So for the 5th year running, I went to the convention known as Nine Worlds. I figured I would have a stab at writing down my thoughts and experiences from the weekend.
I'm not sure what was different about this one, but in the run up to it, I didn't have the usual massive panic/anxiety issues that I tend to get before any kind of social situation involving lots of people. This meant I was slightly more able to engage in conversation with random strangers, although I think I could still do better, so will still need to keep wearing the blue "Happy to talk to people" label.
This I think also meant I didn't end up needing any downtime away from people, so I ended up having a very full con. This does mean my brain is stuffed full of memories from the event, like someone rapidly trying to tidy up and shove everything into a closet, so I'm not sure how much detail I'm going to recall about anything.
I managed to arrive at the con a bit later than expected and only just managed to get registered in time so that I squeezed into the first talk, which was billed as translating mythology into English and British Sign Language, but actually only about the latter. Mostly I was interested in the mythology side of things, but there was an element of showing support for my old Uni (woohooo! Royal Holloway) as one of the people giving the talk was one of the faculty in the Classics department. It was all very interesting despite not knowing any BSL. They had to come up with a lot of new signs to cover words not normally used and also replace some to fit the anachronistic-ness of the stories. Like for example, when signing about time, tapping on the wrist where a watch would be makes perfect sense for a conversation in the modern day, but would seem out of place when recounting a tale from Ancient Greece. So they had to think a lot about that kind of thing. The culmination of their research is a series of films in which actor(s) sign out the story and they showed 2 examples and had someone read out a transcript for those of us who didn't know any BSL.
As we discovered last year, everyone in our social group meeting up in the bar between sessions became a workable solution to keep in touch and see what people were doing next.
The second was a talk about "Stealth Cosplay" - dressing up in regularly every day clothes, whilst at the same time representing some character or other. I picked this one as I really don't really feel comfortably dressing up, which is a bit of a limitation as a LARPer that I'd like to overcome. Plus, everyone else seems to be having lots of fun cosplaying, so I'd like to manage it one year and starting off with a bit of stealth cosplay seems like a good way to ease myself in. That said, I didn't really get much out of this that I don't think I could have worked out myself. But it has at least seeded ideas into trying cosplay into my head.
Then there was a talk celebrating Ghostbusters. The presenter was such a massive troll - he started off by asking us if we wanted to hear the iconic theme tune and started playing the theme tune from a 70's TV show called Ghostbusters. Which from what little I could tell from the intro, was more akin to Scooby Doo with a couple of guys and their gorilla visit. He then did the same joke with the 80s cartoon sequel to the 70s show. Then he got into the talk properly and covered all kinds of history and details of the actual Ghostbusters franchise, finishing off with a sped up version of the actual theme tune spliced with footage from the 3 films and cartoon series. Funny and informative marks this as one of my favourite things from the weekend.
The 4th talk of the day was about sending humans to Mars and was given by one of the candidates to the Mars One project. The Mars One project plans on sending some humans on a one way trip to colonise Mars. We got to hear all about the process, science and problems involved in such a grand scheme. The plan is really lengthy as their ideal launch window comes around every 2 years and rather than just sending everything and everyone in one go, they're doing it piecemeal. There'll be several unmanned supply runs before they even think about sending any humans, which they're planning on sending in teams of 4 at a time.
Mostly we did our own thing, but several us decided to form a team for the Buffy Quiz. We made a valiant effort, but came resoundingly last and quite a few points behind the main clump of scores. I wasn't sure if this was related or not, but most of the teams had names that involved bunnies. Our name - The Ancient Evil - clearly didn't. We picked it based solely on he fact that most of the other attendees looked so very young and unlikely to have been born when the show first aired, where as we all watched it when it first came out. There was a tie for the top slot and the tie breaker involved bunnies. I couldn't really see what was going on, but it involved tugging on a bunny until something popped up?
Then I had my first actual panel of the con on the topic of "Sex Lives of Goblins". Which was more about sex scenes in writing and didn't cover goblins having sex except for one question towards the very end where someone asked for examples. The authors had a wide range of experiences of writing (or not) sex scenes in their books, but nothing really stuck in my mind as something I should go read more of.
The evening culminated with the first disco of the con. They had 2 DJ sets. The first I think was the better of the two. My knee went *pop* in the second set and whilst it didn't seem to impact my performance, my ankles started to feel the strain of me avoiding overusing the knee so I ended up sitting out for a bit. And since they started a brief stint of music that I really didn't feel like dancing to, I decided to bail early. Which annoyingly was just as they started resuming playing the good stuff. Plus, it looks like there was only 15 minutes left which I could have probably managed if I'd known how long the disco was going to go on for. The schedule had it finishing an hour earlier than it actually did.
