Welcome to Worldcon NZ

Something incredibly exciting is coming to Wellington in 2020. The international science fiction and fantasy convention, Worldcon, will take place in the capital city of New Zealand under the name of CoNZealand. Taking place over five days, from the 29th July to the 2nd August, it promises to be a veritable cornucopia of science fiction pleasures.

From their website:

Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 except for the years 1942 to 1945. It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (or WSFS).

There are many science fiction conventions around the world, but Worldcons offer a unique mix of fans and professionals from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth for a very exciting experience.

Worldcons are run predominantly by the fans for the fans, and they are unique in that attendees do not buy tickets, rather, they purchase a membership to the whole event. Membership provides access to all aspects of the Worldcon, and you’re not merely paying for an event, your money also gives you a say in how the con may be run.

Right now, the CoNZealand team are extremely keen to hear from anyone who would like to take part in, or help organise, a panel. It’s worth noting that everyone who is involved must be a member, but a payment plan is available to help spread the cost.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of panels I’d personally like to see, in fact I tweeted about it a few days ago to an encouraging amount of local interest.

Panels I’d like to see at @CoNZealand:

Cli-fi (esp. NZ-centric) & writing positive narratives,

‘Are we living in a simulation?’,

Māori and Pasifika SF/F authors,

Kiwi dystopian horror,

Monsters of Aotearoa

I feel very strongly that New Zealand could prove to be a powerful and influential example for writing successful cli-fi – literature which deals with climate change and global warming. Not necessarily speculative in nature, many cli-fi examples take place either in the current world or the near future, and address pressing issues such as climate emergency, often by writing hopeful or problem-solving narratives which could be utilised in real-world scenarios.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was extremely interested in finding authors who fit this criteria, who could lead by example and use fiction as a basis for factual change. I’m already compiling a list of those on my radar as writers who could lead us into a more hopeful future.

Since accepting the role of Publicity Officer for New Zealand speculative fiction group SpecFicNZ, I’ve also had the opportunity to find out about – and in some cases, meet with – many authors in this beautiful country who take inspiration from the land, the culture and time-honoured legends to write some amazing speculative fiction.

CoNZealand is going to be a fantastic event, of that I am certain. Toastmaster G.R.R. Martin, Author Guests of Honour Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, and Artist Guest of Honour Greg Broadmore are just a few of the big names drawing people to snap up their membership quick. CoNZealand will also honour long-time sci-fi fan Rose Mitchell as the Fan Guest of Honour.

I hope that the Con will also feature a great number of New Zealand’s talented homegrown writers and artists — especially marginalised groups and those of Māori and Pasifika descent who are frequently under-represented — and will be a great example of what the New Zealand science fiction community can achieve.

If you would like to participate in the 2020 Worldcon, you can register your interest via their online form here.

You can contribute your skills as a writer, artist, a specialist in a certain field or simply as a science fiction enthusiast with the right passion to help pull together a great panel.

Stuff like this doesn’t happen in New Zealand very often. It might never happen again. There can be many benefits to being tucked away at the bottom of the world on a pair of stunningly gorgeous islands, but there are also drawbacks when it comes to getting involved in larger-scale communities and international events. I believe it is important, as a creative collective, to do all we can to make it one of the best Worldcons the fans have ever seen.

I look forwards to seeing you there. 😁

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