Drune’s diesel-deco delight in Second Life

Drune Diesel, March 2021 – click any image for full size

I’ve been a fan of the region designs by Hera (zee9) ever since I visited 2019XS before it morphed into what has been perhaps her most poplar series of region builds, the Drune series. I’ve not written about every single iteration, but they have been something of a theme in this blog down the years for their marvellous cyberpunk vibes edged with a touch of bohemian dystopia.

However, with Drune Diesel, I  think Hera has created one of the most engaging, intriguing and layered region designs it has been my pleasure to visit – and one I really do urge folk to hop over and witness for themselves, particularly if, like me, you are a film and cultural buff. Rather than keeping to the broadly cyberpunk theme of previous design, with this iteration, Hera has turned towards the oft-overlooked dieselpunk genre.

Drune Diesel, March 2021

I was sent the LM for the region by my ever-vigilant region sleuth, Shawn Shakespeare, and it arrived somewhat serendipitously. Earlier in March I had visited Isabel Hermano’s art exhibition at the Janus II Gallery entitled Living in a Steampunk World (see here for more). Whilst steampunk oriented, two pieces within it – Radio City Music Hall, and The Sisters – incorporated very distinct deco and dieselpunk vibes and seeing these pictures set me to wondering if anyone in SL had actually stepped away from the more common steampunk and cyberpunk themes to present something more rooted in dieselpunk – and then just a few days later, Shawn drops Hera’s LM on me!

For other unfamiliar with the genre, dieselpunk (and it’s sub-genre or decopunk) is based on the aesthetics popular in the interwar period of the 1920s/30s and extending through to the end of World War II, with some exponents also including the early 1950s.  It is broadly defined as the era in which the diesel engine replaced the steam engine as the focus of technology. Within it, decopunk centres the aesthetic of art deco and streamline moderne art styles particularly prevalent to design and architecture in the same overall period.

Drune Diesel, March 2021

Within Drune’s familiar city setting, compete with its tall buildings, canyon-like streets and split-level roadways, Hera has created a setting that encapsulates the heart of dieselpunk/decopunk to present something that will be instantly recognisable to those who have visited Drune’s earlier iterations – but which is also utterly unique. It’s a place where the richness of detail, large and small, is truly staggering and the cultural and film references sublime in their placement and presentation.

The initial sense of familiarity comes not only from the lie of the city and its streets, but also in the display of lighting and signage that adorns the sides of building and lines the railings of overpasses. But whereas past iterations this lighting and signage has been a mix of bright neons, flickering LED screens and brash  images, now we have a richer mix: spotlights illuminating billboards, softer-toned neons, traditional banners, and fluorescent lighting that follows the lines and curves of building façades or sits within parking metres and so on.

Drune Diesel, March 2021

Another change is with the cars on the roads. While many of these (again in keeping with past iterations of Drune) may well hover, they are not the seek Blade Runner-esque designs visitors may recall. Instead, they are entirely of the era, encompassing bulky Cadillac-like beasts to smaller open-topped Mercedes and pencil-like single seaters.  They are held aloft over tracks that line each side of the road by great round conduction coils that replace their wheels and which are presumably powered by the diesel engines sitting under their hoods. They share the roads with cars that retain their wheels, perhaps because their owners cannot afford the hover update or perhaps simply because they want to be fashionably different.

A number of the buildings include interiors that have been made over to match the theme.  The Black Pussy nightclub goes full-on deco in its interior styling that could have you out on the dance floor like the most carefree flapper, whilst the Cortez Hotel’s lobby has  more grandiose deco setting, complete with stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling (as a set of four themed bedrooms). Those seeking a meal can always drop into the Shanghai Dragon, a restaurant that is truly delightful in its own suggestions oriental decadence.

Drune Diesel, March 2021

The cultural and film references I mentioned are to be found everywhere. Some are mentioned in the note card offered at the airship landing point, others are awaiting discovery as you explore. Some are large and obvious, some either small and/or not quite so direct. Many reference the era represented by the the setting, others draw on references that may not at first appear to be connected, but on examination are not so anachronistic as they might first appear.

Take the P51D fighter sitting on the airstrip below the city, for example. Loaded for a ground attack role and bearing D-Day markings, it hardly looks dieselpunk in nature. However, it immediately brings to mind Kerry Conran’s 2004 box-office-flop-turned-cult-classic, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie), one of the first attempts to encapsulate diselpunk in modern film after game designer Lewis Pollak coined the term in 2001.

