Mundane

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Synonyms: Muggle, Normal, non-fan
See also: Feral Fan, Fan
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Mundane is a term sometimes used to refer to a person who is not a fan, or part of fannish society. The term comes from science fiction fandom[1], and spread from there to media fandom, the Society for Creative Anachronism, furry fandom, etc.

The term was likely originally a reaction to the general cultural view of SF fans as freaky, weird, nerdy, etc. -- too caught up in their imaginations to understand the real world, believing in absurdities such as space travel, and roundly mocked for it. Fans, who didn't want to live in a mundane world where space travel wasn't at least a distant possibility, would call people who preferred that world "mundane", as well.[2]

"Mundane" was apparently already established in science fiction fandom at least as early as 1954, when The Enchanted Duplicator by Walter Willis and Bob Shaw was published, telling the tale of Jophan's journey from Mundane to Trufandom:
ONCE UPON A TIME in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan. Now this youth was unhappy, because in all the length and breadth of Mundane there was no other person with whom he could talk as he would like, or who shared the strange longings that from time to time perplexed his mind and which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could wholly satisfy. Each day as Jophan grew nearer to manhood he felt more strongly that life should have more to offer than had been dreamed of in Mundane, and he took to reading strange books that told of faraway places and other times. But the People of Prosaic mocked him, saying that the things described in his books could never come to pass, and that it was as foolish to think of them as to aspire to climb the great mountains that surrounded the Country of Mundane. [3].
Carrying on the tradition, in the 1970s (and '80s, and '90s, and '00s), Piers Anthony called the non-magical world "Mundania" in his Xanth novels. In Babylon 5, the Psi Corps call non-telepathic humans mundanes. In goth subcultures, the term Normal is used similarly. This usage also sometimes turns up in fandom:
"What are “normals”? In the minds of many Dragon*Con attendees, normals are non-fans who come to the convention hotels to gawk. But some have also come to harass, and even start altercations with registered con-goers."[4]

For Some: A Derogatory Term

In modern media fandom, the term is considered by some to be exclusionary and potentially derogatory, and such fans prefer not to use it, in favor of terms like "non-fan".

  • "I cannot stand the way some fans use the term mundanes to describe those who don't share their interests. I'm sure that many such people are equally fanatical about their own interests and I'm also pretty certain they don't go around name-calling. So why should we refer to them in such a pejorative fashion?" [5]
  • "It's not just, or only, the younger SF fans who use such fannish terms to exclude people. Older SF fans, including the generation that coined all the terms, use them the same say. And all fans, as far as I can tell, use the term "mundane" to exclude." [6]
  • "I've sometimes wondered whether those two ideas, IDIC and 'mundane' could really be reconciled. IDIC suggests a generosity and a breadth of perception/understanding a tolerance; which doesn't go with the labeling implicit in 'mundane'." [7]

References

  1. Dr. Gafia's Fan Terms , accessed October 20, 2008
  2. I have no cite for this, just a lotta years in fandom before SF or fandom were remotely cool, and reading things like "The Enchanted Duplicator". -- Arduinna, November 19, 2008.
  3. The Enchanted Duplicator by Walter Willis and Bob Shaw, also map of Jophan's journey, accessed October 19,2008
  4. Are “Normals” Invading Dragon*Con?. Posted September 8, 2010. (Accessed September 28, 2010.)
  5. from DIAL #22
  6. from Southern Enclave #16
  7. from Frienz #16