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Fandom Lexicon G

There’s juuuuust enough entries for G and H that I decided not to combine them into one post, but we’ll definitely have multi-letter updates coming soon…

Check out the full lexicon posted thus far here.

Spot a mistake? Think of a term we missed? Drop us an ask or comment!

Lexicon Terms Beginning with G:

Gary Stu: The ideal man/boy. Attractive, talented, and intelligent, with flaws that serve to highlight his perfection rather than being actual flaws. Often used as a term to refer to a male self-insert, as in, a male character who is seen as an avatar/insertion-into-the-story by a male author. See also: Mary Sue (pending).

Gaslight: A type of emotional/psychological manipulation. Read more about gaslighting.

Gatekeeping: Controlling/limiting access to [thing], where [thing] is a fandom, an individual, a definition or concept, or anything else that one party wants to prevent another party from accessing. For example, “you can’t be a fan of (thing) unless you believe (something about the fandom),” or “you’re not queer if you don’t have (x) experience.” Read more about gatekeeping.

Gaybies: Young gay people, often those who have just discovered they are gay and are exploring their new community. Not usually used self-referentially.

Gen: Short for “general” or “genuine.” 1. A fanwork that specifically does not involve shipping. 2. Any work that is rated as “general audiences,” as in suitable for any adult to read (or, sometimes, anyone of any age to read). See also: fic rating. 3. One of the most commonly used tone indicators; when used as a tone indicator, it means “genuine” and is always preceded with a slash, as in, “are you serious? /gen” would indicate that the preceding question is meant genuinely (as opposed to sarcastically, jokingly, etc.). See also: tone indicators (pending).

Genderbend: 1. When a character or individual performs gender in a way that does not align with the gender they identify with. 2. Sometimes, a synonym for cisswap or genderswap.

Genderswap: When a character’s gender is changed to something other than their canon gender in a fanwork. Synonym of cisswap, sometimes used as a synonym for genderbend. See also: Rule 63 (pending).

Geocities: A former free website host that housed many early fandom communities and websites. Read more about Geocities.

GF: Abbreviation for “girlfriend.”

GIF (file format): Abbreviation for “graphics interchange format.” A moving image file. Subject to a long-running debate on if it should be pronounced with a “g” pronunciation of the leading g or a “j” pronunciation of the leading g.

Giffer: Someone who makes gif sets.

Gif Set: A curated collection of GIFs. They might be sequential segments of a scene, match a theme of some sort, or simply be images the creator enjoys. Sometimes, they are unedited or lightly edited extracts from the source material; other times, they involve extensive graphic design and modification efforts by the giffer.

Girlboss: A term that fandom co-opted from hustle culture, meaning a young woman who leads or owns her own business venture. In fandom usage, this term is gender neutral (applied to characters regardless of their gender) and is often used ironically, and/or as part of the phrase “gaslight, girlboss, gatekeep” meaning one or more characters who lie, control, and manipulate to get their way. Read more about the term “girlboss.”

Glomp: A big, squishy, overpowering tackle-hug. Only fun when consensual! Read more about glomping.

Glup Shitto: A fake name mocking Star Wars naming conventions. In fandom, this “name” is often used alongside “blorbo” to denote different characters/character archetypes. Read more about the origins of Glup Shitto.

GM: Abbreviation for “game master” or “general manager.” See also: dungeon master.

Gong: In Chinese fandoms, the gong is the character who tops during sex.

Grapefruit: See Citrus Scale.

Griefer/Griefing: A griefer is someone who plays a multiplayer video game in bad faith, especially by behaving rudely, harassing or trolling other players, stealing, destroying things other players make, or otherwise being a nuisance. Griefing is the behavior engaged in by a griefer. Read more about griefing and griefers.

Grok: A verb that means “to understand easily,” coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Read more about the term “grok.”

Grue: Grues are fictional monsters that originated in a series by Jack Vance, but they came to public awareness through inclusion in the game Zork (and again in Return to Zork), which was one of the first text-based computer games ever released. Grues live in total darkness, are terrified of light, and move too quickly to be seen. If you are in a pitch-black spot, you are likely to be eaten by a grue – unless you can produce a light source, of course.

Guro: A Japanese word modified from the English term “grotesque,” used to refer to especially gory stories and, especially, art. The term “ero guro,” short for “erotica grotesque,” is also used. Read more about the term “guro.”

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Fandom Lexicon: F

Considering that “F” is the first word of “fan,” “fandom,” and “fiction” … there are a lot of entries in the letter F. And here they all are!

Check out the full lexicon posted thus far here.

Spot a mistake? Think of a term we missed? Drop us an ask or comment!

Lexicon Terms Beginning with F:

Faceclaim: When someone assigns a celebrity’s face to their original character. Most often used in a roleplay setting. Those participating in a roleplaying scenario together may make rules against multiple characters having the same face. See also: fancast. Read more about faceclaims.

Fan edit: 1. A short video in which the creator patches together clips from the source fandom(s) and sets those clips to music and/or uses them to tell an abbreviated version of the original story or an entirely new story. See also: edit. 2. A photo manipulation in which a creator takes images from their fandom and modifies them. Often called a manip. Read more about types of fan edits.

Fanart: Artwork based on original media, often using the same characters and/or settings, but placing them in new contexts. Read more about fanart.

Fanartist: A person who creates fanart.

Fanboy: Someone who gets very excited about something they’re a fan of, but in a way that is seen as more “masculine.” Despite the gendered language, this term can be applied to any and all genders; several non-gendered variations (such as “fanswirl”) have been proposed, but none have caught on. See also: fangirl. Read more about the term “fanboy.”

Fancast: When a fan decides that a specific character would be best depicted by a specific real individual. This usually involves actual actors, but that isn’t necessarily a requirement. Similar to faceclaiming, but typically focused on characters from other media rather than on an individual’s original characters. For example, if someone reads a book and then decides which performers they’d like to see portray the characters in a live-action adaptation, that’s a fancast. Read more about fancasts.

Fandom : 1. A collective term for everyone who is a fan (of anything and everything – from a book through a sport’s team to an activity such as fishing and everything in between). 2. A collective term for people who are fans of a specific thing (media, character, actor, sport, etc.). 3. A term for the environment in which a person might express their enjoyment of a specific thing/things. Read more about what a fandom is.

Fanfic: Shortened term for “fanfiction.”

Fanfiction: Written works of fiction based on original media, often using the same characters and/or settings, but placing them in new contexts, extending the storylines, or otherwise transforming them per the writer’s specifications. Read more about fanfiction.

Fangirl: Someone who gets very excited about something they’re a fan of, but in a way that is seen as more “feminine.” Despite the gendered language, this term can be applied to any and all genders; several non-gendered variations (such as “fanswirl”) been proposed, but none have caught on. See also: fanboy. Read more about the term “fangirl.”

Fanlore: A wiki run by the OTW that compiles fandom-related information – basically a much, much larger and better documented version of this lexicon. See also: AO3, OTW. Visit

Fanmix: A fanmix is a selection of music, such as would be on a mixtape or mix CD, that a fan has compiled because of how they feel the music relates to a fandom or fandoms of their choice. Read more about fanmixes.

Fanon: An idea about a character, setting, plot, or other detail about a story that is not explicitly stated in the source material but is believed to be true. Fanon may be personal and believed by only one person or may become popular and become an established part of the fandom vernacular for a given fandom. See also: canon, head canon. Read more about the term “fanon.”

