Science fiction fandom or SF fandom is a community or fandom of people interested in science fiction in contact with one another based upon that interest. SF fandom has a life of its own, but not much in the way of formal organization (although clubs such as the Futurians (1937–1945) are a recognized example of organized fandom).
A fandom is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices ; this is what differentiates "fannish" (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.
Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.
The Futurians were a group of science fiction (SF) fans, many of whom became editors and writers as well. The Futurians were based in New York City and were a major force in the development of science fiction writing and science fiction fandom in the years 1937–1945.
Most often called simply "fandom" within the community, it can be viewed as a distinct subculture,with its own literature and jargon; marriages and other relationships among fans are common, as are multi-generational fan families.
A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. Subcultures develop their own norms and values regarding cultural, political and sexual matters. Subcultures are part of society while keeping their specific characteristics intact. Examples of subcultures include hippies, goths and bikers. The concept of subcultures was developed in sociology and cultural studies. Subcultures differ from countercultures.
Jargon is specialized terminology used to define specific words and phrases used in a particular profession, trade, or group.
Science fiction fandom started through the letter column of Hugo Gernsback's fiction magazines. Not only did fans write comments about the stories—they sent their addresses, and Gernsback published them. Soon, fans were writing letters directly to each other, and meeting in person when they lived close together, or when one of them could manage a trip. In New York City, David Lasser, Gernsback's managing editor, nurtured the birth of a small local club called the Scienceers, which held its first meeting in a Harlem apartment on December 11, 1929. Almost all the members were adolescent boys.Around this time a few other small local groups began to spring up in metropolitan areas around the United States, many of them connecting with fellow enthusiasts via the Science Correspondence Club. In May 1930 the first science-fiction fan magazine, The Comet , was produced by the Chicago branch of the Science Correspondence Club under the editorship of Raymond A. Palmer (later a noted, and notorious, sf magazine editor) and Walter Dennis. In January 1932, the New York City circle, which by then included future comic-book editors Julius Schwartz and Mort Weisinger, brought out the first issue of their own publication, The Time Traveller , with Forrest J Ackerman of the embryonic Los Angeles group as a contributing editor.
Hugo Gernsback was a Luxembourgish-American inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, best known for publications including the first science fiction magazine. His contributions to the genre as publisher–although not as a writer–were so significant that, along with the novelists H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, he is sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction". In his honour, annual awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention are named the "Hugos".
David Lasser was an American writer and political activist. Lasser is remembered as one of the most influential figures of early science fiction writing, working closely with Hugo Gernsback. He was also heavily involved in the workers’ rights struggles of the Great Depression.
The Comet was an American science fiction fanzine, the first of its kind.
In 1934, Gernsback established a correspondence club for fans called the Science Fiction League, the first fannish organization. Local groups across the nation could join by filling out an application. A number of clubs came into being around this time. LASFS (the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society) was founded at this time as a local branch of the SFL, while several competing local branches sprang up in New York City and immediately began feuding among themselves.
The Science Fiction League was one of the earliest associations formed by science fiction fans. It was created by Hugo Gernsback in February 1934 in the pages of Wonder Stories, an early science fiction pulp magazine. Gernsback was the League's "Executive Secretary', with Charles D. Hornig its "Assistant Secretary". The initial slate of "Executive Directors" included Forrest J. Ackerman, Eando Binder, Jack Darrow, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, P. Schuyler Miller, Clark Ashton Smith, and R. F. Starzl.
The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, Inc., or LASFS, is a science fiction society that meets in the Los Angeles area. The current meeting place can be found on the LASFS website.
In 1935, PSFS (the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, 1935–present) was formed. The next year, half a dozen fans from NYC came to Philadelphia to meet with the PSFS members, as the first Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference, which some claim as the world's first science fiction convention.
