#nineworlds – con report

Gosh, it’s been a while since I last spouted words into the world. In my defence, I’ve been otherwise engaged… what with the getting married and the midwifery degree and all.

We’ve just got back from our mini-honeymoon which involved 3 nights away at a posh hotel with associated posh restaurant and then attending the nine worlds Geekfest con in London.

It. Was. Awesome.

We’ve already bought our tickets for next year and will be cosplaying it up BIG TIME… here’s a short breakdown of how the weekend went.

Friday –

We fought our way through the traffic on the M25 and arrived at the Radisson, after failing to spot the correct car park entrance and having a minor crisis we parked and checked out our home for the next 3 days. Not bad Rad, not bad at all…

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A bed the size of a continent…

Shiny, air-conditioned hotel rooms FTW

Shiny, air-conditioned hotel rooms FTW

Our first session was ‘Cake or Death?’ a panel directed by the charming Marcus Gipps and featuring Charlie Stross, Paul Cornell, Liz de Jager, and my new girl-crush, Zen Cho.

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The cake or death panel.

It was brilliant, a look at showering your characters with good times, sexy encounters, and a nice normal life (cake!) vs. The Martin/Whedon model of FROM PERIL COMES DRAAAAAMMAAAAA (death).

I’ve not delved into the world of fic in much depth but the promise of a universe of sexy cake might be enough for me!

The panel were all wonderful, relaxed and chatty and there was FREE CAKE!

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Cake.

a model which I can recommend for all strands next year. Cake is good, cake is the winningest.

Next up was ‘The Legal regulation of Robots’ with Lilian Edwards, a brilliant law academic with a fascinating insight into the realistic ways in which robots are already regulated and challenges which we face in the future. The theatre had some particularly funky older tech in place which seemed fitting with all of the talk of Metropolis and future tech.

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The secret tech in the seatbacks. Lovely.

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Lilian and Maria.

Next, we rushed upstairs to ‘Future Sex’ with the glimmering bastion of common sense that is Meg Barker. It was absolutely brilliant and I recommend that EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE WORLD gets on board with this way of thinking. Her presentation is here and well worth a view.

Having had our minds blown, we got settled for the ever-lovely Helen Keen and her spacey stand-uppery. The room laughed, the room put on bad russian accents, the room was deeply amused by venn diagrams and jokes about ducking. It was good.

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Helen Keen, swimming in spacelight.

We slunk back to our cool, quiet room and collapsed for the night, ready to dive in again in the morning.

Saturday –

Having filled up on cooked breakfast…

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Om nom nom.

we dove back into the thick of things.

There were SO MANY things that we both wanted to do, but the promise of Cory Doctorow drew us to ‘The Future of Technology and Society’ which was a) stuffed to the gills with attendees and b) brilliant.

I get a bit swoony at the very mention of Cory Doctorow now, he has a brilliant, shiny mind and I want to talk to him forever. Such fun watching him, Charlie Stross, Lilian Edwards and Helen Keen talking about the future. It took a fascinating swoop into privacy and identity which kept me rapt and glassy-eyed.

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Cory, Charlie and Helen ruminating on the future of stuff.

Having highlighted ‘why is the future so binary?’ as our next session, we actually decided on ‘Hermione Granger: Feminist icon?’ as our next port of call. Ascending to The Corridor Of Wonder™ for the first time was FANTABULOUS… every single door we passed had something brilliant and individual happening on the other side. The only thing that makes me sad thinking back on the weekend is that I just didn’t have the energy (or clones) to make it to all of the events happening along that corridor.

Anna Llewellyn led what was a highlight of the con for me. I frakking LOVE a bit of academic cultural studies and being able to have a wanky conversation about a geekery in a room filled with so many different but tolerant views was JUST WONDERFUL. I’d not describe myself as a Potterite but the Hermione sesh summed up what I enjoyed about the particular brand of multi-geekery that nine worlds had going on. It was a safe place in every possible way. People were INTERESTED, expression was ENCOURAGED, participation was voluntary, space was respected. It was heaven.

Following Doctorow’s siren call once again, we headed back down to ‘Is our Future Utopian or Dystopian?’ with Stross again, Tricia Sullivan, Jaine Fenn and Tom Hunter at the helm (he of the Arthur C. Clarke award).

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A content-looking panel, despite lack of cake.

