China’s sci-fi renaissance
Two-day conference is aimed at creatives, industry professionals and fans of the popular genre
A new conference is looking to explore opportunities in China’s growing science fiction scene. “Science fiction is a reflection of society and if your society is changing like China’s is, we’re going to be seeing more of it,” said Melon HK founder Fritz Demopoulos.
The two-day conference in Hong Kong is aimed at creatives, industry professionals and science fiction fans – an industry day will be hosted on Wednesday, April 19, followed by a fan day on Thursday, April 20.
“Chinese science fiction is in the middle of a renaissance,” Demopoulos said. “It started with Liu Cixin, who won a Hugo Award [in 2015], Hao Jingfang, who won the same award, Stan Chan, Regina Wang and a few other emerging writers. In China, in the world of science fiction, we’re seeing some very interesting writers emerge.”
Hao, who beat Stephen King to win the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for her story “Folding Beijing,” will be one of the key speakers at the event. Hao’s award in 2016 followed Liu’s success a year earlier, when he became the first Chinese author to win a Hugo, for his novel The Three-Body Problem.
Hao will be joined at the conference by fellow writers Chan and Wang, who have both won Chinese Nebula Awards, as well as Hugo Award winner Charlie Jane Anders and Xia Jia, who won multiple Galaxy Awards, one of China’s highest science fiction honours.
From an industry perspective, the conference will be looking at digital disruptors to the genre, which are affecting publishing, television, film and game development.
“Every genre within the media industry continues to be ripe for disruption, including the world of science fiction,” said Andy Tian, the chief executive of live-video broadcasting platform UpLive, who will speak on live streaming’s potential to become a major distribution channel for science fiction.
Demopoulos, who works in venture capital, decided to start a science fiction conference as a way to bring more interesting events to Hong Kong. “The city doesn’t need another shopping centre,” Demopoulos said. “I thought that if more people could do more interesting things, the city would be a more interesting place to live. As a science fiction fan I wanted to do something I was interested in.”
As science fiction writing grows in China, so too does its readership at home and abroad, in part boosted by Liu’s Hugo win. “I think we’re just at the tipping point,” Demopoulos said.
Globally, science fiction continues to attract a massive fan following. In 2016, some of Hollywood’s top-grossing films included Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Doctor Strange – all science fiction or fantasy films.
Finding writers and speakers to participate in the conference proved easy, with Chinese authors eager to meet industry professionals as well as Hong Kong science fiction fans. The free Fan Day will be held at the University of Hong Kong, with the conference’s 10 authors participating in panel sessions to discuss emerging trends both in China and around the world.
Like many science fiction fans, Demopoulos first discovered it as a child, with the ideas and the worlds created in the genre spurring him to read more. As an adult, he is no less enthusiastic about the genre, but now looks at the stories from a wider perspective.
“In many ways, science fiction is a reflection of society,” Demopoulos said. “You see so many parallels that serve as imagery for our own world. Some of it is critical, some of that is funny … The good and the bad are really reflected in some of the stories. “
Melon HK will take place on Wednesday, April 19, at Eaton House in Central, Hong Kong and on April 20 at the University of Hong Kong. Tickets can be purchased online at www.melonhk.com.