Archive for the ‘Science fiction’ Tag

Our Lady of the Bloomenveldt

Jem sent me some photos she’d squeezed in recently, but didn’t have the chance to write up.  As it happened, I’d recently re-read Norman Spinrad’s Child of Fortune, which I recommend to you at some point; and the size of some of the flowers in LEA15’s Gardens By the Bay reminded me of that book.  If you don’t get the context of the quotations, I suggest you buy the book.  It is fun, it is erotic, and it will make you think about what our society could be like if we tried out the social philosophy of Sunshine’s Second Starfaring Age.

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It’s the Signs of the Times

Starbase, 12-21-2014

Changes are going on at my starbase.  As you can tell from the tubes going up and down at several places, along with the moving of several elements (and the removal of several others), there’s a lot more vertical spread than there used to be.  This is because Exosphere has released new components, including what Brenda refers to as “Starbase Decks.”  These are essentially elevator landings with four iris doors in the outer walls.  (The lift tubes, of course, help keep the vacuum out as well as allowing passage from deck to deck.  Most people find breathing hard vacuum somewhat…unsatisfying.)

With a little thought, I rearranged things using these new modules, and I now have a fully linked square, allowing you to walk the entire perimeter of Deck 1 (as it now is) if you prefer, instead of taking the travel bubbles.  The tram stations are still there, however, allowing for fast movement between one side and another when speed is needed.  I’ve also removed the prim-heavy Black Bishop modules, which are pretty and less “space-worn,” but are not compatible in length with the Exosphere components, and will not fit without a special connector.  I can still, however, put up the Black Bishop modules for special purposes in another volume of “space” — I’d be willing to rent out the station for machinima — or for another commons in a separate dormitory block.

Just one problem with all of this activity — I have to redo all my signs now.  As the starbase grew more complex — remember, I originally was thinking of just a few sheds for storing boxes out of my inventory! — becoming more of a set for my fiction, and my thoughts on what would be needed for it grew, I needed to mark out the ways around it (for visitors, if nothing else; I’ve had a few).  But every time I change the configuration, of course, I have to change the signs.  For instance, the main landing center, which you can see in the lower left corner, is currently on Deck 1L.  It used to be on Deck 1, but I’m trying to move some of the “grittier” aspects of station life off the main levels and down to a “basement” deck.  I could even go down another deck or so, as well as up past Deck 2 (the current top level) within the volume I’m inhabiting right now.  But that will, of course, mean more or new signs…

GIMP is starting to overheat on me right now….

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Station Map

I figured it was time to get the layout of my starbase somewhat formalized, so I spent some time learning a few tricks with GIMP, and I came up with this “subway map”-style illustration of the layout:

station map -- 08-15-2014 upload

If some of the terms are weird to you, such as “Grand Council” or “Ard Taòisha,” fear not; you need to be reading my stories (which I still hope to publish one day) to know everything going on here.  If I ever get those stories up, you’ll have a chance to learn them for yourself.

I felt it was logical to divide the station into its proper functions, and assigned a color code to each area.  (Gee, I wonder where I got some of the colors from…?)1  Not everything I want is in the station yet, and so this map will certainly change as time goes on, and as I discover and fix mistakes.  (I’ve already added in something since I made this, and discovered one spelling error [sigh], so I already need to go back and fix things.)

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1 And yes, I know you’re probably used to the colors being assigned differently.  Remember, in the Star Trek I grew up with, “Command wore gold, Engineering wore red–”  “And the women wore less.”  (Deep Space Nine, “Trials and Tribbleations.”)

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A Station Among the Stars

I’ve been experimenting with an interesting set of goodies I discovered on the Marketplace — interlocking modules that let you construct your own custom space station or starbase, with almost idiot-proof simplicity and a lot of room for fun and creativity.  Market by Exosphere, the modules are fully mod/copy, and cover many of the situations you’d find in an RPG space opera, with more planned for the future.  You could also put together a nice, if perhaps a little lived-in-looking, spacegoing homestead for yourself.  Since the modules are mod-allowed, then if you’re good with texturing, you could redress the interiors to something less “worn.”  (As an aside, seeing this starbase does make me wonder what the insides of the RL International Space Station look and smell like after over 15 years of occupancy.)

