Fantasy Faire 2016: blogger applications are open!

Via Fantasy Faire
Via Fantasy Faire

Fantasy Faire, the largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life, opens its portals on Thursday, April 21st and runs through until Sunday May 1st inclusive. It will bring together everyone with a love of fantasy  – enthusiasts, creators, performers and designers  – for eleven days of commerce, special events, live music concerts and more, all to help raise funds for Relay for Life of Second Life.

On Sunday, March 20th, the Faire organisers announced that applications for blogging about the Faire are now being taken, with the announcement reading in part:

Every year we welcome almost a hundred bloggers into the early access to the Fairelands, to photograph and capture their beauty when they are still pristine and free from the Lag Monster. This year is no exception.

Fantasy Faire 2015: Vallacia; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Fantasy Faire 2015: Vallacia April 2015 (Flickr)

As with recent years, bloggers are additionally invited to participate in one or more challenges. These are not obligatory, and anyone  – official blogger or otherwise – is free to participate in them. They are:

  • Faire Folk – “create a character from the Fairelands. Pick one of the Faire sims as their home, make a look mostly from Faire items, make the character come alive. Take at least one picture of that character in the chosen home sim and blog away! The more roleplay-style bloggers are invited to write about the character as well, but even those to whom pictures speak more than words can let those pictures speak loud and clear! Sim exploration stories encouraged!”
  • My New Shiny – “find a shop in the Fairelands you have never heard of before and blog something of theirs that you love. This is all about finding and showcasing the hidden talents, the newcomers, the surprises you can find when you explore the Fairelands thoroughly instead of just going through your already familiar favourites. If you know every single shop in the Faire, pick one that you think should be in the spotlight more.”
  • Why I Relay – “this challenge is for those who do have a personal reason to support Relay for Life events and who would like to share it. Obviously if you don’t have any personal tie to the charity or if you’d like to keep your reasons private, there is no need to do this. But those who would like to speak out for the charity, for RFL and for their reasons, they are invited to do so.”
  • I Remember – “tell us your favourite Fairelands of the past, dig up the old pictures, reminisce, travel down the memory lane. Write about your transformations, talk about your favourite moments, re-live it all again. Re-live and prepare to meet your new favourite moments soon!”
The Spires of Andolys, designed by Jaimy Hancroft, hosts The Origins of Sanctuary: Lut's Story
Fantasy Faire 2015: The Spires of Andolys, April 2015 (Flickr)

Those applying to be an official blogger at this year’s faire can also apply to write for the official Fantasy Faire website. This has no influence on the actual blogger application and should be filled only if you are truly interested. There’s very limited spots for this.

For full information on applying to be an official 2016 Fantasy Faire blogger, please refer to the Blogger Info 2016 page on the official website, and then complete the application form.

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Space Sunday: From Pluto’s ocean to Mercury’s darkness

Water ice had been identified by the RALPH instrument suite on New Horizons, now it seems Pluto may have a liquid ocean beneath its surface
Water ice had been identified by the Ralph instrument suite on New Horizons (shown on blue), now it seems Pluto may have a liquid ocean beneath its surface (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

It may be so far away that the Sun appears to be a particularly bright star it is sky, but it now seems that Pluto has a liquid ocean just beneath its icy surface, just as might have once been the case with its companion, Charon, billions of years ago.

Since passing through the Pluto-Charon system in July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons space craft has been returning the data it gathered at a steady rate, focusing initially on the high-resolution images collected during the probes high-speed run by the two tiny worlds (both smaller than the Moon). These images have revealed Pluto and Charon to be remarkably complex little worlds, with glacial flows, rotated ice blocks, volcano-like mounds and other features rivalling the geology found on much larger, warmer planets like Mars.

“What we see really has exceeded all of our collective expectations and imagination,” said William McKinnon, a planetary scientist at Washington University, Missouri, and one of those working on the project. “We think on the insides of these bodies were very cold ammonia rich oceans,” said McKinnon, noting that ammonia is a “fantastic antifreeze” that can lower the freezing point of water by 100 C.

