Saturday, November 19, 2011

One of the Most Interesting Second Life Residents I’ve Met (I): Morsmordre Furman

Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.

One of the more interesting and pleasant aspects of exploring Second Life (SL) is meeting new and interesting people across the grid.  Recently, I had the good fortune to meet one such person and I decided to call out with a story about her and her life inworld.  I hope my readers find her as interesting as I do.

I first learned of Morsmordre Furman from my friend, Perryn Peterson,  when I interviewed him for my story on STEAM: The Hunt5.  Morsmordre had designed and built the five trophies for the hunt.  Perryn, who is a very interesting person in his own right, suggested I meet her and off I went. 

I arrange to meet with Morsmordre at her private workshop in Rundas.   Actually, her workshop and home is a skybox and has to be seen to be believed. 

When I arrive in her workshop, I’m struck by its resemblance to the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I’m also struck by the various steampunk objects about in various states of construction.  Morsmordre tells me that was the idea and she finds the grid fantastic for building. In Real Life (RL), she wears glasses and even with her new pair, she does not see very well when it comes to some aspects of the SL interface.  So, she likes that she can compensate for that in SL. 

Another interesting aspect of Morsmordre’s workshop is the very obvious lack of a steampunk motif despite all the steampunk projects lying about.  She says “steaming” it up would take too much time away from her other building projects so she went for the mid-twenty-fifth century look. 

Morsmordre takes me to see the five trophies that will be awarded to the winning merchants at the Hunt5.  (At this time, the hunt is not yet over and the winners have still to be announced.)  She has based their design on an historical piece that had actual cogs engraved on it.  The design is supposed to be a gold filled engraving based on one of the more difficult RL methods of metal work.  The work will stand out regardless of which trophy it is and gives them all a consistent appearance. 

I’m beginning to realize that this woman really knows her Victoriana and not just its appearances.  She gets into how and why things were made the way they were back then.  I tell her that I haven’t met anyone quite like her yet in SL.  She modestly replies that she just likes to relax in SL and be herself. 

Morsmordre’s workshop is new but her house isn’t.  She tells me that she’d built her first house upon arriving in SL but it a “bit awful” as she puts it and freely admits to having building help since.  In SL, Morsmordre often uses a wheelchair and is working on a proper Victorian one.  She also has prosthetic leg made for her use in SL which is based on an actual 1885 model and has a ball at the ankle joint instead of a foot.  Morsmorde researches extensively in reality so that she can get the right feel and shape.  She looks at picture and then tortures prims more than modeling as she puts it. 

In RL, Morsmordre is disabled and talks openly about it.  She finds that many people in SL use it as a gateway since going out into RL on a daily basis is too difficult. 

Returning to steampunk, Morsmordre says many people feel that it’s simply about gears, cogs, and steam.  She believes that true steampunk is a mixture between the romance of the upper class overlooking the abject poverty and struggle of lower and even middle class living and then adding in modern and futuristic technology.  Just slapping a cog on something and calling it steam doesn’t necessarily make it so.  She continues that true steampunk is about finding the right balance between the science fiction of the era, modern sensibilities, and the Victorian aesthetic which is also quite medieval. 

Morsmordre believes that future generations will look at the twentieth century as a sort of technological puberty.  The Victorian Age was technologically a childhood.  Thus, the hopes, dreams and the overall outlook assumed that by the time we would be born the world would be free of all farm animals and plant life because that would be better for some.  She concludes saying that not all the ideas were wise ones. 

She feels that the twentieth century is the rebellion of the teenage technology showing  that its creators were not all wise and the brilliance of some individuals’ work as used by men and women is fallible. 

By now, I realize that I’m dealing with someone very different than a mere scripter.  Morsmordre has definitely given some serious thought to the Victorian Age and what it means for steampunk.  Not to leave this topic on a pessimistic note, she hopes that the current century will continue to mature and as technology reaches a more adult way perhaps it will end up being as hopeful as our ancestors dreamed. 

