Gosh, Nine Worlds was fun.
I’m not hugely experienced in the ways of the convention – probably the biggest I’ve been to was the SFX Weekender, out in the wilds of Wales – but I feel fairly confident in telling you that Nine Worlds: Geekfest is gonna be a big deal. This is a convention about the future of SFF and its community, and that makes me very happy indeed.
I braved the tube with my fellow con attendees, Doug Strider and Agent Bro Den Patrick, had a remarkably easy journey to Heathrow (pausing only to mock Den’s choice to bring along emergency apples) and had to wait all of, ooo, thirty seconds to be processed at registration, before wandering off to find hotel rooms. This experience characterised Nine Worlds; everything was easy, relaxed, and incredibly smooth. As ever with these things some of the loveliest moments were just chatting to people; new people, people I’ve known a while, people I previously only knew via the medium of twitter. I won’t drop a huge list of names, because it would be loooong, but suffice to say the company was excellent. Aside from hanging out in the bar and rabbiting on, here are 9 random highlights from Nine Worlds:
1 The first panel I attended was Cake or Death, with the marvellous line up of Paul Cornell, Zen Cho, Marcus Gipps, Charles Stross and (Agent Bro!) Liz de Jager. There is something especially cheering about a con where your very first panel has you roaring with laughter within minutes, and Zen Cho in particular was a hysterical delight – so much painful truth about fanfiction, so much. I also enjoyed how, when one panellist described books where the “cake” we have been promised doesn’t exist, the room was filled with the susurrus of a hundred geeks murmuring “the cake is a lie”.
2 Drinking mead at the book launch for The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock and Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson. I mean, mead. At a convention. Let’s face it, I would have given it top marks for this alone. Snorri and Tom also knocked everyone’s socks off at the New Voices Book Slam on Saturday night, giving electrifying (and in Snorri’s case, mildly Brian Blessed-esque) readings of their new books.
3 I did a reading from The Copper Promise myself, on the Friday night New Voices Slam, and managed to get through it without cocking up – a significant personal highlight. Huge thanks to everyone that came along and listened, and even huger thanks to my excellent agent, Juliet Mushens, who made reassuring faces in the audience, and those lovely writerly friends of mine who kept me from freaking out all day as I got more and more nervous about it. (Big thanks also to Jenni Hill, who did a fantastic job of running the book track and was kind enough to let me join in!)
4 Cosplay, of course. I always love cosplay at a con, even if I’m not quite brave enough to do it myself, and I greatly enjoyed seeing various Princess Bubblegums, Colonial Marines, Xenomorphs, werewolves and steampunk ladies and gentlemen glamming it up.
5 The sheer range of panels and activities was amazing. I kept largely to the Book Track, because let’s face it I’m a massive book nerd, but I was frequently torn over what to attend. Honestly, if you’re a geek, there was something here for you. I managed to see talks on ghosts, mythology, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones – the Heroes vs Villains debate was particularly brilliant, veering wildly into fashion and genocide – and I listened gleefully as Milos Yerolemou talked about his time playing Syrio Forel, all while various planes taxied past the giant windows behind him. And if none of that floated your boat, there was tons more stuff – science, scepticism, knitting, My Little Pony, geek feminism, gin appreciation, Harry Potter, RPGs, Queer interest, comics, Cthulhu… and that’s just the half of it.
6 Being interviewed about The Copper Promise by Max from @onechaptermore. They were good questions! And I even managed to answer them!
7 Having lunch with Doug Strider, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Christopher and Pete Newman, where we discussed Pacific Rim and the perils of cheese while the most inappropriate music possible played in the background.
8 Discussing fashion mistakes with Den, Juliet and her awesome sister Lucy after several glasses of dodgy wine. You guys, I will never forget the koala pocket. Never.
9 The biggest highlight for me though, was just the atmosphere of the con. It was joyous and accepting and utterly inclusive, and I felt completely relaxed. I saw no sign of creepiness or ill feeling, only lots of people obviously very comfortable with themselves and each other, and I had a really lovely sense of the SFF community at its best.
We’ve had a rough time of late, with various sections of the SFF world not looking at its best. This just shows we are better than all that, and that when we come together in an inclusive environment we can make something really beautiful, man.
So huge congratulations must go to the entire Nine Worlds team, who’ve done the impossible and created a fabulous, joyous experience for all of fandom, and I will totally see you there next year.
(Ps The breakfast at the hotel was amazing. Fried breakfast, smoked salmon and chocolate pancakes? Thankyouverymuch.)