2020 Worldcon goes virtual

The chairs of the 2020 science fiction world convention, ConZealand, have announced that the convention will now be the first virtual worldcon.

Faced with the options of cancelling, rescheduling or being innovative, the chairs have decided to make their worldcon into an interactive virtual convention. This will be the first fully online worldcon, with convention members attending via computer. If you have paid for an attending membership it is not becoming a paid membership for the online event.

The new online membership rates are expected to be announced by 15 April. The memberships for the virtual convention are expected to be lower than the attending memberships.

To help the convention with their costs for realigning the event, ConZealand is asking fans to consider not asking for refunds for the difference between paid attending memberships and the virtual memberships.

Further details are available on ConZealand’s website.

SF fans unite – although perhaps not in person

Hi there CSFS members.

How are you? Are you OK? The world is a challenging and worrying place at the moment, with experiences we would rather remained only in fiction.

With social distancing in place and quarantines etc, most of us will be spending more time at home with our favourite fiction. For some people this may be a burden but for we science fiction and fantasy geeks this is an opportunity.

Although we are all keeping our ‘social distance’ please check in with your friends by phone or digital device (or telepathy if you’re lucky enough to have it). Keeping in touch is something we can all do to support and help each other.

Some ideas for things to do
– Reread your favourite books, comics etc
– Watch or rewatch a TV series you’ve been meaning to catch up with. SBS has Project Blue Book on their streaming service and on TV.
 – Read through Baen Books library of free ebooks or buy some of their ebooks
– Listen to audio books, for example Audible or Big Finish (by the way, the older Big Finish productions cost a lot less to download)
– Online gaming
– Dig out your oldest computer and try to get it to work again
– Write some fiction or poetry for one or more of the many writing competitions in Australia this year 
– Or if you’re feeling less formal write some fanfiction
– Organise your Collection
– Assemble a spaceship model 
– Learn to crochet a robot 
– Build your own space armour

What are you planning on doing with all your geeky time?

Hmmm, maybe I’ll crochet myself a storm trooper helmet

(The restaurant meeting will be on tonight, 19 March, for those who wish to attend).

Doctor Who returns with delayed broadcasts

The new season of Doctor Who started in the UK on New Year’s Day with a longer special episode, which was broadcast in Australia on January 2.

The second episode of the season aired in the UK on Sunday 5 January. The ABC made the episode available on it’s streaming service iView from Monday 6 January. However, the broadcasting of episode two has been scheduled for Thursday January 9 at 7.30pm on ABC1.

The reason for the delay hasn’t been explained but it is highly likely to be due to Monday to Wednesday on ABC1 being reserved for current affairs, comedy and documentary programmes. Thursday to Sunday are usual nights for drama on ABC1.

If you follow Doctor Who, and want to avoid Spoilers, it may be wise to either stream it on iView or stay away from fan sites and social media episode discussions until you’ve seen the episode.

Avengers Endgame viewer advice

Avengers Endgame opened in cinemas across Australia today.  This movie is the most recent in the extensive Marvel cinematic universe.

Today I saw the movie, which I recommend for anyone but particularly for anyone who has seen the previous marvel movies in the series.

A few things to be aware of when you’re planning to see the movie:

  • Avengers Endgame is three hours long, with the pre-show adverts that means allowing up to four hours for getting the tickets, queuing and the show.
  • There aren’t any mid-credit or end-credit scenes. This may seem a bit of a spoiler until you’ve spend 10 minutes watching the end credits to simply see the Marvel logo at the end.
  • While it would be possible to watch this movie without seeing any of the other marvel movies, as this movie is a Part 2 I really cannot recommend going into this movie ‘cold’.

A magical place

Wizards and witches may have heard in the muggle media of the opening of Quizzic Alley. Today my husband and I ventured there to see what the wizarding world’s addition to Canberra has to offer.