The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) is a science fiction club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. PSFS is the second oldest group in science fiction fandom and hosted what is considered by some to be the first science fiction convention. Anyone living in the greater Philadelphia area and interested in science fiction, fantasy, horror, whether written or on TV or in the movies; SF, fantasy, and horror art; gaming, board games or video games; comic books/graphic novels; and related arts is welcome.
Science fiction conventions are gatherings of fans of the speculative fiction genre, science fiction. Historically, science fiction conventions had focused primarily on literature, but the purview of many extends to such other avenues of expression as films, television, comics, animation, and games. The format can vary but will tend to have a few similar features such as a guest of honour, discussion panels, readings and large special events such as opening/closing ceremonies and some form of party or entertainment. Science fiction conventions started off primarily in the UK and US but have now spread further and several countries have their own individual conventions as well as playing host to rotating international conventions.
Soon after the fans started to communicate directly with each other came the creation of science fiction fanzines. These amateur publications might or might not discuss science fiction and were generally traded rather than sold. They ranged from the utilitarian or inept to professional-quality printing and editing. In recent years, Usenet newsgroups such as rec.arts.sf.fandom,websites and blogs have somewhat supplanted printed fanzines as an outlet for expression in fandom, though many popular fanzines continue to be published. Science-fiction fans have been among the first users of computers, email, personal computers and the Internet.
Usenet is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979, and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects and is the precursor to Internet forums that are widely used today. Discussions are threaded, as with web forums and BBSs, though posts are stored on the server sequentially. The name comes from the term "users network".
Many professional science fiction authors started their interest in science fiction as fans, and some still publish their own fanzines or contribute to those published by others.
A widely regarded (though by no means error-free) history of fandom in the 1930s can be found in Sam Moskowitz's The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom Hyperion Press 1988 ISBN 0-88355-131-4 (original edition The Atlanta Science Fiction Organization Press, Atlanta, Georgia 1954). Moskowitz was himself involved in some of the incidents chronicled and has his own point of view, which has often been criticized.
Organized fandom in Sweden ("Sverifandom") emerged during the early-1950s. The first Swedish science fiction fanzine was started in the early 1950s. The oldest still existing club, Club Cosmos in Gothenburg, was formed in 1954,and the first Swedish science-fiction convention, LunCon, was held in Lund in 1956.
Today, there are a number of science fiction clubs in the country, including Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (whose club fanzine, Science Fiction Forum, was once edited by Stieg Larsson, a board member and one-time chairman thereof), Linköpings Science Fiction-Förening and Sigma Terra Corps. Between one and four science-fiction conventions are held each year in Sweden, among them Swecon, the annual national Swedish con. An annual prize is awarded to someone that has contributed to the national fandom by the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Fund.
SF fandom in the UK has close ties with that in the USA. In the UK there are multiple conventions. The largest regular convention for Literary SF (Book focused) fandom is the British National convention or Eastercon. Strangely enough this is held over the Easter weekend. Committee membership and location changes year-to-year. The license to use the Eastercon name for a year is awarded by votes of the business meeting of the Eastercon two years previously. There are substantially larger events run by UK Media Fandom and commercial organisations also run Gate Shows (for-profit operations with paid staff.) The UK has also hosted the Worldcon several times, most recently in 2014. News of UK events appears in the fanzine Ansible produced by David Langford each month.
The beginning of an Italian science fiction fandom can be located between the late 1950s and early 1960s, when magazines such as Oltre il Cielo and Futuro started to publish readers’ letters and promote correspondences and the setting-up of clubs in various cities.Among the first fanzines, Futuria Fantasia was cyclostyled in Milan in 1963 by Luigi Cozzi (later to become a filmmaker), its title paid homage to Ray Bradbury’s fanzine by the same name; L’Aspidistra, edited by Riccardo Leveghi in Trento starting in 1965 featured contributions by Gianfranco de Turris, Gian Luigi Staffilano, and Sebastiano Fusco, future editors of professional magazines and book series; also Luigi Naviglio, editor in 1965 of the fanzine Nuovi Orizzonti, was soon to become a writer for I Romanzi del Cosmo. During subsequent years fanzines continued to function as training grounds for future editors and writers, and the general trend was towards improved quality and life expectancy (e.g. The Time Machine run for 50 issues starting in 1975, Intercom for 149 issues between 1979 and 1999, before its migration to the web as an e-zine until 2003, then as a website).
