War, gods, heroes – and summer tales – 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, August 23rd 19:00: Goliath

The third and final instalment in  Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, Goliath takes us once more to the alternative past history of Earth at the time of the First World War, and a world divided between the Darwinists- those who have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans – and the Clankers, who have built their society on machinery technology.

Once again we join Alek and Deryn in their adventures, this time with both of them aboard the living airship Leviathan. Unexpectedly, the ship is diverted mid-flight over Russia with orders to pick up a single large create being transported overland by a fighting bear. Once aboard the whale-ship the crew set about constructing the machine as the ship continues on its way.

Passing over Siberia, the Leviathan comes across an area of great mystery: a devastated region where the trees have been flattened to form a great series of rings, the corpse of another whale-ship lying near its centre, the beleaguered survivors needing rescue even as they are protected from out-of-control and starving fighting bears by another strange machine.

Bringing them aboard the Leviathan, the crew discover the survivors have been protected by the work of one Nikola Tesla, a scientist and inventor who may have the weapon that can bring an end to the Great War.

As the adventure continues, Deryn, still disguising herself as a boy in order to be a part of Leviathan’s crew, struggles with her feelings for Alek and whether she should reveal the truth about herself to him…

Tuesday, August 24th 19:00: Going Greek!

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West.

While Stephen Fry is perhaps best known as an actor / performer with a flair for also being a raconteur, he has also made a name for himself as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. As a lover of Greek mythology, he has penned three volumes on the legends: Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (2017), Heroes, The myths of the Ancient Greek heroes retold  (2018) and Troy Our Greatest Story Retold (2020).

In his hands, these legends – from Athena born from the cracking open of Zeus’s great head to Persephone’s descent into the underworld courtesy of Hades or the 12 trials of Heracles or Perseus’ facing of the Medusa or the fate of Prometheus after he betrays Zeus or the vanity of Cassiopeia and the fate it placed on her daughter, all the way through to THAT war with the horsey thing – Fry turns the stories of the titans and gods and heroes, heroines, kings and queens of the ancient Greek tales into an entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

With Going Greek! Willow Moonfire offers a mix of some of the re-told tales from all three volumes in what is sure to be an entertaining reading.

Wednesday, August 25th, 19:00 Creatures of Light and Darkness

Two gods, two houses, one quest and the eternal war between life and death. To save his kingdom, Anubis, Lord of the Dead, sends forth his servant on a mission of vengeance. At the same time, from The House of Life, Osiris sends forth his son, Horus, on the same mission to destroy utterly & forever The Prince Who Was a Thousand.

But neither of these superhuman warriors is prepared for the strange & harrowing world of mortal life. The Thing That Cries in the Night may well destroy not only their worlds, but all humankind.

With Corwyn Allen.

Thursday, August 26th

19:00: Summer Stories

 With Caledonia, in The Glen.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.

2021 viewer release summaries week #33

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

Updates from the week ending Sunday, August 22nd

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

  • Release viewer: version, formerly the CEF update viewer, dated July 24th, promoted August 10th – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • No updates.


  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • MetaChat updated to version 1.2.9133, August 17.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

The Falling Leaves: Fly’s watercolours in Second Life

Sinful Retreat Janus III gallery Aug-Sept 2021: Fly Kugin

Second Life is awash with opportunities for people to express themselves creatively, be it through talents and skills they bring to the platform from their physical lives, or through the opportunities the platform itself offers for them to discover new avenues through which to express themselves – or indeed, a combination of the two. Through the platform we also have the opportunity to share in people’s creativity and their artistry and even to witness its growth.

Sinful Retreat Janus III gallery Aug-Sept 2021: Fly Kugin

This has certainly been the case for those familiar with Fly Kugin (FlyQueen). She first entered Second Life six years ago, and the majority of us were probably none the wiser. However, this changed in 2019 when, as a talented violinist with over 20 years of professional playing throughout her native Turkey and overseas, Fly started performing in Second Life.

In doing so, she quickly and rightly establishing herself as one a highly sought-after musician, with many of her concerts form early 2020 onwards presented through The White Mask Project, specifically established so she could channel the funds raised through such concerts into various charities close to her heart.