Fanwork: The collective term for all creations that fans make as part of their participation in fandom, such as fanfiction, fanart, edits, manips, filk, meta, and more. Read more about fanworks.

Fanzine: See zine.

Feelings Yakuza: See Okimochi Yakuza.

Feels: As in “right in the feels.” Used to describe when something makes a person emotional despite themselves. Read more about the term “feels.”

Femslash: Lesbian and wlw fanworks, shipping female characters together. See also: slash. Read more about femslash.

Fest: A fandom event centered on a specific theme, often characterized by many prompts or other interaction opportunities scheduled over a period of time that result in the creation and sharing of numerous informal/smaller creations. Read more about fests. Abbreviation for A website that hosts fanfiction. Visit

Fic: Short for fiction or fanfiction.

Fic Rec: Shortened term for “fanfiction recommendation.” A fanfic that someone has recommended because it’s one of their personal favorites and/or on some criteria (for example, “fanfics set at a beach.”) Fic recs are often compiled into rec lists. Read more about recs.

Ficlet: A short fanfiction. Ficlets are usually under 1,000 words. See also: drabble, flash fic. Read more about ficlets.

Filk: Essentially fanfic in music form, though the medium may make the connection less obvious. For example, Come With Me by chxrlotte is about Aziraphale and Crowley from Good Omens. Read more about filk.

Fix-it: A fanwork that fixes a perceived or actual problem in the source material. For example, a fix-it might offer an explanation for an actual plot hole, or it may be created to segue between canon and popular fanon, or it might be used to change an unhappy event in canon (such as a character dying) into a tale with a happier ending. Read more about fix-its.

Flame: To be intentionally offensive toward someone on the internet. Often used as a verb. Read more about flames and flaming.

Flamewar: When two or more people engage in reciprocal flaming, exchanging increasingly offensive and/or violent posts with each other, the resulting back-and-forth is called a flamewar. This term has largely fallen out of fashion; “discourse” and “wank” are used more often now. Read more about flamewars.

Flash Fic: Shortened term for “flash fiction.” Very short fiction stories, typically not more than a couple hundred words. Read more about flash fiction.

Fluff: Refers to fics or scenes that are soft, soothing, calm, domestic, and/or loving – the in-betweens and soft points we rarely see on the published page or the TV screen because they are the opposite of conflict. Read more about fluff.

Follow Forever: Someone an individual will never stop following on social media, even if their interests diverge. In the past, “follow forever” posts were popular on Tumblr, where an OP would make a list of other users they would never unfollow. Follow forevers have fallen out of style.

Forum: 1. A message board, usually privately owned/not connected to social media. 2. A specific type of Discord channel that bears some resemblance to how Reddit works. 3. The message board section of a large webpage that may have other functionality as well, such as the forums on Ravelry. Read more about forums.

FTM: Abbreviation for “female to male.” A way of referring to a transgender man. Some people find this term offensive, and others do not. Some transgender people use it to discuss their own gender and their transition, and others do not. Read more about the abbreviation “ftm.”

Fudanshi: A Japanese term for a man who is a fan of BL and yaoi (mlm) content. See also: fujoshi. Read more about fudanshi.

Fujo: Shortened term of “fujoshi.”

Fujoshi: A Japanese term for a woman who is a fan of BL and yaoi (mlm) content. See also: fudanshi. Read more about fujoshi.

Fursona: Refers to the name, characteristics, and physical attributes that a furry has chosen for their animal persona. See also [thing]sona. Read more about fursonas.

Fusion: Specifically in a fandom sense, fusion is used to refer to when a fanfiction or fanart combines two or more different fandoms into one shared universe. The most famous example is Superwholock, the fusion ‘verse of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and BBC Sherlock. Read more about fusion fanfiction.

Futanari : A Japanese word that is often used in fandom to describe characters with sex characteristics from both genders. This and the shortened term “futa” are, in the West, most often used to describe a genre of pornographic anime and manga. Read more about the term “futanari.”

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Fandom Lexicon: D and E

Happy Saturday! It’s time for our next Fandom Lexicon post, our first with two letters – there aren’t that many E’s, so here we have it, D + E! All together, I expect the 28 categories for the Lexicon (26 letters, plus numbers and symbols, plus a post of “abbreviations used to refer to specific fandoms”) to be spread across 19 posts – but that includes the ones I’ve already posted.

You can check out all the parts of the lexicon posted so far here.

Spot a mistake? Know a term we missed? Let us know!

Lexicon Entries Beginning with D:

DA: Abbreviation for “different anon.” When anonymously commenting or sending an anonymous ask, DA or “different anon” will be used to differentiate that a person is not the same anonymous commenter as another anonymous commenter that has already spoken.

DA: Abbreviation for “DeviantArt,” sometimes written dA. A website where artists can host their artwork in galleries, interact with other artists, and participate in different types of challenges. Visit DeviantArt.

Danmei: Chinese media (literature and other types) featuring gay (specifically men) love. Read more about danmei.

Dashcon: A truly terrible Tumblr convention that was held in July of 2014. The feature most often referred to was a very small ball pit; instead of offering refunds for a panel that fell through, the organizers offered disappoint fans “an extra half-hour in the ball pit.” Read more about DashCon.

Dead Dove/Dead Dove: Do Not Eat: A fanwork tag used alongside other tags to indicate absolute truth in advertising; in other words: heed the tags, because they clearly articulate what is within. Most often used for works with darker themes. Name is derived from a scene in the sitcom Arrested Development in which a bag is labeled “Dead Dove: Do Not Eat” and when a character opens the bag, it contains… a dead dove. And he says he’s not sure why he expected anything else. Occasionally abbreviated as DD or DDDNE. Read more about the phrase “Dead Dove: Do Not Eat.”

Disaster Bi: A bisexual person who is deemed to be a “disaster” due to lack of personal awareness, inability to process feelings, struggles with self-acceptance, or well-intended but not well thought out acts of kindness, to name just a few possibilities. If the character is a mess and is also bisexual, they are a disaster bi.

Disc Horse: A facetious way to refer to discourse.

Discord: A chatting platform. Visit

Discourse: Ongoing/circular/repetitive discussion about an actual or perceived problem that some people feel strongly about, and others wish would simply stop. Discourse can either be within a fandom (“there’s discourse about (character name)”) or about more general meta-fandom issues (“time for the annual discourse about kink at Pride”). Read more about the term “discourse.” See also wank (pending).

DL;DR: Abbreviation for “don’t like, don’t read.” 1. A warning to potential readers to pay attention to the tags/synopsis and move along if they don’t like what they see. 2. A reminder to people getting up-in-arms about other people making content they don’t like – “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it.” Sometimes abbreviated without the colon. Read more about the term DL;DR.

DM: Abbreviation for “dungeon master.” In many roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, the DM is the person responsible for creating the overarching story and running the game in accordance with the chosen rule’s systems rules. Read more about DMs.

DM: Abbreviation for “direct message.” On many messaging platforms such as Discord, DMs are the in-platform way of contacting another person directly, without involving other people in a chat. Read more about DMs. See also PM (pending).

DNI: Abbreviation for “do not interact.” An acronym often used alongside a list of characteristics, interests, or other attributes that a social media user does not want to interact with the things they post. Often shared via a Carrd or pinned post. Read more about DNIs.

