Archive for the ‘Games Day’ Category

This blog post is well overdue. My only excuse is that I have been finishing off a novel and that tends to be a very intense closed- in that type of activity, which precludes writing blog posts. Work, family and university studies probably also take away my blogging time. Okay, I can add up that’s more than one and only excuse, but that’s enough excuses from me.

I’m writing this blog now because the Internet is been down in the vague hope that it will come up again, and I can lodge this blog post. Obviously, my optimism was worth it as you are now reading this online.

We went off to Gamesday again this year (September 9) . It went off smashingly well. The night before social gathering didn’t take place with the broader group, who had come out from the UK. Instead, Matthew and I managed to grab dinner at the pub with Anthony Reynolds and friend. We’d turned up to the Sydney city store to catch up with people and meet Gav Thorpe. It was pretty busy with his presentations and signings, so I caught up with Mal Greene instead. Mal and I were table buddies last year. (This year no table for me so I got to check out the place).

Hanging in the store, we managed to check out the new releases. Dark Revenge and it’s a new starter pack for those wishing to start playing. It has very cool chaos army figures. They looked pretty cool to my untrained eye.

I’m not sure what Matt is holding.

We retired to a hotel after arranging to meet with the gang to catch the train over to Redfern  to the Technology Park (Locomotive workshop). I’ll save you the pictures I took last year of the contraption I nominated as the Dweeb-catching machine.

However, I took some shots from inside, Victorian machinery/steampunk. very inspiring.

Lathe,which was used to sharpen wheels on trains?

A machine used for maintaining trains or extracting brains.

We got there  before and Gamesday opened, walking past the queue. There is something very cool about getting in the before all the people do. After grabbing coffee and stuff for breakfast, as the cafe we intended to have breakfast at had been shut, I took a little tour of the play tables, with very impressive dioramas and amazing constructions. Here I will put up some photos. During Gamesday due to the crowds and people playing games, it is really difficult to get a good view. In Birmingham Gamesday a few years back, I had no idea what was on the tables as people were crowded around sometimes several people thick.

A close up of the detail of those statues. Awesome stuff.

Close up of statue on previous construct.

That last contraption is a Stompa!

The writers and designers who were signing were all lined up in a pretty obvious spot as opposed to hidden away. Next to that staff were advertising the panel sessions. Apparently, that worked really well as these panel sessions were pretty full.

Here is a shot of James pretending to be Matthew at the signing table.

James pretending to be Matt at the signing table.

Of course is that the obligatory shot of us with the Space Marine. Apologies but I just had to put them up.

James posing with the Space Marine guy

Matt and the Space Marine Guy

Me and the marine

The most exciting moment is when the door is about to open and there is a countdown ten, nine, eight….one. People spill inside, rushing forward.  My photos of people coming in the door aren’t very impressive, so I took a shot of Matthew taking photos of people surging in.

Matt taking shots of the people charging through the doors. Excitement!

During the day it the boys were pretty busy signing books. I find Matthew is very dedicated. He doesn’t really stop for lunch and gets annoyed if I try and make him. So I just collected his lunch and slid it onto the table next to him. James and I managed a few forays to the tables during the day, just checking stuff out.

Here is a shot I took of the boys signing books.

Matt, Gav, Anthony in shot

I didn’t take a shot of my book haul, because Matthew raided it straight away. He stole my copy of Pariah ( a red hardback) by Dan Abnett. We did, however, get two copies of the Gamesday chapbook, which had a story from Matthew and Anthony. The two stories were linked. It was just very cool.

I think I went back to the black library stall number of times. I bought something from Gav, a bought a print, I bought the best of Hammer and Bolter among other things. James had come along to this Gamesday. He’s resisted geekification for a while now. However, as he was a little bit at a loose end so we joined the painting table. Both of us sat down and we painted Space Marines.

Here is a picture of our efforts.

Mine is blue and James’ is red and blue

Anyway, what happened was that we both got very enthusiastic about painting Warhammer 40 K miniatures. So after a bit of parleying with James and Matthew, we visited the tables once again. We came away with a painting kit, a miniature for me as we had determined that Matthew had stacks of unpainted Space Marines going back some 10 or so years at home. However, I did drop a bit of cash. As we were sitting at the table painting the Space Marines, James looked over to me and said “You’ve turned me into a geek.” He said this with a rather long-suffering and defeated expression on his face. It was just inevitable James. You are surrounded by geekery and it was bound to crawl between your skin cells and infiltrate your brain eventually.

