( S ) – CONTENTS:
SCIENCEERS / SCIENCE-FANTASY / SCIENCE FICTION / SCIENCE FICTION LEAGUE / SCIENTIFIC FICTION / SCIENTIFICTION / SCIFFY – SKIFFY / SCI-FI / SECOND FANDOM / SECOND TRANSITION / THE SENATORS OF FANDOM / SERCON / SERIOUS CONSTRUCTIVE / SEVAGRAM / SFAV / SHADOWGUARD / SHAGGOTH 6 / SILPING / SMOTE /”SOONEST” / SONO-DISCS / SPACED-OUT LIBRARY / SPACE OPERA / THE SPAYED GERBIL / 1993 SPUZZUM WORLDCON BID / SPWAO / SPWSSTFM / STAPLE WAR (FIRST) / STAR BEGOTTEN / STELLAR FOUNDATION / STF / SURREY FAN ASSOCIATION – SURREY FAN CONTINGENT
— Though not the first fannish organization (which was the ISA), SCIENCEERS is widely considered to be the first true sf fan club. Founded in 1930 in New York, meetings were held in the Harlem home of club President James Fitzgerald, the first black sf fan prominent in sf fandom. Club Librarian Allen Glasser became editor of their clubzine, THE PLANET, which I believe to be the first true sf fanzine.
No less than 35 members attended a lecture by prozine WONDER STORIES staff and authors arranged by Hugo Gernsback just for SCIENCEERS. Unfortunately Gernsback neglected to pay the room rental, the SCIENCEERS were stuck with the bill, and the club fell apart from the resulting acrimony, circa 1932/1933. The first fan club, the first fanzine, and the first fan catastrophe. Quite the record! (SM)
[ See FIRST FANZINE, ISA, GERNSBACK ]
— You would think this would be the logical sub-genre title to use by those who first began to differentiate what we now call science fiction from other types of fantasy like ‘pure’ fantasy, or ‘weird’ fantasy, but in fact this term didn’t come into widespread use until the 1950s when it came to refer to — not fantasy with science fiction elements — but rather the opposite: science fiction with fantasy elements, sometimes combined with horror aspects.
‘Sword and Sorcery’ would be considered a type of science fantasy, but swords and magic are not essential; basically any underlying premise not based on science is enough to qualify the work in question as science-fantasy. Of course, if there is no ‘science’, why call it ‘science fantasy’? Because, if it takes place on an alien planet for instance, it’s still considered a type of science fiction, even though there’s no ‘science’ involved. You could say that most science fiction today is actually science-fantasy, and that ‘real’ science fiction is now called ‘hard’ science fiction, but why bother? The term science-fantasy has mostly fallen out of use.
[ See SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIENTIFICTION, SCI -FI, SCIFFY, STF ]
— Believe it or not, the science fiction works of Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells ( they wrote other stuff by the way ) were never called Science Fiction at the time of publication, since the term did not yet exist. All three were considered writers of fantasy, which was the original catch-all title of anything considered imaginative literature, such as Gothic Romance novels like Shelly’s FRANKENSTEIN. In time critics began to differentiate between ‘pure’ fantasy, ‘weird’ fantasy ( like Lovecraft, who considered himself the last of the Gothic Romance writers ) and fantasy incorporating modern science or pseudo-science.
Gernsback in his magazines preferred to emphasize the science aspect of the fantasy he published, and, in 1923 came up with the term ‘Scientific Fiction’ ( or ‘Scientifiction’ for short). During the 1930s this was supplanted by the term ‘Science Fiction’ which struck people as clearer in concept and easier to say.
Today ‘Science Fiction’ is a genre now firmly separated from fantasy, which is ironic because, unlike Gernsback’s original concept of ‘Scientifiction’ as fiction purely devoted to scientific concepts ( however far fetched ), most contemporary science fiction is ‘soft’ Sci-Fi at best, frequently incorporating many fantasy elements, perhaps to the point of being considered more science-fantasy than science fiction..
Sadly, the genre being separated from ‘fantasy’ is now a bit of a handicap, as ‘pure’ fantasy outsells science fiction ( even science-fantasy ) by far. On the other hand, science fiction movies, at least of the adventure shoot-em-up type, remain as popular as ever. I suppose you could say that media sci-Fi true to its pulp roots still sells, but anything more thoughtful is risky.
For now, science fiction as a genre continues to exist, but for how long?
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIENTIFICTION, SCI -FI, SCIFFY, STF ]
SCIENCE FICTION LEAGUE
— Arguably the single most important fannish organization of the 1930s. Important because “not only did it actually create the fan field as we know the latter today, but it gave the field something that it had never possessed before: realization of its own existence.” (SM)
The SFL was nothing less than the first commercially sponsored club for sf fans. Founded by Charles D. Hornig in 1934, based on a concept of Hugo Gernsback and enjoying his full support, it offered fans, through the pages of Gernsback’s WONDER STORIES, membership certificates, lapel buttons, club stationery, and most important of all, regular columns in all issues of WONDER STORIES which not only printed their heated, fervid fannish locs, but their names and addresses as well.
Fans not only poured out of the woodwork to join up, after seeing the addresses of fellow fans in their own town or city they contacted each other and formed local chapters of the SFL, which in turn began churning out clubzines, which in turn generated more correspondence, more contacts, more recruits. Suddenly fandom was an American nation-wide phenomenon. Chapters were everywhere: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Lincoln, Lewiston & myriad other communities wherever WONDER STORIES was distributed. Even Leeds in England, a seminal influence on the growth of British fandom. Some chapters were tiny, others with dozens of members. Most of the BNF fans of the 1930s first appeared at this time. It was the birth of organized sf fandom, the true beginning.
