An Account of the Cavorite Cup Races

11/29/09  at 5:48 PM
By Riven Homewood
Photos by Garth Goode

As readers of this publication may already know, Baron Wulfenbach and his associate Mr. Verne have recently assumed stewardship of the Cavorite Mines and are holding them in trust for the people of Caledon. A number of fund-raising events are being planned in order to help defray the considerable expense they have assumed in doing this. The second of these was The Cavorite Cup speeder race, which was held November 20 and 21 at the Iron Cloud Airstation in Caledon Middlesea.

The race was run in three heats. In the first heat, Darlingmonster Ember defeated Searra Weatherwax and Roy Smashcan in Race one. Tehanu Marenwolf was victorious against Lucien Brentano and RockAndRoll Michigan in race 2. Rachire Andel made short work of Vivito Volare and Autopilotpatty Poppy in Race three. Miss Ember, Miss Marenwolf and Capt. Andel competed in the Heat 1 Semifinals, with Capt. Andel winning and going on to the Finals.In the second heat there were more racers. Aevalle Galicia, Fogwoman Gray, and Zsophia Innovia battled in the first race, and Miss Galacia triumphed. Garth Goode was victorious against myself and Elenabeth Portal in race 2. Vorwoda Hawksby and Drake Coalcliff were beaten by Tiziana Corleone in Race 3. Race 4 was only Jayleden Miles and Sir Wrath Constantine, as we had run out of racers. Sir Wrath beat Mr. Miles, just barely. The second heat semifinals pitted Miss Galacia against Mr. Goode, Sir Wrath against Miss Corleone.

The deciding race of the Heat 2 Semifinals was between Mr. Goode and Sir Wrath. As they are both expert racers it was an extremely fast race. Mr. Goode was in the lead when he suddenly lost control and crashed into the large fuel tanks in the center of the track, sending up a huge fireball. Fortunately he was able to extricate himself and rejoin the race, but by that time Sir Wrath had assumed the lead, and he went on to win the heat.

The Final Heat was held on Saturday. Capt. Andel and Sir Wrath raced three ten-lap races. Capt. Andel won the first, Sir Wrath the second. After a very close race, Capt. Andel won the third lap, taking home the Cavorite cup.

Later that evening, I asked Sir Wrath what had led him to build such a fine facility and host a major racing event. He replied:

"Originally I just set out to build a fun speeder vehicle, then Jayleden Miles approached me with the idea of having a racing event to raise funds for the Mines. I liked the idea, and created a trophy that Jay liked very much.

"As the speeders got closer to being finished, we were testing them in the streets of Caledon. That turned out to be a disaster, since the speeders could travel faster than the sims could rez, so the idea formed to contain the race to a single sim. Middlesea was the obvious choice since the Iron Cloud had enough deck area to build the track. And of course, being in Middlesea, it had to have the "bewm." It's become somewhat of a trademark for us. [Those not familiar with a Middlesea accent may wish to read "bewm" as "boom."]

"I wanted the track to be challenging, but not impossible. However, the speeders were so quick that no matter how open and easy I made the turns, it was still a challenge to keep the speeder on-course without losing time.  Coming around a turn to find oneself nose-to-nose with a fireball was an 'OhSnap!' moment. You had to think quickly, choose your line, and thrust through. Sometimes you could actually knock the fireball into someone else, effectively scraping them off your tail. And the fuel tanks! Gah, I learned to despise those things, as much as I wanted them there. They were entertaining, but if you hit one, well, you know how that ends.

"Once I was satisfied that the track was sufficient and the speeders were ready, it occurred to me that an event would need spectators. I pondered how to accommodate them, since Middlesea could only hold 20 avatars. I had worked with off-sim islands before, and I decided to build stadium ships that would overhang the track, but be rooted from adjacent sims. Using these, we would be able to accommodate over 100 avatars in a 20-avatar sim. And of course, these 'StadiumShips' as they came to be called, needed to look the part, with Vernian-inspired texturing, cavorite-supported mechanism and a distinct Caledon flavor in their design.

"I've actually had a few inquiries for these ships now, and they will be made available for other events since they worked so well.  Also, I've had so much fun on this track that what was once just a temporary setup is now going to stay. I'll just phantom it and make it transparent when not in use."

At this point, several other people who had been standing nearby began telling me about their race experiences. Duchess Aevalle Galicia spoke up: "It was so entertaining to watch the final heats from the stands! Fogwoman Gray makes a gorgeous hood ornament, in case anyone wondered."