The boys (authors is the correct term) also did a panel session in which some very interesting questions were asked. Like how do you imagine being an alien? Matthew says he gets so alien at times in his fiction, people don’t get the story.  He was thinking of his story ‘Faces’.

Henry, Gav, Anthony and Matthew

So after a fairly long day, Matthew and James and I headed to the pub to chill with the gang. Then we began the long trip back to Canberra. I believe that plans are underway for next year’s Gamesday as this one was a big success.

Here is one last shot with Matthew and an Inquisitor.

Matt and the Inquisitor

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We’re up in Sydney for Games Day, which is the big hoo-hah get together for Games Workshop fans. In case you don’t know, Games Day is where fans of Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 miniatures games and related things like books from the Black Library are experienced and purchased. My partner, Matthew Farrer, is here to sign books during the even tomorrow.

We are staying near central. I decided that we would walk to the Games Workshop event in the City store, near the Queen Victoria Building, rather than catch a train. I felt like striding out after sitting in the car all day as we had driven from Canberra. My energy was bubbling and I wanted to experience the night. The three of us walked along (young James is with us) and I had this weird sort of experience. The sort of experience you have, I suppose, after rusticating in the country for many years and then plonking yourself in the middle of the CBD.

Sydney is my home town. There are places here I know in my bones and that have been here as long as I can remember from the early trips into town as a child. So you think that visiting Sydney, as I do on occasion, is no big deal. Well tonight I felt I was travelling along a time walk. Part of me, the inner part, knew the city, but felt disconnected. Another part of me was riding the now, the sounds, the sights, the people, effervescing along with the current and another part of me was excited and full of wonderment and yet not really there either.

I’ve been pondering those sensations these last few hours. At the time, I had words running in my head, a sort of blog narrative that I wanted to capture but I had no pen, no moment to scribe it down, no place to pause. I had to keep skimming the moment or I would lose my ride through time. I saw the old things, those icons of youth, the Town Hall, Woolworths, the line of theatres in George Street and a smattering of other buildings. Then I saw the new and the changing, the different food on display, the range of people crowding along the streets, like corpuscles being pumped through veins, some moving slow, some moving fast, some congregating and others randomly stepping out. The traffic, the lights, the confusion all crowding in, smothering memory and thought.

As I pondered this experience, I thought about the cities I have visited and why this experience seemed so strange. I’ve been to London, New York and Rome and they were intense and wonderful experiences. Perhaps that was because I’m not a part of them. I was only ever a visiting organism drifting in the blood vessel of the city, fleetingly feeling its pulse. There was no time travel slide, no sense of disconnection, no tendrils of me reaching out to anchor me on streets I once trod. It is not the city then that caused this frisson of feeling, this spasm of mind and heart, but a moment of time growing taut like a string pulled tight, surging me from the past to a present that is alien and yet not.

Once out of the streets and at the event, the feeling faded rapidly. Later, at the pub over dinner and conversation, the feeling receded further still. Walking back along George Street, I was there in the present, feeling like I belonged, feeling a part of it all. My trip to the city of the past/present had ended. I was no longer sliding between time, but firmly here. I remember wondering what Matthew was feeling or how James was taking it. Then I realised that their experience was going to be different to mine. I don’t think they came time travelling with me.

I thought I’d blog this because that is what was in my head at the time, although these words are nowhere near as articulate as those imagined ones. It’s something I want to remember and also an experience I might find useful one day when writing fiction.

I’m putting this post up now, Sunday morning before we head off to participate in Games Day Australia 2012. I’m sure it is going to be fun and interesting. After playing with fondant and food paint, I’m curious about painting miniatures now. I might give it a go.



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First a little about you Laurie.

I’m the Submissions Editor at Black Library, based in Nottingham, UK. We’re the publishing arm of Games Workshop, so we deal exclusively with science fiction and fantasy stories based on the Warhammer gaming backgrounds. In the past, BL was more diverse (with general sci-fi and thrillers being released on the Solaris label, etc) but that was a little before my time here.

