It’s taken me a while to get to write about Adventures In Mad Wonderland, Jayden Mercury’s twist on Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s (aka Lewis Carroll) tales of Alice’s adventures. This is because, despite being a modest parcel covering just over 6,300 square metres, it is a setting that packs an awful lot into it – so much so that it is very easy to miss things in a simple walk through.
Using the theme of Alice’s adventures on which to build a setting within Second Life is not new; however, with Mad Wonderland, Jayden – assisted by Valarie Muffin Meow (Zalindah) – has created a unique take on things, as indicated by the location’s About Land description, which invites us to follow the Adventure through the Storybook of an artist.
Thus, what we have here is a take on Dodgson / Carroll’s timeless tale is a series of scenes from the tales – and more – that frame the tale of an artist – perhaps someone charged with illustrating a version of the story – with “chapters” waiting to be found at various points within the parcel (mouseover and left-click to read them).
The story commences at the landing point, and the artist’s studio that resides there. This takes the form of a small shack sitting on a narrow stretch of coast. Paintings are hanging on lines strung outside of the shack, whilst inside stands the artist’s easel and materials – although oddly, some of the latter appear to be paints for house decoration rather than conventional oil or water colours. Subtle use of a sofa with a cascade of colour in its covering and a corner gathering of lights adds to the impression that this is an artist’s retreat. There is more here as a well, so be prepared to mouseover the objects you find within the shack and be prepared to click on them.
The shack sets the tone for a visit: whilst walking the trail and exploring what it reveals, be sure to hover your mouse over anything that catches your eye, as it may contain the next chapter in the unfolding story of the artist. Such items vary in form, from a pen and notepad to the likes of multi-hued mushrooms – and some might be unexpected (“she said with a grin” – hint, hint!).
Also waiting to be found are obvious extracts from Alice’s journeys and other little vignettes. Chief among the former is a familiar tea party featuring a very Deppian Mad Hatter; one of the latter sits an an old piano, its wood faded by the Sun, a truncated quote from Alice In Wonderland chalked or painted onto the inside of its raised lid.
The end of the path is marked by wooden steps that rise to a white-walled castle that, with its angled towers, looks like something the Mad Hatter might build – or to look at it another way, a partially0inflated bouncy castle. Card guards outside of its gate suggest the Queen of Hearts may be waiting inside, as does the huge red heart on the wall above the gate. But is she? You’ll have to go inside and find out for yourself – particularly if you want to keep up with the unfolding story, as a chapter awaits discovery.
The castle may mark the end of the path from the artist’s studio – but it is not the end of the adventure. Those willing to look around carefully after exploring it might spot a little makeshift bridge leading to a shaded portal. Touch it, and it will carry you onward to the next stage of the story: a maze where more items await the touch of visitors, including one that will carry you even further, should you follow the familiar instruction to Drink Me when you find it.
I’m not going to give away all of the location’s secrets, but I will say that Mad Wonderland is a surprising and fun place to explore that taxes neither viewer nor mind, but does keep you engaged throughout. It is also one of those places I particularly appreciate within Second Life – the kind that demonstrate that you don’t actually need a full-sized region in order to create something special either for yourself, or to share with others.
- Adventures in Mad Wonderland (Heavenly Dream, rated Moderate)