So this year marked my attending my first Nine World con. And it wasn’t just my first Nine World con, it was my first SFF geek con altogether. I had been to anime cons in the past but my experiences at them had always been dreadful (bar the very first one at the time but I want to hide when I look back at what I got up to during that weekend…). I was very, very nervous about attending, partially because I am a complete introvert and am absolutely terrible at ‘people-ing’ and also because I wasn’t sure how the whole thing would take place, especially given that I was going with my parabatai brother who is disabled and goes about in a wheelchair.
I’ll start talking about that, actually. Accessibility. Nine Worlds was absolutely fantastic. Actually fantastic doesn’t quite cover how great they are. From the get-go communication with them was easy and low stress, they’re very open about asking people what they might need and take on board everything that is passed their way. Kudos to the person running the Nine Worlds Access Twitter and organising everything behind the scenes, they did amazing work. They let me register my brother on the day without any trouble, which is huge for him as queueing at regs is a massive no-no. They also have these miraculous things you can place on your badge and are colour coded to tell people whether or not you are approachable. The red overlay, coupled with the yellow lanyard of ‘no pictures’ basically allowed my brother to actually leave his room and participate in panels despite the number of people attending.
Oh and also everywhere was accessible by wheelchair, the expo room even set in a way that prevented getting trapped in between stands when looking at things! Everything was signposted and the map you got in the welcome pack also made finding one’s way a lot easier!
The overlay turned out to be quite handy for me as well. Now you see, I want to meet people and chat and be social. I just don’t know how to approach people. How do you start a conversation with a stranger? No, this is a serious question. So I got to wear the blue overlay which is basically like waving a flag of ‘Hi, talk to me!’. And…it worked! I noticed the difference of how people would just randomly chat with me when I had the overlay on. It was definitely a great help with my nerves.
Anyway, back to the con itself. We turned up on the Thursday and I totally meant to make it to the Cheesy Cheese reading but I had been travelling all day, had then gone and come back from Chinatown and had the headache of the century, so I missed that (I am still sad panda about it L). Instead I ended up going to the quiz which was both completely overwhelming and also lots of fun (we needed fans in that room, so many fans needed because oh gods it was warm). I got to meet someone I know from twitter—who recognised me whilst I failed to /facepalm—and mostly lots of fun was had. My team came one before last which means we got spared the fish and chip candy and generally got to laugh at how badly we had done (I blame the Twin Peaks round when none of us had watched it…).
Going to the quiz definitely helped me relax about the rest of the con. Friday was panel central, although one we meant to go to in the afternoon was cancelled, which was typical as it was the first one my brother had been brave enough to try attend! Most notably on Friday I went to the metalwork jewellery workshop and it was amazing. The people leading it were Resistance is Futile (I literally cannot find a link to them at all?!) and I ended up making two small matching pendant things as well as two extra bits that I will use to make bracelets when I get around to sorting out the other bits I need. It was really fun to sit there and get to mess around with clay and cutters and all that stuff, and it’s definitely something I would love to do again!
Saturday was more panels and I also got to go to one of the Swordpunk workshops. 10/10 would do again. Actually I would consider actually going to the workshop he holds because it was that good. Also for all you people who worry about writing ‘realistic combat’, there is literally no better way than to pick up a weapon and have a go at it yourself (trust the guy who did LARP for many years and got better so as not to be pummelled endlessly by players not pulling their blows…). The true highlight of Saturday however was that I got to meet Jen Williams!!!!!! I was so happy, like, omg fanboying that I was sitting there chatting with her and not only did she sign all of the trilogy for me and my brother she gifted us a copy of the US edition of the Copper Promise (find my review of it here and then go read the book and the rest of the series because it is amazing).
By Sunday I was sort of glad that all I had to do was drag my now very tired self to panels instead of anything more demanding because, oh boy but cons take energy, don’t they? I mean maybe this is mainly an introvert thing where being around that many people is really taxing, but I was definitely ready to head home by the Sunday evening—although I was really sad it was over.
I would be hard pressed to decide on a favourite panel from the con, I think the most I can do is list my top 3. Morality in Fantasy (I was not scared of algorithms until then) was a really cool panel, so were both Queer History Heroes (sodomy!—no seriously, you had to be there…), and the Writing Humour (also known as the awesome panel without a mod) ones. Definitely worth mentioning were the Away from the West workshop that spoke of creating African worlds and cultures in roleplay, gaming, and book settings, and the Tricking the Reader for both being really interesting and in some cases, enlightening! To be honest same could be said of most of the panels I went to.
There were a couple of duds, one where I felt that a lot of problematic stuff was discussed really badly and one where generally I felt that the people on the panel didn’t really know what they were talking about. I won’t name and shame said panels though because a) some people might have found them interesting and b) I am sure all panellists were trying to do their best!
All in all, Nine Worlds was a fantastic experience. I left with new books (three books bought from an indie stand, three books acquired from Emma Trevayne’s suitcase of wonder including an ARC of her new book) and with a whole list of books to add to my reading list. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the con and I hope that when I return next year I’ll be able to do even more. Hell, all going well I’d love to cosplay something as it’d be nice to have an occasion to mess about in costume for a few days!
Nine Worlds is inclusive and safe on many many levels, with its social overlays and its pronoun stickers, with the lifts everywhere and the priority seats carefully set up everywhere. The staff was wonderful and helpful and the hotel made for a really nice venue! If you’re a geek and want a con that is actually approachable, Nine Worlds really worked out for me, so maybe think about giving them a look for next year!