(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Part two of Huawen’s con report
(Warning: the original post is very meme heavy towards the end; I’ve skipped them in these extracts.)
4. Remote location, but very high standards
Many people have mentioned it before, and I have to say it again, the venue is indeed very, very remote! [As mentioned in yesterday’s report, I believe that Huawen lives in a different district of Chengdu, although he mentions elsewhere in the report of not understanding Sichuan dialect, which makes me think he wasn’t originally a local?] …
However, being in a remote area with few people also has the advantage of being convenient for closed management…
The organizing committee actually had the ability to persuade the traffic control department to work overtime to help, and it must have been very hard work to control such a large area for such a long time.
5. The publicity and display work is in place
I can see the promotion of this convention in various forms almost anywhere in Chengdu…
Once, when we were having dinner a few kilometers away from the venue, the proprietor of the establishment asked curiously, was there any conference going on there? We quickly responded, yes, yes, a science fiction convention, the World Science Fiction Convention. She asked what a science fiction conference was, and we explained it for a long time. We had never explained it in this way before, and I don’t know if she understood it.
Then she asked a question that sent shivers down our spines – “Can you take me in to sell packed lunches?” …
6. I’m sorry about the ticketing problem
[There were] more than 20 million citizens who were eager to practice their English for the Chengdu World University Games without thinking about food or drink. The overwhelming publicity also directly ignited the enthusiasm for science fiction among Chengdu citizens.
Soon everyone would see it!
In August, before the large-scale publicity machine was launched, nearly 3,000 people bought offline tickets in just two days. At that time, the organizing committee estimated that the final number of participants would be around 8,000.
In the end, no one expected that the tickets would no longer be available as of September 21st!!! …
The originally unlimited tickets were all bought up by Chengdu citizens! It was only September, and there was still a full month before the conference! …
However, I realized something was amiss – oops! I haven’t bought a ticket for myself yet!
7. The regrettable and heart-wrenching drawing of lots for the three major ceremonies
However, now there was a problem that was not expected before; that is, the ticket purchase and admission channels were not unified. [These groups were]
(1) During the 2021 site selection voting period, there were about 2,000 people who spent 640 yuan [around $87 USD] to support Chengdu’s site-selection bid.
(2) Those who bought a membership on the official website in August 2023.
(3) Those who bought 5-day tickets on Damai.com in September 2023.
(4) One-day tickets purchased on Damai.com in October 2023.
(5) Guests from home and abroad.
(6) Con staff from who have to go to the venue to work.
(7) Venue security personnel.
(8) Concerned about and inspected the leaders and accompanying personnel at all levels of the conference. [I put this through a couple of different machine translators, and couldn’t get anything readable; I assume he means VIPs, other bigwigs, and their entourages] …
Then, not all guests have special privileges. It has been observed that a considerable number of guests do not have access right “1”, to the Hugo Hall. Maybe this was a secret, but I heard that some of the finalists had almost no right to enter to receive their award.
In the end, access to the ceremonies was mainly distributed among three groups: 1, 2, and 3.
Even if there were 3,500 passes for each ceremony, that might not be enough to distribute among such a huge groups of people, perhaps close to 10,000…
This was a valuable learning experience for me.
If hosting a future event, you must have a venue space that is large enough to accommodate everyone to be able to sit and watch. And be sure to leave enough redundancy.
Taiyo Fujii’s report on his “Decolonize the Future” panel
After introducing the panel’s participants, I retold the time of how we Japanese encountered Chinese SF. Through the efforts of Mr. Kenji Iwagami, in the late 1970s the Japanese SFF community became aware of modern Chinese SFF. Mr. Iwagami translated and published many volumes over the decades for our community, but we did not pay much attention. Only in 2015 and 2016, when The Three Body Problem and Invisible Planets were translated by Ken Liu into English, and then won Anglophone awards, did we turn our gaze to our neighbouring country. We discovered Chinese SFF by the road paved by the Anglophones. Of course, Ken is not a colonizer, and neither is the Worldcon community. But our attention and marketing had been colonized by English-language SFF.
Audience member Phong Quan also posted a thread on Twitter about the panel.
Fujii also posted a four-part Mastodon thread about another panel he was on, about the “Localization Paths of Science Fiction in Non-English-Speaking Countries”.
