Living Words - Books and Comics

We cover books and comics, with a particular focus on science fiction and fantasy. In addition to a wide range of awesome panels and talks, we'll be running Monsterclass workshops, meet-the-author sessions, parties and signings.

Books sessions:


  • No One Sells Happy Life Day cards
    Bouzy 10am-11am

    Edward Cox, Al Robertson, Stephanie Saulter, Chris Wooding, Genevive Cogman, James Barclay
    Economics, geography, infrastructure - it’s the background stuff that, like concrete breeze blocks, comes off as the dull, uninteresting graft of world creation. But what makes it come alive and make sense for the reader? What makes people care, and what makes a fictional culture viable?

    “There's no such thing as civilization.” – Roger Zelazny The Great Book of Amber

  • How to Nail Self-Publishing
    Mouton Cadet 10am-11am

    Ben Galley, Chele Cooke, Michael R. Miller, Thea James
    We live in an exciting time – one where independent publishing is not only possible, but completely viable. However, with so many authors doing it and so many ways to get your book to market, how do you give your books the best chance of success? In this panel, we’ll discuss methods of producing and publishing your book, and chat to indie fantasy and sci-fi authors about how to get it right.

  • Meaningful exchanges of blows: Getting fighting wrong; how to lose pace and focus in every action scene!
    Cremant 11:45am-12:45pm

    Oliver Langmead, Sebastien de Castell, James Barclay, Danie Ware, Lucy Hounsom, Liz de Jager
    A lot of things go into a good action sequence - sharp things, explodey things, possibly an angry person waving a mildly threatening stick - but what does it actually take to make a fight scene work? How does writing a battle differ from running one, if at all? Here are some authors to spill their guts! Hopefully not literally. PLEASE not literally.

    “Have fun storming the castle!” – William Golden Princess Bride

  • Transformations in YA
    Epernay 11:45am-12:45pm

    Chris Wooding, Maria Lewis, Sue Tingey, CJ Daugherty, James Smythe
    Ahh, the dynamism of youth. When everything’s changing and you’re suddenly a witch. Wait, hang on, no, wait, now you’re the saviour of earth! Oh hang on - now you’re a rebel in a dystopian wasteland! But wait - now you’re… you’re still you though, right? The changes characters go through inside and out in YA novels is messy and complex and glorious, and not just about going up one age bracket.

  • Science fiction and science fact
    James Smythe, Ian Hocking, Jamie Sawyer, Anne Charnock, Stephanie Saulter, Adrian Tchaikovsky
    Normally bending the rules is a bit of a dangerous act, but in fiction the laws of science are bent to breaking point all the time - so what’s going on behind all that? What famous popular concepts work, and which are entirely unreasonable? What are we close to making happen, and - really! - does scientific accuracy even matter for the sake of a good time? I mean, how far can you get on science alone*, I mean, haha, honestly.
    * Probably, like, quite far. The distant edge of the solar system, maybe? Maybe.

    “If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.” - Albert Einstein

  • Societal structure in fiction
    Bouzy 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Rob Boffard, Alex Lamb, Tom Toner, Bex Levene, Lucy Hounsom
    From high school hierarchies to dining with royalty, there’s all sorts of societal structures reflected in fiction, but how true are they, and how widespread? From the One True King to the hidden illegitimate royal child to the shining towers of BUSINESS MEN™, how accurate is the class structure in fiction, and does it reflect reality as it is? What could be done to improve this - if it even needs improving?

    “He who controls the spice controls the universe” - Frank Herbert, Dune

  • Writing critique session with Spectrum writing group
    Pouilly 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Rachel Bowden
    Are you an aspiring or published author looking for unbiased, insightful and constructive feedback on your writing? Spectrum: The London Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Group is running a critique session for the first time at Nine Worlds this year and we're looking for writers to take part. All you need is a working version of a short story or a chapter from a novel in a speculative fiction genre (sorry, no poetry or screenplays). Members of the group, who are a mix of aspiring and published authors, will review your work and provide feedback and discussion during the workshop. To find out more and enquire about signing up, contact

  • Without Fear
    Reims 5pm-6pm

    Tom Fletcher, Edward Cox, Sebastien de Castell, Tom Toner, Sue Tingey
    From the Young Adult section of the bookshop you can see everything. Historical fiction jostles with epic fantasy next to futuristic visions of planets and space - and classics nestle among them, perennial and consistently, magically relevant. Why and how has this happened? How has a genreless subgenre become so powerful, so borderless, so unlimited by definition and readership? What can YA teach the rest of the bookshop, and what could it learn?

