The unveiling of a Beijing in 2016 Worldcon bid webpage has sparked a great deal of discussion among conrunners, divided between those who wonder if it should be taken seriously and those who hope it can.
Imprinted with the cleverly designed logo of the “Future Affairs Administration,” the webpage is hosted on the www.guokr.com domain. Guokr.com is owned by Guoke Media, whose CEO Ji Shisan was profiled in China Pictorial this month. He told the interviewer —
“Our team will make an appearance at this year’s Worldcon [World Science Fiction Convention] in London, and we hope to win a bid to host the event in the near future,” Ji reveals. The 72nd Worldcon is scheduled for August 14 to 18.
Ji and his team are also big fans of science fiction, which they believe to be not only prophetic, but also a designer and engineer of humanity’s future. Guokr Media has already begun organizing the fifth Xingyun Awards, an international awards ceremony for Chinese-language science-fiction writers, to be held this summer in Beijing. In Ji’s opinion, the power of sci-fi inspiration is significant in terms of changing the fate of all humans.
Ji Shisan, who holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology, spent five years working as a science journalist and in 2008 founded an association for scientific writers that now has over 100 members worldwide. Shisan describes Guokr.com as an extension of his work to popularize science.
“Guokr.com creates a shortcut for scientific communication, making otherwise heavy, dense, dry scientific information much more accessible to ordinary people,” Ji explains. “From my understanding, science should be part of mainstream culture since scientific information plays a role in business, music, performance, sci-fi work and TV programs. At the end of the day, I want people to realize that science can be fun.”
Information about the bid on the Beijing in 2016 website is sparse. The bottom-line menu on the homepage links to several other pages but Google Translate shows these are all promotions of Guokr.com or its hosted content. The webpage discloses nothing about the proposed facilities or the members of the bid committee.
Bids for 2016 must be filed with Loncon 3 by February 15 to get on the ballot.
Those of us depending on English-language journalism cannot accurately estimate how many large sf events have been hosted in China over the years, the connections between them, and what it takes to run a large convention or conference there. But we know there have been such events. There was a 97 Beijing International Conference for Science Fiction. And in 2007, prior to the Worldcon in Nippon, thousands of fans attended the Chengdu International SF/F Conference to meet Neil Gaiman, Robert Sawyer and other international authors. After the Chengdu conference an associate of China’s Science Fiction World magazine wrote: “SFW learned more about how to hold an international SF/F conference and aspires at some stage to host the Worldcon in China.” Whether SFW is connected with the 2016 bid is not known at this time.
[Via Martin Easterbrook and Liz Batty.]