- My second con ever (the first was LonCon last year).
- An inclusive geektopia where everyone is welcome.
- Scene of some awesome cosplay that made me want to try it (never been tempted before).
- Provider of Quiet Rooms for people like me with very low thresholds for stimuli and with a tendency towards introversion.
- Scene of huge cringe as I mistake a Spectra costume for a Thundercat. Great kindness and grace from cosplayer who accepted my token and compliments and put me right – and absolutely no fandom-ier-than-thou gatekeeping from anyone. Lovely, lovely people go to this con.
- Scene of more huge cringe as I ask if ‘this lady’ can go to the head of the toilet queue because she’s on a panel in ten minutes. ‘This lady’ identified as a woman but THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Ever since I read Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time at the age of 16, I’ve been in favour of and tried to use gender-neutral language. In my 16 year-old’s idealism, I firmly believed that in the future there would be no Mrs and Misses, only Ms.s, no poetesses or policemen, only poets and police officers and that ‘per’ or their/them would replace he, she, his, hers and so on. Of course, the future turned out to be more complicated than that. And also a bit less beautiful. But at Nine Worlds, you can pick what pronoun you want to use, stick it on a badge and everyone will respect it. So what antideluvian part of my consciousness dredged up such an antiquated phrase? It’s a mystery. Suffice to say, I’m practising using ‘this person’ and they/their/them a lot at the moment and with renewed vigour. And eagerly awaiting Nine Worlds’ gender-neutral, gender-inclusive, non-binary heaven next year. Marge Piercy’s utopia is real (if only for one weekend a year, and in Heathrow) and more plural and beautiful than that, even, and it’s wonderful.
- Just over the road from the hotel (and through a fence, past some buildings) is a runway where planes take off in all their whooshing, noisy glory. I like planes. (Don’t know why, just do. They’re like magic.)
- Kind, kind people who – when I was exhaustedly and constantly getting lost and couldn’t even remember my room number – would give me directions and refrained from rolling eyes or going ‘It’s RIGHT THERE’.
- The Spoiler Alerters; two young fans who reminded the fabulous Eve Bennett that not everyone has seen every episode of everything Joss Whedon has made. This is a very family-friendly con and the kids really make it excellent and special. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a mini-Groot knocking around the place? Or a toddling dragon? Come ON! (I speak as someone who chose not to have children, too – I don’t say these things lightly.)
- Eve Bennett’s talk: Female Weapons in the Whedonverse’. Really intelligent, really interesting, really illuminating and made me want to watch all the Whedons all over again.
- Ditto Vanessa Thompsett’s talk on ‘Dystopian London in Fiction – The Unreal City’. And as with Eve Bennett, another super-engaging speaker with a bright future ahead. I shall be acquainting myself properly with ‘V for Vendetta’ – in fact, the first thing the Lord of Longitude said to me as we left the talk was ‘I’ve GOTTA get V for Vendetta’
- Geek Feminism. We rock.
- Lots of talks and thinking about Utopias, Dystopias and Apocalypse. I’m really interested in all three, but particularly Utopias, which border on my research interest in the pastoral, relations between country and city (Raymond Williams is a god), ecotopias, ecowriting, psychogeography, sub/urban spaces blah blah blah you get the picture.
- Naomi Alderman. Her talk on addressing our inner, personal biases (particularly when writing character) was illuminating, funny, perceptive and bang on the nose.
- Films and bean bags. There were lots of both, in a darkened room where you could stretch out with lots of other film-lovers and just shut up and watch films. Bliss. Which were impressive – I saw quite a few shorts. I fervently wished for better representation in the sci-fi shorts (3 women characters, 2 victims, 1 mother; all protagonists white cis males; no people of colour), but at least they were very well made, quite gripping. I think several are going to be made into features.
Well, ok, 16.
LORD OF LONGITUDE: So the question is, do we take advantage of Nine Worlds’ super-early rate and –
ME: YES. Book it. Book it now. Book it. We’re going.
Maybe I’ll see you next year?