Pixel Scroll 11/28/19 I Cannot Tell A Lie, Officer Opie, I Put That Envelope At The Bottom of The Death Star Trash Compactor

(1) TOP 30. Yesterday Ellen Datlow did a cover reveal for Edited By:

(2) OWL AIR BNB. Real Simple is excited — “You Can Stay in Harry Potter’s Childhood Home on Airbnb—and We’re Heading for the Floo Network Right Now”.

Other than the Hogwarts acceptance letter we’ve been stubbornly awaiting for the past 20-something years, this is the best possible news a grown-up Harry Potter fan could hope for. The cottage where Harry Potter was born is now available to rent on Airbnb.

De Vere House appeared in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as the home where Lily and James Potter raised baby Harry, until (obvious spoiler alert) Lord Voldemort killed Harry’s parents and left him with the badass scar (which Prince William also has). After the attack, he was forced to live in a closet under the stairs at the Dursleys’ house.

The village of Lavenham in Suffolk, in which De Vere House is located, also appeared in the movie as the fictional town of Godric’s Hollow.

(3) FORTRESS UNHIDDEN. The Guardian reports that the inevitable adaptation will be performed November 28: “Japanese theatre to stage kabuki version of Star Wars”.

The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.

Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.

Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery.

A livestream will be accessible on YouTube:

(4) LIVE, FROM 1964! Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus will be all over the Southern California map in December.

  • Loscon, Los Angeles, Dec. 1, 1:00 PM

Crest of a New Wave“, discussing 1964 in science fact and fiction

Talking about “What Science Fiction got wrong…and right!

The First Moon Race“, talking about the troubles and ultimate triumph of Project Ranger.

Once more, talking about the Women Pioneers of Space Science at another great dark sky site.

(5) DRAFT OF EMPIRE. “See an original Star Wars script and more at ‘Fahrenheit 451’ author’s IUPUI center” — the IndyStar tells the unexpected reason why Ray Bradbury had a copy.

The second movie in the original trilogy is the one Bradbury almost co-wrote. 

In the early 1940s, the writer studied with Leigh Brackett, a pioneer for women and the melodramatic space opera in science fiction. That gave way to a collaboration with “Lorelei of the Red Mist,” a novella about a powerful, siren-like woman who controls the strong, barbarian body that a convict has recently been transplanted in.

Brackett went on to become a screenwriter and was a co-writer with Larry Kasdan on the “Empire” script. But she was in failing health, so the producer asked Bradbury whether he was familiar enough with her work to finish it if she couldn’t.

“Ray Bradbury said, ‘Yes, I do. But I want her to have credit,’ ” center director Jon Eller said.

As it turned out, Brackett completed her draft before she died in 1978, so Bradbury never had to work on it.

But the script — a fourth revision that doesn’t even contain Darth Vader’s big reveal to Luke because that detail was so secretive — remains part of Bradbury’s collection

(6) IN THE MOMENT. Barbara Ashford tells five ways to “Make Your Big Moments Sing!” on the Odyssey Writing Workshop blog.

3) Use your own experiences to help you create emotional resonance on the page.

This is another acting technique that can help you get closer to a character. If you’re writing a scene of grief, go back to a moment where you lost someone or when you first learned of this person’s passing. Write down as many specific details as you can recall.

* Your physiological responses (e.g., shaking, goose bumps, pulse racing, face/skin flushing);

* Your physical responses (e.g., recoiling, fleeing, turning your face away);

* Your emotional reactions (which could be conveyed via action, dialogue or inner monologue);

* The small details that intruded on the moment, like the laughter of children playing a game or the scent of your mother’s gardenia bush outside her bedroom window. Choose details that will show readers what the POV character is feeling. Does the laughter make the character angry because it reminds her of her loss? Or comfort her because she realizes life goes on?

(7) DEVELOPMENT HEAVEN AND HELL. Tor.com’s own Stubby the Rocket has compiled a vast list of “(Almost) Every Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV or Movie Adaptation in the Works Right Now”. For example —

Adapted from: The Eternals by Jack Kirby / Eternals by Neil Gaiman (writer) and John Romita (artist)
Originally published:
1976, Marvel Comics / 2006, Marvel Comics
Optioned for: Film (Marvel Studios)
What it’s about: The Eternals are a race of humans created through experimentation by the alien Celestials, intended to be defenders of Earth against the unstable Deviants (also experiments). Plot details for the film are unclear, but there is some suggestion it may follow the Gaiman miniseries.
Status: Chloe Zhao (The Rider) will direct a cast including Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan and Kit Harington.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 28, 1987 — Next Generation’s “Haven” aired in which Deanna Troi’s mother Lwaxana Troi was performed by Majel Barrett. She would go on to have a role in every Trek series produced up to her death. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 28, 1911 Carmen D’Antonio. In the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Thirties reel, she was Ming’s Dancing Girl, she’ll show up in the soon to be released Arabian Nights as a harem girl. And her last genre performance was in The Twilight Zone. (Died 1986.)
  • Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 73. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, the only one I can say I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow “Night of the Hawk” episode.  That’s his work as Director. As Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day. 
  • Born November 28, 1952 S. Epatha Merkerson, 67. Both of her major SF roles involve Robos. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse which I can’t remember if the consensus here was that it was genre or genre adjacent.
  • Born November 28, 1962 Mark Hodder, 57. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne Alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder.
  • Born November 28, 1981 Louise Bourgoin, 38. Her main SFF film is as the title character in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson. Anybody know if it got released in a subtitled English version? She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short.
  • Born November 28, 1984 Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 35. She was in the 2011 version of The Thing. She was in Sky High which is a lot of fun followed by a series of horror films such as the cheerful holiday charmer Black Christmas that earned her a rep as a Scream Queen. And she’s Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) in the forthcoming Birds of Prey film.
  • Born November 28, 1987 Karen Gillan, 32. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and in later MCU films, Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”. 
  • Born November 28, 1988 Scarlett Pomers, 31. The young Naomi Wildman on Voyager, a role she played an amazing seventeen times. Retired from acting, one of her last roles was in A Ring of Endless Light which at least genre adjacent as it’s written by Madeleine L’Engle. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

Grant Snider (Incidental Comics) did this for a magazine with stories and comics for kids.

(11) THAT’S COZY, NOT CRAZY. Sarah A. Hoyt continues her Mad Genius Club series about writing cozy mysteries with “Meet Interesting Strangers”. Tons of advice here about the need for colorful supporting characters.

REMEMBER — this is important — eccentricities in fiction must be larger than in real life to be perceived as such.  In real life Stephanie Plum and half the cozy heroines, including my own Dyce Dare would be locked up in the madhouse. (So would half the characters in sitcoms) BUT on paper there is a tendency to see things as less extreme than in real life. So exaggerate all the interesting bits, or your character will come across as very very boring.

(12) VAST MACHINERY. “How a cake company pioneered the first office computer” – a BBC video takes you back.

In the early 1950s the British catering firm J Lyons & Co, pioneered the world’s first automated office system.

It was called LEO – Lyons Electronic Office – and was used in stock-taking, food ordering and payrolls for the company.

Soon it was being hired out to UK government ministries and other British businesses.

Mary Coombs worked on the first LEO computer and was the first woman to become a commercial computer programmer.

