Basically, a weekend-long party for SF fans and geeks from around the country, or even further afield. It's a great opportunity to make new friends and catch up with old ones. There's an extensive programme of SF-related events to watch and/or take part in, so it is possible to sit and be entertained for the whole weekend without saying a word if you're so inclined, but it's even more fun if you actively participate, and for many the social aspect is the prime attraction.
Not particularly. SF conventions are non-profit events planned and run by a committee of unpaid volunteers (the concom), with the assistance of many others (a significant percentage of the total membership are typically involved in helping run the event in one way or another). They are very different from big commercial events like Armageddon - rather than tens of thousands of casual shoppers spending a couple of hours wandering through, cons are more intimate events where most of the attendees stay for the whole weekend, and events run late into the night.
Anyone interested in science fiction, fantasy, or related topics. The convention is open to all ages, but it is aimed at adults, and will feature language and concepts that some may not consider appropriate for children. We're definitely not babysitters; if you wouldn't let your child wander around the city unsupervised, then they need supervision at the con as well.
You can't. Instead, you need to become a member of Au Contraire. Cons are run by fans for fans, rather than being a show put on to attract customers. Membership fees cover the cost of putting on the convention - venue hire, guest airfares, etc - and anything left over goes to charity. To become a member, sign up here for 2013. You'll need to register an account with this site first. Membership must be renewed before each subsequent convention, however far apart they happen to be. The concom reserves the right to withdraw membership from anyone who disrupts the enjoyment of the convention for other attendees.
The NatCon is a convention with the right to host the Sir Julius Vogel awards and the SFFANZ AGM. The NatCon title is awarded to a proposed future convention by vote of the members of the current NatCon, usually two years in advance. Often the NatCon is the only SF convention in NZ each year, but there are sometimes others.
The Sir Julius Vogel Awards (SJVs) are fan voted awards for various endeavours in the science fiction, fantasy, or horror fields. There are both professional and fan (amateur) categories. Anyone who's a member of the NatCon or of SFFANZ is eligible to vote.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand is a national body for SF and Fantasy fandom in NZ. It is responsible for administering the SJV awards and the NatCon title. It does not run any conventions itself. The SFFANZ committee is elected by the membership at each AGM. SFFANZ is a registered charity.
Essentially, people who attend SF conventions. Historically, the production of fanzines was also a major activity of fandom, but this has waned since the advent of the internet. This usage differs somewhat from the more recent internet use of the term to refer collectively to the fan works for a specific show, book, etc (eg "Harry Potter is my favourite fandom right now").
It's traditional for SF conventions to be given a name containing the word "con". "Au Contraire" was chosen to reflect the spirit of the convention, upbeat and not afraid do do things differently.
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