Quizzic Alley is a Harry Potter store with a style reminiscent of the stores in Diagon Alley, and proclaims its policy of ‘wizards welcome and muggles tolerated’.  Any wizard or witch visiting the shop in Pirie Street will note there is convenient broom parking outside the establishment.

Quizzic Alley has a great deal of merchandise and, while a lot of it focuses on The Boy Who Lived, there is merchandise available for wizards and witches from all Hogwarts Houses and even some items relating to He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Muggles will find the wizarding world atmosphere educational, and can choose to visit it as an exhibit.  Potions and alchemy classes are available for witches and wizards and perhaps very adventurous muggles, or the science and alchemy room can be booked for parties catered by Quizzic Alley.

On our visit we sampled the QBrew, the local wizarding drink, and found it quite tasty. We also spent half an hour looking through the shop and admiring the atmosphere, And, yes, we did buy some items that we hadn’t seen before.

Highly recommended for Harry Potter fans and anyone who enjoys themed stores and fantasy.

Quizzic Alley is at 5 Pirie Street in Fyshwick and is open Wednesday to Sunday.


Science Fiction related school holiday events in Canberra

For anyone with children or grandchildren, or those of us with an enjoyment of science fiction aimed at a younger audience, the following events are happening in Canberra through the current school holidays.

Jurassic World Exhibit – model dinosaurs and related items from the Jurassic World movies. This exhibition is on now and closes Wednesday 17th October, in the Centre Court at South Point Tuggeranong (formerly Tuggeranong Hyperdome). There are also children’s craft events at 11am to 2pm each day up to Friday 12th October – which may be a good time each day to avoid the exhibit if you’re child-free.

The National Film and Sound Archives are screening “action, adventure and gaming” movies at 10am on the following days, with the entry price of $5 a person.

Tuesday October 2 Queen of Katwe
Wednesday October 3 Zathura: A Space Adventure
Thursday October 4 Jumanji
Friday October 5 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Monday October 8 War Games
Tuesday October 9 Tron
Wednesday October 10 Tron: Legacy
Thursday October 11 Dungeons and Dragons
Friday October 12 Ready Player One

See NFAS.gov.au/events

Dining out in July and August

Our resident restaurant reviewer provided the following review of the July and August meeting venues.

July’s choice was Chinese/Malay cuisine. We gathered at the Iron Chef Chinese & Malaysian Restaurant at U11/ 93 Mawson Pl, Mawson.

We had dined there several times and were looking forward to an excellent meal again. And we were not disappointed. They have a wonderful menu range – you can check for yourself on their website. Their menu includes hot or cold drinks and alcohol is available.

You should see their large Malaysian menu; it alone is worth a visit. So, as usual, the group looked forward to the Banquet. There are two banquets.

All of us selected the banquet for $38.00. A small cost for an excellent meal of:-
Entrée – Spring roll ((Vietnamese so no pork in them), and Curry puffs
Mains – Honey prawns, Stir fried fish fillets with ginger, Shan Tung lamb, Fried bean curd, mushrooms and vegetables. Special Fried rice and Steamed rice.
And for dessert, Lychees with ice cream followed by tea or coffee.

No dish descriptions this time – I can’t think of enough compliments to describe them. What a meal! After the feast I don’t think anyone could eat any more. The staff are wonderful and so friendly and helpful.

The comments were all the usual compliments. Fantastic! Not too spicy! Great, Satisfying, Excellent and so forth.

We all had an excellent time and very much enjoyed the food. We will definitely be back there again, the sooner the better.

August’s choice was Turkish cuisine. We gathered at Turkish Grill at 20 Gartside St, Wanniassa.

We had dined there several times and were looking forward to an excellent meal again. And we were not disappointed.

This restaurant also offers take away. They may not be a large restaurant, but with their service and cooking levels I am sure they will need to move to larger premises sometime. To put it mildly, the service and food is fantastic.

An example of their service – I had booked for seven people and we had two more people turn up at the last minute. No problem as far as the staff were concerned; another table appeared, was set and chairs provided.