(13) IS YOUR FAVORITE THERE? Entertainment Weekly brings you “The droids of the Star Wars universe, ranked”. The one I went looking for isn’t ranked – could be those Roomba-style things that dodge underfoot don’t have enough IQ to qualify as droids.

In honor of the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will introduce a tiny wheeled green droid named D-O, EW has put together an extremely serious and extremely scientific ranking of the best droids in the galaxy. From tiny cameos to starring roles, these are the finest and most memorable droids depicted on the big screen. (A note: We’re limiting this list to the Star Wars films, so our apologies to Chopper from Star Wars Rebels and IG-11 from The Mandalorian.)

(14) WATCH YOUR WALLET. Over the summer, SYFY Wire ranked “The 12 biggest genre box office bombs of all time”.

The movies are ranked by their estimated loss (per BoxOfficeMojo). Where that is given as a range, SYFY Wire has generously used the lower end of the range as the ranking criterion.

Aaaaaand the winner among losers is Mortal Engines, with an estimated loss of $175 million.

(15) SECURITY BREACH. Whose side is Poe on, really? “Star Wars: How did John Boyega’s script end up on eBay?”

It’s one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year, shrouded in secrecy. Yet that didn’t stop the script for the new Star Wars sequel ending up on eBay.

And it was all because Britain’s John Boyega left it under his bed.

Speaking on US TV, Boyega said his Rise of Skywalker script had been found by a cleaner and that it was subsequently offered for sale online “for £65”.

“So the person didn’t know the true value,” he continued, admitting the situation had been “scary”.

“Even Mickey Mouse called me up [saying] ‘what did you do?'” the actor joked – a reference to the Walt Disney Company which now owns the Star Wars franchise.

(16) TIKTOK ACCOUNT RESTORED. BBC reports “TikTok apologises and reinstates banned US teen”.

Chinese-owned social network TikTok has apologised to a US teenager who was blocked from the service after she posted a viral clip criticising China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims.

The firm said it had now lifted the ban, maintaining it was due to 17-year-old Feroza Aziz’s prior conduct on the app – and unrelated to Chinese politics.

Additionally, the firm said “human moderation error” was to blame for the video being taken down on Thursday for almost an hour.

TIkTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has insisted it does not apply Chinese moderation principles to its product outside of mainland China.

Ms Aziz posted on Twitter that she did not accept the firm’s explanation.

“Do I believe they took it away because of a unrelated satirical video that was deleted on a previous deleted account of mine? Right after I finished posting a three-part video about the Uighurs? No.”

(17) DOG YEARS. “Siberia: 18,000-year-old frozen ‘dog’ stumps scientists” – BBC has the story.

Researchers are trying to determine whether an 18,000-year-old puppy found in Siberia is a dog or a wolf.

The canine – which was two months old when it died – has been remarkably preserved in the permafrost of the Russian region, with its fur, nose and teeth all intact.

DNA sequencing has been unable to determine the species.

Scientists say that could mean the specimen represents an evolutionary link between wolves and modern dogs.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Let’s revisit this 2015 video of a Sasquan GoH showing his musical range.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren plays Amazing Grace on the bagpipes from the International Space Station.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of Turkey Day, Daniel Dern.]

116 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/28/19 I Cannot Tell A Lie, Officer Opie, I Put That Envelope At The Bottom of The Death Star Trash Compactor

  1. @Heather Rose Jones: I’m curious about the failure-to-process-visa-applications for African members of the Dublin Worldcon. (I hadn’t considered going, so I hadn’t even looked at whether Ireland required a visa for entrance.) Details?

    @bill’s discussion of FISM raises two interesting points: first, it’s my understanding that there have been many agreements that turn out not to contain (or at least be applied as) what non-PRC business parties think they do; and second, how much of fandom would accept being in a place where many uncensored net services are not available? e.g., is getting Gmail even possible?

  2. PS: nobody should have been surprised at the interference/violence toward someone who acknowledged Taiwan’s nationhood; as shown by (e.g.) the nine-dash line, the PRC attitude is that what they claim is non-negotiably theirs. (I’m not sure I believe that “most” world-competition-class magicians are unaware of the issue of Taiwan given that it has been a sore point for decades, but it’s possible that getting that good often involves massively ignoring everything outside one’s craft.) That motivation for assault is apparently not even confined to territory the PRC claims; there was a case in the UK recently of a PRC TV reporter assaulting a politician who spoke in support of Hong Kong. (The exact story is unclear; I saw a story yesterday that said the reporter had been fined, while one from a week ago says the prosecution dropped the case due to inadequate evidence.)

  3. @Cora

    Do you remember how the question was asked and answered? I can’t find any video. I gather that their Concom had not yet been formally constituted. Instead, a distinguished Chengdu government official (!) came to the Fannish Inquisition and gave a formal speech about the wonders of Chengdu as an up-and-coming hub for science and technology in general and the science fiction industry in particular. Clearly, that’s a major culture gap. So maybe the dodge was understandable given the context? Once their fan-run Concom gets fleshed out, they’ll have no excuse not to be ready for that question.

    @bill

    But FISM had enormous organizational problems in every respect. Getting invited to reuse Olympic facilities by the Ministry of Culture in Beijing in 2009 is not very similar to being hosted by a science fiction association in Chengdu in 2023.

    On a related note: Chengdu missed a serious opportunity to woo Steampunk fans when they failed to point out that attendees would have the opportunity to pay their respects to the martyrs of the Railway Protection Movement… it’s the first link that came up when I Googled Chengdu and Inquisition.

    On the blocked internet sites, Facebook, Google sites including Gmail, and Twitter are blocked on the open internet (there are other similar sites used by most Chinese people which are not blocked). Most people (Chinese and not) who wish to access the blocked ones will simply use a VPN to get through. Not that complicated. For Worldcon members who aren’t quite technically proficient enough to figure out how to do that on their own, I imagine someone at some point could volunteer to answer IT support questions.

  4. But FISM had enormous organizational problems in every respect.

    I think this is an overstatement. Most attendees said they had a good time, and that FISM Beijing was a good convention. But to the extent it is true, the problems I mentioned all can be laid at the feet of the Chinese sponsors, and should be considered as things to look out for when considering a Chinese bid for Worldcon.

    Some (facilities, translation) are potential problems at any big, moving event with new management every time it happens, and are similar to problems that have already happened at previous Worldcons. I’d expect that Fannish Inquisitions and voters who seriously consider bids are aware of how these issues can go pear-shaped, and weigh them accordingly. But others are peculiar to Chinese culture and society, and might sneak up on attendees if not examined thoroughly beforehand.

    Censorship and IP/piracy are at the top of this list. If I was chief Inquisitor (?), I’d go through lists of panels at the last few Worldcons, and think about which ones might be problematic at a Chinese convention. Are there any topics that I’d self censor? For example, in a perfectly unconstrained world, a panel on Taiwanese SF might be interesting. But I’d imagine that it wouldn’t fly in a Chinese Worldcon. That being the case, the question it begs is “Can I support a Worldcon in such a constrained environment?”

    Suppose a finalist for the Hugo that year was a novel with themes of Chinese politics. How should WSFS react to a statement from a Chinese Worldcon that this particular novel cannot be included in a readers packet?

    Would a Chinese Worldcon allow Jeannette Ng, who is on record as supporting the people of Hong Kong, to participate in any meaningful way?

