Interview: Erich Schultz | Nine Worlds GeekFest

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Nine Worlds GeekFest

Nine Worlds GeekFest is London’s first weekend-long, multi-genre, residential ‘everything geeks love’ convention, modelled on events like San Diego Comic Con. The organisers raised a large amount of interest and money earlier this year by becoming the second most funded convention in the history of crowd funding. The event promises to have a little bit of something for everyone. We caught up with one of the organisers, Erich Schultz, to find out more about this unique event.

Starburst: Tell us about Nine Worlds GeekFest.

Erich Schultz: We're providing a space for many strands of fandom to gather, build community, cross-pollinate, and party. We have over twenty tracks now running, from Space Exploration to Knitting to Board Games to Steampunk to Geek Feminism. In addition to the content tracks, we've added lots of entertainment, vendors, guests, and fun. We've rented out the conference space and hotel rooms of two large neighbouring Heathrow conference hotels for the weekend, the Renaissance and the Radisson. Nine Worlds is run by an all volunteer team and raises money for English PEN; a charity that supports persecuted writers around the world.

Now tell us in 140 characters.

Twenty tracks of fascinating geek content. Amazing guests. Fabulous entertainment. Great People. Geek out at Nine Worlds Aug 9-11 in London.

Does London really need a residential convention?

Yes. For years our organising team had been going to huge US events like DragonCon and GenCon and SDCC, and we got to wondering why nothing like that exists in the UK. France can drum up 20,000+ sci-fi fans for Utopiales, heck, even Finland can find 15,000 fans for FinnCon. But when it comes to fan-driven residential multi-genre sci-fi cons in the UK, pickings are pretty slim. London needs a residential con because spending 72 hours together gives you a chance to make new friends, and because partying until the wee morning hours is great fun, and because thinking about the last bus ruins a good time.

What sort of things should we expect to find at Nine Worlds GeekFest?

Talks about Alien Ecologies, a Steampunk ceilidh, costumes, play-testing pre-release games, discussions on Thor, from Myth to Marvel, live-action quidditch, panels about Monsters, Mummies, and Mermaids, Nerf War, book launch parties by some of your favourite authors, lectures about Love and Death in the Potterverse, queer feminist sci-fi cabaret, mingling with the writers and creators of some of your favourite TV shows and video games, RockBand jammin', sci-fi movie premieres, good beer, and lots of interesting and friendly geeks.

Why is it unlike other conventions?

The sci-fi events scene in the UK is divided between smaller specialised cons (focusing on a particular show, or specifically on literature), and the giant corporate expos which are primarily about selling stuff and celebrity signings. Our ambition with Nine Worlds GeekFest is to bring together thousands of fans from many different areas to create a critical mass of fun and geekery. Nothing like that exists in the UK.

What is Geek Feminism, and why does it matter?

Geek Feminism is about giving special focus to representations of women in sci-fi media and literature, and looking at issues of female inclusion in areas of geekdom. It needs attention because too often women feel unwelcome by geek culture because of the frequent sexual harassment they face in online gaming, or because of the overly sexualised scantily-clad, impossibly-posed women they're given as heroes in comics and film, or because of the derision they're faced with when they try to participate in conversations about science and technology.

What sort of guests do you have?

We've got lots of guests. Over a dozen fairly big names in UK Sci-Fi lit, like Kim Newman, Ben Aaronovitch, Charlie Stross and Catherine Banner. On the acting side, we've got Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf), a couple of Harry Potter actors, and a few Game of Thrones actors, and a few Doctor Who/Torchwood actors. And we've got people like Rhianna Pratchett (creator of the new Tomb Raider game), Kieron Gillen (Marvel Comics big author in the UK) and lots of scientists and academics.

What inspired you to do this project?

We wanted something like this to exist and eventually we decided we'd have to build it ourselves.

If you could delete one thing from reality in such a way that it never existed and never will, what would it be?

Nothing. Seriously, nothing. It's a bad idea. Really bad. Like, bad on a Crossing The Streams level. The consequences of even minor alteration could have catastrophic repercussions that don't bear thinking about. Am I the only person who paid attention during Back to The Future? PARADOXES, PEOPLE! I can hear that gorram butterfly beating its wings in anticipation! I, for one, refuse to be a part of risking the fabric of existence in such a cavalier manner! I will not be party to events that could cause a chain reaction that might unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!

The Simpsons or Futurama?

Ghost in the Shell.

Matt Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch?

Jane Goldman.

Truth or Beauty?

Truth is Beauty.

For more information on the convention, which runs in London from the 9th to the 11th of August 2013, go to

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