Chinese SF industry

By Regina Kanyu Wang et al. Published as part of Vector 293 exploring Chinese SF.

According to Science Fiction World, the concept of “science fiction (SF) industry” was first proposed in academia in 2012, when a group of experts were brought together  by the Sichuan Province Association of Science and Technology to comb and research SF related industry, and put together the Report of Research on the Development of Chinese SF Industry. Narrowly defined, the SF industry includes SF publishing, SF films, SF series, SF games, SF education, SF merchandise, and other SF-related industries, while a broader definition also includes the supporting industries, upstream or downstream in the industry chain.

According to the 2020 Chinese Science Fiction Industry Report, the gross output of the Chinese SF industry in 2019 sums up to 65.87 billion RMB (about 7.4 billion GBP), among which games and films lead the growth, with publishing and merchandise following (check out more in Chinese here). The SF industry plays an important part in China’s cultural economic growth.

We have invited sixteen organizations, companies, and projects that play a role in China’s SF industry to introduce themselves to the English readers. You can see the diversity and vigour from the texts they provided. We’ve tried to keep editing to a minimum in order to show how they posit and define themselves in the SF industry. Here they are, ordered alphabetically.

Chengdu 2023 Worldcon bid

A major tourist destination and well-known for its laid-back lifestyle, the city of Chengdu is proud of its long-standing cultural history, and its prominent and respected status in terms of SF culture. The fact that it has won the competition among major cities in China to be included in the first-tier club in recent years has attracted much attention and brought many young creatives to the city. In 2021, Chengdu will host the 31st World University Summer Games. A new international airport, the largest one in Asia, will be put in use in the same year, making Chengdu the third mega-city only after Beijing and Shanghai to have a double-airport system. To match its rapid economical-cultural development, the city has put much effort into updating its image: “The Capital of Chinese New Music” and “The Capital of Expos,” “The Capital of Science Fiction” is its new calling card. With experiences of five international SF conventions in the past, Chengdu has been trying for years to host a Worldcon, actively sending members of its Science Fiction Association to attend each Worldcon along with other fans and fan-based organizations from China. Together they witnessed both The Three-body Problem and “Folding Beijing” winning the prestigious Hugo Awards, bringing Chinese SF literature to the world’s attention, and they began to bid for 2023 Worldcon site selection officially at Dublin Worldcon in 2019. Among the bidding team, two major players, the Science Fiction World and the Eight Light Minutes Culture, are leading the majority of the work. In 2019 and 2020, 8LM staff also participated in Smofcon, a convention for the convention runners within the world SF community to exchange ideas and share best practice in running conventions.

Contacts:

Chinese Science Fiction Academy

The Chinese Science Fiction Academy is a research platform under the College of Literature and Journalism of Sichuan University. The aim of the Institute is to ‘produce ideas.’ It brings together the forces of SF industry, academia and research in southwest China to provide government consultation, industry research and theoretical guidance. The academy currently has over twenty researchers, and has established long-term partnerships with government agencies and enterprises at all levels, including the China Association for Science and Technology and the Sichuan Province Association for Science and Technology. It is currently in the process of establishing the Science Fiction Future Lab, which is expected to become a booster for the development of China’s SF research and creative industries.

Eight Light Minutes Culture

Eight Light Minutes Culture (8LM) is a startup company established in 2016 in Chengdu by some highly-experienced editors and young fans, focusing on  publishing SF works and representing writers in film/TV adaptations of their works. The key product lines include the Chinese edition of official Doctor Who novelizations authorized by BBC, the Chinese edition of Galaxy’s Edge in collaboration with its US-based e-magazine, An Oral History Project on Chinese SF (volume one published in 2017), and The Three-Body Problem online graphic novel adaptation, which was launched in November 2019 and received 100 million reads with a score of 9.3/10. It also puts much effort into nurturing young and upcoming new talent, publishing three original novels so far, titled The Stars, Orphans of Mars and Seven States of Galaxy Saga, two of which have been optioned for films, and are in the process of being translated into English. It also branches into other activities and events to raise awareness and foster public appreciation of SF culture. In 2018,8LM co-founded a new SF award with a high cash prize in China, the Lenghu Award, together with a major outdoor events planning company. The award site is permanently located in Lenghu, an abandoned petroleum-industrial small town in northwest China, famous for its Mars-like landscape. In July 2020, 8LM co-founded the Chengdu Science Fiction Association with other major SF cultural organizations in Chengdu for the Chengdu 2023 Worldcon bid.