Mr. Lucien Brentano tapped me on the shoulder. "Let me just say... I am 1318 days old. The Cavorite Cup was the most fun I've had in SL, ever."

Miss Darlingmonster Ember smiled and looked as if she were savoring sweet memories. "I am (mumble) days old and have traveled many dimensions...The Cavorite Cup race was the most fun I've ever had in SecondLife in a vehicle."

She continued: "I must admit that while I design airships and love them dearly for many reasons (not the least of which is the symbol of freedom), I am not a good pilot. I may not be the most feeble pilot in the Steamlands, but I am really not good.

"So when the Cavorite Cup races were announced, I nodded, I cheered, I lined up to pay for a Speeder, but I did not expect to race. It was a charity, it was a good cause, what more did I need to do but step up and contribute? In Caledon, we are blessed by community creative energy.

"But once I saw the track!  Once I wrapped my thoughts around the effort and fun involved in those textures and stands and scripts.

"I had to try it. Even if I was laughed right off the course, I would race.  For certain, I knew that the course designers would be flying. They probably had spent many sleepless night already flying and honing that course.  The number of hours involved boggles.

"So I signed up, very late and got a place.

"Testing the track.. a bit before the race... was  a disaster. The turns were so tight, the speeder leaped forward like a predator. Bouncing off the walls was nerve wracking. And then you burst into flames.

"Yes! These speeders were scripted to spark while dragging along the walls... and once banged about too much, would burst into flames. Flames that spread and whooshed around you from the rear of the vehicle.  My camera was back during practice (thankfully) I discovered that once on fire...I was driving blind.

"Blind. Flames and no sign of the track. My camera awash in glow and fire. It was very scary. And the most important part, the very core of excitement and emotion is this: the spirit of Caledon came through. It was through other Steamland drivers present that I was given a few pointers about driving the Speeder in mouselook and keeping a sense of the track through these many thresholds of challenge.

"And I won my heat.  And then got to test my modest skills with Capt. Rachire Andel, the very pilot fated to win the Cup this year. I shall remember the entire wonderful experience for a long time."

I bid farewell to the racers and went home to write up my notes. As I sat at my desk working, there was a tapping at my window. I opened it, and was astonished to find an aetherial presence there, one with a definite blue glow. I realized I was being visited by the Late Fogwoman Gray-Volare. She began to speak: 

"I signed up to race in the Cavorite cup with no hope of winning. I am a notorious menace to pedestrians everywhere, as well as those in the air and the water. But this was for a great cause, and potential for havok and mayhem was so tempting I could not refuse.

"Sure enough, after bouncing around the track, menacing the other racers, the spectators and innocent bystanders in nearby sims, I managed to die in a blaze of glory, taking out a fuel tank and igniting the speeder to boot.

"Just in time too, as the spinning about was making me a bit queasy :) It was a wonderful time, and supported our wonderful Cavorite Mines! Next time I shall just bring my wallet and some incendiaries."

She departed, and I closed the window. This had definitely been a race to remember.

The organizers of the Cavorite Cup have asked me to thank all the donors who graciously give their lindens to support the Cavorite Mines. The Caledon Moors would be less mysterious without them. We are grateful to Nicolas Verne and KlausWulfenbach Outlander for stewarding the mines so steadfastly and readily and to Jayleden Miles for organizing and maintaining the mine events. We are also very grateful to Kamilah Hauptmann for scripting, testing, scripting, testing, and rescripting the checkpoint system, and to the courageous test pilots who braved these racers to test their flight capabilities: Liandra Gothly, Tiziana Corleone, Ceidru Gothly, Aevalle Galicia, Rachire Andel, Magdalena Kamenev, Fogwoman Gray, and Vivito Volare.

Additional thanks go to Governor Desmond Shang for having the vision to make Caledon into what it is and giving permission to lag up the country of Caledon during the races, Professors Horg Neurocam and Davan Camus for creating the Cavorite Mines, the Caledon Research Institute headed by Valentine Janus for their efforts in preserving the Caledon Mines and keeping a part of the Caledon History alive and pixeled.

Particular thanks are due to Sir Wrath Constantine for hosting the 2009 Cavorite Cup; planning, plotting and structuring the races; building, testing, and donating the racers; creating the trophy and donating the grand prize of a top speed racer.