  • The Good Stuff
    Alsace 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Anne-Louise Fortune, Kieron Gillen, Bex Levene, Ellie Warren
    Comics are a never ending fire hose of content, a weekly stream of new content that’s good, bad, sometimes awful and sometimes amazing. The problem is, as one of the last philosophers of the 20th Century once said, if you don’t slow down, you might miss something. So, join the panel as they recommend some of the best books on the market you might not know about.

  • Building Better Dreams & Nightmares
    Bourg 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Mark de Jager, Alex Lamb, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Maria Lewis, Angela Slatter,Jamie Sawyer
    New planets, new realities, new people, new monsters - beyond tentacles, orcs and elves. Where can we look for inspiration for new beings in sci fi and fantasy without retreading old ground? Where do the classics come from, and what makes a creation a classic? Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!


  • The end of the world and why we love it
    Reims 10am-11am

    Rob Boffard, Aliya Whiteley, Lavie Tidhar, Nate Crowley, Peter Newman, Leila Abu el Hawa
    We may live in a time of uncertainty and flux, but humanity has always been obsessed with its own end. Why? Why do we love staring into the abyss so much? Why do we have such an endless fascination with zombies, superflu, alien invasions and all the other myriad ways that we can be done in by? What’s the BEST apocalypse, and the most terrifying? Are they the same? They could probably be the same.

    “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” - T.S Eliot

  • How to idea
    Cremant 11:45am-12:45pm

    Lavie Tidhar, Emma Newman, Tom Lloyd, Al Robertson, Catriona Ward, Sam Wilson
    It’s a weird and wonderful world, and necessity is the mother of invention - but how do you hone ideas, sort the good from the bad, tune them up and make them run? A nice ramble through the inspiration that struck these authors, and how they balanced creativity with logic.

    “Ideas come from everything” – Alfred Hitchcock

  • Fantasy vs Science Fiction
    Bouzy 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Leila Abu el Hawa, Chris Wooding, Bex Levene, Ian Hocking, Anne Charnock
    Roll up roll up for your annual Fantasy vs Science Fiction debate. This needs no introduction, come see Fantasy authors argue FOR Sci-Fi, and Sci-Fi authors argue FOR Fantasy!

  • Exploring Chinese Science Fiction
    Chalon 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Yen Ooi, Michael Rowley, Xueting Christine Ni
    Chinese science fiction has recently been propelled into a celebrity status due to its popularity at the Hugo Awards. Why have we not come across Chinese science fiction before this, and is it any different from science fiction from the rest of the world? This session will seek to explore the developments of Chinese science fiction, while considering its influences on and from the genre internationally.

  • Editing, Workshop
    Pouilly 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Nick Hembery
    Need some help with your current story? Then this is for you. You can spend ten minutes with a real-life editor and get plot advice on your current writing project. Each ten minute slot will involve a story run down by the writer (so bring you notes!), some questions by the editor to clarify points, then advice from the editor on how the story can be improved.

  • Where does mythology end and urban fantasy begin?
    Epernay 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Maria Lewis, Liz de Jager, Lisa Tuttle, Tom Pollock, Emma Newman, Daniel Godfrey
    Everything from the content to the characters often feel like they’re drawn from the same source: is this just a repackaging of concepts old as time, or something more? Werewolves, fairies, handsome princes and strong female characters saving their friends and families or just straight up doing their thing - and yet not a forest in sight. Is it updating the setting for the modern age, or is there something more behind this?