Our group nearly always goes for the banquet. Once again that was the choice of the night. Their banquets are designed to satisfy as few as two persons. The more persons, the more food is offered, with choices regarding individual selections. There are six different banquets or options you can choose from. We chose option 6 which has is good for 8 persons. With more than 8, extra dishes were included (for example with the dips). (How did they know our group loves dips so much, especially the beetroot of which we had two separate dishes.)

What a meal! I am not going into details of everything they have, other than broadly as I don’t have the space. Dips with Turkish Bread, Zucchini Balls, Potato Balls, Chicken, Skewers, Lamb, and Pide. No Turkish meal is complete without the Pide. Please go to their website and check for yourself. You can order any sort of a meal from their wide selection in the menu. Please go online and check out the good tastes awaiting you.

More of the help staff provide – they can give you description of what is in what. For example, by husband has an allergic reaction to pork. One of the Pides filling is Salami. My brain goes into gear being wary. But there was no need for me to worry as our waiter assured us that Turkish Salami does not include pork. We did order this, and they were right. No pork and the Pide was lip-smacking good.

No-one got around to ordering a dessert, as we were all too full. A shame really because they have excellent desserts. See their menus online.

And if you are unable to finish a dish, they will supply carry-home containers so you can finish enjoying your meal the next day. Now that is Service!

The comments were all complimentary Wow! Not too spicy! Great, Satisfying, Excellent and “Do you think I could offer the chef free accommodation if he cooks me a meal once a week?”

We all had an excellent time and very, very much enjoyed the food. We will definitely be back there again. And in the meantime, I think I can convince my husband to take me back there for my birthday later in the year. Mmmmm!

The Canberra Science Fiction Club usually meets twice each month. The first Thursday is a General Meeting and on the third Thursday members, friends, family or guests can gather together to talk and eat at a restaurant. Each person pays for their own choice of meal. Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to belong to the club to join in. The only requirement is that you notify the Secretary at least two days before attending the dinner.


The Orville on the air and Doctor Who is arriving soon

With cable television, streaming services and many free-to-air television stations it can become easy to miss new series on free-to-air television stations.

The Orville is being broadcast on SBS Viceland (channel 32) on Monday nights at 9.00pm. This is ‘comedic tribute’ to Star Trek: The Next Generation and pokes fun at the Star Trek clichés while telling stories in the style of Star Trek.

Season 11 of Doctor Who will be broadcast on the ABC at 5.45pm on Monday nights, starting Monday 8th October, with the new Doctor and new production team.

If The Orville  makes you nostalgic for Star TrekStar Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek Voyager  they can all be found on One (channel 81) at 12.30pm, 4.30pm and 5.30pm most days of the week.

Escape the Winter without leaving Canberra

Winter in Canberra is an excellent time to catch up on reading and watching Science Fiction. However, there are also two events at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) over the next month may tempt a Canberra fan out of the house and the cinema.

Wintercon, the Canberra Games Society’s Winter games event, is being held Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July in the Fitzroy Pavilion. This event is Cancon’s little sibling. Like Cancon, you can visit the event for free just to see the trading tables and watch the gaming. Or you can pay $10 per day to play the board games in the game library.

GammaCon is Canberra’s pop culture festival and the largest of it’s type in the ACT and Southern NSW region. GammaCon is being held on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August in the Budawang Conference Centre and Coorong Pavilions. The event is aimed at fans of cosplay, comics, computer gaming, tv, anime and collectables.

Tickets can be bought online, at the door, or at various shops around Canberra. This is an affordable convention with an adult ticket for the weekend costing $43.84 online.

GammaCon also has a competitions for creative fans. Both of the competitions below have $150 prizes in two categories, under 16 and over 16 years of age.

  • Science Fiction and Fantasy short story competition. Only one story per person, maximum 1,500 words, family friendly, and must be received by GammaCon by 5 August.
  • Art competition. Submitted as an image via email by 2 August, or in person on the first day of the convention.

Further details on the competitions are on the events page on the GammaCon site.