Repeal Day Building Contest

  at 5:47 PM

We Celebrate the Freedom to Celebrate. On 5 December 1933, the United States repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and gave Americans the constitutional ability to consume alcohol. We thought it was a grand excuse for a pub to host a building contest.

The winner of the contest will gain bragging rights, their drink will be served in the pub, and there could be a piece of the action in it for you, if you catch my drift.

Judging will start 5 December 2009 at 5:00 SLT, and the drinks need to be given to Annechen Lowey before 5:00 pm SLT on 4 December 2009.

There are some rules:

1) The serving mechanism (keg, pitcher, tap, chicken, what-have-you) should be less than 10 prims. Single digits, no more than nine.

2) The name of the drink and serving mechanism, the look of the drink and serving mechanism, and the chat of drink and serving mechanism need to comply with TOS.

3) Just in case you do not read the TOS: Do not use obscene or offensive language in the description, chat or name of the drink and serving mechanism. Be clever, not tacky.

4) A Transfer-only copy of the build should be sent to Annechen Lowey at least 24 hours before judging begins on 5 December. The winner will be asked to provide a copy/mod version for the bar installation.

Caledon's Holiday "Little Season"

11/28/09  at 8:42 AM
As winter skies darken and snow covers the land, Caledon shines in the light of holiday candles and burning Yule logs. Ladies wrap themeselves in their winter cloaks while making sure their gentlemen are wrapped in woolen scarves for outdoor events. Families and friends will gather for informal skating parties, snowball fights and sleigh rides. Many social gatherings are planned for Caledon's "Little Season".

Caledon Rothesay Skating Garden
Outdoor Displays
This coming December finds Caledon Rothesay the site of a garden skating pond. Rothesay's Skating Party will take place in the early days of December. Date and time will be centered around a special grand opening of an art exhibit: Iason Hassanov's Steampunk Dickensian Exhibit 2009. Mr. Hassananov's talents as a "stacker of prims", as he says, showcases the steampunk characters based on Charles Dickens The Christmas Carol. Guests to the exhibit will find an original tale by Mr. Hassanov based on the classic story. Do stop by in December to meet Tinny Tim and Bob Ratchet as well as Christmas Ghosts in their steampunk splendor.
Sneak peek of Iason Hassanov's Steampunk Dickensian Exhibit 2009

Sir J.J. Drinkwater, esteemed director of the Caledon Libraries, is hostessing the Yule Bonfire at his estate Book Ends on Caledon Highlands, December 19th from 7 pm SLT to 10 pn SLT. Friends will gather for toasting the season with mulled wine and watching the sparks of the Yule logs fly into the winter night skies. All are invited to attend to enjoy the conversations among old and new friends.

Holiday Fundraisers
Caledon's Cavorite Mines became endangered so the community has stepped up to shore up the mine walls with fundraisers this holiday season. For those who are not aware, cavorite has properties that defy physics which makes it a sought after element for Caledon's craftsmen and engineers. Mr. Jayleden Miles is leading the efforts to protect the mines. On December 11, join in the merriment of the Cavorite Mines Burlesque Show taking place at the Den of Sin and Iniquity. The first show begins at 12 pm SLT and the second show begins at 7 pm SLT. Mr. Lucian Brentano and Mr. Jayleden Miles are the hosts. Enjoy the burlesque dance entertainment provided by leading citizens of Caledon.

In conjunction with the Burlesque Show on December 11th, Miss Kaye Robbiani, well know Caledonian, is aiding the cause by sponsoring a Christmas Tree Build Contest. Prims will be limited for each Christmas Tree Build. There will be an entry fee of 25L to participate in this event. All entry fees will be donated to the Cavorite Mines. Builders will be given the opportunity if they wish to sell their trees at their own profit after the Contest. Voting will be done in the form of donations to the Cavorite Mines fund. First place winners will receive a Cavorite Trophy for display. Contest will be held on Ville de Giverny. Contacts for the event are Miss Robbiani and Mr. Jayleden Miles.

Dancing the Night Away at Holiday Balls
Caledon gentlefolk will be pulling out their dancing slippers for this holiday's "Little Season". Caledon's Oxbridge University Gateway will be holding the Winter's Night Ball hosted by the university deans. Miss Martini Discovolante and Miss Fogwoman Gray are hosting the event. Two Holiday Balls will be held on December 19th at noon for the euro session and 6 pm SLT for the western session on a skybound ballroom above the University ice rink. All are welcome and formal attire is optional. Landmark: Caledon Oxbridge. There will be music, dancing, and special surprises at the balls. Make sure you stop by for free Victorian ice skates designed by Miss Discovolante in the warming hut in the Rose Garden. Skating by the towering evergreen Christmas tree in the university quad offers a special feeling for the holiday season. The Caledon official tree was designed by the talented Miss Uni Ninetails, of Forest Floor.

