Pixel Scroll 11/21/19 Because The Scroll Belongs To Pixels

(1) CHENGDU ROLLS OUT THE RED CARPET. An international array of visiting writers and Worldcon runners will attend the 5th China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference this weekend.

China Daily previewed the event in an English-language article “Sci-fi conference to be held in Chengdu”.

…The guests are from 14 countries and regions, and over 40 events will be organized during the three-day conference.

…Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province which is best known as the home of pandas, is the cradle of “Science Fiction World,” China’s most popular sci-fi periodical.

Founded 40 years ago, the magazine has cultivated a large number of well-known sci-fi figures including Han Song, Wang Jinkang and Hugo Award-winner Liu Cixin.

Chengdu has made great efforts in recent years to develop the sci-fi culture industry and build itself into China’s science fiction town. It has put in a formal bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023.

Chengdu’s bid is competing with two other bids Nice, France, and Memphis, TN.

A partial list of the international writers and conrunners who are in Chengdu includes CoNZealand (2020) co-chairs Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates, DisCon III (2021) co-chairs Colette Fozard and William Lawhorn, Chicago in 2022 bid co-chairs Dave McCarty, Helen Montgomery, plus Crystal Huff, Pablo M.A Vazquez, Ben Yalow, Derek Künsken, Mimi Mondal, Robert J. Sawyer, and Francesco Verso.

Pablo M.A Vazquez is a winner of the Shimmer Program’s Two-Way Exchange Fund, chaired the 2017 NASFiC, and will co-chair of the 2020 Corflu.

Some of the guests and visitors were also part of the group photo below taken at the China Science Fiction Conference two weeks ago (November 2-3) in Beijing, China. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal is at center, with Vazquez on the left, and Vincent Docherty (co-chair 1995 and 2005 Worldcons) to the right.

(2) ILM INNOVATION. Slashfilm fires the imagination with its description of a new visual media tech: “How Lucasfilm’s New ‘Stagecraft’ Tech Brought ‘The Mandalorian’ to Life and May Change the Future of TV”

… Kennedy adds an interesting little tidbit about the material used to create the screen:

“But I’m going to add one other thing that I didn’t know anything about this and it’s an interesting little tidbit. You have to grow the crystals for these screens. Who knew? You have to wait five years for the crystals to grow. And the crystals means a limited number of screens. Not only do you have to grow them but if you have volume, it’s important that you have the same bunch of LCD screens so that all the crystals are growing together. And then, how they refract the light, then they go into a whole pass on the ground crystals to then curate which ones are refracting the light in the same way so Its quite a process.”

So now the soundstage, a performance capture volume like the one James Cameron used on the Avatar films, is wrapped with these very high-resolution LED screens that present footage either shot on location or “in combination with CG environments.” Brennan explains further:

“And we’re able to have the perspective with cameras, but that means that you can change from Iceland to the desert in one [minute] from setup to setup so it really changes the flow of production. I think it also helps because actors are not in a sea of green. They’re actually seeing the environments that they’re in. And you add to that, after the puppetry and they’ve got characters to perform against in the environments that they are in and I think it does change.”

(3) BEST SFF. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar pick “The best science fiction and fantasy of 2019” for Washington Post readers. They make a wide, international sweep.

Silvia: I like mosaic novels so it’s no wonder I thought “Automatic Eve” by Rokuro Inui was cool, but it also had a Phillip K. Dick meets steampunk Japan vibe that is hard to miss. The other science fiction novel I recommend is Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s “We Cast a Shadow,” in which a black lawyer wants his son to undergo an expensive procedure that will render him white. It’s a near-future, socially charged and pretty impressive debut.

(4) TOP OF THE DECADE. And Paste Magazine figures with only a month to go it’s safe to call these titles “The 30 Best Fantasy Novels of the 2010s”. I’ve actually read four of them – yay me!

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015)

The first book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy introduces a stunning world in the midst of an apocalyptic event. To avoid major spoilers, let’s just say that The Fifth Season is brimming with gloriously intense family drama and includes one of the most phenomenal magic systems ever created. It also boasts a complex protagonist who is a mother, gifting us with one of the most formidable and fascinating characters of the 21st century. Jemisin made history by winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in the row for this trilogy, cementing her status as an essential voice in fantasy literature. But critical success aside, simply diving into her luminous prose will be enough for you to discern why she’s such a brilliant, must-read author. —Frannie Jackson

 (5) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 21, 1942 — “Tweety Bird” debuted.
  • November 21, 1969 — First ARPANET link put into service.  

