Note: This story is an update to Chinese Science Fiction Magazine Under Attack which is an account of the revolt that took place at Chengdu-based Science Fiction World Magazine(????) last week.
Today, Sichuan’s Association for Science and Technology announced that Science Fiction World’s (SFW) editor-in-chief Li Chang is suspended indefinitely.
Disaster Averted… For Now
The all-out rebellion that began on March 21st and reached a head on March 25th when the SFW editors appealed to the association and the propaganda office for investigations into Li’s competence and abuse of power ended with the fall that we predicted on March 26th. The announcement comes after 10 days of heated discussions that took place on Douban and in person between editors of SFW and bureaucrats from the association (who own the magazine). The mainstream media covered the story extensively as soon as SFW posted their first appeal onto Douban on March 21. In the days that followed, Xinhua, China Daily and China Youth Daily all followed the story. The most comprehensive play-by-play breakdown is provided by Danwei.org
The move by the local Association for Science & Technology sends a message to magazines, newspapers and media all over China that greed will not always win in a battle with integrity. The magazine’s victory came in part due to the mass appeal online followed by intense media scrutiny that allowed for the information of their struggle to reach a critical mass. An ensuing outcry from readers, writers and editors threatened the profitability of the magazine (and the stability of any other media publication that might face a hostile takeover in the future) and SAST made the right decision: sack Li.
Long Road Ahead
There is still some uncertainty as to the future of SFW, given its recent decline to 130,000 readers (down from a high of 300-400,000 during the 1990’s), but fans of the magazine “breathed a sigh of relief” after hearing of Li Chang’s dismissal. If anything, the row with Li Chang re-introduced Science Fiction World to a new generation of readers, and the media coverage also reached across the world to an interested and partisan foreign community of sci-fi enthusiasts. The victory of the editors — the blood and guts of any publication — also ensures that no matter what measures are taken to revive the magazine’s past successes, the future of Science Fiction World will remain in the capable hands of the people who know it best and love it most.