mundane adj. 1

belonging or relating to the world which lies outside the sphere of interest of a particular group of enthusiasts (used esp. among science fiction fans, originally of mainstream fiction)

SF Fandom

  • [1944 E. H. Price in Acolyte Summer 14 page image E. Hoffmann Price

    And on top of it all, he [sc. H. P. Lovecraft] did create remarkably faithful and sound mundane backgrounds and personalities.]

  • 1945 F. T. Laney Weird and Fantasy Prozines in Fan (#4) Sep. 4 page image Francis T. Laney

    At the present time, professional mediums for the publication of weird or fantasy fiction are virtually non-existent. An occasional piece of this nature crops up in mundane magazines as Argosy, Blue Book, Speed Detective, Speed Adventure, Jungle Stories, etc.; to say nothing of the steady dribble of fantasy in the slicks, children’s magazines, and the like.

  • 1950 Fantasy Advertiser Jan. 11

    Recently published and worthy of comment are three fantasies written by authors who have distinguished themselves on the lower, mundane planes. This reviewer is of the opinion that the average good writing of those planes is, literarily, superior to the average good writing found on the higher, fantasy planes.

  • 1955 D. Knight Readin' and Writhin' in Science Fiction Quarterly Feb. 76/1 Damon Knight

    The other two pass, barely, but are so close to mundane stories that they make me almost equally uncomfortable.

  • 1955 D. Knight Readin' and Writhin' in Science Fiction Quarterly Feb. 76/1 Damon Knight

    The center of attention is a young spaceman, hideously deformed by his craft; I might have missed the mundane parallel, though I felt it, if Kornbluth himself hadn’t spelled it out for me—the old used-up railroad men who congregate in a dismal bar in ‘Gandytown’.

  • 1959 R. Eney Fancyclopedia II (1979) 109 Dick Eney bibliography

    Mundane, non-fannish. Pertaining to the Outside World.

  • 1959 R. H. Eney Fancyclopedia II 24 Dick Eney bibliography

    Or they may be ‘fannish translations’ of mundane stories/conventions.

  • 1959 R. H. Eney Fancyclopedia II 15 Dick Eney bibliography

    No less important to fannish than mundane drinking, this useful beverage is even given divine honors by the sect of Beeros, and worshipped either as Beer or Bheer.

  • 1978 S. R. Delany Jewel-Hinged Jaw 81 Samuel R. Delany

    I feel the science-fictional-enterprise [sic] is richer than the enterprise of mundane fiction.

  • 1990 Thrust Winter 30/3

    Sci fi was applied to the most miserable sort of juvenile fiction, to stories about dragons on other planets, to Burroughs-type adventure fiction, to mundane fiction which the author insisted occurred in the near future, even to sword & sorcery fiction and alternate universe novels.

  • 1993 R. Silverberg Coll. StoriesII. 68 Robert Silverberg

    A ‘translation’, in the uncompromising critical vocabulary set forth by Damon Knight and James Blish in the 1950s on which I based much of my own fiction-writing aesthetic, is an adaptation of a stock format of mundane fiction into s-f by a simple one-for-one substitution of science-fictiony noises for the artefacts of the mundane field.

  • 1997 Science-Fiction Studies Mar. 142

    What I'd lost—what sf had lost—after Sputnik had stitched its way back and forth across the new mundane sky, was the old sense that space was a magic portal, a sky-hook capable of hiking us into the future.

  • 2001 Science Fiction Chronicle Mar. 42/1

    I thought Powers was following Dan Simmons into the world of mundane, near past thrillers.


Research requirements

antedating 1944

Earliest cite

in the Acolyte fanzine

Research History
Geri Sullivan submitted a 1959 cite from Fancyclopedia II.
James Landau submitted a cite from Damon Knight's article "Kornbluth and the Silver Lexicon" from a 1968 reprint of "In Search of Wonder"; Cory Panshin verified the cite in the 1959 second printing, and Alistair Durie subsequently verified the cite in the 1956 first edition.
Mike Christie checked the original publication of the reviews that were included in this article (from Science Fiction Adventures, in 1953 and 1954) and they do not include the cited text; Alistair Durie located and verified the text in a 1955 publication in Science Fiction Quarterly.
Jeff Prucher submitted a cite from a 1978 reprint of Samuel Delany's 1974 article "Shadows".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from a book review in Fantasy Advertiser.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1944 cite from E. Hoffman Price, in the Acolyte.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1945 cite from F. T. Laney.

SF sense added to OED3 in March 2003, with an earliest cite of 1959.
Entry updated in September 2003 with an earliest cite of 1955

Last modified 2021-03-20 00:46:30
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.