CoNZealand: We need you!

CoNZealand: We need you!

Wellington is the place to be next year if you write fantasy, science fiction or horror, thanks to CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), which is being held from July 29 to August 2, 2020. Anyone who wants to put their name forward to participate in the programme should fill in the programme participants form before Christmas this year, and be aware that membership prices will rise again in February. Read on for more information! If you still have questions after you’ve read the below, please feel free to contact me directly: [email protected]

Worldcon has been bringing fans, authors and artists together since 1939 but this is the first time ever that it will come to New Zealand (you may have seen the video of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern making the announcement). CoNZealand offers Kiwi writers a rare opportunity to network and share your ideas and creativity with more than 2,000 people from around the world, all of them passionate about speculative fiction.

But what is CoNZealand exactly? And why should writers get excited about it?

It is one of the biggest conventions Wellington has ever seen, featuring hundreds of events – exhibitions, workshops, panel talks and competitions – spread across the Michael Fowler Centre, TSB Arena, Shed 6, the West Plaza Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel. It’s not limited to science fiction – it celebrates all speculative fiction genres, including fantasy and horror.

While there’ll be cosplay and themed dances, as you can expect at most conventions, Worldcon has a more academic approach with a strong focus on engagement. It is also more literature-centric than Armageddon. To get a better idea about what might be included in the programme, take a look at what happened in Dublin, Ireland, for the 2019 Worldcon:

You will be able to learn from top authors such as George R.R. Martin, who will be Toastmaster, and the Author Guests of Honour, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. You will also be able to attend the Hugo Awards ceremony – the most prestigious literary awards in the field.

In addition, CoNZealand will host New Zealand’s 41st National Convention, including a ceremony for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, which recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents.

While many fans are thrilled to visit Middle Earth, our members are already telling us they are looking forward to experiencing the local culture. We want to build a programme that will showcase our local authors alongside the international visitors, and Māori and Pasifika speculative fiction writers in particular. Pacific futurism and climate fiction are among the themes suggested for our programme. You can make suggestions of other topics and panel members you’d like to see via our website (see below for more details).

So, how can you become a part of this platform that will raise New Zealand’s profile on the science fiction and fantasy stage worldwide?

CoNZealand is a not-for-profit organisation, run entirely on the passion of volunteers. All attendees and participants need to buy an attending membership, which gains you access to the full programme of events over the five days.

To get even more involved, you can become a volunteer, a panel contributor, launch your book or set up a desk in the Dealers Hall. Here’s some key information to note:

  • Memberships: Everyone who wants to participate in the programme needs to have purchased an attending membership first. Memberships need to be bought in advance, from our website: Payment plans are available. Be quick as prices will rise in February. Memberships are selling fast, and we may have to close sales early if we reach venue capacity.
  • Programming: To participate in the programme, fill in the form on our website: This includes activities like book signings and readings, as well as panel participation. Keep in mind places on the programme are not guaranteed, but we’d love to see your ideas. You can also recommend events and speakers you would like to see using this form:
  • Book launches: To arrange a book launch, please contact our Publishers Liaison, Jan Butterworth, on [email protected] and provide her with contact details of your publisher.
  • Book sales: You can apply to sell your books in the Dealers Hall. We encourage writers to group together and we are aware some Indie authors are already making arrangements to do so:
  • Join the crew! If you want to volunteer to help with organisation of the con, either pre-con or at-con, register here:

To find out more about what we’re working on, sign up for updates on our website, join our Facebook community group (where you can ask questions of crew as well as other members), or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Contact: Melanie Harding-Shaw, NZ Writer Liaison, CoNZealand, [email protected]

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