LIKE CARPENTERS, doctors and bureaucrats, science fiction fans have their own jargon. Over the years a vast number of fannish locutions have come and gone, but the following are still in use. Many serious sf critics and readers scorn fan terminology, but almost everyone knows what the words mean. Before attending an sf convention, memorize the following:
BEM -- Bug-Eyed Monster. The tentacled creatures menacing the buxom girls on the covers of the old pulp magazines.
CYBERPUNK -- The latest movement in sf. A group of young writers -- William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley -- share a liking for hard-edged, high-tech, razzle- dazzle visions of the future, especially a grim future where computers, drugs and cybernetics rule.
EGOBOO -- Ego boost. Recognition, praise, fame for activities as a fan or pro.
FANAC -- Fan activity. Someone who's into fanac contributes a lot of his time to working on fanzines, organizing conventions, etc. One of the rewards is egoboo.
FANZINE -- Fan magazine. These are stenciled magazines, written principally by amateurs rather than professional writers, with an emphasis on fan activities. Prozines are publications such as Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine; newszines include Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle. Commonest usage is to simply say zine.
FIAWOL -- Fandom Is a Way of Life; its opposite is Fandom Is Just a Goddammed Hobby (FIJAGH). These represent the two major philosophies of fandom; over a lifetime, an individual will generally fluctuate between the two attitudes.
GAFIA -- Getting Away From It All. To gafiate means to abandon science fiction and return to the mundane world. Also sometimes referred to in terms of the Microcosm (sf) and the Macrocosm (everything else).
HUGO AWARD -- Usually just referred to as the Hugo. The best-known sf award, the Hugo is voted on by the members (mostly fans) of each year's Worldcon. Besides covering categories such as novel and short story, this award is also given to artists, editors and prominent fans. The other main sf prize, the Nebula, is conferred by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and is restricted solely to fiction works. Supposedly, the Hugos reflect popular taste and the Nebulas informed judgment. Many superior novels never won either award -- Algis Budrys' Rogue Moon or Thomas M. Disch's 334 -- while others like Frank Herbert's Dune have won both.
INITIALESE -- The tendency of fans to pronounce abbreviations as words. For instance, the Washington Science Fiction Association is known as WSFA, pronounced Wissfa.
MUNDANE -- A person without interest in or knowledge of science fiction.
NEOFAN -- A new fan, often characterized by a rather juvenile enthusiasm. The really committed sf person becomes a trufan. If lucky or hard-working, he may even become a BNF -- a Big-Name Fan.
NEW WAVE -- The controversial sf movement of the 1960s. Emphasizing a more political, experimental and literary approach to writing, without much interest in science or technology (except as harbingers of nightmare). New Worlds magazine in England became the flagship for this loose movement which included Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, John Sladek, Thomas M. Disch, Norman Spinrad and J.G. Ballard. The New Wave is often compared to and contrasted with the Golden Age -- the 1940s, when Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arhtur C. Clarke were writing their best books, and editor John W. Campbell was buying and advocating "hard," technological sf.
SCI-FI -- Pronounced skiffy. The space opera schlock that passes for sf in the eyes of the outside world. Fans never say sigh-fi except with irony. The correct abbreviation is sf, pronounced ess eff.