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CoNZealand is going virtual

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), will be making history, as it becomes the first ever ‘virtual Worldcon’, CoNZealand Chairs, Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates announced today.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but one that had to be made now to give our guests and members some certainty during this extraordinary time for the world.

“The changes are coming fast and furious as New Zealand enters a four week lockdown. We are all dealing with an unprecedented set of circumstances that make it very difficult to plan for the future.

“The strong belief that we can put on a great Worldcon has led us to the decision to make CoNZealand a virtual convention. Our Tech Division is confident they can deliver a virtual Worldcon and are excited about the possibilities,” they said.

Buehler and Cates noted that the con Committee considered three choices – to move the date of CoNZealand, to cancel it completely, or to make it virtual. Of the three, the last was deemed the option that provided the best certainty about what they can do while still having time to make plans.

“We are standing by our decision not to cancel, but in consideration of the health, safety, and wellbeing of our members and crew, we think that holding a large face-to-face event (even if it were possible) would be irresponsible.”

Information has been posted on the CoNZealand website regarding hotel room cancellations. This will be updated as more information becomes available.

“As we have said before, please look after one another, and stay in touch. Especially when we are each isolated, it is good to be reminded that we are a community. We are together for a reason beyond Worldcon. We are fans. We are passionate. We love science fiction, fantasy, comics, art, worldbuilding, reading, writing and a million other things. Let’s concentrate on being kind to one another and helping each other through a very difficult time,” they said.

CoNZealand – Updated Statement re Covid-19

CoNZealand have released the following update relating to the Covid-19 situation:
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“We understand your concerns and that you want as much notice as possible if CoNZealand were to be cancelled. We are extremely keen to see CoNZealand go ahead and bring Worldcon to New Zealand for the first time ever. Our Executive have discussed the situation and unanimously agreed that we are not cancelling the convention. Please be assured that we are closely monitoring the situation and will make a further statement if the situation changes. We do note that the convention could possibly be cancelled by the New Zealand Government or the venues, but we see no sign of that happening.
Kelly Buehler, Norman Cates – CoNZealand Chairs”
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PS: If you want to get all CoNZealand announcements, we suggest you follow them directly. However, we at SFFANZZ News will continue to re-post items of significant importance such as this one.

2020 Auckland Writers Festival

The 2020 Auckland Writers Festival is scheduled to run 12-17 May. We say “scheduled”, but obviously given the state of the pandemic, all group events should be considered tentative right now.

Anyway, as you know, we here at SFFANZ News like to trawl through the programmes of events like these to see what SF/F/H events we can spot. In truth, there are not many and most of the connections are pretty tenuous – if you have any feedback about the narrowness of the organisers’ idea of “literature”, why not reach out to them. So, this is what we found (feel free to add others in the comments)…

The World According to Star Wars : Cass Sunstein

Unstable Worlds – just because Tim Jones, we have no idea if this has genre content.

New Frontiers – Elizabeth Knox & Lawrence Patchett – just because Elizabeth Knox.

Wallace Shawn – As an actor this chap was in The Princess Bride and Star Trek:DS9 but his writing does not appear to be genre.

2020 FFANZ Open for Nominations

The Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand (FFANZ) is accepting nominations for the 2020 race.

This time around FFANZ will send an Australian fan to the 2020 World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand, being held July 29-August 2 in Wellington, NZ.

The full announcement can be found here and here and here – take your pick. They all contain the info needed to put yourself forward.

We could give a whole spiel about what a fan fund is and what the benefits and duties are, but this is the internet – just follow the link for the FAQ. Go on – learn a little bit more about fandom down under. There are other fan funds actually – find out about all the ones that apply to NZ over here.

Covid-19: A statement from CoNZealand

In case you missed it on their main news feed, the CoNZealand chairs have issued the following statement:
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Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.

As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.

We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.

Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler
Chairs, CoNZealand

Awardwatch : Kiwis on the Bram Stoker Finals Ballot

The Horror Writers Association have released the final ballot for the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards.

Looking down the list, what did we see but a couple of New Zealand writers making their presence felt (again) on the world horror stage. Congratulations and good luck in the final ballot to…

Murray, Lee – Into the Ashes (Severed Press) – Superior Achievement in a Novel

Cade, Octavia – Mary Shelley Makes a Monster (Aqueduct Press) – Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

We also spotted the Guest of Honour at last year’s natcon on the list – Kaaron Warren. Did we miss anybody else of note? As with these and any genre awards where New Zealanders feature, please drop us a line so we can share the news here.

Awardwatch : Lee Murray

The New Zealand Society of Authors Waitangi Day Honours have been announced and Lee Murray has been selected as one of this year’s Honorary Literary Fellows. She is one of just two fellows – alongside Rachael King. We highlight Lee, because of her huge involvement in SF/F/H in this country as well as her achievements as a writer. As far as we can tell, she is the first genre author to be so honoured.