  • Contacts: bgf@8light-minutes.com
  • Wechat channel: SF-8-LM

Fishing Fortress SF Centre

Just on the northern outskirts of Chongqing, China’s cyberpunkish mega-city, lies the small yet thriving town of Hechuan. It was here at the Fishing Fortress that ‘the Scourge of God’ broke. The death of Möngke Khan during that infamous siege in the 13th century resulted in the immediate withdrawal of Mongol troops from Syria and East Asia which forever altered the course of world history. Good stuff for an alternative history novel, right?

Today, at the heart of Hechuan, something special is happening. Established on December 28th, 2019, Fishing Fortress SF Centre (FFSF) is a non-profit organization that embraces all things SF and fantasy. Supported by Xiangmei Education Group and the three universities under its umbrella, the Centre also sees as its mission to promote college SF education. With a staff of over 88 and still expanding, including celebrated writers and scholars such as Prof. Wu Yan, Prof. Yan Feng, Francesco Verso, Shanky Chandro and A Que, and total space of 2800 m2 exclusively devoted to SFF-related activities, the Centre aspires to facilitate Chinese SFF and fuel imagination of the next generation. 

The Centre currently administers the one-million-RMB Fishing Fortress SF Awards, awarded biennially to the best Chinese-writing SFF writers from around the world; Future Fiction Workshop, a joint initiative by the Centre and Italian press Future Fiction to incubate future SFF talents, and Science Fiction Movie Master Class, an IMAX-theatre-based all-immersive teaching programme to bring experienced screenwriters, directors, producers, cinematographers and film scholars on campus. Additionally, the Centre holds the annual SFF Translators’ Forum, Fishing Fortress SF Short Film Festival and runs China’s largest on-campus SF club. 

Come to Fishing Fortress SF, where the present is projected into the future and the imagination to dream the impossible is made possible.

  • Contacts: Dave Chen: Davejob1988@gmail.com
  • Wechat channel (in Chinese): FishingFortressSF

Future Affairs Administration

Future Affairs Administration (FAA), an SF brand of Shanghai Guoyue Culture and Creative Co. Ltd., was founded in 2016. FAA focuses on the development of all sectors of the SF field, with the core business being SF works’ cultivation, commercial co-operation, and project development, empowering related industries with SF, to make the synergy of creating, studying and researching that facilitates the development of the whole SF industry.

As an SF works cultivator, FAA has published SF works of more than ten million Chinese characters (around seven million English words), brought up over three hundred new authors, won various awards — domestic and overseas. FAA has more than twenty books published with a total market value of ten million RMB (one million GBP), and another twenty books underway. FAA developed SF related courses of over 200 lesson hours, with more than four thousand attendees and nearly fifty thousand person-hours in total.

As an SF commercial agency, FAA is representing works of Liu Cixin and over one hundred other SF writers (living in China or overseas), along with their copyrights of over a thousand SF works and commercial rights. FAA is helping to bring on the co-operation between several dozen SF writers and such brands as Ant Group, Bilibili.com, Iflytek, CGN, LEGO, BMW, Wanda Group, CAS, SASAC, reaching tens million people on the internet.