On December 26th, the Boxing Day Formal Ball will give the gentlemen a chance to sign their ladies' dance cards. Waltzing to traditional music while dressed in their holiday best will be the theme for the evening. Their Graces, Miss Fogwoman Gray & Mr. Vivito Volare will be hostessing the Boxing Day event.

The "Little Season" will end on Twelfth Night, January 5th, with the Snow Queen Masque. Fantasy rules the night with frosty queens, Russian princes, trolls, and fairy princesses dancing in swirls of snowflakes and ice crystals. Costumes are encouraged. Contests for costume categories such as Best Snow Queen, Royal Prince, and more will be voted on by popular voting during the evening. Music will be provided by Her Grace Gabrielle Riel of Radio Riel. Her Grace Eleanor Anderton will host the masquerade ball at Caledon Rothesay from 6 pm SLT to 8 pm SLT high above Caledon Rothesay in a snow palace ballroom.

Watching the gathering winter storms
Winter Storms Coming to Caledon
The Independent State of Caledon invites one and all to join in the spirit of the winter holidays. Bundle yourself in your warmest wools and furs for what is promised by Governor Desmond Shang as one of the coldest Caledon winters on record. Join the gatherings at the local pubs and taverns while awaiting the ice and storms. Settle outside by a burning Yule log to watch the weather changes. This reporter understands that certain folk in the outlying estates are foreseeing frozen storms approaching the Firth of Caledon. Enjoy Caledon's "Little Season" in all of its winter beauty!

Call for entries for 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Contest at the R.F. Burton!

11/24/09  at 7:38 AM
I am sharing this news on behalf of Miss Canolli Capalini.

Get your typing fingers in shape, sharpen that imaginative mind of yours, and prepare to enter the 2nd Annual R.F. Burton Library Flash Fiction Contest. We had such a blast with that last year and I was personally WOW'd by all the entrants, I thought we'd do it again!

Theme: Victorian robotics/automatons/automatic men(or women(or children))/steampowered mechas/etcetera
Length: 600 words or less
Deadline: December 20, 2009
Details: Put your story on a notecard, check for spelling errors, and include your name and the word count. Drop your ORIGINAL story notecard in a box in the library. Entries will be featured in a book that will be available at the library in January. All entrants retain copyright, but grant permission to have their submissions used, without compensation, in the commemorative book.
Prize: Grand prize of 2500 lindens and every participant gets included in the commemorative book.

Now last year, there were some questions and I'll go ahead and address those here. This *IS* a contest, with a prize of 2500 lindens. The winner is chosen BY me, at my discretion. It will be the first story in the book. Now, last year, we let the title of the grand prize winner select the title of the book.. but I'll be honest. I'm rather fond of the title "Dialogues" and find it very fitting. So the title will remain Dialogues, vol. 2.
Original Illustrations and artwork are welcomed and will be included in the volume. *IF* your first language is NOT english, the story may be submitted in your primary language; Just please submit it early enough for us to obtain a translation or submit an english version as well.
If your entry does not include the title of the piece, your name, word count.. it will be dismissed and "the angels will weep for you".

Bear in mind, this is flash fiction (600 words or less). You're not telling an epic, but rather giving us a moment in time.. that can imply something epic, or it can just be that.. a moment in time. This can be one of the easiest and one of the hardest genres to fill.

This time, ladies and gentlemen, the deadline is absolute. Mrs. Capalini's typist has the week prior to Christmas off from her RL job and will be taking that time to compile all the stories into the glorious book to match the first volume. So, get those ideas crackin' and help add to the uniqueness of the New Babbage Public Library's stacks.

This contest is not open JUST for New Babbagers. If you are an aspiring writer or just.. inspired and frequent ANY of the steamlands and/or Caledon, this contest is open to you as well.

Fleet Week Results - from New Babbage

11/22/09  at 2:55 PM
All Photographs in this article by Mr PJ Trenton

An exciting week of Fleet and Naval events culminated in the Fleet Formal Ball, hostessed by Miss Breezy Carver and DJ'd by Bats Enoch. As part of the event, Mr Aeolus Cleanslate, Maceholder and Admiral, announced the results of the various competitions that had been held:


On behalf of New Babbage, I'd like to officially thank you all for your contributions to Fleet Week!

