Pages Navigation Menu

News and reviews about the media that fan and geek culture consumes.

Categories Navigation Menu

Fan Speak: W

Compiled/Edited by Jon D. Swartz, N3F Historian

There are many words and abbreviations of special relevance to science fiction. In addition, over the years science fiction fandom has created many new terms. A list of some of these words and abbreviations is provided here for N3F members and for any others who are interested in the history of science fiction and science fiction fandom. Additions and/or corrections are invited.


  • W, The – Nickname for SF personality Donald A. Wollheim.
  • Wabbit Twacks – To blow something out of proportion.
  • WAHF/Wahf/wahf – Abbreviation for We Also Heard From, used by fanzine editors to acknowledge LOCs that were received but not printed.
  • WAHOO – The Western Amalgamated Hoaxters’ Official Organization. At one time they presented awards (the Swampos and the Ooqui).
  • W&B – Short for Whining and Bitching.
  • Waitlist/Waiting list – APAs have fixed memberships. Prospective members sometimes are placed on a waitlist until a membership opening occurs.
  • Wampo Egg – British SF fan term for an unattainable goal.
  • WAPA – Abbreviation for the Whimsical Amateur Press Association, which see.
  • Warhoon – Hugo award-winning (1961/Amateur Magazine) SF fanzine, edited/published by Richard Bergeron.
  • War Period – The “War Period” in SF fandom, during which time fan activities were influenced in various ways by World War II, generally is considered to have lasted from 1939 until either 1945 or 1946.
  • Warries – Fans of Star Wars movies.
  • Watchamacallit – A thing, or any thing. See Flange.
  • Water pistol – Standard armament of the Beany Brigade, also called a zap gun.
  • WAW – Initials of BNF Walter (Walt) A. Willis.
  • WE – Abbreviation for Stan’s Weekly Express (1969-1972), a nostalgia adzine. Also, a pronoun used by some fanzine editors to mean I.
  • Weapons policy – Written statement describing what may and may not be worn or carried during an SF con, either as an accessory to a costume or as a working part of the SCA garb. See SCA.
  • Web Site SF Award – The Best Web Site Hugo Award was first presented at the 60th World SF Convention (ConJosé) in 2002.
  • Webzine – A fanzine “published” on the Internet.
  • Weird Heroes – Although printed in a pocketbook format, Weird Heroes was considered to be a magazine and even advertised itself on the cover as “A New American Pulp.” It was published by Pyramid Books for the first six volumes (with the last two volumes published by Jove/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, who took over Pyramid Books in 1977). Volume 1 of Weird Heroes was dated October 1975, Volume 8 was dated November 1977. Byron Preiss was the editor.
  • Weird Tales – The oldest genre magazine, begun early in 1923. Originally sub-titled “The Unique Magazine,” it originally featured off-trail material that no other magazines would accept. Over the years it has been published in several different series and with different formats, but a magazine of this title still exists today. Many early SF stories were featured in its pages. Some of its most famous editors were Farnsworth Wright (1924-1940), Dorothy McIlwraith (1940-1954), Sam Moskowitz (1973-1974), and Lin Carter (1981-1983).
  • Welcom – Short for Welcommittee, which see.
  • Welcommittee – A committee of the N3F that is charged with contacting new members.
  • Wells, Braxton – A pseudonym used by SF personality Donald A. Wollheim.
  • WesterCon – Oldest of the West Coast SF conventions, especially attended by fans involved in media.
  • WFA – Abbreviation for World Fantasy Award, which see.
  • Whimsical Amateur Press Association – Created about 1956 by Larry Anderson to be an APA of a new type, intended for whimsy and humor. Instead of sending fanzines to an OE, members mailed them directly to each other on individual deadlines. Little was ever done although the membership boasted several BNFs. Dues were charged for no discoverable reason. There was no link or continuity between WAPA zines and schedules were little observed, and the club existed only a little over half a year before being formally disbanded.
