Melon founder Fritz Demopoulos. Photo: Asia Times

Just after Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and author, died last week at the age of 76, a two-day sci-fi conference kicked off in Hong Kong.

A total of 150 science-fiction fans, media-industry experts and entrepreneurs were among those attending the annual “Melon: Sci-Fi and Beyond,” which debuted last year and was held in the city for a second time.

More than 25 internationally recognized speakers – from award-winning authors to rising stars in the sci-fi field – attended the event organized by The Queen’s Road Foundation, which is a non-profit organization focused on supporting science fiction, experimental theater and classical music.

This year’s conference also hosted discussions about artificial intelligence and the commercial value of sci-fi, and it attracted some guests from the film-production, video-game and Internet sectors.

The Melon conference discussed the commercial value of sci-fi. Photo: Asia Times

Hawking, who died in England on March 14, had warned that human should avoid contact with aliens. At the Melon conference, American astronomer Seth Shostak from the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California opened a discussion about whether humans are alone in the universe and the possibility or probability of finding extraterrestrial life.

Allen Steele, an award-winning sci-fi writer from the US, led a session titled “The History of Science Fiction, and Why It Matters.”

Bao Shu, a winner of six Nebula Awards for Science Fiction in Chinese and three Galaxy Awards for Chinese Science Fiction, gave a talk about his own creative process and the challenges and opportunities for sci-fi writers in China.

Melon founder Fritz Demopoulos said in an opening speech: “Sci-fi’s greatest power lies in its ability to inspire and provoke ideas.” He said the annual Melon conference was a perfect platform for discussion, networking and the exchange of knowledge.

‘Melon: Sci-Fi and Beyond’ was held in Hong Kong on March 15 and 16. Photo: Asia Times

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