As an incubator of SF products, FAA has set up the SF cinematic project ‘Messenger,’ originated by famous SF writer Han Song; built various general SF brands such as ‘Non-Exist’ (publishing), ‘APSFcon’ (SF convention), ‘Chinese New Year’s SF Gala’ (the largest online writing event of Chinese SF community), ‘Diudiu SF Radio’ (a very popular SF podcast), ‘Time & Space Moviegoers’ (a highly influential SF brand of cinematic publicity), ‘FAA SF Workshop’ (a cross-cultural SF event), ‘Space Drawers’ (Designer’s Toys R&D); it is also involved in SF content development in multiple areas including film and television, variety shows, gaming, immersive entertainment, audio products, education, conferences, and arts.

  • Contacts: lbc@faa2001.com; faa@faa2001.com
  • Facebook & Twitter: @faaoffice

Future Light Culture 

Chengdu Future Light Culture Co. Ltd. (hereafter referred to as ‘Future Light Culture’), which was established in 2014, is a promoter of popular SF culture in China, it includes two major brands: ‘SCIFI Fanspace’ and ‘Master of Future Award.’

SCIFI Fanspace is committed to creating and sharing high-quality and unique products for all those who love SFF culture. So far, it has obtained authorizations from famous IPs including The Three Body Problem, The Wandering Earth, The Captain, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, across which the overall sales volume of merchandise has exceeded 10 million. In 2020, Future Light Culture cooperated with China’s Mars Exploration Program and China’s Lunar Exploration Program, with an aim to draw the attention of young people to the aerospace industry by selling peripheral products and holding fan activities.

The Master of Future Award is one of the earliest awards for original SF writing in China. The competition was founded in 2012 and has now been held nine times, aiming to discover and cultivate excellent new SFF authors and works, and to incubate excellent fantastic IP. Many of the new generation of young writers in China emerged from the award.

  • Contacts: Sun Yue: sfsunyue@foxmail.com
  • http://www.wlkhds.com
  • Wechat channel: scifimastertomorrow
  • Wechat:scifispace

NP Entertainment 

NP Entertainment is a company specialized in the development and operation of multiple self-owned IPs and aiming to build an ecological production chain. By partnering with the famous SF writer Wang Jinkang, NP Entertainment started to develop SF literature for film and television. Since 2019, NP Entertainment has selected more than ten young film directors and began to prepare a SF short film series based on Wang Jinkang’s IP. NP Entertainment represents Grave Robber’s Chronicles, The Mystic Nine, Ling De Qi Dong, The Reincarnated Giant, and others. While promoting the visualization of SF, the company is also committed to introducing the translation of Chinese SF literature to foreign languages and sharing interesting content with the world. 

  • Contacts: 839679354@qq.com

Research Center for Science and Human Imagination

The Research Center for Science and Human Imagination is a research institution trying to evaluate and predict the development of science, stimulate scientific and technological creativity, promote SF creation, and explore the future of mankind through imagination performance. The center is involved in basic research on imagination, future studies and development of SF. Through interdisciplinary methods, the center tries to find a way to integrate science and technology, as well as education and culture. In addition to providing imagination education for students of the Southern University of Science and Technology, it also provides SF writing courses for society through external cooperation and develops creative works.

After the establishment of the center, it has successfully held several conferences: From the Frontier of Science to the Frontier of Science Fiction, Chinese Contemporary Neoclassical Science Fiction and Liu Yang’s Orphans of Mars, and Historical Experience and Future Dream of Humankind in Modern Civilization. Nine Cities, Millions of Future, an SF artistic project curated by the center, won the Grand Prize of the Organizing Committee in the 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen).

At present, the main work of the Center is to continuously explore the cognition of imagination, Chinese SF creation, and industrial development within the innovation environment of global SF. The center also does research and releases the annual SF industry report.

  • rw.sustech.edu.cn/a/En/E&R/Scientific_research_work/2019/0513/293.html 
  • Professor Wu Yan: wuy6@sustech.edu.cn

Science & Fantasy Growth Foundation

We believe that SF enlightens thinking about the future. Every work of SF is an attempt to answer mankind’s questions. Every future we paint brings us a step closer to ‘the possible future.’ Our mission is to cultivate the imagination and inspire creativity.

