One of the best mock feuds was the battle over steam between Ken Bulmer and Vincent Clarke, on the one hand, and Walt Willis and Lee Hoffman on the other. Bulmer cleverly established his claim to be the inventor (a.k.a. the father) of steam during a visit Willis paid to the Epicentre. Noting that the lid to his tea kettle appeared to be lifted by the strange forces that resided in the vapors produced by the boiling waters, Bulmer remarked on the possibility of someday harnessing this energy to provide transportation and other benefits to all mankind.

Not long thereafter, LeeH formed Hoffmanothing to supply the needs of the Ft. Mudge Steam Calliope Company. Vincent Clarke, acting as Bulmer's mouthpiece barrister, sent notice to Ms. Hoffman that this was a clear infringement of Mssr. Bulmer's patent or copyright or whatever it was. Rather than pay the fees suggested by Clarke, however, Ms. Hoffman retained the services of Walter Alexandrew Willis, whose legal expertise may be gauged by the fact that his firm had apparently never heard of the concept of “conflict of interests”–he was one of her columnists, so he wound up representing her.

As is usually the case when matters turn litigious, no real results were obtained by either side, and although Hoffman and Bulmer managed (without the aid of legal counsel) to reach enough agreement to form an international group to supply white steam for general use, a.k.a. "Fair Steam," clearly the edge was off. The legal exchanges were really only so much hot air–but that, of course, is a vital element in the production of steam, so it wasn‘t entirely nonproductive. However, neither firm managed to capture the markets they should have, as witness the fact that NASA went on to utilize those dreadfully expensive liquid-fuel rockets and, in all the dreadfully modern world, there's not a single steam-powered computer to be had.


A Gestafax-like device for use on non-Gestetner mimeograph stencils. See “Gestafax.”


See: Scientifiction.


A snotty stuffed-shirt way of saying "science fiction fan."


It was in the early a.m., after a meeting of the New York Fanoclasts, just a few days after a young woman named Kitty Genovese had been knifed repeatedly outside her apartment in Long Island. To her screams of terror and pleas for help, her neighbors had locked their doors and closed their windows, doing nothing because they Didn't Want To Get Involved – so her attacker, initially run off by her screams, had been able to keep coming back until he killed her. Dave Van Arnam had been particularly vehement in his condemnation of "those scumbags who pass for human beings" at that Fanoclast meeting. On their way home, Dave, Earl Evers, Mike McInerney, Steve Stiles, rich brown and perhaps others were all in a subway station as a train pulled in, and a knife-wielding man inside one of the cars was seen chasing a terrified woman. Dave stepped in, simultaneously shielding the woman with his body and holding the man at bay by threatening him with his balled up fist. Van Arnam kept the door of the car open with his shoulder until the motorman – who simply wanted to leave – called the police. Earl Evers kept the man with the knife wondering by going into a low karate crouch and sidling around behind him, while the rest tried to look like they would back Dave up. After the police came and took the man away, everyone urged Dave to write up the incident. He started doing so the following week but always digressed before telling the full story – this is probably the only place it's been told in this detail – in his fanzine First Draft, which over time inspired the formation of APA-F, which in turn inspired APA-L. (See APA-F, APA-L, FIStFA.)


The Trans Atlantic Fan Fund. The first “regular” near-yearly fan fund, which followed the first successful fund to bring a fan from overseas to a US Worldcon–the WAW With The Crew in ’52 Campaign, which brought Walt Willis from Belfast, North Ireland, to attend Chicon II. In most alternating years–excepting when TAFF funds are low and/or some other need to reschedule is perceived–a European fan (usually but not always from the UK) is chosen to attend a convention in North America, usually the Worldcon (the NASFIC would be a possibility in years when the Worldcon was being held out of the country but not in Europe). When the Worldcon is being held in Europe, in practice one of the races is usually slowed down or speeded up so that the North American fan who wins TAFF will go to that Worldcon, otherwise in those alternating years a NA fan is chosen to attend Eastercon, the UK national convention.

