Hugo Award Finalist Announcement Scheduled

The official Hugo Awards site reports that CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, will announce the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards and 1945 Retrospective Hugo Awards on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 8 AM NZST.

In other time zones that is: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. British Summer Time; 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; and 1:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

CoNZealand received Hugo Awards nominations from 1,584 people, and Retro Hugo Awards nominations from 120 people.

Information on how to watch the finalist announcement will be released by CoNZealand later.

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.

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 Awards are a major highlight of every Worldcon, recognizing 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.

[From a press release.]

CoNZealand To Become First Virtual Worldcon

Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates, co-chairs of the 2020 Worldcon, have announced that, due to worldwide concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, they are taking CoNZealand online:

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…
  2. Cancelling CoNZealand and minimally fulfilling the WSFS requirements…
  3. Virtualise CoNZealand…

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…

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

Cates and Buehler intend to schedule some interactive Zoom Q&A sessions covering different timezones, whereby Worldcon members can get answers to their questions about how a virtual Worldcon will work.

For the complete information included in the announcement, including changes this will entail for Memberships, Travel and Accommodation, Programme Participants, and the NZ Natcon, follow the link to read the full announcement.

Of All The Nerve!

Armageddon Expo was planned for April 10-12 in Wellington, New Zealand until the rapidly evolving coronavirus restrictions forced them to shift to a later date. And guess where they’ve landed? On the same date in the same city as CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon. Thread starts here.

While we have spent that past year working towards our Wellington event planned for April 10-12th we have made the decision to postpone this event and move it to later in the year to August 1st/2nd 2020 still at the Sky Stadium. We won’t be making firm guest announcements until closer to the event.

A number of people have tweeted their disapproval, such as —

Meanwhile, the CoNZealand chairs notified members of two policies announced by the New Zealand government that affect travelers and large events —

On 14 March 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that from today (15 March, NZT) there will be new border measures, with all travellers arriving in New Zealand (including New Zealand citizens) required to self-isolate for 14 days. The measures will be reviewed in 15 days. All cruise ships are being told to stay away until 30 June.

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

Hugo Nomination Deadline Today

In case you didn’t already have enough on your plate — this is the last day to submit online nominations for the 2020 Hugo Awatds.

Eligible members of the 2019 and 2020 Worldcons can make up to five nominations in each category. Emails have been sent to them with the necessary instructions.

Nominations will close on March 13, 2020 at 23:59 Pacific Daylight Time (02:59 Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 UTC/Irish Time, and 19:59 March 14, 2020 New Zealand Daylight Time).

The six most popular eligible nominees in each category will go forward to the final ballot. The Finalists for the Awards will be announced in early April.

2020 Worldcon Scholarships

CoNZealand, this year’s Worldcon, has announced a “Scholarship programme to help people from marginalised communities attend once-in-a-lifetime World Science Fiction Convention in Wellington”. Applications are open until the end of March. Fans are asked to contribute. See full details at the link.

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 Maori 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 M?ori, 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 (Ngati Maniapoto) and Maori Programme Liaison Cassie Hart (Ngai 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!”

[Based on a press release. Note: WordPress does not support the letter A with a macron over it, so in the word Maori and several names a plain Latin A has been substituted.]

Resnick Lives on in His Friends’ Memories

By Rich Lynch: It was back in 2001 that my late friend Mike Resnick, in a fanzine article about what he’d include in a personal time capsule, wrote something that came across as perhaps overly pessimistic but also sadly prophetic: “My fandom is dying.  It’s been dying for years.  It’ll be decades more before the last remnants are gone, and I have every hope and expectation that it will outlive me.”

At the time that Mike wrote that, he was nearly four decades into what was a very successful career as a professional writer.  But he was also very much a science fiction fan, having discovered fandom in 1962 in the pages of a fanzine.  And it was his perception, back then, that his fanzine-centric fandom was in the midst of what seemed a steep decline.  Which had brought on that bit of pessimism.

