NINE WORLDS 2016

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Nine Worlds Geekfest is a singular and unique sort of convention. As the name implies, it attempts to cram as many different sort of things as the geeky people into one place. It also prides itself on embracing diversity. If you love something geeky and odd, and you maybe consider yourself a little bit different from the norm, then Nine Worlds is the event for you.

Nine Worlds' main appeal is its variety. This year, panels included the likes of Tunisian Crochet, Religion and Devilish Dealings in Horror Film, Philosophy in Dragon Age, Neurodiversity and Fandom Culture and From Dragons to Diversity. Every possible geeky thing was catered for at some point. Nine Worlds big draw is its ability to have so many new things that will blow your geeky mind, all in one place.

Is Nine Worlds inclusive? It certainly tries. The event itself will bend over backwards to make things as easy and as welcoming as possible. This does backfire on occasion; some of the panels didn’t have a strong enough split of opinion with it panellists, leading a gentle (and less exciting) panel in which no one disagreed. Inevitably, any attempt to accommodate the needs of everyone will result in someone feeling left out, and at any convention someone will find fault with something. Nine Worlds openness and willingness to compromise is an admirable and notable thing, and pays dividends in the amount of fun that the majority are clearly having.

Now in its fourth year, Nine Worlds had some major changes this time round. This was a difficult year for the event, as it now has to plan for longevity and continued growth, so change is good. The London-based convention has finally moved from its (not very good) former venue at Heathrow to the Novotel London West in Hammersmith. The places the event in London proper. The hotel staff where happy to help and event itself benefited from a warm and welcoming environment. Alas, the beer was still expensive, but that’s London for you.   The way the schedule was structured had also been changed; previous years used a track structure, which made the event feel like lots of little conventions mushed together. This year,  themes rather than tracks where used. This meant that rather than having ‘Star Trek’ content, you had to look for the Star Trek stuff in schedule. (And being Nine Worlds, there was no telling if you’d find it in the ‘Entertainment’ or the ‘Academic’ list first. )

Fortunately the event schedule was easily accessible; it was plastered on many walls, findable via an app online and everyone had a copy of the schedule (which was a map of the site.) Nine Worlds continues to be filled with clever and handy ideas. For example, inside your convention pass was instructions on what to do if you needed help. Everyone was also issued five ‘cosplay tokens’. This meant you could congratulate a cosplayer on a great costume (by giving them a token) without making it awkward. Cosplayers could trade there tokens in for trivial nick-naks that served as keepsakes of their day.

They were less workshops this year. Workshops always tend to book up quickly at any event, but the ability to have a solid one-to-one with an expert in a specific field has always been a strong feature of the event. Nine Worlds is “Continuing Professional Development” (CPD) for geeks, after all. The event also lacked as much book content as last year. Though the event isn’t really a geek literature event like WorldCon or EasterCon, it shares similar DNA and the lack of lots of book panels seemed lacking.

Overall, Nine Worlds continues to forge new ground and we will continue to keep an eye how this exciting event develops.


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