|Nine Worlds Convention
||[Sep. 11th, 2013|08:44 pm]
Back in August I went to the Nine Worlds Geekfest convention.
There were many aspects of it I liked a lot, especially how very inclusive it was – I wrote about that a little over here at Bad Reputation, it included a solid anti-harassment policy and just great attitudes from the attendees all weekend.
I also wanted to mention the events themselves though, because they were damn impressive (if not a little intimidating – the timetable booklet was 68 pages).
To give you a flavour of the massive range of what was covered in this deliberately “multi-fandom” Convention, I managed to see the following:
A talk by a woman who works for the European Space Agency about Saturn’s Moons possibly supporting life, Rock band karaoke, Using maths to map a Zombie Outbreak, A screening of the excellent Judge Dredd fanfilm “Judge Minty”, Queer cabaret and Disco, The company producing the new Cyberpunk 2077 game talking about their plans for it (see the trailer here), 200 people having a Buffy sing-along next to a piano, Entire rooms of board games run all day (as well as indie developers playtesting their latest games), cosplay everywhere, A talk on translating Tolkien into different languages and how the Peter Jackson movies do several things Tolkien specifically said he didn’t want (and how do you translate “Elf” into Chinese when they don't exist in myth?), Virtual reality rollercoasters, The room so full for one of the talks (I think it was “Hermione as a feminist icon”) that the organiser couldn’t get back in, Author signings, “There’s a Xenomorph dancing to Placebo!”, Actor Q&A sessions, Fanfic… the Creative Writing room was packed out all weekend. The knitting and yarnbombing looked great.
On the Friday night I had booked a place on a sword-fighting workshop with Miltos Yerolemou, the actor who played Syrio Forel in Game of Thrones. Rather than teach a style, he wanted us to have a taste of what real swordplay was like – scary, rough, and much more about instinct than perfect form. It was very fun, and at least two thirds of the attendees were women (one of whom was a friend of mine, whose expression of demonic glee when she got to swing a very large wooden sword suggested she enjoyed the session).
The Zombie maths talk was particularly full of comedy, despite having serious real-world implications (they used similar formulae to predict the spread of Bird Flu). At one point, the speaker asked if everyone had heard of Alan Turing and got a resounding “Um… of course?” He blinked and said “Oh, I forgot – roomful of geeks! Excellent, I don’t have to explain this bit then.” (The same maths can predict a Vampire invasion, but if the vampires are competing with Zombies and decide to fight them to protect their human food source, it gets a bit tricky.)
The fandoms were organised into various “Tracks” which were themed - Tolkien, Feminism, Steampunk – and each of which had a series of talks all weekend. I saw tweets from people saying that having a dedicated LGBTQ* Track made such a difference to their time there. Wheelchairs weren’t remarked upon, unless they looked awesome. Physical bodies and gender weren’t ever remarked upon that I saw (again except for delighted non-creepy compliments) and included some extremes. I was immediately accepted into the Geek Feminism room even though I’m a straight white male (which isn't automatic), and which was an attitude I saw again and again over the weekend: ‘we don't care who you are, come and join this thing we're doing’.
In the next room along, Bronies were playing guitar and handing out cupcakes. They also had a rave DJ. That was probably the point at which I suspected it wasn’t a typical SF Convention.
For a first-time Con which grew out of a Kickstarter, Nine Worlds got so much right. As I said on BadRep, the atmosphere was great, and the content was excellent (and I didn’t see half of it. There was an entire Harry Potter track I didn’t go to, live-action games in the corridors, the list is... well, 68-pages long). With everything from knitting to swordfighting and actual rocket scientists, I can’t even guess what they’ll include next year. That was a seriously fun three days.