Online Chengdu Worldcon site down – but not in China?
SF Light Year posted on Weibo about the online component of the con. This prompted me to have a look at the online site to see what was up there now, but I just got an error page. Given that that site still seems to be accessible in China, I asked people on Twitter and Mastodon to do similar checks, but it seems that everyone outside China got the same error as me. Just as a sanity check I verified that URL matches the one posted on the con’s site on October 17th.
Based on a screenshot I was sent, there are 20 “replay” videos available; I suspect most of them are the “businessy” things that were available as livestreams, and so probably of minimal interest to most fans, but I would imagine the three ceremonies are amongst those 20.
SF Light Year’s post also links to a URL that has details of the contract/bid for the online part of the con. Unfortunately that also seems to be a webpage that foreign visitors aren’t allowed to access, but there is a screengrab of it in the Weibo post, indicating that the winning bid to build the online component was 1.85 million yuan, around a quarter of a million US dollars. (It’s unclear if this covered just the 3D environment with avatars, and/or the video streaming bandwidth and servers.) Given that the contract was awarded to China Telecom, who were one of the two top-tier sponsors of the con, the value of the contract might simply be a case of one part of that business moving money to another part. making it slightly meaningless.
Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch, and by highlighting the problem publicly, it might get fixed shortly…
(2) CHANGE IN SFWA BOARD. SFWA has a new Director-at-Large following the resignation of Jordan Kurella, who left his position for health reasons.
SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy, with the approval of the Board, has appointed Anthony Eichenlaub to serve out the remainder of Kurella’s term, which expires on June 30, 2024.
Eichenlaub ran for the Board last spring and received the most votes of the unelected candidates. As a SFWA volunteer he has worked at the Nebula Conference and as a member of the Independent Authors Committee. He led the effort to create the Indie Pub 101 resource site and assisted with the Heritage Author Republication (HARP) pilot program.
(3) SFWA NEBULA READING LIST. SFWA’s public-facing “Nebula Reading List” is filling up with 2023 recommendations in all the Nebula categories. Fans may find it an interesting source of things to read, too.
(4) MICHAEL BISHOP HEALTH UPDATE. Michael Bishop’s daughter Stephanie made an appeal yesterday on Facebook:
Hi all–I am writing on behalf of my dad, so this post won’t be nearly as eloquent as usual. As many of you know, Daddy is in hospice care now, mostly at home. His wound will not heal, and the pain is great. Between the pain and the medication, he isn’t able to communicate on Facebook and not terribly well on the phone either. However, his birthday is coming up–on the 12th–and I know he would love to hear from anyone who might want to wish him well. He does so love his friends and his fans, and we can tell he loathes not being able to write and be in touch the way he once could. Please send cards to P.O. Box 646, Pine Mountain, GA 31822. Gratefully yours, Stephanie
Here is Andrew Porter’s photo of David Hartwell, and Jeri and Michael Bishop at an ABA convention, decades ago:
(5) OKORAFOR Q&A. “Nnedi Okorafor, a pioneer of Africanfuturism, doesn’t want her work put in a box” – an Andscape interview.
… Do you have any thoughts on the creative process, maybe advice for aspiring creatives?
I guess one thing that I haven’t really said much about involves fear around the emergence of artificial intelligence and how it may affect creatives. My advice: Don’t stress about it. Keep being human and keep using your humanity to create. And do the work. Don’t be afraid of the work. There are no shortcuts. That’s part of the beauty of creating – that there are no shortcuts.
Enjoy those difficulties. Don’t be afraid of telling your stories. There’s always going to be someone who wants to hear it. And tell it your way. Don’t follow trends.
When it comes to process: For me, I’m highly disciplined. I come from an athletic background, and that’s really where the way that I work comes from. It’s relentless, and I like work. The discomfort is part of the process. That’s the standpoint that I come from. There isn’t one way to tell a story. I don’t write linearly. I write nonlinearly. I don’t outline. I just sit down and start writing.
There are all sorts of ways. Learn your way of creating. If you’re new to this, give yourself time. When you’re new to this, the only way to find your voice is by experimenting and having the confidence to experiment…
(6) CREATURE FEATURES. “’People were hooked’: A wild show that kept the Bay Area up all night” – SFGate remembers.