To run, two or more fans on the same side of the Atlantic need to get three nominators from their side and two nominators from the other side to be listed on the TAFF ballot. They also have to post a bond saying that, barring Acts of God, they will attend the designated convention if they are elected, and provide a short platform. The TAFF ballots are distributed via fanzines or over the internet, and/or are handed out at clubs or conventions and require a minimum donation to vote; some conventions also hold benefit auctions for the Fund. Winners usually attend the convention as a guest and spend some time before and after the con traveling to different fan centers and getting to know fans better in the host country. They are generally expected to write a trip report but it's not an iron-clad requirement; people only grumble if they fail to do so. The winners do spend the next two years acting as TAFF administrators–one for the next TAFF race for fans going to their country and one for the following race for fans going back the other way.

Once TAFF became a going concern, the other major fan funds–DUFF and GUFF–followed with similar degrees of success.


Fan with a major interest in technology, especially do it yourself technology. The word is sometimes heard outside sf fandom, in computer culture and maybe other places ("...I'm a peeping tom techie with x ray eyes," Timbuk3). Some have opined that mundanes use the term as a pejorative. Also used for those who run the 'tech' for a convention–sound and lighting systems, film and video programs,etc.


An oft-quoted allusion to a piece by the late Charles Burbee, one of the funniest men ever to write for the microcosm. He collected ragtime player piano rolls and reported, in his fanzine, having run into someone who collected player pianos. When Burb asked how many he had, the man said he owned 50. Burb quoted himself as replying, "Fifty player pianos? That's not too many." After Terry Carr and Ron Ellik republished the piece in The Incompleat Burbee, an anthology of Burbee's writings, it crept into repeated fannish usage–and, for a while, it was difficult to mention any number larger than three without someone else popping up to say That's Not Too Many.


A loosely knit organization of fans interested in promoting the preservation of old fanzines and the promotion of fanhistorical research.


The human trait involved in the passing on accumulated knowledge to new generations, which in turn makes it unnecessary for each new generation to "reinvent" the wheel and allows that generation to use the wheel as stepping stone to invent something else. The concept comes from Alfred Korzybski and general semantics; Robert A. Heinlein, in his GoH speech at the Denvention, the third Worldcon, claimed fans did this particularly well. This listing of fan terms is an exercise in timebinding.


Acronym for Table of Contents.


The Tower was the contribution of 1950s Berkeley Fandom's (Terry Carr, Pete Graham, Dave Rike, Ron Ellik, Bob Stewart and "Carl Brandon" [a hoax fan]) to the space race. While the Russian sputnik went over like a lead balloon and the US Vanguard rocket fell on its face, Terry Carr used the principles of trigonometry he'd learned in a college astronomy course to determine the size of and distance to the moon. Getting a parallax view of the moon from two different vantage points in Carl Brandon's back yard, Terry was able to calculate that the moon was about 20 feet in diameter and approximately 150 feet above ground level.

He appealed to his fellow Berkeley fan's love of science fiction to get them to make a contribution to the space race by using all the "profits" they would have made from the various fanzines they published to buy six packs of bheer; he even went so far as to pledge all of the money sent in to subscribe to Innuendo to the project, rather than to defray the costs of publishing the following issues. The Berkeley Fen pledged, quite selflessly, to drink the bheer (even though they preferred Scotch and Rye) so as to be able to use the empties to create a Tower to the Moon in Carl's back yard.

As the Tower rose, various plans were suggested, from harpooning the moon with a church key to climbing the Tower to bring the moon back down to the surface of the Earth where it would be kept forever safe from the hands of the ghodless commies who were trying to grab it before we could. Occasionally, even today, partying fans at conventions will construct such a Tower out of bheercans in Terry Carr's memory. At Magicon this was attempted on a night when the moon was not visible but Art Widner was heard to intone, "If we build it, it will come."


