Nine Worlds Geekfest

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Convention
Name: Nine Worlds Geekfest
Dates: 2013-2018
Frequency: annual
Location: London area, UK
Type: fan convention
Focus: general fandom
Organization:
Founder: Erich, Dan and Ludi
Founding Date: August 2013
URL: https://nineworlds.co.uk/ (archive)
Nine Worlds Geekfest on tumblr (archive)
Ymir the Cuddly Frost Giant, designed by Andrew O. Ellis
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Nine Worlds Geekfest was a multi-media, multi-genre residential pop culture convention held annually in or near London, UK. The first three were held near London Heathrow Airport, in different hotels, while the 2016, 2017 and 2018 conventions took place in the Novotel in Hammersmith, London.

The focus was mainly on fans interacting with one another, although there were also appearances by celebrity guests, book signings and performances. Content was arranged in a number of themed tracks, including general topics such as fanfiction, fannish academia, cosplay and books, as well as tracks for specific fandoms.

Beginnings

The first Nine Worlds was partially funded by a Kickstarter[1] which was launched in February 2013. It was pitched as "an unconventional convention" and described on the Kickstarter page as "a residential con celebrating all aspects of geek culture. Gaming, film, cosplay, anime, literature, and partying!". The campaign achieved more than double its funding goal of £10,000.

We're a group of fans putting together a weekend-long, multi-genre convention in London this summer, August 9th-11th. We're running this Kickstarter to raise funds, offer cheap advance tickets, and make sure people actually want to come. Judging from our success so far, it turns out people do want to come, but we still need your pledge to make this work.

What will Nine Worlds be like?
We've rented two big conference hotels in London, and we've recruited some of the UK's top fans and fandom organisations. With their help, we're creating talks, games, discussions, workshops and parties spanning a swathe of geek obsessions. Whether you're into board gaming, film and film-making, Doctor Who / Torchwood, science, feminism, Tolkien, SF&F academia, video games, partying like a dancefloor demon, role play gaming, Discworld, My Little Pony, social gaming, SF&F literature, knitting, Harry Potter, creative writing, Star Wars, queer fandom, buying cool stuff, steampunk, the occult, open culture, Star Trek, Whedon, skepticism, costuming, comics, anime and J-culture, or fanfic, chances are you'll find something that rocks your world.

Nine Worlds aimed to set itself apart from existing UK conventions like Eastercon and MCM Expo by "combin[ing] the size and star power of the commercial cons with the community ethos and strong slate of content found in fan conventions."[2]

The project was successfully funded on March 3, 2013 and the first Nine Worlds subsequently took place on August 9-11 2013.

Founders

The creator bio for Nine Worlds on Kickstarter named "Dan, Erich and Ludi" as the "core organisers" for Nine Worlds.[3]

The page listed an additional nine individuals as co-founders of the convention: Misha, Stephanie, Kath, Andrew Clarke, Anita Murray, Jenni Goodchild, James Tomlinson, Jon London and Tori Truslow. The Meetup group London On Board, which was helping to facilitate the con, was also listed among the founders.

Expansion

The convention moved hotels while staying near Heathrow, before moving to the Novotel in Hammersmith.

After a couple of years of growing, the 2016 con included a separate expo for the first time, rather than the previously-included dealers' hall. This had a big vision, but was rumoured to have lost money and have very few guests who weren't at the main con. One of the original founders, Dan, confirmed that it had lost them a lot of money, and required two years of "steady steering" to bring the con back on track.[4]

Commitment to Diversity and Safety

Pronoun stickers at Nine Worlds registration, 2017

One of the hallmarks of Nine Worlds was its commitment to making the convention as welcoming as possible for all attendees. Measures included a detailed anti-harrassment policy[5] and accessibility information[6], a communication preferences system[7] and participation in Con or Bust.[8] There were also dedicated tracks discussing Race and Culture, LGBTQ themes, and other aspects of diversity. Panellists and moderators were encouraged not to assume someone's gender without asking, and pronoun stickers were provided to all attendees.

A newcomer on the con scene, Nine Worlds held its inaugural event last summer, but the buzz about it is tremendous – perhaps partly because of its up-front policy of trying to disprove the hoary old cliche that science fiction is the preserve of the middle-class, middle-aged white male or – heaven forfend – the spotty teenage loner in his bedroom.

"Traditionally, con-goers are seen as the cliche – white, cisgender men," says Claire Powell of the committee. "This can lead to people who don't fall into that category feeling intimidated, or maybe even at risk. At Nine Worlds, diversity and inclusion are hugely important foundations for the event. Specifically, it aims to dump the sexism that infests many geek spaces and sci-fi cons. There is a strong anti-harassment policy and Nine Worlds endeavours to maintain a safe space for women, LGBT+ people, disabled people, and other groups that are often marginalised at geek/fandom events." [9]

Cabaret and Disco

The Cabaret on Saturday night quickly became a key event at Nine Worlds. It included music, dance performance, stand-up comedy, poetry, and in 2014 an on-stage proposal. It had a mixture of serious content and lighter entertainment. It was followed by the disco, with much geek-themed music.

