Back in May 2020, Num Bing-Howlett (Num Bing) and her partner Clifton Howlett) invited me to visit The Empire of Dreaming Books, an environment to honour the Zamonia series of books by German comic creator and author, Walter Moers (see: An empire of books in Second Life). The setting quickly – and rightly – became very popular among Second Life travellers, who now once again have the opportunity to travel to Zamonia, as Num and Clifton present The Path to Buchhaim.
The couple were kind enough to extend a personal invitation for me to visit this latest installation of their vision of Moer’s mystical land over the weekend, which I was delighted to accept – although offering a write-up has taken a while for me to get to.
With Empire of Dreaming Books, Num and Clifton set a scene fairly focused on the city of Buchhaim, with its myriad bookshops, printers, and publishers. Now, in The Path to Buchhaim, the focus switches the focus a little away from the city to expand on the landscape of the Dull Plateau that was to be found in part the previous design, and which here offers some of the many trails that cross the plateau to converge of Buchhaim whilst also offer some of the steppe-like feel of the Dull landscape (a name that while taken from the Zamonia books, is a contradiction in terms here, given the richness to be found as one wanders the undulating landscape, whether keeping to the trails or walking through the long grass and seas of flowers).
A portion of the city is still to be found tucked into a corner of the region. It offers what appears to the end-knot of the winding alley of Schwarzmanngae, and shop number 333, the home of Phistomefel Smeik and his bookimistic laboratory. Here – should you decide to accept it – an Experience awaits with the opportunity to be teleported to three further destinations.
I had hoped one of these destinations might be the the catacombs, as presented in the previous Zamonia build. However, two of the listed options will carry visitors to Hidden Bottle, another region design by Num and Clifton, and which I wrote about in May 2021, while the third goes to The Digital Apperture, a skybound gallery Clifton and Num present. At the time of my visit, the latter featured an exhibition by the couple entitled A Day at Elvion (a destination also on my list for a return visit, as I understand it has expanded to Full region).
Whilst not a part of the theme of The Path to Buchhaim, both of these destinations are very much worth dropping into, with Hidden Bottle offering a further bewitching visit for those who have not previously seen it, with the portals there obviously offering a gateway to reach this setting, those coming through them – and returning from the gallery – being delivered to the cobbles in front of the good professor’s shop.
Of course, I may have missed an entrance to the catacombs if they are still present – in which case, silly me – but even without them, this is still a setting where the central character is that of the book. Across the region books offer places to sit or stand as walls or stepping stones or rise rise in piles – they even form a kind of landslide as they fall away down a slope and into the waters of the island’s coast.
Also to be found throughout the setting are numerous places to sit, both for individuals and for couples or groups of friends. Most of these are outdoors, although a couple of the bookshops in the little corner of Buchhaim offer quiet retreats as well. And needless to say, the entire setting is beautifully photogenic, the region’s environment settings making for an ideal backdrop for images.
All of which makes for a richly engaging visit, and rather than prattle on here, I’m going to urge those of you who have not done so already, to jump across an immerse yourself in this introduction to Zamonia and explore the Paths to Buchhaim.
- The Path to Buchhaim (Zamonia, rated Adult)