CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention – aka the Worldcon – is now to become the first-ever ‘virtual Worldcon’, as the convention cancels their physical event amidst the current global pandemic.
CoNZealand Chairs, Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates said, “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. 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.”
Buehler and Cates added that they looked at three choices – to move the date of CoNZealand, to cancel it completely, or to make it virtual.
Of the three options, the last was selected by them as the option that provided the best certainty about what they can do while still having time to make plans.
“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 added.
Information has been posted on the CoNZealand website regarding hotel room cancellations over at https://conzealand.nz/hotels – this will, they say, be updated as more information becomes available.