Negative Worldcon Bidding in the Internet Age

Fans searching for Beijing in 2016 Worldcon bid information are now likely to come across This is the first example I’ve ever seen of a webpage dedicated to slamming a particular Worldcon bid.

Beijing2016’s header art features a smog-shrouded photo of the Forbidden City. Its lead article is an extract about the lack of internet freedom in China from the U.S. Department of State “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.”

Search engines are led to it by a notice in the lower right corner:

Beijing 2016 Worldcon Bid

Beijing will bid to host the 2016 Worldcon to be a vote in London this year. A Worldcon is a convention of the World Science Fiction Society.

The domain was created in February. A Whois search shows the domain registrant is an anonymizing service with an Australian post office box in Nobby Beach in Queensland.

I wondered if the use of a U.S. government report rather than Australian source material might be a clue to the site’s creator, though perhaps not. No one interested in criticizing China would start with Australia’s official brief on China, a highly conciliatory document.

I also wondered if this site’s reference to the Worldcon bid was a coincidence – whether there might be a string of Beijing-fill-in-the-year domains discouraging China’s convention business. I found other such domains, though not being used for that purpose. The others I researched are little-used and registered by different owners (not anonymizing services, so far as I could tell). It looks like Beijing2016 was specifically tailored to influence the Worldcon race.

Worldcon Bids Filed for 2016

Both Beijing in 2016 and Kansas City in 2016 filed by the February 15 deadline and will appear on the Worldcon site selection ballot. Loncon 3’s Ben Yalow said their filings will be added to the con’s site selection page.

For a bid to qualify for the ballot it has to provide the following information at least 180 days before the start of the administering Worldcon:

(1) an announcement of intent to bid;

(2) adequate evidence of an agreement with its proposed site’s facilities, such as a conditional contract or a letter of agreement;

(3) the rules under which the Worldcon Committee will operate, including a specification of the term of office of their chief executive officer or officers and the conditions and procedures for the selection and replacement of such officer or officers.

Kansas City’s committee and facilities have been publicized for some time. The Beijing bid was announced in January on a website that gives none of these details and fans have been waiting to see who’s behind the bid and their proposed facilities.

Update 02/19/2014: Filings are posted — link now goes directly to filing page.

Beijing in 2016 Worldcon Bid

Beijing in 2016 logoThe unveiling of a Beijing in 2016 Worldcon bid webpage has sparked a great deal of discussion among conrunners, divided between those who wonder if it should be taken seriously and those who hope it can.

Imprinted with the cleverly designed logo of the “Future Affairs Administration,” the webpage is hosted on the domain. is owned by Guoke Media, whose CEO Ji Shisan was profiled in China Pictorial this month. He told the interviewer —

“Our team will make an appearance at this year’s Worldcon [World Science Fiction Convention] in London, and we hope to win a bid to host the event in the near future,” Ji reveals. The 72nd Worldcon is scheduled for August 14 to 18.

Ji and his team are also big fans of science fiction, which they believe to be not only prophetic, but also a designer and engineer of humanity’s future. Guokr Media has already begun organizing the fifth Xingyun Awards, an international awards ceremony for Chinese-language science-fiction writers, to be held this summer in Beijing. In Ji’s opinion, the power of sci-fi inspiration is significant in terms of changing the fate of all humans.

Ji Shisan, who holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology, spent five years working as a science journalist and in 2008 founded an association for scientific writers that now has over 100 members worldwide. Shisan describes as an extension of his work to popularize science.

“ creates a shortcut for scientific communication, making otherwise heavy, dense, dry scientific information much more accessible to ordinary people,” Ji explains. “From my understanding, science should be part of mainstream culture since scientific information plays a role in business, music, performance, sci-fi work and TV programs. At the end of the day, I want people to realize that science can be fun.”

Information about the bid on the Beijing in 2016 website is sparse. The bottom-line menu on the homepage links to several other pages but Google Translate shows these are all promotions of or its hosted content. The webpage discloses nothing about the proposed facilities or the members of the bid committee.

Bids for 2016 must be filed with Loncon 3 by February 15 to get on the ballot.

Those of us depending on English-language journalism cannot accurately estimate how many large sf events have been hosted in China over the years, the connections between them, and what it takes to run a large convention or conference there. But we know there have been such events. There was a 97 Beijing International Conference for Science Fiction. And in 2007, prior to the Worldcon in Nippon, thousands of fans attended the Chengdu International SF/F Conference to meet Neil Gaiman, Robert Sawyer and other international authors. After the Chengdu conference an associate of China’s Science Fiction World magazine wrote: “SFW learned more about how to hold an international SF/F conference and aspires at some stage to host the Worldcon in China.” Whether SFW is connected with the 2016 bid is not known at this time.

[Via Martin Easterbrook and Liz Batty.]