So, this weekend the first Nineworlds convention took place in two hotels in Heathrow. As you can see from this blogpost, Gollancz was well represented by authors and staff, so we thought we’d give you a quick run-down on the proceedings!
But, before I do, one thing to note – the main thing about Nineworlds was that it had a lot of different strands going on. Like, a lot. At one point on Friday evening, about half eight, I worked out that there were 18 things I could be at. At some points on Saturday that would have been a low number. Roleplaying, knitting, books, films, comics, Doctor Who, My Little Pony… the list goes on. Unsurprisingly, Gollancz spent most of its time in the book track (well, and the bar), so this is a little skewed. But it seems that almost everyone I spoke to was having a great time jumping from programme to programme – and there was always something worth checking out…
The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with a very interesting panel moderated by, well, me. But it was interesting because of the guests, not the moderation, of course. Charlie Stross, Zen Cho, Paul Cornell and Liz de Jager discussed ‘Cake or Death’ – basically, how much can – or should – you hurt or reward your characters, and how does it affect plot and pacing. There were some very tortured metaphors as we tried to keep vaguely on topic, but I felt it was an interesting and wide-ranging debate, and we learnt what happens when you boil children in a cauldron. And we were very pleased that the first book event was standing room only. I maintain that this was because of the panel, not the free cake.
Next up, Den Patrick – author of the about-to-be published DWARVES FIGHTING MANUAL – and his agent, Juliet Mushens of The Agency, discussed how and why an author should get an agent. It was a fun session, and I know that a lot of people had some very interesting questions. Den also, on Saturday night, read from his debut novel. THE BOY WITH THE PORCELAIN BLADE is coming from Gollancz next year, and is great. It’s always nice to see authors read from their books for the first time, and the New Voices Slam session involved about 20 authors over two nights. There was some great stuff there, and I came away with a list of people to keep an eye out for…
Friday night also involved a book launch from Jo Fletcher books. The second novel by Tom Pollock and the debut book from Snorri Kristjansson are both published this month, and JFB were kind enough to supply around 50 people with wine and mead, which is the sweetest thing in existence and made me feel a little sick. But the party was good, and both books looked wonderful. Then it was Just a Minute with Paul Cornell and various guests, which is always good value. It’s become a convention staple, but it’s always worth checking out.
There was also a disco on both Friday and Saturday nights, but your intrepid correspondent made his excuses and left (for the bar). People seemed to be having fun, though, and this fellow was apparently cutting some seriously funky rug on Saturday night.
Saturday saw me getting up earlier than I felt was reasonable to watch the surprisingly good JUDGE DREDD fan film JUDGE MINTY, which you can watch here. It’s much better than a fan film has any right to be, and I can see why 2000ad have allowed it to be shown. The design and special effects are very good, and the lead actor is great.
After that, I was on the publishing panel along with Ian Drury, Amy McCullough and Juliet Mushens, ably moderated by Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch fame, who has apparently written the worst book in the world. I made an offer there and then for GAME OF THORNS, but sadly I think he may be taking it elsewhere. Perhaps the shredder. I felt like we covered some areas of the publishing process that aren’t always clear, and a number of people said that they’d found it useful. It’s always interesting for me as well, as every publisher and agent has a different take on things, and it’s good to broaden your viewpoint every now and again.
The rest of Saturday was taken up with eating, socialising and trying to sort out my childcare issue. I failed, so sadly I had to leave early on Sunday – as did Jon Weir, who wasn’t very well – but all the reports suggest that the early morning panel on Science Fiction & Space Travel (featuring Gavin Smith, Jaine Fenn, Ian Whates, Adam Christopher and Charlie Stross) was very enjoyable, and Ben Aaronovitch seems to have enjoyed his appearance as well. And then the evening saw the unveiling of the David Gemmell awards shortlist, which I talked about here.
All in all, I think it went very well. It felt as well organised as many long-running cons, and the few things that didn’t work should be easily fixed for next year. I didn’t like having a convention split over two hotels, even if they were only five minutes apart – it felt like there wasn’t a ‘heart’ to the con. But that’s a very minor niggle, and overall the organisers did a great job. The audience was younger than most cons, there was quite a lot of dressing up, and it felt like a very safe space. I’m looking forward to next year already!