    “Mind the gap!” - Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

  • Genre Fun-Time Room 101
    Epernay 5pm-6pm

    Anne Perry, Matt Blakstad, Jason Arnopp, Edward Cox, Bex Levene, Stark Holborn
    Come one! Come all! See our passionate panelists voraciously compete to declare their choice of the Most Hated Cliche Of All Time - the biggest laugh sees the panelists pet peeve or authorial nightmare consigned to the dark, dank, despicable, dire depths of Room 101! (All cliches will be fished out and washed off and given a good hug after, we don’t hold with cruelty to innocent plot devices).

  • Making and breaking a hero
    Mouton Cadet 5pm-6pm

    Chris Wooding, Lisa Tuttle, Peter Newman, Anne Lyle, Jen Williams
    Genre unites around a simple, classic concept - the journey of the hero/ine. But what does it take to be a solidly good hero, or a dark and dangerous anti-hero, and how has it changed in fiction over time? What does it take to keep readers (and authors!) loyal? And is it possible that our hero/ine can actually be (PLOT TWIST) totally the villain?

  • How to review a book without making enemies
    Bourg 6:45pm-7:45pm

    Thea James, Jared Shurin, Gav Pugh, Glen Mehn, Leila Abu el Hawa
    Throw a rock online and you’ll find someone arguing for negative reviews. Throw another rock and you’ll interrupt another chorus of ‘Everything is Awesome!’. Who’s right? Is anyone? How, in a social media world where everyone is only ever a click away, can we have honest discussions about books? Is this the death of critical thinking or the start of a wider, more diverse and infinitely healthier approach?

  • Re-envisioning history as genre
    Mouton Cadet 6:45pm-7:45pm

    Tom Lloyd, Aliya Whiteley, Genevieve Cogman, Angus Watson, Daniel Godfrey
    HISTORY. We can’t escape it and we can’t go back and fiddle with it, or not yet anyway - so how do we use it to reshape our understanding of the world, other worlds, and completely strange and different places? How has it affected plots, characters, visions of the future? Or are we in fact changing it?

    “History unravels gently, like an old sweater” – Terry Pratchett

  • Moral issues in speculative fiction
    Bordeaux 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Lisa Tuttle, Al Robertson, Matt Blakstad, Stark Holborn, Jen Williams, Mark de Jager
    When you’re dealing with a sentient and newly murderous AI, or the revelation that the people behind the Wall are… well… people too, what happens to your morality? Moral quandaries can arise from the most unexpected places and some of the very best speculative fiction is driven by them. So, how do you do right, or wrong, when the world around you has shifted the goalposts? Hero or villain? Renegade or Paragon? And is the line between them a brick wall or a chalk mark?

  • Inspiring Futures: The Ada Lovelace Day Conversation
    Bourg 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Anne Charnock, Anne Perry, Aliya Whiteley, Stephanie Saulter, Stephanie Troeth, Yen Ooi
    Can SF inspire a life in science and technology? Do women write a different kind of SF? Should we celebrate that 4 of the last 5 winners of the Arthur C. Clarke Award were books by women SF writers?

  • New Voices
    Bordeaux 10:15pm-11:15pm

    Mark de Jager, Rose Biggin, Jason Arnopp, Maria Lewis
    Join us for a set of fun and fast-paced readings from the very best new writers.


  • Tricking the reader
    Bordeaux 11:45am-12:45pm

    Genevieve Cogman, Jason Arnopp, Mark de JAger, James Smythe, Emma Trevayne, Catriona Ward
    Autolycus. The Magicians of The Prestige. Wade Wilson. Unreliable narrators are everywhere in genre fiction and the one question we always ask is why? What’s the appeal of listening to stories narrated by liars? What’s the difference between authorial mischief and shaggy dog stories? Why do we love the twist in the tale?

    “It’s still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.” - Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

  • Psychohistory for real: Complex Systems as Science Fiction
    Cremant 11:45am-12:45pm

    Alex LambWhat happens if you take one-part science fiction novel-planning, one part table-top gaming, one-part computer game design, and add a dollop of science? The answer is complex systems simulation research! In this session, speaker Alex Lamb will show you just how close the frontier of human knowledge really lies, and how you can get involved in extending it. This talk will range from the surreal mysteries of Planck-length spacetime to the future of human civilization. You'll never think about Asimov's psychohistory the same way again.