ARPANET was an early computer network developed by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Taylor, and other researchers for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It connected a computer at UCLA with a computer at the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, CA. In 1973, the government commissioned Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn to create a national computer network for military, governmental, and institutional use. The network used packet-switching, flow-control, and fault-tolerance techniques developed by ARPANET. Historians consider this worldwide network to be the origin of the Internet.

  • November 21, 1973 — The Michael Crichton scripted Westworld premiered. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, critics gave it mixed reviews but it has an 86% rating among watchers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • November 21, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere.  The feature starred the talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed. However the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 21, 1924 Christopher Tolkien, 95. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR and his father invited him  to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. I’ll leave to this group to discuss their merit as I’ve got mixed feelings on them.
  • Born November 21, 1937 Ingrid Pitt. Actor from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the true version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s Underworld, Dominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.)
  • Born November 21, 1941 Ellen Asher, 78. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2011.
  • Born November 21, 1942 Jane Frank, 77. Art collector along with her husband quite beyond belief. Really. Together they put compiled a legendary collection of genre artwork, The Frank Collection, that has won awards. She is the author of numerous articles on illustration art, artists and collecting, and the book The Art of Richard Powers which was nominated for a Hugo, The Art of John Berkey, and The Frank Collection.
  • Born November 21, 1944 Harold Ramis. Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 21, 1945 Vincent Di Fate, 74. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
  • Born November 21, 1946 Tom Veal, 73. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X.  In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in  Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
  • Born November 21, 1950 Evelyn C. Leeper, 69. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978; it is currently at Issue #2,041. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon.
  • Born November 21, 1953 Lisa Goldstein, 66. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog.
  • Born November 21, 1965 Björk, 54. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based  on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.

(7) ZOMBIES APPERTAIN THEIR FAVORITE BEVERAGE. [Item by Errolwi.] Complaints about a “terrifying to children” TV ad for New Zealand soft drink L&P have been rejected by the NZ advertising watchdog. Stuff has the story — “‘Frightening’ L&P zombie ad attracts 40 complaints from viewers”.

Coca-Cola Amatil, which produces the beverage, said the ad was a light-hearted parody of “zom-com” or “zomedy” movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies

…The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the complaints, saying that while the ad may be distasteful to some viewers, it did not reach the threshold to be considered likely to cause harm or serious offence.

It noted that since receiving the complaints, the advertiser had decided to reschedule the ad to be screened after 7pm.

(8) BEWARE THIS SORT OF SPOILER. Whoops, too late. SYFY Wire insists: “Worry you must not! Yoda Baby merchandise will be coming in time for Christmas”.

We still don’t know what the titular hero of The Mandalorian is going to do with the little “asset” that he found in the first live-action Star Wars series, but it is more than clear that the real world wants a piece of it. Everyone wants merchandise for the “Yoda Baby,” and there’s good news on the horizon. 

Disney and Lucasfilm purposely held back this bit of salesmanship to avoid spoilers, but that starship has flown. CNBC reports that all kinds of toys and apparel based on the character will be out in time for the holidays. 

(9) IN WIRED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The December WIRED has three articles on Star Wars that I thought were interesting. These are:

  • Angela Watercutter interviews cosplayers who enjoy cosplaying Rey because her costume is relatively simple and because she is the first female character in Star Wars to wield a lightsaber: “Everybody Loves Rey, a Star Wars Story”.

Annamarie McIntosh is coming undone. People in comic-book tees are rushing past her, lit up by too-bright fluorescents. She’s surrounded by massive signs with corporate logos, from Nintendo to DC Comics. The cavernous hall is 460,000 square feet, and McIntosh is taking up about three of them, trying to cinch the beige bandages wrapped around her arms. “We’re having issues here,” she says, with an exasperated giggle. “It’s been falling down all day.” With an assist by her mom, the 17-year-old finally twists and tucks her costume into place. All things considered, the fix is easy. It’s 2019’s Comic-Con International, and compared to the wizards and warlocks and Wonder Women crowding the floor, the outfit of the Jedi Rey is plain, simple. Sensible.

  • Adam Rogers undertakes “A Journey to Galaxy’s Edge, the Nerdiet Place on Earth” — and discusses how the park is a form of storytelling.  He says that cosplaying in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is banned, although “I saw a few women cosplaying on the down low, hair done weird, rocking galactically appropriate boots.” This graf of Rogers is news to me:

Eventually, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open. That’s a two-day stay adjacent to the Orlando park in a hotel designed to look like a Star Wars spaceship, a luxury liner called the Halcyon.  The windows will somehow look out onto space; families will get tours of the bridge, and ‘port day’ will connect to Galaxy’s Edge.  Apparently even the hotel building ill be bermed off from arriving guests–all they’ll see is the ‘terminal’ where they board a shuttle to the Halcyon in orbit above.

