Acronym for (1) "Smiling, Always Smiling", roughly equivalent to ; ) or (2) "Snide, Always Snide". These are apa terms and there is some question as to whether the second is For Real or not. Or how one would intuit the difference, if it is.


Acronym for the Society of Boring Old Farts a.k.a. Secret Bastards of Fandom. Not just any old exclusive, manipulative and secretive fan group, SBOFs not only tell SMOFs what to do, they strike terror in the hearts of fans everywhere, what with their proven ability to run anyone they don't like out of fandom on a rail–or, at the very least, to have them condemned, torn down and a Burger King built on the site. They meet twice yearly in obscure and exotic places, from Romanche Deep to Majorca, Orekhovo Zuyevo to Hidalgo del Parral, or New Dorp to Rybinsk Reservoir, where they make their snap judgments with regard to charting the course of fandom's future, ensure that nothing new or untried is ever introduced into the microcosm, devise modifications to fandom’s Secret Handshake, thunder out arbitrary orders and are (of course) instantly and unquestioningly obeyed. It sez here.


The first sf club was probably the Science Correspondence Club (SCC), later known as the International Scientific Association (ISA). It’s “probably” because there’s some debate on whether it actually qualified as a club – as the name indicates, SCC/ISA was a widespread association of correspondents with only a handful of its members actually getting together as a local group in the Chicago area. The club was one with Hugo Gernsback in its belief that reading scientifiction (as sf was called at the time) would, could and probably should lead to a career in science. Even though its contents through 17 issues was more about the science in the stories rather than the stories, the club’s publication, The Comet (later called Cosmology), is generally considered the first fanzine. The first issue was published in May 1930 under the editorship of Ray Palmer, who incidentally went on to edit Amazing Stories and give us the shameful Shaver Mystery in the 1940s.


(1) Science fiction-like junk grade-B movies produced for mass audiences.

(2) Mundane or non-fannish term for science fiction.

(3) Seriously intended hyper fannish name for science fiction, based on the popularity of "hi fi" equipment, invented by Forrest J Ackerman. Unfortunately, his own association and involvement with "schlock"/grade B sf movies through editing Famous Monsters of Filmland brought the term to its sometimes currently accepted pejorative meaning (covered adequately by definitions 1 and 2 above). See “SKIFFY”.


Probably the single most important fannish organization of the 1930s. Important in that it effectively, although not single-handedly, brought fandom into existence. The SFL was effectively a commercially sponsored club for stf fans, based on a concept of Hugo Gernsback’s and enjoying his full support, which ultimately brought fans into a sense of self awareness. Founded by Charles D. Hornig in 1934, who by then had been picked from the fan ranks to become the 17-year-old editor of Gernsback’s second stf magazine, Wonder Stories, it offered fans, via its pages, chartered membership certificates for their local branches, lapel buttons, club stationery, and of course the regular letter columns in the magazine which printed the letter-writers names and addresses, thus allowing them to get in contact with each other.

SFL chapters, as enthusiastic reader fans poured out of the woodwork to join up, were popping up wherever Wonder Stories was distributed – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Lincoln, Lewiston, even Leeds in England.

When Gernsback suffered one of his periodic financial crises in 1936, legal control of the SFL passed to Standard Publications which basically let it die of neglect. Many chapters severed all ties with the SFL, some collapsed entirely, but two (after renaming themselves) continue to meet regularly to the present day– the ones in Los Angeles (now LASFS) and Philadelphia (now PSFS). In any event, by that point the League was no longer needed – fandom was up and running, self-perpetuating and a thing alive.


The Scienceers was the first New York City fan club–or the first ever for those who think the SCC/ISA should be discounted either because it was more science-oriented or more correspondence-oriented. The Scienceers began meeting in 1929 and ran concurrently with the SCC and unlike the SCC it was a tight-knit local group which conducted regular meetings every week. While the Scienceers claimed the same aims as the SCC, in actual practice they were more inclined to discuss the stories in their meetings, as well as in their club magazine The Planet, edited by Allen Glasser, which came a close second to The Comet with six monthly issues between June and December of 1930. The president of the club, who was about 15 years older than most members and in whose home in Harlem the club meetings were held, was Warren Fitzgerald, one of the first well-known black men to participate in fandom.


