Noreascon Four Glossary *

Like many of the world's social communities, fandom has an entire set of words that are either not in any standard English language dictionary, or which have specialized meanings when used in a fannish context. If you come to Noreascon Four, you'll probably want to understand the locals. Below, we've listed some of the fannish terms that are used on our web page and tried to clarify them for those who are new to our lexicon. For more thorough definitions, please see the online Fancyclopedia II. You'll also find an excellent Fanspeak Glossary at with more expanded definitions.

And, as if "fanspeak" wasn't bad enough, you're coming to Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where we have a whole different way of pronouncing American English. Just in case you can't puzzle out what the locals are saying, we thought our Guide to Boston English might be a really useful starting place for those wishing to learn Bawstinonics.

Fanspeak clarified

art show (n.)  At many conventions, this is similar to a gallery showing of art, with the added advantage that if you see something you like, you can often buy it. The artwork in this case can be everything from small 3-D figurines or jewelry to large, dramatic oil paintings originally done as book covers. Noreascon Four plans both a "regular" art show and a "retrospective" art display. Most of the work in the latter will not be for sale.

ASFA (prop. n.)  Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. Many of the field's artists and artisans belong to this association; ASFA annually gives the Chesley Awards (named in honor of astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell) for excellence in genre art. At Noreascon, the Chesley Awards will be on Friday, September 3.

badge (n.)  Fan-run science fiction conventions do not provide "tickets" to a "show." Instead, fans are "members" of the convention as a whole. Badges are provided to all of a convention's members, and the badges identify the member and provide access to the convention itself.

bid (n.)  Worldcons, NASFiCs, and several large regional science fiction conventions are held in different locations each year. For a group to "win" the right to host the convention, the group must first "bid" in a convincing manner and be selected in a site selection process. The site of the 2007 Worldcon will be selected at Noreascon Four.  Also: bid party (n.)  As groups bid for Worldcons, NASFiCs, etc., they will often host social functions at conventions (especially at Worldcon) to interest voters in what they have to offer. Bid parties are the core of a Worldcon's evening social activities. Look for bid parties and other large parties on the third floor of the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

bid pre-supporter(n.)  One who supports, before the vote, a bid for a Worldcon or NASFiC. Pre-supporters will usually provide some monetary contribution (currently, around US$20) in support of a given bid.  Also: bid friend (n.)  People who are "friends" of a given bid usually support that bid at a higher rate, giving more financial contributions, and often helping bids with their parties and other activities.  Also: bid pre-opposer. (n.) Pre-opposers generally contribute double the amount pre-supporters contribute.

Business Meeting (prop. n.)  When written this way in relationship to the World Science Fiction Convention, the formal meeting of the World Science Fiction Society is intended.  The Business Meeting is usually three meetings occurring in the mornings of consecutive days of the Worldcon. At the Business Meeting, new rules to guide WSFS are passed, clarifications to existing rules are recorded, and the selection of sites of future Worldcons and NASFiCs is formalized.

con (n.)  Fanspeak for "convention": a gathering of fans, pros, and others, to talk about science fiction, fantasy, and fandom, among other things. There are even categories of cons:

ConCom (n.)  Concatenation of "convention committee," these are the volunteers who organize, plan, and run the actual convention.  For fan-run conventions like the World Science Fiction Convention, all of the ConCom are unpaid volunteers.

dealers' room(n.)  Shopping?  We have shopping!  The dealers' room at a Worldcon is a large exhibit space chock-full of vendors selling books, music, artwork, clothing, jewelry, and other artifacts of a science fiction/fantasy-ish nature.   Also:   hucksters' room (n.)  The same as "dealers' room."   Also:   filthy huckster (n.)  One who sells items in a dealers' or hucksters' room.

fan (n.)  A person who enjoys science fiction, fantasy, and related literature, film, television, art, music, etc. and engages in any of a number of social activities with others of the same bent. (A participant in fandom.) If you're reading this glossary, it might be you. Also: fen (n.)  The plural of fan.  Also:  fannish (adj.)  Of or relating to fans and fandom.

fanac (n.)   A concatenation of "fannish activities" or "fan" and "activity."  Fanac is what fans do in fandom: anything two fans do together is, theoretically, fanac.

fan club (n.)  A group of fans who bond together and form an enduring social unit, typically in a specific geographical area.

fandom (n.)  The group of people involved in various fannish activities relating to science fiction and fantasy literature, film, television, art, music, etc.

fan fund (n.)  Several "fan funds" exist whose goal is to help fans from one country travel to another and provide a kind of fannish cross-pollinating. The two fan funds connected with the United States are TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund—US-UK/Europe) and DUFF (Down-Under Fan Fund—US-Australia).  Fans from the respective areas alternate years in travelling to the other country.  TAFF and DUFF representatives are elected to the honor by other fans. Noreascon 4 will welcome New Zealand's Norman Cates as this year's DUFF delegate and James Bacon from Ireland as the TAff delegate.

filk (n.)  Fannish music, typically vocal, which is often, but not always, a parody of existing music. Filk may consist of putting new words to familiar tunes, or it may be the general performance of music with a ballad-like story line at a fannish event. The term is derived from a decades-old typo. It stuck. Filk has developed its own slang and definitions.

gofer (n.)  One of the wonderful people who, arriving at a convention, sees that the convention has needs and volunteers to help.  All Worldcons are run by volunteers, and we really, really need our gofers! If this sounds like fun, please consider filling our our volunteer form.

green room (n.)  Location where program participants go to connect with each other and discuss the upcoming program item or related issues. (Some events may also have more temporary "green rooms" where the participants in the event wait until it begins.)

