by Allen Stroud
This was my second visit to the London Geekfest convention in the Radisson Hotel near Heathrow. Nine Worlds 2014 had been held on the weekend before Worldcon (Loncon 3) last year, so it remained to be seen if the same numbers would hold up for this year's convention.
It turned out that there wasn't a noticeable drop and that is a testimony to the identity of Nine Worlds. It is a very inclusive event, made so by its participants who alternate between organising and bringing content to being the audience. There is little hierarchy between panellists, speakers and the audience, particularly when the social spaces of the hotel provide opportunities to mingle between sessions. The tracking system allows participants to pick and choose what they want to attend and by blocking the times, you can easily switch themes as you want.
This year did seem overly dominated by the reading/writing related tracks and there were some occasions when panellists didn't seem to know why they'd been put on a panel to discuss a topic their work wasn't connected to, but as always the audience made the most of the opportunity to talk with creative people and listen to their ideas. This is a particular strength of the convention as it embraces creative content from all sources and the opportunity to discover new stories in any medium is constant. The best discussions who also read, watch and listen widely as this always helps with responding to questions from a position of informed authority.
The variety of activities other than the panels was somewhat less impressive than 2014. The trader area did appear less occupied prior to the pop-up market on Sunday, but the opportunity to play the boardgames provided by Forbidden Planet made sure the hall was consistently used by lots of people making new friends over counters, dice, cards and game tiles. This is part of the convention's identity, providing a space for people to make their own fun and meet new friends. The lobby, café and restaurant were also constant hubs of chatter and socialising.
The evening events such as book launches form Ian Whates and Newcon Press, the Gemmell Awards, Knightmare Live and Nate Crowley's rendition of 'Daniel Barker's Birthday' were all excellent fun. Eve if you weren't part of the group who were chatting about something, you never felt excluded and were only a moment away from being dragged into the spectacle.
To me, Norse references aside, Nine Worlds always feels like an arbitrary title for this convention. There are so many more than nine worlds in evidence. The communities the convention fosters and provides a platform for are incredibly important to the inclusive and progressive journey Science Fiction and Fantasy in all is aspects has embarked on. It also wraps together creativity from all levels of the genres and beyond. You'll always find something appealing here and you'll always come back having discovered something new.
No doubt ideas are already being dreamed up for Nine Worlds 2016. I'll be there and hopefully you will too.
About the writer:
Allen Stroud is the extremely talented author of Elite Revolution and the Wismir Tales, as well as being a lead tutor at Buckinghamshire New University for the BA (Hons) in Creative Writing for Publication and course leader for the BA (Hons) in Film and TV Production, and presenter of Lave Radio. As well as this he manages to find time to be a music composer and write reviews for the BFS and SFBook.