All good things come to a premature end. Gernsback suffered one of his periodic financial crisis’ in 1936 and 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 by then the SFL was no longer needed. Fandom was up and running. It was now self-perpetuating. It was a thing alive.
— Originally what we now call science fiction was lumped in with all ‘other’ forms of fantasy. Hugo Gernsback, who began publishing futuristic fiction in his magazine MODERN ELECTRICS ( later known as ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER ) circa 1910-20s, including his own ‘RALPH 124C 41+’, and later, a whole series of short stories in which Baron Munchausen visits Mars, preferred to avoid the fantasy concept all together and came up with the term ‘Scientific Fiction’ ( in August 1923 ) to describe fiction devoted to futuristic science. He meant it to be applied strictly to fiction centred on scientific proposals, but by 1930 other people had evolved Scientific Fiction into ‘Science Fiction’ ( as the genre is still known ) and applied the concept much more loosely than Gernsback intended, everything from space opera to utopian fiction.
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFICTION, SCIFFY, SCI -FI, STF ]
— This is the short form of ‘Scientific Fiction’, a term coined in 1923 by Hugo Gernsback when attempting to remove all fantasy associations ( what we call science fiction was originally considered a nameless sub-genre within the fantasy genre ) from the type of fiction he occasionally published in his MODERN ELECTRICS magazine. In 1924 he began asking for subscriptions to his proposed all scientific fiction magazine, which he intended to title SCIENTIFICTION. Fortunately his business acumen gained the upper hand and by the time the first issue appeared in April 1926 he called it AMAZING STORIES, which had a far greater appeal to the general public. The letters column in this zine led to the creation of organized fandom, the members of which enthusiastically adopted the term ‘Scientifiction’ to describe their favourite genre till it was generally replaced by the term ‘Science Fiction’ in the 1930s.
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIFFY, SCI -FI, STF ]
SCIFFY / SKIFFY
— If you want to find out if the old phart fan you are talking to is a genuine ( ie elitist ) trufan, use the term ‘Sci-Fi’ in your conversation. If they screw up their face, turn up their nose, and say “Oh, you mean SKIFFY” with a very condescending tone of voice, you’ll know you’re in contact with one of the trufen who despise ‘fakefans’ ( i.e. the majority of modern fen ) who are ( supposedly ) hopelessly juvenile in nature and utterly without taste.
It all has to do with poor Forrest J Ackerman who invented the term ‘Sci-Fi’ in 1955. It was immediately attacked by traditionalists who insisted ( to this very day ) that the proper term is ‘stf’. That Ackerman promoted his concept in the prozine FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND a bit later, beginning circa 1959, that he was never forgiven for ‘abandoning’ fandom in order to earn money by ‘exploiting’ 14 year olds ( the target readership of his magazine ), and worst of all, that the popular press took up ‘Sci-Fi’ as a handy dandy short form for science fiction, one soon adopted by most fans, were annoyances which drove traditionalists into a virtual crusade against the term ‘Sci-Fi’ ( though not against Ackerman himself so much, as he is still respected for his earlier contributions to fandom, such as printing Jack Speer’s Fancyclopedia, and being the first to come in costume to a Worldcon — the 1939 Worldcon in New York ).
Someone, probably in the 1960s, decided that ‘Sci-Fi’ can only be pronounced as ‘skif – eee’ and therefore should be spelled ‘skiffy’ or ‘sciffy’, a term to describe the attitude of the majority of fans who just don’t get true fandom, but this attempt to demean and downgrade ‘Sci-Fi’ has failed utterly, since no-one who hears it has any idea what the elitist fan is talking about. Thus it remains an obscure term employed by elitist-minded traditionalists to raise a smile among themselves when deriding ‘them as not are us’.
Personally, I think ‘Sci-Fi’ ( or ‘sci-fi’ ) is the perfect short form for science fiction. A stroke of brilliance on Ackerman’s part. It’s a wonder no one thought of it years earlier, methinks.
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIENTIFICTION, SCI -FI, STF ]
— stands for ‘Science Fiction’. The term ‘Sci-Fi’ ( or sci-fi ) was coined by Forrest J. Ackerman in 1955 while driving down a California freeway listening to his car radio. The logic pattern went something like this: car radio – kind of tinny – too bad it’s not a high fidelity setup – high fidelity = Hi-Fi = high quality listening, whereas high quality reading must = Sci-Fi!
Ackerman, one of the most prominent and well known fans of the1930s, 40s & 50s, began to promote this concept immediately, with less than satisfactory results. As Dick Eney put it in his 1959 ‘Fancyclopedia 2’: “( Ackerman ) 4e is trying to popularize this expression as an equivalent for stf, i e a contraction for science-fiction. So far it has attached chiefly to several professional movie-magazines and other Hollywood level stuff.”
This is a slightly condescending dig at Ackerman’s recently acquired job as editor of James Warren’s FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND in which ‘Sci-Fi’ was heavily promoted. Alas, the concept of ‘Sci-Fi’, meant to imply that science fiction literature ( or science fiction anything ) was high quality came to be associated with a magazine aimed at 14 year olds. Despite Ackerman’s best efforts, ‘Sci-Fi’ came to be considered, by the more serious fans of stf, a juvenile term only the ignorant use.
Pity, because I quite like it myself. Say “stf” to anyone, and they don’t know what you are talking about ( it’s a contraction for ‘Scientifiction’, the ancestral term for what later became known as ‘science fiction’). But say ‘Sci-Fi’ and everyone knows what you’re talking about, it’s so obvious. Consequently the term is in widespread use by critics, journalists, movie reviewers, advertisers, many fans, etc but, if only because of Sturgeon’s law ( “90% of science fiction is crap, but then 90% of everything is crap.” ), it is still often associated with poor quality popular media. Pity.