Drune Diesel, March 2021

Similarly, the city’s movie theatre boasts showings Blood and Sand, starring Rudolph Valentino and released at the start of the dieselpunk era, together with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), arguably the first film to depict dieselpunk long before the term was ever coined. Indeed, Drune Diesel reflects something of Metropolis: whilst the workers are all down on the lower levels of the city, living in basic conditions and with the muck and sweat and fumes of the city, the elite live up in the towers, where halls are lined with marble and grand statues hold aloft light fittings or strike heroic poses.

Other references are more subtle but are bound to bring a smile to the lips when recognised, from the SS Venture alongside the wharf and being prepared for the voyage that will see her bring home King Kong (1933), to the U-boat sitting in its pen and carrying something of an Indiana Jones vibe. One of my favourites is the billboard reference to Karel Čapek’s 1921 film Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots). Not only does it fit the period, it is the film that first brought us the term “robot” (although those in the film were closer androids than robots); it has also been cleverly paired with an indirect reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy through its tag-line – even if the Sirius Cybernetics Corp might want to have a few words about it!

Drune Diesel, March 2021

As indicated in the introductory notes, the city also contains references to the BBC Television series Peaky Blinders, the fictionalised tale of one of England’s most notorious crime gangs that was based in the city of Birmingham. These range the The Garrison pub, inspired by the pub seen in the series and rumoured to have been used by the real Peaky Blinders, to the wharfside chalk advert featuring a racing horse and the words “Shelby, est. 1920”, a reference to both the family leading the fictional Peaky Blinders and to the illegal bookmaking both the fictional and real gangs ran. There’s even billboard advertising  Cadbury’s products providing further references to the Midlands origins of the gang.

Drune is also a setting that encompasses so much more as well. There is a very Gothamesque vibe in places that goes far beyond the Batmoble awaiting discovery, whilst the streets and atmosphere lend themselves to thoughts of a dieselpunk Philip Marlowe trudging the glistening footpaths (It was raining in the City — a hard rain — almost hard enough to wash the slime from the streets. But it never does.), and more besides.

Drune Diesel, March 2021 – a touch of Angel Heart, as well?

This is a place that deserves time to appreciate all of the detail that has gone into it, from the way the building rise from worn brickwork to fine, faced stone with carved motifs and proud banners to the crafted rotary engines that pump clean air into their refined interiors from their tops and cough it used and dirty, onto the streets below. Much of this detailing, all created by Hera, both adds depth to the setting and offers up more in the way of cultural references, particularly for central Europe in the inter-war period.

Magnificent, engaging and deserving to be witnessed, Drune Diesel is simply superb – when visiting, do make sure you are running with Advanced Lighting Model active (Shadows not required).

SLurl Details

2021 viewer release summaries week #11

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

Updates from the week ending Sunday, March 21st

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: Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.13.555567 and dated February 5th, 2021, promoted February 17th – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer updated to version 6.4.17.556726, dated March 15th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: more from Mars and recalling a NASA legend

A CGI model of the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance on the surface of Mars. Credit; NASA

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has passed its first month on Mars, an event marked by the science and engineering teams continuing to check out the rover’s systems  and instruments as the rover continues its initial drive within Jezero Crater.

So far, all of this has been going exceedingly well. We’ve had no major technical issues. We’ve had no major technical issues.

– Ken Farley, Perseverance project scientist

Currently, the mission team are preparing to deploy the Ingenuity drone helicopter ahead of for a series of proof-of-concept flights. This has involved driving the rover short distances to locate a suitable area in which to deployed the helicopter, which is stored under the rover.

So a location was found during the past week, and on Sunday, March 21st, Sol 30 for the rover on Mars, the command was sent to eject the cover that projected the delicate helicopter during the rover’s arrival on Mars. The release of the cover was filmed by the WATSON imager on the rover’s robot arm, with raw colour and black and white images issued by NASA a few hours after the cover had been dropped.

Two images of captured by the WATSON imager on the Mars 2020 rover robot arm show fore-and-after views, one in black-and-white and the other in colour, of the detached protective cover for the Ingenuity helicopter droner. The helicopter can be seen stowed and attached to the rover’s belly at the top of each image. Credit: NASA/JPL

The next stage will be for the rover to move clear of the cover so the helicopter itself can be deployed, before the rover backs away even further to expose the drone to clear air. It’s not clear when this deployment will take place, but NASA will be holding a special briefing on Tuesday, March 23rd at 17:30 UTC at which members of the helicopter and rover team will discuss progress with the mission and what will be involved in the helicopter deployed and flight operations  commence. The briefing will by available on NASA TV and YouTube, with questions being accepted via social media using #MarsHelicopter.

The first flight won’t be made any earlier than the first week of April, but it will be filmed by the rover using its high-resolution Mastcam-Z systems, and an attempt will be made to record the sound of the drone flying. In all, five flights of the helicopter are anticipated, after which Perseverance will commence its own science mission.

