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A Friend From New Zealand

Last evening, Nomi and I had dinner with Norman Cates.

Norman and Me 2

We first met Norman two years ago at the 2004 World Science Fiction Convention, Noreascon 4. Norman was the official delegate for DUFF, or the Down Under Fan Fund, which raises money to send science fiction fan representatives between North America and Australia/New Zealand. Norman works at Weta, the company that did many of the special effects for the Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong. So he came to Worldcon both as the DUFF delegate and as a Weta representative.

(Side note: Norman made every set of elf ears that were in the three Lord of the Rings films. For some reason, people love to hear this.)

Being able to get to know Norman is one of the things I love about science fiction fandom. Back in 2004, we encountered him first between panels and then at some of the parties. As the convention was winding to an end, we invited him out to dinner later in the week, since he was going to be sticking around for a few days. So two years ago, we went to a local Chinese restaurant and just spent a few hours talking about all sorts of things -- science fiction, television, movies, international fandom, etc.

We hadn't really spoken to him much since then, just the occasional email. Then, last week, he emailed to say that Weta was sending him to a conference in Boston (the SIGGRAPH conference for anyone who's interested) and that he wanted to see us and to get together with fans. I managed to put him in touch with NESFA and Arisia folk, and we arranged to have dinner with him at Rubin's.

Even though it's been two years, it's like the time disappeared. We went right back to talking about science fiction, television, movies, international fandom, and many other such topics. We kept interrupting each other with tangents and digressions, and we spent a lot of time laughing.

After the conference is over, Norman will be traveling across the country to go to GenCon. What's funny is that almost every time he mentioned the name of the fans he would be seeing along the way, we responded by saying, "Oh, tell them we say hello." We all acknowledged that this is what it is to be a part of fandom.

I love being a part of this community.

Copyright © Michael Burstein; photo copyright © Nomi Burstein


Norman's staying with us next week (during his drive between Gettysburg and Indianapolis). I also met him at N4 and thought he was fun to talk to. I want to talk to him more about digital compositing than making elf ears this time!

Elaine and I were watching X3 over the weekend and I pointed out Norman's name in the credits. If he's passing through Chicago after Indianapolis, have him get in touch with me.
Very cool! If you could pick his brain a bit about the state of fandom in NZ, I'd be interested in knowing more... I've been considering moving there for a long time.
I'm honestly not sure when I'll be talking to him again, but I'll point him toward your question.
Um, I presume you don't care to elaborate? There's pettiness everywhere; I tend to think fandom is one of the places that tries to move beyond it, even if it doesn't always succeed.
Wow. I guess we've been lucky in that I haven't witnessed much pettiness, or at least not on that scale. What I have witnessed, though, are a lot of annoying people who don't always get the hint that they're being annoying. (I worry that sometimes I fall into that category as well.)

December 2016

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