    Many magicians make a significant fraction of their income by selling lecture notes, books and ebooks, instructional videos, and props/tricks to hobbyist magicians. Almost as soon as new product is released, it can be found on Chinese knockoff-piracy websites, at fractions of legitimate sale prices. Compare this (legitimate) to this (pirate). Creators rightfully view this as theft. Are there similar piracy sites that affect Western SFF authors?

    Most people (Chinese and not) who wish to access the blocked ones will simply use a VPN to get through.

    Yes, there are workarounds to some of these problems. But is that the appropriate response? Or should the response be, “Nope, pass, we’ll have the convention at some place where Big Brother isn’t so intrusive”?

    Having a Worldcon in China is a statement by WSFS about how it accepts Chinese mores. It’s a statement that should be well-considered before it is made.

  5. Brian Z.: Instead, a distinguished Chengdu government official (!) came to the Fannish Inquisition and gave a formal speech about the wonders of Chengdu as an up-and-coming hub for science and technology in general and the science fiction industry in particular.

    This is pure confabulation. How about listening to the people who were actually there, instead of making shit up?

    The Chengdu bid had representatives at the Worldcon Bid Q&A at Dublin, to make a presentation the same way all of the other bids did.

    Someone submitted a question asking whether LGBTQ program items would be permitted at a Worldcon in Chengdu.

    The presenters were two young women. Neither of them understood the acronym, so it was explained to them. One of them giggled (possibly a nervous reaction, or a differing cultural behavior) and said something along the lines of “I myself have friends who are lesbians, and gays, and transgenders, which is fine. But yes, it might be an issue.” (I kid you not, she actually used the “but I have a black friend” defense. My jaw was on the floor.)

    Since the response was not “Such programming would be fine” or “not a problem”, I took that to mean that it was likely that such program items would be censored and not permitted.

     
    Brian Z.: Most people (Chinese and not) who wish to access the blocked ones will simply use a VPN to get through. For Worldcon members who aren’t quite technically proficient enough to figure out how to do that on their own, I imagine someone at some point could volunteer to answer IT support questions.

    Yeah, no. If people are having to use a VPN to get internet access at a Worldcon because the Chinese government has blocked it, then that’s a serious accessibility problem which should disqualify a Worldcon bid.

  6. bill: Suppose a finalist for the Hugo that year was a novel with themes of Chinese politics. How should WSFS react to a statement from a Chinese Worldcon that this particular novel cannot be included in a readers packet? Would a Chinese Worldcon allow Jeannette Ng, who is on record as supporting the people of Hong Kong, to participate in any meaningful way?

    I don’t think the packet would be the problem. The problem would be that such a work would just not be allowed on the ballot at all, regardless of how many nominations it got. And authors like Jeannette Ng, who have spoken publicly against China’s authoritarian government, or written works critical of the government, would not be allowed to appear on the ballot or on programming.

    No doubt we’d be given Hugo nominating and voting statistics which would support what was announced as being on the ballot. I have no confidence that those would be anything other than an artful construction created at the government’s direction, just as I have no confidence that any subject matter not approved by the government would be allowed on the programming schedule.

  7. It hadn’t even occurred to me that election fraud would be an issue; but since they routinely do that with Hong Kong’s elections (or so I’m led to believe), I guess one might expect it with Hugo ballots.

  8. bill on December 1, 2019 at 7:00 pm said:

    It hadn’t even occurred to me that election fraud would be an issue; but since they routinely do that with Hong Kong’s elections (or so I’m led to believe), I guess one might expect it with Hugo ballots.

    I wouldn’t expect it and I think it is unlikely the Chinese government would interfere or unduly influence the Hugo ballot in general. Also, if the Chinese government DID want to, they wouldn’t need the Worldcon to be in China to do so.

    However, that does not mean fears about actions by the Chinese government are illegitimate. Nor, as JJ points out, does it exclude situations in which a particular nominee might be an issue for the Chinese government (e.g. if the Dali Lama was a finalist for Best Fanwriter – to pick an intentionally unlikely scenario).

    Those fears create a meta-issue i.e. a legitimate, shenanigan free Hugo outcome (either at the nomination stage or at the final stage) that people do not believe or trust because of fears the Chinese government HAD rigged things in some way. That could be a really sad situation e.g. lots of new fans get involved, there are some surprising winners and losers and regional variations (which doesn’t always happen with non-US Worldcons but can occur) but this good-thing is accompanied by a widespread assumption fuelled both by legitimate fears of the Chinese government and vague racism* that the results are rigged. That would be a horrible mess.

    *[Note: I’m not saying fears about the Chinese government are racist, just that there are long-standing racist fears about China which are endemic in Western culture and pre-date the current government of China]

  9. Chengdu’s website said they recruited ten (English speaking) volunteers to go staff their table in Dublin, so if two young, inexperienced fans faced the Fannish Inquisition, that’s probably what they were. Students, maybe? Does anyone think two young fans who volunteered to staff a table are going to be in charge of deciding whether or how to include a panel on a sensitive topic?

    My source for observing that the culture gap is wide, since they asked an important government official to speak in Dublin, is their bid site, which provides a photo of him giving the speech and states that he:

    delivered a speech and introduced the history, culture, economy, transportation and tourism of Chengdu. He pointed out that Chengdu is known as China’s “science and technology capital”. In recent years, Chengdu endeavor to develop the science fiction culture industry. And by holding sci-fi exchanges activities and setting out science fiction industry support policies, etc, Chengdu is trying to create a science fiction industry area and an international platform.” He invited national sci-fi representatives to offer advice for Chengdu, support Chengdu’s bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Conference, and vote for Chengdu.

    That’s not how we would do it, obviously, but it does show that the Chinese government, and the fan-run local host, are interested in reaching out to international science fiction fans and getting advice about how to run a Worldcon. A government leader went to Dublin and asked for your advice about how to do it right! The best way forward is to provide advice to the Chengdu bid, hopefully in a clear and direct, but respectful way. It may be early for such dialogue if they haven’t settled on a Concom yet; I’m not sure – but dialogue is the way to go. Make it clear that significant numbers of western fans won’t wish to participate without inclusion of discussion of LGBT themes in SF on the program. Make it clear that we remember serious problems with organization of various conventions in the past and that working out the details is crucial to the bidding process. Et cetera.

    As to the concern that a Chinese national who has gone on record taking a public activist stance may not get a spot on programming (or be invited at all) – I also shared the concern as I stated above. Since we’re all making all these guesses, my guess is that it could be considered inflammatory today as dangerous protests are going on, but that in 2023 there will be more room for accommodation. As I said above, I think the issue should be brought up well in advance.

    @bill, I agree with you that a piracy and bootlegging industry exists in China – I’m just saying that I doubt the hosts would want or allow it to be sold at their con. If you are saying that you don’t want go to China period, because of your objection to piracy that goes on there, that’s different.

    Obviously, they wouldn’t hold a panel called “Recent Advances in the National Science Fiction of the Country of Taiwan” – of course not – but I don’t see why they won’t discuss Taiwanese authors on a panel with a title phrased in a different way. With a little introspection, we may realize that Americans and Europeans (not to mention Taiwanese!) also self-censor a lot of topics, or ways of saying things, that we wouldn’t want on a program, so it is hard to say the issue is specific to mainland China.