Starbase 1

This is an exterior view of the work/test/construction platform put together by one of the owners of Exosphere, Brenda Hoisin, which she was kind enough to let me wander around in, as well as led me on a few tours of.  As you can see, Brenda’s station is complex and rambling; but it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can make yours as simple as you wish for your needs with just a few basic modules and connectors.  This one has most of the currently available modules attached, and so has many up-and-down access ways to get from level to level.  For even faster access to crucial areas, you could add in a teleporter system.  (I have noticed that you cannot do double-click teleports anywhere on board, which I find interesting.)

The following photo-rich article will seem like a bit of a catalogue, but I reserve that for Brenda and her (I believe) senior partner in the business, Eco Chronowire, at their blog/product site.  You can find the entire current line at their Marketplace store; there is no in-world store at the moment.  This is more of a travelogue, I hope, around a product line that I find very intriguing.  It is rather plugging their wares, but it’s worth it if you’re interested in the spacegoing life for yourself in Second Life.

Turn the page to get started

Bunnies Instead of Worms

"Muad'dib, the thumpers have been activated, but we're getting bunnehs instead of worms!"

I just gotta share this.

As many know, I am one of the hoard of Second Life Residents that use Plurk as a form of communication.  One of my Plurk friends just mentioned tonight that they had a mess of signs for Ozimal Bunnies to upload tonight.  And I immediately replied:

“Stilgar, do we have bunny sign?”

“Usul, we have bunny sign the likes of which even God has never seen!”

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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Admiral Adama Decries “Race” at United Nations

The United Nations already feels like its own alternate universe — one snatched from the 1970s, with its retro-disco architectural design and Swingtown decor — but when I walked into the assembly room where Sci Fi and the UN’s Department of Public Information was holding a Battlestar Galactica retrospective, the illusion was sealed: In front of each of the 200-plus delegate seats (you know, the ones with the mics and the translator ear thingies) was a placard from each of the 12 Colonies of Kobol.

Sci Fi turned the United Nations into the Quorum of Twelve. Which may be the third coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Marc Bernardin, “‘Battlestar Galactica’ at the UN: A night of geekery, human rights, and fantastic curtains,” Entertainment Weekly Online

A mind-blowing concept indeed.  Yesterday in New York City, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, better known these days as Admiral Bill Adama and President Laura Roslin of Battlestar Galactica, appeared as guests of the United Nations in a retrospective on the series, which will be airing its final episode tomorrow night.  The talk wasn’t just geeking out, though; answering questions from an excellent panel of 100 high-school students, the discussion ranged over issues that plague the Real World today:  “what it means to be human, the rule of law vs. the military might, the arguable merits of armed insurgency — issues which find themselves on the UN’s docket almost every day. As Robert Orr, the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning put it, ‘You’ve got people thinking about issues that we try and get people thinking about every day.'”

At one point, the talk got a little strong.  Asked a question about race, EJM replied thus:

“You never should’ve invited me here,” he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: “Adults will never be able to stop using the word ‘race’ as a cultural determinant….There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!”

Eddie actually got that room calling back, if not shouting back, “SO SAY WE ALL!”  And it felt perfectly natural.

How does this reflect on Second Life, beyond the role-playing region dedicated to BSG and its Residents?  Specifically, the concept of “race,” as artificial a method of discrimination as ever existed in the Real World, and which Eddie got right when he said that there’s only one “race,” the human race.  Sadly, it does appear that some RL baggage gets carried in occasionally to SL (and, by logical extension, other virtual worlds), despite the patent forbidding of discriminatory language or acts in the TOS.  This has been touched on a few times by New World Notes, and I have little doubt it exists, if within isolated pockets.

I have seven different avatar shapes/skins, including an Africa, Asian and Native American.   I’ve walked the Grid occasionally in these, and thankfully never encountered the situation; however, I can be obtuse to personal reactions at times.  And the usual appearance of an avatar — a somewhat blank-faced serenity — does not lend itself to the visual cues we note in RL without even realizing it.  What would I do if someone hurled a racial epithet or slur at me?  What would you do if faced with the same situation?

There is only one race — the human race.  SO SAY WE ALL!

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