A close-up of the canyons on Charon, Pluto's big moon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July. Multiple views taken by New Horizons as it passed by Charon allow stereo measurements of topography, shown in the color-coded version of the image. The scale bar indicates relative elevation. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
A close-up of the canyons on Charon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July, reveal how the surface was “cracked open” as the subsurface ocean froze-out and expanded (credit: NASA/JPL / John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  / SwRI)

Data from New Horizons indicate that Charon’s ocean probably froze solid around 2 billion years ago, expanding as it did so, cracking open the outer shell of the world. This freezing-out was likely due to Charon being too small to remain geologically active, its internal processes quickly slowing down as it cooled. Pluto, however, being larger, shows every sign of still being active and with a warm interior, so its subsurface ocean probably still exists, marking it as another in a handful of the solar system’s smaller bodies which are home to sub-surface oceans.

“We now have half a dozen worlds, like Enceladus (a moon orbiting Saturn), Europa and Ganymede (moons of Jupiter), and now Pluto, that seem to have oceans in their interiors,” New Horizons’ lead scientist Alan Stern said when discussing the potential and significance of Pluto’s ocean.

Fumeroles (hydrothermal vents) support exotic life on Earth's seabed
Fumeroles (hydrothermal vents) support exotic life on Earth’s seabed

We know that life is remarkably tenacious and is extraordinary for surviving in unlikely places. All that is required is heat, a source of energy and water. On Earth, for example, volcanic fumeroles on the deep ocean floor can become havens for exotic life in places where sunlight never reaches.

This has led to speculation that places like Europa, which generates a lot of internal heat due to gravitational flexing thanks to the presence of Jupiter and the other large Galilean satellites, may well have similar, mineral-rich fumeroles on its ocean floor which may be havens for life exotic, basic forms of life. Could Pluto have the same?

“All we can say is that we think that Pluto has an ocean and we think that this ocean has survived to the present day. It’s the kind of ocean that is deep inside the interior of Pluto, in total darkness,” McKinnon stated.

“But, it would lie between a floating water ice shell and the rocky interior, so it would be in contact with rock. There would be a modest amount of heat leaking out. You certainly couldn’t rule it out, but anything about life on Pluto is simply speculation.”

Whether or not any basic life has managed to develop deep under Pluto’s icy crust is something we may never discover. However, that a liquid ocean does appear to exist beneath the planet’s icy shell is nevertheless intriguing. That water is present on Pluto has already been confirmed by the Ralph instrument suite aboard New Horizons. However, further evidence of its existence was revealed in February with the publication of images of “floating” hills of water ice on the nitrogen ice “sea” of Sputnik Planum”.

These hills are thought to be fragments which have broken away from the uplands surrounding “Sputnik Planum”. They exist in chains multiple kilometres in length or are grouped together, standing in stark contrast to the relatively flat expanse of the icy plain on which they sit.

Because water ice is less dense than nitrogen-dominated ice, scientists believe these water ice hills are like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean. In particular, the “chains” of hills have formed along the flow paths of the glaciers, while in the more “cellular” terrain of central “Sputnik Planum”, they become subject to the convective motions of the nitrogen ice, and are pushed to the edges of the cells, where the hills form clusters or groups. One of the largest of these, located towards the north of “Sputnik Planum” and measuring some 60km x 35km (37 mi x 22 mi) has been dubbed “Challenger Colles” in memory of the crew of the lost space shuttle Challenger.

The floating water ice hills of Pluto, slowly drifting over the nitrogen ice of "Sputnik Planum"
The floating water ice hills of Pluto, slowly drifting over the nitrogen ice of “Sputnik Planum” (Credit: NASA/JPL / John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  / SwRI)

Continue reading “Space Sunday: From Pluto’s ocean to Mercury’s darkness”

A Seanchai celebration in Second Life

Walk through the Story Forest to visit the themed area of the region
Crazy Eights: tour the region during Seanchai Library’s 8th anniversary celebrations, and follow the trails through the Story Forest to visit the themed areas, stopping at the Story Stations as you go

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, March 20th

13:00 Crazy Eights: Seanchai Library 8th Anniversary

Crazy Eights hosts Seanchai Library’s eighth anniversary celebrations with an afternoon featuring:

  • Bear Silvershade’s Lonely Man project, and a Gallery of Images from Seanchai Library’s past
  • Stories and Poetry Presented by Shandon Loring, Bear Silvershade & Derry McMahon,  Crap Mariner, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower
  • Special guest Valibrarian Gregg.