I kicked Saturday off with a talk about Time Travel in Film from a philosophical point of view which really interesting. It covered all manner of things, such as the different types of time travel and paradoxes and stuff like that. I sort of cosplayed (or rather technically "costumed") for it as a congoer from the future as I wore my t-shirt from EarperCon, which happens next month.
I really like the TV show Sense8 and there was a really great panel on that which was naturally focusing on the diversity within the show. It was great to see a packed room full of people who also really liked the show and had a lot of interesting points to make about it. I didn't, for example, know that the actors that played "Van Damme" were English and American rather than Kenyan. I think generally though, the main consensus was that the show was doing a good job at diversity, but there were a number of issues it could do better at or that it wasn't even touching upon.
I went to talk about designing escape rooms. Due to the person giving the talk having deleted their talk, they were having to wing it using the slideshow from a previous one, so it wasn't quite as polished as the other talks and resulted in having a pacing issue where she overran her planned timetable making the last 15 minutes quite rushed. That said, it did inspire me which is primarily why I went. I don't think I could have the time to invest in making something complicated and high-tech, but I think if I put my mind to it, I could come up with something do-able with the resources available to me.
I also love American Gods and went along to something which I thought was going to be a similar format to the Sense8 panel, but was actually a meet up of fans. Again it was packed full of fans of the book and/or show. It was interesting hearing the thoughts of people who've only experienced the show rather than the book. I didn't manage to contribute, but don't think I really had much to say of any importance anyway.
Continuing on with my support of my fellow Hollowegians, I diverged from my usual interests to attend their screening of two silent movies that they accompanied on the accordion. The first was a telling of Cinderella done as an animation with paper cutouts. The second was a very confusing film about a woman who was a vampire...except she wasn't. I'm not at all musically inclined, but the music seemed to fit well with the movie footage.
Saturday concluded with the Bifrost disco. The first DJ up was as always awesome and had the dancefloor packed solidly with happy dancing people. Then they alternated between the 2 other DJs. The first up is really enthusiastic about a particular kind of music, but whilst some of it worked, I don't think most people really gelled with it. The 3rd DJ played a lot of rock which went down a lot better. Someone was doing an excellent cosplay of Noface and "terrorising" the dance floor. The excessive smoke machine creating an impenetrable wall of fog between the exits and the dancefloor coupled with number of dancers dropping off at certain points did lead to questions of whether Noface was eating people.
By Sunday I was pretty much braindead resulting in me picking my first slot purely on the basis that it was in the middle room of a block of 3 that I was interested in. Horror isn't really my thing, but it was a panel on where the line between Horror and Thriller begins.
A regularly feature of the con is a "panel" on the future of the con, covering how the con did and what they have plans for. It also gave people a chance to ask questions about certain aspects and feedback. The main point of interest I took is that whilst the current venue is amazing, it is also has a different pricing model than previous hotels have had, making it more expensive. So they are looking at the possibility next year of holding it in Birmingham. Which isn't impossible for me, except that I do have a prior commitment around that time that might impact on whether or not I can go. And since nothing has been decided yet, as much as I'd like to get tickets already, it does mean I have to wait and see what is actually decided before committing.
Another regularly feature for me, is the Social Gaming, which I tend to use when there's a slot with nothing of interest in or if I'm too braindead to do anything that requires much thinking. It's always fun and whilst they do have a monthly event run in London, I don't often have the enthusiasm to travel that far, so it's good that I get to play some of their games even if it's just at cons.
The last thing I managed to get to was a panel on Robots, AI and the Labour market. Unfortunately I wasn't really mentally capable to process much of what was said. And with that I called it and went home.
It was good to have so many friends attend this year, especially as they all enjoyed themselves too. The hotel was mostly great. Most of the staff were getting into the spirit of things and doing a bit of light cosplay as Superheroes. They were friendly and helpful. I noticed that there seemed to be a distinct lack of "Do Not Disturb" signs available in rooms which meant my usual tactic of rebelling against the daily invasion of my room by putting up the sign even when I wasn't in, wasn't possible. Weirdly, my room key stopped working an hour before check out - not sure if that was cos I'd signed up for the fast checkout and they were overly eager to get me out, but the staff were more than happy to sort me out for a new card. The food was mostly OK. The bar food wasn't amazing, but the restaurant buffet was awesome. Stuffing myself with tasty food for dinner in the buffet is probably something I should avoid next time as it does make me feel a little off for dancing afterwards.
So the tl;dr is I had a great time, hope to do it next year, but can't really commit until I know what is happening.