Science & Fantasy Growth Foundation (SGF) was co-founded by scientists, investors, SF writers, engineers and public activists who are passionate about SF. It was established in March 2015 and operates largely in mainland China.

SGF is the first and only NGO in China exploring and supporting potential writers and artists to become the new generation of SF creators. During the past five years, we have raised funds to help promote SF industry in China. With our help, many top-notch SF works have been created. Hundreds of people have realized their dreams of becoming SF writers, illustrators or film directors. In the light of the primitive status of SF in China, we set up the Morning Star Award, an award to discover upcoming SF trailblazers, so that young writers who are eager to enter the realm of SF can see the light of hope. SGF has donated more than two million RMB (about 200k GBP) as the total prize money and grants, aiding potential SF creative talents of more than sixty people, resulting in eighteen books being published, three SF related companies incubated, five movies in progress and one movie to be released this year. Mr. Liu Cixin and Ms. Hao Jingfang, both Hugo Award winners and renowned SF writers in China, served as judges of the Award.

Our major annual activities include the following …

The Morning Star Science Fiction Award Contest.

STICK Club. STICK (Science, Technology, Imagination, Creativity, Knowledge) Club is committed to building a platform that encourages discussion on topics from the perspectives of science, technology, imagination, creativity, and knowledge.

Science Fiction & Popular Science Lecturing on campus. SGF invites SF writers and technical experts to give lectures in higher-education institutions, primary schools, and secondary schools. It has been held in the schools at Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities with over twenty lectures per year.

China Science Fiction Conference. In 2018, SGF was one of the co-organizers of the 3rd China Science Fiction Conference in Shenzhen, which was the biggest annual conference on SF in China hosted by China Association of Science and Technology. The three-day event gathered writers, scientists, movie makers and fans across China to discuss the country’s rising enthusiasm for SF and its links with China’s ongoing tech boom.

International Exchange Program. In order to enhance international cultural communication, SGF has been cooperating with Festival International de Sci-Fi de Nantes (FISFN) since 2017. Together with FISFN, we managed to organize awarded SF works from Europe to exhibit in Shenzhen, China and awarded SF works from China to exhibit in Nantes France. We have also connected the governments of Shenzhen and Nantes to become sister cities. With the support from both governments, we have helped dozens of SF creators to go to each other’s country to live and create.

  • Contacts: Frank Ma: frank@scifi.org.cn
  • Facebook: Science & Fantasy Growth Foundation
  • Twitter: Scififoundation 
  • Wechat channel: SGF-42

Science Fiction Base & China Science Fiction Research Center

The Science Fiction Creation Research Base of China Science Writers Association (hereafter referred to as the Science Fiction Base) was established in December 2016 as a second-tier organization of China Science Writers Association.

The Science Fiction Base was established to unite Chinese SF creators, cultivate talents in SF creation, research, translation, and communication, enhance Chinese SF research and creation practice, to connect domestic and foreign research resources and to serve as a cooperation platform, and to promote the prosperous development of Chinese SF. The Science Fiction Base’s research mainly involves thematic research on the works of major authors, children’s SF, the SF awards’ evaluation system, trends in SF, SF film and animation, SF media communication, etc. The honorary director of the Science Fiction Base is Liu Cixin, and the director is Wang Jinkang. The Science Fiction Base consists of over 100 members, steering group members and academic advisors, including writers, research experts and scholars, film and television choreographers, editors, and media staff. At present, the Science Fiction Base and its writers’ studio and center are licensed to Science and Technology of China Press Co. Ltd.

Established on October 31, 2020, the China Science Fiction Research Center of China Research Institute for Science Popularization is a comprehensive SF platform that gathers resources, brings together talents, exchanges ideas, and spawns creative innovations. The China Science Fiction Research Center aims to address the hotspots, difficulties, and pain points of SF development, conduct in-depth research on SF creation, SF education and industrial transformation, and create a pool of ideas, information, and talents for SF culture and industry.