A sequence of related programming events held sequentially, often in the same room or rooms that are reasonably close to each other. The term is used when such "tracks" occur in parallel with one or more other such sequences, which are then known as "alternate tracks."


"Trekdom" is short-hand for Star Trek fandom, which is separate from and independent of mainstream sf fandom, while at the same time having a great degree of overlap. Star Trek fandom began with a letter-writing campaign that originated with Bjo Trimble in sf fandom, appealing to fans to write Paramount to urge reconsideration when the network intended to cancel the show after only two seasons. The letter-writing campaign actually paid off and the network reconsidered. But fans of the show began publishing their own fanzines and, while attending multi-media conventions under the broad umbrella of sf fandom, also began having conventions of their own.

"Trekkers" is a polite way to refer to these people–the one the majority of them accept.

"Trekkies" has derogatory overtones–even though the term was coined by Gene Roddenberry, the Great Bird of the Galaxy, himself.

It has been remarked that, in the mundane world, some of the most devastating holy wars have been between, not different religions, but different sects of the same religion. It is true that there is something of this going on here, as many sf readers consider Star Trek to be mediocre or even "dumbed down" sf.


Description of a trip undertaken by a fan (often in the company of other fans), usually to a convention although sometimes to another fan center, but even at times to neither, printed on-line or in a zine.


(1) Tongue-in-cheek term for a "real" fan. Anyone who sincerely believes they are a trufan is a trufan, providing they make the declaration with a sense of fun.
(2) Also apparently believed by younger generations of fans to be used by some older- generation fans to refer to the members of their particular enclave of fandom.
(3) Term of admiration for a particularly active fan.
A Trufan is implicitly a resident of Trufandom–the destination Jophan is seeking so that he can find the magic mimeograph at the Tower of Trufandom with which to published the perfect fanzines in The Enchanted Duplicator. Because of this association, the term takes on mythic potentials. A Trufan can tell other Trufen by their "auras," usually at distances upwards of 150 feet, and can also tell whether or not a fanzine contains a mention of their name simply by laying their hands upon the cover, not to mention many other “powers” which the Ancients once possessed.
As with “fan,” the plural is either Trufans or Trufen.


Trufandom is the geographical place inside your head where sf fandom takes place; trufannish is the adjective which describes what Trufans do. Burbee said that anything two fans do together is fannish, so it follows that anything Trufans do is Trufannish.


Bob "Wilson" Tucker, who is generally credited with helping fandom to acquire a sense of humor in the early days of the microcosm, has written and published professional mystery and sf novels in which he uses the real names of fan friends for characters that bear no resemblance to them. If someone does this to you, then you will have been "Tuckerized".


The formal name given to the only fannish affliction that is worse than gafia. Less formally known as falling of the armpits. On the other hand, the only known cure, drinking blog, is worse than the disease itself but better than gafia and about on a par with the Fannish Inquisition or death by strangulation or even the Mahler 9th.


Short for "typewriter," an archaic device reportedly used by legendary olden-time fen (rumored to be in use in some quarters even today) for writing everything from letters to fanzines. Today's computer users would recognize the basic primitive keyboard as being the same general configuration as that used on a word processor, except the typer's lacked function keys, numbered key pad, most alternate purpose keys and programming functions, and the only purpose of the "shift" key was to change from lower to upper case. (The “upper case” numbers are symbols, pretty much just as they are on a computer keyboard.) Typer keys were hit with sufficient force to cause them to strike a moving ribbon (sometimes of carbon paper, sometimes of ink-impressed cloth) which in turn hit the paper and left its impression on the page, making revision difficult. But the advantage of typers was that they were excellent mates to the primitive mimeographs and spirit duplicators, in that the ribbon could be removed or disengaged so the keys struck a mimeograph stencil (it could be left on to strike a Ditto master) with sufficient force to make the kind of impression needed to cause the stencil or master to work properly. Rumor has it that some of the very earliest typers were in no way electrically powered but rather were operated solely by means of manual force. It is possible, however, that this may be one of those "fanciful tales" which old-time fans are reportedly prone to tell neos to make them feel inferior.