As things stand, this will be a two-phase mission, the first being an exploration of the inflow delta created by the water that once flowed into the crater to form a lake. In particular, the rover will be looking for evidence of past life in the sediments and rocks. Along the way, it sell select a spot to deposit up to 10 samples it has gathered during its studies, which my be collected by a future sample-return mission.

The second phase will see Perseverance may its way out of the crater to examine the crater rim and the plains beyond. Here again, it will select a location to deposit up to 28 samples that may be gathered by a future sample-return mission.In all, both phases of the mission – which will be subject to change depending on discoveries made along the way – are expected to take around 7 years to complete and will see the rover cover some 35 km.

In the meantime, the rover’s microphones have been busy; as I reported in  my last Space Sunday, one has recorded the sound of the Martian wind. More recently, NASA has released a recording on the rover’s EDL (Entry, Descent. Landing) microphone capture of sounds of the rover driving on Mars.

Those expecting some high-tech sound of purring electrical motors and so on as depicted in sci-fi films are liable to be disappointed by the strange mix of bangs,clunks and thuds recorded as the rover’s aluminium wheels and its spring suspension deal with the uneven terrain. Two recordings were released, one at 16 minutes in length, and a 90-second “cleaned up” recording, that is embedded below.

If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow. But if you take a minute to consider what you’re hearing and where it was recorded, it makes perfect sense.

– Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020’s EDL Camera and Microphone subsystem.

One of the reasons the sounds seem to be odd is because the EDL microphone isn’t designed to record the the sound of the mobility system directly, rather it is picking the sounds up through the body of the rover.

Glynn Lunney

Glynn Stephen Lunney may not be a name familiar to many interested in human space flight, but he was one of the legends of NASA, and who sadly passed away at the age of 84 on March 19th, 2021.

Born in November 1936 in the coal city of Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Lunney was encouraged by his parents to seek a career away from the mines. An early interest in flight and model aeroplanes led him to engineering in college, form where he enrolled at the Lewis Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, to study aerospace engineering, the centre at that time forming part of the US  National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree, Lunney remained with the NACA as a researcher in aerospace dynamics at Lewis. He was thus one of NASA’s very first employees when on July 29th, 1958 President Eisenhower signed it into existence, subsuming the NACA into it in the process.

Lunney’s prowess in the fledgling field of space flight was immediately recognised, and he was transferred to Langley Research Centre, Virginia, where in September 1959, and aged just 21, he became the youngest member of the Space Task Group, the body given responsibility for the creation of NASA’s human space flight programme.

Glynn Lunney “in the trenches” (as the rows of consoles at mission control were called at the time) of the mission simulation centre, 1966. Credit: NASA
As a member of the Flight Operations Division, Lunney was one of the engineers responsible for planning and creating procedures for Project Mercury, America’s first manned space programme. Here he was a major part of the team that wrote the first set of mission rules by which both flight controllers and astronauts operated, and he also became the second man to serve as the Flight Dynamics Officer (FIDO), responsible for controlling the trajectory of the Mercury spacecraft and planning adjustments to it.

Such was Lunney’s quiet assurance, professionalism and engineering skill, he was one of three men selected by Christopher C. Kraft, the hands-on head of mission operations, to join him in becoming the first generation of Flight Directors responsible for managing all of NASA’s space flights, the other two being John Hodge and the legendary Gene Kranz. Together, these for men did much to establish the protocol  and procedures required for human space flight at that time, and they also oversaw the design and implementation of the first two Mission Operations Control Rooms which were to become famous as “mission control” in the Apollo era.

Lunney (seated, foreground) walking his team through the process of transferring guidance and navigation data from the Apollo 13 command module to the lunar module,  1970. Credit: NASA

Although only 29 when selected by Kraft, Lunney was, in addition to his responsibilities as a Flight Director, charged with overseeing the testing of core elements of Apollo flight hardware, including the launch escape system, and the first uncrewed flight test of the the Saturn V launch vehicle.

Lunney was particularly respected for his ability to absorb and retain information, running through scenarios and options much faster than any of his colleagues. This was especially important in the wake of the Apollo 13 explosion in  1970, with the vehicle en-route to the Moon.

While Genz Kranz and his White flight team tend to get all of the credit for successfully guiding the astronauts through the crisis and getting them back to Earth, it was actually Lunney who orchestrated the entire process of powering-up the lunar module, transferring the flight guidance and navigation data to its computer and  getting the Apollo 13 crew and critical equipment into the module within a very short time frame, whilst also leaving the command module in a condition whereby it could hopefully be powered up later. In doing so, he largely steered his team by using his own innate knowledge of systems aboard both craft.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: more from Mars and recalling a NASA legend”