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIENTIFICTION, SCIFFY, STF ]
— Period of Fandom history covering October 1937 to October 1938. For details:
[ See FANDOMS ( Numbered Eras ) ]
— Second period of change in fannish historical eras. Runs from October 1938 to September 1940. For details:
[ See FANDOMS ( Numbered Eras ) ]
THE SENATORS OF FANDOM
— Term of respect used in the 1950s in reference to three pioneering 1940s Canadian faneds: Leslie A. Croutch of LIGHT, Fred Hurter of CENSORED, and Beak Taylor of CANADIAN FANDOM.
— Short for ‘Serious Constructive’. The full term is rarely used, being somewhat awkward. ‘Sercon’ is the more commonly used term in fannish writings.
[ See SERIOUS CONSTRUCTIVE ]
— According to Taral, this term was invented in the 1950s by Canadian Fan Boyd Raeburn “who was THE Big Name Fan in Canada for many years”. Generally speaking, it describes a serious minded approach to the history, theory and practice of fanac. It can be either a compliment, as in the case of a fan who’s done a lot of good work to promote fandom, or a put-down, as in a self-appointed censor or a fugg-head out to ‘improve’ fandom for its own good. More often nowadays the term SERCON implies a bit of both, as in someone who undertakes useful research and/or activity but it’s all rather dull & boring to fans who just want to have fun. (TW)
Rich Brown, in his list of Faan Terms, notes that the original fans of the late 1920s were Sercon fans. Certainly they were the Sercon TYPE of fan, but I don’t think the term existed as such, since there was no need to distinguish themselves from other types of fans not yet in existence. I note that Sam Moskowitz (in his ‘Immortal Storm’ covering 30s fannish history) does not mention the term.
Brown then says: “By the 1940s, the term came to be used derisively…” Yet Jack Speer (in his 1944 Fancyclopedia 1) does not mention the term either. However, certainly by the 1940s, indeed as early as 1936 with the transition away from First Fandom, when fans began to abandon the sercon style of thinking exclusively in terms of pro-writing and the advancement of science, and began to pursue a more light-hearted interest to fandom in and of itself, the sercon approach to fandom began to fall out of favour. I don’t think the term itself was yet in use, however.
Then Brown states: “By the early 1970s…the term lost its derisive clout as newcomers missapplied it to works of serious and at least somewhat constructive criticism.” This is way too late. Harry Warner Jr, in his history of 50s fandom ‘A Wealth of Fable’ writes: “Bob Tucker has estimated that it was around 1955 when ‘sercon’ which was originally intended as a mortal insult, equivalent to stodgy and overweening, began to be applied as a simple description of personality or area of fannish interests without overtones of judgment..”
Getting back to Taral, in his intro to ‘TORONTO THE GHOOD’, his 1988 anthology of Toronto fan writing, he states: “A Toronto fan enriched fanspeak with the word ‘Sercon’.” He informed me via personal communication this was Boyd Raeburn. Now, did he mean Raeburn invented ‘Sercon’ i.e. ‘Serious Constructive’? Or did he mean Raeburn took an already existing fan term, ‘Serious Constructive’, and came up with a catchy short version, ‘Sercon’? If the latter, I suppose ‘Serious Constructive’ could date back to the 1940s after all.
However, in the Sept. 1954 issue #22 of CANFANDOM, under Fan Personalities #12, about Raeburn, it states that among his pet dislikes were “serious constructive fans”. So at the very least, given that Taral claims Raeburn coined the use of the word ‘Sercon’, I believe Raeburn did so to make fun of the Serious Constructive type of fan, and while maybe not the first person to do this, was the first to employ the word ‘Sercon’ for that purpose.
This is confirmed by “A PROPOSED ENTRY FOR FANCYCLOPEDIA 3” found in BLAT #3 (Spring 1994) and probably written by US fan Ted White:
“SERCON – (Raeburn; Jacks) – Serious and Constructive. The term was coined (as “sercon”) by Boyd Raeburn, in the early middle 1950’s (ca. 1954), and spoken with a slight sneer, as “sercon”. Sercon fans were the ones who wanted to have serious discussions of subjects like Whither Science Fiction in fanzines. They had no sense of humour, sometimes threw away copies of HYPHEN unopened, and ergo, weren’t fannish.”
“Later, “sercon” came to be an almost neutral descriptive term, applied to even the best of those fanzines which still occasionally discussed sf, e.g. the Geis fanzines of the seventies.”
In 1981, Jerry Jacks began using “sercon” as a code word for getting high on marijuana, in his Denvention report in PONG #24. (“I spent most of my time with the various, usual and new, members of the ‘Drugs in Science Fiction’ panel which floated from room to room to reconvene and get real Sercon.”) The new usage caught on, and one still sees occasional mentions of “getting sercon” at parties and conventions.”
To sum up, I believe the practice of Serious Constructive fanac predates the descriptive term by many years, if not decades, that Boyd Raeburn invented the short form descriptive term to criticize or look down on the practice (given that HWJ states ‘mortal insult’ was the original meaning of ‘Sercon’), and may have simultaneously invented the long form descriptive term as well (assuming Taral and Warner are using ‘Sercon’ & ‘Serious Constructive’ interchangeably),
This is an example of fhistorian confusion in action. (Oops! I mean diligent fhistorical research!) Further communication with Taral and uncovering further relevant material may well pin the matter down exactly. I will adjust this entry accordingly if and when I stand corrected.
