So, that was Geekfest, a large-scale convention that came out of nowhere around the beginning of the year, funded itself via Kickstarter, occupied a large chunk of two big hotels at Heathrow and had a mind-bogglingly bewildering variety of panels, lectures, games and activities for fans of just about all tastes. And it was, frankly, wonderful. I had a fantastic time, met a lot of old friends and made a few new ones, did some panels, sat in on some superb science talks (1) and was even a contestant on genre Just a Minute hosted (as always) by Mr Paul Cornell (2).
With most conventions you find there are far too many panels you want to go to, and can't fit in. With Nine Worlds that went double and triple, and after that there were a whole load of panels that weren't particularly my thing, but that were each catering for strong and specific fan bases — academic studies on Harry Potter, Brony rap, cosplay creation, all kinds of incredibly varied topics, and each with their audience.
And although I heard of the odd glitch and problem here and there, everything I saw was working seamlessly. There were no serious technical issues that I know if, the panels all started on time, everything was signposted, and the support material was excellent. I will confess that the one thing I was expecting to be creaky was the logistics side of it, and I was frankly gobsmacked at just how smooth it was. Everyone involved should be bursting with pride.
If you didn't make it along, I'd recommend next year's to anyone — because there will be plenty there for you, pretty much no matter what — and if you think there won't be, just suggest something. However, there's a scheduling issue for next year. Nine Worlds 2014 is happening on the 8th-10th August of that year, and the following weekend (well, from the Thursday really I think) is Loncon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention 2014. There's obviously a danger there that the smaller and newer convention will lose out if punters are thinking, "Well, I can't do two on consecutive weekends…"
Or… you can, surely. Because that week in between, given that both cons will be in London, has the potential to be basically London WEEK of GEEK. Especially for people travelling some distance, surely there's a grand chance to come for one con, stay the week and then go to the next. I assume this is the logic that the organisers are working on, and there's a grand opportunity for anything else à la geek in the London area to join in. Let's have some genre theatre (and I'm still smarting I missed a play of Halo Jones here in Leeds, so, you know…), let's get Jeff Wayne in for a special performance of War of the Worlds. Let's have a London-wide zombie survival game and scare the crap out of the Home Office. Maybe not that last one, but there must be a ton of stuff that could take advantage of a week of captive genre fans roaming the London streets.
(1) Highlights included Drs Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, authors of "What Would a Martian Look Like" and similar books, and also (with Sir Terry) the Science of the Discworld series.
(2) I came second. I was robbed.