At 10 am on July 28th, 2020, the “2023 Chengdu Worldcon Bid Kickoff Meeting (hereinafter referred to as “the meeting”) was officially held in Jingui Hall on the 6th floor of Intercontinental Chengdu Century City. Many guests attended the meeting and shared with us their dreams. The establishment of the Worldcon 2023 Chengdu Bid Committee (hereinafter referred to as the “Chengdu Bid Committee”) was announced at the meeting as well.
The meeting, held one day before the opening of the 2020 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon78), is aimed to show the world science fiction (hereinafter referred to as “sci-fi”) fans the willingness and resolution of Chengdu to bid for the 2023 Worldcon through live streaming, which enables the interaction between the online and the offline. Such well-known sci-fi authors as Wang Jinkang, He Xi, and Yao Haijun, deputy editor-in-chief of Science Fiction World magazine, attended the meeting for pepping up.
Many sci-fi celebrities like Liu Cixin, internationally well -recognized sci-fi scholars Wu Yan and Song Mingwei, well-known sci-fi critic Yan Feng, and Yang Xiao, the first president of Science Fiction World magazine and others also expressed their good wishes to, high expectations and strong support for Chengdu’s Bid for the 2023 Worldcon through videos.
Setting the Goal Two Years Ago, and Getting the Answer One Year Later
On August 16th, 2018 (local time), at the 76th San Jose Worldcon in the USA, Chengdu officially submitted the bid for the 2023 81st Worldcon. Other bidders were Nice, in France and Memphis, in the United States.
The bidding result will be announced next year at the 79th Washington Worldcon, where representatives from all over the world will vote the winner out.
There is a three years’ gap between the submission of the bid and the announcement of the result. However, Chengdu did not spend the past 2 years’ time just waiting in silence but preparing for the 2023 Worldcon actively. Just as at today’s kickoff meeting, another propellent for next year’s final moment, we want the science fiction fans from Chengdu, China and all over the world to know that Chengdu, a “science fiction highland” in China, has been fighting for the 2023 Worldcon with strenuous efforts.
At the beginning of the kickoff speech by the presidium, the story of “three train tickets” instantly brought many guests back to touching memories.
About our initial science fiction dream 30 years ago
At that time, “Science Fiction World” had yet to be the name of the magazine, but “Science Literature”. The 1989 San Marino annual conference would vote out the host country of the 1991 Annual Conference. Yang Xiao did not even know where the small country of San Marino inside Italy was before she set out.
But she already had a goal, a bold dream, that was to let the world know about Chengdu, and even to bid for the right to host the annual conference two years later. Her efforts and enthusiasm moved all the meeting attendees. At that time, Poland and Yugoslavia were both bidding for the 1991 Annual Conference, but in the end, everyone agreed to give the opportunity to Chengdu, China.
In 1990, in order to express commitment and confirm issues related to the 1991 Annual Conference, Shen Zaiwang took the train from Beijing together with Yang Xiao, then editor-in-chief of Science Literature and Xiang Jichun, then arts editor of Science Literature. After 8 days and nights traveling through the Eurasian continent, they arrived in Hague, the Netherlands, and attended the 1990 annual conference.
They entered the assembly room, looking a little travel-stained, played a promotion video “Welcome to Sichuan” to the attendees, delivered a detailed meeting agenda, and showed them the cute pictures of giant pandas and the incomparable enthusiasm of Chinese sci-fi fans.
In 1991, the World Science Fiction Annual Conference was held in Chengdu as scheduled successfully. And more and more overseas sci-fi authors and people in the sci-fi publishing industry had grown fond of Chengdu. “Science Literature” was also officially changed to “Science Fiction World” that year.
All sorts of feelings were well up when looking back to our 30 years (1989~2019)’ sci-fi dreams.
The 81-year-old Worldcon will be more significant next year.
Founded in 1939, the Worldcon is the largest sci-fi event in the world in terms of scale and influence. It boasts a history of 81 years. Since 1953(the time of the 11th Worldcon), the winner of the Hugo Award, known as the “Nobel Prize in Science Fiction”, has been announced at each Worldcon.
In August 2015, at the 73rd Worldcon in Spokane, Washington, Kyle Lindgren, an astronaut stationed at the International Space Station floating 3.5 million kilometers away from the earth, announced to the world through a video link that Liu Cixin, a Chinese author, had won the award Best Novel with the first volume of The Three-Body Problem. This makes Liu Cixin the first Asian sci-fi author to have received such honor in more than half a century since the Hugo Award was set up.
To many sci-fi fans, the “China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference” in 2007 was undoubtedly a world-class sci-fi event. Many well-known sci-fi authors like Robert Sawyer, Neil Gaiman, and Nancy Kress attended the conference in person. They delivered wonderful speeches and interacted with Chinese sci-fi fans coming to Chengdu from different areas in China.
Actually, it was also the first time for the Worldcon to be held in Asia in 2007. The main venue was Yokohama, Japan, with parallel sessions in North America. The conference held in Chengdu was regarded by many sci-fi fans as a wonderful prologue to the 2007 Worldcon, so they called it a “pre-Worldcon”.
If Chengdu can successfully bid for the 2023 Worldcon in 2021, it will become the first city of China to host the Worldcon. Therefore, the 79th Washington Worldcon is of great significance to Chengdu and to China.