  • Whispers – Originally to be titled Whispers from Arkham, this genre magazine was based on the earlier The Arkham Collector and has been published eratically since its first issue dated July 1973. Edited by Stuart David Schiff, its aim was to present genre fiction and to publish articles of bibliographic importance. Beginning with a special double issue dated October 1978, sections of the fanzine have been dedicated to certain writers, beginning with Manly Wade Wellman.
  • Whitcon – The gathering (brainstormed by John Newman) that marked the postwar revival of congoing in England. It took place 15-16 May 1948, over Whitsuntide weekend, at the White Horse tavern in London. Nearly 60 fans attended. New Worlds was declared folded (ending the last surviving English prozine) and a cooperative company was planned to take it over.
  • Who Killed Science Fiction? – Hugo-award winning fanzine (1960/Amateur Publication), edited by Earl Kemp.
  • Whovians – Fans of Doctor Who, a long-running television series in the UK, later shown in the United States.
  • Widowers – A fictional department store in Manchester, England in which ersatz rhyming advertisements became a fad after first appearing in the fanzine, Now and Then, in the mid-1950s.
  • Will Eisner Awards – Comic book industry equivalents of the Hugo awards, given at the annual San Diego Comic-Con. They are named for famed illustrator Will Eisner.
  • William Crawford Award – Named for the SF fan and publisher, William Levi Crawford (1911-1984), the Crawford Award is one of the awards given annually by the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts. It is presented for the best first fantasy novel of the previous 18 months.
  • Wimpy Zone – The Midwest, because it has had few cities to field Worldcon bids (dating back to a comment made during a 1984 WSFS business meeting). See Worldcon. See Bid.
  • Windyapa – Abbreviation for an APA located in Chicago, Illinois.
  • WKF – Abbreviation for a Well-Known Fan (see BNF).
  • WL/wl/W-L/w-l – Abbreviations for Waiting List, which see.
  • WO5W – Abbreviation for Wide-Open 5-Way correspondence in which fans publish in rotation using carbon paper or mimeo/ditto reproduction methods.
  • Woodwork – Fans who show up after being absent from fandom activities for a long time.
  • WOOF – Abbreviation for World Order Of Faneds, an APA once collated at the annual Worldcons.
  • A Woman’s Apa – An all-female APA.
  • Work for hire – Writing or artwork for which the author/artist receives a single lump payment rather than royalties. The copyright then belongs to the publisher.
  • Workmanship – The effort involved in constructing/decorating a costume at a con. Workmanship counts for a lot in the judging of costumes.
  • Workshops – Classes in writing, editing, and/or art that are held during cons, for the instruction of people who want to become professional writers, editors, and/or artists.
  • Worldcon – The annual SF convention at which the Hugo Awards are presented.
  • Worldcon Special Convention Awards – Awards presented at the annual Worldcons, determined by each convention committee. They are not voted upon by the membership and are not considered to be Hugos. See Worldcon.
  • World Fantasy Award. Awards – given in several categories of fantastic literature since 1975. Often abbreviated as WFA and also known as the Howard Award. Presentations are made each year at the World Fantasy Convention, which see.
  • World Fantasy Convention – The annual fantasy convention at which the World Fantasy Awards (Howard Awards) are presented.
  • World Science Fiction Society – The organization that runs the annual Worldcons and administers both the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell, Jr. Memorial Awards. Often abbreviated as WSFS. See Worldcon. See Hugo Awards. See Retro Hugo Awards. See John W. Campbell, Jr. Memorial Awards.
  • Worlds of Tomorrow – Digest-sized SF magazine published in two series from April 1963 until Spring 1971, for a total run of 26 issues. Editor of the first series, that eventually was combined with If, was Frederik Pohl. Ejler Jakobsson edited the short-lived second series.
  • WSA – Abbreviation for the We Seal of Approval Program.
  • WSFL – Short for Washington Science Fiction League.
  • WSFS – Short for World Science Fiction Society, which see.
  • WT – Abbreviation for the pulp magazine Weird Tales.

Latest posts by Jon Swartz (see all)

%d bloggers like this: