You probably know that Kansas City won the bid for the 2016 Worldcon and that I'll be a Guest of Honor at MidAmeriCon 2. These facts were announced a week ago at the Sunday morning business meeting at Loncon. But you probably don't know that the first thing the bid committee did, after coming to the front of the room and giving voice to their happiness, was to read a statement expressing their respect and admiration for the losing bid -- Beijing in 2016 -- and pledging their support for the effort to bring the Worldcon to China sometime in the future.
That was thoroughly admirable of the MAC 2 folks and, if I'm any judge of these things, absolutely sincere.
So . . . will there be a Worldcon in China in the foreseeable future?
I'm pretty sure yes. China is a wonderful place to visit, and the fans who put together the bid were a positive, idealistic, hard-working batch. Also, as John Updike wrote of the Chinese people he met on a trip there, "full of fun." It would take a world-grade curmudgeon not to wish them well. They're going to have a lot of friends and allies the next time they launch a bid.
Also, I can't help thinking of Jennie Bai who was, seven years ago, one of the editors of Science Fiction World, then (and perhaps still) the science fiction magazine with the largest circulation in the world. On my last day in Chengdu, she suggested that I should write a column of writing advice for the magazine. I wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea, but "Think about it," she urged me gently.
On the flight home, I did think about the offer and remembered that Nancy Kress (who was also at the conference, so I knew they were aware of her as a major SF writer) wrote a column of writing advice for Writer's Digest. I taught a Clarion West a few weeks after she did, so I also knew that her advice was a model of clarity and concision, far better than anything I might have been able to come up with myself. So I happily wrote back to Jenny and suggested she get in touch with Nancy.
By return email, Jenny Bai thanked me for the lead, said she had written Nancy Kress immediately, and suggested that I should write a column for the magazine on various science fiction issues.
Which is how I came to be, for a time, a columnist for Science Fiction World. I swear to God, I have no memory of actually agreeing to it. It just sort of happened.
I happen to have Chinese relatives in my extended family, so this is not the first time I've had this kind of experience. I think it's a cultural thing -- determination combined with patience and an ethos of playing fair and playing clean.
The Chinese fans think it would be a great thing to have a Worldcon in China, so it's almost inevitable that they will.
On my last day at Loncon, I talked about the Chinese bid with someone who'd served on several Worldcon committees. He too thought they would eventually succeed. "The first step toward winning a Worldcon bid," he told me, "is losing a Worldcon bid."
I don't know when that winning bid will be. But I'm sure I'll be a pre-supporter.
Above: It's not easy picking out a single image to represent all of China. I chose this one because it was the lifelong ambition of Samuel Johnson to see the Great Wall. He also urged Boswell to go, saying, "Your children will admire you for it."