DNR: Abbreviation for “did not read” or “do not read.” 1. Used on reading sites like Goodreads to indicate that the person chose not to read the book in question and/or does not recommend that others should not, either. 2. A term aimed at a previous poster in a chain of comments/responses on the same, especially one who was long winded, to indicate that a subsequent reader has not read what came before. 3. When someone is opining on a book or article, DNR may be used to indicate that they haven’t read one or more of the works they are referencing.

DNW: Abbreviation for “do not want.” Something a person actively dislikes. Often used in fandom exchanges, where participants are expected to list their “do wants” and “do not wants” as part of guiding their exchange partner in what kind of work they’d most like to receive.

Donghua: Animation/cartoons from China. Read more about donghua.

DP: Abbreviation for many things; in fandom spaces it most often refers to “double penetration.” In pornographic works, DP refers to a person being penetrated in two ways. May refer to penetration in two holes, or double penetration in one, and also may refer to having two penetrating partners, or one penetrating partner using multiple appendages and/or toys.

Drabble: Traditionally a drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly 100 words long. In more recent use it refers to fiction that is roughly one paragraph in length. Sometimes can now be used to refer to any micro-fic; anyone in fandom over a certain age will fight you if you use it that way, though. Read more about drabbles.

Dubcon : Shortened term for “dubious consent.” Used to refer to situations where it is uncertain whether a sex act is actually consensual. Can be as mild as “someone didn’t ask permission before kissing someone they’ve been dating for months” or as extreme as “well they kind of seem to want it so I went all the way…” Often modified with a word indicating the degree to which the consent is dubious, ranging from “mild dubcon” (like the kiss) through “extremely dubcon.”

DW: Abbreviation for Dreamwidth. A blogging platform build similarly to Livejournal. Visit Dreamwidth.

Lexicon Entries Beginning with E:

Edit: Aside from the obvious definition of “suggested changes made to a written work to improve it’s spelling, grammar, and readability,” referring to something as “an edit” has several meanings in fandom. 1. Used to indicate a post has been edited, and how. For example, “Edit: since I made the original post, I’ve learned…” 2. A video of compiled scenes from a visual media property, set to music of the creator’s choice. See also: AMV, fan edit (below, pending). 3. A video of compiled scenes from a visual media property, arranged to tell a different story than what was seen in the original.

Eeby Deeby: 1. Originally a reference to the sound Twiki the robot makes in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Often made into a sex joke. 2. Referenced in a meme with an elevator that says “Eeby Deeby” on the screen. 3. Hell or purgatory. Read more about the term “eeby deeby.”

ETA: Abbreviation for “edited to add.” On platforms where posts can be edited after posting, an ETA may be added and labeled as such if the original poster decides to change the post for any reason. As many platforms include both an original posting date and an “edited on” date, including an ETA is a courtesy way of helping people who see the post quickly understand how it may have been changed since it was posted. See also: edit.

Exchange: A fandom event in which the participants sign up and provide a few examples of things they like and things they don’t like (See DNW), and then are paired up with another participant to create something for that person. Ideally, every participant will get a gift from another participant, and no one will know who is making what for whom until the big reveal at the end when all works are shared out. Sometimes called a “gift exchange.” Read more about exchanges.

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Fandom Lexicon: C

The third installment in our posts about our Fandom Lexicon introduces the most terms yet: those beginning with the letter C!

Make sure you check out the main Fandom Lexicon page! We’ve posted letters A, B, and now C, and will be adding one or more letters each week until the entire lexicon is live and available for your perusal.

Spot a mistake we’ve made? Have we left something out? Let us know!

Lexicon Terms Beginning with C:

C Drama: Abbreviation for “Chinese drama.” TV dramas from China

C Pop: Abbreviation for “Chinese pop.” Pop music from China.

C-Ent: Abbreviation for “Chinese entertainment.” Overarching term for the Chinese entertainment industry.

C&C: Abbreviation for “comments and criticism.” Typically used by a creator when indicating whether they do or do not want comments and/or criticism on their work. For example, an author’s note might read, “C&C Welcome.”

Camp NaNo: Shortened term referring to “Camp National Novel Writing Month.” A week-long writing event that occurs twice every year, in April and July. It is hosted by NaNoWriMo, but unlike the original NaNo, participants in Camp NaNo choose their own goals. See also NaNoWriMo (pending).

Canon: Facts about a narrative provided within the published context of the media being referred to. What does and does not count as canon is often up for speculation and scrutiny by fans with different interests/perspectives. Generally considered separate from “Word of God” explanations of the text – canon events must have happened “on the page” or “on the screen” or “in the recording” for the media in question, depending of course on the original format for the media. Read more about what canon means.

Canon Compliant: A fanwork that follow the rules/characterizations/plot of its source material, as interpreted by the creator of that work. Truly canon compliant works follow canon so closely that they could exist in canon without violating any known information about the world and characters, though that can be a moving target for canon compliant works created when canon is still ongoing. Read more about canon compliance.

Canon Divergent: A fanwork that begins at an established point in the source material’s canon, then takes off in its own direction. Read more about canon divergence.

Canon Insert: Most typically refers to when a writer’s original character is added to canon or replaces an existing canon character. Less typically, refers to a character from franchise A who is added to a canon or replaces an existing canon character in a fanwork about franchise B. Read more about character inserts.

Carrd: A service that hosts simple, easy-to-make websites for free, or more advanced ones for a fee, used by fans and other people to provide a central place for their contact details, interests, and personal information they want to share. Learn more on the Carrd website.

Casefic: A genre of fanwork in which the main characters are solving a case. Most common in fandoms where there are episodes or books that are each case-based, such as The X-Files, CSI, or Supernatural. Read more about casefic.

CBT: Abbreviation for “cock and ball torture” and for “cognitive behavioral therapy.” A classic example of just how important context can be for understanding what an abbreviation means!

CC: Abbreviation for the Creative Commons. A license that a user can assign to their own creation, giving permission to use the creation in their own projects provided they follow the terms of the chosen Creative Commons license. Read more about the types of Creative Commons licenses on the Creative Commons webpage.

Cheerleader: A person who reads a fanfic before it’s published and cheers the author on, so they keep up their motivation. The difference to alpha or beta reader is that the cheerleader usually does not offer any concrit nor do they do spelling and grammar (SPAG) editing.

Chibi: A type of art in which the characters are shown with unrealistic proportions, most often with unusually large heads and eyes. Also sometimes called “SD,” which stands for super-deformed. Read more about the term “chibi.”

Cishet: Shortened term for “cisgender heterosexual.” An individual whose assigned gender at birth matches their gender identity and who experiences sexual attraction to the opposite gender and only the opposite gender (excluding non-binary people and other genders outside the binary). While intended to be used to refer to people who are not queer, the term has often become a short-hand insult for aromantic and asexual people, and for bisexual people who are in relationships with person who are of the opposite in-the-binary gender. Read more about the term “cishet.”

Cisswap: See Genderbend (pending).

Citrus: See Citrus Scale.

Citrus Scale: A method for rating works from general to explicit without using lewd terminology. Read more about the citrus scale on Fanlore or in our blog post on the topic.