    Every Worldcon has a choice of whether or not to issue a reader’s packet. (Personally, I don’t like them much, but that’s my opinion.) But I have a practical suggestion. Go back to having a volunteer-run packet. Western volunteers can volunteer to get permissions for distributing finalists in English/western languages, and Chinese volunteers could be in charge of mailing out finalists in Chinese language. I bet you could even crowdsource the English-Chinese or Chinese-English translation of many shorter categories. But volunteer basis please – don’t put that burden on the committee.

    On the opinion that “no doubt” the Chengdu Concom would fake nomination statistics in order to give the award to government-picked winners. (Let me try to be constructive.) Many Chinese people – SF fans and others – are very, very proud of having been honored with multiple Hugo Awards in recent years, as reflected in their online forums and their state media reports, not to mention the fact that all these people flew around the world to ask for your advice about hosting a Worldcon. There’s a lot of Chinese fans on the internet who may read what was just said. It doesn’t represent my view. If it doesn’t represent that of others, you might say so?

  10. At Chengdu’s bid party, the handouts included pamphlets entitled “Speech at the Bidding Banquet of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention” by a Mr. Liu Xingjun, Deputy Secretary-General of Cheng Municipal Government, dated 16 August. Perhaps this is what Brian Z mistakenly thought was a speech to the Fannish Inquisition?

    (I confess I do not know what this “Bidding Banquet” was.)

  11. @Goobergunch, yes, that’s the speech referenced on their website, and I’m not sure what a Bidding Banquet is either but it sounds delicious.

  12. On the opinion that “no doubt” the Chengdu Concom would fake nomination statistics in order to give the award to government-picked winners.

    Oh Brian, you still write thoughtful posts and still add artful misrepresentations of what people said.

    Conflating the government of a nation with the people of that nation works mischief in two ways. You are applying the second way in which it is done. Which is a shame because you have the skills to apply better arguments to what JJ said.

  13. Brian Z.: Does anyone think two young fans who volunteered to staff a table are going to be in charge of deciding whether or how to include a panel on a sensitive topic?

    Does anyone think that a Chinese woman who says that panels on LGBTQ-related subjects “might be an issue” would actually say that if it weren’t true?

     
    Brian Z.: I have a practical suggestion. Go back to having a volunteer-run packet. Western volunteers can volunteer to get permissions for distributing finalists in English/western languages

    This is an utterly impractical suggestion. The reason Scalzi was able to do it the first couple of years was because he was an extremely well-known author with connections at publishers. Publishers are not going to be willing to give copies of works to unofficial randos who contact them asking for copies. And WSFS will not want random people contacting publishers on their behalf — that’s just an invitation for a whole lot of problems and bad feeling.

     
    Brian Z.: my guess is that it could be considered inflammatory today as dangerous protests are going on, but that in 2023 there will be more room for accommodation.

    Tiananmen Square, which the Chinese government will still not allow anyone to discuss or even on which to access information, happened in 1989. Surely you’re not claiming that they are going to allow discussion of the Hong Kong protests, or appearances by vocal protesters, 4 years from now.

    Ultimately, the problem here is that the Chinese government is known — they even openly admit it — for controlling the content of things which occur in their country. The Chinese government is the one who gave the free vacations to all of the SMOFs and SF authors. The fact that the government will have any control at all over a Worldcon is just simply not acceptable.

  14. Publishers are not going to be willing to give copies of works to unofficial randos who contact them asking for copies. And WSFS will not want random people contacting publishers on their behalf — that’s just an invitation for a whole lot of problems and bad feeling.

    Also if we were to “crowdsource translations”, there would need to be an additional grant of permission for said translations. Quite frankly, having seen the wide quality variance of fan translations, I would be shocked if any publisher said “ok here you go” to somebody they had no reason to trust. Especially if they had plans for a licensed translation. Translation is hard! (I do think there would probably be fan translations, but of the unauthorized, pirate kind.)

    Ultimately, the problem here is that the Chinese government is known — they even openly admit it — for controlling the content of things which occur in their country. The Chinese government is the one who gave the free vacations to all of the SMOFs and SF authors. The fact that the government will have any control at all over a Worldcon is just simply not acceptable.

    Especially coming on the heels of the NBA, Blizzard, etc. incidents of the last couple months.

    Martin

  15. It’s an interesting problem – Chengdu might be the first Worldcon with a significant number of the finalists only available in the host country’s language. Unauthorized fan translations will certainly appear. I suppose I was thinking more along the lines of ultimately producing a “Hugo finalists anthology” including translations. The question would be how to get a (at least draft?) translation out to the Hugo voters in a short window of time. Perhaps “crowdsourced” was the wrong word and I should have said “crowdfunded.”

    As to whether having publicly supported the Hong Kong protests in the past would be grounds for being barred from the convention. Four years from now? I don’t know… There’s such an awful lot of people, from Hollywood, from a lot of other industries, who have Tweeted or spoken up for the protesters. I don’t see an unlimited blanket ban on everybody who’s ever expressed a controversial opinion in a speech or Tweet at some point in the past. Someone for whom there is perceived to be reasonable grounds to believe they might wish to use the convention as a platform for their ongoing activism? That might be different.

  16. @Camestros Felapton

    I think it is unlikely the Chinese government would interfere or unduly influence the Hugo ballot in general.

    I wouldn’t expect the government itself to do anything about it, either. What strikes me as likely, though, is that the people who run the convention will know that what they do is visible to the government, and will make decisions with that in mind. Just as the private individual ran up on stage at FISM, private individuals on the ballot counting committee may “misplace” certain ballots. Whoever draws up the list of panels and participants may be biased in certain ways. It’s not so much that Jeanette NG would be banned, as that she wouldn’t be invited to do anything of note at the convention, no matter how appropriate her participation might otherwise be in an unconstrained environment. JJ’s comment above is right, I believe.

    When the populace is willing to do all your censorship for you, the government doesn’t have to weigh in.

    @Brian Z

    @bill, I agree with you that a piracy and bootlegging industry exists in China – I’m just saying that I doubt the hosts would want or allow it to be sold at their con.

    I don’t know what you base this on — China, as a country, encourages IP theft as national policy.

    If you are saying that you don’t want go to China period, because of your objection to piracy that goes on there, that’s different.

    No, I’m saying that IP theft is rampant in China, and that anyone who supports the rights of creators (including those who write SF/F, who make art, who perform — including many Filers) should think twice about endorsing the bid of a system that promotes this.

    my guess is that [Hong Kong] could be considered inflammatory today as dangerous protests are going on, but that in 2023 there will be more room for accommodation.

    The Chinese have long memories. It was in 1993 that Richard Gere criticized China’s occupation of Tibet at the Oscars. As the Chinese movie market has grown to be a more significant part of Hollywood’s bottom line, Gere’s star has faded. Gere believes those two facts are related.

    And I read this today, about using the internet in China. Are you willing to have your face scanned while using the internet in China? Are you willing to let Chinese border guards install malware on your phone when you visit?

  17. Brian Z: It’s an interesting problem – Chengdu might be the first Worldcon with a significant number of the finalists only available in the host country’s language. Unauthorized fan translations will certainly appear.

    Those unauthorized English translations would not be Hugo-eligible until the following year. But they would be Hugo-eligible the following year, so I would not vote for any work which had not yet been published in English in the award year, because, once translated, it is going to get its chance in English the following year when a lot more people can read it.

