Science fiction fanzines
When Hugo Gernsback published the first scientifiction magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926, he allowed for a large letter column which printed reader's addresses. By 1927 readers, often young adults, would write to each other, bypassing the magazine. Science fiction fanzines had their beginnings in Serious & Constructive (later shortened to sercon) correspondence. Fans finding themselves writing the same letter to several correspondents sought to save themselves a lot of typing by duplicating their letters.
Early efforts included simple carbon copies but that proved insufficient. The first science fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago and edited by Raymond A. Palmer and Walter Dennis. The term "fanzine" was coined by Russ Chauvenet in the October 1940 edition of his fanzine Detours. "Fanzines" were distinguished from "prozines," (a term Chauvenet also invented): that is, all professional magazines. Prior to that, the fan publications were known as "fanmags" or "letterzines".
Science fiction fanzines used a variety of printing methods. Typewriters, school dittos, church mimeos and (if they could afford it) multi-color letterpress or other mid-to-high level printing. Some fans wanted their news spread, others reveled in the artistry and beauty of fine printing.
The hectograph, introduced around 1876, was so named because it could produce (in theory) up to a hundred copies. Hecto used an aniline dye, transferred to a tray of gelatin, and paper would be placed on the gel, one sheet at a time, for transfer. Messy and smelly, the process could create vibrant colors for the few copies produced, the easiest aniline dye to make being purple (technically indigo). The next small but significant technological step after hecto is the spirit duplicator, essentially the hectography process using a drum instead of the gelatin. Introduced by Ditto Corporation in 1923, these machines were known for the next six decades as Ditto Machines and used by fans because they were cheap to use and could (with a little effort) print in color.
The mimeograph machine, which forced ink through a wax paper stencil cut by the keys of a typewriter, was the standard for many decades. A second-hand mimeo could print hundreds of copies and (with more than a little effort) print in color. The electronic stencil cutter (shortened to "electrostencil" by most) could add photographs and illustrations to a mimeo stencil. A mimeo'd zine could look terrible or look beautiful, depending more on the skill of the mimeo operator than the quality of the equipment. Only a few fans could afford more professional printers, or the time it took them to print, until photocopying became cheap and ubiquitous in the 1970s. With the advent of computer printers and desktop publishing in the 1980s, fanzines began to look far more professional. The rise of the internet made correspondence cheaper and much faster, and the world wide web has made publishing a fanzine as simple as coding a web page.
The printing technology affected the style of writing. For example, there were alphanumeric contractions which are actually precursors to "leet-speak". (A well-known example is the "initials" used by Forrest J. Ackerman in his fanzines from the 30s and 40s, namely "4sj". Fans around the world knew Ackerman by three letters "4sj" or even two: "4e" for "Forry.") Fanspeak is rich with abbreviations and concatenations. Where teenagers labored to save typing on ditto masters, they now save keystrokes when text messaging. Ackerman invented nonstoparagraphing as a space-saving measure. When the typist comes to the end of a paragraph, they simply moved the platen down one line.
Never commercial enterprises, most science fiction fanzines were (and many still are) available for "the usual," meaning that a sample issue will be mailed on request; to receive further issues, a reader sends a "letter of comment" (LoC) about the fanzine to the editor. The LoC might be published in the next issue; some fanzines consisted almost exclusively of letter columns, where discussions were conducted in much the same way as they are in internet newsgroups and mailing lists today, though at a relatively glacial pace. Often fanzine editors ("faneds") would simply swap issues with each other, not worrying too much about matching trade for trade, somewhat like being on one another's friends list. Without being closely connected with the rest of fandom, a budding faned could read fanzine reviews in prozines, and fanzines reviewed other fanzines. Recent technology has changed the speed of communication between fans and the technology available, but the basic concepts developed by science fiction fanzines in the 1930s can be seen online today. Blogs - with their threaded comments, personalized illustrations, shorthand in-jokes, wide variety in quality and wider variety of content - follow the structure developed in science fiction fanzines, without (usually) realizing the antecedent.
Since 1937, science fiction fans have formed amateur press associations (APAs); the members contribute to a collective assemblage or bundle that contains contributions from all of them, called apazines and often containing mailing comments. Some APAs are still active, and some are published as virtual "e-zines," distributed on the Internet.
Specific Hugo Awards are given for fanzines, fan writing and fanart.