I asked Laurie for a photo so that you can track him down at Gamesday.

Thoughtful Laurie

I’ve been with the company since January, although I did a lot of freelance work for them for many years before that so I knew most of the authors and editors on a social level, as well as professionally. I had also been organising online fan-fiction contests in my spare time and releasing PDF anthologies of the submitted stories, just for fun.

From an early age, I was always fascinated by language and the written word–I upset my primary school teachers by finishing their reading scheme at the age of six, and having to bring my own books with me to school. I read ‘Lord of the Rings’ aged eight, primarily because my mum bet me £10 that I couldn’t. In hindsight, I think that appealing to my immature, mercenary nature was probably quite a shrewd move on her part. That’s the dangerous thing about having parents who are teachers: you never know when you’re being tricked into learning something.

My role is actually focused on discovering new authors, and either working with them on new projects or helping them to refine their style to fit with Black Library’s range–to use a music industry term, I’m the A&R man! We have a very peculiar readership (dare I say, fanbase?) in that almost every BL reader also seems to want to have a go at writing for us, too. We actively encourage this by having an annual ‘submissions window’ where we accept amateur writing samples and project pitches, and I’m trying to arrange more workshops and seminars at our events so that people know what sort of things we look for in prospective authors.

Why did you become an editor?
I actually became an “editor” long before I started working in publishing, although not in the sense you’d expect–for seven years I ran an audio-visual production company, so I was in fact a film editor and sound engineer. I like to think that the skills involved in editing, in any medium, are transferable at some level. Hollywood film editor Walter Murch famously said that editing takes ‘a certain kind of personality’ where you have to help craft ideas and refine other people’s work; both on a small scene-by-scene scale, but also in the wider context of the whole piece, the genre, the culture etc.

In short, I became an editor because I have that kind of personality. I’m opinionated, I’m a compulsive fact-checker, I like to have structures and procedures in place that I can follow and amend…but I also love to get involved at the creative level. Inside every editor is also usually a frustrated writer, but while I dabble in a lot of artistic fields I like to think that I work best in helping to refine the work of others.

What is the most important aspect of your editing role?
Well, for editing as a technical or artistic skill, it’s diligence and a keen eye for detail, or the ability to help craft ideas towards a goal. That goal depends on what you are editing, and why–it can be as crass as ‘to create a product which will sell to our customers’, or it can be to help an author craft something truly special, something that is an absolute pleasure to read. Usually, my goals fall somewhere in between… although as a lifelong fan of the science fiction and fantasy genres, I often edge towards the latter even when I perhaps shouldn’t…

But if we’re talking about my role as Submissions Editor, it’s actually far more important to create and maintain good working relationships with our authors. As I said before, I knew a lot of the guys before I started working in-house for Black Library, but I have also discovered a few new authors in the last eleven months or so, and so I’ve been able to build rapport with them right from the start of their careers with us.

Certainly, there have been times when my editorial style clashes with a writer’s personality, and I’ve gracefully handed these chaps over to other editors on my team–there’s no point in trying to force it, when what we really want to do is collaborate with them on great fiction. If an editor loses interest in an author’s work, or if the author feels they aren’t getting anywhere with that particular editor, then it’s time for a rethink.

Which areas of editing to you find the most enjoyable?
I love seeing a project through, from commissioning right up to the finished, published story. Although the publishing industry often moves at a near-glacial pace, I’ve already got some work from my authors in print even though I’ve only been here for eleven months. Without fail, even though I helped them thrash out the synopsis and refine the prose, guide them through rewrites and sort out the proofing copies…I still always read the finished, printed book. There’s a degree of finality in holding that novel in your hands, and I still get excited by that ‘new book smell’, especially when I know that I helped bring it into being.

In your view can editing be taught?
I think the basic skills of copy-editing and proofreading can be taught, but not so much the personal side of things. You can’t force someone to be creative, diplomatic and amiable but still to remain critical. If they don’t have the basis of that within them already, then they won’t be able to learn it. It’s about being a ‘people person’, or at least being extrovert enough to interact with others in a productive way.

