The Tracks Of Nine Worlds

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We are a month away from Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015 and our bags are already packed. As well as covering the Gemmell Awards on Saturday the 8th of August, we will explore the many tracks available, for you our reader, with the use of Harry Potter’s Timeturner, which will allow us to be in all the rooms simultaneously.

We wish.

Nine Worlds is renown for its excellent tracks. Since 2013 they have given us a variety of strands, from the more classic sci-fi (comics, gaming, literature and film), to Queer Fandom, Steampunk, Geek Feminism and Bronies. 2014 gave us Food Geekery, Whedon, Podcasting, Future Tech, and Race and Culture.

This year, seven more new tracks join the fold: Anime, Apocalypse, History, Religion, Star Trek, Supernatural and Tolkien.

When Claire Powell, Head of Press and PR, gave us the latest on the tracks, the SFFN editors turned into Pavlov’s dogs – not a pretty sight.

Take a load of this!

“The Anime Track will provide a brief introduction to what has rapidly become a stalwart of Geek Culture. It will be discussing some key moments in Anime and Manga, and examining the relationship the West has with an art form that encompasses everything from giant robots and magical mermaids to historical intrigue and the horrors of war. It will also be looking at costumes, Kaiju and everything that has grown out of oriental geekery.

Track organiser, Macula, has been working with anime conventions for the past 10 years, representing practically every anime releasing company in the UK. He has an excessive collection of toys, swords, and half completed projects that he really is going to get round to finishing one of these days.

The Apocalypse track will be covering all aspects of the end of the world and what comes afterwards. Including everything from zombies, to meteors, to a future where antibiotics have ceased to work, it will be looking at how apocalypses are written, how society will be rebuilt after there is one, and whether the guests at Nine Worlds will have what it takes to survive after everyone else on the planet has been eaten or smashed by robots.

Track organiser, Chris Farnell, lives in Norwich, not far from a graveyard that’s opposite a microbiology lab, but closer to a gun shop and a plentiful supply of tinned food.

The History Track understands that the study of the past is, of course, a very important subject that is taken seriously. But it is also possible to have a lot of fun as a historian, and there’s lots of potential for geeky and fannish behaviour. This track will introduce history to geeks, and emphasise the geeky aspects. At the same time, historians will be given a chance to explore their own geekiness, learn about how to handle sources, and see historians enthuse about their subject.

Track organisers are Tony Keen, Kari Sperring, and David and Lesley McIntee. Tony took a Ph.D. at the History Department of the University of Manchester, has been teaching history at universities in the UK and beyond since 1990, and currently is an Associate Lecturer for the Open University. Kari Sperring is an award winning author. As Kari Maund, she’s an academic mediaeval historian, and author of 5 books on early Welsh, Irish and Scandinavian history; while David and Lesley McIntee are independent scholars and re-enactors working in the interdisciplinary fields of literature, culture and history.

The Religion & Faith Track seeks to explore how religion and faith interact with geekdom, and serves to help, question, inspire, and form a major part of many of the fandoms. Be these taken from Western, Eastern, or ancient religions, they are a large influence on the world of geekdom. This track seeks to explore the religion, the faith, and the ethics shown and explored in these multi-faceted worlds.

This year’s track will include talks around ethics in Divergent, and exploring the impact of religion on ideas of transhumanism through the lens of Ghost in the Shell.

Track organiser Phil Bettinson is studying for an MTh in Theology. Phil has had an interest in Fantasy and Roleplaying games since discovering Dungeoneer when he was 14. Since then he has GM’d at the National Student Roleplaying Championship (most often in the Systemless Category). Phil believes that you can be a geek about anything, and believes himself to be one of many TheoGeeks, with a love for the Old Testament. His day-to-day job is as a full time Priest in the Church in Wales.

Star Trek: Fandom – the final frontier: These are the voyages of the Nine Worlds Star Trek Track – its weekend-long mission to explore the future, to seek out new perspectives and new interpretations, to boldly go where no track has gone before.

Whether you were raised on a diet of jumja and leola root or you don’t know your bat’leth from your ahn-woon, there’s something in this track for you. From fun and games to discussions on the franchise, its fandom and its future, it will be celebrating the story that took us far beyond the stars.

Track organiser Iona is a writer, lawyer and linguaphile, and the product of more than one country. Other than Star Trek, she’s interested in politics and land rights.

Co-organiser Llin is a lifelong lover of Star Trek who has been involved in online fandom for over a decade and currently runs the Tumblr blog Star Trek Hugs. She enjoys reading, writing and vidding, some of it not even Star Trek-related.

Supernatural’s fandom is a phenomenon in itself. Its first year at Nine Worlds will involve pop quizzes, a chance to discuss the agony and ecstasy of following the show, and some juicy talks from a Professor of Philosophy and a real live Demonologist.

Track organiser, Clara, is bewitched by Dean Winchester, but not in a hex bag kind of way. She’s been running events of various kinds for years but the inaugural Nine Worlds was her first con. It would seem she’s taken a shine to them.

The Tolkien Track is an intersectional exploration and celebration of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. It will be reclaiming the works of the Grandpa[triarch] of fantasy , discussing fanfiction, headcanons, and adaptations that broaden the borders of a cisgender, heterosexual, white men’s space, and make the fantasy world of Tolkien into a world that is inclusive and diverse. If you ever struggled to find yourself in the Fellowship, if you ever dreamed of queer hobbits, elves of colour, women dwarves, and non-binary Ents, this is the track for you.

Track organiser, Quen Took, has loved Middle Earth since he was much smaller than most hobbits, and is not an awful lot bigger than most hobbits now. Although Quen is a little below the average height, he is really just your common or garden nerdy, flighty, highly-strung genderqueer twenty-summat, with an aspiration towards writing for children. He loves baking, painting, and playing board games, and owns more YA fantasy books than you could shake a stick at, depending how long you’re willing to waste shaking a stick. After 24 years in the South-West, Quen has finally escaped into the rugged North, where he is hoping to locate Rickon Stark, or, at the very least, a decent pint for under three pounds.”

Thank you Claire, for making our day!

If you’re not salivating by this point, you’re reading the wrong article. Stay tuned for more news!

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Francesca T Barbini
Francesca is the Managing Editor of The Sci-fi & Fantasy Network and the author of teen Sci-Fi series "Tijaran Tales". When not inside MMORPGs, she runs Luna Press Publishing, and books events for the Tolkien Society. She also has a life. www.lunapresspublishing.com.