In 1963 the first Trieste Festival of Science Fiction Cinema took place, anticipating the fist conventions as an opportunity for a nationwide social gathering. Informal meetings were organized in Milan, Turin and Carrara between 1965 and 1967. In 1972, the first European convention, Eurocon, was organized in Trieste, during which an Italia Award was also created. Eurocon was back in Italy in 1980 and 2009 (in 1989 a Eurocon was held in San Marino).
Since its foundation in 2013, the association World SF Italia coordinates the organization the annual national convention (Italcon) and awards (Premio Italia – with thirty- two categories across media – and Premio Vegetti – best Italian novel and essay).
Since the late 1930s, SF fans have organized conventions, non-profit gatherings where the fans (some of whom are also professionals in the field) meet to discuss SF and generally enjoy themselves. (A few fannish couples have held their weddings at conventions.) The 1st World Science Fiction Convention or Worldcon was held in conjunction with the 1939 New York World's Fair, and has been held annually since the end of World War II. Worldcon has been the premier convention in fandom for over half a century; it is at this convention that the Hugo Awards are bestowed, and attendance can approach 8,000 or more.
SF writer Cory Doctorow calls science fiction "perhaps the most social of all literary genres", and states, "Science fiction is driven by organized fandom, volunteers who put on hundreds of literary conventions in every corner of the globe, every weekend of the year."
SF conventions can vary from minimalist "relaxacons" with a hundred or so attendees to heavily programmed events with four to six or more simultaneous tracks of programming, such as WisCon and Worldcons.
Commercial shows dealing with SF-related fields are sometimes billed as 'science fiction conventions,' but are operated as for-profit ventures, with an orientation towards passive spectators, rather than involved fans, and a tendency to neglect or ignore written SF in favor of television, film, comics, video games, etc. One of the largest of these is the annual Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia with an attendance of more than 20,000 since 2000.
In the United States, many science-fiction societies were launched as chapters of the Science Fiction League and, when it faded into history, several of the original League chapters remained viable and were subsequently incorporated as independent organizations. Most notable among the former League chapters which were spun off was the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, which served as a model for subsequent SF societies formed independent of the League history.
Science-fiction societies, more commonly referred to as "clubs" except on the most formal of occasions, form a year-round base of activities for science-fiction fans. They are often associated with an SF convention or group of conventions, but maintain a separate existence as cultural institutions within specific geographic regions. Several have purchased property and maintain ongoing collections of SF literature available for research, as in the case of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the New England Science Fiction Association, and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Other SF Societies maintain a more informal existence, meeting at general public facilities or the homes of individual members, such as the Bay Area Science Fiction Association.
As a community devoted to discussion and exploration of new ideas, fandom has become an incubator for many groups that started out as special interests within fandom, some of which have partially separated into independent intentional communities not directly associated with science fiction. Among these groups are comic-book fandom, media fandom, the Society for Creative Anachronism, gaming, and furry fandom,sometimes referred to collectively as "fringe fandoms" with the implication that the original fandom centered on science-fiction texts (magazines and later books and fanzines) is the "true" or "core" fandom. Fandom also welcomes and shares interest with other groups including LGBT communities, libertarians, neo-pagans, and space activist groups like the L5 Society, among many others. Some groups exist almost entirely within fandom but are distinct and cohesive subcultures in their own rights, such as filkers, costumers, and convention runners (sometimes called "SMOFs").
Fandom encompasses subsets of fans that are principally interested in a single writer or subgenre, such as Tolkien fandom, and Star Trek fandom ("Trekkies"). Even short-lived television series may have dedicated followings, such as the fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly television series and movie Serenity , known as Browncoats.