Late one night in January 1971, a 9-year-old August Ragone sat in the dark living room of his childhood home on Alabama Street in the Mission District, transfixed by the man on the tiny black-and-white television screen glowing in front of him.
He had an unassuming presence. Wearing a plain business suit and thick glasses, he puffed at an oversized cigar as he leaned back in a yellow rocking chair, a wry grin on his face. Next to him was a small table adorned by a human skull with a candle jutting out of it. A window shrouded in cobwebs loomed over his head. On the wall behind him was a sign with an unforgettable mantra: “Watch Horror Films, Keep America Strong!”
His name was Bob Wilkins, and he was about to present the Bay Area premiere of “Creature Features” on KTVU’s Channel 2 with a screening of “The Horror of Party Beach,” a wonky ’60s monster movie with a reputation so poor Stephen King once called it “an abysmal little wet fart of a film.”
Ragone, who begged his mother to sit through the film with him, was riveted. There was something about Wilkins’ unexpectedly calming, Bob Ross-like persona, the spooky atmosphere of the set, and the funky theme music that was unlike anything he had experienced before. Even more bewildering was what the host said in a droll monotone during his introduction: “Don’t stay up late, it’s not worth it.”
For the next 14 years, the Bay Area would do exactly the opposite….
(7) STREAMER PASSWORD SHARING. Disney+ is cracking down on password sharing starting today. A study with JustWatch users about how much they are using shared accounts shows that Disney+ is the most shared streaming service among JustWatch users in the US – almost twice as much as Prime Video.
(8) BB&B. Brooklyn Books & Booze on November 21, 2023 will feature readings by Marielena Gomez, C.S.E. Cooney, Stephanie Feldman and Sarena Straus.
The free event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern at Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room at 86th 34th Street, Brooklyn, NY. For more information, go to BrooklynBooksBooze.com.
(9) KEN MATTINGLY (1936-2023) Former NASA astronaut Rear Adm. (ret.) Thomas K. (TK) Mattingly II (known to the public as Ken) died October 31. NASA Administrator Bill Golden paid tribute:
…“Beginning his career with the U.S. Navy, TK received his wings in 1960 and flew various aircraft across multiple assignments. Once he joined the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School as a student, NASA chose him to be part of the astronaut class in 1966. Before flying in space, he aided the Apollo Program working as the astronaut support crew and took leadership in the development of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack.
“His unparalleled skill as a pilot aided us when he took on the role of command module pilot for Apollo 16 and spacecraft commander for space shuttle missions STS-4 and STS 51-C. The commitment to innovation and resilience toward opposition made TK an excellent figure to embody our mission and our nation’s admiration.
“Perhaps his most dramatic role at NASA was after exposure to rubella just before the launch of Apollo 13. He stayed behind and provided key real-time decisions to successfully bring home the wounded spacecraft and the crew of Apollo 13 – NASA astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 2, 1927 — Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. He been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
- Born November 2, 1941 — Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is available at the usual suspects. (Died 2016.)
- Born November 2, 1942 — Carol Resnick, 81. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes in which she and Mike appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning awards four times.
- Born November 2, 1949 — Lois McMaster Bujold, 74. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprise three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. Early on she joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
- Born November 2, 1955 — Nisi Shawl, 68. An African-American writer, editor, and journalist. They write and teach about, and I quote from their site, “how fantastic fiction might reflect real-world diversity of gender, sexual orientation, race, colonialism, physical ability, age, and other sociocultural factors”. Their short stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the Infinite Matrix and Strange Horizons. Their “Filter House” story won an Otherwise Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award; they got a Solstice Award (a SFWA award for distinguished contributions to the sff community); their New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and an Ignyte Award for incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre. Cool award indeed.
(11) MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS. “The Major and His Legacy – The Major, A Real Life Hero” is a website devoted to a pioneer publisher of comic books.
The annals of comic book history are studded with legendary names, but one of the most pivotal, yet often overlooked, is that of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. As one of the founding figures of DC Comics, “the Major” was one of the pioneers of the American comic book industry, laying the groundwork for an empire of imagination. Today, his legacy continues to flourish and evolve in the hands of his granddaughter, Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson..,.
