Grauland’s Space Odyssey in Second Life

Grauland, January 2023 – click any image for full size

JimGarand is back with a new iteration of Grauland, and it is one that was bound to grab my attention sooner or later given it presents a sci-fi / Mars vibe in which a realm of potential touches might be found if the eye and the imagination are willing to have a little fun.

A visit commences on the ground level, a setting presenting what appears to be the surface of a Mars-like planet. It’s a place where a small human base has been established within – given the surrounding hills and central peak – what appears to be a complex crater somewhere on the planet. Whether it is Mars or somewhere else in up to you to decide (although I’m opting for the former, even if the clouds aren’t very Mars-like in their hue; but then with my interests, I would, wouldn’t I?!).

Grauland, January 2023

Whether you want to place it, this is a lonely, dry place, devoid of vegetation, the sky a colour suggestive that it is heavy in fine dust. The squat, utilitarian modules of the base sit on one side of the crater’s peak, what looks like a landing platform to one side one them – although this hasn’t prevented someone landing a small shuttle a little further from the entrance to the hab modules.

Across the crater floor from this, and hidden from view but the carter’s peak, two surface excursion vehicles appear to have found something interesting to examine (although admittedly, going by the barbecue and a couple Adirondack chairs set out alongside one of them, they might have just stopped off for a little home-cooked lunch!).

Grauland, January 2023

It’s is simple setting, offering a sense of magnificent desolation (if I might so quote, even if this is clearly not our Moon!), and ideal for sci-fi photography. However, the planetary surface is not the only point of interest in this setting. Sitting on the landing platform at the base camp is a teleport disk; it offers a choice of two destinations served by five options: a platform that is home to Jim’s M1 Poses store and an art gallery (each with its own teleport disk), and three options to deliver people to a space station.

The latter is a large, multi-level complex that clearly has its own gravity generators; it’s also a place where the imagination might have a little fun. The transporter platform sits over what might be the main control centre, a place with a strange mix of tech: in the centre are plasma-like information screens with touch keyboards; however, against the outer hull bulkheads are chunky stations with a distinct industrial edge to them, covered in solid coloured buttons you feel will give a very satisfying click when pressed – and might even stay depressed until again pressed, just so you know they are active.

Grauland, January 2023

Looking at these outer consoles, it’s not hard to imagine Lorne Green’s Commander Adama standing within this space. One the walls over them are image displays, one of which appears to be a one of the conceptual vehicles produced as a means of illustrating the (equally conceptual and speculative) Alcubierre Drive.

Beyond this, visitors find themselves in a medical bay where – if not Leonard McCoy in residence – one might not be surprised to find Dr. Phlox asking, “Now, What seems to be the problem?” Elsewhere, and after travelling by the internal elevators, it is possible to pass through a couple of biodomes which, whilst their growth might not be as luxuriant or their placement as exotic, might nevertheless result in mental images of Bruce Dern’s Freeman Lowell trying to teach Huey, Dewey and Louie the basics of how to care for the plants and animals within the domes of the Valley Forge.

Grauland, January 2023

Laid out along obviously vertical and horizontal lines (ah, the limitations of SL’s physics!) and in place looking like parts of it warehouse or hotel’s leisure facilities had been beamed wholesale into space, the station offers a lot to explore and some artistic oddities (take the, umm, bathroom, for example!). Some of these might bright to mind thoughts of other film franchises and their doom-laden theme by Jerry Goldsmith due to their dark corners and narrow confines, or the disappointment that the green lights of the machinery aren’t “moving back and forth without any purpose” (yes, I’m still playing spot-the-reference…).

And while this might sound like I’m taking the Michael out of the station, I’m not; it is an interesting place to explore whether or not you have a hidden sci-fi nerd lurking inside your head.

Grauland, January 2023

More to the point – at least for some – are the opportunities the station presents for playing with EEP settings to offer different outlooks and views. This is something I ended up doing – as seen in some of the images above, notably in the case of Saturn (and an intentional nod to the Silent Running vibe of the station’s biodomes) – courtesy of Stevie Davros’ EEP packs available via his Marketplace store (and which I reviewed back in December 2020).

Once the ground level and station have been visited, there remains the opportunity to visit the gallery / store level. Both can be reached via either the Gallery or Store options displayed by the ground level teleport disk or the three “transporter beams” active on the level above the space station’s control room. At the time of my visit, the gallery was featuring the avatar photography of Wiona (dx61005).

Grauland, January 2023

All told, another fascinating and engaging build from Jim.

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