Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Encounter with Darkness

As promised, here is the short story I’ve been working on with Jem’s and Conan’s help. It’s long by blog standards (nearly 3,000 words), and thoroughly illustrated, so I’ll be breaking it up into pages. (Which also gives me a chance to experiment with some WordPress tweaks.) Just look for “Pages” beneath the Related Posts section at the bottom of each page, and click on the next page to continue.

If you have questions, such as Ariel and Adam’s backstory, contact me in world, or write harper.ganesvoort at gmail dot com, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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Visits to Terra were an extremely rare thing for Ariel Sherman, despite her dual positions as a successful performer across multiple modes, and head of the interstellar corporation known as the Cyborg Condominium. Most questions of business could be taken care of in a holographic quadcomm conference call, after all. Considering how far the distance was between the ancient mother planet and the Videra Sector, which contained the star Eta Pegasi and its inhabited planet of Videra, that was just as well. The Limlight Republic was spread across well over two thousand systems, and the trip between the two sectors, even in hyperspace, took nearly a month one way.

But some companies insisted on face-to-face meetings, and real sign-manuals on plaspaper contracts instead of electronic signatures, and so Ariel found herself far removed from the comforts of her home on the pleasure planet Videra, and from her revue show at The Land of Fantasy Theatre. Not that her surroundings were uncomfortable at the moment. The hotel suite she and Adam Sandhara, her husband, occupied for their stay in Old Manhattan was sinfully luxurious; and it should be … after all, it was owned by the Condominium. Even if most of the trip could be written off the taxes as a business expense, the bean-counters preferred keeping those expenses to a minimum.

The cost of the meal could still be written off, though, because Ariel had chosen to make a virtue out of a necessity, and ply her preferred trade in a new sector of the Republic. Before leaving Videra, she had informed the hotel manager that she would be bringing her nightclub act to one of the clubs inside their hotel for a surprise appearance.

Curtain time was approaching, and the ’borgs were finishing their meal with a few glasses of champagne, and a cigarette on Ariel’s part.  Glancing across the floor where his wife would soon be performing, Adam grinned and said, “There are times, Ari, when I don’t know why I indulge you as I do.  Coming over 200 light-years from Eta Pegasi to perform at a nightclub is a bit of a jaunt, even in this day and age.”

“Oh, I think I can come up with a few reasons why you indulge me, darling,” Ariel laughed as she blew smoke toward the ceiling ventilation ducts.  Soft lights shimmered off the silk of the lehenga sari from New Karnataka that she wore.  “Reasons which I heartily return, by the way.  That’s the reason we stay married, even after twenty-something years.  Anyway, you should blame this on the company that insists on face-to-face negotiations in a board room and an actual signature on a physical contract, signed in person before a roomful of lawyers and notaries public.  We could have solved everything from Videra with a few teleconferences and a blockchain signature.  This company doesn’t do that kind of thing, though.” 

She tapped off her ash in the ashtray, and added, “And don’t tell me you’re not taking advantage of your little ‘vacation’ here to meet up with old clients for Micronan, and maybe hunt up a few new ones.  That’s the only real reason you needed to come along, other than spending time with me when my meetings break.”

“I admit you have me there, lady,” Adam smiled, the lights of the club glinting off his metallic “skin,” as golden as his wife’s.  “I still say you’re giving in a little to ego here, looking for some applause even when you’re technically away from the stage.”

“I may grant you that one, lord.  But I see it more like I’m drumming up fresh trade myself for the revue.  Even without us on board as the constant star artists anymore, the revue is still hugely popular; but keeping the name out there in fresh areas helps keep the business up.”

“Mmhmm … that’s what they all say, I’m sure,” Adam said with another grin … and then he laughed as he caught the napkin Ariel threw at him.  He tossed it back as Ariel took a final sip of wine; she patted her lips dry, then kissed her husband, and trotted back to the dressing room set aside for her, to do a last repair on her makeup before coming on.

Unsurprisingly, the hour-long concert set proved a hit; even two hundred-some light-years from Videra, the star quality of Ariel Sherman enthralled spectators.  She accepted the enthusiastic applause of the audience, none of whom had known that she would be singing for them; as she bowed, though, she glanced around the room, and noticed that Adam had vanished.  It wasn’t unusual for him to meet her in the dressing room, however, and so Ariel worked her way “backstage.”

When she made it inside the dressing room, there was no sign of Adam.  She noted, however, a “message waiting” advice on the wall commpanel, and tapped it on.  Adam’s face appeared, and said, “Darling, I’m sorry, but one of those old clients of mine called with an incredibly urgent consultation request.  I can’t put him off, so I’ve gone down to the comm lounge to handle it.  I’ll meet you in the bar after we’re both done.  Sorry.”