…Before the Major came along, comic books that existed, with a few exceptions, were reprints of the comic strips from the daily newspapers. This changed in 1934 when the Major began publishing Fun Comics and New Fun Comics, featuring original artwork and stories. What could possibly motivate someone to launch such an untested venture at the height of the Great Depression, when a staggering 25 percent of the American populace was out of work, and to do so in a new and unfamiliar medium? It was an enormous risk….
(12) STRIKES + ECONOMIZING = KRYPTONITE. Deadline reports that “’Superman & Lois’ To End With Upcoming Season 4 At CW”.
The end is in sight for Superman & Lois. The CW series, starring Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch as the title characters, will conclude with its upcoming 10-episode fourth season, marking the end of the DC series’ era at The CW. The final season is slated to air on The CW in 2024….
It has been tough going for Superman & Lois, combined with the strikes and budget cuts that came with the series’ Season 4 renewal. As we previously reported, those cuts impacted the writers room, which underwent downsizing for the upcoming season, going from eight writers down to five.
Superman & Lois, along with All American: Homecoming were renewed in June after producing studio Warner Bros. Television agreed to deliver the new seasons at a significantly lower license fee to make them feasible for the network under its new lower-cost original programming model. For the shows to still make financial sense for the studio, their budgets were slashed, leading to cast reductions, with not all of the series regulars asked to come back full-time….
(13) THEY ALSO SERVE. The Guardian’s Catherine Bray assesses a sff comedy in “The Bystanders review – British parallel-universe comedy of invisible guardian angels”.
Peter (Scott Haran) is a former child chess prodigy who these days excels at nothing much in particular, except perhaps his ability to blend into the background. A birthday card at his office is handed to him to sign – for his own birthday. None of his colleagues know who he is, and the card is crammed with polite, anodyne messages. But he discovers that there’s one arena in which his anonymity might be a boon rather than a liability: he is recruited into the world of Bystanding, a parallel universe filled with invisible guardian types whose job is to imperceptibly guide or nudge their charges into making better life choices. They are all, in their own ways, as unremarkable as Peter, hence their selection for bystander duty.
There’s a scrappy energy to this British sci-fi comedy that offsets its micro-budget limitations. The premise is part of a cinematic family tree of quirky, metaphysical science fiction that includes the likes of Cold Souls, The Adjustment Bureau and Another Earth. There’s also a strong strand of UK comedy in the DNA, recalling material like Red Dwarf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in its desire to juxtapose the mundane, trivial annoyances of life with a more expansive sense of the universe. There’s something neat too about the film’s focus on life’s quiet losers, in an era when the loudest “main character energy” personalities seem predestined for rewards in the attention economy. It almost feels like a throwback to the loose mumblecore movement of the early 2000s….
(14) OSIRIS-REX. [Item by Steven French.] Maybe they should try banging on the lid with a knife – works for me when I can’t open a new jar of marmalade!
… According to a NASA blog post, the curation team that’s been processing the samples says it has removed and collected 70.3 grams (2.48 ounces) of Bennu material from the capsule so far — and it hasn’t even actually been opened yet. Those 70.3 grams come from just the area on the outside (and part of the inside) of the sample collector’s head.
“The sample processed so far includes the rocks and dust found on the outside of the sampler head, as well as a portion of the bulk sample from inside the head, which was accessed through the head’s mylar flap,” the post states. “Additional material remaining inside the sampler head, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or TAGSAM, is set for removal later, adding to the mass total.”…
(15) SGT. PEPPER’S HI-TECH BAND. “The Beatles ‘Now and Then’: Listen to their last new song” – AP News issues an invitation.
The final Beatles recording is here.
Titled “Now and Then,” the almost impossible-to-believe track is four minutes and eight seconds of the first and only original Beatles recording of the 21st century. There’s a countdown, then acoustic guitar strumming and piano bleed into the unmistakable vocal tone of John Lennon in the song’s introduction: “I know it’s true / It’s all because of you / And if I make it through / It’s all because of you.”
More than four decades since Lennon’s murder and two since George Harrison’s death, the very last Beatles song has been released as a double A-side single with “Love Me Do,” the band’s 1962 debut single.
There is a short “making of” film about the work done over the years to produce this recording: “The Beatles – Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song”.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Janice Morningstar, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]