Of girls, princes, and the life of a Christmas ghost

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 in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Monday, November 30th, 19:00: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

As Calpurnia Virginia Tate, aka Callie Vee, turns 13 in 1900, she revels in studying science with her cantankerous grandfather, with whom she co-discovered a new plant species in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. But a life of science doesn’t seem to be in her future: although her family is rich and her six brothers can pursue their educations and follow their dreams, Callie can’t.

Destined from her unfortunate birth as a female for life as a Texas debutante and wealthy matron, she’s furious as she feels the doors of the gilded cage closing in on her in a world where the fact that she’s smarter and harder-working than her brothers doesn’t matter a bit.

As she tries to keep her tender-hearted brother Travis, who keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the wild animals – her brother included – away from her mother’s critical eye. Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers laughing and crying and cheering for this most endearing heroine.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Tuesday, December 1st

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: Nine Princes in Amber

Carl Corey wakes in a medical clinic, with little to no knowledge of who he is or how he got there. Fearing he is being over-medicated and kept against his wishes, he overpowers staff and discovers his stay is being paid for by his sister, one Evelyn Flaumel, whose address is on the hospital’s records.

Fleeing the clinic, he makes his way to his sister’s home. Here, with the aid of a pack of tarot cards and a confession from his sister, he learns that his name is actually Corwin (and she is Flora), and they are two of 14 siblings – nine male and five female.

One of those brothers, Random, arrives, pursued by strange, vicious creatures, that force Corwin to join him into fighting them to the death.  During the battle, Corwin makes another discovery – he has super-human strength.

After the fight, Random reveals more truths to Corwin – notably that he and his siblings are of royal descent from a planet called Amber, a parallel world to Earth from which he has been cast into exile.

Random reveals that their father, king Oberon, has vanished, and the throne is therefore open, and persuades Corwin in a quest to claim it. However, to do so, they must travel through the realms of Corwin’s brothers and sisters in order to reach Amber, and the journey reveals to Corwin his family’s ruthless and Machiavellian nature – a nature he shares -, and that the path to the throne is a route of force and betrayal.

Join Corwyn Allen as he reads the first volume in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series.

Wednesday, December 2nd 19:00: Jacob T. Marley Pt 1

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it …

These are the words that open what is arguably Charles Dickens’ most recognised work, world-wide, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey from miser to redemption.

But who was Jacob Marley?

In A Christmas Carol, we know a small amount about him: his was Scrooge’s business partner who died some seven years prior to the events of A Christmas Carol, and he was apparently every bit as miserly, given his post-death doom of having to wander the Earth entwined by heavy chains and money boxes forged as a result of his greed, and he was allowed to appear to Scrooge to warn him of his forthcoming nocturnal visitors, has been doomed to wander the Earth.

Through this tale, R. William Bennett offers a new twist on Dickens’ popular tale, delving into Marley’s life and his relationship with Scrooge, examining the two men and why their time together resulted in Marley’s after-death cursed wanderings, but which ultimately offered Scrooge a chance for redemption.

With Shandon Loring.

Thursday, December 3rd

19:00: Jacob T. Marley Pt 2

With Shandon Loring. Also in Kitely!  Find teleport from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Finn Zeddmore presents contemporary sci-fi and fantasy from such on-line sources as Light SpeedEscape Pod, and Clarkesworld magazines.

Friday, December 4th: The Dickens Project 2020 Edition Opens

I’ll be previewing this year’s event later in the week.

2020 viewer release summaries week #48

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, November 29th

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 viewer version, formerly Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer promoted on November 12th – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No  updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • No updates.


Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

The Dickens Project 2020: call for artists

The Dickens Project 2020

Since 2012, The Dickens Project, organised and run by Caledonia Skytower and the Seanchai Library team, has presented an end-of-year seasonal celebration the life and works of Charles Dickens.

Running throughout December, the Project presents a range of events and activities that include live readings, music, dancing and more, all of which takes place in a special Victorian themed region and culminates in a week of readings of one of the most popular of Dickens’ stories A Christmas Carol. It’s an event that now attracts some 3,000 unique visitors annually, with some 44% of those visiting in 2019 returning more than once to explore the region and participate in activities.

This year, The Dickens Project will be opening its doors to the pubic on Friday, December 4th, and I’ll have a special preview later in the week. However, ahead of the opening, the Project is presenting the opportunity for Second Life artists and photographers to particulate in the first ever Dickens Project (non-juried) Art Show.

Specifically, artists are invited to submit up to two pieces of art that include one or more of the following:

  • Scenes taken at,or inspired by, The Dickens Project over the years.
  • Scenes depicting a Victorian Christmas.
  • Scenes of natural winter beauty.

In addition, the Project has limited space for suitable 3D pieces of art that can form a part of the show.

Note that submitted pieces cannot be offered for sale, but all artists will have to opportunity to provide information about themselves, their art and where it might be seen / purchased.

Exhibition Dates

  • Applications: Tuesday, December 1st through Sunday, December 13th inclusive.
  • Set-up: December 14th / 15th.
  • Exhibition opens: Wednesday, December 16th.
  • Opening celebration: 14:00-16:00 SLT, Friday, December 18th, with DJ Gabrielle Riel, broadcasting live on Radio Riel Main Stream.
  • Exhibition closes: Sunday, January 3rd, 2021.

