Once more, I went to Nine Worlds.
Once more, I had an amazing time.
Joe and I drove down to London for my fourth Nine Worlds and his second. On the way we nearly died(!) when a white flatbed lorry decided to swerve into us at 70mph on the M1, and I had to brake very sharply to avoid it hitting us. Apart from that(!), however, the journey went well and we got to Novotel London West in good time (London at this point was so wet that Hammersmith tube station was temporarily shut due to flooding!).
We pretty much immediately ran into Alice Nicholls, a musician and music therapist whom I first met two years ago when I performed in the Bifröst cabaret. We (along with others) then ended up assisting the Access team to go around the various meeting rooms and mark out chairs for priority access – i.e. convention attendees whom require or would benefit from reserved seating (and also clearing spaces for wheelchairs).
Now, it’s notable that the Access team consisted of, I believe, three people: with our assistance, they were done in all the rooms that the hotel had prepared for them by 5.30pm. Sam, the head of Access, said that last year they’d given up at 5.30am on the Friday with some rooms still to do. That is how much work is involved in running a convention, and how much effort the official volunteer team often have to put in.
That evening, we met up with a few other friends, including Kat (also a regular Bifröst contributor) for a game of Cards Against Nine Worlds (Humanity), where we were all horrible people whilst also utilising the Box of Nope where we discarded cards we felt had no place in the game. It was a hilarious way to end the evening, and may become a Nine Worlds tradition for us.
Friday started with a Mental Health Representation Roundtable. I was interested in this due to wanting to portray people with varying issues in their mental health in my writing, and wanting to ensure that I’m doing it as sensitively as possible. After this I met my friend Jekri, in Techpriest cosplay.
Next up was The Only Toilet In Thedas, a panel about how much of the mundane should be included when writing SFF. Following that was the panel I was moderating, Know Your Enemy. This was about villains, and featured the fantastic talents of Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jeannette Ng and Anna Stephens, all of whom I am extremely grateful to for agreeing to appear and have me ask them questions. D Franklin was kind enough to provide a live tweet of this session. They also mention when I (jokingly) threatened to Nerf gun the audience if anyone said “this is not a question so much as a comment…” when we opened the floor to the roving mic.
After that we all went down the Big Green Bookshop stall for a signing session that I didn’t know about until we were on the panel and Anna told me that they wanted us to do it. It was gratifying that several people came to see us and buy our books!
I then went to the Worlds Encased In YA (Young Adult) talk. Although I don’t write YA as such, I think it’s always worth bearing it in mind, because the differences between it and “adult” fiction can be minimal, and sometimes YA can be more adventurous in some aspects. The talk was given by Adeline Grey, a seventeen year-old, who had the advantage of speaking (with considerable loquaciousness) from the experience of being exactly the target market for such fiction, although the disadvantage of being slightly flustered and nervous, and finishing far more quickly than she had intended. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear feedback from someone of that age group.
Next up was Problematical Aspects Of Historical Genre Fiction, with panellists talking about how to move on and move away from influential but truly damaging figures in genre history such as HP Lovecraft and John W Campbell. Although it was by and large an excellent and insightful panel, I felt it could have benefited from more active moderating: not of the panellists, but of the audience when the floor was opened for questions. Joking though my Nerf gun threat was earlier in the day, everyone who put their hand up did indeed ask the panel a question. I couldn’t properly hear one guy who spoke in this panel when the mic got to him, but he literally took about five minutes to say something, and from what I was later told, what he actually said was essentially in direct opposition to the point of the panel: that the historical figures weren’t problematic, and in the case of an HP Lovecraft-based Role-Playing Game, that people should accept that due to the nature of the source material, female characters would simply be Lesser. It boggles the mind somewhat that someone who holds such views should have come to Nine Worlds, but there you go.
My last panel of the day was World Building From The Ground Up, a truly marvellous talk given by Amy Butt and Amy Brennan on the impact of geology and architecture on countries and cities, and therefore what to take into consideration when creating them yourself in fiction. As someone who’s stared in mounting horror at a piece of blank paper when trying to draw the details of a map for a fantasy world, this was brilliant as it gave me at least the start of a toolkit with which to approach the problem.
After that I went to my room and chilled out in front of the first football game of the season, because it had been a very busy day. Then, somewhat rested, I went to the main hall later in the evening (where earlier I’d been moderating a panel!) and spent a while in the disco, marvelling at the sight of famed comics creator Kieron Gillan DJing from a laptop while a little drunk.
And then, to bed.