BEM n.

= bug-eyed monster n.

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism

  • [1939 M. Alger Letter in Thrilling Wonder Stories Aug. 121/2 page image

    Speaking of The SPWSSTFM, the cover inspired me to organize the SFTPOBEMOTCOSFP. (Society For The Prevention Of Bug-Eyed Monsters On The Covers Of Science-Fiction Publications.) Yours for complete novels and more civilized covers.]

  • 1940 P. Farrell letter in Thrilling Wonder Stories Nov. 120/2 page image

    I suppose it’s because he always writes about those bug-eyed monsters that you have been constantly desecrating the front of the mag with ever since the organization of the SFTPOBEMOTCOSFP, just to spite that noble society, I suppose. Incidentally, Mr. Bergey, the BEM’s on your latest smear have extremely jovial expressions on their pans to be as tough a bunch of eggs as Friend made them out.

  • 1945 Startling Stories Summer 88/2

    THE COVER…with a definitely different type of hero, an inhumanly human heroine and a stereotyped BEM.

  • 1949 F. Brown in Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr. 125/2 Fredric Brown

    B-bems?… You mean you are b-bug-eyed monsters? That’s what Elmo means by Bems, but you aren’t.

  • 1949 F. Brown in Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr. 128/2 Fredric Brown

    They were really Bems, by the way. Two heads apiece, five limbs—and they could use all five as either arms or legs—six eyes apiece, three to a head, on long stems. You should have seen them.

  • 1965 L. Niven in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 71/2 Larry Niven

    I've been ordered not to move by a BEM that doesn’t take No for an answer.


Research requirements

antedating 1940

Earliest cite

in Thilling Wonder Stories

Research History
According to an entry in Richard Eney's Fancyclopedia II, submitted by Leah Zeldes, this was used in the August 1939 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories by Martin Alger. Jeff Prucher located this letter; it contains a longer abbreviation that includes "BEM": SFTPOBEMOTCOSFP which stands for Society For The Prevention Of Bug-Eyed Monsters On The Covers Of Science-Fiction Publications.

Frank Robinson submitted a cite from the January 1941 Thrilling Wonder Stories by Martin Alger. David Tate located and Mike Christie confirmed a 1949 cite from Fredric Brown's "All Good Bems". Jeff Prucher submitted a October 1940 cite from a letter by Parmer Farrell in Thrilling Wonder Stories. It seems likely that this is the first independent use of the abbreviation outside "SFTPOBEMOTCOSFP" (see above).

Last modified 2020-12-20 18:37:51
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.