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World SF

1. An international association of sf professionals (not only authors, but also artists, critics, editors, agents, publishers, etc.), founded in Dublin, September 1976, by professionals at the First World Science Fiction Writers' Conference, and coming into operation as of the 1978 Dublin meeting. World SF's stated aim was "the general dissemination of creative sf, the furthering of scholarship, the interchange of ideas ... the fostering of closer bonds between those who already hold such deep interests in common around the globe". Presidents included Harry Harrison (1978-1980), Frederik Pohl (1980-1982), Brian W Aldiss (1982-1984), Sam J Lundwall (1984-1986), Gianfranco Viviani (1986-1988), Norman Spinrad (1988-1990), Malcolm Edwards (1990-1992) and John Jarrold (1993-1994). Pohl instituted the Karel Award for excellence in sf translation. Under Aldiss the Harrison Award, for improving the status of sf internationally, and the President's Award, for independence of thought, were added. World SF-related books are The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction (anth 1986) edited by Aldiss and Lundwall and Tales from the Planet Earth (anth 1986) edited by Pohl and Elizabeth Anne Hull. The first World SF Newsletter appeared in 1980, edited by Niels Dalgaard, and the third in 1991, edited by James Goddard. Annual meetings after 1978 were: 1979 Stockholm, Sweden; 1980 Stresa, Italy; 1981 Rotterdam, Netherlands; 1982 Linz, Austria; 1983 Zagreb, Yugoslavia; 1984 Brighton, UK; 1985 Fanano, Italy; 1986 Vancouver, Canada; 1987 Brighton, UK; 1988 Budapest, Hungary; 1989 San Marino; 1990 The Hague, Netherlands; 1991 Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China; no meeting in 1992; 1993 Jersey, Channel Islands, UK.

A major unofficial purpose of World SF was to provide opportunities for contact between sf writers in Western and Iron Curtain countries, with an official-seeming organization and letterheaded invitations that were more palatable to communist bureaucracies than the notion of their writers attending overseas sf events for enjoyment. Such devices having become largely unnecessary in the 1990s, World SF activity declined and its operations ceased formally in 2002. [RH/DRL]

2. While travelling in China in 2000, Lavie Tidhar became acquainted with Chinese sf writers who introduced him to local genre fiction. This trip, along with an ephemeral German magazine of international sf, Internova edited by Michael K Iwoleit, inspired Tidhar to revive and popularize the idea of World SF (with sf standing for Speculative Fiction rather than science fiction), to edit an Anthology of Fantastika by authors from around the world, and to create The World SF Blog, an online publication initially intended as a promotional tool for the anthology but which soon became a venue and discussion forum for writers and scholars from non-Anglophone countries. As its originator and editor-in-chief, Tidhar deliberately utilized the term World SF as a specific act of disagreement and dissatisfaction with what he considered to be the gradual ossification of the original organization, whose initial and essential goal had been to create opportunities for non-Anglophone writers on the Anglophone literary scene. Instead, according to Tidhar, World SF had to some extent betrayed its principles, focusing on the annual meetings of its initial founders in various international locations, and, during over two decades of apparent activism, producing only two 1986 anthologies of international sf stories [see above and further reading below].

The World SF Blog won the British Science Fiction Association Award for best nonfiction in 2012. It also led to The World SF Travel Fund, whose main objective was to support financially those authors who could not afford to attend the World Fantasy Convention. Tidhar resigned as the website's moving spirit in mid-2013, but had by then edited three Anthologies of World SF, beginning with The Apex Book of World SF (anth 2009); and The Best of World SF (anth 2021), not connected to the previous series. [KW]

see also: Kitschies.

further reading


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 16:40 pm on 5 October 2022.