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Lego Down Under: A visit to MUGS

Lego Grand Emporium

(a retrospective entry)

I arrive in Melbourne on an early morning flight, and Trevor very kindly meets me at the airport. I'd got a very early flight, which proved a little unnecessary, as the MUGS meeting isn't due to get underway for a couple of hours.

MUGS is the Melbourne Lego Users Group, a loose gathering of fans of the brick from Melbourne and the surrounding areas (like Ireland). They meet in a community hall once a month, and hald an event called Brickvention every January.

Sue Ann hasn't been feeling well, but she persaveres and heads to the meeting anyway. Unfortunately, she couldn't stay long, so she leaves me in the care of the MUGS members. I feel bad for Sue Ann, as I know she'd been really looking forward to the event.

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Back to Melbourne

JetStar Airbus A320

After a most excellent party at Damien and Juliette's, I find myself back in Adelaide airport at an uncivil hour, waiting to board the flight back to Melbourne.

Today I'll be going to MUGS, the Melbourne LEGO Users Group. It should be a lot of fun, but perhaps staying up past midnight was not the best combination with a 06:50 flight.

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Breakfast at Zuma

Adelaide Market

For the second time I find myself at Zuma cafe in Adelaide. It'sa really nice cafe in the middle of Adelaide market. I'm having pancake with banana and bacon.

Today I'm going to the train museum, which should be an interesting counterpoint to the last two days of WINE tasting and penguin seeking.

Proper report later.

Note: when I originally said wife tasting, I got it wrong.

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The Hugos

Hugo Winners

One of the great honours of being Fan Fund Delegate was being invited to present one of the Hugo Awards.  I've been very excited about it all weekend.

I popped into the rehearsal during the afternoon, where I was briefed on what to do. I made sure I knew how to pronounce all of the names of the nominees.

I was in a programme item until 6, after which I had to rush back to my room to get changed (I wore a black suit, which was fairly formal, but matched it with a tie covered in LEGO minifigs in an effort to not be too serious), and then rush back to the convention centre for the pre-Hugo reception. This was already in full flow, so I had a drink to make sure I was composed (but only one, so I wasn't too composed), and chatted with nominees and presenters (and others lucky enough to have an invite).


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Dalek Attack!

When I won GUFF, I asked the Aussiecon committee if I could run a LEGO related event, as I really wanted to do something to bring my hobbies of LEGO and Science Fiction together.

At first it was just going to be something general, but then I thought there should be a science fiction connection. I was hearing from a number of sources that Doctor Who was big in Australia, so I thought a Doctor Who connection would be a good idea. 

I had ideas around recreating one of the lost Doctor Who episodes using LEGO figures and bricks, but I soon realised that would be much to much to try to achieve in an hour, so I settled on just one aspect, which everyone loves: the Daleks!

Having found a fantastic Dalek design (thanks Kaptain Kobold), I set about collecting enough parts to make a hundred of them. This took quite a bit of effort as some of the parts are tricky to get hold of in quantity, but it all worked out in the end.

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Brief summary of Aussiecon day 1

Aussiecon day 1 was excellent. A more detailed report will follow soon, but here are the highlights.

In the morning I bump into some people who are panicking over the Hugo award ceremony preparations, so offer to give them a hand. We get that sorted, then collect membership pack from the reg desk and head for breakfast.

I also give a hand in the Fan room setup. I have three tables to work there - the Fan Fund table, the London 2014 table and the New Zealand 2020 table, so stop by there and there's a good chance you'll find me.

Soon it's time for the opening ceremony. I was intending to slip into the back of the room, but I get grabbed and told to sit in the reserved seats in the front row. Then during the ceremony, after the guests of honour are introduced, the fan fund delegates get introduced and asked to sit on the stage, which is a completely unexpected honour - sitting beside Robin Johnson, Shaun Tan and the legendary Kim Stanley Robinson. Chuffed.

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The Long Version...

NZ in 2020: A Perfect Vision


Continuing the slightly mixed up chronology, this entry covers the end of Au Contraire. The Beginning and Middle will follow shortly.

Having taken a brief respite from the convention for dinner, with those most excellent fans, CP, Kurt and Kate, we return to find the cocktail party in full swing. This was a nice relaxed event with an excellent selection of science fictional drinks available and live music from harpist Asni, which was a really nice touch.

I am immediately grabbed by Norman, who is organising the Sir Julius Vogel awards, who asks me if I’ll present one of the awards. However, it presents a dilemma, as I feel I’m not appropriately atyred, so I run back to my room to put a jacket on.

I get back just in time for the award ceremony. The Sir Julius Vogel awards are given for contributions to New Zealand science fiction, and are excellently run by Norman Cates. We had received ballot forms in our con packs, and the nominated works were all on display all weekend for people to study. Unfortunately I didn’t feel qualified to vote as I don’t know very much about New Zealand science fiction, but now I’ve been introduced to it I do hope to correct this.

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The Short Version...

Sean Williams and Norman Cates announce the 2020 Worldcon Bid

I've some blogging to catch up on from Au Contraire, which will follow shortly, with full details of all that happened (or at least all that I witnessed), but I'm interrupting the flow of cronology to deliver some exciting news.

Following some gentle persuasion, Norman Cates (former DUFF delegate and all rouuund good guy) has stepped up to chair a bit to bring the 2020 Worldcon to New Zealand.

There was much jubilation at this development, and many people have stepped forward to lend a hand. As a consequence I am now webmaster for the bid, as well as European agent.

So without further fanfare, I give you New Zealand in 2020, a bid for the 78th World Science Fiction Convention.

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Scaling Mount Victoria

Welling Harbour from Mount Victoria

After trekking across the city to find our restaurant, I met with Simon, a local Wellington fan, Jonathan, who'd just arrived from the UK, and Norman, who'd kindly been putting me up. We had a very pleasant oriental meal, sharing a number of dishes so we all got to try out several things. We discussed local fandom, and all our involvements in the weekend's convention, and many other things. The night seemed to come to an end far too quickly, which is always a good sign. At the end, I suggested to Jonathan, since we were both free the next day, that we might like to meet up to explore.

So on Thursday, I got the bus into Wellington (fortunately managing to catch the eye of the driver, who was just pulling off), and first bump into Rod (who lives in Ireland, but I have to come half way around the world to see). He's waiting for Urban, a Swedish fan. I suggest he might like to join us, but our plans sound a little too energetic, so we exchange phone numbers for the possibility of meeting for dinner later.

Finding Jonathan in the bar, we look out at the weather. It's been raining, so our original plan of climbing Mt Victoria, a 196m (643') hill on the outskirts of Wellington doesn't look very favourable. However, it looks like it might be clearing up a little, so we decide to ask about it at the hotel reception, who think it should be all right as the way up is paved.

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Trains, Cable Cars and Funky Plant Life

Wellington Cable Car

Wednesday, I was catching up with stuff during the morning, so didn't get moving till after lunch. I got the bus into central Wellington, and as it goes to the railway station, I stayed on it till there. Being a little bit of a train nerd, I popped in to have a look at some New Zealand trains.

All the trains present were what I would call EMUs (electrical multiple units). The most interesting was one called "The Cyclops", which is apparently the last single headlight train in New Zealand, and has been repainted in its original 1950s livery. I got chatting with one of the train workers, who took my photo in front of it.

Walking back towards town, I passed the parliament building and had a look. There are three main buildings, but the most recent one is an interesting round structure known as the Bee-hive.

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