I was a convention virgin. And from what I’ve heard about other cons, Nine Worlds sounds like the best possible introduction I could have had into the world of convention going.
From my newbie perspective, I had an awesome time and was amazed at the variety of events, people, and costumes surrounding me from the beginning when I was sitting on the couch in the reception area of the Renaissance Hotel on Friday afternoon staring around wide-eyed. Hotel staff and other guests, including a ton of pilots and flight attendants, took the geekery with a surprising amount of aplomb. Although, at one point on Friday evening a guy came up to me and asked what was going on and when I answered ‘SF/F convention’ he nodded sagely as though it all made sense.
Which it did.
The organisers of Nine Worlds did a fantastic job and I heard nothing but complimentary things all weekend. With more than twenty different tracks each with tons of events there were over 400 events throughout the course of the weekend. Tracks included Board Gaming, Indie Comics, Geek Feminism, Doctor Who & Torchwood, Steampunk, SF & F Academia, A Song of Ice and Fire, All Of The Books, and others. I was volunteering on All of the Books so I saw most of those panels, which was perfect as they were the ones I was most interested in.
One thing that stood out for me was how inclusive the con was. There has been an ongoing conversation this year about cons and sexism and discrimination, which I must admit had made me wary of attending one because it kind of sounded like it would be full of creepy people making weird faces and inappropriate comments. This was about as far from the truth of Nine Worlds as I could have imagined.
From the get-go everyone was celebrated and a quick walk through the corridors would have seen you meeting men dressed as wizards, women dressed as Norse gods (Ludi, I’m looking at you!), someone in a full blown Alien outfit that was incredibly realistic, women dressed as men, men dressed as women, and some people dressed as I don’t even know what, but all together and all having an incredible time.
One new concept I was introduced to was the Brony fandom. I didn’t know this, but apparently My Little Pony has been updated and is showing on TV again, and it has a huge fan base amongst twenty-something men. They are the Bronies. (Note: Quick internet search has revealed that it is specifically ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ which is the locus of this fandom, and that there’s even a BronyCon!) Consider my mind blown. That is just awesome.
The panels I attended were all balanced and incredibly interesting discussions. The weekend kicked off with the ‘Cake or Death’ panel. Moderated by Marcus Gipps from Gollancz, the panelists were Charles Stross, Paul Cornell, Liz de Jager, and Zen Cho (who is one of the funniest people you will ever hear, and also does incredibly physical readings! She’s only published short stories so far, but definitely an author I’d keep my eye on.) One of my favourite comments was about Lord of the Rings and how the eagles came to save the day by raining (figurative) cake down on everyone.
After the panel about finding an agent (Den Patrick and Juliet Mushens), I attended the launch party of The Glass Republic (Tom Pollock) and Swords of Good Men (Snorri Kristjansson), which was a suitably boozy and fun affair. The last panel of the night was New Writers and I was very impressed with readings by the authors up there as they pulled it off like seasoned pros.
Saturday flew by, starting with the great Heroes vs. Villains Debate. Despite the early hour and sensitive heads, the room was packed out to listen to Kate Griffin, Stan Nicholls, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Zen Cho take the sides of either heroes of villains and battle it out with their words to see who would come out on top. Complete with Eye of Sauron moderating tool and moderated by the wonderful Anne Perry this was one for the books. I think the universal consensus was villains are more fun, but heroes will always win out. One of the highlights was Stan Nicholls (on the side of the villains) telling Zen Cho, ‘I know where you live’, and her responding, ‘Bring it!’. This was followed by some seriousness with the ‘Is Our Future Utopian or Dystopian’ debate between Charles Stross, Jaine Fenn, Tricia Sullivan and Cory Doctorow. (Charles Stross deserves extra props for making it as his car exploded on the way down from Scotland!).
As you can tell there was a lot on. After Saturday night spent attempting (and failing) to rock out at Rock Party and spending a lot of time at the bar, the last day rolled around. Our very own Paul Wiseall moderated the ‘What Makes a Fandom’ panel first thing on Sunday morning. Christened the ‘Hangover Panel’ it was surprisingly full for 9am, but this is just another sign of how awesome everyone who attended the con was. Seriously, 9am on Sunday morning is commitment!
There was so much on this weekend, that it would be impossible to cover it all. Suffice to say, it was amazing and you should have been there. If not. Haha! But, don’t worry, it’ll be around next year as well. In fact, you can get super-early cheap tickets here.
If you’re interested in checking out the programme for this year to see if there’s anything you like (there will be!) then here you go.
Otherwise, for those who don’t like reading (although if you got this far, it doesn’t include you. Probably.) here are some of our pics of the con.
See you next year Nine Worlds!