Having said that, I often ask my editorial colleagues to check my responses before I send them back to authors–I have a tendency to be overly factual, which can sometimes sound officious or curt on paper. I find written feedback the hardest to give, which is strange really. My senior editor is Nick Kyme, who is also a successful author himself, and he has really helped me to find a suitable ‘vocabulary’ when dealing with my own authors: even if the message is harsh or very critical, it’s important to find a constructive way to deliver it, and to be direct without bruising egos along the way. As with anything, it’s an ongoing process, but once you find your rapport with an author you can sometimes get away with being a bit more direct or cheeky.

Something which Nick said to me very early on, which has always stayed with me in this role, is to ask yourself this: ‘Does it matter? And is it cool?’ (Believe it or not, I’ve got those words taped to my computer monitor so I always remember them!) This piece of advice came from me over-analysing author submissions, and picking fault with storylines or even character names. Especially working in the genres that we do, I had to constantly remind myself that there weren’t really any ‘facts’ as such, and that as long as something was AWESOME, it didn’t matter if it was actually possible or not. It illustrates my point perfectly – it’s important to learn the skills you need, but to constantly develop your own attitudes and the way you interact with your authors.

Do you have any advice to aspiring editors?
Aside from needing the obvious fastidious personality and attention to literary detail, you mean? An editor not only needs to know the difference between there, their and they’re, but also needs to be able to communicate those sort of facts to others in a helpful and diplomatic way. It’s fine to check your facts–I always have dictionary.com and Wikipedia open on my desktop, for first-stage research and basic fact-checking–but a good grounding in the English language and an academic spirit are invaluable.

It’s also very important to consume as much literature and media as you can. It’s good to have examples of tone, imagery and style that you can pitch as ideas or to help develop an author’s work, but it’s also vitally important so that your author doesn’t accidently “borrow” the plot of an old episode of some TV program, and you unknowingly approve and commission it!

As with most careers in this age of devalued university degrees, in order to get a foot in the door you’re going to need some experience in the field. For me, this was doing freelance video and literary editing on contract for Games Workshop, and it allowed me to get to know people in the industry, and specifically the company I wanted to work for. When there was no role available, I honed my skills by running the aforementioned online fiction contests and acting as an editor there.

Although everyone on the BL editorial team happens to come from an academic background (degrees, masters, post-graduate study, foundation courses etc) this is not necessarily required to be good at the job. For example, I have a BA in Cultural Media and Film Theory, and a BSc in Digital Post-production Technologies, and I have also studied English Language and Linguistics…but none of that directly relates to editing or the role itself. A professional qualification in publishing would be far more valuable to someone looking to get started in the industry, and that would still be secondary to actual experience.

The Black Library can be found here

Here is a scary shot of Laurie, which is probably why he signs his emails (Pedantic Corrections Goblin).

Scary Laurie

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I’m taking a break here in the series on editing. I have a few interviews outstanding, but they aren’t here as yet. Also, I will be doing a set of interviews with authors who use beta readers. It will be interesting to the different point of views.

On the October long weekend, Matthew Farrer and I went up to Sydney for Games Day Australia, which is like a convention but more like a trade show for Games Workshop. For those of you who do not know, these are the shops that sell the miniatures for Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, among other things. To put you in the picture, Matthew writes for Warhammer 40K on occasion, so he was appearing there to sign books. His blog is here. Games Workshop have a publishing arm called Black Library. See their website for more about them. Here.

As part of Games Day, Graham McNeill had been dispatched from the UK to make an appearance here. Graham McNeill is one of their big authors, being a multiple New York Times best seller and he won the inaugural David Gemmell award. Here. Graham has a website too. Here.

We actually had two conventions to go to, because Conflux 7, science fiction convention, was on in Canberra too.

We arrived in Sydney on Friday night, hopefully in time to have dinner with Graham and Anthony Reynolds, another Black Library author. However, Graham had a meet and greet at the City Games Workshop and by the time we got there it was still going on. I mean there was a queue which didn’t seem to get any smaller. There were a whole bunch of people from the UK. Mal Green, who I had met at the Games Day UK 2010, but others who I didn’t know as well as local crew. So it was up to us to make small talk, while we waited for Graham to wade his way through the field of adoring fans (okay maybe it wasn’t like adoring fans) and finish up. It was pretty late actually by the time he did finish up. So about 15 of us trotted down to China Town, looking for a restaurant that was still open for serving food. We found one and piled in.