As well as bringing her music to Second Life, the platform has encouraged Fly to express herself through other mediums available within it, notably SL photography. She started taking landscape pictures in-world in 2020, teaching herself Photoshop to produce images that carry a the impression of having been painted. From here, either directly or indirectly, she started experimenting with art in the physical world, teaching herself techniques in line art and painting using on-line resources, and over the last several months she has exhibited her work at a number of in-world galleries.

On August 22nd, Fly opened what is her latest – and possibly last, at least for an unspecified period – exhibition at Chuck Clip’s Janus Gallery III at Sinful Retreat. The Falling Leaves is a gorgeous collection of nine watercolour paintings of the leaves (and in three cases the flowers) of various trees and flora.

While the title of the exhibition might remind some of the opening line of Johnny Mercer’s English lyrics for Autumn Leaves, the pieces selected in the exhibition are offered not in memory of a lost love, but as a dedication to the plants and flowers lost during the July / August 2021 wildfires that burnt through 1,600 square kilometres of Turkey’s Mediterranean forest (although given the soulful nature of the tune by Joseph Kosma to which Mercer set his words, it can actually frame the exhibition quite well).

In presenting The Falling Leaves, Fly describes herself as a “beginner” in the subject of painting flora; I’d actually dispute that statement. There is a maturity and grace within these paintings that easily puts them on a level approaching the works by some of the great botanical artists and illustrators; being English, I was almost immediately put in mind of some of Elizabeth Blackwell’s illustrations found in her A Curious Herbal, (without the associated medical connotations, obviously), such is the detail to be found in Fly’s pieces.

The maturity of technique these painting is made all the more attractive when one considers Fly only started experimenting with watercolours in June 2021. In fact, The Falling Leaves is her first exhibition of her watercolour paintings; a fact that makes the exhibition a bittersweet experience, given it is unclear when (or even possibly if) she will be exhibiting in-world again.

Sinful Retreat Janus III gallery Aug-Sept 2021: Fly Kugin

Given that there may not be another opportunity to view exhibitions by Fly after The Falling Leaves closes on September 22nd, 2021, I urge all lovers of art in SL to hop along to Sinful Retreat and visit the Janus Gallery III between now and then and share in these pieces.

SLurl Details

Space Sunday: roving on Mars, Starship flights, and suing NASA

A view across Gale Crater from “Mount Sharp”, captured by the Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity rover on July 3rd, 2021, Sol 3,167 for the mission). The dark band of rippled material in the middle-ground of the image is a dune field of volcanic sand. Credit: NASA/JPL

It’s now nine years since NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity arrived on the Red Planet. To celebrate, the rover is about to enter a new phase of exploration as it continues to climb the slopes of “Mount Sharp” (more correctly, Aeolis Mons), the 5 km high mound that rises from the centre of Gale Crater.

Through July and August, the rover has been passing through a “transitional field” between a region on the mound that is dominated by the presence of clay minerals and one dominated by sulphates. While doubt has recently be cast on how large a role water has played in the crater’s (and particular “Mount Sharp’s”) formation, the change from clay minerals to sulphates is nevertheless important, as it marks a point where very different processes were at work on Mars as a result of the planet’s changing climate.

The rocks here will begin to tell us how this once-wet planet changed into the dry Mars of today, and how long habitable environments persisted even after that happened.

– Abigail Fraeman, MSL deputy project scientist

This is an area the MSL science team have been anxious to reach; roughly 460 metres above the crater floor where the rover landed in August 2012, it has been a target for Curiosity since before the rover arrived on Mars, as it could hold the key to the impact of climate change elsewhere on Mars where it is thought water may once have been present.

The transition between environments comes as Curiosity celebrates nine years of operations on Mars. To mark this NASA recently released a video of images captured by the rover during July, as it approached the transitional area. Because it is currently winter within Gale Crater, a time when the amount of dust in the tenuous Martian atmosphere is especially low, the images used in the video are exceptional clear and detailed images that even reveal the crater walls in detail, even though they are over 70 km away.