The biggest battle in Star Wars is between its mythic arcs—the heroes’ journeys—and its political stories. Padmé fell on the political side so squarely that the prequel trilogy expended significant visual and narrative energy trying to drag her toward the mythic, where Anakin Skywalker was waiting.

She never got there. Her realm was that of the negotiation and the vote, and nothing was able to bring her into line with the adventure and the myth.

(10) KIWI IN TRAINING. Stephen Colbert has spent the week masquerading as The Newest Zealander. I don’t think any WorldCon venues are in shot, but parts are right next to Museum of NZ.

Prominent New Zealand celebrities Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) and Bret McKenzie (“Flight of the Conchords”) show Stephen around the town of Wellington and offer him tips on how to blend in as a local.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, N., Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, Tom Boswell-Healey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/21/19 Because The Scroll Belongs To Pixels

  1. Errowi: thanks for the zombie commercial which was funny. But what is the weird beverage they are promoting?

    That was a very pleasant infomercial for New Zealand.

  2. 5) I did finally watch the original Westworld movie recently, and I have to say that if in your 90 minute movie the robot cowboy uprising doesn’t happen until minute 75, you might want to revisit your script.

  3. L&P is Lemon & Paeroa, widely available sweet carbonated drink.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_%26_Paeroa
    “Created in 1907, it was traditionally made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa, but is now owned and manufactured by multi-national Coca-Cola.”
    Paeroa has a novelty giant L&P bottle on the main Street. It of a small detour if you are driving from Auckland to Hobbiton. Pronounced something like pie-row-a.

  4. @1: I wonder how many of the fans were guests of the PRC (in some form) rather than paying their own way. I hope none of them are foolish enough to believe any promises of safe-conduct given by the PRC.

    @4: I think I’ve read 22/30 (can’t be certain of the count because the damned page ate my system and had to be killed — I \thought/ I had an ad blocker turned on…). I have one of the misses marked as don’t-bother (based on prior in series — I wonder whether the lister liked it because it points out many of the things wrong with 1927 NYC) and another that I never intend to read, but there are enough hits on the list that I may try some of the ones I’ve missed.

    @7: Asher’s record may or may not have been eclipsed by Stan Schmidt (I can’t find exact dates for either of them) but is in any case extraordinary — and I’ve seen nothing worthwhile from SFBC after the accountants fired her and changed directions. (There may have been something recently, but after a few years I stopped looking.)

  5. errolwi on November 21, 2019 at 8:48 pm said:

    (10) I’m sure they had more indoor locations scouted! It is true what they say (I’ve mainly seen it on Twitter, but apparently a local cliche) – You can’t beat Wellington on a good day!

    The first time I visited Wellington it was for work. I had to fly in from Sydney, go to a meeting then fly back at some unholy hour the very next day. I get in a cab from the airport* and I was chatting to the driver and I explained what I was doing. He suggested some sights I could see in a short time and then said to me:
    “It’s a one day city”
    Which I thought was nice to know – a city you could see in one day. I had less than that but still. Pointing at the weather outside as we sped past the harbour, he repeated: “It’s a really one day city.”
    Which when I changed my internal audio settings from “English (Australian)” to “English (New Zealand)” and realised what he’d ACTUALLY been saying…

    *[which literally has it’s own dragon]

  6. 6) Björk also qualifies for <rot13> Fzvyyn’f Frafr bs Fabj </rot13>, which I had no idea had genre elements until I watched it.

  7. 4) Read twenty-two of the thirty. Twelve of those I thought were great. I’ll admit that the ten I wasn’t so fond of are well-beloved by many, though.

  8. @Chip Hitchcock: As a random tourist, I’m not sure I’d feel safe in the PRC either–but how far would you advise foreign visitors to trust our own government’s promises of safe conduct nowadays?

  9. Errolwi: Thanks for the explanation about Lemon and Paeroa. I’d like to try some.

    Anthony: Thanks for the link to the Ken MacLeod report.

  10. @Vicki Rosenzweig: not all the way, but a hell of a lot farther than in the PRC — including the fact that here there are better legal defenses (not good, just better) against certain forms of government overreach. And the need for a guarantee is more relevant, because you can bet that the Party is backing Chengdu, where US bids tend to get halfhearted local support.

  11. (4)
    4, plus two or three on Mt Tsundoku. (Not much into fantasy.)
    I read Ken Liu’s book, borrowed from the library, last year or the year before. Won’t read the sequels, even though it’s moderately interesting, because it’s so long. (I think he’s going for something like the classic Chinese novels, like “The Three Kingdoms” and “The Water Margin Heroes”.)

