My Most Memorable Moment at the Chengdu Worldcon

Chris M. Barkley and RiverFlow. Photo taken at the Chengdu Worldcon Program Item: Records and Maps of Human’s Imaginary: Examining, Cataloging and the History of Chinese Science Fiction on Friday October 20th, 2023, the photographer is unknown.

By Chris M. Barkley: When I was cordially invited to attend the 81st World Science Fiction Convention by the Chengdu Science Fiction Society and its Worldcon Committee this past summer, I made a decision to keep a diary of the events leading up to and during the convention.

And now, two weeks after this historic event, I am in the process of transcribing (and deciphering) all of the notes and pages of observations that I have compiled over the past four months.

Last week, I heard that RiverFlow, my fellow Hugo Finalist in the Best Fan Writer category and the recipient of this year’s award in the Best Fanzine category (with his fellow editor, Ling Shizen), put out a call for convention reports and memorable moments.

Well, considering that I was publicly seen hoisting this year’s Best Fan Writer award, many people might consider that to be my moment of choice.

But I would beg to differ.

What I consider to be my top three moments all happened at the Hugo Awards Ceremony but not necessarily in the order you might think.

In third place would be the incredible moment I felt when my name was announced, in English. Because when it was announced in Chinese by Wang Hongwei, the Executive Producer of The Wandering Earth, Vice President of Chinese Directors Association and President of Science Fiction Film Work Committee of China Film Association, I was certain that either RiverFlow or Arthur Liu had won.



 My second memorable moment was the reading of my speech, which I somehow made it through without crying, especially after reading the names of my late parents, family members and friends.

But the MOST memorable moment of the convention came in between those two moments.

As I stumbled across the narrow aisle of the second row of seats towards the stage, the person at the end of the row stood up and gave me a strong, all encompassing bear hug.

That person was my peer and fellow Hugo Award Finalist, RiverFlow.

That sign of solidarity almost burst into tears right then and there. I had just a few moments to pull myself together before I grasped the hand of the lovely child astronaut and ascended to the stage to accept.

In reality, I may have the award for Best Fan Writer of 2023, but traditionally, the award does not go solely to me personally, it is for the work itself.

Mind you, I was quite happy to be named a Hugo Award winning author… But I would have been just as joyful had any of the other finalists had been announced. Because I do not consider RiverFlow, Arthur, Bitter, Jason and Örjan as my rivals or competition, they are my peers and fellow travelers in writing.

The tremendous hug from RiverFlow through, was an unforgettable and invaluable reward in itself. And I am the humble and grateful recipient of it.

Thank You, RiverFlow.

12 thoughts on “My Most Memorable Moment at the Chengdu Worldcon

  1. Thank you for your kind words, Chris! There’s just a minor correction – the actual panel for the heading photo should be “We All Are Sci-fi Fans: 21 Century Chinese Sci-fi Fandom Research” (confirmed by Riverflow).

    The Panel “Records and Maps of Human’s Imaginary: Examining, Cataloging and the History of Chinese Science Fiction” was cancelled due to Riverflow’s health issue. I’m the moderator of this one and I can’t believe they still used this machine translated title after they hurried me like hell to provide my translation in the midnight – if should be “To Draw a Map: Archaeology, Bibliography and the History of Chinese Science Fiction”.

  2. Arthur: Ahem…I actually copied the title of the panel directly from the English translation in the Chengdu Worldcon Program Book. But for the sake of accuracy, your correction is very much appreciated. Thank You!

    Chris B.

  3. One of the things that is truly good about the Chengdu Worldcon is the stronger connection with Chinese fans. I was impressed by the overall excellence of the Best Fan Writer finalists this year. I’m glad Chris got to have the experience of meeting them in person.

  4. It’s my first time comment in File770, That’s because this article makes me so move.l think Chris Barkley deserves it. Before attending the WorldCon, I read an article from the “Unofficial Hugo Awards Book Club” detailing Barkley’s contributions to the science fiction fandom. He has been writing for decades. You were so impressed with the hug, I can only express shame and gratitude. For me, I am only active in the Chinese sci-fi fan base, which is dwarfed by the fact that I only started trying to connect with foreign friends last year.

    I think the most moving thing is that there are Chinese fans translating English into Chinese, and there are British fans translating Chinese into English. This is a great trans-sea science fiction spirit

  5. Congratulations, Chris!

    One of the strangest moments of my life happend as I was sitting in the audience at the Hugo ceremony in 2002. Jo Walton was up for the Astounding Award, and I was a designated acceptor. Stanley Schmidt was on stage reading the nominees. He opened the envelope and said “the award goes to…”

    and in that moment I suddenly saw and heard two of him at once, one saying “Ken Wharton” and one saying “Jo Walton”. I really felt I knew in that moment what it was to be Schrödinger’s Cat.

    And then the wave function collapsed, and it went the way I wanted it to.

  6. @David: A Schrödinger award would have been particularly appropriate for Walton’s “My Real Children”

  7. Pingback: Zero Gravity SF Issues #14 and #15 Released - File 770

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