Magical mages, kaleidoscopes and cave girls

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight 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 home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, April 29th 19:00: Paper Mage

Gyro Muggins reads Leah R. Cutter’s 2003 début novel.

Set in the Tang Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom (about the time of Charlemagne in Europe), the novel tells us of the adventures of Xiao Yen, a young woman training to become a paper mage, a sorcerer with the power to endow folded creations with the semblance of life.

Because her gifts are in demand for the protection they can offer, Xiao Yen must leave behind her beloved family and their village home and embark on a dangerous mission when she is hired to protect a caravan. Yet even as she departs, she has no idea that this looming adventure will shape the very woman she is to become.

The story follows two timelines, alternating chapters between the caravan journey, where one of her fellow travellers is a goddess who charges her with a dangerous quest, and the story of her childhood training, when she lay caught between her aunt’s plans and her mother’s plans to have her married off.

Tuesday, April 30th 19:00: TBA

Check the Seanchai Library website for updates.

Wednesday, May 1st 19:00: Kaleidoscope

When a brilliant young violinist dies in a horrific accident, Madame Karitska has only to hold the victim’s instrument in her hands to perceive the shocking truth. But when an insecure wife asks whether her husband will abandon her to join a sinister cult, Madame Karitska–as wise as she is lovely–chooses not to reveal all that she foresees. And when an attaché case is suddenly dropped into her lap by a man fleeing a crowded subway, she knows it’s time to consult her good friend Detective-Lieutenant Pruden.

A nine-year-old accused of murder, a man dying a slow death by witchcraft– for the hunted and the haunted, Madame Karitska’s shabby downtown apartment becomes a haven, where brilliant patterns of violence, greed, passion, and strange obsessions mix and disintegrate with stunning, kaleidoscopic beauty.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, May 2nd

19:00: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Cave Girl

Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones was not overly courageous. He had been reared among surroundings of culture plus and ultra-intellectuality in the exclusive Back Bay home of his ancestors. He had been taught to look with contempt upon all that savored of muscular superiority, such things were gross, brutal, primitive. It had been a giant intellect only that he had craved, he and a fond mother, and their wishes had been fulfilled. At twenty-one Waldo was an animated encyclopedia, and about as muscular as a real one.

And so we are introduced to Mr. Smith-Jones, the unlikely hero of this novel, set within Burrough’s Lost World series. Swept overboard during a during a South Seas voyage intended to ease his ill-health, Waldo finds himself carried ashore on a primitive jungle island, where all his book learning can’t help him survive, particularly in the face of the terrifying ape-like throwbacks to mankind’s early evolutionary history who live on the island, and from whom he continually flees.

And then he encounters – rescues, even, albeit mistakenly – Nadara, the titular cave girl. Regarding him a hero, she teaches him the arts of survival and her primitive language, taking him back to her tribe – who turn out to be Paleolithic cave people. If he is to stay among them, Waldo must prove his worth by fighting the strongest. He opts to flee instead.

However, as he spend more time in the jungle, gaining in strength thanks to Nadara’s teachings, he finds himself unable to put her out of his mind. So much so that when a ship finds the island, he refuses passage aboard her. Instead, more sure of himself than at any point in his life, he sets out to find the cave girl who believes he saved her.

With Shandon Loring. (Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.

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Rofina Bronet at The Eye

The Eye: Rofina Bronet

Currently open at The Eye art gallery, curated by Mona (MonaByte), is a stunning exhibition of avatar photography by Rofina Bronet. And it is a quite extraordinary collection of images.

Featuring what might be termed “traditional” style studies focusing on the head and face, these are pieces presented in the most marvellous of digital colour and backdrops: celestial skies, iridescent clouds, futuristic grids, and – in places – soft-focused “natural” backgrounds.

The Eye: Rofina Bronet

In addition, rather than presenting individual portraits of avatars, in places Rofina offers multiple images of the same person. These, together with the selected backdrops and digital elements against which they are posed adds considerable depth in capturing the personality of each study.

Also found within the gallery are media TV screens offering slide displays of the images on offer (click to page through the images), thought with other that may not be offered in large format on the walls. Larger, wall-mounted media screens feature You Tube recordings of some of the individuals featured within the exhibition, and offering further depth to the still images Peeter presents.

The Eye: Rofina Bronet

All of this makes for a remarkable and deeply engaging exhibition of art and photography, which words alone really do not do justice a visit to The Eye to see them first-hand is strongly recommended.

SLurl Details

2019 viewer release summaries week #17

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, April 28th

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.2.0.526190, formerly the Estate Access Management RC viewer, dated April 12, promoted April 17 No change. – see my EAM overview for more information
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: Moon, Mars, and abort systems

Lockheed Martin: trying to assist NASA in putting humans back on the Moon in 2024. Credit: Lockheed Martin

On Tuesday, March 26th, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to accelerate plans to send humans back to the Moon, moving the planned first landing from 2028 to 2024. That presents an incredibly short time frame for the US space agency, given all that needs to be done.

Rather than going to the Moon directly – as with Apollo in the 1960 through 1972  – NASA’s plans for a return to the Moon require the establishment of an orbital facility around the Moon – the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway – plus the development of the vehicle to get to and from it (the Orion MPCV), and a vehicle to get from it to the surface of the Moon and back. This, coupled with trying to develop a completely new and complex launch vehicle – the Space Launch System – capable of putting all this hardware where it needs to be, means NASA has a huge mountain to climb to achieve their goal and maintain things like operating the International Space Station – and will need a lot of funding to achieve it, something which doesn’t as yet seem to be forthcoming.