Another rover with cause to celebrate is China’s Zhurong rover, currently operating on Utopia Planitia. Somewhat smaller than the NASA rover, Zhurong arrived on Mars at the start of an initial 90-sol (92 day)mission are a part of China’s TIanwen 1 interplanetary mission. Since its arrival, the rover has been moving south from its lander vehicle, carrying out a range of science operations.

China has perhaps not been as pro-active as NASA in their social media output on the mission, but Zhurong has performed exceptional well, returning some 10 gigabytes of data to mission control on Earth whilst travelling almost a kilometre, visiting other elements of the mission along the way, such and the backshell and parachute that protected it through entry into the the Martian atmosphere and helped to decelerate in its descent ready for landing. So well, in fact that the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced the mission is to be extended through a second 90-sol period.

The rover has most recently reached an area believed to have once been the shoreline of ancient coastal waters in the region, marking it as a particular area of scientific interest. In particular, the rover is being directed to drive to a feature described as a “groove” just over 1.6 km from its current position.

Hopefully, by providing data on this area for our scientists, we can get a deeper understanding of the geology of Mars, and then even see if we can find evidence of the existence of an ancient ocean in Utopia Planitia. If it is possible for us to see from the top to the bottom [of the groove], or if there are disparities of rock types and compositions, we could learn about what has happened in its geological history. So, this is what we’re going to focus on in the near future

– Liu Jianjun, chief designer of the Tianwen 1 ground application system

A recent image release by CNSA via CCTV (China state television) show the view make along Zhurong’s route south, captured by the rover’s black and white navigation cameras. Credit: CNA / CCTV

Meanwhile, in Jezero Crater, NASA’s ingenuity Mars helicopter drone has completed its 12th – and most challenging – flight.

On August 16th, 2021, the helicopter took off on a reconnaissance flight again in support of the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance.  The flight was one of the longest to date, with Ingenuity covering over 450 metres and lasted 169 seconds over terrain, dubbed  “Séítah South”, regarded as “risky” due to its varied nature.

Flying over Séítah South carries substantial risk because of the varied terrain. When we choose to accept the risks associated with such a flight, it is because of the correspondingly high rewards. Knowing that we have the opportunity to help the Perseverance team with science planning by providing unique aerial footage is all the motivation needed.

– From the Ingenuity flight log

The flight saw the helicopter return to the “round trip” approach seen in initial flights, travelling out over a region where, if it had been forced to make an emergency landing, could have resulted in it suffering damage or loss, and then back again. The route was selected so as to allow Ingenuity recorded the terrain in sufficient stereoscopic detail  that mission planners might determine a route into the terrain for Perseverance. and have the rover drive itself safely to specific points of interest.

Taking the rover into  “Séítah South” is regarded as riskier than flying Ingenuity over it, but the region is also full of intriguing rocks that the science team believe the risk is worth the potential returns.

During the 12th flight of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, the craft overflew an area of rough terrain called “Séítah South”, and while manoeuvring, the helicopter managed to capture an image of the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance from a distance of around 1/2 a kilometre, NASA later released this enlarged image of the rover as seen by Ingenuity. Credit: NASA/JPL

Currently, Mars is approaching a period of solar conjunction – meaning it is on the far side of the Sun relative to Earth, and about to pass “behind” the Sun as seen from Earth, and event that happens once every two years. During this period, and the time leading up to it an immediately after it, ionized gas radiating out from the Sun’s corona can interfere with radio signals between Earth and vehicles operating on the surface of Mars or in orbit around it, increasing the risk of miscommunications and possible damage to, or loss off, those vehicles.

To avoid this, the fleet of spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars from the USA, UAE, Europe and China will be order to enter “safe” modes during the first two weeks of October, shutting down all major operations until such time as communications can be safely resumed. At the same time, the rovers active on the surface of Mars will switch to autonomous modes of operation, reducing their science operations until such time and full communication between them and the orbits spacecraft and the spacecraft and Earth can be re-established.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: roving on Mars, Starship flights, and suing NASA”