All aboard the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot

Murder on the Orient Express: your carriage awaits!

Commencing on Sunday, July 8th, 2018 for a six-week run, is a presentation of Agatha Christie’s famed Murder on the Orient Express, brought to us every weekend through until the 12th of August, 2018 by the members and friends of  Seanchai Library in Second Life.

The series will take place as a part of Senchai Library’s Tea-Time sessions, which known for presenting the adventures with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, together with tales of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, selections from JRR Tolkien and Rudyard Kipling, specials such as a trip on the African Queen, and more. Hosted from 13:30 SLT on Sundays, the Time-Time series is one of the most popular of Seanchai library’s weekly series of events.

Murder on the Orient Express: recapture a golden age of travel and enjoy a great mystery!

For Murder on the Orient Express Seanchai move away from the usual fireside setting that has been home to many of the Tea-Time sessions, and instead present the story in a  purpose-built setting featuring a model representative of the Orient Express, a service initiated by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits in the closing years of the 19th century, and which by the 1930s – the period  in which the novel is set – operated two services between Paris and Istanbul – the Orient Express and the Simplon Orient Express. It is the latter that is actually featured in the novel, which took the more southerly route between Paris and Istanbul, passing through the Simplon tunnel connecting Switzerland with Italy.

The novel is the 10th book published by Christie to feature the Belgian émigré turned detective, Hercule Poirot. It sees him board the Orient Express at Istanbul in great hurry so he might attend to unexpected business in London as soon as humanly possible. Prior to boarding the express he has occasion to witness several of those who will become his fellow passengers on the journey to Paris, including the elderly and unpleasant American, Samuel Ratchett.

Once aboard the train, the latter approaches Poirot, attempting to hire the detective to look into threats against his life. Poirot refuses, having already confided he finds Ratchett to be a most disagreeable fellow. But, after a strange night of events – including the train being stranded in snow as a result of an avalanche -, Poirot finds he is to be plunged into an investigation after all, because Ratchett has indeed been murdered…

Murder on the Orient Express: discover this history of this most famous railway journey

The first reading of the story will, as noted commence on Sunday, July 8th, 2018, with listeners invited to board the luxurious train at the Wagon-Lits Istanbul station – a setting that will remain in place through most of the week following the first session, before being replaced by the snow-bound setting in the mountains of Yugoslavia, where the balance of the story takes place, the train stuck in a snow bank.

The full schedule for the series, at the time of writing, is as follows (all times SLT):

Part One: The Facts Part Two: The Evidence Part Three: Poirot Thinks
Sunday, July 8th: 13:30-14:30:
Part 1, Chapters 1-5
Sunday, July 22nd: Noon – 13:30:
Part 2, Chapters 1-6
Sunday, August 5th: 13:30-14:45:
Pat 2, Chapters 13 – Part 3, Chapter 2
Sunday, July 15th: 13:30-14:30:
Chapters6-8
Sunday, July 29th: 13:30-14:30:
Part 2, Chapters 7-12
Sunday, August 12th: 13:30-15:00:
Part 3, Chapters 3-9

The series will feature a cast of notable SL voices, including Avajean Westland and David Abbot, along with Seanchai regulars Corwyn Allen (as Poirot), Kayden Oconnell, and Aoife Lorefield. Seanchai friends Boudicca Amat and Bryn Taleweaver will also be joining the cast.  Audience and voice talent will be mixed together aboard the train, adding to the experience.

Murder on the Orient Express: start your journey at the Wagon-Lits Istanbul station

Visits to the settings for Murder on the Orient Express before and after the sessions is highly recommended: as well as the train, visitors can avail themselves of the history of the of the Paris-Istanbul journey, including a video presentation, and enjoy the settings themselves.

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A Rusted Farm in Second Life

Rusted Farm

Rusted Farm, the latest installation by Terrygold, open on July 6th, 2018. With it, Terrygold leans towards an ecological theme.

Visitors arrive in a tunnel  – actually a drain which might otherwise act as a run off for rain water – where a series of information boards provide notes on preferred viewer settings and provide background notes framing the piece, all of which should be read: just touch the flags below the images to have the notes delivered in text in either English or Italian.

Oil pollution: it’s a contamination of the environment (soil, air and above all water) caused by all kinds of liquid hydrocarbons, i.e. from crude oil or its derivatives. Oil pollution can be systematic or accidental … Systematic or chronic pollution is often much more serious than accidental one. The lumps of tar deposited on the beaches in the seaside resorts derive mostly from the residues contained in the ballast water discharged into the sea.

– Extract from the Rusted Farm introductory notes

Rusted Farm

At the end of this tunnel is a ladder offering the way up out of the drain. To reach it, visitors gain the first hints of the direction in which Terrygold is taking the piece: strange-looking fish circle, watched over by equally curious bugs hovering overhead. At first appearing to be mechanical in nature, it takes a while to realise they might actually  be made up of waste material – rusting metal, discarded bulbs, with dorsal fins looking like deformed plastic six-pack rings, and so on. Beyond these, barrels leak oil into the drain.

The “ground” level, reached via a ladder placed beyond the fish and barrels, is a large field of sun-ripened wheat over which more bizarre creatures stand or fly. Birds look more like drones; ants and spiders again looking as if they are made up of waste and rubbish. Great spherical tanks with spigots are raised on spindly legs or set into the great wall of a building, apparently dripping water onto the field of wheat, giving it life.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles (mostly plastic) in the central North Pacific Ocean. It’s located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N.

Extract from the Rusted Farm introductory notes (from wikipedia)

Rusted Farm

It is a bizarre scene, the field also crossed by pipes and other drains, raised above the crop as if ready to receive liquids. Nevertheless it is one, with the backdrop of a setting sun, seems innocuous outside of the initial framing of the information boards. Looking at the strange ants, birds and spider, it’s easy to put it all down to artistic licence.

However, dominating all of this is the flank of that huge building, in which a tiny door sits, reached by climbing one of the pipes and then walking along it. Opening this door and touching the blank wall beyond it to activate a teleport, reveals the truth of matters. Giant pipes sit within the walls of this building, rusted, ugly and dripping huge gobs of brown liquid – oil waste, contaminated water, take your pick as to what it might be; the key point is at least some of it is being delivered to collection drains which then carry it away and into the soil being used to grow the wheat.

Thus it is that we have the complete picture: fish, birds, insects a metaphor for the waste products we’re dumping into the world’s oceans, burying in landfills, and so on; the pipes and liquid waste a reminder of the waste products we let contaminate the land and which, ultimately, enter our food chain (as represented by the wheat). And it is apt that among the bizarre creatures we find in Rusted Farm Terrygold has included a deep ocean angler fish, highlighting the fact that while we tend to point to things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (estimated to possibly range between  700,000 sq km / 270,000 sq mi and 15,000,000 sq km / 5,800,000 sq mi in area – that’s between Texas and Russia in size), the impact of plastic pollution on the sea floor / deep ocean is still largely unknown.

Rusted Farm

A possibly dark installation in theme, but one intended to prick the conscience, Rusted Farm is also a curious mix. Despite the underpinning message, when taken on its own, the wheat field with its strangely crafted insects and birds is from some angles almost a garden of sculptures ready to be appreciated in their own right.

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