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is a complex idea, potentially equalling the ISS in requirements – and development / construction time frame, making it improbable that it would be ready in full for 2024 lunar landing. Credit: NASA

As it is, the SLS, as recently noted in these pages, has yet to fly, and has seen a number of programmatic changes in order to try to meet a time frame that was already tight before Pence give his March directive. Following the announcement of the shift to a 2024 landing, NASA actually wavered over using it, mulling the idea of using a commercial launch system instead (the Delta IV Heavy is capable of launching the Orion, for example) before deciding they would push to use SLS. However, in doing to, the agency then suggested they could cut the “green run” test of the SLS first stage, potentially shaving 6 months from the development / flight schedule for the first launch.

Viewed as a crucial pre-flight test, the “green run” would see the completed first stage shipped from the Michoud Assembly Facility, Louisiana, to the Stennis Space Centre, Mississippi, where its four RS-25 engines would be fired for eight minutes, simulating the actual flight of the vehicle prior to upper stage separation. It has been regarded as a crucial test, intended expose the untried first stage to the full force of a simulated launch to gather vital data on the stage performance and to see how the entire assembly stands up the rigours of launch and what might need to be re-worked, etc. The suggestion was that NASA skip it in favour of individual tests of the four RS-25 motors – potentially shaving 6 months off the SLS development schedule.

But on April 25th, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) met to discuss this idea and strongly advised NASA not to avoid the “green run”.

There is no other test approach that will gather the critical full-scale integrated propulsion system operational data required to ensure safe operations. Shorter-duration engine firings at the launch pad will not achieve an understanding of the operational margins, and could result in severe consequences. I cannot emphasize more strongly that we advise NASA to retain this test … as NASA evaluates different paths to potentially accelerate the EM-1 flight, it cannot lose sight that the ultimate objective of that flight is to mitigate risk and provide a clear understanding of the risk posture prior to the first crew flight.

– Patricia Sanders, ASAP Chair

The ASAP as recommended NASA doesn’t skip the “green run” integrated test of the SLS core stage – which adds pressure to meeting a 2024 lunar landing time frame. Credit NASA

NASA has yet to formally respond to the recommendation, but it would seem unlikely they’d go against the ASAP. This potentially means that SLS will be unlikely to make its first uncrewed flight – Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2020, and the ripples may spread further, affecting the time line for the first crewed test of SLS and Orion, and on onwards towards affecting the 2024 goal.

Another issue is that of how NASA will actually get to and from the Moon’s surface. Originally, the agency planned a “two-step” approach to lunar lander development: issue a procurement notice for the development of a lunar lander ascent vehicle, designed to lift a crew off of the Moon tat the end of their say, and a second notice for the transfer and descent stages of the vehicle – presumably allowing different companies to work on the various elements.

To assist NASA in the 2024 goal, Lockheed Martin has re-vamped its Moon lander into a two-stage vehicle, the upper ascent / command module of which will utilise elements from the Orion MPCV craft. Credit: Lockheed Martin

However, on April 26th, NASA altered the procurement notice to seek proposals for a fully integrated lander vehicle. The idea is to speed-up the lander’s design and development and potentially reduce issues of integration of elements built by different contractors.

Certainly, one company that could benefit from this switch is Lockheed Martin, prime contractors for the Orion vehicle, and potential major supplier of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), the lunar space station seen as a pre-requisite to any crewed landings on the Moon. They first  announced their concept for a fully integrated lunar lander in October 2018, and on April 10th, 2019, the company outlined changes to both their lunar lunar and LOP-G designs in response to the push for s 2024 landing.

The revised Lockheed Martin lunar lander with the ascent / command module mated to the descent / landing stage. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Under their October 2018 plans for a lunar lander, Lockheed Martin proposed building a single, fully reusable vehicle, a 62 tonne (when fully fuelled) behemoth capable of taking 3 or 4 astronauts and a tonne of equipment to / from the lunar surface (by comparison, the Apollo lunar module weighed 16.4 tonnes fully fuelled).

This giant vehicle would support stays of up to 14 or 15 days on the lunar surface, prior to the entire vehicle returning to the LOP-G where the crew would use the Orion to fly back to Earth, while the lander refuelled itself from supplies shipped to the LOP-G and stored there.

However, such a vehicle presupposes the availability of a fully operational LOP-G, and there is simply no way such a facility could be designed, built, launched, assembled in lunar orbit and tested ready for operational use by 2024. This being the case, Lockheed Martin is now proposing a semi-reusable 2-stage lunar lander modelled along the same lines as the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module – although again, much larger.

In the revised design, the new lander would comprise a large descent and landing stage, only carrying sufficient fuel to get the complete vehicle onto the surface of the Moon and carrying various equipment lockers and bins. This would be topped by a combined command / ascent module that will would employ a modified version of the European-built Orion Service Module, complete with main motor and power generation systems, as its lower half. This would serve to propel the module and crew back up to the LOP-G at the end of a surface mission. The command section at the top of the module would include elements from the Orion vehicle for flight control, a dedicate lunar surface command deck and the necessary living space for a crew of around 3 for 14-15 days on the Moon.

Making the lander semi-re-usable means the Lockheed Martin do not need a fully operational LOP-G to support the fully re-usable version of their lander. Instead, a “bare necessities” LOP-G could be placed in orbit around the Moon  – little more than a propulsion / power module and a docking adaptor – in order for lunar missions to commence. These could then proceed whilst the LOP-G is itself built-out to accommodate more advanced missions.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Moon, Mars, and abort systems”