Criticisms and Reconstitution

While reviews for the convention were relatively good, the 2018 Nine Worlds was beset by problems. Panel hosts complained that the organization for that year was poor, with many not knowing who was on their panels or when their panels were until a few days before the con. Writer Jesse Panic documented many of the issues, including the unaffordable ticket cost, months and weeks with no contact, short notice on moderator and participant guidelines, and inclusion of police officers plus a journalist associated with neo-nazis as speakers.[10] Other panelists, such as Skye and Rammi, weren't given contact details of their fellow panelists until the schedule went live, and when they had issues with a police officer being on a panel regarding intoxicants, their complaint was mishandled and they stated they were told:

Regarding dropping participants from Intoxicants in Fiction. After talking this through in the organising team, we consider [The Police Officer] to be an appropriate panellist for this item, and do not intend to remove her. If this makes you uncomfortable about moderating, please let us know and we’ll ask one of the other panellists.[11]

Issues surrounding race were also raised. Complaints came after panels involving police officers speaking in their capacity as police were arranged in 2017 and 2018 despite protests from POC. Racism was not a new complaint - volunteer a-simple-tailor described on Tumblr a 2016 incident on her immigrant narratives panel, where when she was telling a story about her uncle pioneering surgery on babies, a last-minute panelist stated "well your uncle should have learned English then", and proceeded to upset both panel members and attendees.[12] Blogger blackfemgeekery raised the issue that the committee behind Nine Worlds 2018 was almost entirely white, which she stated contributed to the problems surrounding panelists. When blackfemgeekery asked the committee about this in the Future of Nine Worlds panel, neither she nor many others in the audience felt they gave an appropriate answer, especially after blackfemgeekery was accused of no-platforming the police.[10]

[blackfemgeekery]

They wanted police to feel welcome, and if POC and others felt unwelcome, it seemed like that was our problem. That was my answer as far as I was concerned.[13]

There were also issues relating to the mistreatment of attendees - Jesse was forced to relive racial trauma after a white volunteer attempted to argue with them and minimize their experiences as a POC, and was forced to tears after being surrounded by volunteers.[10]

There also came complaints of accessibility during Nine Worlds 2018. While accessibility was generally very good, the mismanagement of con attendees meant that rooms were overcrowded; as a result, attendees would sit on the floor next to accessible seating, restricting the ability of the people using those seats to leave the room if needed. There was also issues with ableism from other volunteers, despite training and policies being created to avoid such behaviour, as documented by a-simple-tailor.[12]

During the Future of Nine Worlds panel, the committee announced that they were reconstituting the con due to burnout and mismanagement of volunteers and staff, as well as issues with money.[4] After criticism of the 2018 con emerged, the Nine Worlds committee responded in a twitter thread, apologising for causing people pain and not acknowledging problems with inclusion, while also requesting feedback to improve in the future. [14] One of the con's founders, Dan, also posted a personal apology on Medium. [15]. Despite this declaration, several months later former committee member quizlacey stated that there was no detailed plan for reconstitution, and that the process had been severely mishandled.

[quizlacey]

The first is that the detailed plan for reconstitution has not taken place, and the reconstitution process currently is a slightly-more-complex version of "whoever wants it can have it."

The second is that because no process has taken place and no governance/management/steering/whatever committee has been identified, the provisional hold on the Novotel for 2019 has had to be released.

[...]

I left due to the state fo the reconstitution process. With the issues that have been ignored by former management for so long, which were very publicly and very badly mishandled at the end of 2018, I want to be part of a structure that is capable of addressing them.

I left Nine Worlds 2018 on the understanding that this would be one of the key criteria for the new incarnation of Nine Worlds. Treating the convention like a hot potato gives me no confidence that this will be inbuilt structurally from the start.[16]

On December 22nd 2018, Nine Worlds announced that a new governance team had been formed, none of whom had worked on Nine Worlds in a committee capacity before. Nine Worlds also announced a return to the con in 2020.[17]

Closure

In September 2019, the new management team announced that they would be unable to take Nine Worlds forward due to a lack of skills in managing the con, and the inability to locate a company director for Nine Worlds Ltd. [18] They ended the thread with a request that anyone who was interested in becoming director to contact them, otherwise if no director had been chosen by the end of September, the process of closing the business would begin. As of December 2019, no announcement had been made regarding the closure of the business, nor of the appointment of a new director.