Claims: Typically refers to the point in a Bang of any size when artists are given an anonymized list of fic summaries, choose their favorites, and subsequently find out which authors they will be working with. In reverse bangs, it refers to when authors choose the artist they will be working with. For another usage, see Face Claim (pending).

CNTW: Abbreviation for “chose not to warn.” The creator chose not to use warning tags/labels. This abbreviation and usage is based on the AO3 Archive Warning “Creator Chose Not to Use Archive Warnings.”

Coda: A fanwork that adds a scene that fans wish had been included in the source material. Often described by citing the season and episode that the fanwork is a coda to. For example, “coda to 5 x 2” would be a coda/new final scene created to follow the events of episode 2 of season 5. Sometimes referred to as an “episode tag.” Read more about codas.

Concrit: A shortened term for “constructive criticism.” 1. Critique of a creation that actively contributes to its improvement. In this definition, the criticism is usually intentionally solicited, and the critique is done by the editor or beta reader in collaboration with the writer, after discussion of what the author is trying to accomplish and what their goals are. 2. Unwelcome and unsolicited critique from commenters on fanworks, which givers often try to excuse by leaning on definition 1.

Conlang: A shortened term for “constructed language.” An artificially created language, for example Klingon in Star Trek and Elvish in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Read more about conlangs.

Consentacles: A portmanteau of “consent” and “tentacles.” Used to refer to tentacle sex enjoyed with enthusiastic consent. “Dubious consentacles” is also in use, indicating that the consent is more ambiguous.

Cosplay: Dressing up like a character from a given franchise. Ranges from exact replications to crossovers and/or creative reinterpretations of the source material. Read more about cosplay.

CP: Abbreviation for “couple,” except when it means “child pornography.” In East Asian fandoms, CP refers to the main couple in a work. In Western fandoms, CP most often stands for “child pornography.” This difference has caused many, many problems. Read more about the different uses of CP as an abbreviation.

Crack: A speculative concept that is unbelievably ridiculous. For example, “what if all the characters were chicken nuggets?” Read more about crack.

Crackship: A ship between that is unbelievably ridiculous, such as a character with an object, a location with a creature, or two people who would genuinely never in a thousand years ever work out in a relationship. Not the same thing as an unpopular ship or rare pair. Read more about crackships.

Creation Challenge: A fandom event in which the host(s) come up with a theme and/or a list of prompts, and participants are invited to create fanworks in response to that prompt. Examples of creation challenges include Big Bangs and Bingos.

Crossover: A term with many uses in different contexts; in fandom, it refers to when a fanwork combines multiple sources in some way. Mulder and Scully showing up in a Doctor Who fic, for example. Read more about crossovers.

Crucifix Nail Nipples: A well-known story told by Tumblr user thebibliosphere. Often referenced as an example of just how ridiculous erotica can be. Read the original post.

CSEM: Abbreviation for “child sexual exploitation material.” What it says on the tin – this is a legal/technical term for materials featuring actual children photographed or filmed in sexual situations. Creating or possessing these materials is illegal in most of the world. Read more about the usages and legal definitions of this term.

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Fandom Lexicon: B

Last week, we debuted our long-in-the-works Fandom Lexicon by sharing the terms we’ve currently got logged under the letter “A.” We got a few suggestions and updated it, and now we’re back with the second installment. Let us know if you spot anything we’ve erred on or any terms we’ve missed that you think should be included!

Note: future updates will not update this blog post, but will update the main Lexicon page in our webpage Resources.

Lexicon Terms Beginning with B:

Babygirl: A term used to refer to an adult character, almost always a cisgender man, that the speaker thinks is cute despite (or perhaps because) of questionable and/or pathetic behavior. Read more about the term “babygirl.”

Baihe: Baihe is the Chinese term for wlw books.

Bang Path: Refers to when an exclamation point is used to separate a character’s name from a defining trait, usually (but not exclusively) when referring to different versions of a character. Example: Florist!Kirk or Human!Castiel. Originates from classic email structure where exclamation points were used to denote how a message should be routed. Read more about bang paths.

Bashing:1. Action: Hating on characters, people, media, or themes that one does not enjoy. 2. Photo bashing: Combining multiple reference photos to create one cohesive image

BB: Abbreviation, stands for “big bang.” See Big Bang.

BDSM: Abbreviation, stands for “bondage, domination, and sadomasochism.” An umbrella term for individuals who engage in bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, and/or masochism in their lifestyles and/or community and/or platonic or sexual relationships. Read more about BDSM.

Bechdel Test: A test for assessing the extent to which women are represented in a work of fiction. The work passes the Bechdel test if 1) the work contains at least 2 women, 2) and the women talk to each other, 3) and their conversation is not about a man. First depicted in a 1985 comic called Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel. Read more about the Bechdel test.

Beta: A secondary gender term used in works with Alpha/Beta/Omega dynamics. While the specifics are up to the writer, betas are often characterized as lacking the physical and hormonal features that differentiate alphas and omegas from each other, thus making betas the closest to real life humans in terms of appearance, capability, and mentality. See Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics.

Beta Reader: Someone who provides feedback on a completed, but unpublished, written work. The particulars of what betas do depend on the individuals, but common tasks include providing feedback on plot, pacing, and characterization; cheerleading; proofreading; and editing for readabilty, consistency, and other issues. Read more about “beta reader” as a general term.

BF: Abbreviation, usually either for “boyfriend” or “best friend.”

Bias: In K-Pop fandoms, bias is a term that refers to a fan’s favorite idol from a given group. Read more about the term “bias.”

Bias Line: In K-Pop fandoms, having a “bias line” instead of only a “bias” refers to having multiple, joint favorite idols from the same group. See Bias.

Bias-Wrecker: In K-Pop fandoms, a bias-wrecker is a fan’s second-favorite idol, one they like so much that this second-favorite could supplant the favorite and therefore “wreck” the previous bias. See Bias.

Big Bang: A collaborative creation-oriented fandom event in which authors write fanfictions to fit a specified theme, typically no less than 10,000 words in length (events focused on shorter works are often referred to as mini-bangs); artists then choose the work they want to collaborate on through an anonymized claiming process and produce at least one but typically 2 or more pieces of art for that fic. The fic and art are then published and shared by the event runners and/or creators on a pre-scheduled day. Read more about big bangs.

Bingo: In fandom spaces, typically refers to a fandom event in which a “bingo card” is created with a different prompt in each square, and artists/writers/other creative types create things to meet those prompts. The creator gets to select which prompts they fill. They get a “bingo” if they manage a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of prompts, and a “blackout” if they make something for every prompt on the card. Typically creators are required to make something new and unique for each square, but the requirements for these creations are usually much less strict than for bangs (sketches and mini-fics versus fully completed art pieces and lengthy fics, for example.) Usually fandom bingos use 5 x 5 square grids (25 prompts total), though sometimes 3 x 3 (9 prompts total) or 4 x 4 (16 prompts total) are used instead. Read more about fandom bingos.

Bird App: A moniker for the social media platform formerly known as Twitter (now X).

Bishie: See Bishounen.

Bishie Vision: When a bishounen character is introduced in a Japanese anime or manga, they are often shown with flowers, sparkles, rainbows, or other diaphanous decorations around them. This is called “bishie vision.”

Bishounen: Bishounen is a Japanese term for an especially beautiful young man, often in shoujo or shounen-ai manga. Read more about bishounen.

