Monday 18 August 2014

Nine Worlds 2014: Part 2

Part of my plan for Nine Worlds was that I'd make a proper go of the Saturday, according to the logic that the middle day of a convention is invariably the one most worth devoting your energies to.  This was why I'd gone to bed at a reasonable time the night before and this was why I dragged myself out of bed at an entirely sensible nine o'clock in the morning, having slept for precisely twelve minutes due to my misguided attempt to save money by staying in the cheapest place I could find.  So up I got and out I went, arriving just in time for the first program slot. I picked a lecture on Temporal Lobes and Spiritual Experiences, which turned out to be not such a great start: a rather dull and aimless take on an interesting subject.  Not to be deterred, I used the opportunity to wade through the schedule (of which there remained an insane eleven pages worth) and then left half way through and milled until the next slot.  I tried for Writing the Other, which turned out to be advance booking only, despite the program saying nothing of the sort.  In vague desperation, I wandered into Policing the Net, mostly because it was next-door.  Not a bad choice as it proved; Jane Fae offered some intriguing food for thought on the topic of - yes - policing the net, and if I didn't agree with most of her conclusions, at least it was interesting to hear them.

Annie Catling, Emma Newman, Labyrinth, my favourite Nine Worlds photo.
For the first of the afternoon slots there was nothing I was terribly excited about, so I took a stab at If A Woman Was Cast As the Doctor from the Doctor Who thread, mostly because Adrian Tchaikovsky was a panelist.  Having quite enjoyed it for forty-five minutes I began to realise that I'm not that interested in Doctor Who, and since everyone on the panel agreed on every front - yes we need a female Doctor, yes the sooner the better, yes a female Doctor would be best served by a female show-runner - I felt it lost focus a bit in the last half hour.  (I'm not entirely sold on seventy-five minute panel slots.)

By this point I was eager for fresh air and food.  So I wandered back to the nearby pub and ordered lunch, which led to me somehow getting embroiled in a plot by the bar staff to clingfilm the chef's car and after that to a half hour's reading about feral children.   Fortunately at that point Dan came to join me and together we wandered back to catch the Bechdel Test panel - which turned out to be full.  This time at least we were allowed to sit in the corridor and listen, and it proved to be a solid debate, not to mention one I really wished I'd been a part of.

Fortunately I was on the Blurred Lines: Boycotting and Buying In panel that followed, with Dan Hart, Melissa T and my good friend and one-time comics dealer Alasdair Stuart, and, like all my panels really, it turned out to be a lot of fun.  Perhaps in subconscious response to the lack of vitriol on the Doctor Who panel I decided to play devil's advocate, and then quickly found myself questioning my own ethical stance; but it all ended up okay because I got to plug Kathryn Immonen's entirely marvelous Journey into Mystery run.

My plan from that point onward had basically involved passing the remainder of the night and a good proportion of the morning in the bar, something I felt I'd earned after being so sensible the night before.  However I'd run into my friend Flick in the Bechdel Test panel and she'd persuaded me that we should team up and ace the film quiz later than night.  Sadly the quiz turned out not to be a quiz at all but some sort of ... thing ... full of squeeing and shouting and throwing of stuff.  I managed about ten minutes and then made my excuses (which I seem to remember were, "this is my idea of hell"), and fled to - you guessed it! - the bar.  Fortunately Flick chose to follow and we hurriedly invented our own film quiz, which mostly revolved around Disney movies.

Having finally drifted back to my guest house sometime after three in the morning, I didn't do quite so well at getting up the next morning and missed the first slot, but that was okay because there was nothing I'd wanted to go to anyway.  There were a few things I fancied in the late morning slot but nothing that quite managed to outweigh my hangover, so in the end it was half one and the Gamification of Everything lecture that turned out to be the proper beginning of my last day.  It was interesting in that gamification's a fascinating topic, but disappointing in that it seemed to be geared towards a corporate audience that Nine Worlds clearly wasn't.

At any rate it did a good job of passing the time until quarter past three and my last panel, More Than Mild Peril, a discussion on young adults and children in comics with (deep breath) Louie Stowell, Kate McAlpine, Emma Vieceli, Malin Ryden, Melissa T, Heather Wickson, Nat Wilkinson and Charlotte Geater.  Of everything I was doing this was the one I'd been most nervous about, because there were nine of us on there and I couldn't imagine how a panel could work with that many people.  But it did, and it did really well, and in fact it turned out to be one of the best panels I've ever been on; the presence of a couple of young adults in the debate on what's interesting or appropriate for young adults was a stroke of brilliance.  All told it was a great note to end my Nine Worlds experience on.

Now, reading over what I've written I'm aware that it sounds like I didn't have such a great time and that I wasn't overwhelmed by the content I experienced, and thinking about it, I guess both of those things are true.  But they're not really a criticism of Nine Worlds, for two reasons: first, as I said in part 1, I had some personal stuff going that somewhat dampened my enjoyment, and second because, more than any other UK convention out there, Nine Worlds is what you make of it.  It offers an abundance, even an overabundance of content, and then challenges you to do with it what you will.  And not all of it's brilliant, and definitely not all of it's for everyone, but that's okay, because there's just so damn much.  Nine Worlds takes effort, but it also rewards it.

So I guess what I'm saying is, it wasn't Nine Worlds that failed but me.  I definitely wish I'd devoted more time to the Comics strand; looking back over the program there are a few others things I can't believe I didn't manage to find time for.

Oh well!  Next year I'll do better.

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