, sometimes phrased as "triple 'a' fan".
Fiction about or concerning fans. (As opposed to fan fiction.)
v. Forced away from it all. To be forced to leave fandom due to job, illness, disapproval of parents or spouse, etc. n. fafiation.
fake fan:
One who hangs around fans but takes no active interest or part in fandom.
A member of fandom. A mere reader of sf is not a 'fan' in this sense.
Fan activity. Producing a fanzine or apazine, going to conventions, working on a club project, etc.
Someone with a slavish devotion to comics (especially if commercial mass market comics) and their writers, artists and promoters. Usage: A derogatory term found primarily in comics fandom.
(1) The sf subculture. Those involved in producing fanzines, going to cons, etc. (2) Any similar subculture (e.g., comics fandom).
Fan editor.
fan fiction:
Science fiction or fantasy written and published by fans.
fan shack:
A co-op house or apartment organized by fans. Variant of slan shack.
Jargon used by fans. (After newspeak in 1984.)
Fan magazine.
fanzine fan:
A fan whose primary involvement in fandom is through fanzines.
An elaborate story ending in an equally elaborate pun. From the fillers in F&sf starring Ferdinand Feghoot.
Female fan. Usage: Obsolete, sexist.
Plural form of fan, by analogy to man and men. Usage: Obsolete.
Fandom is a way of life; slogan of enthusiastic fans.
Fandom is just a goddam hobby; slogan of less enthusiastic fans; the reply to fiawol.
(1) n. A fannish folksong, often a parody of standard folksongs. Also: filksong.
(2) A filksong festival. Also filkfest. (3) v. filk: To sing filksongs. Also: filksinging.
(1) Illustrations used in fanzines to fill up the space at the end of an article or page. (2) By extension, any illustration not directly related to textual material.
filthy pro:
An sf fan who becomes a successful professional sf writer. Usage: Not an insult.
Abbreviation of fanzines (plural).
v. (1) To distribute non-apa material (such as a convention flyer) through an apa. (2) To include a fanzine by a non-member in one's submission to an apa, without claiming it for page credit (3) To send material through an apa which one has produced for other purposes, and which does not count for page credit.
(1) A fan whose primary interest is only marginally related to science fiction, such as role-players. (2) Fans of a single media presentation, such as Star Wars.
fringe fandoms:
(1) Self-contained fandoms which are marginally related to science fiction (e.g., gamers). (2) Self-contained fandoms devoted to a single media presentation (e.g., Star Trek fandom).
n. A tiresome, obstinately stupid, dolt. adj. fuggheaded: Asinine.
Faster than light.
Faster than light drive.
v. Getting away from it all. To quit fandom. n. gafiation.
People involved in role-playing games, or game fandom.
A general fanzine; that is, one which is not limited to a particular topic, function, or subgroup.
A brand of mimeograph popular in Canada and the UK. These have now been univerally replaced by photocopiers.
There are a number of fannish ghods: Ghu, Roscoe and Herbie are the only ones still invoked.
Guest of Honour at a convention.
An expression of enthusiasm. Usage: often satirically intended. Abbr: Goshwow.
The fannish ghod of ditto.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the letter 'h' was commonly added to many words which could not be printed in polite society or that might arouse the wrath of subscribers' mothers (e.g., bheer, Ghod, etc.). This practice is now obsolete.
hall party:
(1) A spontaneous gathering of convention attendees in a hotel hallway. (2) Punk: An amateur concert in a rented community hall.
hard sf:
Science fiction based on the physical sciences; science fiction that focuses on technology. (i.e., has spaceships).
An obsolete form of printing using a gel bed and soluble dyes, capable of reproducing colour art inexpensively. Also: hecto or hekto.
A fannish religion, following the teachings of Herbie.
A fannish ghod, as found in the 1960s comic book of the same name.
Ha ha, only kidding. Used in apas to indicate that the comment is not to be taken seriously. HHHK: Ha, ha, half kidding.
Anyone who rents a booth (table) at a convention to sell goods. Huckster room: Function space at a convention devoted to huckster tables.
Hugo Awards:
Named after Hugo Gernsback, the Hugos are awarded annually in several categories at the WorldCon. Voting is open to anyone who buys a supporting membership in the WorldCon.
I also heard from. See: WAHF.
Illustration in a fanzine.
International Reply Coupon:
Available at any post office, these are used in place of SASEs when mailing to a foreign country.
Issue; a particular edition of a fanzine. Usage: a common suffix.
