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 Briefly, at any rate. :-)
I was on a "Gender Diversity and Sexuality" panel at Au Contraire, New Zealand's national sf con, a few weeks ago, with moderator Andi Buchanan, GOH Amanda Fitzwater and other interesting folks. We had a lively discussion and part of it was recorded for New Zealand radio. We start at about 14 minutes in on the 19.06.2016 show.

And happy and safe Pride to everyone celebrating this weekend!

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The trolls from The Hobbit outside the Weta Workshop - no pictures inside but we got to handle a replica of Sting, Bilbo's sword, and touch the armor of the King of Angmar and see a bunch of other props up close and personal.

Random gorgeousness in Rotorua:

Gandalf and the Eagles at the Wellington Airport:

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Wanted to get this posted while I still remembered everything we did. FYI, for those interested, most of my reactions to recent atrocities and political events are on Twitter under @clundoff and on Facebook as myself. It’s easier for me to respond to things there and what with so many things going on at once, I don’t always get out here for a more detail response. But still here, just in different context.
So, New Zealand. We toured around the North island, went to Auckland, Hobbiton (the site for the Shire in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies), the Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Wellington. We took in several museums, a lot of bookstores, several tours, including the WETA Workshop in Wellington when the props and special effects for LOTR, Hobbit, the various Avenger movies, Avatar, Fury Road and a bunch of other films were created. We got to meet a bunch of writers, some of whom I originally met online like AJ Fitzwater, Andi Buchanan, OJ Cade and Darusha Wehm, and they were lovely. I went to Au Contraire, New Zealand’s national science fiction convention and did a panel on gender and sexuality in SFF and had an excellent time. We did not rent a car, choosing instead to fly or bus around, which worked just fine. We took a tour bus between Auckland and Rotorua and got bus cards in Auckland and Wellington. Cabs and van rides to the airports and other locations were easy to get and set up so if you’re thinking about visiting, there are definitely other options besides car rentals. Meals were pretty healthy and straightforward – it was easier to find gluten-free foods than dairy free ones, but both were available. Most places take chipped cards and some machines will give you the option of paying in U.S. dollars.
And it was gorgeous. But really the main thing was how pleasant and helpful folks generally were. We were offered directions and suggestions and assistance and all that good stuff in a genuinely friendly way and it really made the trip (not that people are not usually helpful, but this was the extra kilometer). I’m not surprised that some of my friends have fallen in love with the country. I’m halfway there myself.

Some highlights:
1. The Waitomo Caves, all gorgeous with glow worms. Waitomo Caves
2. Maori woodcarving.

3. Visiting Bag End in Hobbiton.

4. Weta Workshop

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Farewell, Goblin King. Thanks for the great music, the terrific performances and the times that you were brave and beautiful and freaky.

And in more sad news, lesbian activist and writer
Jeanne Cordova also died today.

As a side note, I was scheduled to read with her in Chicago a couple of years ago, but she had to cancel, so I didn't get to meet her. I do wish I had.

In the personal front, I'm off to Arisia this week to hang out in Boston and see friends and actually go to the con this time around. I also got an invite for programming for Au Contraire in Wellington, NZ, which should be lots of fun, especially since I just found out that the WETA Workshop is there.
And I just got my post turned in for this year's Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event! Lots of great posts going up every day, plus some book giveaways so do check it out.


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