GoH (n.)  Often pronounced "go". The Guest of Honor of a convention; often, there is more than one GoH at a convention. These are individuals who have been invited by the convention to attend and to allow the convention to celebrate their work and contributions in any of a number of areas. Conventions may honor different "kinds" of GoHs: professional, fan, artist, editor, etc.  Noreascon Four has four very nifty guests!

Hugo Awards(n.)  The Hugo Awards (named for pulp magazine editor Hugo Gernsback) are given to the best in the field of science fiction and fantasy each year. Members of Noreascon Four and Torcon 3 (the 2003 Worldcon) nominated a slate of potential award winners. The winners will be decided by a vote (taking place between now and July 31, 2004) of the members of Noreascon Four, the 2004 World Science Fiction Convention. The awards in 2004 are given for work done in 2003, and will be awarded during a gala ceremony on Saturday, September 4.

Also:  Retrospective Hugo Awards (n.)  These special honors may be given by a Worldcon that occurs 50, 75, or 100 years after a convention at which no Hugos were awarded. Since there were no Hugos in 1954, Noreascon Four has opted to give "Retro Hugos." These awards are for work done in 1953. To see a bit about the times, see our Retro Hugo publication (it's pretty spiffy). If you email and tell us your postal address, we'll send you one of your very own!

Kaffeeklatsch (n.)  At the Worldcon, these are small get-togethers over coffee that are arranged by the convention's programming team to allow professionals and fans a chance to chat in a more informal setting than a panel discussion. All kaffeeklatsches are available on a sign-up basis only; Program will provide details in our last Progress Report.  Also: Literary Beer  (n.)  A kaffeeklatsch which skips the coffee and is often held in a hotel bar area.

Masquerade (n.)  A presentation of costumes designed with science fiction and fantasy themes and representing varied skill levels (from children to "Master" costumers who may be members of the International Costumers' Guild).  Also: Hall Costume (n.)  These are costumes designed to be worn while the wearer attends the convention, rather than just for the formal presentation.  

MCFI (prop. n.)  Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc., the 501(c)(3) organization that is the formal organization behind Noreascon Four. MCFI is similar to a board of directors which sets policy for the convention in 2004 only.

membership(n.)  Joining a fan-run science fiction convention like the Worldcon makes one a "member" of the convention:  membership brings a number of different benefits. For more information about the different types of memberships in the convention, see our membership page.

NASFiC (prop. n./abbrev.)  North American Science Fiction Convention, a convention held in years when the World Science Fiction Convention is not in North America.  NASFiC sites are selected two years before the NASFiC is to be held, by a site selection process spelled out in the WSFS Constitution. CascadiaCon will be the NASFiC in 2005, when Interaction, the 2005 Worldcon, is being held in Glasgow.

neofan (n.)  A "new fan," who is just discovering fandom for the first time. Although you may have been a reader, viewer, etc., for years, there's a kind of bewildered wonderment felt by neofans we all understand. Feel free to ask questions and look for help from the "old hands" — we've all been where you are now!

pro (n.)  A person who makes a living, or at least some income, from work in the science fiction community: as a writer, editor, artist, art director, film director, etc. Pro is not the reverse of fan: many, many "pros" are also fans who believe in sharing their visions with the sf community.

Progress Report (n.)  Publications usually sent to members of a convention to tell the members about upcoming information and provide details about the convention planning. Noreascon Four's Progress Reports are online in Adobe PDF format.

sf (abbrev.)  Shortened form of "science fiction," this is generally the preferred shorthand term in the science fiction community. "Sci-fi," more common in the popular culture, is a term coined by Forry Ackerman to sound like "hi-fi." Also: sf&f (abbrev.)  Science fiction and fantasy.

SFWA (prop. n.)  Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, an organization founded by the late Damon Knight in 1965. The organization includes among its membership many of today's science fiction and fantasy writers.

SIG (abbrev.)  Special Interest Groups — these are usually gatherings of fans with an interest in some particular, but perhaps not sf-ish, topic. Noreascon Four will be offering space to a number of SIGs—let us put your topic on the list!

Site Selection (prop. n.)  The process of determining the location of a Worldcon or other convention which changes location each year. At Noreascon Four, the Site Selection process will decide where the 2007 Worldcon will occur. (Note:  All members of Noreascon Four may vote in Site Selection. However, unlike voting in the Hugo Awards, voting in Site Selection will require an additional fee of $40. All voters will become supporting members of the 65th Worldcon, no matter which bid wins.)

smof (abbrev.)  Abbreviation for "Secret Master of Fandom," the term today generally refers to those fans who run conventions. (There's even a "Smofcon": an annual convention for convention runners, and several regional conventions of the same type have also begun to emerge.)

WSFS(prop. n.) The World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society that is made up of all members of the current World Science Fiction Convention. WSFS has no corporate offices, but it does have a constitution.

zine (n.)  Short for "magazine," but encompasses less formal printed SF-related publications.  There are fanzines, prozines, semiprozines, filzines, and probably even Xenazines.   [A Google search reveals that there really is a Xenazine — but it's a drug!]

* Jack Speer, one of Noreascon Four's Guests of Honor, wrote the very first "Fancyclopedia," which clarified formalized definitions for hundreds of terms used by the fannish community. Our listing here is not an attempt to re-write his seminal work (nor its fine successor, Fancyclopedia II). We are trying to clarify the more commonly used words which might appear on our web site for those who might not have encountered them before.

See also our guide to Boston English (for understanding some of the natives!).