​Chengdu ready to host global sci-fi convention

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, October 18, 2023
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At a press conference on Monday, organizers of the upcoming 81st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) announced that preparations were complete, highlighting the array of fantastic planned activities and the participation of sci-fi luminaries. This marks the first time that the world's largest and most influential science fiction event, with a history of more than 80 years, will take place in China. 

Organizers hold a press conference to update the media on the upcoming 81st World Science Fiction Convention in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 16, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

"Everything is heading toward a beautiful prospect," said Yao Haijun, renowned Chinese sci-fi publisher, president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Society and honorary co-chair of the organizing committee for the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon themed "Symbiosis Era." With a sigh of relief, he announced that all the preparation work was now complete.

According to Yao, the event's opening ceremony, the prestigious 2023 Hugo Awards ceremony and the closing ceremony are scheduled for Oct. 18, Oct. 21 and Oct. 22, respectively. Additionally, a three-day meeting has been planned for voting on the host city for the 2025 Worldcon. Beyond these major events, over 200 themed salons, exhibitions, book launches, meet-and-greets and fan parties will take place during the convention, examining humanity's future and the industry's development. Notably, a significant salon is dedicated to the "The Three-Body Problem" franchise and its ardent fans.

It is worth highlighting that the 34th edition of the Galaxy Awards will also be presented during this convention, with the award ceremony scheduled for Oct. 19. Founded by the leading Chinese sci-fi magazine Science Fiction World in 1985, the Galaxy Awards holds the distinction of being the longest-standing sci-fi award in China.

Ben Yalow, co-chair of the Chengdu Worldcon, reminisced about the first Worldcon held in New York in 1939, which was attended by just 100 sci-fi enthusiasts. Now, he's profoundly grateful to see thousands of people from diverse continents and cultures come together in Chengdu, united by their shared passion for science fiction. He expects this edition of Worldcon, the first ever hosted in China, to be particularly amazing. 

Yalow also noted that the upcoming event will bring mutual benefits for sci-fi fans from both China and the West. Through the convention, Western readers will get a glimpse of China's expansive sci-fi market and fan base, and be able to appreciate elements from Chinese culture. Conversely, he hopes that Chinese sci-fi fans will take this opportunity to bolster exchanges with enthusiasts worldwide. He aspires for attendees to help promote Worldcon globally, drawing even more participants.

A nighttime view of the sci-fi ambiance of the Chengdu Science Museum, the primary venue for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 15, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Liang Xiaolan, co-chair of the Chengdu Worldcon and vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Society, emphasized the event's impressive roster of sci-fi luminaries. This year's attendees will include Chinese Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin, Canadian sci-fi maestro Robert J. Sawyer, Russian writer Sergey Lukianenko and American David Wesley Hill. Esteemed film directors such as Frant Gwo ("The Wandering Earth") and Yang Lei ("Three-Body" TV series), action film star Wu Jing, Weta Workshop co-founder Richard Taylor and prominent sci-fi magazine editors like Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld and Lezli Robyn of Galaxy's Edge will also participate. Robert J. Sawyer and Liu Cixin will serve as guests of honor at this year's event.

The Chengdu Worldcon will also attract representatives of several sci-fi related companies, such as the Future Affairs Administration and Eight Light Minutes Culture, as well as figures from sci-fi associations and institutes in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, Japan, India and Italy. Among the participants are esteemed scientists such as Brandon Q. Morris, a physicist, space expert and bestselling German sci-fi writer, and Li Di, the chief scientist of both the radio division at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) and the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST).

At the press conference, co-chair Liang Xiaolan shared her excitement. "I imagine everyone here, just like me, is filled with anticipation and longing, eagerly wishing to mingle and brainstorm with top sci-fi personalities from all over the world, sharing a dream filled with whimsical and ingenious sci-fi ideas."

From Oct. 18-22, the Chengdu Worldcon will be hosted at the Chengdu Science Museum in the city's Pidu district. This modern structure, with its "nebula shape" design, incorporates numerous elements from ancient Shu culture, blending them with science and sci-fi, exemplifying "freedom, diffusion and boundlessness." Inside, it features tributes to sci-fi classics and offers a wide range of amenities, including a gift store, photo areas and a global sci-fi park, along with themed exhibitions and events.

The futuristic interior of the Chengdu Science Museum, the primary venue for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, Chengdu, Sichuan province. [Photo/VCG]

China's hosting of Worldcon underscores the country's burgeoning sci-fi scene. A report this year on China sci-fi industry states that the industry was valued at 87.75 billion yuan ($12.3 billion) in 2022, with films like "The Wandering Earth" contributing significantly. Chengdu, known for its blend of tradition and modernity, is a hotbed for sci-fi, housing the renowned Science Fiction World magazine and key sci-fi events and awards, as well as thriving sci-fi entrepreneurship. As the 2023 Worldcon host, Chengdu, which ranked 29th in the 2022 Global Innovation Index, is cementing its status as China's "Science Fiction Capital," making it an ideal host for this esteemed event.

Wu Yan, a sci-fi scholar, writer and professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology, told China.org.cn: "I am no stranger to sci-fi conventions, having attended those in North America and Japan. But this year's Worldcon in China will be an extraordinary and unparalleled event. It will go down in the history of the World Science Fiction Convention."

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