    And if they’re smart, Chinese fans will not nominate anything which has not already been published in English as well as Chinese, for that very reason.

     
    Brian Z: Someone for whom there is perceived to be reasonable grounds to believe they might wish to use the convention as a platform for their ongoing activism? That might be different.

    And that is exactly the problem. Any control over the convention, any government control at all, is utterly unacceptable.

  18. Brian Z on December 1, 2019 at 11:33 pm said:
    As to whether having publicly supported the Hong Kong protests in the past would be grounds for being barred from the convention. Four years from now? I don’t know… There’s such an awful lot of people, from Hollywood, from a lot of other industries, who have Tweeted or spoken up for the protesters. I don’t see an unlimited blanket ban on everybody who’s ever expressed a controversial opinion in a speech or Tweet at some point in the past.

    I don’t expect a blanket ban either — it would be an arbitrary ban and you might not know until your application for a visa is declined or when you are denied entry at the airport and you might never get an explanation. But…that’s an issue everywhere and it’s a possible outcome visiting the US as well.

    Someone for whom there is perceived to be reasonable grounds to believe they might wish to use the convention as a platform for their ongoing activism? That might be different

    Indeed and indeed that itself is a reason for activism as in a notable writer being denied entry to China for a holiday is a less interesting headline than a notable writer being denied entry to China to attend a famous conference or a famouse award ceremony.

  19. @bill

    I don’t know what you base this on — China, as a country, encourages IP theft as national policy.

    It just seems like you perceive China as a monolith. Fan-run local associations in Chengdu (not even national fan-run associations) are organizing this bid, and they care about creators’ IP and work to protect it. They are authors, editors, and fans. They aren’t responsible for the national policy of (in some industries) not being willing to crack down on IP theft. Of course they have to get government permission before organizing cultural events on this large scale (like everybody in China). I’m sure they are able to apply for grants/discounted facilities from the local government that are earmarked for science promotion in Chengdu; the local government doesn’t set national IP policy either.

    There are dozens of things that America does and promotes or fails to crack down on in its national policy that I find abhorrent, but it won’t stop me from supporting an American SF convention.

    I know some feel otherwise – and we can certainly agree to disagree in this case.

    The Chinese have long memories.

    I respect activists who speak out and I think the situation in Tibet is a tragedy. But this raises another important point – we already live in a globalized world whether we like it or not. By your argument, you shouldn’t go see those Hollywood movies because of the huge Chinese involvement in their production/screening/distribution. My opinion is that if you do still see those awful flicks made by awful corporations, you might think about supporting some Chinese science fiction fans to run a non-profit convention too.

  20. @Camestros,

    Indeed and indeed that itself is a reason for activism as in a notable writer being denied entry to China for a holiday is a less interesting headline than a notable writer being denied entry to China to attend a famous conference or a famouse award ceremony.

    I have seen one case of this happening in connection with the protests, but the name of the person barred from entry escapes me. I recall it was a foreign journalist who hit the Hong Kong streets and in the view of the Chinese government joined the protests and filmed and broadcast from within them. Please correct me if you know the incident and I am remembering it wrong.

    I’m not sure the Chinese government is interested in denying entry to science fiction authors for a public statement or Tweet. Where would it end?

  21. Brian Z.: Fan-run local associations in Chengdu (not even national fan-run associations) are organizing this bid

    Except that neither the Galaxy Science Fiction Alliance nor the Sichuan Science Fiction Association actually appear to exist, except where they’re mentioned in a couple of press releases appearing in identical form on a dozen or so websites, and in the Chengdu bid document.

     
    Brian Z.: There are dozens of things that America does and promotes or fails to crack down on in its national policy that I find abhorrent, but it won’t stop me from supporting an American SF convention.

    The big difference, of course, is that the U.S. government, for all of its failings, will not exercise any control over the content or programming of a U.S. Worldcon.

     
    Brian Z.: I’m not sure the Chinese government is interested in denying entry to science fiction authors for a public statement or Tweet.

    I’m glad to see you admitting that you have no knowledgeable basis for judging what the Chinese government might forbid, especially given the Chinese government’s long history of forbidding dissent and open speech, and arresting and imprisoning dissenters.

  22. Brian Z on December 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm said:

    I have seen one case of this happening in connection with the protests, but the name of the person barred from entry escapes me.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50452829
    “In a statement after Mr Hastie’s and Mr Paterson’s visas were refused, a Chinese embassy spokesperson said that they “do not welcome those who make unwarranted attacks” on the country.”
    Both MPs were members of the current ruling party in Australia

    The Chinese government also makes assertive use of exit bans i.e. letting you in but not letting you out again. Of course all nations do that to some degree but it can be tricky leaving China. https://www.afr.com/world/asia/china-steps-up-and-widens-use-of-exit-bans-on-foreigners-20181129-h18jkh

  23. Brian Z on December 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm said:

    I have seen one case of this happening in connection with the protests, but the name of the person barred from entry escapes me.

    Meanwhile:
    https://www.npr.org/2019/04/25/716032871/visas-are-the-newest-weapon-in-u-s-china-rivalry
    The US government has engaged in a tit-for-tat Visa cancellations i.e.there’s a bit of a visa cancellation war going on between the two nations.

    And to add to the problem, the Chinese government has been prone to preventing internal travel also https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2148980/china-names-169-people-banned-taking-flights-or-trains

    Again, I’m not saying the Chinese government will do these things in connection with a Worldcon but it isn’t an absurd notion.

  24. I will not vote for Chengdu. I think there are too many risks involved with suppression of free speech and I think there will be a trouble getting volunteers who knows how a Worldcon works, as they will most likely be vary about getting blame for possible chinese interference. A few banned authors, some stopped panels, a protest that is shutdown. All these are likely and will genrate ill-will for a long time.

    We in Sweden are right now feeling the brunt of Chinese pressure on a large amout of issues. The Chinese ambassador has been called to our foreign ministry to explain himself more than 40 times as yet. They have put on pressure to stop swedish export, ban our foreign minister, stop showing our films, This because of swedish protests when China kidnapped and jailed one of our publishers who had published books about chinese politics.

    So no. This is not something I can vote for, even if I liked the fans in Dublin 2019 very much.

  25. @Brian Z:

    I’m not sure the Chinese government is interested in denying entry to science fiction authors for a public statement or Tweet. Where would it end?

    I am not comforted by the argument that a government might not choose to arbitrarily exclude foreigners for their publicly stated opinions, because it might lead to them “having to” exclude a lot of people.

    Monitoring news and social media for suspect/interesting content can be largely automated–e.g. filter for things like “Hong Kong,” “Dalai Lama,” or “Tienanmen” and have humans look at what the filter finds. Or, for some topics, assume that any mention of them is suspect, and block it/block the person’s twitter feed/kick them off Chinese social media/forward the results to the government agency that handles visas….

    Bear in mind that there are few if any circumstances in which a foreigner has the legal right to enter a country. If a country turns away a foreign ambassador, they might explain why–or not, and then likely have their ambassador sent home in turn. A cultural attache’s spouse, or a private tourist? Sorry, you have no visa, the flight home is over there, good luck getting your hotel reservation and internal train tickets refunded.