— As in the phrase “Here is the race that shall rule the sevagram” which is the concluding line of A. E. Van Vogt’s 1946 novel THE WEAPON MAKERS, a line uttered by visiting aliens commenting on the human race. Many fans applied the phrase to fandom at large as an example of the splendid promise of fan’s inherent superiority over mere mundanes. Fandom surely was meant to prevail someday, ruling over everything, including whatever the heck the sevagram was.
Alas, the true meaning of sevagram was a trifle deflating for fannish ambition when it was revealed. Vogt had taken the concept from a statement by Gandhi: “And the sevagram — the village — is the universe.” So, despite the fact that a village can be construed as a metaphor for the universe, really the sevagram is just another term for ‘village’. Not so mighty then are them as rules the sevagram. (HWJ)
[ See ‘HERE IS THE RACE THAT SHALL RULE THE SEVAGRAM’ ]
— The Science Fiction Association of Victoria. The main general-interest SF club of Victoria B.C. in the 1980s. Operated mainly as a social club. Held bi-weekly meetings, participated in local cons, and published a newsletter under varying titles: UP THE TUBE, PHOENIX, FROM THE ASHES, & FTA/PHOENIX. Membership included fanpubbers, gamers, comics fen, Trekkers, etc. (GS) (Detail to be added)
[ See UP THE TUBE, PHOENIX, FROM THE ASHES, & FTA/PHOENIX ]
— Perhaps the first Slan shack to exist in the Vancouver/Lower Mainland area. Also known as the Surrey Slan Shack, home to the Surrey Contingent. It was in existence from early 1980 to August 1983.
As member Jim Welch wrote: “At a FRED meeting, Stuart Cooper mentioned that the people living in his parent’s rental house were moving out. Was I interested in moving in and forming part of a slan shack?…It’ll be great, we can hold parties and BCSFA meetings….The original intention of Shadowguard was to be exclusively Surrey Contingent. This was partly because we were all elitist in the S.C., and, also, because we knew each other well enough to know we were compatible…”
“Despite my initial thoughts, coming up with a name was easier than I thought. V-Con 8 was the upcoming convention with Roger Zelazny as the Guest of Honour. Shadowguard is the name of Jack of Shadows’ castle from Roger Zelazny’s book JACK OF SHADOWS. I suggested the name to the others and it was accepted. Shadowguard was formed.”
“Stuart Cooper, Gay Maddin, Marg Galbraith-Hamilton, and myself, Jim Welch, were the original members. Sometime later, Jerry Gallant would move in with Gay, and Marg and myself would move out.”
“Shadowguard will be disbanding this month (August 1983). However, in the Surrey tradition, a big blow-out is being planned and anyone who has ever been to Shadowguard is invited.” The many parties held at Shadowguard during its existence are fondly remembered by all who ever attended.
Among other activities, the inhabitants of Shadowguard produced the first three or four issues of the SFA DIGEST while they lived together, and the subsequent issues after Shadowguard was disbanded.
[ See SURREY FAN ASSOCIATION, SFA DIGEST, & SLAN SHACK ]
— A very early fannish legend, which is to say, a silly event blown out of proportion and fondly remembered for decades. It seems that during the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention, held in Philadelphia on the Halloween weekend in 1936, New York fans Frederik Pohl and Harry Dockweiler, said to be under the influence of “spiritus frumenti”, somehow hijacked an elevator ( in those days elevators were controlled by an onboard operator ) and zoomed up and down chased by the Hotel Manager and one or more elevator operators in a second elevator. After 15 minutes of this the Manager finally caught them. I do not know the consequences, other than that the other congoers were impressed and the affair, written up by every faned as soon as they got home, quickly entered into fannish legend.
“Shaggoth 6” was the very Lovecraftian name Pohl & Dockweiller ‘christened’ the elevator, which was presumably #6 in the hotel. ( By the way, did you ever see that Dutch Horror film, DAS LIFT (THE ELEVATOR)? About a man-eating elevator? Very creepy. Even the chase scenes. Fortunately for Pohl and Dockweiler that’s not the sort of elevator they were in… one hopes…) (JS)
[ See FANNISH LEGENDS ]
— The art of drinking a ‘Nuclear Fizz’, as invented by Lee Jacobs, “who perfected and named the art.” First referred to in Fannish writing in 1953 with Jacob’s immortal words: “I silped my Nuclear Fizz in the insurgent manner.” (BP) (DE)
[ See Blog, The Bullfrog, The H.B. Piper Cocktail, Mead Bunny, Nuclear Fizz, Spayed Gerbil, Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, Fan Drinks, & Fannish Drinksh Book ]
— Stands for the “Secret Masters of the Elrons”. The Elron spoof awards have been awarded to deserving recipients since 1971. The presenters, the SMOTE, have been Mike Bailey, David George, Brent McLean, John Thomson, Ed Beauregard, Michael Walsh, and, since 1990, R. Graeme Cameron. The reason we are SMOTE is because, democratic “we seek suggestions from everybody” pretence to the contrary, the SMOTE is the final arbiter of the chosen winners. Our power is absolute, very much in the tradition of megalomaniacal fannish dictatorships, our chief protection from those who would oppose us — or depose us — being the most powerful force in fandom: fannish apathy. A SMOTE steps down only when he has gone on to lesser things.