Portmanteau word coined by Hugo Gernsback to describe what is now called "science fiction," "speculative fiction"–or, for some relatively new fans, “sci fi” or “skiffy”–and which was in its earlier forms called "scientific romances." Scientifiction was used fairly commonly in the 30s, now used nostalgically. It‘s abbreviated “stf” (pronounced “stef”) and the adjective form is “stfnal.” Fans presently are more likely to call it stf than they are to call it scientifiction.


Semiprofessional magazine. See WSFS rules governing the Hugo awards for details.


(1) Term used to describe fans, referring to the confluence of large amounts of body fat, glasses and facial hair (the latter chiefly in male fans) marking so many fans. Always seemed to be used in faanfiction as marginally self satirical, as in the assertion that fans can sometimes tell that someone else is a fan because they had a Sensitive Fannish Face.
(2) Code at one point, according to Rusty Hevelin, for gay fans–perhaps because the phrase was another of those that were either coined or popularized by Charles Burbee.


(1) Short for SERious and CONstructive (or SERious and CONscientious). One of several fan terms which has altered from its original meaning over time. Sercon was coined by insurgent Canadian fan Boyd Raeburn in the early 1950s as a put-down of overly serious fans (already being satirized by Los Angeles insurgents Charles Burbee and Francis T. Laney) because they tended to take not only science fiction but themselves and their involvement in fandom far too seriously – they valued making lists over genuine critical insight, would rather pontificate than tell a joke, looked askance at those whose approach was more lighthearted than their own and saw it as their scientifictionally patriotic duty to "promote" science fiction to the place where it belonged in mundane considerations, i.e., surely at the top of the pile of all Literature. Sf fandom was founded by serious fans who wrote letters to prozines to comment on and criticize the stories, and serious sf criticism has always been a staple in the microcosm, but by the mid-1940s enough stuffed shirts had attached themselves to fandom that some fans with a more humorous bent were beginning to poke fun at them. Few of them took it (or fun poked at the genre, as a rule) at all kindly. Thus, “sercon” and “fannish” were regarded as polar opposites, the former being identified with the philosophy of FIAWOL and the latter with the philosophy of FIJAGH. Beginning in some fannish quarters as early as the 1960s and certainly by the time of the early 1970s, however, the term had lost much of its derisive clout, as newcomers misapplied it to straightforward works of serious and at least somewhat constructive criticism and even some fans who were still aware of the former pejorative implications nonetheless felt the merely descriptive usage came to fill a necessary fan-linguistic niche. Many still use it as a put-down, of course, but where that’s the case you’ll have to judge by considering the context in which it is used.

(2) In the late 1980s, "getting sercon" became a euphemism for getting stoned.


A term coined by Larry Stark in the mid-1950s to describe a form of faanfiction (that is, fiction about fans) that was not primarily humorous in intent but rather a serious piece of fiction that used fans and fandom as its backdrop. Stark was one of the better earlier practitioners. Kent Moomaw’s “The Adversaries,” and James White’s “The Exorcists of IF” are often cited as some of the better examples of this form of fan writing.


Spanning roughly 1941-47, the “house” pseudonym which Mort Weisinger came up with and used for editing and responding to readers in the letter columns of three Standard sf pulp magazines – “Under Observation” in Captain Future, “The Ether Vibrates” in Startling Stories and “The Reader Speaks” in Thrilling Wonder Stories. Sergeant Saturn had his debut in Captain Future #5, the Winter 1941 (first 1941) issue, where the inanities in his responses were expected to be excused by virtue of the fact that he seldom edited the entire letter column without at some point calling for his underling, WartEars, to bring him yet another jug of Xeno. Sam Mines continued to use the “Sarge,” albeit at times reluctantly, when he took over as editor and Sam Merwin, who followed Mines, started to clean up the Xeno talk in 1946 and eventually zapped the Sergeant completely in late 1947 – to the relief of many fans who considered him overly juvenile. In an ongoing OED project, Sergeant Saturn is cited as one of the first to use the adverb “scientifictionally” and the shortened “’zine” (with an apostrophe) for fanzine.


Acronym for the Science Fiction Oral History Association, a group whose primary concern has always been the recording and preservation of professional science-fiction history. They've broadened their focus somewhat in recent years, but–contrary to the definition originally offered here–their main interest has apparently never been fandom. Indeed, longtime SFOHA President Lloyd Biggle actively resisted recording fans.