Ah, the joys of running insanely successful corporations ….  Ariel grinned as she shook her head, cleared the message, and returned up the halls to the bar area, passing by the transsteel door to the businesspersons’ communications lounge.  A glance inside showed Adam still there, pacing back and forth as he spoke to an image on his digicomm.  Seeing he was occupied, Ariel moved on.

The nightclub’s bar wasn’t a large one – most drinks were served at the tables – and was tended by a single ’droid.  Ariel ordered a small white wine and turned to gaze idly toward the club’s outside entrance; then she started as she focused on the door, her lips falling from their smile and her optics locking on the woman who was entering.

Fast Plane Flying

With a sigh of relief, Lisavet Darchiev turned away from the gateside ticket counter and stepped away toward a nearby coffee shop on the airport concourse. She had already pocketed her ticket and other travel documents in her jacket, had moved everything metallic in her pockets into her carry-on bag, and had passed through the minor hell of the TSA checkpoint with a minimal loss of dignity. Now, with maybe two hours until her flight for Los Angeles boarded, she could get a cup of tea and put herself back together.

And, barring disasters, hijackings and breakdowns, I should make it home in time for the Oscar ceremony. Thanks be to Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Basil, and maybe I’ll throw in Francis de Sales, the patron of authors, for good measure. Maks might forgive me for missing the night, but Piper never would … she looks forward to our annual karaoke date every year. The thought made her giggle as she pushed through the doors to the cafe, causing a few heads to turn and glance at her in curiosity.

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Traditions

 

4754 C. E.

Among the traditions that had held on in show business, the Green Room was one of the most persistent.  Nobody knew for sure why the room set aside as an actors’ lounge was called “the Green Room,” and Ariel Sherman had heard of many rooms that weren’t painted or otherwise decorated in green, but there the name was.  And when they had built the original Land of Fantasy Theatre out of the old pleasure house, Ariel had included a Green Room — though it was a touch more open to other people than just the performers in the revue — and insisted it be “correctly” decorated with green walls.  Though she doubted few theatres had ever gone in for expensive draped green satin wallpaper; but, with the seed credit the cyborgs of Videra had to start with, why not splurge a little?

She did the same thing some ten years later, when The Land of Fantasy added a supper club to the front of the theatre building.  Again, walls hung in green satin, gentle holo-abstracts and other artwork, and comfortable furniture provided relaxation for performers preparing to go on before the club’s patrons.  And, as the club’s first performer — a change from starring in the main revue for so long — there Ariel was, breaking in the room … with a nasty case of stage nerves.  Why in hell do I put myself through this? she wondered in her mind as she dragged hard on her cigarette holder.  Years of performing six nights a week, multiple interview appearances on the ‘screen, even two virt-vids to my credit by now, and I still get stage fright before an opening.

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Cyborgs of Fantasy

It was a Saturday evening, two nights before the official public première of The Land of Fantasy’s new revue, which Lady Ariel Sherman and her writers had christened Nights of Fantasy.  Newsstream writers, critics and celebrities from across several stellar cubes of planetary sectors had been invited to a preview of the show, and an after-party to celebrate.  And the mood of the people milling through Sherman Mansion at that party, hosted by herself and her husband, Lord Adam Sandhara, gave Ariel every encouragement that the reviews soon to be written and off-hand interviews to be given would be strongly in the positive.  Her smile gleamed almost as much as the sheen of the garden lights from her golden integument as she moved through the crowd of information-hungry reporters and celebrities who toasted her with sparkling etrinya wine and air-kissed her when they saw her.

Four years ago, such an event hadn’t been needed.  The news coverage of the freeing of over 700 citizens of the Limlight Republic from bondage, following their near-total conversion into cyborg “pleasure workers,” had still been fresh in the public’s mind when the original version of Ariel’s revue premiered.  Now, Nights of Fantasy needed to compete in the market alongside the other entertainments on the pleasure planet Videra, and that meant publicity.  Ariel had set the marketing group her theatre always used to work on it, and that included Dara Furtano, the young woman who had arranged and masterminded this party.