In the great days of the 19th Century Navies, Fleet Reviews were used to display the ships and personnel at their absolute finest. They were not held at regular intervals, but occurred when the fleet was mobilised for war, or for a 'show of strength' to discourage potential enemies. However, in the 19th century they were often held for coronations or for special jubilees. As we all know, the pursuit of 19th century naval affairs has accelerated greatly in SecondLife recently - and that seemed as good a reason as any to have our first.
Fleet Week has been an idea waiting to happen for some time. I'm extremely pleased and humbled at its success.

As with the Fleet Reviews of old, the presence of foreign friendly navies was considered an honor for the hosts - so to all of you from other Steamlands, Babbage bids you Welcome and Thanks!

We'd also like to single out a few individuals for their contributions -
... Ghilayne Andrew for her build assistance on the wonderful viewing platforms
... Gabrielle Riel for the STELLAR soundtrack for the weekend on Radio Riel
... PJ Trenton of the Primgraph staff for some phenomenal photos ( - from whence the photographs illustrating this article are taken)
... Commodore Jedburgh30 Dagger for conducting the Iron Melee
... Cannoli Capalini for desiging fantastic awards for our contest/race winners
... and Mosseveno Tenk for graciously providing us with primcount and support

I'd also like to especially thank my beautiful and hardworking collaborator Miss Breezy Carver, without which none of this would have been accomplished.

As you know, we had several contests during the week, and I'm pleased to announce the winners, who will each received one of the awesome trophies on the table to my right, designed by Miss Cannolli Capalini. So without further ado -

The winners of the Windjammer Race, held this morning for Tall Ships -
(see a thrilling account of the races by Mr Wildstar Beaumont below ... )
Second Place: Wildstar Beaumont
... and First place: Admiral Jennings

I'd also like to offer a special thanks to Tinus Koskinen and blakopal Galicia for their participation - the event was breathtaking

The winners of the Submarine Races, held this afternoon - ANOTHER STIRRING EVENT -
Third place to Loki Eliot and the Urchins

Second place to Sir Edward Pearse
... and first place to the VERY RAPID Miss Mimika Ying
As many of you know, Doctor Obolensky was disqualified on a technicality, but the race committee has decided not to ban him from future events.

The winners of the Shipbuilding Contest -
As you'll all agree, the range and quantity of ships on display this week was awe-inspiring, and I'd like to offer my applause to ALL the participants. The judges reviewed the ships and it was an extremely difficult decision.
Third place goes to The Plank With A Nail(built by Sidney Arctor)
Second Place to the Collingwood (built by Kandace Commons)
First place (well deserved) goes to TSS theBrigg/Wildstar Beaumont (designed by Martina Lewsey)
... and the Peoples Choice Winner, by popular decision, goes to Untervoshboot (built by Vash Crimson)

And now for Best Uniforms -
Third place: Jimmy Branagh & Jedburgh30 Dagger
Second place: Rafael Fabre and Roswenthe Aluveaux
... and First place: Moses Mureaux & Sir Edward Pearse

Your trophies are on their way, folks! Thanks again to everyone - it was a thrilling week!

(Okay NOW we're done! Someone get me a case of those lozenges*. I'm going to bed.)

(* Miss Ceejay Writer was offering powerful throat lozenges for for afflicted with seasonal ailments.)


The Windjammers Race
by Captain Wildstar Beaumont

The Tall Ships Race was, together with the submarine race and the Uniform Ball, one of the Saturday Events of the Fleet Week in New Babbage.
The race was fun, with 3 races: two semifinals and a final.

There were just 4 entrants, but that did not make the event less interesting: Mr. Tinus Koskinen, Miss BlackOpal Galicia, Admiral Bridget Jennings, and yours truly, Captain Wildstar Beaumont. There was a good diversity in the ships that entered the race: a Schooner from the Black Spot Shipyard, a Trudeau, a ship from the the Southern Cross Shipyard, and my TSS Brigg.

The sail field was challenging. A loop around several sims, with some tricky crossings that let you out of control for several seconds, a narrow path with many gates to go through which made it difficult to pass once one was behind, and a very tricky area where one had to sail into the wind with the danger of getting stuck.

