The highlight of my stay in Chengdu was revisiting the Science Fiction World offices on April 7. SFWorld is the largest-circulation science fiction magazine in existence -- and also a publishing house of Chinese and translated science fiction novels including works by (ahem) me. My long association with Science Fiction World is one of the great satisfactions of my life.
After a tour of the offices -- ever the editor, Ellen Datlow was most impressed by the fact that, it being shipping day, there were cartons of books piled high everywhere, ready to go out to bookstores -- we were taken by editors Emily Wan and Fay Jing on a tour of the ancient town of Anren, including Liu’s Manor Museum and the Anren Jianchuan Museum Cluster.
The most heartwarming moment in all our time spent in China came when we were walking from the Flying Tigers Museum to the Modern Ceramics Museum and our paths crossed with a class of very young students -- kindergarteners, I think. Seeing Westerners in an area of China where we are a rarity, they all burst into huge smiles and waved excitedly and cried, "Hello! Hello! Hello!" Then, when they had passed us, they joyfully cried, "Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!" Their teachers were smiling too, happy at this proof that the English they taught was being put to good use.
In the evening, several of the editors took us to the Laomatou Hot Pot Restaurant for the kind of delicious feast that Sichuan Province is world-famous for. There were, in the course of the evening, short impromptu speeches and toasts. But mostly we enjoyed good company, good conversation, and good feeling.
As I said, that day was the highlight of my stay. Better than the pandas? Better than Du Fu's cottage? I can't speak for the others, but for me -- yes.
The photograph above was taken that evening. From left to right: Deputy Editor-in-Chief Yang Feng, me, Jing Yanfei (Fay), John Berry, Eileen Gunn, Wan Jie (Emily), and Editor-in-Chief Yao Haijun.
Above: Photo by Ellen Datlow and used by her kind permission.