It was May 22nd, 2016 and I was in a place that looked like none other places, or rather, a place made like none others. There were young faces all around and there were talks about robots, stars and time travels, about dragons, kings and knights. More clues: it was in Shanghai, and the people orchestrating the event were from an organization called SF AppleCore.
Well, I was attending the closing ceremony of the Shanghai Science Fiction & Fantasy Festival. As the largest SF&F fandom in Eastern China, SF AppleCore had been organizing this yearly festival event since 2009 and it was the 8th time now.
Taking a stroll outside the main hall for the ceremony, you would see groups of college students who were enthusiastic fans of SF&F.
There were lovely steampunk handcrafts created by Fudan Association of Science Fiction (Yes, you had to put the pieces together by yourself). There were beautiful astral bottles made by Stardust Science Fiction Club of East China Normal University (No, the bottles were not for food). There were DIY telescopes sponsored by Explore Scientific. And there were VR games provided by Mili Pictures.
The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine displayed the board game miniatures of Warhammer 40k (That was really cool, considering how difficult they were to come by in China). Meanwhile, Science Fiction Club of Shanghai University staged some curious live action role-playing games (Well, here be dragons!). The quizzes from Fantasy Star Science Fiction Association of Shanghai Maritime University would challenge your knowledge of SF&F (Now, do you call yourself a geek?).
Moreover, there was an exhibition table for Worldcon 75 which will be held in Helsinki in 2017 and Dublin 2019 Worldcon bid (The little cartoon girl is the APC Girl).
In the main hall, the ceremony was incorporated with the final stage of a mind contest called ‘Useless Superpowers’, in which the participants were encouraged to come up with ideas of superpowers that had no practical values but could become interesting under certain circumstances. They were requested to present the ideas with any means of their choice, such as videos, pictures, stage performances, and so on.
The winner was a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The imaginary superpower he had fabricated was ‘Immovable’, which meant the owner of the power could prevent anything from moving by simply touching it. Now, just imagine, someday in the future, if an asteroid is going to crash into the Earth, guess who will be sent out to the space to stop it?
Apart from the contest, stage performances were carried out during the ceremony, including songs from the Middle Earth, and a live drama show adapted from a popular story by Liu Cixin.
There was also a panel discussion among speculative fiction writers Pan Haitian, Cai Jun, and movie director Hong Liang, chaired by science fiction translator Gu Bei. The topic was about ‘genre movies’, which attracted more and more attentions in recent years. If we are lucky, there will be plenty of Chinese science fiction movies out there in the near future.
So that’s what I saw in the closing ceremony. If you are still wondering what is Shanghai Science Fiction & Fantasy Festival, or SSFFF, it is the annual flagship programme masterminded by SF AppleCore. This year, before the closing ceremony, five events had been held separately in Shanghai University, Donghua University, Tongji University, Shanghai Maritime University and East China Normal University. Alright, I know you might get confused by those names of universities, but the point is that, the SSFFF has been a platform for many fans to share their enthusiasms and will be the same in the years to come.
PS: Two more photographs taken onsite, with Regina and other friends. There is something interesting on the scroll banner in the first photo. Find it out if you can!