In the first race I faced Miss BlackOpal. It was a strange race: I believe her ship is not SL-wind propelled, which gave her an advantage at start, and I had to trail for a while. However, once my ship was up to speed it looked clear to me that the physical vehicle was sailing smoother and faster than the non-physical one. It is a pity that Black Spot ships do not work with SL wind. They are probably the most beautiful sailships in SL.

The second race saw Admiral Jennings with her SCS Battle Schooner to prevail over Mr.Tinus Koskinen. I missed the details of the race because I crashed right after my my stage.

In the final I had to face Admiral Jennings. There was little to tell. After the start, when we were head to head, she took the lead and I was not able to close the gap. On the side opposite the start line I had hoped for a while to be able to catch her, but after a while she sailed away again and I was able to see her just from a distance.

Congratulations to Admiral Jennings for a perfect race.

The crowd filled the viewing area and seemed to have a lot of fun, greatly enjoying the event.

(Editor's note: We did indeed have fun, Captain!)

Shambling Through New Babbage

11/20/09  at 5:55 PM
New Babbage has certainly seen its share of unusual, even downright terrifying events over the past several months. Yet somehow, whether it’s a Martian invasion or a coup d’etat, the city and its inhabitants have always weathered the events and carried on. Early October was no exception.

It started on the 4th of October, with reports of zombie-like creatures in the newly-opened Academy of Industry area of the city. At first, though, the problem seemed to stay confined to that area. By the 9th, however, at least one person, the young Skyler Gant, had been bitten and infected by one of these zombies. In an interview, he talked of his experience early on in his illness—of vomiting blood, and attempting to attack Mr. Victor Mornington. “'E was bloody terrified. I 'member 'e locked th' front door, an' seemed glad th' door I was at was already locked.” Though young Gant was temporarily trapped in a safe by Mr. Mornington and Mr. Sixpence that same evening, he was able to escape that confinement.

But there was another element to the horrors to come that was starting at the same time. Mr. Grendel Footman, owner of Footman Industries in Babbage Square, had scheduled on the evening of the 8th, an unveiling of what he called a “reanimated man.” This reanimated person behaved remarkably like the zombies of the Academy area, though it was, at first, controlled by a collar of electronic nature. However, during the demonstration, the collar malfunctioned, and the thing attacked the onlookers. During the confusion, Mr. Phineas Frakture was injured and infected, and so began spreading the zombie plague throughout New Babbage, including to Miss Elleon Bergamasco and Dr. John Watson. Events culminated on the 11th with the discovery of a cure by Dr. Augustus Dayafter, and with attempts to administer it to all infected. (Events in which this correspondent played a small role.)

But what connection is there between the Academy infection and that caused by Mr. Footman’s “reanimated man?” Nothing beyond coincidence, apparently. Mr. Footman, in his interview, was quite open about his demonstration and the work leading to it. “The zombie, and the three or four...dozen...before him, are just semi-successes. Apparently, most of my test subjects end up brain damaged, if they don't explode. The plague was an unforeseen side effect…The serum I used, in certain bloodstreams, mutates into a virus.” It was this virus that was spread first to Mr. Phineas Frakture, then to others. The Academy zombies, however, appeared to have been there for some time, and had only been discovered during the new construction that was occurring in the area at the time. So though the effects were the same, the causes seem to be different—a chilling prospect for those wishing to avoid creating, or being infected by, such zombies.

The victims also appear to have very different memories of, and reactions to, their infections. Miss Elleon Bergamasco, the landlady of the Mechanix Arms, only vaguely remembers being attacked and infected, and the subsequent events. It was “much as one would remember a nightmare really; none of it makes very much sense.” Skyler Gant, when asked about it, replied, “Tha' was bl---y awful. No' something I wanna go through again, no ma'am.”

Mr. Phineas Frakture, however, viewed, and continues to view, his actions during that time as having been completely normal. In speaking of those days, he said, “I recall trying to get Skyler Gant to safety, but he kept running from me...I didn't think anything of it...Then Doctor Watson was talking to me...trying to take my
pulse...acting weird...think I bit or scratched his hand...seemed like the sensible thing to do at the time...I couldn't figure out why people were acting so strangely.” Even pictures taken of him during that time do not seem to shake his perceptions. When asked if he had seen any of those images, he replied, “I have seen a few....I think someone was tampering with the film.”

Dr. Dayafter, when asked about this phenomenon, related it to the different reactions people have to illnesses or medications. “Some, a cold would lay quite low, while others feel the need to get fresh air or even exercise. I think it is the same with what happened in those horrible events recently.”