18:00 Magicland Park: The time is Not Yet

With Caledonia Skytower.

Monday March 21st 19:00: Prometheus

carmodyGyro Muggins concludes a 3-part reading of tales concerning one of Philip José Farmer’s many memorable characters: Father John Carmody, and ex-con who painfully grew a conscience, but is still not entirely beyond benefiting himself.

In A Few Miles, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Carmody is ordered to the planet Wildenwoolly (think about it 🙂 ), but is given no funds for his journey and must therefore find his own way there. This proves taxing, with even reaching the space station where he might gain passage to his intended destination proving problematic. So problematic, in fact that he ends up “expregnated” by a large earthbound bird called a horowitz.

Now, in Prometheus, the egg attached to his chest until such time as it hatches, Carmody finds himself on Feral, the planet of the horowitzes, and cast in the role of educator for these strange birds, and as a sort of latter-day Prometheus, bringing them moral enlightenment.

Tuesday March 22nd, 19:00: Echo

EchoCaledonia Skytower reads Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Newbery Honour novel.

Three entwined stories focusing on a magical harmonica, start with the tale of 12-year-old German boy Friedrich, growing up in the time of the rise of National Socialism in Germany. Already an outcast because of the birthmark that disfigures his face, Friedrich discovers the harmonica, and with it, hope for the future.

Two years later, 11–year-old Mike Flannery finds himself in possession of the harmonica, and with it, the opportunity to prevent his younger bother being sent away to a state home by the woman who adopted the boys to suit her own purposes.

In the final story, Ivy Lopez, whose parents are migrant farm labourers. It’s a year after Pearl Harbour, and her family  find themselves running a farm after the Japanese-American owners are placed in an internment camp. Forced to attend “Americanisation” schooling, Ivy encounters institutional racism, and also strength and refuge when the harmonica enters her life. But soon enough, her family’s ties to the Yamamotos put them in crisis, and Ivy finds herself keeping what she fears is a terrible secret.

Wednesday March 23rd 19:00 Crazy Eights: The Hunter’s Moon

HuntersAoife Lorefield concludes reading the second in the Crazy Eights series of monthly Featured books

When she arrives in Ireland to visit her cousin Findabhair (Finn), American Gwen expects a fun backpacking trip to sites of the fairy lore they’re both fascinated with. What neither cousin knows is that it’s the summer of the Hunter’s Moon, a dangerous time for mortals to meddle in the kingdom of Faerie.

Whilst camping out, Finn is kidnapped by the handsome Faerie king, and Gwen must rescue her. In attempting to do so, she travels between modern-day and mystical Ireland. And when she does finally reach Finn, she finds her biggest challenge might be actually persuading her cousin she is in need of rescue!

Thursday, March 24th

19:00 Legendary Fictions of Irish Celts

With Shandon Loring.

21:00 Seanchai Late Night: The Lonely

Rod SterlingThe Lonely is the 7th episode seven of first series of The Twilight Zone, which first aired on November 13th, 1959.

James Corry is a man sentenced to solitary confinement on a distant asteroid for 50 years, his only visitors bring the crew of his resupply ship, who arrive at the asteroid four times a year – but stay only for 20 minutes. To try to make Corry’s life a little easier, the captain of the ship delivers a feminine robot to keep him company. Then the news comes that Corry has been pardoned, and he can return to Earth – but only at a price.

Join Caledonia Skytower and Shandon Loring as they enter …. the Twilight Zone.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for March / April is Project Children, building peace in Ireland one child at a time.

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