More than 1500 “geeks” converged this weekend for Nine Worlds Geekfest, London’s first annual celebration of geek culture, which included talks from comic creators and SF authors, discussions, workshops, comedy and music dedicated to all things geeky, with many fans elaborately dressed up as their favourite characters from books, films and games.
Nine Worlds grew out of the organisers’ bafflement over why London doesn’t sport the kind of large-scale geek gatherings that exist in other parts of the world. Co-organiser Erich Schultz says, “As huge sci-fi fans ourselves, we and our friends been going for years to the massive American residential conventions like Dragon*Con and San Diego ComicCon. And we keep asking ourselves, ‘why doesn’t anything that cool exist in London?'”
In March 2013 Nine Worlds ran a Kickstarter fundraising drive that was 232% oversubscribed and raised £23,000 to fund its first event – the second most successful convention launch in Kickstarter’s history – demonstrating the huge interest for an event of this kind in London.
As well as the core elements of traditional science fiction conventions such as gaming, comics, books and film, Geekfest broadened the scope of geekery to include science, technology, geek feminism, knitting and popular culture such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Doctor Who.
Nine Worlds Geekfest brought together games and comics creators such as Paul Cornell, Kieron Gillen and Rhianna Pratchett (Tomb Raider), alongside journalists, scientists, filmmakers, artists and academics. Many big names in UK science fiction and fantasy also appeared, including Cory Doctorow, Ben Aaronovitch, Charlie Stross and Catherine Banner and many TV writers.
Actors such as Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf), Miltos Yerolemou (Game of Thrones) and Kai Owen (Torchwood) spent the weekend interacting with fans.
The Geekfest worked hard to welcome those who may feel traditional sci-fi conventions aren’t for them, by promoting access for disabled people and having firm policies against harassment. There were also suites of talks dedicated to Geek Feminism and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
The Nine Worlds Geekfest Awards recognised excellent work in science fiction and fantasy over the last year. Highlights of the awards included “Best London-based Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel” which went to Paul Cornell for London Falling and “Best Sci-Fi Related Exhibition” which was awarded to the Maritime Museum for Visions of the Universe.
The Geekfest also honoured recently departed heroes, including sci-fi novelist Iain M. Banks and astronaut Sally Ride during their Afterworld Party.
Nine Worlds organisers started the event in the belief that London should have the kind of large-scale geek gatherings that other parts of the world enjoy. Co-organiser Erich Schultz says, “As huge sci-fi fans ourselves, we’d been going to the massive American residential conventions like Dragon*Con and San Diego ComicCon. We kept asking ourselves, ‘Why doesn’t anything that cool exist in London?’”
When the organisers asked that question aloud, the UK geek community answered by supporting their Kickstarter to the tune of £23,000, one of the most successful ever campaigns to crowd-fund a convention.
Co-organiser Ludi Valentine said, “The event succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, and already scores are booking for next year”.
Next year’s Geekfest will take place on 8 – 10th August 2014 in London.
All proceeds from the event go to Geekfest’s charity partner English PEN, which supports persecuted writers around the world.
Nine Worlds Geekfest Links
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.