I met Regina at Worldcon 75, and I honestly do not remember exactly when. By the time I was traveling to Helsinki at the beginning of August 2017 for the con itself, she was already one of my favourite people there. The first thing we did, on that Tuesday when we landed, was to leave out stuff at the hostel and go to a barbecue with Charlotte and Pietri Laihonen, and Regina.
Regina is an amazing person, and an accomplished genre author who has recently published a novel in Italian and Chinese, Nuvole e nebbia, with Future Fiction, an Italian imprint devoted to promoting science fiction written in languages other than English.
1. How did you discover SF?
When I was in primary school, I subscribed to the magazine Youth Science, and they have SF stories sometimes. Later on, I subscribed to Science Fiction World (Youth version) and fell in love with the SF stories in it. Then I turned my interest to fantasy and games in my teenage years. I didn’t discover SF fandom until I entered university and joined the SF club there. The lovely fans I met made me read more SF again, and thus I met more lovely fans.
2. What’s the best thing about SF fandom for you?
It’s just like family. 10 years ago, I co-founded SF AppleCore, a local fan organization in Shanghai and I met many of my closest friends there. I traveled to Finncon in 2013, which was my first con and my first time in Europe. I wanted to visit more places during that trip so I wrote to local fans and asked whether I could stay in their home for a couple of days. Although they didn’t know me, they all said yes, and trusted me with full heart. I was so impressed by the mutual-trust and love among the SF fandom.
3. What was you first convention like?
It was completely new to me because we don’t have cons in China. And Finncon 2013 was a large con! It’s my first time to see this large-scale SF events. All the programmes, market place, parties, masquerade, pub meeting… I was also surprised by how effectively the volunteers work. No one needs to give any order. Everyone just started to fold the chairs when the con was over, and shortly after the room was cleared out.
4. How did you get sucked into organizing them?
Well, because we don’t have the kinds of SF events I’d like to see in Shanghai, so I had to suggest some and organize them in the beginning. Shanghai Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, AppleCore Party, a monthly gathering for SFF fans, Christmas Party… I tend to hand it over to other people after the first time, so I can start new projects… I am also a writer, but I feel closer to conrunners at heart. The way they devote to their hobby, asking for nothing in return, moves me a lot.
5. What con-running job do you hate the most, and what do you love the most?
I hate repeating jobs, and love starting new projects.
6. What do you think makes fandom special in China?
The fandom in China is pretty young. Most of the fans are teenagers or in their early twenties. People reading science fiction stories in their high schools and universities, and then gradually the interest fades away after they graduate, because of the social pressure of being an adult, making your own money and having your family. But in recent years, I am happy to see the Chinese fandom grow and more adult fans remain in the fandom because the general popularity of science fiction in China.
7. What was this year’s Melon like?
It was fun as always. The topic this year was Galactic Silk-road, so there were aliens on site, and various movie clips about aliens. It is also very intensive since it’s a one-day single track conference, more like an industry summit. You have to keep focused, otherwise you’ll miss the information.
8. What are your fandom plans for the future?
I have retired from my local Shanghai fandom, but China is bidding for Worldcon. Now it’s said to be Chengdu 2023, which I believe will need the contribution from national fandom. It would be great to see my international friends coming to my country and enjoying themselves!