[ See ELRON AWARDS ]
— A VERY common fannish expression, frequently used to imply something — the next zine issue, a proposed one-shot, fanac of any sort — will be achieved/finished/produced/published with all possible speed, urgency & sense of dispatch as remarkably soon as say… the next century. In other words, ‘soonest’ is fannish slang for the word ‘eventually’ with the added implication that the fan has every honest and idealistic intention to get it done in the immediate future ASAP, even though, realistically speaking, that’s not going to happen. It won’t get done till it gets done, Ghu alone knows when.
‘Soonest’ can imply something will be hours late, years late, decades late, or as in the case of a ‘Daugherty Project’, perpetually late — in a state of limbo as it were. ‘Soonest’ is a wonderful word, it has all the soothing, heartfelt sincerity of a promise, yet automatically lowers expectations to the point where no-one minds if you never deliver on the promise, but will be deeply appreciative if by some miracle you do. ‘Soonest’ is such a practical, useful word I’m amazed it hasn’t been picked up by the diplomatic community. Properly employed, it could ease a lot of international tension…prevent wars…
— These were homemade records, ie: blank records which anyone with a record player could record at home. The practice became popular among American fans circa 1940, till the use of ‘platters’ was banned because it used material needed for the war effort. After the war this fannish fad started up again, and caught on in Canada, Great Britain & Australia. Sono-discs were not unique to the 1940s.
The Sept 13th, 1930 issue of ‘Radio World’ magazine, under the heading “Home Sound Recording Is All The Rage” depicts a Betty Boopish ‘Flapper’ singing into disc-shaped microphone mounted on a metal stand, a wire leading to a rectangular box with a volume control & three dials, from which another wire leads to a rather massive needle-pod resting on the arm of a record player. It’s not clear to me if the record player is a standard type adapted to recording with additional equipment, or if it’s a special recording player that is part of the Sono-disc system. Whichever, the outfit looks expensive! I suspect fans were late in making use of the possibilities of the Sono-disc because they probably waited until the price of the technology had dropped to a level they could afford.
Fans used Sono-discs for many purposes. Some were used as an audio form of a chainzine, others to record fannish plays written and performed by fans, largely in imitation of contemporary radio drama, and still others recorded the chaos and tumult of fannish parties, the quality of which no doubt depended on the quantity of bheer consumed. Walter Dougherty was noted for recording most of the panels at the 1941 Denvention Worldcon — including Robert Heinlein’s famous speech introducing the concept of ‘timebinding’ to fandom? I wonder who has them now, or if they even still exist?
At least one faned produced a one-shot zine on Sonodisc, advertising it as “the only fanmag with round edges”. From the look of the technology described above, the Sono-disc system was strictly a direct-from-microphone-to-record set-up. So either the zine in question was a single disc chainzine, or a classic example of fanergy, with the faned making multiple copies by the simple expedient of reading the same text over and over again to produce as many disc-copies as he needed. Sort of an audio version of a carbonzine, except just one copy at a time. The kind of laborious fanac faneds will do at the drop of a propeller beanie.
Certainly by the early 1950s, if not earlier, other technologies supplanted the Sono-disc system, and in turn, each other: wire recordings, reel to reel tape recorders, Beta & VHS video, CDs, DVDs, the Internet Web, and whatever comes next….
[ See CHAINZINE, WIRE RECORDINGS, TAPERA ]
— Original name of what is now referred to as “The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy” portion of the Toronto Public Library system. First located at 566 Palmerston Avenue on the 2nd floor of the Boys and Girls House, it began with a 5,000 SF book & magazine collection donated in 1970 by Judith Merill (who had moved to Canada in 1968, becoming a citizen in 1976). By 1980 it had reached the 20,000 title mark, at which time a group of supporters, known as The Friends of the Spaced-Out Library,’ was created, headed by John Millard. In these early days members of OSFIC, the Ontario SF Club, often met there.
Writing in 1982, John Robert Columbo stated: “The Spaced Out Library now possesses the Croutch Collection, which consists of a virtually complete run of Croutch’s LIGHT, plus holograph, typescript, and other material by and associated with this prolific writer. For the donation of this valuable collection of Canadiana and SF-iana, let me thank Rex Croutch of Alliston, Ont., the youngest brother of the late writer…”
For a fan historian like myself, this is justification enough to make a trip to Toronto a’researching. Assuming of course, that the collection is still intact and preserved. And there’s more than just LIGHT in the library drawers, as Taral wrote in 1977:
“If anybody cares about club history, I suggest they drop in at the Spaced Out Library to study old OSFiC publications. The files are not kept particularly well in respect to OSFiC, so you might have to look up individual titles. Names to look out for are: OSFIC (magazine), OSFiComm, OSFiC QUARTERLY, NOR, SYNAPSE, OSFiC…EVENTUALLY, DISTAFF, VATI-CON 3 PROGRAM BOOK, NIT WIT… You might also look up Toronto’s recent major (fan) publishers – myself, Victoria Vayne, Patrick Hayden, Susan Wood, and Minke Glicksohn – publishing under the titles: Delta PSI & SYNAPSE, SIMULACRUM, THANGORODRIM (and a lot of others), ASPIDISTRA & AMOR, and ENERGUMEN….”
— This is a well-known term employed by movie critics to describe broad-vision films like STAR WARS. In a positive sense, it suggests sweeping grandeur encompassing galaxy-wide political convulsions, multiple alien cultures, an expanding humanity among the stars, etc. In the negative sense it implies a film nothing more than a colossal collection of clichés.
Originally the term was negative more often than not, & used to describe a particular type of hackneyed SF story, the western in disguise. This type of story began when a number of hack western pulp fiction writers noticed the growing SF market in the 1930s & ’40s, and simply converted their standard plots & devices to suit the market. The resulting stories were not really SF at all, but action westerns with rayguns instead of sixguns, bleep rustlers instead of cattle rustlers, a purple-skinned multi-armed Venusian sidekick instead of the standard halfbreed sidekick, green-skinned multi-tentacled Martians instead of Indian warriors, space vigilantes instead of…. well, you get the idea.
