I’ve always enjoyed the infrastructure builds presented at the Second Life Birthday regions; they are always a hallmark of creativity and imagination. Over the last few years, two SLb infrastructure designers in particular have tended to catch my eye: Walton F. Wainwright (Faust Steamer) – who can forget his stunning Stage Left builds of yesteryear – such as his Hindu incarnation of Cerberus from SL13B or the amazing Automaton of SL13B, together with his marvellous Ghost Train welcome area of SL12B in 2015?), and Anthony (ADudeNamed Anthony), who in recent years has produced some stunning designs for the SLB auditoriums.
It is to the builds by these two designer that I found myself particularly drawn during SL15B, as they both offered something just that little bit different within the overall crystal theme for the celebrations.
For the SL15B Auditorium, Anthony took his lead from science fiction, with the auditorium “building” taking the form of the massive starship USS Crystal, Naval Construction Contract number SL15B. However, this isn’t simply a riff on all things Trek – it’s actually a clever homage to film and TV science fiction in general. The very shape of the vehicle, for example, carries echoes of the Jupiter 2 from the various incarnations of Lost In Space, while it might be said the communications array on the upper hull, together with the black exhaust ports around the stern of the ship carry just a hint of Millennium Falcon about them.
Some of the open hanger bay doors, rimmed in blue similarly suggest Star Wars – remember the bay the Falcon herself was hauled into on approaching the Death Star in A New Hope? And should you peer inside the hanger bays, there seems to be a nod towards Thunderbirds – etched into the rear bulkheads are numbers reminiscent of those found on the front of Thunderbird 2’s mission pods, the bulkhead pylons separating them suggesting the extended legs of somthing waiting to descend over them, a-la Thunderbird 2.
The focus of this build is obviously the auditorium, where a range of events took place during the week-long celebrations, including the five Meet the Lindens session (of which more in these pages anon). However, the auditorium and the hanger bays are not the only elements of the ship. There are also the backstage areas, lobbies for the two “spaceport” forum meeting places, and the innards of the ship’s life support system (including the ever-critical in so many space dramas, CO2 scrubbers).
However, it is the elevator you should direct yourself towards. This will offer you a ride to the bridge deck, where Anthony presents a slew of inside sci-fi jokes. The bridge itself is clearly modelled on that of most Starfleet vessels seen in various Trek incarnations – but be sure to look closely at the display screens and some of the system panels; the nods and winks across them are legion. There’s the familiar (to Trekkies at least) LCARS displays; references to Firefly, Star Wars: A New Hope, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: Generations (“Tractor Beam: Install Tuesday”); 2001 A Space Odyssey; Star Trek: The Search for Spock; The Matrix franchise … and also references to Second Life itself, and so on.
Flanking the bridge is the Captain’s Ready Room (conventional enough) and the ship’s computer room – another wonderful nod towards 2001 A Space Odyssey.
By contrast, The Serpent, this year’s Stage Left design by Walton F. Wainwright takes a walk through dark fantasy territory, contrasting nicely with the bling and gaiety of the rest of the celebratory regions.
This is quite simply a work of art. From a base of crystals set in mysterious waters, a tall, dark tower rises into a darkening sky. Lights glow from behind its many windows, while atop its crown of carved serpents a great crystal floats, casting its own dull glow.
It is scene reminiscent of lord of the Rings – the tower could so easily be an echo of Minas Ithil before its fall into darkness to become the awful Minas Morgul. Reached via a long causeway bridge, sight of the tower is initially obscured by the open coil of a great serpent snake, the head of which, also crowned by crystals and dominated by huge, hypnotic eyes, rises from alongside the tower and moves ponderously back and forth, tongue flickering, as it surveys this fantastical domain.
From around the waters and barren hills flanking the tower’s island, great cluster of crystals rise, as if piercing the land and water from beneath. Similar clusters of crystals, surrounding the heads of yet more serpents burst forth from the tower’s buttress-like corners, while within its great form a single massive hall, illuminated a soft green, awaits beneath a huge crystal chandelier.
The wealth of detail here needs to be seen to be appreciated, from the tiled motif on the dance floor through the wonderful texturing on the walls inside and out to the very dark majesty of the tower’s tall finger and the awe-striking presence of the great serpent. This is a truly magnificent build which should not be missed.
Be sure to visit both, if you haven’t already done so, before the SL15B regions vanish after July 1st, 2018.
Both locations are rated General.