The World Science Fiction Convention has been embroiled in controversy since the Mid-2010s when a cabal of industry insiders squashed a rebellion of fans who were upset that the once-prestigious Hugo Awards had been turned into a debacle of glorifying pornography stories and identity politics.
Each year, matters seem to get worse for the convention, with this year’s Chinese-run version bringing even more problems to WorldCon.
Fans began grumbling about China buying WorldCon when they opened their bid to host the convention in Chengdu back in 2021. Worldcon’s bidding process picks the site two years in advance to allow travel plans for people to go around the world, and the host city changes yearly.
The official Twitter account for Cirsova Magazine, a former Hugo Award nominee from the fan-favorite rebellion years, weighed in on the matter.
“It’s inconceivable that the Chengdu application bid was not sanctioned by at least the municipal CCP apparatus, and everyone on the WorldCon selection and rules committees would’ve had to be incredibly naïve to have not seen this coming from miles away,” Cirsova Magazine decried.
The China bid happened at Worldcon 2021 in Washington D.C., which had a mass-quitting and removal of their staff within months before the convention was supposed to occur, leading to it being taken over by woke activist Mary Robinette Kowal.
Under Kowal’s stewardship, the convention garnered sponsorship from the weapons manufacturer Raytheon, which outraged fans and industry professionals alike.
At the time, author Shannon Chakraborty also took to social media to address the issue.
“I have no doubt people would have pushed back if this was public knowledge during a time that arrangements could have been changed (or frankly, made different decisions if the sponsorship remained). At least I hope so because damn some of the convos I’ve seen are disheartening,” Chakraborty said.
Unsurprisingly, with such a blind eye being turned to its sponsorships, the same committee allowed communist China to co-opt the convention. With nothing cultural in China happening without the C.C.P.’s involvement, many have speculated the intent was to turn the leftist convention into a communist propaganda arm.
Dozens of the mainstream industry’s top writers have refused to attend the convention on moral grounds, Twitter user @B-Velocyped noticed some odd coincidences with the Chinese involvement and Russian sci-fi author Sergei Lukyanenko being a guest of honor.
“#worldcon 2023 is gonna be held in China,” the user prefaced. “One of the guest of honour will be pro putin troll Sergei Lukyanenko who appears on Russian TV and fantasizes about beating Ukrainian children until they learn to love mother Russia.”
A letter signed by many of the most notorious industry insiders, such as N.K. Jemisin and G. Willow Wilson, stated, “Given the egregious human rights violations that are ongoing in the Uyghur region, we are urgently asking the organisers of WorldCon 2023 to join us in condemning these violations by revoking the 2023 site allocation bid to Chengdu, China.”
S.B. Divya posted to her author website demanding her novelette be removed from Hugo Award nominations in protest of the location of the convention, declaring, “Given that China is primarily a state-run nation, no event of a magnitude like WorldCon’s will be free of government involvement.”
She went on, “To compound this, one of this year’s Guests of Honor is Sergei Lukyanenko, an apologist for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, another act of aggression that I cannot support. I hold no ill will toward Chinese fandom, writers, or artists, and I know that many of them are working under repressive conditions, however, I cannot in good conscience participate in this year’s WorldCon.”
Worldcon’s attendance has steadily dropped over the years after the controversy in 2018, where San Jose banned one of science fiction’s most popular Hispanic authors over identity politics.
With so many controversies and so much of the reading public already disgusted with the direction of the World Science Fiction Convention, one can’t help but wonder how many years it has left before it fails entirely.
What do you think about Worldcon China’s controversies? Leave a comment below and let us know.