Not unnaturally many hardcore SF fans were offended by this trend, and it was a well-known fan of the day who actually invented the term ‘Space Opera’. In the January 1941 issue of his fanzine LE ZOMBIE, legendary US fan Bob Tucker wrote:
“SUGGESTION DEPT: In these hectic days of phrase-coining, we offer one. Westerns are called ‘horse operas,” the morning housewife tear-jerkers are called ‘soap operas.’ For the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn, or world-saving for that matter, we offer ‘space opera.'” (RL)
THE SPAYED GERBIL
— Invented by Author Joe Haldeman at Chambanacon in 1977, named by Andy Offutt, and first ordered by Canadian Fan Mike Glicksohn.
Haldeman version consists of: ( 2 jiggers gin / 1 jigger Campari ‘ splash of vermouth / stirred over ice / served with a twist of lemon).
Glicksohn version consists of: ( 4 parts gin / 1 part campari / stirred, not shaken over ice / served with a twist of lemon ).
‘The Spayed Glicksohn’ variant invented by Linda Ann Moss uses Chivas instead of gin.
The Real And True, Only Spayed Gerbil’ is said to have been invented 2 months earlier in the Suncon SFWA suite at 5:00 AM by Liz Lynn & Charlie Grant. Consists of : ( 1-2 glugs of vodka in a tall glass / fill to brim with root beer / garnish with martini onion ).
Note: “The Spayed Gerbil is the drinking fan’s perfect drink: it is the only drink known to fandom that may be ordered at a crowded con bar, left at a table filled with fans while its owner is occupied elsewhere, and will still be there untouched when its owner returns.” – Suzi Stefl.
[ See Blog, The Bullfrog, The H. Beam Piper Cocktail, Mead Bunny, Nuclear Fizz, Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, Fannish Drinksh Book, Fan Drinks ]
— Stands for the “Society of Pollyanas and Optimists”, a spoof organization proposed by Canadian fan Leslie A. Croutch in #3 of THE VOICE (March 1946).
“Requirements are that you believe in the continued existence of the human race… concrete proof of your belief is plans for the future.”
This leads into an essay in which Croutch insists: “This abject terror of the future is darned dangerous… Cripes fellows, if you can’t be optimistic, can’t you be courageous?” The essay was evidently triggered by a report by E.E. Evans of a Los Angeles SF Society meeting at which much doom & gloom had been expressed, the futility of any and all, what with the advent of the atomic bomb & such.
Wrote Croutch: “I admit the coming of another war…. I am building up my little business. I’m building a dandy shop here that will also house a den when it is finished…. I don’t excuse my stand… Maybe I am nuts… Everything might go smash tomorrow but if it doesn’t then I will be a damned sight bigger fool for not having the plain unadulterated guts to take a chance and believe things might have been different. Now who else will join me and Evans in the S.P.O.?”
1993 SPUZZUM WORLDCON BID
— One source of info on this is VANAPA 7 circa 1979. (It should be noted that SPUZZUM is a very tiny town in the interior of BC. The last time I passed by I saw less than a dozen buildings, but that was about the time of the VANAPA article. Spuzzum may have grown since then.)
Mike Dann writes: “If you haven’t run into any of the committee at VCON, you may not realize that the Spuzzum bid is actually a serious bid for a number of cons…a whimsical bid…and a serious bid…” He then goes on to describe the Spuzzum Worldcon:
“Costume Bacchanal – This year’s theme is ‘Come as your favourite party snack’.
“Fan Guest of Honour – A Sears Kenmore Model 9300 air conditioner. It is cheaper and gives forth even more hot air than most big name fans.”
“Film & Video Features – a MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN retrospective, THE CREATURE FROM LOST LAGOON MEETS HARLAN ELLISON”… (Lost Lagoon is a feature of Vancouver’s renowned 1,000 acre Stanley Park.)
“PANELS – Sociological impact of MY MOTHER THE CAR, Fan Pubbing – Draft vs Bottled, Tetracycline and other antibiotic party favours…”
And here’s a few items from the proposed Spuzzum Worldcon Banquet Menu:
“Swiss Spam Truffle, Iced Bovril, Braised Muskeg, Poached Spam with Maple Sauce, Escalope of Spam with Shredded Rye Krisp, Spammyssoise, & Creamed Blog…”
— This is the ‘Small Press Writers & Artists Organization’ founded by Charles Saunders & Howard E. ‘Gene’ Day (Faned of DARK FANTASY). Basically an organization that encouraged the development of semi-pro magazines rather than genre fanzines (in order to open up markets for its members), and possibly North American in membership, it nevertheless included many Canadian artists & writers active in the SF fanzine field. Probably formed in the late 1970’s and existed for a number of years into the 1980s, maybe longer. Offered a series of annual awards as part of its mandate.
[ See DARK FANTASY ]
— As they taught you in grade four, this stands for “The Society for the Prevention of Wire Staples in Scientific-Fiction Magazines”. An outfit established by American fan Bob Tucker in 1934. This immediately prompted the First Staple War.
[ See STAPLE WAR (FIRST) ]
STAPLE WAR (FIRST)
— Ran from late 1934 to early 1936. One of the earliest spoof crusades fandom tends to produce from time to time. Began when Bob Tucker announced in BRASS TACKS — ASTOUNDING’s reader’s column — the founding of the SPWSSTFM (Society for the Prevention of Wire Staples in Scientific-Fiction Magazines). Its official organ was D’JOURNAL, published by the movement’s ‘Dictator’, Tucker himself.