Winnipeg's annual sf convention.
lackativity or lacktivity:
Lack of activity; grounds for expulsion from an apa or workshop for failing to meet minimum activity requirements; usually failure to submit a specified number of pages of written material.
Letter column in a fanzine.
One who writes innumerable letters to fanzines; one whose reputation is based on appearances in letter columns.
letter substitute:
A limited circulation fanzine mailed to friends in lieu of a personal letter to each.
Letter of comment. A letter written to a fanzine as a comment on the previous issue; most fanzines accept locs in lieu of money.
A loc writer.
Letter of comment column.
Internet Someone who follows a chat room discussion without participating.
n. An issue of an apa.
mailing comment:
A comment in one's apazine directed to another member of the apa, usually concerning their apazine in the previous mailing. Note: Most apas include an extensive exchange of mailing comments as every member replies to every other member's comments about their own and others' submissions.
Non-genre literature.
Mailing comment.
mimeograph or mimeo:
An obsolete method of printing by cutting a stencil to allow the ink to pass through it, making an impression on the paper. The most common brands were Gestetner (Canada and UK) and A.B.Dick. (USA).
Minimum activity. The minimum activity, usually defined in terms of the number of pages of written material submitted, necessary to maintain membership in an apa or workshop.
A fan who is primarily interested in sf movies and television, rather than books.
n. A non-fan. adj. Not pertaining to fandom or sf.
Mind your own business.
Nebula Awards:
sf prose awards, awarded annually in several categories by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
A person new to fandom. Also: neofan.
A fanzine devoted to news.
New Wave:
A school of sf writing de-emphasizing science realism; speculative fiction with surrealism, allegory, mysticism, etc. New Wave writers tended to be vaguely leftwing, anti-establishment types, whose stories focused on dystopias, violence and sex; all of which had been taboo in sf prior to the emergence of the New Wave in the mid-1960s. Now largely passé.
The next issue.
The National Fantasy Fan Federation; The American national sf club, founded in 1941. Also: N3F.
(1) An informal or "invitation only" convention, too small to be thought of as a true convention. (2) NonCon: Alberta's Regional sf convention, founded in 1978.
Official Editor. Generally the chief official of an apa, the officer responsible for collating and mailing each issue.
A fanzine produced on a one-time-only basis, usually dealing with a single event or theme.
Official Organ. The information page/zine of an apa or club.
open party:
A room party at a convention open to all registered con-goers. Note: Most room parties are open unless otherwise specified (e.g., the door is closed).
Intimate relations between a fan and a non-fan.
A personal fanzine. Also: personalzine. (1) An autobiographical fanzine, especially if of a private nature and limited circulation. Usage: A perzine is distinguishable from a letter substitute in that the former has a more regular publishing schedule and wider distribution. (2) Any fanzine primarily written by a single individual.
postcard of comment. See: loc.
post-con depression:
Depression commonly experienced by fans returning to their mundane lives following the emotional high of a successful convention.
An apazine mailed out after the official mailing deadline; usually an attempt to satisfy minimum page requirements to avoid expulsion. Not all apas allow post-mailings.
Progress Report. An information flyer distributed to fans planning to attend a convention.
A professional writer.
Anything having to do with professional sf writing.
A professional science fiction magazine.
n. A publication. v. To publish.
obsolete A fan publisher.
Any professional fiction magazine printed on newsprint, but especially those of the 1920-1950 era.
A quotation set off "like this" to indicate that the quote is not an exact one, but an honest summation of the speaker's remarks. (Care is taken not to distort the meaning, intention or implications of the original.)
Read and enjoyed, but no comment. Usage: Only found in apas. Acknowledges another apa member's contribution even when one cannot think of anything to say about it.
regarding your comment to. See: ct.
A party oriented convention with little or no formal programming.
room party:
A party held in a hotel room at a convention.
Real soon now. A common fan expression meaning "when I get around to it".
(1) The method of a fanzine's reproduction; printing. (2) Pertaining to the quality of the printing.
