The silence on the blog has mostly been because of Nine Worlds. Which was fantastic and a whole heartedly recommend it if you’re thinking about it next year. I met loads of people, including plenty of new faces. I’m not going to list everyone because I would no doubt leave someone off. But some really lovely people kept me company between all the fun stuff (or when trapped in MacDonalds because of hideous RAIN).

I started the weekend off with a game of Slash followed by cheese tasting paired with cheese readings. That’s reading of cheesy passages (mostly sex related) not some sort of psychic cheese thing. I kind of want to read some Stephanie Plum now.

The Shining-esque hallways of the hotel

I think the only fault with Nine Worlds is there’s too much interesting stuff! Pretty much everyone I spoke to had double booked planners but I decided I should at least try and mix things up. So Friday started with some non books panels (OK breakfast first, then panels) and I popped into the Future Tech room for talks on virtual reality and 3D printing. I didn’t get a chance to try out the Oculus Rift but it was interesting to hear the hardware isn’t quite there yet. We were also given a list of things to look out for if we did want to buy a VR headset in the future.

I love hearing Lauren Beukes speak, every time I’ve heard her she’s been fascinating and entertaining. She was on a few panels over the weekend including one about time travel with Kate Griffin (who has written about time travel under the name Claire North), Fabio Fernandes, Simon Guerrier and Paul Cornell. She was also on the next one, about mythology and fairytales along with the wonderful Joanne Harris, Rochita Loenen Ruiz, Aishwarya Subramanian and John Connolly. John had the best child abandonment anecdote ever. One day he’d gone home to find his house missing, he sat down on the pavement and cried thinking his family had left him. The neighbour came out to see what was wrong…turned out they’d just painted the front of his house. We also heard about lots of intriguing sounding myths from African, Philippine and Indian cultures.

I went to Laura Lam’s creative writing workshop on LGBTQ characters in SFF, even though I’m not writing anything (sometimes I feel like the only one). However, it was interesting to hear the dialogue from an actual diverse group; we talk so much about the need for diversity but not a lot about what that actual means in terms of writing it into books.

There was a Games of Thrones season four review with some of the (now dead) cast (OK, some of them haven’t been confirmed dead, they could come back). I heard a few people were disappointed by this because they mostly talked about what it was like on set but I still found it interesting. By now I had already failed to get Broken Monsters signed (I got 1/3 of the books I took with me scribbled on, just kept leaving them in my room), so onwards to learn how to fake bruises and pustules! They were also demoing a gouged out eye which looked very gruesome. I am definitely prepared for Halloween.

Cosplay and Beyond make-up workshop victim

Later on, Kim Curran, Scott Lynch, Rebecca Levene, Jonathan L Howard and Jon Morgan sat round to play Call of the Cthulhu RPG, with an audience. I’ve never read any of Scott’s books but he’s proved to be very entertaining in person. I didn’t get to find out what happened in the end as Ewa was moderating a panel on school stories elsewhere in the hotel. Armed with some sneaked out wine from my room, I learned a secret hand signal with Aishwarya Subramanian, Zen Cho, Emma Vieceli and Tiffani Angus. I have also been convinced to give Vampire Academy a go.

Saturday started out with CoffeeKitsch, which was basically standing round with free pastries and coffee. Only they forgot the milk (and they had hot water but no teabags). I drink my coffee black so I didn’t realise until the next day, and someone had thought to bring milk by then. Posh hotels, you need to be specific with them. I stuck around the books room a bit more, seeing a panel on cyberpunk with Laurie Penny, Paul McAuley, Fabio Fernandes and Anne Charnock, with a lot of looking back on it with a modern mindset. That was followed by the best panel of the weekend, a debate on which creature is best; vampires (Joanne Harris), werewolves (Gail Carriger), dragons (Elizabeth Bear) or warlocks (Scott Lynch). Moderated by Anne Perry and the Eye of Sauron. It was hilarious. Dragon won because, well dragons but Joanne had the best arguments.

Then I had a little break from the bookish and went to one of the knitting track sessions. I had good intentions to get someone to show me how to crochet properly however I got distracted by the opportunity to make a squid out of wool. The knitted Wonder Woman dropped in, whose costumes were amazing; I so want to learn to knit well enough to knit my own cosplay outfits. After a wander round the vendor area (still holding out on not buying books, go me), I went to the Looking Backwards panel about setting fiction in the past, mostly Victorian and Egyptian, with Gail Carriger, John J Johnston and Marek Kukula. I liked how many of the panels were made up of not just authors, this one had an Egyptologist for example. Unfortunately, I was very cold, hungry and starting to lag, so I left before the end…and I couldn’t get the door open. So I’m very sorry if I was at all disruptive.

After refueling and a bit of rest in my room, it was time for PROMNADO. Hosted by Gollancz, it was pretty much an excuse for some free booze and nibbles with some goodie bags thrown in. I still wore my prom dress though, because any excuse! One person did ask me where all the fans were, because it did feel mostly authors, publishing people and bloggers and I guess that can feel a bit cliquey for anyone coming in randomly.

By Sunday morning, the hangover was starting to catch up with me but no rest for the wicked. Topping up my coffee at CoffeeKitsch again (we weren’t using you, books track, honest), I went to a talk on the neuroscience of swearing. Apparently it helps with pain tolerance and swear words are some of the last remaining when trauma or illness steals language from us. There was a second talk in the same timeslot on optical illusions, and the thing I took from that was that they had made robots see like people; not what’s actually there but what our brain tells us is there.

I managed to get my copy of The Three signed. I nearly gave Sarah my proof because she never got one (if someone at Hodder finds one, send it to her) and the hardbacks don’t have the lovely black edging. Then there was another debate (Anne and Eye of Sauron again), this time science fiction (Geoffrey Ryman and Zen Cho) versus fantasy (Liz Bourke and Daniel Polansky). Oh and a disturbing Baron Harkonnen action figure. I love this style of panel and I hope there are more in the future. P.S. Science fiction won (and I kept hearing about how great Air is, so I’m going to grab a copy soon).

At some point on Sunday, I realised I hadn’t spent all my cash in the hotel bar so went back to the vendor room to browse. I ended up getting the Discworld Ankh Morpork board game which I’ve been eying up forever. I just need to get Josh into Discworld so I have someone to play it with. After that, I ate my last bag of Quavers (and starting to look forward to real food again) and went to the Game of Thrones hair styles workshop. It’s all a little bit like plaiting horses, but it’s good to see it demonstrated and is straigh forward enough that I could do something with me hair. Also, Cersei’s hair on the show is physically impossible.

The last thing before I said my goodbyes was the science of afternoon tea, run by the steampunk track. I learned how to make jam in the microwave (I will be doing this), the perfect scones using lemonade as a raising agent and the science behind brewing the perfect cup of tea. The scones and jam smelled amazing but unfortunately they weren’t allowed to feed us *sob*. Stupid health and safety regulations.

Afternoon tea with the steampunk track

So a busy and tiring weekend but so much fun. You can already buy early bird tickets for next year