  26. @Brian Z

    It just seems like you perceive China as a monolith.

    Well, China works pretty hard to stomp on anything that isn’t approved by the Communist Party, so I’m not sure I’m wrong to do so. It’s not like they’re known for diversity of opinions.

    Fan-run local associations in Chengdu . . . care about creators’ IP and work to protect it.

    Again, I don’t know what you are basing statements like this on. Do you know members of the group? Communicate with them? What activities have they undertaken to protect creators’ rights? Is there a Chinese equivalent of “Writer Beware”?

  27. @Camestros

    I agree none of that is likely happen in connection with a Worldcon. Nor are those cases of being refused entry for making a statement in support of Hong Kong protests. And they are things other countries also do as well. Think the US won’t capriciously deny you entry or invade your privacy over some dumb thing? Know how many Americans have had driver’s licenses confiscated for ludicrous reasons unrelated to how they drive? etc.

    @Hampus, 

    If they threw a Worldcon without asking experienced Worldcon fans from other countries to help, that would be difficult. But why would they do that? The answer to “not enough experienced volunteers” is “so volunteer”.

    I do not see the merit in the argument that visitors will instigate protests which will lead to bad feelings. Personally, I think any fan is free to lead any protest or commandeer any panel they wish. But what would be the appropriate response of the hosts/moderators, if not to ask them to stop? (Though, to be honest, I kind of hope they won’t look to past conventions for guidance and learn about Truesdale being thrown out over pearl-clutching.)

    I share the concerns you raised about the publisher’s imprisonment. However, Americans don’t have a lot of moral ground to stand on given the panoply of horrors of how America has treated prisoners and detainees. Probably Swedes can sleep better at night, though remember all the time they spent trying to extradite Julian Assange without charging him with a crime, and the deathly condition he’s in now.

    @Vicki Rosenzweig

    I also fear that surveillance like what you described is approaching – though I’m not positive China is the leader of the pack.  

    @bill and others

    Here’s a thoughtful article on chinanews.com that summarizes the Chengdu bid situation from a Chinese perspective. (Try your browser’s “translate to English” button – it just worked for me.) I hope it’s useful.

    The author who rallied Chengdu fandom to push for a 2023 Worldcon bid (in a speech he gave at a con in 2017) is the head of a local writer’s association. In terms of your concerns, I see that it is in fact the case that this author does hold a political office of sorts, according to this article, in the Committee of Culture, History and Study of the provincial branch of the People’s Political Consultative Conference. But that is not a government office in the sense of implementing orders from the top. It is an advisory body that advises the government and it includes private members who are not part of any political party. For a sense of how the Conference functions at the national level today, here’s an interesting article from Hong Kong. Local SF groups supporting the Chengdu bid so far also include Science Fiction World, a four-decade old magazine that possibly has more readers than all English-language science fiction magazines combined, and a dozen college science fiction clubs.

    I would wish them luck putting together a committee, and as it becomes more substantive, why not mention these concerns to them? 

  28. @Brian Z:

    I’m not sure the Chinese government is interested in denying entry to science fiction authors for a public statement or Tweet. Where would it end?

    Why would you assume that? The whole NBA fuss was about a tweet from an NBA player, one who wasn’t even among those playing in China.

    I haven’t quite decided what I think about this bid. It seems certain that a lot of people will be denied visas and that there will be restrictions on panel topics and materials. It might be worth doing it anyway, since there are a lot of genre fans in China and it would be difficult for them to attend a Worldcon any other way.

  29. Brian Z: The author who rallied Chengdu fandom to push for a 2023 Worldcon bid (in a speech he gave at a con in 2017) is the head of a local writer’s association. In terms of your concerns, I see that it is in fact the case that this author does hold a political office of sorts, according to this article, in the Committee of Culture, History and Study of the provincial branch of the People’s Political Consultative Conference. But that is not a government office in the sense of implementing orders from the top.

    According to who? You?

    The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, referred to as the CPPCC and the CPPCC for short, is the united front organization under the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system led by the Communist Party of China…

    The General Regulations of the Constitution of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which was revised in 2000, states: “All activities of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference are based on the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China… Units and individuals participating in the National Committee or Local Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference have the obligation to abide by and implement this charter. “

    Article 3: “The National Committee and Local Committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference implement the strategy of administering the country according to law, publicize and implement the country’s constitution, laws, regulations and various guidelines and policies”

    Article 11: “The National Committee and Local Committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference publicize and participate in the implementation of the country’s guidelines and policies for the unification of the motherland, and actively carry out contacts with Taiwan compatriots and people from all walks of life, and promote the realization of the great cause of reunification of the motherland. Contact and solidarity with compatriots in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and compatriots in Macao Special Administrative Region , encourage them to contribute to maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao, and to building the motherland and reunifying the motherland. ”

    Article 16: “The National Committee and the Local Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference publicize and assist in the implementation of the country’s foreign policy

    https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/Chinese-People's-Political-Consultative-Conference

     
    Brian Z: Local SF groups supporting the Chengdu bid so far also include Science Fiction World

    That’s not a “local group”, it’s a magazine which has existed since 1979. In 2010, the Science Fiction World editor was removed from his position by the Sichuan Science and Technology Association.
    https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science-Fiction-World

    The Sichuan Science and Technology Association also runs the China International Science Fiction Conference, which just bought free vacations for a bunch of Worldcon conrunners.
    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

    Please do tell me again how this isn’t all being orchestrated by the Chinese government. All of your thrashing about for excuses is quite entertaining.

  30. Brian Z:

    “…though remember all the time they spent trying to extradite Julian Assange without charging him with a crime, and the deathly condition he’s in now.”

    So to defend a Worldcon in Chengdu, your argument is that accused rapists escaping from bail should not be subject to calls for extradition? What does that have to do with the proposed bid?

  31. @ bookworm1398

    None of us has a crystal ball, but the difference is that Worldcon is an unincorporated literary society, whereas NBA games are watched by something approaching half a billion people in China and I shudder to think how much money the NBA makes there. It was cute how the Chinese Foreign Ministry got indignant, after the Chinese Government was accused having insisted that the Houston Rockets GM be fired — how dare you accuse us of that!, but they also had to quietly check with the other Ministries to be sure it wasn’t true. Maybe we should all stop watching NBA games if they keep on taking the big Chinese bucks and attempting to muzzle their players/managers. That would be an intellectually consistent position. But if so, better not watch the new Terminator flick or that Mr. Rogers movie – that’s the same Chinese company as the NBA. If you watch a non-Chinese invested movie, better not watch it in an AMC theater – that’s half Chinese-owned too.

    This is all inescapable in today’s world, and I’d just rather we begin from the point of recognizing that we are already inextricably connected to China as fans of the genre, and not let ourselves get misinformed about these complex and evolving relationships between writer’s groups, “people’s associations”, publishers, science fiction clubs, etc., at a time when both China’s genre scene and its political environment are undergoing transformational changes.

    @Hampus – I don’t wish to belabor this issue, but its relevance is it is an example of hypocrisy. As you know, the Swedish government has not accused Assange of any crime. He fled house arrest because he had a reasonable belief he’d be extradited to the US – and he was right; that’s exactly what is happening. And he’s been tortured half to death in the process.