  12. We’ve lost Gahan Wilson.

    His stepson posted this today on the GoFundMe page set up to help with Gahan’s medical expenses:

    Gahan Wilson

    2/18/1930 – 11/21/2019

    The world has lost a legend. One of the very best cartoonists to ever pick up a pen and paper has passed on. He went peacefully – surrounded by those who loved him.

    Gahan Wilson leaves behind a large body of work that is finely drawn, elegant, and provocative.

    He was preceded in death by his wife, author Nancy Winters Wilson, and his parents, Allen and Marion Wilson. He leaves behind stepsons, Randy Winters, and Paul Winters, and daughter in law Patrice Winters. Grandchildren, Tiffany Smith, Jessica Winters, Chris Winters, Ashtin Winters, Carlie Winters, Rachel Winters, Kyle Winters, and Jessie Winters, and two great grandchildren, Noah Smith, Jaylie Winters, and Elizabeth Winters

  13. R.I.P. Gahan.

    6) Since I have the opportunity, I would like to say really nice things about Lisa Goldstein’s The Dream Years, a fantasy set among the surrealists of Paris. It’s one of my favorites and it packs a serious punch.

  14. The latest New Yorker (11/25 edition) has a Thanksgiving-themed Gahan Wilson cartoon.

  15. 4) I’ve read twelve, although I don’t know if I would choose any of them as the best. In some cases I like the overall series but not this particular book.
    Ken Liu’s ‘Grace of Kings’ is my favorite, although most of the stuff I enjoyed in there is the real life stuff. The parts that Liu added weren’t as good – that whole episode of history is just there to prove that reality is stranger than fiction.

  16. 4) I’ve read or dnfed at least one book in the series mentioned for 18 of those. Got a couple of the 2019s on my TBR, and will have to check out a coupla other books listed that I wasn’t aware of.

  17. Ryan McNeill Proclaims Honestly, you could consider most of Bjork’s career to be genre adjacent… =)

    I was tempted to just say she was genre and leave it at that.

  18. 4) 12 so far, plus a couple where I read earlier installments of the series but not the specific book listed.

  19. (1) CHENGDU ROLLS OUT THE RED CARPET.

    It would be interesting to know whether the 2023 Worldcon bid chairs for Memphis and France were offered the largesse of the wining-and-dining junkets to China that the rest of them received. I haven’t seen any indication on various social media accounts that they did.

    If any of these SMOFs eventually come out in public support of the Chengdu bid, it’s certainly going to look as if their support was purchased with these free trips and dinners.

  20. FYI: Late Scroll tonight. I’ve got to dash out and see my daughter’s colorguard unit perform at halftime of a football playoff game. (Their season is usually over by now!)

  21. 1) I would not feel unsafe as a random western tourist in the People’s Republic of China. Yes, you will probably be watched every single moment, but that’s no different from visiting Eastern Europe pre-1989 (and it was always very obvious that they were constantly watching you). But the Chinese government wants western tourism (and a WorldCon obviously) and they want western governments to trade with them and not ask any pesky questions about human rights. Therefore, they don’t harass western tourists unless these tourists do something either criminal or politically problematic. And if they do something politically problematic, their visa is revoked and they get deported rather than thrown into jail. This happened to a German journalism student who tried to interview Chinese dissidents recently. And even if you commit a crime and get thrown into jail, they’ll probably treat you better than they would treat a Chinese prisoner. There was a case of a German conman who spent time in a Chinese jail and pretty much stated that, “They didn’t treat me nearly as bad as the others, because they didn’t want a dead westerner on their hands”.

    That said, I don’t think that a WorldCon in China is feasible in the current situation, because we need all members of our community to be safe and at the moment, I don’t see how Chengdu, even with the government backing they obviously have, can guarantee this. What about WorldCon members who are Chinese expats or their descendants and who (or whose parents) may have had a very good reason to leave the People’s Republic of China? What about politically outspoken authors and fans, particularly those who have spoken out on the situation in China (e.g. Jeanette Ng)? What about Muslim fans and authors, considering the massive human rights violations against Muslim Uighurs? What is someone from Taiwan wanted to attend? I strongly suspect that fans and writers who are considered politically problematic or undesirable would be denied a visa, but again this is something that needs to be clarified beforehand. These are questions the Chengdu bid com must answer and so far they haven’t done so satisfactorily, e.g. the non-reply of the Chengdu representatives when they were asked about potential issues facing LGBT attendants.

