Recently I've been seeing the term SMOF show up in my feed quite a bit. The acronym was a new one for me so I started researching it to try and understand. After looking into it, it became clear that SMOF stood for Secret Masters of Fandom.
From what I've been able to ascertain it was coined by Jack L. Chalker, the author of the Well-World novels (which are actually a really good read). This version of the word describes a tongue and cheek conspiracy theory about a secret cabal of science fiction fans who, through their own nefarious means, change the popular tastes and ideas about what constitutes the best in the genre. This appears to have mostly faded into the history of the word. Now it appears that SMOF is often used as a joking way to describe the people who run conventions for nerdy things. When used in this sense it isn't really a pejorative but more of a friendly needling; however, the term has another meaning that is far less kind. In this sense the term is used to describe the sort of boorish, snobbery that tends to characterize those gate keeping schmucks who are constantly delineating who is, and isn't a fan; what constitutes a true fan; and what constitutes the "right-good-fun" as opposed to the "bad-wrong-fun".
The last definition of this word has caused some consternation so recently a new term has been coined by Brad R Torgersen, CHORF, which is being used to separate these jerks from the word.
Totally aside, I met Jack Chalker at WorldCon in 1989 (or 88? I forget) and tried to approach him for an autograph. He was...probably the least pleasant person I'd ever met (and the last time I approached anyone as a "fan.") I get now that he was swamped and overly busy at the con, and some snotty 18 year old was approaching him for an autograph ruining his day, but it also ruined my 18-year-old enjoyment of his fiction (the old "shattered illusion of the author"). More importantly, it helped me to realize how important it is later in life to be cognizant of how I come off to younger, more impressionable kids, especially if they have put me on a pillar of idolization/respect, for better or worse. So in that sense I was glad I met him, so I could get that life lesson out of the way early on about never idolizing anyone, period. But he'll always remain that jackass in my mind. At least when Piers Anthony wrote me a nasty letter back then I appreciated why I got it (I'd written some very poor reviews of his recent books in fanzines).ReplyDelete
I've read that a couple of times about Chalker, which is sad because I really like Midnight at the Well of Souls.Delete