Sci-fi, music, poems and a strange world in Second life

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, March 29th: 19:00 Leviathan

In 1914, the world is divided into Darwinists and Clankers. The Darwinists have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans. The Clankers have built their society on machinery technology.

Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and part of the Clankers, has spent his life facing an uncertain future: because his mother was of common blood, he has been barred from taking his father’s title in the fullness of time.

But when his father and mother survive Gavrilo Princip’s assassination attempt in Sarajevo only to be poisoned later the same day, Aleksandar finds himself the centre of intrigue. Despite the fact that he has no legitimate claim to the throne, the Germans are intent on neutralising him, fearful that he might nevertheless unite the people behind him, possibly fracturing the alliance of nations forming the Clankers.

Forced on the run aboard a battle-torn war machine crewed by a handful of men loyal to his late father, Aleks encounters Deryn Sharp, a young woman who has disguised herself as a boy to serve aboard British Air Service Leviathan, a living whale flying ship.

Despite their differences, and with the inevitability of war darkening every horizon, Aleks and Deryn embark on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Join Gyro Muggins as he dives into Scott Westerfield’s 2009 novel of an alternate past.

Tuesday, March 30th

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

Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

When the Jones family move into a Victorian house that has been converted into a set of flats, and her parents always busy and wrapped in their work, young Coraline sets out to discover all she can about her new home.

Along the way, she meets a pair of retired actress sisters, an old man trying to train a mouse orchestra, and a door that, unlike all the others that lead somewhere, oddly opens onto a brick wall.

Until the day it doesn’t, and instead opens onto a hallway leading to another world.

It’s a world just like her own, but also very different. The flat she enters looks just like her own, the neighbours are just like those she has met – but oddly younger – and the mother and father she finds within the “other “home dote on her: marvellous toys, magical books and wonderful food.

This other home and the parents within it are all that Coraline has ever wanted – until her other mother tells her she can stay and live forever – if she will have buttons sewn into her eyes. Scared by the request, Coraline returns to her real home, only to find her parents now gone. Realising they have been taken by her “other mother”, she realises she must return along the hallway and risk her future in order to rescue them.

With Willow Moonfire.

Wednesday, March 31st, 19:00: The Guns of Avalon

Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, prince of blood royal, heir to the throne of Amber, gathers his forces for an assault that will yield up to him the crown that is rightfully his.

But, a growing darkness of his own doing threatens his plans, an evil that stretches to the heart of the perfect kingdom itself where the demonic forces of Chaos mass to annihilate Amber and all who would rule there.

One of the most revered names in sf and fantasy, the incomparable Roger Zelazny was honoured with numerous prizes—including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards—over the course of his legendary career. Among his more than fifty books, arguably Zelazny’s most popular literary creations were his extraordinary Amber novels. The Guns of Avalon is the second book of The Chronicles of Amber.

With Corwyn Allen.

Thursday, April 1st 19:00: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker

So, where were you in 1977?  Do you remember the first time you saw the first film?  The first 25 times you saw the first film?  Maybe you have never seen it at all.  Join Shandon Loring and Caledonia Skytower to enjoy for the first time (or re-live the joy) of those first adventures from an edition penned by Director George Lucas himself!

Bella’s Glade in Second Life

Bella’s Glade, March 2021 – click any image for full size

Currently featured in the Destination Guide is Bella’s Glade, a summer’s garden located on a sky platform over Shara Lights of Amara, a full region with the private island LI bonus. Designed by Shara estate owner Dhanle (DaneLee), it originally formed a place for his physical world mother, but has has now been opened as a further retreat for those wishing to find escape from whatever pressures they are facing.

It’s a gloriously colourful setting, but one likely designed for those who do not run with shadows enabled, given it sits under a skydome that casts everything into a post-twilight gloom for those who do prefer to have shadows running. As such, for those who do have shadows on, I’d recommend taking a moment to derender the dome to allows for more natural lighting – although I do so with a further caveat, which I’ll come to in a moment.

Bella’s Glade, March 2021 – click any image for full size

The landing point for the glade is located towards the centre of the setting, occupying a semi-circular pergola built out over an ox bow of a small lake separated from a fast-flowing river by a needle of land. A conservatory sits on this narrow band of green and colour, reached via a broad board walk they spans the lake. It is the first of several places to be found within the gardens – the  others waiting to lead visitors away from the landing point in a number of directions.

Bella’s Glade, March 2021

These paths wind under trees and between beds of flowers that are both planted and wild. In places railings and fences mark the route to be taken, elsewhere steps and cut logs mark the way. One route directs feet to a distant house, another to the ruin of a cottage on a hill with others passing swings and benches awaiting lovers and / or those seeking the opportunity to sit and appreciate the view before them. Some of these paths might be obvious, others less so – but to describe them all would be to spoil the opportunities to be had for discovery.

Bella’s Glade, March 2021

While it may not mean much to the majority of people reading this piece, Bella’s Glade reminds me of the Shuttleworth Swiss Garden in Bedfordshire, England. The two share a similar mix of the cultivated and the wild, of water and open spaces and tree-shades walks and richly wooded copses. And while Bella’s Glade might not have the same mix of follies and topiary as the Swiss Garden and be a little wilder overall, it nevertheless offered to me that same sense of wonder and delight.

Within all of this sits the house, an A-framed cottage that overlooks the river, a cobbled walk following the curve of the water in the suggestion of a canal side walk. The cottage forms an idyllic home, a place to be savoured for its solitude and the beauty of its surrounding gardens.

Bella’s Glade, March 2021

If there is one issue to be had with this setting it circles back to that aforementioned caveat about the use of shadows. Simply put, this is a setting with a lot of individual textures – and these both take time to load  – sometimes frustratingly so – and can also significantly impact rendering performance when combined with shadows. As such, it may well be preferable to only toggle shadows on when taken photos.

That said, Bella’s Glade is an enchanting setting for those wishing to find a sanctuary or who enjoy garden spaces and are willing to make the necessary adjustments to their viewer.

Bella’s Glade, March 2021

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