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Big-name authors back rebellion at Chinese sci-fi magazine

2010-03-25 17:09 BJT

by Xinhua writer Ji Shaoting

BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- China's leading science-fiction authors have joined mounting calls for the removal of the head of the country's best-loved science-fiction magazine, and warned of the journal's imminent demise if no action is taken.

Editors of Science Fiction World (SFW) have published an open letter online, claiming their president, Li Chang, is incapable of running the magazine and requesting his removal from the post.

Such editorial rebellions are rarely heard of in China as the publication sector is firmly controlled by the Communist Party and the president or editor-in-chief of a magazine is appointed by the superior administrative department.

The open letter has prompted hundreds of thousands netizens to comment on the Internet in support of the editors.

SFW had a circulation of 150,000 copies a month when Li took over at the beginning of 2009, but the latest figures showed the figure has fallen to 130,000, said a senior editor of the magazine.

"The circulation had been declining in recent years. We are all anxious, but Li took no positive action and it kept declining," said the editor.

Li was appointed SFW's president and chief editor by the Sichuan Association for Science and Technology (SAST), an organization of scientists and technicians under the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"This is obviously a case of a layman leading the experts. If it continues, Science Fiction World will definitely die," said Wang Jinkang, a six-times winner of China's prestigious Galaxy Award for science fiction.

Wang, 62, the author of 20 science fiction books, including "Life of Ants" and "Cross," a novel about an extremist biological warfare attack on the United States, is one of the most popular sci-fi writers in China and began writing for SFW in 1993.

China's biggest-selling science fiction writer, Liu Cixin, who has a contract to publish his next novel with the editing studio jointly run by SFW and Sichuan Science and Technology Publishing House, said he had seen thousands of fan comments online and had been deeply touched by them.

"I really hope SFW can overcome the current difficulties. 'Live long and prosper,'" said Liu.