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Amazing Stories

How Not To Be A Fugghead

Because some of our readers are no doubt unfamiliar with fandom (despite their obvious desired affiliation with that community), I shall begin this lesson with some definitions.  The first is from Fancyclopedia 3:

A Fannish Term of Opprobrium
Fugghead (n.) and fuggheaded (adj.) are among the microcosm’s least polite ways of calling a fan an absolute idiot or jerk.

Coined by Francis T. Laney, who gave out Fugghead certificates to those he considered deserving, this was a print euphemism for use in fanzines in the days when the Post Office felt that part of their duty was to read, rather than just deliver, the mail, and certain four-letter words were considered too obscene to go by post.

In wire correspondence (which predated tape as a recording medium), where it was presumed the post awful would not go to the trouble of listening, Laney pronounced the term with the appropriate four-letter word in place of “fugg.” However, in current fannish use, the G’s are pronounced, and so pronounced or spelled, the term applies only to members of the sf community.

Most users would still go along with Eney’s definition in Fancyclopedia 2, using the term to describe fans who are particularly oafish boors or argumentative jerks, but Dr. Gafia believed fugghead had implications of behavior so far beyond the pale with respect to fandom that even the most liberal of fans would be inclined to raise an eyebrow over it: (emphasis added)

If the name Francis T. Laney (or F. Town Laney) is unfamilair to you, I will strongly suggest that you have a bit of self-education to engage in.  Start with Fancyclopedia, and then find a copy of either Warner’s All Our Yesterdays or Moskowitz’s The Immortal Storm.  If neither of those are familiar, well, you may be a fan, but you don’t know fandom.)

followed by Dr. Gafia’s:

Fuggheaded (adj.) is used not just to describe someone who’s really stupid and invariably acts without thinking, but someone whose behavior in fandom is too far out for acceptance even to the most open and accepting as fans. Laney used to give out Certificates and everything. (emphasis also added)

demonstrating that fans from the 1940s on have continued to agree on what the definition of a Fugghead is.

It was necessary to invent such a term because the sad fact is that fandom’s storied willingness to accept and tolerate anyone who had the courage to admit that they were a fan, has made it vulnerable to truly odious people, including predators, scam artists, harassers, bigots, advantage-takers, liars, thieves, imposters, evangelists-for-a-cause, cut throats, murderers, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, vipers, con men, muggers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, not to mention those suffering from obvious mental illnesses, like full-blown schizophrenia.

In other words, the kinds of people mundanes move away from on the bus, fandom embraces.

This happens for two reasons;  In the early days of fandom, there were very few fans.  (One of the first chapters of the SFL, which required at least three members for approval, was founded by a single fan and two pseudonyms.)  Fans discovered each other through the letter columns of Amazing Stories and Wonder Stories, and the single most important criteria was that this other person who apparently lived relatively close to you, someone you might actually be able to meet in person, someone who could help you justify your uncommon and belittled interest, shared that interest.

So what if the guy is a jerk, he just wrote the most insightful analysis of your most recent favorite story!  He gets it.  He must know how I feel.  I am not alone.

The second reason is that most fans recognized that they themselves were castaways of the mainstream.  Self-imposed or not, they found themselves at odds with the customary social niceties of the day, questioned assumptions that made the whitebread world uncomfortable, were concerned with issues outside the norm, believed in things that others found outrageous, if not crazed.  Self-awareness of their own flaws engendered a willingness to accept and tolerate similar flaws in others.

Mundanes offer the platitude “nobody’s perfect”.  Fans accept this concept as a ground rule.  Nobody is perfect.  Get over it and move on to what is important:  growing the science fiction community and elevating its importance.

However, since at least 1949, when the first (and last) awards for Fuggheadedness were handed out by Francis T. Laney, fans began to recognize that their virtues had a flaw.  Tolerance can obviously go only so far.  Tolerance does not mean anything goes.

But how and where to draw the line?

By identifying the behaviors that fuggeheadedness embodies and then by avoiding them.  (It’s a two step process.  You need to complete both steps.)  Herewith, a guide to at least the most obvious.

In order to have a little fun, we’re going to do this on a point system.  For each and every behavior listed below that you personally have engaged in, give yourself 1 point.  At the end there will be a scale that will reveal your degree of fuggheadedness, based on how many points you accumulate.

  1. Hold and espouse views on Fandom without knowing anything about Fandom
  2. Attack and criticize Fandom (for no good reason)
  3. without knowing anything about Fandom
  4. Attack well-known and well-respected individuals in the community for BS reasons in a misguided attempt to appear powerful, or unafraid, or to gain sales by servicing your fan base
  5. Claim that you are Deserving of special recognition within Fandom
  6. Do so without having contributed anything to Fandom
  7. Fail to recognize that Fandom is a meritocracy
  8. Assume that you, the neofan, automatically qualify for the top ranks of Fandom’s meritocracy because of how awesome you are
  9. Expound publicly on how awful Fandom is when it fails to recognize your self-proclaimed awesomeness
  10. Attack Fannish institutions publicly with arguments based on a complete misunderstanding of what Fandom is about
  11. Make a big deal about whatever minority status you claim to belong to, because you don’t recognize anyone else’s minority status
  12. Espouse viewpoints outside the mainstream of both fannish and mundane thought
  13. align yourself with Gamergate,
  14. MRA,
  15. Alt-Rt,
  16. Neo-Nazis
  17. Engage in argumentation that holds other’s accountable to out-of-context quotes, while offering absolutely no substantiation of your claims whatsoever
  18. Use wishy-washy language in your proclamations so that you can seem to avoid being held accountable for them
  19. Suggest that “sales” and “earnings” somehow equate with “quality”
  20. Attempt to set Fandom up with “Xanatos Gambit” BS
  21. Be smug about your attempts to play “heads I win, tails you lose” with Fandom
  22. Regularly inflate your ego
  23. your “followers”
  24. your traffic
  25. your sales
  26. your importance
  27. your impact
  28. Act as if you are the second coming of the genre, when really, hardly anyone has ever heard of you
  29. Act as if you are the sole source of the “truth”
  30. Attempt to undermine those who present facts that contradict your “truth”
  31. Claim that you are DESERVING of anything from Fandom – a panel at a con, a table in the dealer’s room, an award – anything (Fandom owes no one nothing)
  32. Attempt to participate in events and organizations that you have previously attacked (without cause)
  33. Wear shades while doing a video (unless your “character” is scripted that way)


1 point:  you, like everyone else, have engaged in Fuggheaded behavior from time to time.  Add an additional point if you failed to make amends. Subtract that point if you did make amends

2-5 points:  You are in serious danger of becoming a permanent Fugghead.  Examine your behavior and make some changes

6+ points:  YOU. ARE. A. FUGGHEAD.  Please seek professional help as Fandom does not have the time, nor the requisite skills, to provide the help you need.  Fandom is not the place to work out your mommy issues, your lack of self-worth, your low self-esteem, your narcissistic tendencies, your obvious failures as a man or a woman or whatever other non-binary gender you affiliate with (even if secretly), nor your sneaking suspicion that you have actually gone to school completely naked.  You have, and we’re all laughing at your deficits, but we’d much prefer that you just go away as we already have plenty of other opportunities to find amusement in real Fannish things.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from the Only YOU Can Prevent Your Own Fuggheadedness Campaign.

Editor’s note:  no mention of some behaviors that were traditionally associated with fuggheadedness are included because they have moved from the “fugghead” category to the “we’re kicking you out and calling the police” category of fannish behaviors.  Also note that while some of the entries may appear to be the same, there are subtle differences between them.


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