Fanvids At Nine Worlds

Such Heights, a vidder, and usuallyhats hosted several fan vid shows or panels in the FanFiction panel track.

I've done a bunch of vidshows at cons lately! Please find the playlists below for Nine Worlds and the first of two vidshows I'm doing at Worldcon. [19]

2014


Doctor Who vidshow, Thursday night

"One Day Like This by [1]]odessie
The First Question by LastWhovianTrailers
I am destroyer I am lover by [2]]such_heights
Handlebars by [3]]flummery
This Is Everything by [4]]sol_se
Suzanne by [5]]such_heights
Whatever It Is by [6]]usuallyhats
After All by [7]]thingswithwings
on your wings by [8]]some_stars
Never Look Away by [9]]purplefringe
OMG by [10]]obsessive24
Short Skirt / Long Jacket by [11]]purplefringe
Stuck To You by [12]]humansrsuperior
Take On Me by [13]]trelkez

The Last Year in Vids, Friday night

Cancelling the Apocalypse by [14]]such_heights (Multi)
Long Live by [15]]cosmic_llin (Star Trek)
We Got The Power by [16]]isagel (Tomb Raider)
King and Lionheart by [17]]violace (Pacific Rim)
Level Up by [18]]such_heights (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Breath of Life by [19]]bananainpyjamas (Wonder Woman)
Everywhere by [20]]frayadjacent (Xena)
Marvel by [21]]lim (MCU)
Hey Ho by [22]]thuviaptarth (MCU)
The Future by [23]]bradcpu (Doctor Who)
In The 99 by [24]]cosmic_llin (The Hunger Games)
Landsailor by [25]]raven (Multi)
Ne Me Quitte Pas by [26]]purplefringe (Pushing Daisies)
Parachute by [27]]thingswithwings (Leverage)
Gorgeous by [28]]cupidsbow (Hugh Jackman RPF)
Feel the Love by [29]]echan (Portal)
9 to 5 by [30]]eruthros (Lego Star Wars)

Types of Vids, Loncon, Saturday

"Marvel by [31]]lim (MCU)
Never Look Away by [32]]purplefringe
Heavenly by [33]]bananainpyjamas (Avatar: the Last Airbender)
Hold Me Now by (Princess Tutu)
Level Up by [34]]such_heights (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Keep The Streets Empty For Me by [35]]chaila (Twilight)
Hey Ho by [36]]thuviaptarth (MCU)
With Blood by [37]]beccatoria (Mass Effect)
Flow by [38]]lim (Multi)
Hands Away by [39]]chaila and [40]]beccatoria (Fringe/Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles)
This is the Picture by [41]]obsessive24 (Whedonverse)
we were born in a summer storm by [42]]raven (Welcome to Night Vale)
Elysium by Pteryx (Sherlock BBC/Doctor Who)
The Final Hour by narvinek (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Gorgeous by [43]]cupidsbow (Hugh Jackman RPF)
Taking the Hobbits to Isengard by Erwin Beekveld (Lord of the Rings)
Malcolm by [44]]opportunemoment (The Thick of It)
Star Trek Dance Floor by [45]]sloanesomething (Star Trek XI)
Hourglass by [46]]giandujakiss (Multi)
Baby, I'm A Star (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Soccer Practice by [47]]bironic
Flawless by [48]]kiki_miserychic

Panel descriptions that accompanied the vid shows

  • Thursday
  • Fanvid Adventures in Space and Time
  • 18.45 – 20.00
  • Fans have been cutting and recreating footage of their favourite shows since the 70s. These fanvids celebrate, analyse and critique media and reshape it in their own image. Doctor Who fanvids have a long history of expressing love for the best the show has to offer, bringing new readings to storylines and characters, and creating brand new stories for the Doctor and his companions. We take a look at some of our favourites before our panelists discuss trends in Doctor Who vidding and their own experiences as vidders, and ask the audience what they think of the vids we've just watched.
  • Amy (such_heights), Jenni Hughes

Friday

  • Fanvid showing: last year's best fanvids
  • 20.30-21.45
  • After last year's Successful Fanvids 101, such heights returns to VJ again, showing off some of the best vids of the last twelve months as well as looking at vids that push the envelope and redefine the artform.
  • Hosted by Amy (such heights)


  • The Fanvid Phenomenon: every fanvid tells a story
  • 22.15-23.30
  • Fanvids are a long-standing and ever-growing part of fandom, with new technology making them more accessible than ever. Come and listen to the panel talk about just what makes vids such an exciting part of the transformative works world.
  • Panel: Amy (such heights), Hannah, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Cleo, Llin