Participation in science fiction fandom often overlaps with other similar interests, such as fantasy role-playing games, comic books and anime, and in the broadest sense fans of these activities are felt to be part of the greater community of SF fandom.
There are active SF fandoms around the world. Fandom in non-Anglophone countries is based partially on local literature and media, with cons and other elements resembling those of English-speaking fandom, but with distinguishing local features. For example, Finland's national gathering Finncon is funded by the government, while all conventions and fan activities in Japan are heavily influenced by anime and manga.
|See the Fanspeak appendix in Wiktionary, the free dictionary|
Science fiction and fantasy fandom has its own slang or jargon, sometimes called "fanspeak" (the term has been in use since at least 1962).
Fanspeak is made up of acronyms, blended words, obscure in-jokes, and standard terms used in specific ways. Some terms used in fanspeak have spread to members of the Society for Creative Anachronism ("Scadians"), Renaissance Fair participants ("Rennies"), hacktivists, and internet gaming and chat fans, due to the social and contextual intersection between the communities. Examples of fanspeak used in these broader fannish communities include gafiate, a term meaning to drop out of SF related community activities, with the implication to Get A Life. The word is derived via the acronym for "get away from it all". A related term is fafiate, for "forced away from it all". The implication is that one would really rather still be involved in fandom, but circumstances make it impossible.
Two other acronyms commonly used in the community are FIAWOL (Fandom Is A Way Of Life) and its opposite FIJAGH (Fandom Is Just A Goddamned Hobby) to describe two ways of looking at the place of fandom in one's life.
Science-fiction fans often refer to themselves using the irregular plural "fen": man/men, fan/fen.
As science fiction fans became professional writers, they started slipping the names of their friends into stories. Wilson "Bob" Tucker slipped so many of his fellow fans and authors into his works that doing so is called tuckerization.
The subgenre of "recursive science fiction" has a fan-maintained bibliography at the New England Science Fiction Association's website; some of it is about science fiction fandom, some not.
In Robert Bloch's 1956 short story, "A Way Of Life",science-fiction fandom is the only institution to survive a nuclear holocaust and eventually becomes the basis for the reconstitution of civilization. The science-fiction novel Gather in the Hall of the Planets, by K.M. O'Donnell (aka Barry Malzberg), 1971, takes place at a New York City science-fiction convention and features broad parodies of many SF fans and authors. A pair of SF novels by Gene DeWeese and Robert "Buck" Coulson, Now You See It/Him/Them and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats are set at Worldcons; the latter includes an in-character "introduction" by Wilson Tucker (himself a character in the novel) which is a sly self-parody verging on a self-tuckerization.
The 1991 SF novel Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn constitutes a tribute to SF fandom. The story includes a semi-illegal fictional Minneapolis Worldcon in a post-disaster world where science, and thus fandom, is disparaged. Many of the characters are barely tuckerized fans, mostly from the Greater Los Angeles area.
Mystery writer Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are murder mysteries set at a science-fiction convention and within the broader culture of fandom respectively. While containing mostly nasty caricatures of fans and fandom, some fans take them with good humor; others consider them vicious and cruel.
In 1994 and 1996, two anthologies of alternate history science fiction involving World Science Fiction Conventions, titled Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons, edited by Mike Resnick were published.
A.E. van Vogt's 1940 novel Slan was about a mutant variety of humans who are superior to regular humanity and are therefore hunted down and killed by the normal human population. While the story has nothing to do with fandom, many science-fiction fans felt very close to the protagonists, feeling their experience as bright people in a mundane world mirrored that of the mutants; hence, the rallying cry, "Fans Are Slans!"; and the tradition that a building inhabited primarily by fans can be called a slan shack.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(October 2014)
First Fandom is an informal association of early, active and well-known science fiction fans.
A science-fiction fanzine is an amateur or semi-professional magazine published by members of science-fiction fandom, from the 1930s to the present day. They were one of the earliest forms of fanzine, within one of which the term "fanzine" was coined, and at one time constituted the primary type of science-fictional fannish activity ("fanac").
