Worldcon: There and back again?

This is a tale of a booklovers journey to this years Worldcon, at the same time on the other side of the world, and right here on his living room.

Worldcons, for those not acquainted, are fan driven science fiction and fantasy conventions, which are held yearly.  Every year the con is held in a different location (previous three locations being: Helsinki, San Jose, Dublin), and this years location was Wellington, New Zealand.  One of the biggest moments of each Worldcon, is the Hugo awards ceremony, in which the best science fiction and fantasy books (and related productions) of the previous year are awarded.

I usually tell people that the Hugos are like the Oscars of SF/F literature and genre (and I may or may not be correct on that mark), but at least one thing sets Hugos apart from most other awards. The fans nominate and decide the winners. More accurately the members of the current Worldcon, and the members of the previous year, are eligible to nominate and vote.

Two years ago, in San Jose Worldcon, it was voted, by the members of that Worldcon, that in the year 2020, Wellington would have their moment of hosting a Worldcon, or as it came to be known, CoNZealand. One year ago, after Dublin Worldcon, I bought plane tickets to and from Wellington, and decided that July 2020 would be a very good time to visit New Zealand, and attend a Worldcon, like getting two flies with one stone, how little did I know.

In the beginning of January, right before brown stuff hit the fan worldwide, I had about everything ready. I had booked a hotel, I had bought a new backpack (to carry all the books I would be buying), I had bought an e-reader so I wouldn’t have to take physical books with me from home, I had decided that I wouldn’t be buying new books before the trip, so I could happily buy backbreaking amounts of them from the trip.

And then 2020 happened.

But that is not an end to our story, that’s another beginning.
Amid all the things this year has thrown at us, the glorious people behind this years con decided that the best solution would be to boldly take CoNZealand where no Worldcon has ever gone before, and so they went virtual.

As Worldcons are volunteer driven, there was now time to get volunteers onboard and find the people who were willing and able to take panels and readings and everything con related of the ground, and onto the virtual platforms.
After months of planning, training, and preparing, on the morning of July 29th New Zealand time, it was doors open. And yours truly was in the thick of it.

No, I didn’t have the chance to go and see Shire and Mount Doom, and all the rest.
It was midnight between July 28th and 29th, and I was sitting on my sofa, with two laptops and one extra screen, with headset on my head, and I was preparing to start hosting Readings on Zoom.

And that’s how my con went. I shocked my body by starting to live in New Zealand time, sat on my computer for five nights, hosted a few panels, and hosted a bunch of readings.
I got to see and hear over thirty authors reading from their books and other works, ranging all the way from children’s books to noir and horror, and of course, scifi. I listened to this years Hugo nominees, and there might have been a winner or two in the midst.

I listened a reading from a twenty years old YA fantasy book (a session I might have enjoyed the most as it’s a book that I like a lot). I listened to things that are not yet published, might never get published. I listened to works that were so out of the box I usually stick to with my readings, that I didn’t even see the box anymore.

And I loved every second of it!
Well, what would you expect from a booklover?

But now, it’s Sunday, 2nd of August, and the Con is over. This morning (local time) I logged out, for the last time, and said farewell to yet another new experience.

I might not have gotten that backbreaking amount of new books, but what I got is whole lot of new interesting authors whose works I have to check out.
I might not have gotten to New Zealand, but I will, someday.
I might not have gotten to attend a physical Worldcon, but there will be others, and I got a nice training in virtual environments.

I might not have gotten the experience I was looking for a year ago, but I got a nice one all the same.

I did not have a chance to write a blog about bookshops in Wellington and/or attending a Worldcon in a completely unfamiliar country, but I got to write this.


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