Kiwi artists design Hugo Award bases

CoNZealand, 78th Worldcon host, announced two New Zealand artists selected to create the bases for the 2020 Hugo Awards and the 1945 Retro Hugos.

The Hugo Awards are a major highlight of every Worldcon, recognising the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements from the previous year. Each award features a metal rocket as the central element but the base design changes every year.

CoNZealand invited New Zealand-based artists to submit a base design. Five designers submitted excellent proposals, and two were selected to produce a base for the awards.

The 2020 Hugo Award base has been designed by John Flower. John has been working as an engraver for Trophy Specialists & Engraving in Palmerston North for the past 16 years. He has been a fan of science fiction since he was a wee lad when his father would tell him about the goings on in books by Asimov, Heinlein, and others and is chuffed to be part of recognising the talented people creating science fiction works today.

“The trophy base was designed using open source software and hopefully it captures the sense of wonder of the sci-fi genre and the spirit of cooperation that is required to explore beyond the Earth,” said Flower.

The 1945 Retro Hugo Awards base has been designed by James Brown. Born in Christchurch but a long time resident of Auckland, James studied graphic design and illustration at Auckland University of Technology. He spent a decade working as a miniature painter and sculptor for a tabletop wargaming company, a role which allowed him to combine his love of tiny things with his interests in history and gaming. He also had a brief but very enjoyable stint painting film props at Weta Workshop.

“As a lifelong science fiction fan I attended different NatCons [New Zealand national conventions], but this year will be my first time participating in a Worldcon,” Brown said.

The Hugo nominations closed last month with 1584 people making a total of 27,033 nominations for the 2020 Hugo Awards, while 120 people submitted 1,677 nominations for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards. The finalists will be announced on Tuesday, April 7 at 1pm PDT/4 pm EDT/9pm BST/8am Wednesday March 8, NZST. Information on how to watch the finalists announcement will be available on CoNZealand social media in the days to come.

CoNZealand special announcement

Another week, and another paradigm shift. The changes are still coming fast and furious as New Zealand enters into a four-week lockdown. We are all still dealing with an unprecedented set of circumstances that make it very difficult to plan for the future.

The choices we are faced with are:

  1. Move the date of CoNZealand. We are constrained in the ability to move the con by the timing of other events that have booked the venues. It might be possible to move it to the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, but that would put undue pressure on fans to travel to two Worldcons too close together, and there is no certainty about whether there would be another wave of illness.
  2. Cancelling CoNZealand and minimally fulfilling the WSFS requirements. This would certainly be the easiest, but not necessarily the best or most fulfilling, choice.
  3. Virtualise CoNZealand. This choice provides certainty about what we are aiming to do while we still have time to make the plans. This will allow folks who can’t travel this far or those who are immunocompromised to attend.

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.

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. 

Travel and accommodation

We understand that you will have to make arrangements to change or cancel your travel and accommodation plans. Please check our Hotels page for information regarding hotel room cancellations. We will continue to update the page with new information as we get it.

Memberships

Attending memberships will be required for people to fully participate in the interactive virtual convention. We understand that when you purchased your membership, you were not expecting an online con. None of us were. Our terms and conditions state that memberships are non-refundable. However, with the nature of the convention changing so fundamentally, we expect to offer limited refunds.

Over the last year and more we have spent a lot of money on things that will no longer be useful to us, and we now find ourselves needing to spend a lot more money on the platforms and services required to put a convention online. We will need some time to work with our venues and hotels to figure out where we stand. We ask for your patience at this time, as getting the information we all need is difficult during a period when New Zealand is locked down. 

We hope to announce the new online membership rates for CoNZealand by 15 April

Please note that at this time only Supporting memberships are available for purchase, until we have announced the new online membership rates. Attending memberships (of any type) can not currently be purchased.

In due course, we intend to refund any Child Attending memberships upon request, as well as any Unwaged Attending memberships that have not used their voting rights. 

We are willing to refund any Adult or Young Adult Attending members the difference between the amount paid and the price of an online membership. We ask, however, that you consider not requesting that refund. Any money we have will go towards making this the best online convention ever. As a charitable society, any remaining funds will support fandom and future Worldcons.

Issuing these refunds is challenging, and we will need some time to set up a system. We will do our best, but we cannot at this stage say when we will be able to start issuing refunds. 

Programme participants

If you have signed up to be a programme participant, we ask you to please give us some time to think about what a virtual convention will look like. We hope to be in touch with everybody by 15 April to discuss each individual’s options for continuing as a CoNZealand programme participant.