    And yes, it’s rather obvious that the Chengdu bid has the backing of the Chinese government (most likely, they couldn’t even bid without government approval) and that the many invitations issued and trips to China organised for big name SFF authors and now SMOFs are part of some government backed goodwill initiative, though I’m not quite sure why the Chinese government is so keen a wooing the SFF community. It’s also notable that representatives of the competing Nice and Memphis bids were not invited.

  22. Nine here, plus one currently on Mt. TBR, and three more on my definitely-interested list. I liked all nine, but there’s only a couple that I’d rate higher than “liked”. And they left off a couple of my favorites. As for the rest, there’s a couple there I’ve looked at, but ended up filing under not-particularly-interested. So, for the remainder, I’ll note the recs, but don’t have any immediate plans to rush out and get them.

    Hippo Birdy to Lisa Goldstein!

  23. Cora Buhlert: it’s rather obvious that the Chengdu bid has the backing of the Chinese government (most likely, they couldn’t even bid without government approval) and that the many invitations issued and trips to China organised for big name SFF authors and now SMOFs are part of some government backed goodwill initiative, though I’m not quite sure why the Chinese government is so keen a wooing the SFF community.

    Yes, the conference is run by an arm of the government:

    The China International Science Fiction Conference is hosted by the Sichuan Science and Technology Association
    https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/China-International-Science-Fiction-Conference

    The Sichuan Science and Technology Association (“Sichuan Science Association”) is a local organization organized by the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China and affiliated to the China Science and Technology Association. Established in November 1958.
    https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan-Science-and-Technology-Association

    My take on the motivation behind all of the official government support of science fiction in China is that:

    1) They can better control what gets said in science fiction works, which in other countries are often of a subversive or revolutionary nature, and ensure that nothing gets released which does not adhere to the party line;

    2) They can influence SFF writers and conrunners in other countries, who are often very outspoken about oppression and human rights abuses, to present their country in a positive way to the rest of the world;

    3) They can present an ostensibly “progressive”, reasonable version of their country to the rest of the world, with the intent of persuading other countries to turn a blind eye to their human rights abuses.

  24. East is east and west is west 
    And the wrong one I have chose 
    Let’s go where they keep on wearin’ 
    Those Files and Fifthers and Pixels and Scrolls…

  25. @Andrew: I recognize that tune! It’s…uh…”Se la Face Ay Pale”, right? At least I Hope so.

  26. @Andrew: Well that was an interesting rendition! I still prefer the medieval original, though 😉

  27. 4) Peculiarly enough, I have a perfect score — I haven’t read any of the books on the list (though a few are in my TBR folder). Not sure what that means except that my reading directions are affected by some unusual priorities.

  28. (1) What Cora said, about safety in China.

    And while I’m sure that the Chengdu bid is government sponsored, isn’t that what a lot of other bids want to receive in some way? Helsinki received serious support from the local Helsinki government, Dublin had a welcome message from the President of Ireland, and so on. I know enough of the people in the picture where I trust their integrity in this regard.

    And a lot of the safety concerns regarding China applies to other countries as well. Sadly, we live in a world where fascism and authoritarian regimes are on the rise, and the USA is part of that. Don’t confuse familiarity with safety.

  29. Karl-Johan Norén: while I’m sure that the Chengdu bid is government sponsored, isn’t that what a lot of other bids want to receive in some way? Helsinki received serious support from the local Helsinki government, Dublin had a welcome message from the President of Ireland, and so on.

    I don’t think that the Chinese government providing support to the bid is necessarily a problem in itself. What I do think is a problem is the Chinese government paying for flights and hotels and lavish dinners to woo a bunch of conrunners who have the ability to influence a lot of Worldcon members (not to mention making and displaying mega-sized public vanity posters of them, which is such over-the-top smarmy flattery that it can hardly be believed).

    It has the appearance of purchasing their support and making any objections they might have to China’s abysmal human rights policies go away. And as far as I’m aware, no other country has ever done anything like this.

  30. @JJ:

    Can too much government sponsorship to a Worldcon bid be a problem? Yes, and there is a history of authoritarian governments using various forms of spectacle to present themselves favourably (examples abound if you go to the sports arena).

    But I know some of the people going there, and I trust their integrity about this.

    What stinks about China for me aren’t the safety issues (they are at least as bad in the USA right now) or the government sponsorships. It’s that it’s a deeply authoritarian state right now, and getting worse.

  31. Karl-Johan Norén: I know some of the people going there, and I trust their integrity about this.

    Before this, I would have told you that most of the people in attendance had too much integrity and common sense to accept lavish vacation trips paid for by the Chinese government. My trust in the soundness of that judgment has now been deeply truncated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.