Publishers and Fandoms
Contemporary Chinese SF Fandom
There is a bus theory describing Chinese SF fans. The fans’ love towards science fiction is just like taking a bus. When they are young, they get on the bus and start to read science fiction. When they grow older, they stop to read it and get off the bus. It is true that the majority of the readers of Science Fiction World are middle school, high school and university students. In comparison, adult fans read more foreign SF works, either in English or in Chinese translation.
Active SF fans do exist, but despite this, no regular national “cons” have been established. University SF clubs prosper and decline. Regional fan groups appear and disappear. Chinese fandom is quite dispersed, and it is hard to find a particular fan group in China with a “long” history.
However, two fan groups in China with a relatively long history function well to this day.
The first one is SF AppleCore. In 2009, SF clubs in four universities in Shanghai decided to collaborate and organize a big event. During the preparation of Shanghai Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival (SSFFF), AppleCore was founded as the association of university SF clubs in Shanghai. SSFFF was held in 2009 and annually from 2011 till now. It is based in universities, and most of the organizers and attendants are university students. During the weekends of a certain month, usually May, various events like debates, panels, lectures and LARPs (live action role-playing games) are held in member universities, organized by university SF clubs. A single event can attract 30 to 200 attendants, depending on the guests and contents.
AppleCore has grown to be more than an association of university SF clubs. Since October 2013, AppleCore started monthly meetings targeting alum fans. Usually, during these gatherings, there are movie screenings and themed lectures, panels or short talks in the afternoon and dinner in the evening. The topics explored range from science to fantasy, and from art to astronomy. Some examples include: a screening of the movie A Scanner Darkly would be followed by a lecture on Philip K. Dick; talks on depression and autism; a visit to the contemporary art exhibition “Heman Chong: Ifs, Ands, or Buts”; and a steampunk accessories DIY workshop. On average, 30 to 120 members show up for the afternoon activities and 5 to 20 stay for dinner.
In November 2014, the AppleCore Reading Group was formed. Fans are encouraged to read a specific book every month and meet to discuss it. The very first discussion was on The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer was discussed in December 2015. A special discussion on Chinese Nebula nominees was organized in September 2015, with a focus on Chi Hui’s Artificials 2075: Awareness Restructing (《伪人2075：意识重组》, 2014) The aim is for the reading group to start within a limited circle of members and gradually expand to a larger scale.
The AppleCore Writing Workshop was also established in 2015 as a trial and put into official operation in 2016. Small groups of writers meet monthly and discuss each other’s works.
AppleCore is not only the largest SF fan group in eastern China, but is perhaps also the one with the most international contacts. In its seventh year, it won the Gold Award for Best Fandom of Chinese Nebula Award in 2016.
The other organization is World Chinese Science Fiction Association (WCSFA), our largest fan group, established in 2010 in Chengdu and registered in Hong Kong. AppleCore is more fan-driven and works as the regional fan hub in Shanghai, while WCSFA is an official organization and works as the national fan hub in China.
World Chinese Science Fiction Association has around 300 members and most of them are “professionals”: writers, translators, editors, researchers etc. WCSFA has been organizing the Chinese Nebula Award every year since 2010. With the aim of nurturing Chinese SF, the organizing committee works hard to improve it year by year. The award ceremonies have been held in Chengdu, Taiyuan and Beijing, and it is expected future ceremonies will travel to more cities.
What should also be mentioned here is that Beijing tried out the first Worldcon bid in China in 2014. Though we lost to Kansas City in the end, it was a good beginning, and we can now expect a large group of Chinese representatives at future Worldcons.