Acronym for the Science Fiction Union of Unpublished Authors or SFUUA (pronounced "S, F, double-U, A"), which was founded by Lew Wolkoff–a takeoff on the SFWA. Any member who got published professionally had to consign all "futures" rights to the organization. ("Futures" rights are those which allow publication by the Chicago Board of Trade.) Anyone with five or more stories published was deemed "irredeemably" published and drummed out of the organization. Jack Chalker was once one of the members.


Acronym for the Science Fiction (& Fantasy) Writers of America. Originally just Science Fiction Writers of America. Despite the name change, the acronym remains SFWA rather than SFFWA or SF&FWA. Founded by damon knight, among others. Since damon‘s "Unite or Fie!" article in an early Art Widner fanzine has often been credited with stimulating the creation and/or foundation of the National Fantasy Fan Federation a.k.a. the N3F, there were those who wondered why he hadn't "learned better" the first time....


Most apas allow married couples to share a single membership: One set of dues and one mailing is all they pay and get, respectively, but if both maintain full regular activity requirements, they usually each get to vote in the egoboo poll (if any) and in the election of officers. Some of the social changes that are generally associated with the 1960s actually got started in the late 1950s–and Charles Burbee, who was then an official of FAPA, addressed one of them by pointing out that some fan couples were choosing to live together and try things out for a while rather than getting married only to discover that they were really incompatible. Not to put too fine a point on it, Burbee said, they were “shacking up.” Burbee ruled that these couples could have a dual membership in FAPA, just like a married couple, provided only that they met "shacktivity requirements," i.e., proved to him that they did the same things together that married couples do.


Not UPS nor even an import-export company. Comes from “relationships” and refers to other-media fen who admit to a vicarious positive emotional involvement in seeing the ongoing relationships develop between favorite characters–Crichton/Sun, Scully/Mulder, Buffy/Spike, e.g.


As “sci fi” began to lose its pejorative edge–new fans entering the microcosm used it in the mundane fashion, as a shorthand way to say “science fiction,” and could not easily be re-educated to its connotations with campy monster movies–Lizzy Lynn and others at the SFWA’s 1976 Nebula Awards banquet began pushing for the alternate pronunciation of “skiffy” to retain that edge. Thus, the tongue-in-cheek comment, "Hoi polloi pronounce it psi phi, but we cognoscenti call it skiffy," did not actually coin the term but helped promote its use. See “SCI FI.”


The race of persecuted super humans in the A.E. van Vogt novel of the same name. Slans, depicted as the next stage of human evolutional development (homo superior), are intellectually superior – and the ones who had tendrils in their hair were natural telepaths. In the book, they were being hounded to their deaths by mere homo sapiens, presumably because the poor saps didn't want to be replaced by the pure sups.

Fans identified easily enough with slans as a persecuted minority because of the reactions they frequently got from mundane society merely for reading that Crazy Buck Rogers Stuff – but not to the extent that they believed fans where superior beings. Degler and his Cosmic Circle also alluded to fans as the “star begotten” – a similar concept but a reference to a much earlier H.G. Wells story of that name, in which advanced and misunderstood humans were the result of Martians inducing mutations in the human race via cosmic rays.

Degler’s plan included love camps in the Ozarks, as mentioned elsewhere in these fan terms, where the slan-like star begotten race of fans could go to breed the race that was destined to rule the sevegram. But the many fans who effectively laughed Claude and his Cosmen out of the microcosm, even including some of his major detractors – particularly as they got older and fatter and less attractive to the opposite sex – were later inclined to admit that while the notion of fan superiority should continue to be looked upon with suspicion, maybe they’d been a bit hasty in rejecting those love camps, which might not be such a bad idea after all.


A tongue-in-cheek reference to Deglerism, which came to mean any household with two or more unrelated fans (or, provided three or more fans were involved, could include married couples). Although many early New York fans, attempting to economize while seeking a pro career, shared apartments in the Big Apple, the first Slan Shack so dubbed came into being in late 1943 in Battle Creek, Michigan; it lasted only two years but gave its name to the practice. The best known fans of the "original" Slan Shack included EE Evans, Walt Liebscher, Jack Wiedenbeck and Al & Abby Lu Ashley.


Fan fiction with a homosexual theme; originally started with Kirk/Spock (Kirk slash Spock) stories. Slash fiction is fan-written fiction about characters from professional fiction (typically television or movies, as in the prototypical Kirk/Spock fiction), involving those characters in a sexual relationship which was not shown in the original.