BL: Abbreviation for “Boys’ Love.” See Boys’ Love.

Blacklist: Oxford dictionary: “a list of people or things that are regarded as unacceptable or untrustworthy and should be excluded or avoided.” Many websites and/or browser extensions offer blacklisting functionality that enables users to block out text that includes specific terms, hides posts that include those terms, etc. People use blacklists to avoid content they don’t wish to see for any reason.

Blorbo: A person’s favorite character. Originated as “blorbo from my shows,” from a post by Tumblr user thelustiestargonianmaid, but can be used to refer to characters from other media sources. The original post has been deleted. Read more about “blorbo.”

BMP(file format): Abbreviation for “bitmap.” An image file format.

BNF: Abbreviation for “Big Name Fan.” An individual who is well known within their fandom (and occasionally outside it). Read more about the term BNF.

Boff(-ing, -er): Boffing is a type of Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) where people use carefully constructed foam weapons to enact fights and battles. A boffer is a person who participates in boffing. Read more about boffing.

Boomer: Short for “baby boomer.” Use is almost always derogatory. Read more about the origin and use of “OK Boomer” as a meme.

Bottom: 1) The recipient of penetration. 2) The submissive in a D/s relationship. 3) In shibari, the person being tied up. These uses are often conflated but are not actually synonymous.

Boys’ Love. A Japanese manga genre focused on romantic relationships between male characters. Often abbreviated BL. Sometimes conflated with yaoi and/or shounen-ai, but also commonly used as a distinct and separate sub-genre. Read more about the BL genre.

BRB: Abbreviation for “Be Right Back.”

Britpick: Reading a written work that is set in the UK to check for linguistic and cultural references that someone in that setting would use and that may not be familiar to someone not from that setting. While [otherculture]pick terms are also in use, Britpick is the most common. For example, britpicking might flag spelling (e.g. color vs. colour) or language choices (e.g. vacuuming vs. hoovering). Read more about Britpicking.

BroTP: Abbreviation for “Bro True Pairing,” a humorous alteration of the term OTP, or “One True Pairing.” A platonic pairing between two characters. Canon sibling relationship not required, nor must the characters be male. See also OTP (below, pending).

BTS: Abbreviation for “behind the scenes”; can also refer to the K-Pop boy band Bangtan Boys. When not referring to the K-Pop band Bangtan Boys, BTS most often refers to “behind the scenes,” as in footage, images, recordings, and other material taken behind-the-scenes of a show, concert, movie, etc., showing the performers when they are not acting.

Burn: A specifically directed insult; the act of directing specific insults at a target.

BYI: Abbreviation for “before you interact.” On many social media platforms, people will include a “before you interact” statement in their profiles or on their Carrds, including information about what people should know and/or be okay with before they follow or interact with the person who wrote the BYI.

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Fandom Lexicon: A

For over a year, we here at Duck Prints Press have been slowly but surely working on a creating a fandom lexicon: a basic dictionary of common terms, abbreviations, and slang used now and in the past in fandom circles. This is, unsurprisingly, a massive undertaking, and we can never hope to be exhaustive, but we finally have gotten far enough along to begin sharing this project publicly!

Starting this week, we will be adding more definitions to our Fandom Lexicon weekly, usually at a rate of one letter a week (though we’ll double and triple up for some letters with fewer terms). And – we’ll be making all these updates into blog posts!

Today, we’ve added the definitions filed under the letter “A” to our lexicon.

Note: future updates will not update this blog post, but will update the main Lexicon page in our webpage Resources.

Did we miss a term? Is one of our definitions incomplete? Let us know, and we’ll take your input under advisement!

Lexicon Terms Beginning with A:

A/B/O: Abbreviation, stands for Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics. See Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics. Note: Writing the abbreviation without a divider is considered bad etiquette in many fandom circles because it looks like an Australian slur.

A/N: Abbreviation, stands for “author’s note.” A note at the beginning of a fanfiction written by the author.

A/S/L: Abbreviation, stands for age/sex/location. In ye olde internet days, it was common for people to try to find hook-ups by messaging strangers “A/S/L,” requesting their age, sex, and location as the initial step of forging a connection.

Abandoned: A work that the creator has stopped updating.

Ace: Abbreviation, stands for asexual/asexuality. The overarching term for people who do not experience sexual attraction, as opposed to those who are allosexual. Read more about the term “asexuality.”

Achillean: An umbrella term for men or men-aligned people who love other men, regardless of the sexuality of the men in question. Read more about the term “achillean.”

Adoption: When the author of an abandoned work allows (explicitly or by lack of response) another person to finish it. In many fandoms, it is considered rude to adopt a work without permission.

AFAB: Abbreviation, stands for “assigned female at birth.” Someone who got ye olde “F” on their birth certificate based on the birth attendant’s judgment of their genitals. Read more about the abbreviation “AFAB.”

AIM: Abbreviation, stands for “AOL Instant Messenger.” A messaging service commonly used in the mid 1990s to mid 2000s. Read more about AIM.

AITA: Abbreviation, stands for “Am I the Asshole?” Both an inquiry and a reference to a popular subreddit. Read more at the AITA reddit.

Allo: Abbreviation, stands for allosexual/allosexuality. The overarching term for people who experience sexual attraction, as opposed to those who are asexual. Can also be used for romance, i.e alloromantic/aromantic. Read more about the term “allosexual” and the term “alloromantic”.

Ally: Typically used to refer to someone who is not a member of a specific oppressed group, who supports and advocates for the rights of an oppressed group. For example, a straight person who supports and advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights would be an ally. Read more about the term “ally.”

Alpha: A secondary gender term used in works with alpha/beta/omega dynamics. While the specifics are up to the writer, some common characteristics of alphas include: larger, stronger bodies; social dominance; a strong sense of smell; eyes that turn red when angry or aroused; hormone-driven sexual “ruts”; and canine-esque genitalia. See Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics.

Alpha Reader: The first person, other than the author, to read a written work. An alpha reader typically offers feedback on plot, structure, characterization, and other such subjective details. Read more about alpha readers.

Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics: an original type of alternate universe created by fandom in which characters, who may be human, part-human, or non-human, are born with a second gender in addition to their main gender. The details of how these worlds work vary widely but the basic idea is that in addition to being born as female, male, non-binary, etc., characters are also born as alphas, betas, and/or omegas, and this impacts their sex lives. Read more: Fanlore; our blog post about Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics.

AMAB: Abbreviation, stands for “assigned male at birth.” Someone who got ye olde “M” on their birth certificate based on the birth attendant’s judgment of their genitals. Read more about the term “AMAB.”

AN: Abbreviation, stands for Author’s Note. See A/N.

Angst: Typically used to describe a fanfic that deep-dives into feelings of anxiety, fear, insecurity, grief, and other heavily negative emotions. Read more on about the term “angst.”

Anime: Animated media from Japan.

Anon: Abbreviation, stands for anonymous. Usually used to refer to the person who sent an anonymous communication such as a Tumblr ask or a fic comment.

