Original by Bill Bodden, a holder of the Twelve Corflus merit badge.
Revised/rewritten 2013 by Rob Jackson; edited by John D. Berry.
What is Corflu?
Corflu is a small, annual convention of science fiction fanzine fans. Other conventions with a strong fanzine aspect are held across the US, Australia, and the UK, but Corflu is now the only one which keeps fanzines as its primary focus. Corflu typically moves its venue from year to year. The name “Corflu” is derived from CORrection FLUid, a substance that allowed typing errors in mimeograph stencils to be corrected, which was in much demand during the low-tech, pre-computer days of fanzine publishing.
What are fanzines, anyway?
Fanzines are amateur magazines published by science fiction fans, usually exchanged freely with other fans in trade for their own fanzines, or for contributions or letters of comment. Although they may talk about science fiction, they are just as likely to talk about any other subject, including the lives, activities, foibles, and opinions of other SF fans.
The SF fanzine field originated in the 1930s, with fanzines about SF books and magazines and about life in the SF fan community. Fandom very quickly became a self-aware community, physically dispersed but connected through fanzines. Before the advent of the Internet, fanzines were printed, often by mimeograph, and mailed to other fans around the world. (SF fandom has been called, with some justice, “the paper Internet.”) Today, many fanzines are published online, either on efanzines.com or their own websites, although there are still plenty of printed fanzines being produced.
There are many, many other fandoms nowadays, but the fanzines celebrated at Corflu and by the FAAn Awards are those that still focus on written SF and its fannish community.
What happens at a Corflu?
Conversation, mostly. Corflu is a get-together and a social event, although it does have some formal structure: usually a program of discussions on Saturday (not starting too early, as it’s a pretty relaxed event), and a brunch and awards ceremony on Sunday. In the evenings, attendees often go out together in small groups for dinner, returning for the open party in the con suite (or, if it’s a UK Corflu, in the bar). At the Sunday brunch, the members elect a new Past President of FWA (Fanwriters of America), the Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards (FAAns) for the previous year are given out, and the location of the next Corflu is announced.
Where and when are Corflus held?
Corflu is usually held in the spring, with the venue moving around North America and occasionally (so far) the UK. Whoever volunteers to organize it generally holds the convention someplace worth visiting for its own sake, as well as finding a hospitable, friendly, inexpensive hotel with decent nearby restaurants.
How is the location of a Corflu decided?
This is typically done in a bid process, but with a laid-back attitude. Anyone who wishes to bid to host a Corflu generally starts getting the word out a year or two in advance of the event. Most Corflu bids have been uncontested, and are approved by acclamation at the preceding Corflu.
Are there fannish “good causes”?
Yes. Corflu features a fanzine and memorabilia auction, to benefit four such good causes. First is the convention itself, which in US-based Corflus provides free food and drink in the consuite whenever the hotels allow it. Second is the Corflu Fifty, a fan fund to help a deserving fanzine fan nominated by members of the Corflu Fifty e-list to get to the con. (See a separate page for more info about the Corflu Fifty and how to support it.) The third and fourth good causes are the two major fan funds: TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) and DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund), which sponsor exchange trips between North America and Europe (TAFF) and North America and Australasia (DUFF). The winners attend conventions and visit other fans in the destination region, which alternates with each race.
Are new people welcome? How can I get more involved in fanzines, and Corflu?
Though Corflu is in many ways a reunion of old friends who come back year after year to have a good time, new people are welcome if you are interested in the right thing – fanzines, of course!
If you want to have a good time at a Corflu, but you’re new to the fanzine community, go to efanzines.com (though other sites with fanzines are of course available), and read a few of the zines there. If you like, focus in on ones which have done well in the Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards (listed elsewhere in this site), and get a handle on why the voters enjoyed reading them. But more than just reading, the fanzine field is about having fun taking part. Don’t just read – write a letter of comment (LoC) or an article. A simple, friendly show of appreciation is a great start. Alternatively, draw something if you are artistic (and, even better, have a sense of humor that comes out in cartoons), and email or mail it all off to the editor. Or if you have something interesting to say, either about the science fiction field or about life in general – start publishing your own fanzine.
Then come to Corflu, grab all the free fanzines you can find, and hand out your own if you have printed one – and get talking. Sharing in a round of drinks or helping out at the convention won’t do any harm either – fanzine fans are very normal that way. Above all, have a good time!