Fandom is what we call the participatory community of fans that grew out of the 1930s letter columns, in which they interact with one another in sf clubs; via correspondence, fanzines and online fora; and at sf conventions. Science fiction led to fandom's creation and continues to be its major focus, yet a liking for the genre does not of itself make you part of fandom. You cannot be a fan alone or even among others who also like sf -- you must have contact with the microcosm.
Sociologically, fandom consists of fans who are in contact with others, indulging in fanac and maintaining interest in the community. It is a subset of the whole sf community; it overlaps but does not encompass prodom and does not include the vast majority of consumers of science fiction. (This last point is important: most fans love SF, but it's not that which makes them part of fandom.)
Anyone can join fandom, but like most communities, fandom expects newcomers to learn our language, traditions, customs and mores. Fandom is a gift economy and meritocracy that appreciates the desire to belong, effort to participate and the ability to express one's self -- either in writing or verbally. Communicating with other fen is an essential part of fandom. It offers both great rewards and deep pitfalls.
A smooth green slope ran gently downwards into the most beautiful country Jophan had ever seen – Fandom.... So brightly did the sun shine on Fandom that he and the other Neofen (as they now were) were blinded by the light and quite failed to notice the hazards, of which in Fandom there are many. — From The Enchanted Duplicator
Fandom began around 1930. Hugo Gernsback had begun Amazing Stories, the first prozine in 1929. Unable to pay writers to fill the whole magazine with fiction, he invited readers to contribute to a lettercol, and, with his second magazine, Science Wonder Stories, launched the Science Fiction League as a means of expanding readership. Soon the readers and SFLeaguers began writing to each other as well as the magazine, and the first local club, The Scienceers formed in Harlem.
When correspondence between these eofans had reached some proportions, and a few clubs came into existence, fanzines took form and increased fannish interaction. About 1935, fandom broke away from its commercially motivated roots and became an independent organism and began progressing through the numerical fandoms and expanded internationally. The first convention was held and then the first Worldcon, and fandom continued to grow, though it remained a proud and lonely thing to be a fan for decades.
As Roger Ebert put it in a 2004 article in Asimov's, "Fandom grew out of and fed a world-view that was dubious of received opinion, sarcastic, anarchic, geeky before that was fashionable....a world that stood outside the mainstream. Science fiction was the occasion for fandom, and often the topic, but the subterranean subject was a kind of kibitzing outsider world view.
In the 1960s and '70s, the movement spread like an epidemic. Subfandoms began splitting off from fandom, as devotees and promoters of comics, Star Trek, mystery fiction, sex or other subjects began to form separate institutions focused on those topics, sometimes with profit-making motivations; further "adjective fandoms" spun off from those, and as the term fandom proliferated in mundane use, groups such as "baseball fandom" and "Hello Kitty fandom," with no slightest connection to sf fandom have arisen. There has been much controversy over whether Trufandom encompasses all these disparate groups or not.
The word fandom antedates science-fiction fandom (and for that matter, science fiction). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it appeared in print in a sports context as early as 1896. Among fans its use as a stand-alone noun means our fandom and nothing else. But fans will also use it with a modifier to describe social groups which have grown up around various aspects of pop-culture (e.g., "Anime fandom") which have appropriated the term and sometimes some of the other aspects of fandom.
|From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959|
|The world in which fans live and move and have their being. (With an ordinal number attached it refers usually to Speer's system of fan history, treated under Numerical Fandoms.) Sociologically it is the class of all fans who are in contact with others, indulging in fanac or simply being aware of the existence of fans all over the world. Physically it might be imagined as comprising all the science fiction houses, and all fans' dens as well as other storage space and equipment that they use in fan activity, and convention halls and streets and eke park benches while groups of fans are in possession of them. Unincorporated territories include the possessions of mere scientifictionists.
Fandom got its start in New York City around 1930 when people who had been writing to the prozines began writing to each other. In following years SF clubs were formed and monthly bulletins issued. The movement spread like an epidemic. In the 30s there were perhaps one or two hundred fans at a given time; by 1948, maybe a thousand; today there may be as many as five thousand in all parts of the world, about 2000 of these in America. (It has been suggested by Harry Warner that the size of active fandom is naturally limited by the availability of its objective; namely, egoboo.)