Other faneds leaped into the fray, especially Donald Wollheim who founded the IAOPUMUMSTFPUSA (International and Allied Organizations for the Purpose of Upholding and Maintaining the Use of Metallic Fasteners in Scientific-Fiction Publications in the United States of America). He and Kenneth Sterling published an official organ of the society which was titled POLYMORPHNUCLEATED LEUCOCYTE.
Both groups were wont to award supporters with suitably pretentious titles, such as Grand High Cocolorum (Wollheim), Exalted Grand Booleywag (Sterling), Royal Pill Roller (‘doc’ Lowndes) & Lord High Bradder (Jack Speer, who had suggested using hand brads — paper fasteners — in lieu of staples.) Tucker himself advocated flavoured chewing gum as an alternative, and either he (SM) or Wollheim (DE) suggested the use of platinum staples which would have two possible uses: A) – being non-rusting, they would bind the promags securely together as long as its owner required, & B) – at some point the owner could remove them and sell them for more than the magazine cost in the first place, thus either recovering cost with a profit (short term) or at least being able to afford a new zine despite inflation (long term).
It wasn’t long before more serious minded fans objected to what they considered an undue emphasis on ‘Alphabet Societies’. Daniel McPhail as perhaps first to lead the counter-revolution, remarking in his SCIENCE FICTION NEWS that fans were growing tired of Alphabet Societies. This had the unfortunate consequence of inspiring fans to announce in BRASS TACKS the formation of numerous Anti-Alphabetical Alphabet Societies! In turn inspiring Tucker to submit a letter (published in the January 1936 issue of ASTOUNDING) 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 Tremaine took all this seriously and added a footnote asking readers to accept Tucker’s challenge and ‘work for unity’.
In the same issue appeared a letter from a certain Anne Smidley stating that Bob Tucker had died while unconscious in the course of a major operation. When contacted by fans, Tucker denied the rumour most vehemently. When it dawned on Tremaine that the Staple War was nothing more than a fannish spoof, he was somewhat embarrassed and deeply suspicious that Tucker himself was behind his ‘death’ hoax. As a result, Tucker was banned from appearing in BRASS TACKS for quite some time. In any case, Tucker’s movement had already been tarnished when the second issue of D’JOURNAL appeared either (depending on the source) A) – stapled in the usual manner, with Tucker protesting he had clearly stated from the very start that he was only against staples in Promags, or B) – fastened in some alternate manner, but with pages randomly stapled in odd places, allegedly by saboteurs who had infiltrated the SPWSSTFM and been entrusted with the collating and mailing of D’JOURNAL.
Thus the STAPLE WAR (FIRST) faded out of fanac, but never out of Fannish consciousness, being a model of its kind. By the way, there never was a STAPLE WAR (SECOND). Just so you know. (JS) (SM) (DE)
— The title of a story by H.G.Wells, referring to abnormally intelligent and civilized human beings whose very existence could only be explained by a process of mutation brought about by Martians manipulating human evolution via judicious employment of cosmic rays, all in an effort to bring mankind up to their level. Such humans are often resented and misunderstood, despite being undeniably brilliant. Many fans took it for granted the same term could apply to them for similar reasons. The myth that fans are superior to mundanes is certainly of long standing, going back to Claude Degler’s advocacy of ‘Cosmen’ and fen’s identification with Vogt’s concept of the ‘Slan’ in the early 1940s. Do we not all have a Cosmic Mind? Are we not Cosmen?
After World War II the concept of SF fans as being a superior breed apart was very much diluted by the growing popularity and acceptance of SF books and movies by the general public. Prior to the war SF was dismissed by the mundane world as having no bearing on the real world whatsoever (this changed with the advent of Sputnik & the atomic bomb) and it was a lot easier back then to fantasize that SF fandom was a genuine social movement that would ultimately lead to a more advanced and civilized world order led by fen, the natural elite…. (yeah, right!)
Hmmm, I wonder… could this be because most fen in those days were teenagers, ie. adult-wanabees with the usual self-conscious inferiority complex and natural arrogance of teenagehood? Hmm… there’s a government research grant potential in there somewhere…
[ See CLAUDE DEGLER, COSMEN, COSMIC MIND, OZARK LOVE CAMPS, SLAN, SLAN SHACK ]
— An organization, or at least a concept, created by High School student Henry Argasinski circa 1976. In his own words, as revealed in a flyer titled COSMIC CIRCLE IS ALIVE AND WELL:
“Today’s modern COSMIC CIRCLE, now known as the STELLAR FOUNDATION, is not unlike the original COSMIC CIRCLE started nearly forty years ago by Claude Degler; many of the goals are the same. It is, however, a bit closer to reality. STELLAR FOUNDATION has one of North American Fandom’s most rapidly growing active memberships. Its annual budget spending amounts to nearly twice the combined amount spent in one year by both the Ontario Science Fiction Club and the British Columbia Science Fiction Association. But don’t let this fool you; the main emphasis is to have a relaxed fannish club. A rundown of their activities looks like this:”
“COSMICON (COSMIC CIRCLE COMMENTATOR) is their monthly bulletin which usually averages a dozen pages. The STELLAR FOUNDATION also pubs zines CELESTIAL ALMANAC, TRANQUILIUM, DOPPLEGANGER and GRIMALKIN, plus many PAPERCHIPS.”
“TRAWNACON is their annual Relaxicon held in Southern Ontario; this year it’s at Erindale College, June 18-20, featuring guests like Spider Robinson, Mike Glicksohn and Dennis Prophet.”