I surprised myself by feeling much more strongly for the utopian future and was a bit inspired by CD’s description of protagonist and world as cogs interacting. The panel ended with Tom Hunter being encouraged to give the Daily Mail a special Clarke award for best work of dystopian fiction. I hope it happens.

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not goggles.

Our next session was ‘The Infected – Diseases of the Cultural body’ with Dr Julia Gog, James Vaughan (creator of Plague Inc.), Will Porter (of project Zomboid) and a couple more guys whose names I didn’t get (lovely, both of them… one a pathologist and one a cellular biologist maybe…) which was a really interesting talk but, for me, could have done with even more science and slightly less games! There were some sound issues which valiant tech sorted solo but my buzz got a little harshed by another attendee at the session.

By this point, as much as we wanted to carry on with MORE PANELS and MORE OF ALL THE STUFF, my downturn in mood and our general ‘urgh, we got married on Monday and we’ve not had a proper break since…’ tiredness meant that we had a rethink of our plans.

We hit the vendor hall.

All the things... yum.

All the things… yum.

Moods were improved and some quieter chatting with the creative and passionate sellers of LOOT meant that no-one got bitten.

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The squid of my dreams.

And I got to snuggle Plarchie without instant death.

Laden down with stuff, and feeling a little over-peopled… we hid out in our hotel room with Magic, room service, and Iron Man III. Just what the doctor ordered.

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Vegetable pizza is one of your five a day… right?

Sunday –

The final day of the con arrived and so did another obscenely good breakfast…

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I’d convinced a couple of our extended herd to join us for the final day and so we met up in the lobby and headed off to a) caffeinate and b) look at the schedule. It was time for the skeptical stream to come into it’s own and so we headed off to hear Alice Herron speak about her experience of being in (and out) of a cult. It was absolutely fascinating and a real eye-opener into how one person can exert such charismatic power over others.

We zoomed back over to the Radisson for Ian Stewart’s AMAZING session on ‘The Deterministic Monkey Theorem’

numbers meaning things about stuff.

numbers meaning things about stuff.

Short story? Lots of maths, lots of laughs, lots of monkeys.

We then hung around for Jack Cohen and his brilliantly individual explanation of why all of your aliens are wrong. It dragged me back to a childhood of musty golden age sci-fi books with unlikely looking monsters on the cover and it was wonderful. His story about the squid made me cry and he talked about stromatolites. I may become a biology groupie.

Extelligence, not intelligence.

Extelligence, not intelligence.

Grabbing a milkshake and saying bye to extended herd en route, we rushed back to the ren for Simon Singh’s talk on Maths in the Simpsons. Funny and interesting as he is and, indeed, was, my tolerance for being around large groups of people had run low again. Even Hari (his small person) being adorable didn’t break through my ‘meh.’ which was a clear indication that I needed to hide again before I said something mean to someone with cogs on them.

Speaking of cogs, having not been into the Steampunk room all weekend, we ventured within and found the best-dressed people, with the tiniest pith helmets and the most intricate displays of pretty things.

Also Cthulhus… adorable, purchasable, Cthulhus.

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Looking pretty good for an old one.

We decamped to the room once more where James pretended to read Elle

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and we both reflected on the con.

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Yes I was.

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The secret (back of badge) duck of DEATH.

I think it says a lot for how well thought-out and organised the con was that so many people were able to share so many geekeries and so many ways of approaching the world and it felt SAFE and HAPPY and INCLUSIVE.

For me, the most successful parts of the weekend were when I ventured out of my usual fandom and interacted with smaller groups. I’ll be looking to spend a lot of time in the Corridor next year. It also piqued my interest in other fandoms, the bronies seemed WONDERFUL and I have a much higher tolerance for the ‘glue a cog to these goggles’ school of steampunk than I thought I did. The goodies were wonderful and I have to give a special shout out to House Atreides for my AWESOME CATS WHO WILL DESTROY YOU

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Rawr.

and Retrogreat for the most cheerful of gay mushrooms.

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We’re here! We’re queer! We’re also mushrooms! wait, what?!

We’ll be back next year, celebrating our first anniversary and rocking ALL OF THE EARS… we’ll be pre-equipped with badges for our lanyards and holding magic as well as a variety of crochet hooks.

Hope to see you there.

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One Response to #nineworlds – con report

  1. Pingback: What I Did On My Honeymoon by James (age 29 7/12) | Cubik's Rube

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