As for prevention of any recurrence, it seems only the immediate issues have been resolved. Mr. Footman has shipped his zombies back to Antarctica, though he will “probably keep a couple for study.” As for the type of event that happened at the Academy, Dr. Dayafter’s advice is “to make sure, via extensive investigation, that the ground you are breaking is "safe" to be broken.”

Given that the motto of New Babbage is “What could possibly go wrong,” however, such precautions are not likely to be followed for long.

(First picture courtesy of Skyler Gant.)

Designing Worlds at Steelhead Shanghai!

11/19/09  at 10:59 AM

This week, the Designing Worlds show (a joint Prim Perfect/Treet TV production) visited the stunningly lovely sim of Steelhead Shanghai - and you can now see the show on the web – here, and available in both standard and high quality. And you can also download the show from the iTunes store (just search on Designing Worlds) to watch at your leisure. You can even put it on your iPod to carry around with you (or watch at the gym!).

The Steelhead area is part of those regions popularly known as the Steamlands. Steelhead, however, has a great deal of diversity and strong fantasy elements (after all, one of the owners and creative forces behind the region is a Moon Elf!).

Based on Oregon of the late nineteenth century, its latest area owes much to the influx of Chinese workers who travelled to Oregon to be part of the teams working on the great transcontinental railroads, and who subequently left their mark in the ‘Chinatowns’ of large American cities. Perhaps there are elements to of the pulp fiction of the times, where the mysterious Orient came into juxtaposition with the brash new West.

Join Saffia and Elrik as they explore this richly fascinating region, accompanied by the owners of Steelhead, TotalLunar Eclipse and Tensai Hira. There's news of an exciting planned expansion for the Steelhead region. And we also meet Elegia Underwood, proprietress of the Dragonlands hotel, who introduces Elrik to some secrets deep in her cellars …

Fleet Week

11/16/09  at 10:12 PM

The Steamlands are quite abuzz over the events in this, the first ever Fleet Week. Watch the shores of New Babbage for the following events. The week will culminate with the Uniform Ball at Piermont Landing. This correspondent is sure the festivites will be nautical but nice!

New Babbage Presents
Fleet Week
The first ever gathering of Second Life's Steamland Navies!
Shipbuilders Contest * WindJammers Race*Submarine Races * Epic Ironclad Battles * Naval Review * Uniform Ball
New Babbage * November 15-21

* Epic Iron Melee, 7PM SLT...featuring the navies of the steamlands, slugging it out on the open ocean.

FRIDAY 11/20
* Fleet Review, 1PM SLT ... wherein the state-based navies of the Steamlands, in their finest regalia, present themselves for Review by the Public.

* Windjammer Race, 11AM SLT ... wherein the fastest tall masted and wind-powered ships compete in a heartstopping contest.

* Submarine Races, 2PM SLT ... wherein our finest submariners - and their daring mechanical marvels - will compete in an underwater tournament.

* Uniform Ball at Piermont Landing, 6PM SLT ... wherein uniformed officers and the Public dance the night away at a nautical-themed Ball hosted by Breezy Carver at Piermont Landing in New Babbage.
11/13/09  at 9:23 AM

Episode 2 of The Quest for the Golden Prim is now online, and you can enjoy the full episode through the wonders of Calameo – or read the pdf here!

In this episode you’ll meet our hero, Ralph Montcalm, a dashing pilot with the Royal Caledonian Air Force, and our heroine Annabella (Nan) Scott, living quietly in Caledon Cay with her strict governess, Miss Primm and her dog, Lola.

Both Ralph and Nan receive a mysterious summons from the Librarian – and wonder what it can mean.

But the Librarian isn’t the only person interested in Annabella Scott ...


What is the Quest for the Golden Prim?
It’s a new web steampunk comic that initially appears in The Primgraph magazine – the magazine for vintage and steampunk regions in Second Life . After that, individual pages appear weekly on The Quest for the Golden Prim blog, before a complete instalment is made available on Calameo for your enjoyment.

What’s the story?
A disparate band of academics, adventurers and assorted innocents are brought together to try to what happened to an earlier expedition to discover the fabled Golden Prim – an artefact of mysterious power. And as the expedition goes on, enemies emerge ... and secrets are revealed ...

How do I read it?
You get the latest instalment in The Primgraph, read individual pages on the Quest for the Golden Prim weblog (along with other news about the series) or wait for the whole episode to become available from Calameo.