I can’t remember for sure when Nicki and I first met Mike – it was probably about the time of the 1988 Worldcon – but I do know when we became friends.  It was in 1994, during that year’s Worldcon.  We had an enjoyable long conversation with him in the Cincinnati Fantasy Group’s hospitality suite, where Mike had settled in after having missed out on winning a Hugo Award due to a controversial decision by the award administrators.  He told us that he had read a few issues of our fanzine, Mimosa, and out of the blue offered to write us an article for the next one.  Which we gratefully accepted.  It turned out to be one of the best pieces of non-fiction he ever wrote: “Roots and a Few Vines”, where he described in detail his experiences at the 1963 Worldcon in Washington, D.C. which made him a fan for life and set him on the road to becoming a science fiction writer.

That article got so much positive reader response that Mike ended up writing eight more articles for Mimosa, including a series of four first-person remembrances of other Worldcons he had attended.  And he attended a lot of them.  Mike ostensibly used Worldcons as opportunities to meet with publishers about book contracts and the like, but he was actually there as a fan.  From the time we became friends until just a few years ago when health considerations started to affect his ability to make long trips, he was a constant presence at nearly every Worldcon.  His most famous fiction series, one which brought him awards and award nominations aplenty, was Afrocentric in theme (one of Mike’s favorite travel destinations was Kenya) and many of his friends, us included, started to affectionately refer to him as ‘Bwana’.  I remember that he kept trying to convince Nicki and me to come along with him on one of his Africa trips but by that point in our lives we were not so much into that kind of an adventure.  Instead, we preferred a more vicarious experience by listening to him talk at conventions about his travels.

One of the shorter trips he took was back to his original home city of Chicago.  Near the end of the “Roots and a Few Vines” article, Mike had written that: “I’ve won some awards, and I’ve paid some dues, and I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic to assume that sometime before I die I will be the Guest of Honor at a Worldcon.”  It was a much-deserved honor that finally came to pass in 2012, in Chicago, and I was happy to be on a panel with him about a joint interest we both had – Broadway musicals.  But it turned out that my knowledge on the topic was not even close to what Mike and the other panelists displayed so I spent most of the hour just reveling in the experience while trying not to embarrass myself.  After that we often compared notes about musicals we’d seen and liked (and sometimes disliked).  And that, in a way, was the inspiration for Mike’s final fanzine article – a musical theater survey that was published in 2019 in the fanzine Challenger.  In it, he and eight other Broadway enthusiasts (me included) listed our top twelve favorite musicals.  Which, I’m sure, would have resulted in many more enjoyable hours of discussion on that topic with him.

Mike and me, with other panelists, on the Broadway musicals panel. Photo by Nicki Lynch.

Instead, I’ve spent some time trying to organize my thoughts on how I would remember my friend Mike.  Cancer is a cold, ruthless killer, and his last days from what I’ve read are not the way I’d want to go out.  But my memories of him, indeed memories of him by all of his friends, live on.  Of all the pleasant times, and there were many.  I’ll end this remembrance by going back the time capsule article that Mike wrote for Mimosa.  In it he listed all the things related to fandom he possessed that he would preserve in stasis, if he could, for fans of the year 2100 to discover.  And he also would have included a contextual note for all those future fans:


Dear Citizen of 2100:

     I hope you are living in the Utopia we envisioned when we were kids first discovering science fiction. I am sure you have experienced technological and medical breakthroughs that are all but inconceivable to me.

     But I have experienced something that is probably inconceivable to you, at least until you spend a little time studying the contents of this capsule.

     I wish I could see the wonders you daily experience. But you know something? As badly as I want to see the future, to see what we’ve accomplished in the next century, I wouldn’t trade places with you if it meant never having experienced the fandom that this capsule will introduce you to.

     Enjoy. I certainly did.


I feel grateful to have been part of Mike’s fandom.  And I feel regret for all those future fans of the year 2100 who won’t have the chance to meet Mike in person.  But they can still meet him through his fiction and descriptions of his fandom, and that ought to make him larger than life for them.  He already is for me.

[Illustration for Mike’s article by Joe Mayhew.]

JeddiCon’s Yasser Bahjatt at Worldcon 76

The bid committee to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022 (JeddiCon) styles itself The Jeddi High Council.  The Master of The Order – bid chair — is Yasser Bahjatt. He’s been to Worldcons, and Olav Rokne forwarded several photos he took of Bahjatt on a panel at the San Jose Worldcon of 2018. (Thanks to Steven H Silver for the panelist identifications.)