  32. Brian Z:

    You argue that it is good to have a Worldcon in Chengdu, because it is “hypocrisy” to request an extradition of people who escape from bail? And you say that if Assange had stayed in Sweden, the UK would have extradited him to the US? How would that even be possible!? That is a thoroughly weird argument and I can’t see how it makes any difference with regards to a Worldcon bid for China.

  33. Brian Z.: not let ourselves get misinformed about these complex and evolving relationships between writer’s groups, “people’s associations”, publishers, science fiction clubs, etc., at a time when both China’s genre scene and its political environment are undergoing transformational changes.

    Thank you for finally admitting that the Chinese government is clearly involved in the Chengdu Worldcon bid, and is undeniably exerting influence and control over it.

  34. The Chinese government does have an official position on events such as a Worldcon: the government has a policy of encouraging activities that promote science education. But that’s it. The fact that Chinese society is different from what we are used to does not mean Chinese fans lack agency to run a con. A famous local author participating in a government advisory council, or a sponsoring local magazine operating under the wing of a scientists’ association, don’t mean the government will control the Worldcon any more than Dublin 2019 was controlled by the Irish government and the United Nations because it was sponsored by the Irish Tourism Board and UNESCO. Chengdu fans are serious and they are following Worldcon’s rules in good faith like we asked them to. Whatever site is selected in DC in a year and half, a significant number of real fans from China will become Worldcon members, and I hope that the engagement will be respectful.

    @ all, this was fascinating, so thanks for the discussion.

  35. @Brian Z: that is a fascinating claim based on nothing demonstrable — especially since you’ve already made mistakes (to be generous) about the representations made by the bidcom to the rest of fandom.

    And I’m curious about what “transformational changes” you think the PRC is undergoing; AFAICT, any such changes start with the tightening of control and the installation of a president-for-life, neither of which are encouraging.

  36. @Chip:

    I’m not friends with them or anything. No inside information. My perspective is based having paid attention to developments in China for a long time, and it leads me to think the alarm about government meddling in fannish affairs (is that a fair summary?) is overblown.

    If the bid has made statements that it seems I am unintentionally misrepresenting, correct me. (I did learn that that speech was given at a “Bidding Banquet,” not at the Inquisition as it seemed it might have been from the photo, thanks.)

    We could talk about transformation all day, but see the articles I linked above to start. At a fannish level, boosting university clubs, academic SFF programs and student journals, trying to organize local cons across China, bringing in international conrunners to share experiences, online fandom has exploded (and is hardly amenable to central control), not to mention gaming, genre film fandom, etc. On the national politics level, the whole country is geared up to promote science and technology (including the SF genre) to the point that they’re throwing corrupt real estate tycoons and wealthy children of ex-officials off the Political Consultative Conference and replacing them with tech industry leaders.

    (I didn’t say I was referring to a transformation to a political system of Western-style democracy, if that’s what you thought I meant, though there are certainly novel ways for people to make their voices heard in government. I do expect a shift to a much more democratic China, but not overnight and that’s not what I meant here.)

  37. Brian Z:

    I’ll ask you again: In what way exactly is the Worldcon bid for Chengdu affected by the fact that you think it is “hypocrisy” to request an extradition of an alleged rapist when he performs the crime of escaping from bail?

  38. Considering Mike himself linked a few days ago to this article:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/magazine/ken-liu-three-body-problem-chinese-science-fiction.html

    …about Ken Liu, arguably the greatest booster of Chinese SF outside of China, reporting that he occasionally fears for the safety of the authors he works with, that the government has blocked shipments of his translated books and cancelled his visa without explanation – I’d say it’s perfectly plausible that the Chinese government’s unpredictable but often obstructive and sometimes perilous interest in the SFF field makes the arrival of merchandise, fans, official guests, and their interaction with Chinese fans at a con an uncertain proposition at best and a dangerous one at worst for all involved.

  39. @Brian Z: you’ve already been told by someone who was there that your indirect report was false — not just in where events happened, but in what was said by the bidcom; your demand that this info be repeated is at best an argument in bad faith. Your expectation of “a shift to a much more democratic China” is contradicted by facts on the ground and in the meeting hall of the PRC’s rulers.

  40. Brian Z on December 3, 2019 at 10:43 am said:

    @Camestros

    I agree none of that is likely happen in connection with a Worldcon. Nor are those cases of being refused entry for making a statement in support of Hong Kong protests.

    In the case of the two banned MPs Hong Kong wans’t the ONLY reason but it was a factor. From the linked story:

    “”Hong Kong is one of the most amazing places in the world and what is happening there is an absolute tragedy and I believe the Communist Party bears some responsibility for that,” he told Australian broadcaster ABC on Friday.”

    And they are things other countries also do as well. Think the US won’t capriciously deny you entry or invade your privacy over some dumb thing? Know how many Americans have had driver’s licenses confiscated for ludicrous reasons unrelated to how they drive? etc.

    Hence on-going discussion about the problems of holding a Worldcon in the US that we’ve been having on this blog for some time now. Arbitary visa restrictions are an issue with picking a country in which a Worldcon can be held. It would be absurd to have multiple discussion about the problems with the US and yet somehow even bigger issues with China!

    China isn’t being singled out in this regard because it isn’t a unique problem. However, it IS a substantial problem with China. Where China is already ahead of the US (but it is a direction the US is going) is that generic and reasonable criticism of government policy is a reason why you can be denied entry. That’s a problem. It was a problem we also discussed in relation to a possible Tel Aviv bid and whether Israeli government policies hostile to criticism of the occupation of the West Bank might have a chilling effect on a potential bid discussion.

    That China is not alone in this doesn’t make the Chinese government’s attitude less of a problem to a potential bid.

    Think about it like disabled access to a venue. If somebody says “this venue has bad facilities for disabled fans” a good answer is NOT “well, lots of other venues also have bad facilities for disabled fans.”

  41. Visa restrictions can be viewed as a specific way in which China limits human rights and intellectual freedom. And while it may be true that America visa polices can be criticized*, there is simply no comparison between the US record on human rights and China’s. China puts millions in labor/concentration camps for their religion, and the US doesn’t. The Chinese treatment of Uighurs is plenty sufficient for me to oppose a Chinese Worldcon bid.

    *(Is this hypothetical, or are there cases where the US has denied foreign travelers visas because of political statements they have made?)

  42. @bill
    The US blanket bans people from certain countries (mostly based on religion with a few fig leaves thrown in), even dual nationals who haven’t lived in the country in question for years, from entering. There are also reports about intrusive searches of social media accounts and just the general awful behaviour of many US border guards.

    I’m not going to travel to the US for a WorldCon or any other purpose, until the immigration regulations return to a reasonable standard. I used to teach German to refugees, many of them muslim and from countries the US does not like. Will having had a lot of contact with muslims be sufficient to deny me entry? Maybe not, but I don’t plan on finding out. For WorldCons, there’s also the additional issue of figuring out whether it counts as a business trip or holiday, one of which requires a visa and one of which does not.

    As for China, as I’ve said somewhere above, they generally leave western travellers from countries they want to trade with alone. However, China is also known for denying visa for no discernible reason and reports about this have increased in recent years. And I not only have had a lot of contact with muslims, though none of them were Uighurs, and I have done translations for people from Taiwan and Hong Kong. Is this going to be a problem? I don’t know.