Now I sat next to Alan, who I’d been told was part of the executive from the UK  and Matthew. Phill Kelly and his wife were on the other side of Alan. (I tell you about Alan later). It was a big round table and every one was pretty hungry and most of us went for this mega banquet menu. The fare was okay, a bit on the ordinary side, but you know when you are hungry as long as it is fresh and good, you eat it.

I talked to Alan about Games Workshop. He told me he had been with the company from almost the beginning. Not the beginning but not long after. He told me a bit about the business. Firstly he said there were three aspects to it, the collector, the hobbyist and the gamer. The collect likes the miniatures for collecting, as works of art etc. The hobbyist likes to assemble them, paint them etc and the gamers like to play the battles. This is a very simple explanation and with me putting it in to my own words. Alan was a bit more erudite than that. However, he did say that Games Workshop makes people happy and he liked that what he did made people happy and made a profit.

So after dinner a few of us went looking for a bar. Alan, Mal, Matthew, Graham and me. (forgive me if I left anyone out). Actually it was a bit hard to find a bar/pub at that time. We settled with our drinks and got onto the topic of sport. Anyone who knows me will understand that this is bizarre because I don’t like sport, watching it, playing it etc. Matthew and I sort of said well the only sport we like is Roller Derby and then the conversation took off. I asked Alan about the different codes and over a drink until about 2.00am he regaled me with the history of Rugby Union, Rugby League and Football (Soccer). It was fascinating.

So on to Games Day. We took a train from Central to Redfern to the Tech Expo, which happens to be the old Redfern Railway workshops. I was fascinated again (I did get fascinated quite a bit). These old buildings were strong in my memory. I recall when I was young taking the long train ride in from Rockdale to the city. By the time, we got near Redfern I was bored and my imagination took hold. I’d see these dark gloomy buildings with a small window near the gable, with something that looked like white paint spilling out of it. The sight always reminded me of blood and monsters, so I was…happy to finally see inside these buildings. The whole estate has been gentrified and bits of machine parts, rail carriages decorate the expo area. There was one machine that looked like a steam driven engine with a hook on the end. It was probably used to haul machinery but I thought it looked like the perfect Dweeb catching machine. (Matthew is the Dweeb).

Here is a photo of the Dweeb, not quite being caught.

Dweeb Machine

The next photo is a shot of the inside. This venue was great. It was an old industrial Victorian Era building, so a wonderful setting for Games Day Oz.Very gothic I should add.

Interior of venue

Diorama after diaroma lined the room, waiting for the players to arrive. A man dressed as a pirate urged the workers on and revved them up, while the fans waited in long queues outside. On the centre stage was a model of a two meter tall Space Marine, with a chainsword replica at its feet. The Chainsword was going off as a prize, so the boys thought they’d play with it. Lucky for me I got a couple of shots. This one is of Graham McNeill.

Then there was Matthew.

Matthew with Chainsword and Space Marine

Sorry about the light on the face on that one, but it couldn’t be helped.

So while things were being set up, Matthew and I went in search of bacon. The UK lot had told us the venue had these amazing bacon sandwiches. However, we couldn’t find any. Here is a picture of Matthew without bacon. He is smiling because I made him.

Matthew without bacon

Okay. He hates his photo being taken so you owe this great shot to me and my powers of persuasion. We had to settle for coffee. So while we went in search of food, we managed to get a glimpse of the queue outside. I wonder if I can get them to line up.

Front of queue

the queue continuing out the door

The queue continued

So with the excitement outside and the revving inside it filled me with excitement. Because I knew that once everyone came it it would be hard to see things, we had a quick look at some dioramas. I saw this amazing Reaver Titan. Matthew says, no it’s not. However, we asked one of the attendants and it was a titan. A Chaos Reaver Titan and it looked awesome. The machine had been corrupted  by Chaos and had teeth and looked entirely feral. Anyway here is a shot but I don’t think it does it justice. (Hoi! Universe. I want a Reaver Titan, even one corrupted by Chaos!)

Chaos Reaver Titan

Okay you got me. I’m a dweeb. A geek. And I love this machine! Well miniature of a machine.