Anti: Abbreviation, stands for anti-shipper, though it is often used as just “anti” without the implication of being specifically against shipping/a ship in modern fandom parlance. 1. Someone who strongly dislikes [thing], where thing is usually a fandom, character, ship, or kink. 2. Someone who has developed (or been exposed to) a set of restrictive and unrealistic moral standards about behavior and/or beliefs that they apply to all media they encounter and expect everyone else to adhere to as well. Those who do not meet these standards are typically painted as morally reprehensible by the anti community, and they are subsequently subjected to harassment, bullying, dogpiling/brigading, exposure to offline social circles and/or employers, doxxing, and/or threats of real harm, all of which can occur online or in the physical world. Testimony from former antis indicates that it is easy to fall into this behavior but extremely difficult to escape it. Read more about the term “anti-shipper” and it’s subsequent development.

Anti-anti: Someone who hates antis as much as antis hate them. See Pro-shipper (below, pending). Read more about the term “anti-anti.”

AO3: Abbreviation, stands for “Archive of Our Own.” An extensive archive of fanworks maintained by the Organization for Transformative Works, created in response to censorship destroying fanworks and history on other platforms. Visit AO3.

Apologism: Read about the term “apologism.”

Appropriation: Short for “cultural appopriation.” Read more about appropriation.

Archive Warnings: Refers to the required content warning labels on Archive of Our Own. Specifically these are: “Choose not to use Archive warnings,” “None of these warnings apply,” “Graphic depictions of violence,” “Major character death,” “Rape/non-con,” and “Underage.” Anyone who posts a creation to the Archive must include at least one of these warnings.

Aro: Abbreviation, stands for Aromantic/Aromanticism. An overarching term for people who do not experience romantic attraction. Read more about aromanticism.

ASL: Abbreviation, stands for American Sign Language or Age/Sex/Location. See A/S/L. Read more about American Sign Language.

AU: Abbreviation, stands for Alternate Universe. Typically used when a fanwork lifts the characters from a the source material and places them in a completely different reality. For example, placing Buffy and Spike in a story set in medieval times. Read more about AUs.

Avatar: 1. Another name for a PFP, the icon next to a user’s name on a social media platform, forum, or other online setting. Depending on what platform you are using, avatar may be the most-commonly used term for this image. 2. Shorthand for Avatar the Last Air Bender. 3. A sci-fi movie by James Cameron. See also: PFP (below, pending)

AYRT: Abbreviation, stands for Anon You Responded To. In conversation involving one or more anonymous parties, a way of distinguishing which anon is being referred to.

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Fandom 101: The Origin of the Citrus Scale

A guest post by Aeryn Jemariel Knox.

Ah, the citrus scale. It’s like a cryptid roaming the edges of modern fandom communities. Long-tenured veterans speak of it with affectionate mockery while newcomers google curiously. A relic from a bygone fandom era, the citrus scale saw a brief resurgence in 2018 during the Tumblr porn ban, suggested as a way to avoid the new bot censors trawling for posts with the NSFW tag—though never, I think, in seriousness. 

That may have been jocular and short-lived, but it does point to the reasons why the citrus scale was created in the first place. Certain fandom activities have always had to fly under the radar to one degree or another. Whether you’re trying to evade legal action or simply avoid deletion based on explicit content, a certain level of obfuscation is sometimes worthwhile.

It’s not hard to find the generally agreed-upon definitions of the citrus scale’s levels. According to Fanlore, KnowYourMeme, and others, this is more or less the “official” citrus scale:

  • Orange: Light stuff, kissing, nothing below the waist or under the clothes. 
  • Lime: Groping, implied sex without details, fade-to-black, no intercourse or intimate contact.
  • Lemon: Sex, in full detailed glory. Woo-hoo! Regardless of the actual acts performed, if you can tell who had an orgasm (or, perhaps, had an orgasm denied), how, and where, it’s a lemon.
  • Grapefruit: We’ll get into this later.

But these tidy categories are clear thanks to the benefit of hindsight. In the Wild West of the early internet, it was not so easy to pin down exactly what you might be getting into based on which term was used.

At its origin, the citrus scale wasn’t a scale at all. It has its roots in hentai (and was always more popular in anime fandoms), stemming from a specific early hentai film by the title of Cream Lemon (1984). Hentai being what it is, this led to certain subculture communities referring to any story with explicit sexual content as a “Lemon.” And for a while, that was the extent of it. Then came purging explicit content (2002), Livejournal suffering Strikethru (2007), and other events that pushed burgeoning fandom communities out of their growing hubs and back into smaller, isolated communities centered on a single fandom or pairing. In the relatively sparse early ’00’s internet, anybody could spin up an Angelfire website, pass the link around to their friends, and get a reasonable amount of traffic.  Websites devoted to the works of a single author or small group were common.

I mention this to describe the landscape in which fandom lexicons grew and evolved in the early-mid 2000s. Each pocket community had its own rules, lingo, and expectations; venturing outside of your home pocket could lead to some pretty major miscommunications. 

“Lemon” was established early and its definition has hardly shifted. It means that the labeled content (art, fic, mood board, etc.) includes sex. Intercourse, bumping uglies, etc. However, some yaoi fandom niches used it specifically to mean gay sex of the male variety. In some communities, “lime” developed as a corresponding term for feminine gay sex, while other communities brought it up with the usage that eventually “stuck,” “not quite a lemon.” Given that lemon and lime often go hand in hand when discussing actual flavors, the fact that we had some divergent term evolution is not surprising. But coming in from a different pocket of fandom and seeing “lime,” thinking you’ll be reading semi-softcore sexual tension and instead being confronted with graphic sapphic antics? Bit of a shock, I’m sure.

A more dramatic example is the rating level of “Grapefruit,” which occupies two completely different ends of the scale. In some circles, grapefruit was defined as “less intense than lime,” G or PG-rated stories that were more soft or cute than sexy. In other circles, it was used to mean the exact opposite. Kinkier than kink, smuttier than smut, grapefruit art and fic was where you went to have your eyebrows singed off. Some communities were even more specific, using grapefruit for stories featuring non-consensual sex. This was where darkfic lived – in modern day parlance, your “Dead Dove, Do Not Eat” works. To say that this usage difference caused some disagreements would be putting it mildly.

Nobody really worried about orange. Orange just existed, not bothering anybody.

When these terms were coined, the internet was not an assumed aspect of everybody’s daily life the way it is today. There was no Tumblr, no Facebook, no social media to speak of. There were no large repositories of internet lore and knowledge such as Urban Dictionary or KnowYourMeme. It was a playground. And what do you do on a playground? You make friends! The citrus scale, like so many fandom tropes and concepts, was defined by groups of friends that created them ad hoc to meet their own needs at the time. No one could have predicted that it would become so much a fandom history that it’d be enshrined, nor that I would be writing a blog post about it two decades later. From the common source of lemon, people extrapolated what the rest of the scale might look like, and there was no authority to tell them they were wrong. (Except other fans. That hasn’t changed.)

In conclusion, it’s best not to take the citrus scale too seriously. At best, it’s a cheeky way to avoid censors who try to bar a community from engaging with explicit works, but it’s also varied to a fault and open to interpretation. If you and your community have come up with a use for it that suits your needs, then congratulations: you’re part of a fandom tradition stretching back to the roots of the internet. Just don’t try and tell anybody else that they’re wrong. You might start a flame war.


Past Fandom 101 Posts:

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By a member of the Duck Prints Press staff who has chosen to be anonymous.

Note: Punk genres are diverse and always changing. Duck Prints Press is not trying to give a complete explanation of aetherpunk here but rather a bit of inspiration. Take what you want from it to create your own aetherpunk worlds!

