Ed came with me on this trip, and we scheduled some time both before and after the convention to see stuff. We arrived on Wednesday evening, had Thursday and Friday to see things, the con was Saturday and Sunday, and then we did some more touring on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before flying home on Thursday.
So remember when I went to China back in December? In April, I got invited to China again, this time to be a Guest of Honor at APSFCon (Another Planet Science Fiction Convention) in Beijing. This was the second APSFCon; there have been almost no SF conventions in China, although there’s an awards event held in Chengdu. The convention culture is incredibly different. I’m going to do a separate post about the awesome tourist stuff we did in China (I brought Ed along) and this post is just going to be about the SF convention.
I’ll note that unlike some of my friends, I have never been to a science fiction convention outside of the US. (I have barely been to any outside the midwest.) But I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what a science fiction convention looks like: you’re in a hotel (or occasionally a convention center), there are panels where people talk and an audience asks questions or offers “more of a comment than a question,” there are a few solo presentations. Fans meet up and hang out. There’s a consuite where you can get food and hang out. There’s a dealer’s room and an art show. All official events happen inside. Depending on the convention, there might or might not be costumes and gaming. Usually there are parties in the evening, frequently run out of hotel rooms but open to all members of the convention. If you’re looking for a writer, check the bar first. (Even if they’re not a drinker, they’re probably in the bar because they went there to find all their friends, who were in the bar. Hardly anyone is actually drinking very much unless there’s an editor there who’s buying.)
APSFCon ran over Saturday and Sunday of last week. Guests from outside of China included me, Allen Steele, Lawrence Schoen, Crystal Huff, Sean Stewart, and Michael Swanwick from the US; Derek Künsken and Kelly Robson from Canada; Samantha Murray from Australia; Kim Bo-young and Kim Juyoung from South Korea; David Sheldon-Hicks from the UK; and Taiyo Fujii from Japan. Most of these people are writers but Sean Stewart is more a VR developer and David Sheldon-Hicks is a visual effects designer for movies.
Invited guests from the China included Liu Cixin (author of The Three-Body Problem), Han Song (who’s similarly famous in China to Liu Cixin, but much less well known in the US because his work hasn’t been translated), one of the stars and one of the directors of The Wandering Earth (Chinese blockbuster SF movie, viewable on Netflix), and most of the writers I met at the Danzhai workshop.
The convention was held at a museum. One of the features of the museum was a detailed model of Beijing (this was only part of it):
The actual trip was at the invitation of Future Affairs Administration, which publishes SF in China (and does a bunch of stuff, actually, but I was most familiar with their publishing because they’ve translated several of my stories into Chinese). It was also sponsored by Wanda Group, which I had not heard of prior to the invitation but which owns, among other things, AMC Theaters. There was a group of both Chinese and non-Chinese science fiction writers; we were taken around the Danzhai Tourist Village and in exchange, we’re each writing a story inspired by the trip.
I didn’t know who else was coming until I got there. The other western writers were me, Fran Wilde, Carolyn Ives Gilman, and Samantha Murray (who’s Australian). The Chinese writers were Han Song, Zhao Lei, Tang Fei, Liang Ling, and Su Wanwen. The organizers from FAA were Vera Sun and Emily Gu.