dara-and-ariel-1

Young indeed, Ariel thought as she spotted Dara under a wooden gazebo in the garden and went over to speak with her.  Figuratively, Dara was less than a year old, though she had been born over twenty years before.  Dara had requested that Ariel provide the means to convert her into a ‘borg herself, for reasons that still mystified Ariel in some ways.  Ariel had resisted every request — until an accident at the theatre had almost killed her and her daughter, Zana.  Dara, nearby at the time, had saved them, which placed Ariel in lifedebt to Dara; and, after more discussion, had agreed reluctantly to the conversion.  She had found no cause to regret that concession; indeed, Dara, already an excellent publicist and marketing executive, had grown even better with her now total recall of needed data, as well as the ability to synthesize solutions on the fly.  And her already present beauty had been intensified by her conversion into a silvery cyborg.

dara-and-ariel-2

“Dara, if I had to give the night a review, I’d say you’re what they used to call a boffo success,” Ariel smiled as she stepped under the gazebo.  “Thank you so much for what you’ve done for us.  And you are as charming as could be in that gown!  I thought it would look good on you.”

Dara smiled back, if shyly, and dipped a small curtsey to her host, the fuchsia folds of her dress billowing about her in the bob.  “Thank you back, lady.  The same could be said about you, how well the show went off; it was fantastic!  And your dress is lovely, too.”

“Something I pulled out of my closet; I hadn’t had a decent place to wear it until tonight, and I don’t think you can find it anywhere now.  Who knows, but it may come back into style after tonight.”

dara-and-ariel-3

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The details:

Harper (Lady Ariel Sherman) wears —

ariel-closeup

  • Skin: Fallen Gods Pure (Gold)
  • Eyes: Less is More CyberEYE v3.0
  • Hair: rezology May Rose
  • Attachments: SLink Avatar Enhance hands and feet
  • Gown: [sYs] Majestic (vintage)
  • Shoes: Vero Modero Murcia (vintage)
  • Accessories: Adam n Eve Opera Gloves for SLINK Hands (Black); Anachron group gift cigarette holder; Chop Zuey French Kiss suite (bracelet, earrings, ring, necklace) and Lala in Love wedding suite; Heth Haute Couture Royal Star brooch (you’ll find this on the men’s side; I’ve borrowed it for Ariel’s Republican Order brooch)
  • Makeup (eye application order): Oceane Body Design Metallix Eyeshadow (Purple); JUMO Vega eyeliner (Black 003); *BOOM* Liquid Glaze (vintage); Mystic Canvass Pucker Gloss lipstick (vintage)

Jem (Dara Furtano) wears —

dara-closeup

  • Skin: Fallen Gods Pure (Ice)
  • Eyes: Less is More CyberEYE v3.0
  • Hair: rezology Kunai
  • Attachments: SLink Avatar Enhance hands and feet
  • Gown: Chop Zuey Tizziana pink gown, inspired by John Galliano designs, complete with bracelet and earrings
  • Shoes: KC Couture Cassiopeia sandals
  • Gloves: Sweet Tea Formal Gloves (Fuschia [sic])
  • Makeup (eye application order): Oceane Body Design Cat2 eyeshadow (Fuchsia); Zibska Innes lipstick (05); FATElashes v2.0

Photographed at my home

Most poses by PosESioN; conversation animation by [RNP] Animations

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Tholosa, the Witch-queen

October’s here!  Time to start getting in gear for Halloween, and I’ve got just the thing here.  I was going to just publish these on Flickr, but at least a few of them are pretty decent; so I’ll do the same thing here as I did on there, publish them with text beneath to explain each scene in my story.  It’s definitely a first for me, I’m not sure what Harper would have to say about this one.  But if she can publish her stuff on here, so can I, and she’s been encouraging me to. You get to judge how I do.

Fair warning disclosure — there’s a lot of large pictures here.  Have patience if it takes a little for them to load, please.

You can see the entire original collection in full size in the album on Flickr (aside from several I’m adding in here to help bulk out the collection, or that I reshot with Conan to improve things).

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Tholosa the Exalted, the Witch-queen of the Empire of Oshor Chih — known not as The Exalted by her enemies, but as Tholosa of the Grave — takes her ease in her palace’s apartments, beneath a statue of one of the strange gods she worships.  Even in the gloom of her rooms, this strange woman, who has conquered and absorbed into her empire kingdom after kingdom, glows with a shell of power.  This encourages her unlettered slaves to believe in her as a goddess, and puts to use the undesirable effect of all the sorcerous protections she has cast about her in self-defense.

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You don’t see much men’s viewpoint, fashion, or whatever here. But when I noticed Carson’s costumes tied in to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, and they looked good, then it’s time to yield the floor for an article. Enjoy.

