World Goth Fair in Second Life

Currently underway over the region of cursed in the 2015 Second Life World Goth Fair (WGF). The event started on May 15th, and will run through until midnight, SLT on Monday, June 1st.

Some 40 merchants from across Second Life are participating in the fair, which, in difference to previous years, is restricted to the one region this year – Cursed -, but which is still officially sanctioned by the organisers of  World Goth Day, which this year was marked on Friday May 22nd.

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

A further change to this year’s event is that it is not charity-oriented, and it currently appears as if future WGF events will go the same way. The reasons why the fair is both reduced to a single region and is no longer associated with a charity are explained in a blog post by co-organiser Bronxelf. However, and in short, the reasons can be summarised as a) the loss of one of the supporting regions for the event, and that trying to organise the fair in a very active second region has always been problematic; b) problems in dealing with the UK-based Sophie Lancaster Foundation have regretfully forced the WGF organisers to withdraw their support for the charity with this event. At this point in time, they are uncertain if ties with an alternative charity would not result in similar issues.

As is usual for WGF and events at Cursed in general, the fair is an extremely atmospheric event, with the fair this year taking place n an extended churchyard, with the crypts standing as stores, and the Church the main events centre, with mist floating over the ground, statues wreathed in shadows, bats winging overhead, and a pale moon hanging in the sky. There are even local zombies citizens. ready to gnaw on your leg or arm provide assistance, should you need it! 😉 .

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

The range of items on offer in the (literally) cryptic shops is obviously focused on the Goth lifestyle, with clothing, jewellery, accessories and furnishing all on offer as one follows the cobbled paths, with many of the crypts decorated by store owners to further enhance the atmosphere and theme of the event. A full list of participating stores and region map can be found on the WGF blog, which also provides updates on events and activities.

So, if you fancy getting your Goth on – hop on over to WGF at Cursed!

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

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The independent author whose muse is Second Life

Maxwell Grantly is a non de plume for an anonymous school teacher, living in a small seaside town on the east coast of Great Britain. Although he has written many free short stories, he does not consider himself an author. He simply writes just because he enjoys doing so (and for no other reason.)

So reads the Profile summary of, well, Maxwell Grantly, a Second Life resident living in England, and who has a remarkable talent for creating illustrated short stories and graphic novels using Second Life as the environment to create his main character and the medium by which he creates the illustrations for his stories.

Timothy tortoise finds himself in an alternate universe when he unwittingly embarks on a Big Adventure
Timothy tortoise finds himself in an alternate universe when he unwittingly embarks on a Big Adventure

I confess that Maxwell’s work had actually slipped right past me, and quite possibly might have remained out-of-sight to me had it not been for Charlie Namiboo circulating information on his latest book, Timothy’s Big Adventure which is currently available free-of-charge for 5 days on Amazon for download on the Kindle reader or similar devices, and computers with the Kindle Reader app installed.

The book follows the adventures of Timothy tortoise, who lives with a little boy called George, who lives with his parents in a small house “many miles from anywhere” (photographed in Frisland) and is too young to go to school. Timothy is somewhat envious of George’s fast-paced and, to Timothy’s way of thinking, exciting life. However, all that changes when Timothy falls through a hole and finds himself in an intergalactic adventure in another universe.

Timothy’s Big Adventure is the kind of short story which harkens back to childhood memories of bedtime stories; indeed, the book itself makes excellent material for such a setting if you have small children of your own. The plot is uncomplicated, easy-to-follow and the illustrations, created using characters and settings from inside Second Life, are delightful.

As well as Timothy’s Big Adventure,  Maxwell has written longer, more complex pieces, such as his Fingers stories, set in New Babbage, which follow the adventures of a young pick-pocket, Edward “Fingers” Croydon, abandoned to the streets of that town whilst very young.

Maxwell admits that he doesn’t actually write first and foremost with children in mind; his stories take a form that he is prone to enjoy, and he views some of the concepts then can enfold as being perhaps more suitable to older children and perhaps adults, rather than being purely for bedside story enjoyment – although he does acknowledge that this is those with younger children might well enjoy reading them to their kids.

As well as telling stories of adventures and intrigue, Maxwell’s books also touch  – albeit perhaps in a very subtle manner – on what might be terms social issues from the periods in which they are set. The Fingers stories, for example, deal with matters of Victorian street urchins and how social care was more a matter for philanthropists (real or apparent) rather than the state.

Likewise, Jack and the Space Pirates touches on child labour: the story’s hero is Jack, is employed to “creep into the tiny gaps gape between the timbers” of space ships to apply the tar need to keep “space out” – a job which sounds akin to the Victorian use of children as chimney sweeps because of the ability to worm their way up flues, or in earlier times, to clean out the spaces behind tightly-packed spinning jennies at the start of the industrial era. Sprocket and the Sparrow carries a more obvious message on the importance of conservation, but it is one that is again imaginatively told.

Some of Maxwell's titles available through Amazon as e-books
Some of Maxwell’s titles available through Amazon as e-books

Again, this is not a deliberate approach on Maxwell’s part; but it does form a natural element in his creative process, as he explained in a recent interview with Writing.com.

“When I write, I just want to tell a good story,” he said. “I feel that it is a basic feature of every human being to be creative. Some people find their creativity in their hobbies, art, dance, music; other people find a release for their creative spirit by consuming the creativity of others. I find that the production of stories is a great release that allows me to be creative, simply for the joy of doing so. Sometimes a fable or lesson might arise naturally from the plot but, when it does, it is often unintentional. I would like to think that, when a reader browses through my work, they are able to enter a magical world of suspended belief and join me in my bizarre world of fantasy, if only for a brief moment.”

Lief's Quest
Leif’s Quest

Another aspect to the appeal with these books  is the care with which the illustrations have been composed; facial expressions have been deliberately selected, for example, to help give even passing characters their own personality – and I admit to smiling at both the astronaut’s expression and choice of words “Yikes!” on being confronted by the lizard aliens!

There’s also a richness to Maxwell’s use of genres; while the Fingers series and Jack are most assuredly Steampunk in setting, his stories involving the elven children Maxwell and Skippy are equally assuredly rooted in fantasy, as is Leif’s Quest, which also has more of a graphic novel look to it.

While the scenes depicted in the stories are located in Second Life, encompassing places as diverse as Frisland, Calas Galadhon, Escapades (and one of Loki Eliot’s magnificent steam-powered airships is Jack’s rewards in Jack And the Space Pirates), New Babbage and other locations, it would be a mistake to say the stories are about Second Life – and it shouldn’t be for a moment considered that they are. Again, that’s not Maxwell’s intent.

Instead, what we do have is another example of how rich and diverse a place Second Life can be when it comes to inspiring our imaginations and for acting as a springboard for our creativity. These are imaginative stories, and I found myself getting drawn into them as I read them in turn.

If you have young(ish) children of your own and are looking for a range of bedtime stories with which to entertain them, or if you want to read adventures of a different kind, I have no hesitation in recommending Maxwell Grantly’s books. They are available on Amazon worldwide – just search for “Maxwell Grantly”, and are offered as e-books on either the Kindle PC app or via the Kindle Cloud.

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