China’s Chengdu Hosts 81st World Science Fiction Convention: A Spectacular Celebration of Sci-Fi
Chengdu, China – The 81st World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon, made its grand debut in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Wednesday night, marking a historic moment as China hosted the world’s largest and most influential science fiction gathering for the first time. The five-day extravaganza, emphasizing the profound bond between science fiction and the vibrant city, boasts a lineup of spectacular events, including the opening and closing ceremonies, the prestigious Hugo Awards, themed exhibitions covering a sprawling 5,000 square meters, and engaging salons.
Science fiction enthusiasts hailing from five continents converged in China to engage in thought-provoking discussions about visions of the future, exchange views on the latest trends in technology, and ponder the course of humanity and Earth’s destiny in the vast expanse of the universe. Notable guests of honor lending their wisdom to the event include Liu Cixin, Robert J. Sawyer, and Sergey Lukianenko.
Liu Cixin, revered as the most prominent science fiction writer in China, captured international acclaim with his novel “The Three-Body Problem,” securing the 73rd Hugo Award for Best Novel. This achievement marked a significant milestone as the first time an Asian author claimed this prestigious accolade.
Robert J. Sawyer, often hailed as “the dean of Canadian science fiction,” boasts an impressive track record with 66 awards for his fiction, including Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell awards for best novels such as “Hominids,” “The Terminal Experiment,” and “Mindscan.” His legacy also includes a remarkable 12 additional Hugo nominations.
Sergey Lukianenko, a celebrated Russian science fiction and fantasy writer, adds an international dimension to the convention. His accolades include the title of Best Writer at the 2003 European Science Fiction Convention and Best Writer at the 2006 Russian Science Fiction Convention.
Exploring the Art of Science Fiction
“Prophecy for Tomorrow,” a captivating science fiction art exhibition, stands as a focal point of the event, resonating with this year’s theme, “Symbiosis Era.” The striking displays provide a visual journey through the realms of the imagination.
The roots of modern science fiction trace back to the United Kingdom in 1818, emerging as a product of the scientific and technological revolution coupled with the industrial revolution. This genre of literature and art, characterized by its focus on science and fantasy, explores the ever-changing landscape shaped by technological advancements while delving into the future possibilities of humanity and the world.
The introduction of science fiction to China came in the early 20th century, led by figures like Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese writer. It was a catalyst for examining the influence of science and technology on society, and it offered a window into the infinite possibilities for human evolution.
The inaugural WorldCon took place in 1939 in New York, coinciding with a period of significant scientific developments, such as the emergence of the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. It marked a crucial juncture in human history, ushering in a new era filled with endless possibilities and profound challenges.
Chengdu, as the host of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, is only the second Asian city to undertake this prestigious role, following Japan’s Yokohama. A telling comparison highlights the growth of interest in science fiction, as the 65th World Science Fiction Conference in Yokohama in 2007 hosted just a four-member delegation from China. In stark contrast, this year’s event sees thousands of Chinese science fiction writers and fans descending upon Chengdu, eager to share their knowledge of new technology and their visions of a world shaped by science fiction.
The decision to award Chengdu the honor of hosting the 81st WorldCon was made at the 79th WorldCon in Washington, D.C., in 2021. Chengdu, participating as a bidding city, secured the hosting rights after garnering support from science fiction enthusiasts from around the world. This achievement is closely tied to the vibrant growth of the Chinese science fiction scene.
Chengdu is home to “Science Fiction World,” a publication that boasts the largest circulation among science fiction magazines worldwide. It also serves as a pivotal hub for scientific innovation in China.
China’s science fiction industry, including publications and films, reached an impressive 87.75 billion yuan (approximately $12.2 billion) in output value in 2022. The country has made significant strides in producing science fiction films, exemplified by box office hits like “The Wandering Earth,” which raked in billions of yuan. Additionally, China can claim the world’s largest community of science fiction aficionados, reflecting the growing enthusiasm for the genre.
This backdrop of success has propelled science fiction into the mainstream, fostering a culture of exploration, scientific understanding, and anticipation of the possibilities that tomorrow holds. The 81st World Science Fiction Convention showcases not only the world of science fiction but also the popularization of scientific knowledge, bringing these elements into the lives of millions.
The conference this year proudly incorporates cultural symbols of Chengdu, such as the iconic Sanxingdui Ruins and the beloved giant pandas, offering attendees a unique blend of science fiction and local culture.