This was the alternate history panel “If This, Then What?” The panelists in order from left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. (Foglio only appears in the last picture.)

Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.

JeddiCon Bidders Discuss Their Experience

The JeddiCon bid committee wants to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022. When their bid went public in January, File 770 asked for more information about their conrunning experience. Here’s the background they shared.

(See all the official bid filing documents for the Jeddah and Chicago bids for 2022 at the CoNZealand website.)


Dear Mike,

Thank you for your interest in JeddiCon and its committee (The Jeddi High Council).

The Jeddi High Council members are all top professionals in their fields. Bellow you will find their summery bio that includes the event running experiences that they each have:

Master of The Order Yasser Bahjatt

Yasser has bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering specialized in Computer Engineering, he is also an alumni of Singularity University’s Graduate Study Program.

Yasser has been managing eSports events since 2003 with some events growing to several thousand players competing across 27 locations located around the kingdom. He was also the organized and co-organized several TEDx events in Jeddah.

He has been a driving force for cultivating and growing the SciFi culture in Saudi and across the Arabian world.

Lore Keeper Rami Hamzah

Rami Hamzah is a proactive knowledge seeker since he began to explore and make sense of written forms during his emerging literacy phase of his life. That’s when his journey began by a coincidence when he found the ancient “One Thousand and One Nights” book in his hand at the age of 7 years.

He was always fascinated by Fiction and historical novels.

Rami worked on managing logistical support of the opening and closing ceremony of Saudi Professional League 2015/2016. He had a multi-dimensional study/career path through the past 20 years in Information Technology, Logistics, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.

Master Thamer Alturaif

Thamer M. Alturaif is a Chemical engineer from King Abdelaziz university with a master’s in business administration from university of Colorado. Throughout his career as an HR professional Thamer managed numerous events and activities scaling from small events like workshops/trainings/townhalls up to companywide initiatives like roadshows and annual seminars. Biggest project was overseeing the deployment and management of over 3000 temporary employees from different nationalities during Hajj operations in the 2019 season.

Master Mohammed Albakri

He studied medical technology and is currently working in Laboratory Information Sciences and is still waiting for the lab accident that will grant him superpowers…

He was part of the planning committee for the 2nd annual Laboratory week hosted by King Faisal Specialist Hospital Jeddah.

Master Ahmad Sabbagh

Ahmed has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering, and he also has an MBA.

Ahmad was in charge of organizing Buyer & Seller Conference in Indonesia and Bangladesh. And was also managing logistics activities.

Master Tameem Qashqari

He is a member of Geekfest community and he has participated in organizing Geekfest Jeddah. He was responsible for developing the marketing pitch to corporations to secure sponsors for the event.

He hosted the Low Priority Queue podcast which is A geek-centric podcast of three fanboys with great intentions, but absurdly poor taste.

Residing for eternity where gamers go to die

Master Ashraf Fagih

He has a PhD in Computing from Queen’s University in Canada and served as an assistant Professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashraf served as Vice Rector for University Relations & Community Outreach at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He was directly involved in the organization and crowd management of major university events including the graduation ceremony and all VIP reception affairs.

Since 2018, Ashraf has been appointed as the head of Communication-then Operations- of King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra); the flagship initiative of Saudi Aramco Company. Ashraf was directly involved in the programming, supervision and promotion of a wide set of cultural and scientific activities offered by Ithra, attended by more than 1.2 million visitors over the course of the past 18 months.

Master Raneen Bukhari

Raneen grew up in what she calls “a business/art environment”, Her mother is an artist and her father a businessman. She has worked on and led the planning and organization of many events over many different fields. In 2013, she was in charge of the launch campaign for NICE stores in AlKhobar. She is also the co-creator and curator of LOUD Art, a traveling platform for emerging experimental artists, organized annually from 2012 to 2016. Bukhari is a co-organizer of Huna Art, a casual art talk that has been happened bimonthly from 2013 to 2016. She has organized 28 art exhibitions in Saudi and around the world. Most recently, she just finished working on Desert X AlUla as logistics and shipping director.

If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

May the 4th we’ll be with you,