On January 5th, Duck Prints Press will be launching recruitment for our next anthology: Aether Beyond the Binary, a collection of stories featuring main characters outside the gender binary living in modern or near-future aetherpunk Earth! This begs the question: what IS Aetherpunk? Well, read on and learn all about it…

Prologue: From the Aether

Scenes from the Aether #1: Bloomington, Indiana, 2013:

Lin steps into the café down the street from their apartment. The lights of the shop glow a pleasant green, reminiscent of the owner’s own magical aura. Soon, when Del opens the shop for customers, they’ll turn a more standard blue, but for now Del’s shop is cozy and quiet. Lin smiles, looking forward to seeing their friend. 

A shower of blue sparks flies from the kitchen’s open door, and Del scrambles out, cursing. When he sees Lin, he breaks into a wry smile. 

“Breakfast on the house?” he offers, his shorthand for pleading. 

“That’s the third time this week,” Lin chides, barely holding back their smile. They roll up their sleeves to go tinker with Del’s new, “improved” baking oven. “Why not use your old one?”

“The aether this model uses is supposed to be more efficient!” Del exclaims. Then, with a sad smile: “Plus no one trusts my powers. They still think the color’s associated with… you know.”

“Yeah.” Lin knows. They think of Del’s infamous brother, the deadly alchemist. “I’ll help you, but this is the last time.”

“Mhm,” Del says, nudging Lin’s shoulder, and adds telepathically, You say that every time.

You could try not being so smug about it, Lin half scolds, half laughs. 

“Why wouldn’t I be smug? My handsome, brilliant friend, the undisputed genius of the IU School of Aetheric Engineering, is fixing my pipes for free.”

Lin blushes but maintains their chiding tone as they say, their warm face hidden behind the stove where the power supply has once again leaked from its pipes, “Not for free. For breakfast.” 

-anonymous Duck Prints Press staff member

Part One: What’s in a Punk (genre)? 

There’s been an explosion of punk genres since Bruce Bethke’s 1983 story Cyberpunk launched the genre. Though Bethke’s story may have given a name to this phenomenon, in his Etymology of “Cyberpunk” Bethke credits William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) for really defining the core tenets of the genre (Bethke, 2000). He also marvels at how the cyberpunk character trope (“a young, technologically facile, ethically vacuous, computer-adept vandal or criminal”) has stayed remarkably stable over the years since his story was published. In 2022, when I’m writing this, it’s still very similar. The cyberpunks in the cyberpunk genre are the sorts of lone heroes who often arise in the isolating environments fostered by advanced computer technologies.

Why am I rambling on about cyberpunk? Because, dear readers, cyberpunk is the progenitor of all genrepunks. As the most widely explored and utilized punk setting, it has provided the blueprint on which other punk genres are built. In essence, every punk after cyberpunk is a reaction to cyberpunk, either embracing or pushing back against its ethos. After cyberpunk came steampunk: a retro, adventurous answer to cyberpunk’s gritty and dystopian futurism. Then came others: dieselpunk, sandalpunk, biopunk—even the very meta “mythpunk” to which Neil Gaiman’s work is often attributed. These days, even non-punk fantasy is often punk-adjacent. 

So what makes punk stories… punk? For a story to be classified in a punk genre, it typically requires two key elements: a distinctive type of technology (whether social technology like myths and lore or physical technology like steam engines, diesel-powered airships, or nanobots) and a point of view about that technology. 

The technological distinctions can seem fairly obvious: atompunk features tech powered by nuclear energy; nanopunk, tiny robot technology; biopunk, genetic engineering and biotech; dieselpunk, diesel-powered machines. But focusing on only the tech aspects can make people miss the point of having multiple different punk subgenres. 

Take this paraphrased version of a forum conversation, circa 2015: 

[User 1]: Hey, I’ve been hearing more and more about this genre called ‘aetherpunk,’ but I can’t figure out what it is. How is it different from just steampunk but with magic? 

[User 2]: Sorry to tell you, friend, but it’s basically just “steampunk with magic.”

[User 1]: Ah. So, completely useless, then.

This view is common but misses the point. The tech alone does not make punk punk. The second necessary element is the cultural context of the technology: how does it affect the people who use it every day? How dissociated do those people feel from their environment? From their government? From the inevitable march of society, driven at least partially by technological advances using the genre-specific tech? Punk genres live and breathe for their exploration of the intersection between technology and culture. 

Genreunk is a response to the world we live in. Cultural evolution happens when technologies—lore, steam engines, printing presses, atomic bombs—intersect with cultural habits and traditions and shake them loose. We don’t live in the only, or the best, possible world. When we write punk, in some ways, we’re rewriting cultural evolution. We’re asking for a new way of thinking about the past and how that carries forward into the future. How we would be different. How we would be the same.

Punk isn’t just a genre. It’s a tool for understanding humanity. 

Part Two: Clear Air, a History of Aether

In the beginning, gods breathed their essence into the emptiness of space, and aether entered the universe as the material through which the stars and planets moved. Humans in ancient Greece, attuned to this invisible presence, named it “clear air” and declared it the fifth element, along with earth, water, air, and fire. Other cultures gave this energy different names or didn’t name it at all but nonetheless knew it was there. Over a thousand years later, medieval Europeans called it “quintessence” and hypothesized that this element, rare on Earth, could be distilled in order to cure mortal ailments. Aether was a substance that could make rocks burn and lights glow. It became a key ingredient in classic alchemical experiments in the West.

Aether has always been the bringer of light, the unchanging medium through which energy travels in waves from its source to the lenses of our eyes, to the leaves of hungry plants, to everywhere on the planet and throughout the universe. Indeed, it was so recently believed in and well-known that late 19th-century spiritualists took photos of ectoplasm and declared that ghosts could send messages through the aether. 

Then, a mere hundred-odd years ago, we lost faith. 

The idea of aether seems preposterous now, when we know about electron fields and the theory of relativity which states that nothing in the universe is stable or unchanging (and we certainly don’t need a special medium that exists to move light around)—but is it really so much harder to believe in aether than in electron fields? Or in dark matter?

Why shouldn’t we be swimming through aether like a fish swims through water?

Part Three: What is Aether/Punk?

Aetherpunk, the genre, explores what the world would be like if, rather than finding out aether was simply a confused explanation for how energy moves through space, we discovered that it was a real element, something we could both detect and harness. The nature of the aether isn’t what makes aetherpunk what it is. Rather, it’s the exploration of the development of society from the turning point when we discover that the aether is real—how that changes the world, the people, the past, and the future. 

Aether, the invisible force, can be everything and nothing. It can be magic, or it can be material. In some disciplines, like alchemy, it’s both. Aether is made of faith. It’s ephemeral, often immaterial, and only visible once the viewer knows what they’re looking for. It can cause disaster or provide beautiful, clean energy for wondrous technologies. It can be a source of progress or of fear. But in the end, it’s still a thing that must be discovered and cultivated. It can’t be forced into existence.

Aetherpunk as a genre is more naturistic than earlier punk genres like steampunk or cyberpunk. Natural materials find their way into clothing and buildings and weapons and tools, and the shapes of these man-made elements are designed in ways that enhance their ability to harness aetheric power. There might be constructs of stone or finely-honed metal held together by aetheric energy, beautiful steel weapons that cut through stone using atom-thick edges of pure aether, skyships and buildings of gold, or of clear stone, or of glass and crystal. And the technology bathes its surroundings in a luminous glow of aetheric light. 