2015

I ran two vidshows at this year's Nine Worlds - a Star Trek show co-curated with usuallyhats, and the now-annual evening fanvid show on the fanfic track.[20]

Thursday: Vid Long and Prosper - Laid-back Star Trek fanvid fun

Never Fade Away by [49]jesuit24 (TOS/Reboot)
The Long Spearby [50]]jmtorres, [51]]niqaeli et al (all)
I Just Can't Wait To Be King by [52]]some_stars (Reboot)
Telephone by [53]bleeding_muse (Enterprise)
This Will Always Be My Home by ManticoreEscapee (DS9)
This Is Everything by [54]silver_sandals (all)
Kamikaze by [55]wildberry (DS9)
Resistance by [56]]rhivolution (TNG)
Born Too Late by [57]]bironic
Apple Candy by [58]]talitha78 (Reboot)
Machine by [59]]cosmic_llin (Voyager)
Grapevine Fires by [60]]skywaterblue (all)
Dante's Prayer by [61]]killabeez
we came to learn the sea by [62]]raven (all)
I Wish I Was James Bond by [63]]kuwdora (DS9)
Fascinating (TOS)
Everybody by [64]]kuwdora (all)
Tik Tok by MissSheenie (TOS)
If You're The Captain (Voyager)
Long Live by [65]]cosmic_llin (all)


Friday: Fanvid Showing - Amy returns with a roundup of the year’s fanvids


VidUKon 2015 Intro by [66]m_a_r_i_k_s
You're My Mission by [67]]meivocis (MCU, Captain America: the Winter Soldier)
Take Me To Church by [68]]lithiumdoll (Person of Interest)
Through the Deep Dark Woods by [69]]anoel (How to Get Away With Murder)
Never Look Away by [70]]frayadjacent (Buffy)
Wasteland by [71]]amnisias (Grantchester)
Blue/Pink by [72]beccatoria (Steven Universe)
Repetition by [73]]thuviaptarth (MCU, Iron Man)
Weapon of Choice by [74]]usuallyhats (Multifandom)
Elastic Heart by [75]]jocarthage (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Walking 2 Hawaii by [76]]isagel (MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Singing Hallelujah by [77]]leanwellback (Singin' in the Rain)
This Is What It Feels Like by [78]]sdwolfpup (Selfie)
Fly by [79]]such_heights (Multifandom)
Afterlife by [80]]sanguinity (The Middleman)
Gone Tech by [81]blithesea (Almost Human)
Dynamite by [82]]elipie (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Help! by [83]]purplefringe (Sleepy Hollow)
Let Yourself Go by [84]]Andraste (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries)
Workin' It by [85]]brokenmnemonic (Magic Mike)
Kinky Neighbours by [86]]thingswithwings (Batman 1966)]

References

  1. ^ Nine Worlds GeekFest: an unconventional convention.
  2. ^ Nine Worlds GeekFest Kickstarter: Frequently Asked Questions (Accessed March 22, 2013).
  3. ^ Nine Worlds Biography, Kickstarter (Accessed March 22, 2020).
  4. ^ a b The Future of Nine Worlds page, archived 13th March 2019. (archive)
  5. ^ Nine Worlds Anti-Harrassment Policy.
  6. ^ Nine Worlds Accessibility Information.
  7. ^ Nine Worlds Communication Preferences System.
  8. ^ Nine Worlds News: Con or Bust.
  9. ^ Science fiction takes over London as Worldcon and Nine Worlds land by David Barnett, The Guardian, July 23, 2014 (accessed January 13, 2020) archive link
  10. ^ a b c Worldless - Why Nine Worlds Stopped Being A Safe Space For Me by Jesse Panic, published on Medium August 17th 2018. (archive)
  11. ^ A safe space only when it's convenient for you: a Nine Worlds cautionary tale by Rammi, published on Medium on 8th August 2018. (archive)
  12. ^ a b Nine Worlds by a-simple-tailor, on Tumblr. (archive)
  13. ^ White Worlds by blackfemgeekery, posted on Wordpress 12th August 2018. (archive)
  14. ^ Nine Worlds apology, posted as a Twitter thread, 14th August 2018 (archive)
  15. ^ Nine Worlds 2018 - a personal apology by Daniel Whitston, posted on Medium on August 19th 2018. (archive)
  16. ^ Steve's twitter thread on leaving the committee, posted as a twitter thread on December 16th 2018 (archive)
  17. ^ Nine Worlds Status update, posted as a Twitter thread on 22nd December 2018 (archive)
  18. ^ Apologies for the long radio silence, and we wish we were here to give you better news. by Nine Worlds 2018 (@London_Geekfest), posted on Twitter on the 4th of September 2019
  19. ^ such_heights, Archived version
  20. ^ such_heights, Archived version
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