How To Apply

Applications should be made via note card to Willow Moonfire (Starlight Despres). Please include the following information:

  • Your full SL  user name (not your Display Name).
  • Your time zone or best Second Life times to contact you.
  • One of the following:
    • A low-resolution thumbnail “preview” of the piece(s) you wish to submit.
    • An on-line link to where the image(s) or similar samples of your work might be viewed (e.g. Flickr).
  • A brief description of your art & biographical notes on yourself.
  • If relevant,links to any website, Flickr stream or other on-line portfolio you use and any SLurl to your in-world studio / gallery.

Please note that display space is limited, and if the event is over-subscribed, the number of artists able to participate may be capped.

3D artists wishing to participate in the Art Show should contact Willow Moonfire (Starlight Despres), who will also deal with general enquiries on the Show.

Space Sunday: ups and downs, and returns

A rendering of Starship prototype SN8 in “belly flop” mode, returning to Earth after an ascent to 15 km and using the fore and aft flaps to steady itself like a skydiver uses their arms and legs. Credit: Bart Caldwell (aka Neopork)

It had been anticipated that mid-November would see the 15km flight of  the SpaceX Starship prototype SN8.  As I’d reported last month, that vehicle had completed its initial static fire tests before going on to be fully stacked with the intermediate ring and forward nose cone with aerodynamic canards.

Speculation had been that the test flight could come around the time of the SpaceX / NASA Crew-1 mission for Crew Dragon to the International Space Station which lifted-off from Kennedy Space Centre on Sunday November 15th (see: Space Sunday: a Dragon, a telescope and a heavenly princess). However, a final static fire test of the three Raptor engines during the week leading up to the possible launch window saw an issue occur, prompting SpaceX to place all launch plans on hold until the issue had been investigated and resolved.

The was done during the week following the 15th, and SpaceX has set the first part of the week commencing Monday, November 23rd as the target time frame for that static fire test, which eventually came on Tuesday, November 24th, when all of the vehicles fuel tanks – main and “header” tanks (the latter required to provide fuel to the engines during descent) – pressured prior to a 3-second and successful simultaneous firing of all three main engines.

The moment of ignition: with flaps folded back, Starship prototype SN8 fires its three Raptor engines in a pre-flight static fire test. Credit: Mary (aka BocaChicaGal)

Currently, documents filed with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) show that SpaceX have requested further road closures around their Boca Chica, Texa, test facility starting on Monday, November 30th –  with Elon Musk indicating that this is likely to be the launch period for the vehicle.

The test flight itself is intended to test three core aspects of the vehicle’s flight envelope:

  • Powered ascent to altitude.
  • Controlled “belly flop” decent whilst horizontal, utilising the fore and aft flps to maintain stability and rate of descent.
  • Orientation to vertical during the final 100 metres or so, and descent to a tail-first landing under engine propulsion.

The flight comes with a high degree of risk – nothing quite like it has ever been attempted before – and SpaceX are anticipating only around a 33% chance of success, and that SN8 will in fact be lost in what they euphemistically refer to as an “unscheduled disassembly of the vehicle”.

However, Starship prototype SN9 is almost ready to start ground tests, and SN10 is following up behind it, meaning that if SN8 is lost, flight testing shouldn’t suffer too much of an interruption, and if the initial 15 km flight is successful, then SN9 and SN10 will be available to extend the testing programme such as flying to higher altitudes and / or flying with a full fuel load – SN8 will fly with its tanks carrying only the fuel to get to 15 km and then make a (hopefully) safe return and landing.

At the same time as work is continuing on the starship prototypes, SpaceX has also been engaged on the development of the test launch platform for the Super Heavy Booster and the assembly of components for what will be the first of these boosters, called simply BN1. Also appearing at the site is a mock-up of a section of the “lunar starship”, the vehicle SpaceX has put forward to help NASA in its plans to return humans to the Moon.

The SpaceX Boca Chica vehicle assembly area, complete with the new High Bay for stack the Super Heavy booster (right) and various vehicles and vehicle components. Credit RGV Aerial Photography

In terms of the Super Heavy booster, SpaceX appear to be reconsidering the idea of trying to bring such a massive beast back to Earth to land directly on the launch platform. While this would allow the company a shot at its so-called “fast turn-around” of the vehicle between launches, it also requires a high degree of pin-point accuracy on landing, and opens the launch mount to the risk of damage should any go awry with a returning booster. In a recent tweet on the subject, Musk indicated that the initial Super Heavy booster flights will aim to land the vehicles on the concrete apron alongside of the Boca Chica launch mount.

But  it is not all good news for SpaceX, as the company has been informed it must undergo a new FAA environmental  review and re-licensing specifically for the launch of the Super Heavy vehicles.

This is because at the time the original environment review took place in 2014, the license granted was for test flights of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, not the Starship or Super Heavy. The FAA allowed flight testing of the former to occur at the site, as it was deemed to pose no greater impact than flight testing either of the booster systems. However, with some 30 Raptor rocket motors powering it, the super Heavy is a significantly different proposition, particularly as SpaceX now intend to use Boca Chica not just as their test facility, but an operational launch facility – a move which has angered local environmental groups.

They went from proposing a few launches per year of an already field-tested rocket to ongoing experimentation of untested technology without doing the studies that would ensure environmental protection and public safety and without giving the local community a chance to have a say.

– Jim Chapman, president of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor

This has resulted in significant pressure on the FAA to carry out a new full review, called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which could take up to two years to complete (from initial assessment through to drafting the report to debate and final report). Currently, it is not clear what impact this will have on the company’s plans for Super Heavy test flights.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: ups and downs, and returns”