This isn’t going to be a long post, or at least I’m not intending it to be.
Last year I went to World Fantasy Convention 2013 in Brighton. I spent most of the time feeling awkward and out of place. WFC felt like a ‘working’ convention. It did have some amazing highlights and I met old friends and made some new ones but it wasn’t a relaxed affair. If you ever meet me, especially at a book event, I try to be as friendly and approachable as possible despite the innate need to run away and hide in a corner. So when I was choosing between Nine Worlds or Loncon3 as my main con of this year the smaller and less formal feeling one won.
I mention this because I was just reading Jennifer ‘The Copper Promise’ William’s (fellow introvert) con report and mentions how Nine Worlds went out of it’s way to make everyone as comfortable as possible. You could wear badges show your preferred pronoun (my name badge had both ‘he’ and ‘they’ attached), you could clip on different colours to show who you were comfortable speaking to (every con should have this!) and they had ‘awesome tokens’, which meant you could go up to someone in cosplay (costume) and tell they how great they looked without causing you or them to feel awkward. So on a personal note it felt so much more relaxed.
The weekend started on Thursday with with a train ride into Heathrow where I read and really enjoyed”Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls”, by Rachel Pollack from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine July/Aug 2012 edition.
A brief diversion into London to go to the launch of Our Lady of the Streets (the final book of his Skyscrapper Trilogy) as he’d made brownies. I think a lot people were tempted by the brownies as I ended up, due to delayed trains and closed platforms, arriving late and at the back of a very long queue (which was lovely to see). It also meant I got to meet my fellow podcasters, the genuinely lovely, Rob and Kate from Adventures with Words for the first time in real life.
Everyone has a different reason for visiting a convention, but I think mostly everyone likes catching up with friends, hopefully making new ones and listening to panels. But OMG Nine Worlds had so many ‘tracks’ of things to follow and to be honest I stayed with ‘All the Books’ (obvious really) but what was brilliant to see what all these intermingling versions of ‘geek’ fandom all interacting and intermixing with everyone enjoying their own fandom their own way. More of this everywhere else please.
Panels I attended included:
The Writers’ Process: an adapting, evolving, creating and editing masterclass with Abigail Nathan. The biggest take-away for any writer it seemed was work on your stuff before asking an editor to look at it. You want to them to no get bogged down in stuff you should be able to fix yourself after some distance (e.g. three months away from it if you can) and different passes to focus on things like narrative structure or grammar but not both at the same time. If you do that their time (which you may be paying for) and be spent on a more meaningful polish.
Time Travel: where, why, how and when? I must admit that after the panel I fell a little more in love with both Kate Griffin (aka Claire North) and Lauren Beukes. Points raised included:
- Why don’t people on the TARDIS suffer jet lag?
- Time Travel allows us to go back in history with a modern perspective
- TT is the only genre where you need a chart before you start to keep track of objects and story lines to avoid creating a paradox
- We see the past every time we look into the stars
- ‘The Doctor has his colonialist cake and worries about eating it’
Mythology and Fairytales: pernicious supernaturalism or meaningful exploration of existence? This was probably the most insightful as I’m a big fan of myth and fairytales. All the panelists had some great insight but Rochita Loenen-Ruiz reminded us that myth has a lot of power in controlling the outlook of a society . She told us about a Philippine creation myth where man and women come from bamboo and they emerged completely equal, which is completely different to the Western women are formed from a man’s rib. And that retelling their own myth again is a way of recolonisation.
Myths/ fairy tales panel: Man & woman were created at the same time – Philippines. Woman created from man – Western world! Yay Philippines!
— All of the Books (@booksnineworlds) August 8, 2014
Some other quick notes:
- Ultimate versions kill myth, they get reinvented when they are retold and they are kept alive by reinvention.
- Superheroes are modern myths – we keep retelling them.
- Fairytales can be Scarytales with messages – stay out late and get eaten by shapeshifting monsters.
- If we didn’t have mouth we’d invent them.
- ALL STORIES ARE DANGEROUS
- Fairytales are only universal to a point as they may have different end results depending on the culture they are set in.
School Stories: prefects, headmasters and tuckshops, oh my! This was at 10.15pm but still well attended. Again cultural differences came up and the one that struck me most was the expectation that UK School Stories all seem to be in a boarding schools and US they are fantasy versions of High schools. Oh, and Japanese Manga are more social stories that spread out from the main protagonists much more.
Westerns: they’re your Huckleberry I’ve been slowly trying to get in this as a genre, mostly through Weird Wild, and I loved this panel especially for this this insight:
And Jared said that so was footloose. Also Japanese Samurai can be seen as part of the Western genre. A great discussion all round.
Other notes included:
- sense of emotional landscapes and not fitting in or being able to settle
- no guns, no horses in the UK so an alien landscape
- movement towards inevitable conflict
- some people can afford morality easier than others
- lawlessness – the gun enforces the law – property is what you can protect and keep.
- edge of civilisation – no help coming – you’re on your own.
- creeping inevitability, you can’t stop ‘it’ (e.g. high noon showdown) and you have to just go with it.
I did other panels but didn’t really keep notes but I thought you might get a flavour how insightful it was, if not the humour and the fun.
Adele (above), of Fox Spirt Books, ran the All of the Books independent publisher table that stocked various small and indue presses attending the vent. It was very much emptier by the end of the event than in this picture, which makes me very happy.
When I wasn’t paneling I chatted to so many wonderful people. I was really blown away by how many fun random chats I had especially with people I’d met for the first time (I’m not saying only as I’d love to chat to them more).
This is turning out to be longer post than intended so I’ll wrap up.
Despite my fears that I would end up again like Brighton feeling a little lost and lonely eating chips by myself I had the most amazing time.
Thanks to the whole of Nine Worlds (crew, panelists, and attendees) who made it into stellar event. . I’m so booking next year and so should you.