Mike Glyer is both the editor and publisher of the long-running science fiction fan newszine File 770. He has won the Hugo Award 11 times in two categories: File 770 won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1984, 1985, 1989, 2000, 2001 2008, and 2016. Glyer won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1984, 1986, 1988, and 2016. The 1982 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) committee presented Glyer a special award in 1982 for "Keeping the Fan in Fanzine Publishing."
File 770 is a long-running science fiction fanzine, newszine, and blog site published/administered by Mike Glyer. It is named after the legendary room party held in Room 770 at Nolacon, the 9th World Science Fiction Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, that upstaged the other events at the 1951 Worldcon.
The British Science Fiction Association is an academic organisation founded in 1958 by a group of British academics, science fiction fans, authors, publishers and booksellers, in order to promote the academic study of science fiction in every form. It is an open membership organisation costing £29 per year for UK residents and £20 for the unwaged. The first president of the BSFA was Brian Aldiss. Stephen Baxter is the current President and the current Vice-President is Pat Cadigan. The BSFA currently publishes three magazines, sent to all members:
Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker was an American theater technician who became well known as a writer of mystery, action adventure, and science fiction under the name Wilson Tucker.
Fanspeak is the slang or jargon current in science fiction and fantasy fandom, especially those terms in use among readers and writers of science fiction fanzines.
The First World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was held in the Caravan Hall in New York from July 2 to July 4, 1939, in conjunction with the New York World's Fair, which was themed as "The World of Tomorrow". The convention was later named "Nycon I" by Forrest J Ackerman. The event had 200 participants.
The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was Noreascon 4, which was held in Boston, Massachusetts, from September 2–6, 2004. The venues for the 62nd Worldcon were Hynes Convention Center, Sheraton Boston Hotel and Boston Marriott Copley Place. The convention was organized by Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc., and the organizing committee was chaired by Deb Geisler.
Eastercon is the common name for the British national science fiction convention. From 1948 until the 1960s, the convention was held over the three-day Whitsun bank holiday at the end of May. It has taken place over the four-day Easter holiday weekend ever since then. The pre-1960s conventions are generally considered to have been "Eastercons" even though they were not held over Easter.
SMOF is an acronym which stands for "Secret Master(s) Of Fandom" and is a term used within the science fiction fan community. Its coining is generally attributed to long-time science fiction fan and author Jack L. Chalker.
The 53rd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), Intersection, was held in Glasgow, Scotland from 24–28 August 1995. The event was also the Eurocon. The venues for the 53rd Worldcon were the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) and the nearby Moat House Hotel. Parties took place at the Central and Crest Hotels.
Andrew Ian Porter,, is an American editor, publisher and active science fiction fan.
A(ubrey) Vince(nt) Clarke (1922–1998), often known as Vin¢ Clarke, was a well-known British science fiction fan.
The 9th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Nolacon I, was held 1–3 September 1951 at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The chairman was Harry B. Moore. The guest of honor was Fritz Leiber. Total attendance was approximately 190. The at-the-door membership price was US$1, the same price charged from the 1st through the 12th Worldcon
The 14th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as NyCon II or NEWYORCON, was held August 31–September 3, 1956, at the Biltmore Hotel in New York, New York, United States.
The 47th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Noreascon 3, was held August 31–September 4, 1989, at the Sheraton-Boston Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Boston Park Plaza, and the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
Don Ford (1921–1965) was an influential American science fiction fan from Ohio.
The Ditmar Award has been awarded annually since 1969 at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention to recognise achievement in Australian science fiction and science fiction fandom. The award is similar to the Hugo Award but on a national rather than international scale.
The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Loncon 3, was held 14–18 August 2014 at ExCeL London in London, England. The convention committee was co-chaired by Alice Lawson and Steve Cooper and organized as London 2014 Limited. Loncon 3 sold the most memberships (10,833) and had the second largest in-person attendance (7,951) of any Worldcon to date.