  • What’s the teenage version of “get off my lawn”?
    Bourg 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Leila Abu el Hawa, Den Patrick, Liz de Jager, Genevieve Cogman, Sebastien de Castell
    Teenagers, adults, and the appeal of YA to a grown up audience. To what extent are teenagers in control of their genre and its content, and how much control do teenagers have over their reading in general?

    Chalon 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Andrew Griffin, Jason Arnopp, Catriona Ward, Angela Slatter, Tom Fletcher
    The internet is festering with tales of the grim and gory as it is but these days it’s feasting on creepypasta like it’s apocalypse o’clock. With these little home-grown fiction mushrooms festering in the darker corners of the internet, creating monsters like Slenderman that have broken out into the wider, brighter world, how has that affected the horror genre? Is this the future, or a new facet of one of the oldest kinds of story?

    “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.” - Stephen King, The Shining

  • Writing Utopia
    Bouzy 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Glen Mehn, Oliver Langmead, Anne Lyle, Rob Boffard, Gavin Smith, Aliya Whiteley
    Authors are always creating new societies, but is it possible to have a utopian society free from politics? Is achieving Utopia easier to write into a second world Fantasy compared to a science fiction setting?

  • Writing humour
    Bouzy 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Liz de Jager, Den Patrick, Tom Pollock, Maria Lewis, Emma Trevayne
    Humour - it’s as much a reflection of the audience as the teller, a fickle, tricky, brilliant thing that looks so easy when done well. How difficult is it actually? How does it work? How does it affect readers, plots, characters - and authors? Does a funny author sell a book more than a serious one, even if their books are darker in tone? Why do jokes work at all? And can someone explain the obsession with puns?

  • Surviving in Writing
    Epernay 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Ciaran, George Sandison, Gillian Redfearn, Ed Fortune, Gavin Smith, Marguerite Kenner
    Trying to break into publishing as a writer is a daunting prospect, and full of potential pitfalls, with plenty of companies willing to take advantage of those who don't know how to navigate the industry. What are pro-rates? What are rights and which should you sign over? Do you always need an agent? In this panel, we talk to industry experts to find out what a writer should be looking for when it comes to being published, and what should send them running for the hills.

  • From dragons to diversity
    Muscadet 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Sarah Shaffi, Bex Levene, Yen Ooi, Kieron Gillen
    This panel explores how SFF writing breaks down and transcends borders, and fosters understanding across social/cultural/ethnic boundaries - more needed than ever in a post-EU referendum world.

Comics sessions


  • Doctor Who’s Return to Comics
    Reims 1:30pm-2:30pm

    Paul Cornell, Nicole Olmsted, Rachael Stott, Cavan Stott
    The Doctor has returned to comics in a big way in 2016. A panel of writers and fans will discuss what works so well about the character in comics, the Doctor’s previous history in the field and the best places to start reading.
  • Fear In A Handful of Pages
    Epernay 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Laurie Penny, Paul Cornell
    Horror comics have been a mainstay of the industry since the start. Here, we invite four luminaries to talk about horror, Fortean phenomena, the supernatural and why that makes for great comics.


  • Webvengers Assemble (workshop)
    Beaujolais 8:30pm-9:30pm

    Howard Hardiman, Erin Hardee, Morag Hannah, Big Punch Studio
    Some of the best webcomic folk on the planet combine to talk about their process, why they webcomic and give you some tips on how to get started.


  • LGBT Characters in Comics
    Bourg 10am-11am

    We welcome speakers from various places on the LGBT spectrum to discuss what characters they've always gravitated towards and why.

  • There IS Hope
    Bouzy 10am-11am

    Anne-Louise Fortune, Laurie Penny, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Big Punch Studio, Sam Wilson
    It's easy, especially this year, to be swallowed by the doom and gloom. Even easier in the comic industry, a place where the sky has been falling for at least a decade but, somehow hasn't quite landed yet.
    So, there IS hope? Right?
    Come join our panel as they discuss what brings them joy in comics and how the industry has changed for the better.
  • Year: 

    Guests and speakers

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