Aside from the fandom in the United States, Anglofandom began at the same time and at times has surpassed the Amerifans in activeness. Canadian fandom as an entity became important about 1940; it hosted the first Worldcon outside the US (Torcon, 1948). By 1952 it had recovered from this experience, pretty nearly. Because of interest and friendship linkages beyond that of language, all three of these -- and probably the small but active Anzac fandoms -- can be considered, usually, as one unit. But fans outside the English-speaking bloc have increased tremendously in numbers since World War II, also.
From time to time, people will stand up and ask what is the purpose of fandom. The Michelistic reply was that fandom should associate itself with political movements for a scientific/socialistic world state; other semi-Michelistic replies are along similar lines in that some sort of political interest is enjoined. Speer maintains that fandom, as fandom, should influence the world only thru its influence on individual fans, who may be influential men some day. Some have believed that stimulation of science is our chief justification; others, that stimulation of fiction is our purpose -- i.e., that fans should function as connoisseurs of science fiction [persons with trained and cultivated tastes in the field] in trying to raise its literary standards. And there are those who hold the pleasure derived from fanac its own justification.
|From Fancyclopedia 1 ca 1944|
|The world in which fans move and have their being. Physically, it mite be imagined as comprising all the science fiction houses, and all fans' dens as well as other storage space and equipment that they use in fan activity, and convention halls and streets and eke park benches while groups of fen are in possession of them. Unincorporated territories include the possessions of mere scientifictionists.
Fandom began around 1930, when correspondence between fans had reached some proportions, and a few clubs came into existence. In the following years fan magazine took form and gathered audiences. About 1935, fandom became an independent organism, and has passed thru the stage of First Fandom, First Transition, Second Fandom, Second Transition, and Third Fandom, as Speer so quaintly calls them. There are now about 500 people associated with fandom in some small way, of whom a hundred mite be called real fans; the disappearance of a selected twenty of them would probably mean the end of fandom as now known.
From time to time, people will stand up and ask what is the purpose of fandom. The Michelistic reply is that fandom should join the Leftist movement and work for a scientific-socialist world state. Other semi-Michelistic replies are along similar lines. Speer maintains that fandom as fandom should influence the world only thru its influence on the individual fans, who may be influential men some day. Some have believed that stimulation of science is our chief justification. Probably the majority believe that the pleasure derived from fan activity is justification enuf.
