A Chess Wonderland in Second Life

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland – click any image for full size

Chess Wonderland, is a fascinating Homestead region which caught my eye a couple of weeks ago after seeing images pop-up on  Twitter and Flickr, marking it as a place to visit as time allowed.  Designed by EgyptRocker, it is a surreal place with the focus – as indicated in the name – on chess, which is seen not so much as a game of strategy but as an eternal melee of close-quarter fighting.

Visitors are presented with an undulating landscape covered in the black and white tiles of a chess board, which rises into chequered monochrome walls surrounding the region. These walls in turn rise into a roof high overhead, giving the region a gigantic, room-like feel, heightened by the great ceiling light suspended from high overhead which casts a glowing aurora over the top of a great tree occupying the centre of the region.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

This aurora is mirrored by softly rippling sheets around the edge of the landscape as misted pools slowly turn between the hills, and sheets of ocean mist drift beneath the boughs of gigantic trees. Unmissable due to their size, the trees are matched in height by massive chess pieces – knights, rooks, bishops and queens – apparently standing guard over the region while candles cast additional ghostly light.

The battle between black and white is located across the region from the landing point, where Mistero’s Hifeng’s chess pieces have been placed on the tiles of the land. Far from presenting a genteel game of carved pieces on a flat board, they are engaged in a vicious a battle involving blade and arrow.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

Close by sits a huge table, braced by two equally huge armchairs. The table holds a traditional chess board and pieces, and the armchairs smaller copies of themselves suitable for avatars to sit in. The chess board is playable, offering those who sit in the smaller armchairs the opportunity to engage in a more traditional match or two.

Further around the region, guarded by a pair of giant chess kings, sits a castle. Possibly the point of contention between the warring pieces, it also appears to be the location for events – on our visit, a fair few people were gathered with its walls.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

Mistero Hifeng isn’t the only artist represented here, both through his chess pieces and several other sculptures. Sitting close to the landing point is Cica Ghost’s chess player from Strings (which you can read about here), while the string quartet and their pianist from the same installation can be found further around the region, playing under the cover of a fold in the land.

Chess Wonderland is a surreal, beautiful region, unusual in form, softened in look through the considered windlight and use of auroral effects (probably best appreciated with Advanced Lighting Model enabled in the viewer). The presentation of the art pieces by Mistero and Cica – two of my favourite 3D artists – is both imaginative and eye-catching, making for a fascinating and rewarding visit.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

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Stories, tales, and podcasts in Second Life

It’s time to kick-off another week of storytelling in Voice 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, May 28th 13:30: The Thin Man

New York, 1932. Nick Charles, a retired west coast private detective, and his wealthy socialite wife, are in the Big Apple for Christmas. It’s a place where Nick is perfectly happy getting drunk in their hotel room or in speakeasies. Which is not to say the couple are unhappy; far from it. They enjoy witty repartee and banter with one another, and Nora is every inch Nick’s match in wit and intelligence.

Things change when Nick is visited by Dorothy Wynant, the daughter of a former client, businessman Clyde Wynant, who has apparently vanished ahead of his daughter’s wedding. Nick reluctantly – and to Nora’s amusement – agrees to find the missing businessman (the titular Thin Man). But what starts as a search for a missing man quickly turns into the hunt for a murderer after Wynant’s secretary is found dead, with all the evidence points to Wynant himself as her killer.

Corwyn Allen, John Morland, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower read Dashell Hammett’s 1933 classic, which became the first in a series of films following Nick and Nora’s adventures, as played by the inimitable William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Monday, May 29th 19:00: Architects of Hyperspace

Humour, hard science and speculative science fiction all combine in this novel by Thomas R. McDonough, who has worked with both the SETI Institute and The Planetary society.

A trio driven by personal ambitions comes together after a dying man’s last words send them in search of the secrets of a lost alien civilisation. Critic’s review:

A wonderful tongue in cheek story backed by great speculative science. The combination of the sometimes screwball comedy with the specifics of how hyperspace could work and the details of the time lags of space communication, etc, made for a believable and well-formed diegesis. There were times reading this book that I just had to stop to laugh. The book reminds me a great deal of Red Dwarf.

Join Gyro Muggins as he reads this unusual story.

Tuesday, May 30th 19:00: Old Mother West Wind

Welcome to the timeless world of the Green Forest, the laughing Brook, and the Smiling Pool. Here young readers will meet a menagerie of funny and fascinating animal friends — Peter Cottontail, Jimmy Skunk, Reddy Fox, Grandfather Frog and many more — and learn about their exciting adventures.

In this beloved classic, the first in a series of highly popular animal tales by Thornton W. Burgess, children discover the answers to such questions as why Grandfather Frog has no tail and why Jimmy Skunk wears stripes.

There’s also great fun to be had in reading or hearing about the grand goings-on at Mink’s swimming party, Little Joe Otter’s slippery slide, and Reddy Fox’s fishing expedition. These and many other adventures are told in a warm, whimsical way that combines gentle lessons about nature and wildlife with the fun of a good story.

Join Faerie Maven-Pralou to hear more from Thorton Burgess’ story.

Wednesday, May 31st 19:00: The 100 Word Stories Podcast “Dozenaversary”

Story writer, story-teller, commentator, raconteur – Crap Mariner is all of these, and more. On May 31st, 2005, after being inspired by both a friend and Woody Allen to write 100-word stories  – or “dabbles” – Crap created the 100-word Story podcast, promising to write a story a day until the day he dies.

Today, 12 years on, Crap is still writing  – and still reading his stories in what is quite probably the longest-running daily podcast of original material in the world.

Seanchai Library is therefore delighted to host the “dozenaversary” of the 100-word story podcast, with Crap reading more of his stories, which will cover a wide range of topics, just like his podcasts. There might even be a George the Pirate story in there somewhere 🙂 .

Thursday, June 1st

19:00: GOLD FEVER – Miner’s Tales of the Wild West

With Shandon Loring. Also presented in Kitely hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/108/609/1528.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi adventures with Finn Zeddmore.


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

The featured charity for May through July is Alex’s Lemonade Stand, raising awareness of childhood cancer causes and funds for research into new treatments and cures.