  • Contacts: wywang19711109@sina.com

Science Fiction World (SFW)

Science Fiction World (SFW), founded in 1979, is China’s most influential and professional SF publishing house, subordinated to Sichuan Province Association for Science and Technology. Science Fiction World magazine has nurtured a large number of local Chinese writers, including Liu Cixin, Wang Jinkang, Chen Qiufan, Xia Jia etc., who have now become the backbone of Chinese SF.

Apart from magazines, books are another important project of SFW. A total of 300 kinds of SF books have been published by SFW during the years, including the works of Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Philip K. Dick, Robert Sawyer and so on. The Hugo Award winner, The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, is published by SFW as one of the ‘Chinese SF cornerstone series.’

The Galaxy Awards, established by SFW in 1985, is China’s first SF award and honored as the highest achievement in the SF community, chased after by all Chinese SF writers. The China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference, organized by SFW, was born in 1991 and is now held every two years, making it the most international conference in the Chinese SF field. In order to introduce more Chinese writers and works to foreign readers, SFW has also been cooperating with foreign institutions in many ways.

Nowadays, SFW is transforming into a comprehensive SF publishing group which encompasses magazines, books, intellectual properties, SF events and internet commerce. A film and television company was established in 2020 by SFW in order to adapt SF novels into SF films.

  • Contacts: sfw@sfw.com.cn
  • Wechat channel (in Chinese): scifiworld

Storycom 

Storycom, established in 2013, is the first professional story commercialization agency in China. Holding the rights to stories that have won awards including one Hugo, twenty-six Chinese Galaxy Awards, fifteen Chinese Nebula Awards and one Morning Star Award, contracting eight Chinese SF writers, including Xia Jia, Zhang Ran and A Que and fully representing their works, Storycom is dedicated to bringing excellent Chinese SF stories to the domestic as well as global audiences in various formats.

Storycom has produced SF films including The End of The Lonely Island (Silver Award for Professional Dramatic Feature at the Raw Science Film Festival, Winner of the Best Drama Award of the 5th Philip K. Dick Film Festival), The Mailbox (first place of the Waterdrop Award for Best Film and shortlisted for Golden Goblet Award of Shanghai International Film Festival) and Deep In. Storycom has also co-organized events such as the Galaxy Award Ceremony and China Science Fiction Convention, as well as two Film & TV Venture Capital Summits attached to the latter.

In partnership with Clarkesworld from America, Future Fiction from Italy, Kapsel from Germany, and Galaxy 42 from Romania, Storycom has recommended dozens of Chinese SF stories to be translated into other languages and published the first Chinese-English bilingual anthology of Chinese SF – Touchable Unreality 1 & 2. The successful Kickstarter project on Xia Jia’s first English collection – A Summer Beyond Your Reach (in collaboration with Clarkesworld Books), the first all-female/non-binary anthology of Chinese speculative fiction in English – The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories (in collaboration with Tor.com Publishing), and the first non-fiction book on Chinese SF film making  – The Routledge Handbook of The Wandering Earth: Behind The Scenes and Film Production (part of the Studies in Global Genre Fiction series) will soon come out in English.

Apart from that, Storycom has actively participated in events such as Worldcon, the SFWA Nebula Conference, Smofcon, Eurocon and more. In order to support communication between Chinese SF fans and the international SF community, Storycom has established the Shimmer Program Facebook/Twitter account to introduce Chinese SF, initiated the Shimmer Program Mutual-Communication Fund and the Worldcon Attending Fund.

Situating itself as a pioneer of the Chinese SF industry, Storycom is eager to enlighten the world with the shimmer from stories.

  • Contacts: wangkanyu@storycom.cn
  • Facebook & Twitter: @ShimmerProgram

Tadpole Stave 

Tadpole Stave (www.kedo.gov.cn) is a large public popular science website supported by Beijing Municipal Government and built by Beijing Science and Technology Association, with a goal to provide high-quality scientific and cultural services to the public, particularly to teenagers.

