I went to a science fiction convention in Beijing

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):

Me, standing in front of a lighted model of a city.

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My CONvergence Schedule!

So hey, I AM A GUEST OF HONOR AT CONVERGENCE THIS YEAR! I am really excited. Here’s my schedule:


Thursday, July 6

3:30pm – DoubleTree Atrium 7

AI in Science Fiction: From Evil Overlords to Companions 

There is a diversity of AI in writing and film, from benevolent to malevolent. How does an AI become good or evil? Are they just programmed that way? Panelists: Naomi Kritzer, Jamie Riedesel (mod), Eric Zawadzki, Lyda Morehouse, Lathan Murrell
7:00 pm
Opening Ceremony

Friday, July 7
2:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 7
Foresight is 2020: from Speculation to Reality
Of all the inventions, ideas, behaviors, and discoveries imagined in science fiction and satire, which have come to pass? Which stories and authors had the clearest foresight? Who comically missed the mark? What do today’s speculative tales foresee next? Panelists: Anthony Eichenlaub (mod), Renate Fiora, Naomi Kritzer
3:30 p.m. – Sheraton Ames (note — pretty sure that is in the hotel next door, the one that used to be the Sofitel)
Reading
I will probably be reading from my new novel, although maybe I’ll do that + a short story. I could do the time travel story that was published in Uncanny this month, maybe.
5:00 p.m. – DoubleTree Plaza 1
Writing Near-Future Sci-Fi
If you’re world-building 600 years in the future, you have a lot of latitude in what sort of a world you’re making. But what if you’re setting a story or RP 50 years or 20 years in the future? What will tech and culture look like? Panelists: Lana Rosario, Tyler Tork (mod), Naomi Kritzer, Will Shetterly
8:30 pm – DoubleTree Plaza 3

Enterprising Individuals Live!: The Wrath of CON! 
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but nostalgia is best consumed immediately! Join us as a panel of Star Trek authors and fans discuss Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for a live taping of the Enterprising Individuals podcast! Panelists: William Leisner, Patrick Tomlinson, Christopher Jones, Aaron Coker, Naomi Kritzer

Saturday, July 8
12:30 pm – DoubleTree Autograph Table B
Signing
I should have copies of my new collection available to purchase so you can get your signed copy on the spot! (They should also be available to purchase at the desk where you buy your con swag like t-shirts.)
Obviously I’m also happy to sign anything else, as well, but the collection will be NEW which is super exciting.
2:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 4
Lois McMaster Bujold Fan Panel
Discuss Bujold’s writing, your favorite characters and story lines. Panelists: Naomi Kritzer, Kristina Halseth, Sean Berry, Marguerite Krause (mod)
5:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 6
(Fake?) Science in the News
How do you know when to trust a news report about the lastest fantastic discovery? What should you consider before clicking? Panelists: Laura Okagaki-Vraspir, Anthony Eichenlaub (mod), Dan Berliner, Vernon McIntosh, Naomi Kritzer
8:30 pm – DoubleTree Plaza 1
Truth That’s Weirder Than Fiction
Are we living in an SF novel right now? What real-world weirdness inspires our fiction and what real-world stories are far too implausible to ever fly in a fictional work? Panelists: Naomi Kritzer (mod), Emilie Peck, Jen Dixon

Sunday, July 9

11:00 am –  DoubleTree Plaza 3
From Fan Fiction to Professional Writing
Brichibi and Snow Cosplays met through fanfiction and roleplaying, which later spiraled into a writing career. This panel will go into how they managed to do that, and how fanfiction writing became one of the best ways to practice their craft. Panelists: Briana Lawrence, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Kritzer, William Leisner, Jessica Walsh
3:30 p.m. – DoubleTree Bloomington
I Love Everyone In This Bar: The Good Parts of Being a Fan
It’s important to discuss the problems and issues within geek culture, but it’s also important to celebrate the massive amounts of awesome. What’s your favorite thing about being a fan? What do you love about conventions? When do you squee the hardest? Panelists: Elise Matthesen, Maggie Schultz (mod), Norman Cates, Naomi Kritzer, Grace Ulak
5:00 pm 
Closing Ceremony

If you can’t catch me at my signing but want me to sign something, please feel free to catch me at the end of a panel or basically anytime I don’t look like I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.
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