Morsmordre begins to tell me about her recent activities role playing a Victorian doctor in SL.  This is in conjunction with her significant research into historical medicine.  I make the mistake of asking if she’s modeling herself on Dr.  Watson.  She quickly retorts that she prefers Sherlock Holmes because she feels she is more like him.  (My fault, I should have seen that one coming.)  To her, Watson is the observer, Holmes represents action.  She is also fascinated with the RL man who inspired Holmes, Joseph Bell, whom she considers to be the forefather of forensics. 

I confess to a soft spot for Watson because he’s the scribe.  (Hey, writers don’t have too many heroes!)  Morsmordre replies that for her, Watson is outside the story which is why she prefers Holmes.  She finds it a very neat technique.  (I think I’ve just been very politely put in my place.)  Although, she does find this odd because she blows off steam by role playing in SL which is basically writing, 

At this point, Morsmordre takes me through the magic door in her workshop to be promptly deposited in the very proper Victorian drawing room of her home.  (While moving along, I comment on how Whovian this is.  Morsmordre replies how she loves Who and has a collection of sonic screwdrivers and Dalek bits in her inventory.  This woman definitely has it all.

Once we arrive and I’m being shown around, Morsmordre tells me that her friend and landlord, Katherine Melina,  had put this home up for her.  Originally, this was the Builders’ Brewery House from last year’s hunt.  Her pet cats are around except for the few strays who have managed to get downstairs into her workshop.  (OK, did you catch that?  SL has some seriously good programming in case you haven’t noticed.) 

This is when Morsmordre offers to show me the largest breedable cat in SL.  We go outside and I’m introduced to Hulk.  Not only is the largest cat I’ve ever met in SL, he’s the largest living (Did I just say that?) anything I’ve ever met in SL.  Morsmordre warns me not to try petting him because he’ll launch me off the sim into freefall if I do.  (Remember we’re in a skybox.)  She says it’s really funny to watch folks being being tossed off down to Rundas. 

Her sim, both inside and outside on the grounds, is a work of art mainly in the steampunk genre.  Her landlord is also a steampunk. 

By now, I’ve seen Morsmordre as a sculptor, scripter, role player, philosopher, and Victorian enthusiast to name but a few occupations.  I tell her she reminds me of Captain Nemo (one of my literary heroes) from Jules Verne’s works.  She accepts my compliment and says that she merely peruses the things that interest her. 

Moremordre begins to tell me of other projects that she’s working on, a Victorian lab specimen and a steampunk based breedable.  Moremordre says she got into building out of a want for all the shiny things that she would never spend Linden$ on. 

I ask about the impact of the recent hunt on her revenues.  She tells me that her revenues increased 20% in the first week and have gone up 40% subsequently.  Chatting with the engineers, she has heard that this has been one of the busiest hunts on the record.  Other sources of revenue for her are tip jar (please contribute if you see it) and special orders.  Her recently opened shop, The Bitten Prim,  still doesn’t have much new merchandise but soon will, so come on down! 

We teleport to her store in Mieville and she shows me around.  This is will be her main location and is right next door to Kat Melina’s shop.  Kat introduced her to both Mieville and Perryn Peterson.  Morsmordre also has a SL group associated with her shop called Prim Biters Anonymous. 

By now, I’ve taken enough of Morsmordre’s time and I take my leave from this very generous person.  Once again, I consider myself fortunate to meet a person like her who is possible only in the world of SL.  Someone, who is overcoming her own disability in life and all its complications to live out a full life inworld.  She has friends, a business, and a growing reputation within the steampunk community. 

I would like to thank Morsmordre Furman for meeting with me and talking about her life and her business.  I would also like to thank Perryn Peterson for arranging my introduction.  As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on CNN iReports or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Morsmordre Furman

Photo No. 2: Morsmordre Furman’s Home

Photo No. 3: Steampunk Microscope

Photo No. 4: The Hunt! Trophies

Photo No. 5. Morsmordre Furman’s Drawing Room

Photo No. 6: Hulk, the Largest Breedable Cat in SL

Photo No. 7: Bitten Prim Logo

Photo No. 8: Morsmordre Furman’s Cats Morsmordre Furman

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