So the doors opened after this amazing pirate countdown. My heart raced. I felt all this tension and tears came into my eyes. It was so amazing. (I have been to Games Day UK last year but I missed the opening). What a buzz!

Soon after ( I mean minutes) there was a queue forming for the Forge World kits and one for Graham.

Queue for the Forge World section

I took a shot of this because you know these guys had been queuing outside to queue inside. They are very dedicated.

Mal mentioned that they were a bit short handed because a new game was launching and all the stores needed to be staffed. I was there, you know, looking bored (I mean beautiful and dweebie) and I thought I may as well lend a hand. Matthew was to sign books. Mal and Josh were the main guys on the book stall. Then I helped and snaffled a  staff t-shirt and a mock flintlock pistol.

Mal Green working the Black Library table

This was another thing that amazes me. I’ve done SF conventions for years now and I’ve never seen books fly off the table as fast as these ones, nor have I seen so many books sell. The fans are very loyal. They did have the added incentive of Graham McNeill there to sign books.

Me with staff t-shirt and pirate pistol

Here is the back view with the lovely graphic of Dreadfleet. The photos of me were taken by James Sweeting. Thanks James.

Me with staff t-shirt and Dreadfleet graphic

Then there was Graham signing books.

Graham McNeill signing

Graham had a queue too. I have to say these Black Library authors sign books–all day. Not an hour or two but the whole day, with little treks to the seminar room to go on panels or Q&A sessions. Graham worked right through lunch.

People queuing for Graham McNeill

Mal leaves me to do some table minding with the amazing Josh (manager from Cairns’ store) and he tells me sometime during the morning that this really famous guy, Alan Merettt is coming to sign books at 12.00. I’m like wow. This guy must be special. I keep my eye out for this Alan guy. Then comes 12 and Alan sits down. I’m like oh that Alan. The Games Workshop guys tell me that seeing him is something very special. I’m like, I’m sorry I didn’t know. I didn’t quite fall to my knees and say I’m not worthy. I hope Alan realises I know nothing. He treated me very nicely. I have a nice shot of Mal, Alan and Josh.

Mal, Alan and Josh

That’s not the only thing. Phill Kelly sits down to sign. I whisper to Matthew. “Hey I didn’t know Phill was an author.” Matthew says back. “He’s a designer. He designed Dreadflett and he also writes.”

“Oh” says I, feeling a little more silly than before. Matthew bought a copy of Dreadfleet as part of his Games Day haul. Speaking of things fanish. I captured a shot of The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell, which was on pre-release. She is the first female novel author for Black Library. There are other female writers but I believe they have written shorts stories.

The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell

I bought a copy and am currently reading it. Go Sarah!

After the day progressed, I happened to turn around and look at Matthew. He had a queue. Don’t get me wrong people line up to get Matthew to sign books, but a queue, a long queue. Well I’d not seen that before.

People queuing for Matthew Farrer

So we’ve been selling books and posters. I was the poster lady. I bought one myself! Then it became afternoon. Graham finished signing so I was able to grab a shot of him and Anthony Reynolds.

Anthony Reynolds and Grahham McNeill

You might notice the huge coffee stain. Apparently someone bumped into Graham when he was finishing up a seminar and spilt coffee all over him. He didn’t have a change of clothes with him and had to sign most of the day in a wet t-shirt.

So my final shot is Josh (I pray I have his name right because I’m terrible with names) with a parrot. I didn’t quite get the significance of the parrot but I believe Mal gave it to him.Josh was a great guy. I had fun working with him. He is such a dedicated Games Workshop employee and fan, he has a maw tattooed on his navel. I can’t quite remember the significance of the maw. I’m sure someone will tell me. I think it has something to do with orks. I believe Josh has now moved to manage the Macarthur store. (I was eavesdropping).

So the doors shut, people left, staff did their shopping and we helped pack up the books. We met the guys later in the bar. I was numb from the waist down after being on my feet all day. So we didn’t stay long. The bar was small. There weren’t any seats and we had to drive back to Canberra. So we said our goodbyes and went  on our way.

Josh with parrot

The next day we were at Conflux 7. Here I was not quite normal because I was very tired. I made a few panels but went home early. I was much better on Monday. That was good because we launched the Conflux Natcon for 2013 and sold memberships. Rock on!

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