Like solarpunk and lunarpunk, aetherpunk is a hopeful punk genre. When aether is discovered and harnessed, it brings about flourishing communities and can help to heal the world. Of course there are dark sides—the dangers of a volatile power source that not everyone can control, the frustrations of the people who are unable to use that power for themselves—and anyone is welcome to write a dark aetherpunk story. But aetherpunk doesn’t come with the same inherent baggage as steampunk or cyberpunk. Likewise, people can write utopian steampunk and cyberpunk, but that’s the opposite of the “standard” core of the genre. Aetherpunk wants to explore humanity in a universe where we don’t struggle simply to light our homes. Where the power that runs everything suffuses the universe, and therefore everyone can reap the benefits. A world where our source of power doesn’t send millions of people to an early grave. What sorts of stories would emerge in this sort of world?

Part Four: Steampunk but with Aether?

Now that we’ve described what aetherpunk is, let’s return to that dreadful forum post, and ask for ourselves: what makes aetherpunk more than just “steampunk but with aether”? 

In short, everything.

First is the nature of the energy that powers the technology. Steampunk is a retrofuturistic genre that centers on the era when steam, fueled by wood and coal, was the main power source, around the turn of the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. It harkens back to the aesthetics of the era, with wood and steel and glass materials, wooden ships that ply the air, clockworks and rivets and tangible, heavy things that work through sheer force. Steam is a thing with weight. It will melt your flesh from your bones, and it’s born not of faith, nor internal strength, nor the careful distillation of spirits down to their quintessence, but instead through fire. Another resource needs to burn to make it. Entire lives are spent feeding coal into the voracious maws of steam engines. 

Aetherpunk, as we’ve described, is born of magic, and thus the technology to use it focuses on cultivation and focusing energy rather than on producing something by force. Even the most cursory look at the nature of the energy source shows us how every aspect of society linked with producing that energy is different between steampunk stories and aetherpunk stories.

There’s also a very important cultural distinction between aetheric stories and steam-powered stories. In steampunk, the adventures of sky pirates and nobility are built on the efforts of a vast lower class who are systematically shut out from steam’s benefits. It may not matter to the story at hand, but the underlying class tension is always there. Like cyberpunk, steampunk takes inequality as a given, and places singular heroes into that world.

Aetherpunk is more utopian and egalitarian. There’s no assumption built in that in order for a person to use their magical flying ship, someone else must suffer to create the energy needed to fuel it. This distinction makes all the difference in how aetherpunk and steampunk stories are told. 

In either case, the power source can be wonderful or terrible, can fuel dystopian nightmares or hopeful solutions to the troubles that ail the world. But the fundamental nature of these technologies affects the way characters think and speak about the world they inhabit. Is it a place of smog or of shimmering lights? Is it a place where magic competes with technology, or is it a place where magic is the technology? The answers to these questions are different in every punk genre, and those differences should have a profound impact on the story’s narrative.

Where will your aetherpunk story take you?

Epilogue: From the Aether

Scenes from the Aether #2: San Francisco, 2043

Shining, multicolored bridges bend but do not break in the powerful earthquake that, in previous eras, would have shaken buildings from their foundations and dropped bridges into the bay. Drivers and pedestrians cling to whatever safety they can as the structures sag and sway and finally, after all is done, snap back to form as though the past minute was only a bad dream. 

Trill breathes a ragged sigh before stepping back onto zir motorcycle and kicking the starter. A blue glow and a warm hum are the only signs that the bike is powering up before Trill finishes crossing the bridge, a little jumpy from the unexpected shaking but no worse for wear. Ze has a long way still to go before ze arrive at Heloise’s house. Ze can’t wait to see zir friend, who is finally home after her long trip to Lima where she was training magicians to harness their power. 

Trill rides north into the mountains while the sun sets to zir west, out above the ocean, and the world glows orange and pink. By the time ze powers down zir bike, the sky is silky black and filled with stars. Trill climbs toward Heloise’s small house, which is built into the slope; the soft blue glow of natural aether in the rocks lights the way. Ze knocks on Heloise’s wooden door;  Heloise answers with a hug around Trill’s waist, her face pressed into Trill’s chest. Trill laughs, something in zir heart finally relaxing.

It’s been a long eight months. 

She pulls Trill inside, into this warm place she’s made in the lonely hills above the bay, and even though ze doesn’t deserve it, Trill revels in her welcome. It feels like coming home.

-anonymous Duck Prints Press staff member

Examples of Aetherpunk

As aetherpunk is a young genre, examples are sparse, and there are many opinions on what “counts” and what doesn’t. For example, some people consider Lord of the Rings to be aetherpunk, due to the way it brings magic and technology together (especially in Mordor and in Sarumon’s plot line) and the way the magic interacts with society. The below list should not be considered exhaustive, just as this post shouldn’t be treated as The Last Word on the nature of aetherpunk.



About Duck Prints Press

Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

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For This Week’s Blog Post: We Need YOU!

One of our long-term projects at Duck Prints Press – something we’ve been working on on-and-off for a while but haven’t made public yet – is a Fandom Lexicon. There are a lot of websites and blog posts that include parts of a list of fandom-specific language, but we’ve not been able to find just a simple glossary, so we decided to put one together. (We’re not saying such websites don’t exist…they surely do…but we also wanted to do our own!)

There are many challenges in making such a list (one of the most obvious being what to include – how general a term is “too” general for inclusion?) but we’ve been doing our best, casting a wide net, and picking the collective brains of people involved in the Press.

And…we’ve basically exhausted our own knowledge/memories/ideas, which is where you, yes YOU, come in!

We want your terminology! What are fandom words you’ve encountered and said “wait, what does that mean?” What’s old fandom slang you used to use that you don’t see anymore and know that some newbie would be confused by? What are words you wish you could have found on a list when you first joined fandom?

We’ve already put together a list of 222 general fandom terms and abbreviations (some definitely “fandom specific,” others more “internet general slang”) and 29 fandom-specific abbreviations (this list is, obviously, much more nascent). You can see the entire list here. (note: there is citrusy terminology on this list, both literally the citrus scale is on there, but also things like A/B/O, BDSM, etc. – it’s a lexicon, after all.)

Currently, we are looking for:

general fandom terms/online terms that would be confusing to people out of context; and

over-arching fandom abbreviations (e.g., MCYT = Minecraft Youtuber, but we don’t want every single abbreviation for every sub-part of the fandom – just the level that if someone saw the abbreviation “in the wild” they’d have at least some frame of reference).

Long term, we’d love to do fandom-specific lexicons as well (NOT wikis, mind you, literally just “this abbreviation often means this” with links to resources that can give more information) but that’s a much larger project that would require recruiting people with enough fandom-specific knowledge for each fandom, and is not our current aim, so please don’t send us stuff like that.

Have you been in fandom a long time? Do you just HATE when people use the word “drabble” wrong? Have you got a list of words you wish fandom still used, or a list of newer terms you regularly look at and go “wait wtf does THAT one mean?”? Send us your words, so we can incorporate them into our list!

You can add a comment! Add your words to the tags! Drop us an ask! However you feel like sending the words our way, go for it.

You can see everything currently on our list HERE. (reminder: lemon text at this link)