New Zealand Natcon 

CoNZealand, as host of the 2020 New Zealand Natcon is staying in close contact with the board of SFFANZ and the organisations will continue to work together with regard to CoNZealand’s obligations as the organisers of the 2020 New Zealand Natcon.

Future updates

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our web news updates (you can find the sign up box on our website homepage). 

We are planning to do some Q&A sessions via Zoom (covering different time zones) so that you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the two of us directly. Information on the dates and times of these will be circulated in due course. 

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.

Kia Kaha (Stand Strong),

Kelly Buehler & Norman Cates

Chairs, CoNZealand

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.

Covid-19 Update 16 March 2020

The Government of New Zealand has just announced a ban on large events for 500 or more people. While there is no timeframe provided for how long this ban is in place, the focus appears to be on the immediate few weeks to provide clarity to those organising events during this immediate period.

Further guidance relating to large events is due from the Government later this week. We will continue to monitor the advice from the Government and review our planning, including our contingency planning, once this further guidance is available, however at this time it does not appear that we have to cancel CoNZealand due to the timing of our event still being several months away.

We will continue to update our members and community as soon as this evolving issue develops and we are able to confirm any impacts on CoNZealand. Thank you for your ongoing support and patience.

Norman Cates, Kelly Buehler
CoNZealand Co-Chairs

Note, we now have a page for Covid-19 Information, please also check this page for further updates.

Covid-19: Update from the Chairs

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

Covid-19: A statement from the CoNZealand chairs

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

Scholarship programme to help people from marginalised communities attend once-in-a-lifetime World Science Fiction Convention in Wellington

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) being held in Wellington in July, today announced a scholarship programme to provide free memberships and financial support for people from marginalised communities to attend.

“This is the first time the World Science Fiction Convention has ever been held in New Zealand. My team is busy putting together over 500 events, over five days, and one of our key aims is to make this a uniquely South Pacific convention experience. The Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative will help make sure we can hear from a diverse range of voices at the convention, particularly Māori and Pasifika,” Programme Division Head Jannie Shea said.

The convention is not for profit and run entirely by volunteers. All those attending (including programme participants) need to purchase a membership. Attending membership costs $450 for adults, $250 for young adults born in or after 2000, and $225 for unwaged NZ residents. The Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative aims to help those who would not otherwise be able to attend the convention.

There are no financial hardship criteria to apply for the scholarship. Applications from people from marginalised communities will be prioritised, including Māori, Pasifika, people of colour, LGBTQI+, disabled, and those facing socio-economic disadvantage. Applicants who reside in New Zealand, or who require minimal travel support, will be accepted first, with broader Pasifika region applicants considered if funds allow.

“Worldcon members have a history of digging into their pockets to help diverse and local people attend. We saw this through past years’ initiatives such as MexicanX and the Fantastic Dublin Fund. We know our members and the broader speculative fiction community will get behind us and help make the Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative a success,” said Co-Chair Norman Cates.

Applications for the scholarship are open until the end of March, and people and companies who want to support the initiative can donate funds or memberships through CoNZealand’s website.

Scholarship Manager Toni Wi (Ngāti Maniapoto) and Māori Programme Liaison Cassie Hart (Ngāi Tahu) are managing the scholarship process. “We’ll be pushing hard to get funding for as many scholarships as we can. It’s free to apply and we want to hear from as many applicants as possible. Don’t self reject!”

Read more about the Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative
Read key facts about CoNZealand [PDF]

Call for Academic Papers- deadline extended

If you have a great idea for a paper, panel or round table for CoNZealand’s science and academic stream, now’s the time to get in touch!

The deadline for submitting proposals for CoNZealand’s Science and Academic stream has been extended to 15th March 2020. 

Find out more about what kind of proposals we’re looking for in the preliminary call for papers – Science and Academic stream article.

Please send all proposals, queries or questions to Dr. Douglas A. Van Belle at: conzealand.academic@vuw.ac.nz

 

Urgent vacancy for NZ Outreach Area Head

We have an urgent vacancy to fill for our NZ Outreach Area Head.
Are you based in New Zealand? Do you have experience in marketing, communications, or publicity, as well as experience of creating commercial partnerships?
We are looking for somebody to proactively manage the team working with NZ publishers, tourism operators, librarians, bookshops, writers groups and so on – encouraging businesses to promote CoNZealand to their customers and to offer us discounts and sponsorships, as well as persuading them of the benefits of getting involved in programming activities themselves.
This is a busy, wide-ranging and exciting volunteer position. As with all CoNZealand crew roles, we are unable to offer any remuneration.
If you’re interested and would like more details, please email outreach@conzealand.nz