    Also, and this is an issue with both the US and China, I wouldn’t go to either country without removing anything related to my translation work from my laptop and phone, because I also do technical translations and industrial espionage is a thing in both countries.

    I do feel sorry for the Chinese fans, because the Chengdu representatives in Dublin were nice people. I also don’t judge them for working with/getting the support of their government, because they have to live in China with its surveillance and social credit system and I don’t. But unless things drastically change for the better in the next two years, I don’t think the time is right for a Chengdu WorldCon.

  43. @jayn

    If I knew of authors who are brave enough to use literature to confront difficult topics to the point that they might get in hot water with their government, I’d prefer to go there and stand with them in support of their literary efforts.

    On merchandise – it is very true that it is a painstaking and sometimes arbitrary process to import foreign books. I imagine only publishers/importers/distributors licensed in China would be able to sell at the con. Maybe with a little wiggle room for small scale huckstering? That’s a question I’d like answered, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me either way.

    @Chip

    Then it sounds like you are misinformed. The speech I described did take place and is reported on the bid website. (I just got the venue wrong.)

    I don’t think a host should be required to have a government that is a western style liberal democracy to make a successful bid, but perhaps some do. Vote your conscience, of course.

    @bill – likewise. The treatment of this Muslim minority group is appalling. I suspect Chinese look at Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and the US prison system, and wonder how on earth it has come to pass that they’re being lectured to by Americans, but obviously many wrongs don’t make anything right.

  44. I’m not aware of a “bidding banquet” anywhere on the Dublin program, but I wasn’t able to attend. Anyone who was there have any idea where this gentleman’s.speech might have been given?

  45. @Cora

    The US blanket bans people from certain countries (mostly based on religion with a few fig leaves thrown in),

    No, it doesn’t.
    I presume you are speaking of the Trump Muslim Travel Ban. The U.S. State Dept publishes immigration statistics, and we take people from anywhere, including the 8 countries under the most recent version of the “ban”.

    We certainly don’t ban Muslims. Wikipedia lists about 50 countries that are majority Muslim; only 6 of them are on the list. Those 50-odd countries represented about 17% of immigrant visas to the US in 2018 (90,157 out of 533,557); and in Obama’s last year, about 20.4% (125,962 out of 617,752). So things are marginally different under the current president than they were under the previous one.

    There are also reports about intrusive searches of social media accounts

    “In FY17, CBP conducted 30,200 border searches, both inbound and outbound, of electronic devices. CBP searched the electronic devices of more than 29,200 arriving international travelers, affecting 0.007 percent of the approximately 397 million travelers arriving to the United States. ” (link)
    It extraordinarily unlikely that this will happen to any traveler who is not already on one of the terrorist “watch lists”; further, just a few weeks ago, a court found many of these searches to be unconstitutional, and they will be even less likely.

  46. @bill: I wish I shared your optimism that CBP or the Trump administration will stop doing bad things because a court has found them to be unconstitutional.

    A policy of banning people because their countries of origin are [perceived as] Muslim is a religion-based policy, even if it doesn’t affect Muslim travelers from countries that aren’t on the list. If I said “I hate baseball fans, and therefore am excluding anyone who comes in wearing a hat or shirt advertising a National League team,” it would be a clearly biased policy even though it wouldn’t affect Yankees fans.

    @Brian Z.: If I knew of such writers, I would want to not endanger them by my actions. If Ken Liu is carefully not naming names to keep from getting Chinese writers in trouble, I very much doubt that foreigners bumbling in and saying they “wanted to stand with” those brave writers would help anything, except maybe the foreigner’s good opinion of themself.

  47. @Brian Z:

    If I knew of authors who are brave enough to use literature to confront difficult topics to the point that they might get in hot water with their government, I’d prefer to go there and stand with them in support of their literary efforts.

    Brave words, Brian. But if you actually read the link to the New York Times Magazine article, you’d see (as I’ve already mentioned and you’ve ignored) that the man who’s actually DONE real things to support Chinese writers in their literary efforts – Ken Liu – has been TRYING to get there recently and had his visa turned down and his translations of their writings obstructed for reasons which haven’t been clarified, and expresses worry for those writers’ safety.

    Translate that into organizing a con. Say Ken Liu is invited as GoH – but his visa is blocked for reasons the Chinese government feels no reason to clarify. Going to the con under those conditions would be an endorsement of the Chinese government’s efforts to manipulate the literary field.

    And going there and prancing around obliviously as a member spouting brave words of defiance to Chinese writers when you are completely ignorant of the pressures they are under and what would be dangerous to them to say or do isn’t likely to be enough ‘support’ to cancel out the endorsement of the government puppet show that your purchase of a membership and your attendance would be. As Vicki Rosensweig says, that would be an exercise in possibly endangering them to satisfy vanity.

    The Chengdu bid representatives said openly that queer representation might cause problems – no specifying what problems. Would LGBT art and literature for sale be blocked or confiscated? Would LGBT writers be blocked from attending, selling books, or harassed from panels? You don’t know. How to assure that normal con activities go on under these conditions of uncertainty? Those are the kinds of questions you’re ignoring.

  48. @Brian Z: I don’t know for certain that you are deliberately misrepresenting, I have not been misinformed; I was talking not about some panjandrum’s speech (wherever it took place), but the abject failure of the bidcom when asked about LGBTQ tolerance. See @JJ’s correction of your erroneous claim — or just notice @jayn’s comment.

    I notice you have no answer for my challenge to your absurd belief that the PRC will somehow become more democratic; this is the same PRC whose politburo recently abandoned what little control it had left and declared Xi Jinping to be boss-for-life.

  49. @bill
    It is a good sign that US courts are striking down the various versions of Trump’s travel ban and intrusive social media searches. And yes, the ban never targeted all muslims. For example, the Gulf States were never targeted, because Trump is friendly with their rulers and the US needs their oil, even though a lot of the Al Qaeda terrorists that specifically targeted the US were Saudi-Arabian nationals. The People’s Republic of China BTW does not harrass people from the Gulf States either because of trade interests. But that does not change that there was an attempt at a blanket ban on people from certain countries, including dual citizens who had spent most of their life abroad and don’t even get along with their own government (once you have Iranian citizenship, you can never relinquish it, even if you have lived elsewhere for decades). And even if countries like North Korea and Cuba were put on the ban list, it is nonetheless notable that the ban mainly targets people from muslim majority countries.

    Another huge issue is the extreme rudeness of US border guards and the utter randomness with which they harrass travellers. US border guards are about as unpleasant as East European ones during Communist times. Chinese border guards are supposedly less unpleasant, at least if you are a western tourist or business traveller. So even if only a small minority of travellers to the US are subjected to intrusive social media searches, I doubt that they only hit people on terrorist watchlists.

    And let’s not forget the internment of supposed illegal immigrants, including small children (several of whom have died in custody), in the US under the current government. Or the fact that the overwhelming majority of those detained immigrants are Latin American.

    Of course, that’s nothing against what is happening in Xinjiang at the moment. Also, the chances of the situation in the US improving are much higher than the chances of the situation in China improving. After all, Trump may be out of office by early 2021 and by early 2025 at the very latest. Xi Jinping won’t step down until he kicks the bucket.

    But there are plenty of people who either can’t or won’t travel to a US WorldCon, just as there are plenty of people who can’t or won’t travel to China (or Israel, for that matter).

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