Sam Moskowitz claimed that attendees of NyCon I, the first Worldcon, would experience this sensation. He either didn’t realize or had forgotten that this was the description of the sexual pleasures the Wandering Jewess promised the Wandering Jew the next time they met after they parted in “My First 2000 Years.“.


The Vanguard Amateur Press Association. Fandom's second apa, a spin-off from FAPA that fancied itself fanzine fandom’s intellectual elite. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it had among its members at various times a number of well-known fans, some of whom became or already were well-known pros, including but not limited to James Blish, Robert Bloch, Mel Brown, Russell Chauvenet, Bill Danner, George Ebey, Virginia Kidd Emden (who later became Virginia Blish), Dale Hart, Joe Kennedy, Jim Kepner, damon knight, Robert A.W. Lowndes, John Michel, Alva Rogers, Samuel D. Russell, Art Saha, Larry Shaw, Norm Stanley, Raymond Washington Jr., Harry Warner Jr., Bill Watson, Basil Wells, Don &, Elsie Wollheim and Don & Judy Zissman (later Judy Merril)


A technique which Shelby Vick developed to produce multi-colored mimeography in his fanzine Confusion, using an Edison-style mimeograph (like ABDick, e.g.) with cotton pads rather than a silk-screen inking system like Gestetner or Rex-Rotary. Color mimeography generally required a separate run-through for each color, with separate stencils, requiring close registration – which needed both skill and a willingness to “waste” copies that failed to align properly. Since cotton ink pads were relatively inexpensive – a dime apiece or less – and thus could be discarded after a single use, Shelby hit on the idea of “painting” different areas of the ink pad with different colors of mimeograph ink from the outside before applying the stencil. There was often a degree of color “bleeding” on the pages which went through the process, as one color might blend into another, but it was a striking effect anyway and the problem of “close registration” was effectively eliminated since it was produced in a single run-through. The name of the process comes from “bleeding” his last name (“Vick“) into the word “color.” But also see REXSTRIPE.


An acronym for We Also Heard From–a column, usually at the end of a fanzine letter column in which several letters have been published, acknowledging receipt and perhaps quoting a few lines from other letters received. Someone whose letter has been WAHF'd has had their letter put in the WAHF column rather than the letter column.


Unlike the open-ended mundane version, many fannish apas have a limited number of members. When that number is reached and the apa is not invitational, people who wish to join are kept, in the order of their application, on a "waiting list" in the Official Organ of the apa. When a member drops out or is dropped–resignation, failure to meet activity requirements, failure to pay dues–the first person on the waiting list is invited to join. (When the apa is invitational, either members stop suggesting new members until a new opening occurs or they suggest a simultaneous increase in the size of the membership.)

People on these lists are sometimes called Waiting Listers or, at other times, WLers.


One of the oldest and largest regional conventions. Has been held over the years at various West Coast locations by various fan groups.


Acronym for Well Known Fan. Someone who has been around fandom in a conspicuous way (in fanzines or at conventions) for a while so that his/her name is well known by other fans.


A female fan (obsolete); again, it's the term, not female fans, which is obsolete.


The one, the only, annual world science fiction convention at which the Hugos are given out. As a service mark "Worldcon" should always be capitalized. Technically it may not be necessary for Worldcons held before it was made a service mark, but why split hairs?


The World Science Fiction Society. The unincorporated literary society whose members are made up of Worldcon attendees, who choose the recipients of the annual Hugo Awards and select the site for an upcoming World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), presently the one which is three years in the future. (It used to be done just a year in advance, but as Worldcons have grown larger and more complex, more planning time–and a larger number of planners–is required.)

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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