Acronym for Secret Master of Fandom.

(1) Tongue-in-cheek term for the fans in smoke-filled back rooms who "really" decide the course of future Fandom.

(2) A tongue-in-cheek term for the notion that the anarchistic meritocracy that is fandom is controlled by some powerful, behind-the-scenes group of fans. As definition (3), below, came into play, this playful term evolved into SBOFs, which see.

(3) The tongue-in-cheek connotations remain from definitions (1) and (2), but SMOFs (the plural of SMOF) has been taken up as the name for a loosely organized group of experienced convention problem-solvers–former Worldcon or major convention chairs of note, gonzo hotel negotiators, noted con programming types, etc.–who get together from time to time to engage in a little Timebinding, pass on (or volunteer) their experience, and thereby ensure that Fandom gets to do what Fandom wants to do. It now takes more fans to run a Worldcon than once attended them.


A convention for convention planners/runners.


To drink bourbon (preferably Beam's Choice, which brand is unfortunately being "retired") with Bob Tucker and participate in the appropriate ceremony. There are those who claim that Tucker need not be physically present because, through the central mystery of "fan substantiation," whenever the ceremony is performed, Tucker is present. The ceremony involves, as the sacred potion is imbibed, holding the non-drinking hand out a bit above shoulder level and then dipping it in a graceful arc as the imbiber(s) stretch out the o's while intoning, "Smoooooooooth!"

The alternative substances crowd, upon toking a particularly potent weed that sends their flock into coughing fits, have also been known to bleat a guttural "Smooth!" between wheezes–but this is more in the line of an esoteric reference, allusion or homage than it is an attempt to appropriate the practice.


To sf what "horse opera" is to westerns, coined in 1941 by Bob Tucker in his fanzine Le Zombie. Best represented by the work of E.E. "Doc" Smith, a good deal of science fiction from the 1930s and 1940s fits into this category. Also called, at times, "Blood and Thunder" (if good) or "Thud and Blunder" (if not). The Galactic Patrol, ray guns (sometimes simultaneously with swords), BEMs, Buck Rogers & other heroes who knew which side their swash was buckled on are all space opera, and recognizable "space opera stories" are still being published today. The movie Star Wars could also be considered prototypical space opera – where the focus is on heroic action rather than solid scientific extrapolation.


Any fiction of a speculative nature, but especially science fiction, fantasy and horror that feels embarrassed when it is called science fiction, fantasy or horror.


A fannish religion. Originated by John Kusske, Al Kuhfeld, and Blue Petal. See: The Great Spider.


One of the earliest mock feuds was the First Staple War,a.k.a. the Great Staple War, which got under way in 1934 (see "Mock Feuds") when Bob Tucker formed the Society for the Prevention of Wire Staples in Science Fiction Magazines (SPWSSFM) and, shortly thereafter, Donald Wollheim formed the rival International Allied Organization for the Purpose of Upholding and Maintaining the Use of Metallic Fasteners in Science Fiction Publications in the United States of America, Unlimited (IAOPUMUMFSFPUSAU).

The two organizations battled away good-naturedly at each other in “Brass Tacks,“ the letter column of Astounding until more serious minded fans (such as Dan McPhail in his Science Fiction News) objected to what they considered an undue emphasis on 'Alphabet Societies'. This had the effect of inspiring other writers to “Brass Tacks” to announce the formation of numerous Anti-Alphabetical Alphabet Societies and in turn inspiring Tucker to submit a letter pleading with fans to stick to either of the two original Alphabet Societies and not dilute the debate by belonging to the more spurious groups.

Editor F. Orlin Tremaine apparently took it all seriously, as he was prone to do in other instances, and added a footnote asking readers to accept Tucker's challenge and "work for unity." But when a prankster using the name Anne Smidley hoaxed Tremaine into printing a notice of Tucker's death; and Tremaine came to believe that Tucker was either Smidley or was in cahoots with her, he declared an end to the silly staple stuff and banned Tucker from “Brass Tacks” for a number of years. For the benefit of those who may wonder, there never was a Second Staple War nor a Lesser Staple War.

Updated May 13, 2006. If you have a comment or question about the content of these Web pages please send a note to rich brown. Comments or questions about the pages themselves should be sent to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.

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