Mens Where?

pekas maroon green  mm

I stumbled across several sims that provide fans of A Game of Thrones to role play with others in cities of Westeros and beyond. And if you’re going to play the part, you need to look the part. Here are two outfits from PeKaS that fit the bill. To play a Dothraki warrior, I found the  Maroon Outfit in green on the Midnight Mania Board.

I also found the Eragor Outfit in black and brown in the new releases section for $250L. This is more suitable for court or to worship the old Gods in the Godswood. The Eragor Outfit also includes the Belle Boots. I suggest if you are a fan of the books or the show, take a tour of Winterfell.

Just remember, When you play the game of thrones, either you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

PeKaS Eragor black and brown 250

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* PeKaS – Maroon in green…

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Swing and Sway

Read and enjoy this lovely piece of fiction by Harper Beresford. I didn’t know she was giving us another short story until I got to the end of the article and noticed her note beneath the credits. And I hope you’ll enjoy her choice of gowns as well; the lovely Ms. Beresford does it again in every detail.

A Passion for Virtual Fashion

Swing and Sway

Born Anna Sandowsky in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917, Arlene Sands was one of the swing era’s “unsung” female vocalists. Known for her throaty voice and broad range, Arlene was admired from coast to coast for her work with the Harvey Hall band. As Hitler marched into Poland, Arlene sang for crowds up and down the East Coast and blessed her citizenship, which allowed a Jewish woman like her to appear in public, an equal citizen whose religious heritage and beliefs were not as important to them as her beautiful voice and glamorous look.

Swing and Sway

Anna/Arlene is brought to life with this gorgeous dress from Neferia Abel. Neferia has been making dresses in SL based on her historical research for over five years. At one time. she was the only place go for anything vintage, and she is still the best for historical accuracy in 20th century women’s fashion. This…

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Posted December 18, 2011 by Harper Ganesvoort in Fashion, Fiction, Reblog

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Hallowe’en 2011: The Chill

The woman stood and contemplated the fire burning low on the hearth.  It gave off little heat, was there more for the light than anything; she had no need for the heat, not since the day he had come and touched her lips and heart.  Moon-pale she had always been, some said.  Not as pale then as now, though, others replied.  A few of the servants had spied from behind doors and curtains, as servants often would, and they all swore that they could see the color draining from her face, the red of her lips replaced by the black, some claimed, of the grave.  Her people had served her faithfully before — now they feared to leave her, lest she come seeking them some night, and bring them back to her halls, changed as she was….

Keep on reading after the break.  Fair warning:  lots of pictures.

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Worth Every Penny — Aboard the S. S. Galaxy

Lisavet Darchiev swiped her key card in the lock slot and stepped inside Suite 484 on board the S. S. Galaxy. She glanced idly at the rate card on the back of the door as she closed and locked it; then she blinked, and with a shudder, she read, “L$5,200/week.” Bozhe moi!! It still gave her a shock every time she thought of how much this business meeting disguised as a party was costing her publishers. L$5,200 was more in one week than Lisavet made in a month at her old job, and she was not that badly paid. At the same time, the whole concept gave her a delighted frisson. Here she was, once an administrative assistant assigned to the Russian Embassy in London; now she was the toast of the literary world, or at least the mystery/thriller world, being compared to the next Stieg Larsson, and being feted like the Tsar of All the Russias at the release party for the English edition of her second book.

Andrei, her agent and publicist, born in London but Russian to his soul, was already in the suite; he waved across the great room from the windows, came to give Lisavet a hug and an air kiss, and said in Russian, “So, Lisavet Petrovna, how do you enjoy Miami weather?”

“Much nicer than home in Petersburg, Andrei Leonovich; maybe I can actually get a tan here.”

Andrei laughed, then took Lisavet upstairs to her personal bedroom, followed by a ship’s maid. It was a complete mini-suite, with a large shower, marble tub, comfortable bed, and a personal private balcony beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. “I think this should do the job, don’t you? Just the surroundings for E. P. Darchiev, literary sensation, to make her first big splash in the world of charming the critics.”

Lisavet giggled as she dropped her purse on the bed. “The critics won’t be coming in here, Andrei. And I still need to get used to people calling me ‘E. P. Darchiev.'”

“Well, like I said when you hired me, do you know how long the British and Americans would struggle trying to get out ‘Elisaveta Petrovna Darchiev’? Let alone the spelling mistakes for years? Tell them your real name when they’re interviewing you, but give the printers and proofreaders a break, and life will be much saner in the end.”

