Another awesome Nine Worlds has finished. As I think I said last year, of all the conventions on the calendar, it is far and away the most welcoming and inclusive, which creates a joyful and creative atmosphere.
I’m on the come-down from a brilliant weekend, and recovering from the heady mix of lots of people, days packed full of content, and late nights socialising. Inevitably, that makes my reflections a little fragmented, but I’ll pull out some thoughts.
This year we were at a new venue, the Novotel London West in Hammersmith. After last year’s hotel debacle, this was a refreshing change and it proved to be a much better location. The food was better, the rooms were better, the space worked really well for the event, it was easier to get to, there were more facilities (shops and restaurants) close to the hotel and the staff were amazing, with prompt and friendly service. I really hope we will be back there next year.
Cosplay has become a big part of my con-going experience. This year I reprised Missy, but with a twist. At last year’s con Laurie Penny remarked after seeing my costume that she’d only just realised just how much Missy looks like a suffragette. As a proud feminist that really chimed with me. So what better to do at a convention that prides itself on its progressive ethos, than to cosplay Missy as a suffragette, campaigning for more Time Ladies to appear in Doctor Who? I made her a sash, with the slogan “Time For Ladies”, suggested by a fabulous friend of mine. I’ll post about the making process for that sash in due course.
I also brought a new costume, a female Avon from Blakes 7. (I tried it at EasterCon earlier this year, but this is the first time I’ve managed to get pictures of it – the 1970s concrete exterior of the hotel also provided the perfect spot for a dystopian photo shoot.) Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the series, so the appeal of cosplaying my all-time favourite character was hard to resist. I still feel slightly uncomfortable about doing it, as if I have no right to attempt something so iconic, but it’s a great character to play. And it’s wonderful to see just how much love there is out there for the series. I had people running across the hotel foyer to give me cosplay tokens, and I had some great conversations about my costume and the series. Come find me as Avon at a future con and I might even let you pet my Orac. I’ve blogged about putting this look together in another post.
The programme was great, as always, with some really thought-provoking sessions. The stand-out one for me were Alex Lamb’s session on modelling complex systems. Alex is the author of Roboteer, but he’s also a part-time stand up and improv, as well as having worked creating agent-based modelling systems for academic research. He is clever, funny and has tremendous energy. He got the whole audience for his session playing variants of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and then showed how the insights from that could be modelled in increasingly complex (and beautiful) ways. Though it led to the depressing insight that we are doomed to society ultimately collapsing once corruption takes hold. Honourable mentions also go to sessions on monsters in art history, how writers get and refine their ideas, a taster session on metal clay work, and a glorious end-of-con session on writing humour.
If I have one small complaint, it’s that there didn’t seem to be as many sessions on books as in previous years, and some of those in the evening slots proved to be a bit … drier … than I might have expected for that time of night. (There seemed to be no equivalent of last year’s gloriously hilarious panel discussion on writing sex.) From talking to one of the organisers, it sounds like there had been some difficulties behind the scenes that may explain it. I think the new model for organising content tracks may not have helped either. I really hope that gets sorted for next year. I love the broad church of fandom that Nine Worlds includes all under one roof, but I’m primarily a lover and reader of books, and if I’m give a choice I will gravitate towards book panels and events.
But as always, the thing that makes Nine Worlds is the people. Friends make the weekend special, and are the source of all the best memories. The late night room parties. Enthusiastic dancing at the Bifrost disco. Heckling panels via text message. Cosplay photo shoots where it’s hard to keep a straight face. But there are also smaller moments of joy too. Catching up with people you haven’t seen for ages. Making new friends and planning future shenanigans. Finding out an author friend has given a character your profession, after a chat you’d had at EasterCon. But mainly just the simple joy that comes from hanging out together and chatting.