Saturday, September 1, 2012

STEAM 7: The Kick-off Party (and a Mystery!)


It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.

John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

          The Hunt has begun!

          STEAM 7 has started and will run until the end of the month.  Perryn Peterson’s steampunk extravaganza is off and I should know.  Last night I attended Perryn’s kick-off party at the Mieville Arcadia Asylum & Freebie Centre.    As usual, his flair for throwing a party and drawing a crowd that has a great time was in evidence. 

          Perryn had hinted previously of a mysterious inworld master scripter who had disappeared along with her legacy which devotees are trying to unearth.  (Can one unearth something in a virtual world?)  A party and a mystery, how could I refuse? 

          I’m one of the first guests to arrive and Perryn is there to greet me with his usual bonhomie and sartorial elegance.  (I have to ask him where he buys his hats.)  Surrounding us is a world that I don’t typically associate with the worlds of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.  A grim, urban dystopia looms around us.  I feel like I’m in a Hollywood back lot for a Mad Max movie.  A police cruise sits at the curb with its lights flashing.  I’m not sure why there’s a flying saucer with little green aliens carrying in an unconscious guest, but, hey this is Second Life (SL).

          Yep, just the kind of place that I’d expect Perryn to select for a kick-off party!  Now, here’s where it gets fun and mysterious.  This sim represents the reconstructed body of work of one of the great builders of SL’s Golden Age.  None other than arcadia asylum herself.   

          Perryn had made a quick reference to this when we’d last met.  Tonight, I’m introduced to the whole story.  (Now, don’t worry, this story’s about the STEAM 7 kick-off party.  But, I can’t just ignore this.  Perryn chose this location for a reason.)  Perryn introduces me to Prof. Grey (AKA brian61 landar).  He is a dapper, scholarly looking gentleman dressed as I would expect of someone who looks like he’d just stepped out of a Vernes novel.  Prof. Grey has been charged with telling me the story of arcadia asylum. 

          Prof. Grey and I walk through the arriving merchants and hunters who are dancing in the streets led by Perryn himself.  Prof. Grey begins to tell me about the legend of arcadia asylum.  Seems that back in the day of early SL, she was quite the scripter and also believed all objects should be free or as close to free as possible.  Then one day for reasons that are still unclear to me, arcadia decides to unload her fairly hefty body of work and leave SL.  Gone.  Done.  Except (There’s always one isn’t there?) that she purportedly has several alts and keeps an eye on things inworld.  Some of her friends may know who she is and when she’s on, but if they do, they’re keeping mum about it. 

          OK, now I love a mystery just like everyone else.  This one is cool even by Real Life (RL) standards.  But it gets better.  Seems that many people inworld either knew arcadia or of her work.  They formed the Arcadia Asylum Recovery Group (AARG) and have been reconstructing her work inworld.  Mieville Arcadia Asylum & Freebie Centre is the result of that labor of love.  (Except for the flying saucer, little green aliens, and the ruined building next door.)  A plaque in front of a pawn shop (Hey, I keep saying the Great Recession is hurting SL!)  I get the sense of a lost civilization being resurrected from the dust. 

          Prof. Grey and I visit several shops and an exhibit displaying arcadia’s work which, BTW, is all free.  Yes, free.  Check it out.  In the hall, only photos of her work can be shown because they are too big to be displayed.  This woman definitely knew how to build ‘em! 

          When looking at arcadia’s work, attention should be paid to the detail particularly the textures.  She made many herself.  Her work is functional whether it’s an armoire or a subway car. 

          Prof. Grey also takes me to an exhibit of arcadia’s work which is on the sea bottom.  The environment is completely different from what I’d seen on the street topside.  The fish, plant life, and other objects show the true creative range of arcadia.  Unfortunately, this exhibit will be taken down after the party.  (I do have a link to a picture of it with Prof. Grey below.) 

          After surfacing, we make our way back to the street party which is now becoming riotous. Unfortunately, between all the older scripts which are processor intensive and all the guests, lag is a killer tonight.  I’ve already been bounced a couple of times.  Perryn is known for bringing the house down with his parties but he’s really outdone himself this time. 

          I thank Perryn and Prof. Grey and leave.  The party is still going full blast as I make my way out. 

          If the kick-off party is any indicator then STEAM 7 should be great.  It’s under way now and starts at the recently renovated Laughing Gryphon House in Mieville Doyle Victorian Steampunk sim.  The theme this time is “Time & Space” honoring H. G. Wells.  Participating merchants will try to incorporate this concept into their gifts to the hunters.   

          Speaking of the merchants, Perryn estimates that there will be about one hundred and forty for STEAM 7 including some hunters like Glorf Bulmer who are now merchants themselves.  Several dozen merchants are new to the Hunt which Perryn believes is a real plus to the increasing popularity of the Hunts.  From the Laughing Gryphon the hunters will first visit the shops of two other Hunt organizers, JoseDiego Silverspar and Wyvern Dryke.   

          I encourage everyone to go to STEAM 7 and enjoy themselves.  Meet the merchants and other hunters.  I guarantee a good time will be had by all.  I hope to see you there as I’ll be covering the Hunt. 

          Finally, I will be returning to look at arcadia asylum more closely, both her life and work.  And, maybe, just maybe I might be able to meet her!  If you read this arcadia, I’ll do an interview on your terms.

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.

Below are a few pictures of the places I visited for this story.  Please go yourself and look at arcadia’s work.  Pictures, especially mine, do not do it justice. 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

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

Photo No. 3 Perryn Peterson

Photo No. 11 The Aliens Have Landed! 


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