Chengdu Worldcon

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The 81st Worldcon, Chengdu Worldcon[1] was held August 16–20, 2023, at Chengdu Century City New International Convention & Exhibition Center October 18–22, 2023, at the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum in Jingrong Lake, Pidu District, Chengdu, Sichuan, China, along with the Sheraton Chengdu Pidu and Wyndham Grand Chengdu hotels. The convention was the first Worldcon in China and outside the "first world," and the second Worldcon in Asia, after Nippon 2007.

The convention announced a change of dates and venue on January 19, 2023, on its Facebook page. As of that date, the museum was still under construction.

The GoHs were writers Liu Cixin and Robert J. Sawyer. Sergey Lukianenko (also spelled Lukyanenko) was announced early on, but sometime in late 2022 or early 2023, he stopped appearing in Chengdu Worldcon's publications, although he remained on the website. It was known within the committee many months before the con that he would not be attending or participating remotely, but no public statement was made.


The 2023 Site Selection (which see) at Discon III in Washington, DC, in December 2021, was fraught. Controversy raged over China’s human rights record, particularly persecution of the Uyghur minority, as well as disputes over balloting and irregularities in Discon’s site selection administration. Ultimately, the Chengdu 2023 Worldcon bid won over Winnipeg in '23 in a landslide victory of 2,006 votes to 807 (of which pre-con mail-in ballots, mostly from China, ran 1,950 to 332). The Chengdu bidcom had done extensive get-out-the-vote campaigning at home, while Winnipeg’s efforts were lackluster.

The issue wasn't the existence of local voters — there are always some local voters (typically 25-100) who had never before participated in Worldcon -- but the sheer number. Chengdu's victory -- technically legal, but ignoring WSFS's unwritten rule that Worldcon should be selected by the Worldcon community — showed that any group who wanted to spend the cash could buy a Worldcon. One well-known smof commented that we always knew that a Worldcon could be bought, and now it's happened.

Vice Chair Chen Shi told the Discon business meeting:

It’s been four years since Chengdu started and this has given hope to countless Chinese fans. For Chengdu fans, this is a once in a decade opportunity. This is a special moment for us all. It is a new adventure for all of us. It will be a different kind of Worldcon, but it will still be a Worldcon. That you will still recognize as part of these traditions that started in 1939, when the world was a very different place. I want to thank the efforts of the team in Winnipeg. It has been a long journey, and you gave some good competition, and I will say that we have learned some things from you as well! Such as how to run a good fan table, how to run a good community, give a good presentation, and so on. I hope that many of you will be ready and willing to join our teams. I hope that we can welcome all of you to Chengdu. In fact, we welcome everyone here to Chengdu. We prefer it if you come in person, but for those who can’t, a stream of virtual programming will be part of the accommodation.

Continuing Controversy[edit]

Numerous fans called for boycotting the convention, not only because of the Uyghurs issue, but also due to other draconian Chinese government policies, including its Covid-19 rules.

In March 2022, over 80 speculative fiction authors who apparently had no understanding of how Worldcon Site Selection and the management of individual Worldcons under the WSFS Constitution works, put their names to an open letter stating:

Given the egregious human rights violations that are ongoing in the Uyghur region, we are urgently asking the organizers of WorldCon 2023 to join us in condemning these violations by revoking the 2023 site allocation bid to Chengdu, China.

However, there was no rule under which this could have happened — “the organizers of WorldCon 2023” were the Chengdu Worldcon concom.

Chengdu’s goh choices stirred anger, as well: Liu explicitly endorsed China’s internment of the Uyghurs, and Lukianenko caused even more controversy because of his long-term anti-Ukraine sentiments, which turned into enthusiastic support of the Russian military invasion of that country in February 2022. At Chicon 8, the WSFS Business Meeting adopted a continuing resolution condemning the choice of Lukianenko as a guest of honor, saying that he "should neither be platformed nor celebrated," and further said that "it is shameful that he is honored by Worldcon." However, when asked if Chengdu would keep Lukianenko as goh, co-chair Ben Yalow replied tersely, “Yes.” (Sawyer was uncontentious.)

Another BM proposal would have censured Chengdu for tardiness in processing memberships, but was not considered.

Hugo Awards[edit]

Author S. B. Divya publicly declined a Hugo nomination, saying, "Given that China is primarily a state-run nation, no event of a magnitude like WorldCon’s will be free of government involvement. 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."

The nominations became highly controversial after details were released January 20, 2024 — the last possible date according to the WSFS Constitution’s deadline — showing a number of candidates were ruled ineligible for unexplained reasons. See 2023 Hugos.


Staff List of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon[edit]

(per PR 1, February, 2023):


Chengdu hosted the 2025 Worldcon Site Selection and the 2023 Hugo Awards. They did not exercise their option to administer the 1948 Retro Hugos. The Hugo trophy featured the con’s signature panda bear.

There were numerous commercial sponsors.


  1. Some early publications used CamelCasing, but PR 1 used routine capitalization.

Chicon 8 Worldcon - Bidding - Hugos Glasgow 2024
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