While the maid put away the luggage in drawers, and the ship pulled out of dock to make weigh, Andrei gave Lisavet a rundown on the schedule. This first day would be free time for Lisavet until 6:30, as everyone else was getting established in their cabins and staterooms as well. Come dinner time, she would need to be ready for the party she was “hosting” for the press and booksellers’ buyers. Lisavet nodded happily; that gave her some few hours to enjoy the Galaxy‘s amenities before she had to get ready.

A half-hour later, Lisavet was clad in a new swimsuit, and floating on an inflatable chair in the ship’s salt-water pool on the top deck. Here in the Caribbean, the weather was warm and sunny even in November, miles away from conditions back home in old Saint Petersburg. She relaxed back into the gentle support, letting the tropical sun warm her and tan her while she considered ordering a margarita. Or would a piña colada be more appropriate…? Ah, well, for now, she would just kick back and get rid of a little of her boreal winter pallor. Saint Petersburg was her home, but it was good to get away for a little sun now and again — that’s why everyone in Russia seemed headed for Odessa on the Black Sea back in the Soviet days. She spread herself out to the best decorative position with an internal smile, watching through slitted lids and lashes as two men walked by on the deck and stopped to stare at her.

It ended up a margarita, after she got out of the pool, toweled herself off, and slipped back into her batik walking sash and sandals, left on a deck chair. She was a good daughter of Mother Russia; sometimes, though, you needed a change of pace from all that vodka….

After that, a light lunch of sushi and rice in the Japanese restaurant on the conference level — the tuna looked very fresh, and was — followed by a short round of shopping in the small stores, and then back to the suite to be primped and pampered for the party.

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Lisavet waved across the room and called out, “Andrei Leonovich, come here, please,” calling him over to help with an impromptu talk with one of the critics, this one for the New York Review. Things had gone splendidly all night, but it paid to never be caught out. She shimmered in her new evening gown: strapless, with a luxurious pattern in gold print on silk, it was appropriately named Goddess. That’s just how Lisavet felt all through the night. Everyone she had talked to raved about their advance copies of the new book, and it looked like she was well on her way to another best-seller. It wasn’t over yet, though; there were six more days of talks with individual reporters — the Review had decided to get his licks in early — as well as the usual shipboard activities to “cope” with. She grinned to herself; somehow, she thought, she could manage that….

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The details:

The standard stuff —

  • Skin: PXL Candy
  • Eyes: Poetic Gold Flake eyes (sapphire)
  • Nails: Mandala Nail Palette 1 (medium size, HUD controllable)

Daytime:

  • Bikini: Connors Hula Sash blue batik, w/ skirt for wear outside the water
  • Sandals: EarthStones Lalika sandals (Deep Ocean)
  • Hair: Analog Dog Harper (cherry)

At the party:

  • Dress: Gizza Goddess (includes armlets)
  • Shoes: N-core XtremeHeel II slingbacks (silver)
  • Jewelry: Finesmith Noga suite (earrings, necklace, ring)
  • Hair: Vanity Shizuka (Feux, w/o fans)
  • Makeup: Miamai XGen Vintage Liner, Dark Delight eyeshadow

All photos taken on board the S. S. Galaxy, a three-sim-large cruise ship with all the amenities you could imagine or desire. The teleport will drop you at the embarkation dock.

Tales from Insilico — Suffering for Her Art

Read Part I here….

Read Part II here….

Caution:  some situations in this story, and some pictures involving nudity, should be considered NSFW/NSS

Jadzia lay curled up on the cot in the side room, seriously regretting every recent moment of her existence. This has to be the last damned time, she thought to herself as the nausea began rising up again.  As she edged her head over the side of the cot to find the hurl bucket, her mind went over the past twenty-seven hours of station time….

It had been over three months since she had finally paid off the “photo-etched” skin mod she had obtained at a “black” biolab; but the attention she had hoped for from talent scouts had never come.  Jadzia knew they were jaded in appetite, of course; they had seen it all and then some, it seemed, and you really had to be maybe a parsec out there now to even catch a glimpse from them, let alone get the attention of an agent.  But she thought this mod would have done it for sure!

There was only one thing for it — to try again, or to go back to selling herself in a different way.  Being a courtesan meant peddling her body, or at least certain portions of it, but being Shayana had paid the bills.  And she had been good at it, too, pleasuring both herself and her clients, and acquiring something of a reputation for it.  But you could only do so much whoring before something started seeping into your soul.  Remembering the peace she had felt that night in Atonement, the abandoned church-turned-club, Jadzia’s small core of self-pride asserted itself, and she resolved to try one more time.  She booked the appointment — not as obviously as calling a more reputable clinic to “set up an appointment,” of course — and showed up the night specified.

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