“FANFEST, SF ERINDALE and FANCON are their one-day regional cons.”
TORONTO IS FREE FOR ’83 is their Worldcon bid for 1983.”
“NORTHERN FAN FUND (NorFF) sends one lucky fan from Midwest fandom to the Worldcon or Eurocon.”
“COSMIC CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP. is designed to bring into existence a city for SF fans + convention center on Long Pt. in Lake Erie.”
Not bad for a tiny high school club, except that some of the above were put on by entirely separate organizations, and the rest is pure fantasy. Henry Argasinski was a self-proclaimed heir to Claude Degler’s Cosmic plans, and that seems about right. In fact he believed he was in touch with Degler himself who spurred him on, but the locs he was receiving from the great Cosmic Mind were actually written by Taral Wayne in a highly successful hoax. Apparently, when Taral revealed the truth about the authorship of the letters, Argasinski decided the only hoax was the ‘revelation’ and carried on as before in Degler’s name. As far as I am aware, Argasinski is the only known fan to deliberately and consciously follow in Degler’s footsteps. Well, at least he had fun.
[ See DEGLER, CLAUDE & PAPERCHIPS ]
— Three letters, pronounced ‘Stef’, being a short form of the term ‘Science Fiction’, in use since the late 1920s. According to tradition-minded fans ‘Stf’ is to be preferred to the more common contemporary Science Fiction contraction ‘Sci-Fi’.
Wait a minute, you say. Stf? Stands for Science Fiction? Where does the ‘T’ come from?
Up to 1923 what we call science fiction was known as fantasy. Then Hugo Gernsback invented the term ‘Scientific Fiction’. By 1926 he’d shortened it to ‘Scientifiction’. Fans contracted it further by choosing the following letters (S)cien(T)i(F)iction or Stf. They continued using this contraction even after ‘Science Fiction’ began to replace ‘Scientifiction’ circa 1930.
[ See SCIENCE-FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION. SCIENTIFIC FICTION, SCIENTIFICTION, SCIFFY, SCI-FI ]
SURREY FAN ASSOCIATION / SURREY FAN CONTINGENT
— The group formed in a very traditional way circa 1975/1976, “nine farsighted young men” (i.e. High School students) “discovering their similar basic views of mankind, began a series of secret meetings… Merrick Terry (a true Trekkie), Randy Lingenfelter (later to become a trade unionist), Mark Adams (a confirmed sexual deviate), Iain Clark (aeons ahead in beerdrinking), Stuart Cooper (what can I say?), Jim Welch, (a Woody Allen reject), Chris Nagati (the invisible fan), Jim Robinson (all round cool guy) and ( ? ) did more toward the progress of science fiction than the Roman Empire.”
“At first, meeting only as a casual group, these men were driven to desperate measures by the almost overwhelming oppression they faced…” (i.e. being forced to read THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES in grade 11.) “but school librarian Keray Rollins saw what was happening…decided to do something about it… He discovered our obscure noon hour discussion group and gave us a cause. It was actually he who first coined the term ‘Students Seeking Better Science Fiction’, thereby giving us an identity. Thus was born S2BSF, the nucleus of Surrey fandom.”
At the same time they first conceived of a fanzine, to be called SFAN, but it was stillborn. In the summer of 1976 Randy, Mark, Ian and ( ? ) dropped away, but Merrick, Jim, Jim, Chris & Stuart carried on, among other activities making a science fiction home movie. In 1977 everyone graduated.
“…in mid-1978 the group made a miraculous recovery. We lost Merrick and admitted to our ranks… Jerry Gallant. From that point on, S2BSF – now known as the Surrey Contingent – proceeded ever onward… The members joined BCSFA, began attending cons regularly, en masse, and gernerally shifted the focus of fandom south of the Fraser river.”
“In 1979 Marg Galbraith-Hamilton joined…in early 1980 we were joined by the illustrious Gay Maddin, swelling the ranks of the Surrey Contingent to an astounding 7 members….Although the group is based in Surrey, not all Surrey fans have the wherewithal to belong to the Surrey Contingent, and it is not absolutely necessary to live in Surrey to belong…. We strongly maintain the necessary cynical attitude : ‘Surrey sucks, but we love it.'” – (Jim Robinson)
Also in 1980 some members of the group formed a slan shack they named SHADOWGUARD. “In the late summer period of Shadowguard… SFA was formed. The chief instigator this time was Jim Welch. For history buffs the momentous occasion occurred at Dave Wilson’s place during a BCSFA meeting…” – (MGH)
Beginning in 1982 they put out 8 issues of a zine called SFA DIGEST as a kind of alternative to BCSFAzine, thus establishing a reputation as a bunch of BCSFAn renegades (as far as some other BCSFAns were concerned), but bear in mind they did not break away from BCSFA so much as act as a subversive subset of BCSFA. As part of this subversion, in protest of BCSFA policies, the Surrey Contingent started referring to themselves as the Surrey Fan Association (in contrast to the BCSF Association). This made for lively politics.
Note: In THE SFA DIGEST #4, Margaret Galbraith-Hamilton writes: “…SFA does NOT stand for Surrey Fan Association…Nothing so noble crossed our minds when choosing the title of the group. I won’t print the name (I would hate to offend you) but I will tell you that while the A could be thought of as referring to a group it is not ‘association’….” Elsewhere in the same issue an additional clue to the meaning of SFA is offered: “SFA has similarities to co-operative anarchy.” Your guess is as good as mine.
[ See SFA DIGEST, SLAN SHACK, FAN FILMS, & SHADOWGUARD ]