When congratulating on the kickoff meeting in the video, Liu Cixin said: “Chengdu is a city of science fiction, and Chinese science fiction was developed in Chengdu and spread to the world. Chengdu has integrated the traditional atmosphere with modern vitality, which makes Chengdu full of charm now and forever. I wish Chengdu a successful bid for the 2023 Worldcon. Let the world know about Chengdu, and let Chengdu embrace the future!”
Chengdu: The gathering spot for Chinese sci-fi talents for the past 20+ years
In recent years, Chengdu has been sparing no efforts to create its name card of “science fiction”. Since 2017, China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference has been a permanent event to be held in Chengdu every two years. At the same time, Chengdu plans to build a “Chinese Science Fiction City” (Science Fiction Industrial Park of China) to vigorously cultivate the sci-fi culture industry and create the function areas and an international platform for the sci-fi industry.
Currently, the development of Chengdu’s sci-fi industry is booming and has received widespread attention from all sectors of society. The Wandering Earth, a film adapted from Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novellas, has a cumulative box-office value of 4.7 billion yuan. It marked the era of Chinese sci-fi movies. A branch of MORE VFX in Chengdu High-tech Zone undertook more than 800 special effects shots for The Wandering Earth.
In addition to the Science Fiction World magazine and the “Galaxy Award”, the highest sci-fi award in China, Chengdu also gives birth to many awards with national influence, such as the “Xingyun Awards for Global Chinese Science Fiction” and the “Future Science Fiction Master Award”, as well as a number of sci-fi institutions with broad social influences, such as China’s Science Fiction Research Academy, Sci-Fi Space and Eight Light Minutes Culture, all of which have made Chengdu the most important gathering spot for sci-fi talents in China and one of the host cities for global science fiction festivals for the past 20+ years.
At 11:22 am on December 20th, 2019, AI satellite (Cstar-8), the world’s first satellite named after “Science Fiction World”, a sci-fi agency, was successfully launched with a Long March 4B carrier rocket in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The satellite, jointly developed by Chengdu GuoXing Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd. and Beijing Minospace Technology Co., Ltd., marks that people in the Chinese sci-fi industry and fans now have a satellite of their own.
From a magazine to a satellite, from the first convention to the many coming grand events, a seemingly distant dream now has been cultivated to a mature landscape. Chengdu’s all-round sci-fi industry has contributed much to it!
Actions before the opening of the 2020 Worldcon!
Tomorrow (July 29th) is the opening day for the 2020 Worldcon. The host city of the Worldcon this year is Wellington, New Zealand. But due to the influence of COVID-19, many activities will only be held online. The kickoff meeting is held today because Chengdu would like to take this opportunity to seek the world’s sci-fi fans’ attention once again through the Internet and let Chengdu, a city of charm, embrace the sci-fi dream in reality.
After 30 years when Science Fiction World first went abroad with the initial beautiful dream, Chengdu has now become a real “Science Fiction City”. Science Fiction World, the only science fiction magazine that enjoys a giant audience base, has celebrated its 40th birthday in Chengdu. The Galaxy Award, which has been granted for 30 times, has influenced several generations in China. Many well-known sci-fi authors like Liu Cixin, Han Song, Wang Jinkang, and He Xi all published their works on Science Fiction World at first. The Three-Body Problem, the Hugo Award fiction, and the original work from which The Wandering Earth is adapted were also published in the magazine.
At the 77th Dublin Worldcon in 2019, the fans of Science Fiction World and other sci-fi magazines once again voiced for Chengdu: Chengdu wants to host the Worldcon in 2023.
On November 22th, 2019, at the 5th China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference, according to the “2019 China City Science Fiction Index Report” by the Shenzhen Science and Fantasy Growth Fund, Chengdu got the highest score and became “the most sci-fi city” in China in 2019. Beijing and Shenzhen ranked 2nd and 3rd. Everyone attending the conference agreed that the time for Chengdu to formally bid for the Worldcon has come.
Professor Shi Jingyuan, a scholar at Yale University, published a commentary on the Financial Times titled “Why is Science Fiction the Secret Weapon of China’s Soft Power?” The article spoke highly of the 5th China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference and expressed her expectations for Chengdu’s bid for the 2023 Worldcon.
William Lawhorn, chairman of the 2021 Washington Worldcon, also encouraged Chengdu’s bid. He hopes the Worldcon can expand its scope of influence to farther places on earth. “After all, only by hosting at different places each time, the world-class convention can be diverse and the sci-fi family can be enlarged.” Lawhorn said, “We need Chengdu, China to become a part of our world sci-fi family.” Representatives of other major institutions in the sci-fi industry also voiced their support for Chengdu’s bid for the 2023 Worldcon.
In the morning after the kickoff meeting, the salon themed by “Chengdu’s Bid for the Worldcon and the Future for Chinese Science Fiction” was held. The well-known sci-fi authors like He Xi, Wang Jinkang, Yao Haijun, deputy chief-editor of Science Fiction World, Jiang Zhenyu, the first sci-fi Doctor in China, Yang Feng of Chengdu Eight Light Minutes Culture, and Wang Long, COO of Chengdu GuoXing Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd. communicated freely with the guests. They all provided suggestions for Chengdu’s bid for the Worldcon and the future development of Chendu’s sci-fi industry.