Tadpole Stave, as one of the most popular publishing platforms for original SF stories, provides a platform for Chinese SF authors and spaces for SF fans.

The “Lightyear Award” Original SF Writing Competition is the second-biggest SF writing competition in China, successfully held annually for nine years.

Thema Mundi 

Thema Mundi is an SF and Artech cultural brand founded by Stanley Qiufan Chen, chairman of the World Chinese Science Fiction Association and multiple Nebula Award winner.

In Stanley Qiufan Chen’s eyes, science and technology should not stand on the opposite side of human’s well-being.  In the upcoming new tech era, only by making technologies more beautiful and warmer and giving ‘Aesthetic’ more powerful voices could the conflicts between former tech and human nature be alleviated. We advocate the value and dignity of human beings, guiding the public to construct a cultural mindset centered on human beings’ development rather than giving priority to financial gains and the life of convenience. We want more and more people to choose to build joyful connections between themselves and nature. We construct a cultural system with SF novels, films, exhibitions, and other art forms to enrich the spiritual life of the public and create popular science work close to the essence of science, empowering the future industry.

  • Contacts: fan@themamundi.cn
  • Website: chenqiufan.cn

Three-Body Universe 

The Three-Body Universe is an SF/fantasy IP developer and operator built around its Hugo Award-winning core IP – The Three-Body Problem. We strive to collaborate with The Three-Body Problem-loving creatives and top artists across the globe to create diverse forms of art, expanding the Three-BodyIP into a full-fledged universe.

The Three-Body Universe is currently in full-scale adaptation mode, with numerous The Three-Body Problem-based products, from an English-language series at Netflix, a Mandarin-language series at Tencent Video, films at Enlight Pictures, an animation series at Bilibili to many more forms and media in the works, including radio drama, audiobooks, a stage play, and location-based exhibitions. Meanwhile, we are also developing designer toys, video games, commercial real estate, theme parks, and other kinds of merchandise, covering all segments in entertainment consumption.

The Three-Body Universe’s mission is to introduce The Three-Body Problem to a global audience, engage more and more young people, and turn the Three-Body IP into a world-class SF icon.

  • Contacts: chamm@yoozoo.com 
  • Wechat (in Chinese): Threebodyhome

Time Vision 

Ken Liu walks the red carpet with Cixin Liu to attend the 5th Chinese Nebula Awards Ceremony 2014 in Beijing, China

An assembled force of the SF cultural industry emerged in the last decade in China. It is a brand new pattern to provide products, services, and connections to Chinese science fiction (CSF) writers, fans, and the wider community. As one of the CSF career representatives, Chengdu Time Vision Culture Communication Co. Ltd., which is a legal enterprise sponsored by World Chinese Science Fiction Association (CSFA), was founded by an active group of CSF volunteers in 2010. Since then, it has helped CSFA to set up the Xingyun Awards for Global CSF (AKA the Chinese Nebula Awards). Furthermore, it aims to persistently expand the awards’ value, influence, and business cooperation. During the past ten years, Time Vision has organized to publish more than 100 CSF books, and held carnivals and awarding ceremonies across China, from Chengdu, Taiyuan, Beijing to Chongqing. The Chinese Nebula Awards winners include works such as The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, The Living Trilogy by Wang Jinkang, The Year of Heaven by He Xi, The Hospital Trilogy by Han Song, The Heart of Galaxy Trilogy by Jiang Bo and Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan (aka Stanley Chan). The CSF International Summit 2016 invited Cat Rambo, President of SFWA, Taiyo Fujii, President of SFWJ, and Crystal M. Huff, Co-chair of 75th World SF Convention as guests. Meanwhile, there is the Time Vision CSF Museum based in Chengdu, which displays many original manuscripts, out of print publications, collection and exhibition on cultural heritage, academic study and research on the history of CSF. By overcoming future difficulties, companies such as Time Vision and mass organizations such as CSFA will find a path that leads to accelerating the development of CSF, and ensure that it becomes a peaceful power on this planet.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

This article was amended for online publication.

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