One of the chief fannish ghods, incarnate as a beaver in a propeller beanie.
Self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Smiling, always smiling. Usage: In some apas, SAS indicates that a comment is not intended to be taken seriously, a sort of pre-emptive response to "you'd better smile when you say that pardner!"
Society for Creative Anachronism. An international organization researching and recreating medieval weapons, dance, etc.
Archaic closing once used by fans when signing letters.
Original term for science fiction coined by Hugo Gernsback, now obsolete. Connotation: Scientifiction implied a serious attempt to accurately predict technology and the future.
(1) An early abbreviation of science fiction, still used by the popular press, but strongly out of favour with fans. (2) Bad sf, especially of the Bug-Eyed Monster variety.
Words struck out (as if the writer intended to delete them) but still legible. Usage: Sarcastic comments or asides that the author pretends to retract. (From days of non-correcting typewriters, when honest mistakes were often deleted in this sloppy fashion.)
semi-prozine or semipro:
A slick, professional-looking fanzine, but which is subsidized by the editor or makes only a small profit.
Variant of quasi-quote.
Serious and constructive; scholarly. A focus on serious literary criticism or the like. Usage: Occasionally has connotations of "pretentious" or "boring". (2) SerCon: An annual American convention held in a different city each year and dedicated to sf as literature.
sf or sf:
(1) science fiction. (2) science fantasy. (3) speculative fiction. (4) speculative fantasy. (5) street fiction (a minor precursor to cyberpunk). Usage: The polite abbreviation for science fiction (as opposed to the highly insulting "sci-fi"), it also has the connotation of incorporating a wider spectrum of the genre than the term "science fiction" itself, as sf includes speculative fiction, etc.
sfWA or sfFWA
Science Fiction Writers of America; sf writers' guild. Renamed Science Fiction and Fantasy Writes of America
A race of superbeings, from A. E. Van Vogt's book of the same name. A traditional fannish slogan was "Fans are slans."
slan shack:
A co-op house or apartment organized by fans.
n. Secret Master Of Fandom. Someone deeply involved in fan politics; an opinion leader. v. To make backroom deals or otherwise engage in activities related to fan politics.
Spaced Out Libary. Former name of the Merril Collection, a branch of the Toronto Public Library devoted entirely to science fiction. It publishes a newsletter, Sol Rising, and sponsors public readings and other events. Head librarian is Lorna Toolis.
Archaic abbreviation for scientifiction. Adj: stfnal.
TransAtlantic Fan Fund. A fan charity that raises money to bring a European (usually British) fan to North America, or send a North American (usually U.S.A.) fan to Europe (England), for the WorldCon.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
That Crazy Buck Rogers Stuff:
Fan slogan caricaturing mundane's view of sf.
This issue.
Table of Contents
A fan of Star Trek, especially a fanatical or underage one. Usage: Derogatory. Less polite than Trekker.
A fan of Star Trek, especially a restrained or older one. Usage: More polite than Trekkie.
A true fan. (1) Opposite of mediafan, fringefan, fakefan, drobe or dozmo. (2) A fanzine fan. Usage: The latter definition is only accepted by fanzine fans.
To place the names of friends into an sf story one is writing (with their permission of course). After Wilson (Bob) Tucker.
Typewriter; an obsolete mechanism for producing typed text.
A typographical error.
To correct a typo by typing over it without first erasing. Usage: Obsolete custom from days of typewriters and ditto or mimeograph reproduction.
The Usual:
The traditional formula for the availability of a fanzine, specifically: another fanzine in trade, a letter of comment, a contribution of written material or artwork, or editorial whim (e.g., strong personal ties with the editor). Relatively few fanzines, however, are still available for The Usual.
Vancouver's annual sf convention.
We also heard from. Usually located at the end of the letter column, the WAHFs are a printed acknowledgement of the receipt of letters which were not selected to appear in the letter column.
Well known fan. A step below BNF status, the WKF is usually a recognized figure in a particular region or subfandom.

references logo

REFERENCES: More detailed glossaries are found in The Neo-Fan's Guide to Science Fiction Fandom, and the two volume Fillostrated Fan Dictionary by Elliot Weinstein.

Send your comments

back home next

This page last updated: March, 2003.

Colophon Credits and copyright information.