Also involved: - ! and Don't Forget It! - "A" - "Burp" Said the Turtle - "Far Centaurus" - "It's Bigger in Texas" - & (Ampersand) - 'Ayn Ran' Is Narnya Spelled Backwards - 'Our 'Zine - 'Tator - 'Til the Cows Come Home - ((nothing)) - (Oopsla) Interim - *Sigh* - *brg* - ...And Behold, Cushi Came - ...And Stuff - ...And Then 3 Come Along Together - ...Another Fan's Poison - ...and Furthermore - ...be forgot, and never... - 100percent Whole Wheat - 101 Ballooning Adventures - 13APA - 14 Bob the Bushel - 1939 Yearbook of Science, Weird & Fantasy Fiction - 1940 Worldcon Site Selection - 1940 Yearbook of Science, Fantasy & Weird Fiction - 1943 Michiconference - 1948 Fantasy Annual - 1952 TAFF Race - 1954 TAFF Race - 1955 TAFF Race - 1956 TAFF Race - 1957 TAFF Race - 1958 Open ESFA - 1958 TAFF Race - 1959 Hugos - 1959 TAFF Race - 1960 TAFF Race - 1961 TAFF Race - 1962 TAFF Race - 1963 TAFF Race - 1964 TAFF Race - 1965 TAFF Race - 1966 TAFF Race - 1968 Hugo Ceremony Transcript - 1968 TAFF Race - 1969 TAFF Race - 1969 Worldcon Site Selection - 1970 TAFF Race - 1971 TAFF Race - 1972 DUFF Race - 1973 TAFF Race - 1974 DUFF Race - 1974 TAFF Race - 1975 DUFF Race - 1976 DUFF Race - 1976 TAFF Race - 1977 DUFF Race - 1977 TAFF Race - 1978 DUFF Race - 1979 DUFF Race - 1979 GUFF Race - 1979 TAFF Race - 1980 DUFF Race - 1980 TAFF Race - 1981 DUFF Race - 1981 GUFF Race - 1981 TAFF Race - 1982 DUFF Race - 1982 TAFF Race - 1983 DUFF Race - 1983 FFANZ Race - 1983 TAFF Race - 1984 DUFF Race - 1984 GUFF Race - 1984 TAFF Race - 1985 DUFF Race - 1985 FFANZ Race - 1985 GUFF Race - 1985 TAFF Race - 1986 DUFF Race - 1986 FFANZ Race - 1986 TAFF Race - 1987 DUFF Race - 1987 FFANZ Race - 1987 GUFF Race - 1987 TAFF Race - 1988 DUFF Race - 1988 FFANZ Race - 1988 TAFF Race - 1989 DUFF Race - 1989 FFANZ Race - 1989 GUFF Race - 1989 TAFF Race - 1990 DUFF Race - 1990 GUFF Race - 1991 DUFF Race - 1991 FFANZ Race - 1991 Hugos - 1991 TAFF Race - 1992 DUFF Race - 1992 FFANZ Race - 1992 GUFF Race - 1992 TAFF Race - 1993 DUFF Race - 1993 FFANZ Race - 1993 TAFF Race - 1994 DUFF Race - 1994 FFANZ Race - 1995 DUFF Race - 1995 FFANZ Race - 1995 GUFF Race - 1995 TAFF Race - 1996 DUFF Race - 1996 FFANZ Race - 1996 TAFF Race - 1997 DUFF Race - 1998 DUFF Race - 1998 FFANZ Race - 1998 TAFF Race - 1999 DUFF Race - 1999 FFANZ Race - 1999 GUFF Race - 1999 TAFF Race - 2 Loonies and a Soft Toy - 2000 AD - 2000 DUFF Race - 2000 FFANZ Race - 2000 TAFF Race - 2001 DUFF Race - 2001 GUFF Race - 2001 TAFF Race - 2002 DUFF Race - 2002 TAFF Race - 2003 DUFF Race - 2003 FFANZ Race - 2003 TAFF Race - 2004 DUFF Race - 2004 FFANZ Race - 2004 GUFF Race - 2004 TAFF Race - 2005 ConFusion One-Shot - 2005 DUFF Race - 2005 GUFF Race - 2005 TAFF Race - 2006 FFANZ Race - 2006 TAFF Race - 2007 FFANZ Race - 2007 GUFF Race - 2007 TAFF Race - 2008 DUFF Race - 2008 TAFF Race - 2009 DUFF Race - 2009 GUFF Race - 2009 TAFF Race - 2010 DUFF Race - 2010 FFANZ Race - 2010 GUFF Race - 2010 TAFF Race - 2011 DUFF Race - 2011 TAFF Race - 2012 DUFF Race - 2012 FFANZ Race - 2012 GUFF Race - 2012 TAFF Race - 2013 DUFF Race - 2013 GUFF Race - 2013 TAFF Race - 2014 DUFF Race - 2014 FFANZ Race - 2014 GUFF Race - 2014 TAFF Race - 2015 FFANZ Race - 2015 TAFF Race - 2016 DUFF Race - 2016 GUFF Race - 2016 TAFF Race - 2017 DUFF Race - 2017 FFANZ Race - 2017 GUFF Race - 2017 TAFF Race - 2018 DUFF Race - 2018 GUFF Race - 2018 TAFF Race - 2019 GUFF Race - 2019 TAFF Race - 2020 DUFF Race - 2020 GUFF Race - 2020 TAFF Race - 2400 Fulton - 2B or Not 2B? - 3SF - 4 Poems - 45 & Counting - 4642 - 4M - 520 07 0328 - 57 - 6 in 60 - 61 Cygni C - 7APA - 7th Fandom - 7th Fandom (Ellison) - A - A (Brief) Fanzine for Dave Van Arnam - A Autumn Fantasy from Rosco - A Balanced Diet - A Basketful of Bastards - A Bear Went Over the Mountain - A Bit Potty - A Bit of the Other One - A Bleeding Rose - A Book of Ordinary Writings - A Book of Thel - A Boowatt Imitator - A Bright Particular Star - A Brighton Belle Meets Skippy - A Canticle For Leibowitz - A Canticle for P. 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