But you can get background news on the series through special podcasts on Radio Riel – which you can also download from the iTunes store (just search on Radio Riel).

And many of the characters in the soap also have their own blogs, twitters, plurks and/or facebooks. For example, you can follow Miss Primm’s acerbic comments about Nan’s dilatory studying habits here on Plurk. Or you can read Ralph’s weblog here, or Crotty’s here. You can find out more about this by reading The Quest for the Golden Prim weblog.

Win L$3000 in our Christmas Clipart Competition!

11/8/09  at 5:20 AM
The Primgraph needs some steampunk Christmas imagery. You are the steampunk crazed artist who can do it. Who better than our readers to create a lovely bit of Christmas tinged with good old steampunk imagination?

For a prize of 3000L, create an original bit of Steampunk Christmas for our Primgraph holiday issue.

The final image should be provided as either a Tiff, Jpeg, or PNG file, with a resolution of 200 pixels per inch and measuring anywhere between 512 or 1024 pixels large. It can be colour or black & white(or sepia?). Dive into Photoshop or Gimp or whatever is your weapon of choice! Show us your vision of a Steampunk Christmas and we'll use the top 3 images in the Primgraph with a feature page and 3000L for the wining image and artist.

Think fireplace,
Think tree,
Think corset,
Think tophat,
Think skates,
Think santa,
Think sleds,
Think zeppelins,
Think mechanical wonders,
Think steam.

Here's a lovely example found on the web

Have fun!

Entries must be received by November 20th. All decisions are final. Primgraph staff can enter too. Entries to

Sleepless in Steelhead Shanghai

11/1/09  at 3:05 AM
A Special Ghostly Story for the Season
by Riven Homewood

My name is Morton Dreamscape. I do not expect that this story will be believed, but I am telling it in the hope that that it may serve as a warning for some other unsuspecting traveller.

I am a man of middle years, and for some time now I have lived in the Steamlands. My business requires frequent travel, and it is my custom to travel alone, locate a suitable residence, and only then to send for my mother, who is a widow and keeps house for me.

Recently the needs of business brought me once again to the pleasant community of Steelhead. My mother had categorically refused to leave her comfortable situation until something equally commodious could be arranged in our new location, and unfortunately some temporary pecuniary reversals made this extremely difficult. It was therefore with great relief that I learned there was now a hotel in Steelhead, located on the mountain that rises above the harbour in Steelhead Shanghai.

On arriving in Steelhead, I immediately hired a water taxi and proceeded to Shanghai. At the dock, a villainous-looking oriental offered to show me the way to the Dragonlands Hotel and carry my luggage. With some misgivings, I entrusted my trunk to him, and, although at first I had doubted both his strength and his trustworthiness, he proved a reliable guide as we ascended the mountain through a maze of dingy alleys, muddy paths, hump-backed bridges and crooked staircases. Without his presence, it is quite likely that I should never have found the hotel at all -- in which case the story I am about to tell would never have taken place.

The proprietress of the hotel proved to be an attractive woman, though a bit long in the tooth and showing evidence of a dubious past. She said they had a room available that might suit me, and I followed her through a hidden door and up yet another set of stairs. The hotel had clearly seen better days, but the room was pleasant and well-lit, with an entire wall of French windows that opened onto a balcony overlooking the harbor. I immediately engaged it, feeling relieved that I had found a comfortable place to batch it during this visit to Steelhead.

It being rather late by this time, I immediately went to bed, arose early the next morning, and proceeded to my first business appointment, which occupied me for the remainder of the day. On returning to my hotel, I sat for a bit in the lobby, enjoying a nightcap and some pleasant conversation with the owner and a Mr. Broek, whom I was pleased to find was a man of law and might therefore be useful to me as my business proceeded. I then took my leave, ascended the staircase to my room, and prepared for bed.

As is my normal custom, before retiring I took a few moments to record the day's events in my journal. I was deeply engrossed in doing so, when suddenly I became aware that the room had become quite cold, as though a chilly draft had entered through an open window. Thinking that perhaps one of the doors to the balcony had blown open, I looked up and was astonished to find that I was no longer alone in the room!

A few feet away stood a lovely young woman. Her skin was very pale and she was dressed in layer upon layer of diaphanous white garments. Despite her pallor, her glossy black hair and the shape of her face made it clear that she was an oriental. She was staring at me as though she perhaps wished to say something but was afraid to do so.

My mouth agape, I stared at her. I confess that my first thought was to wonder if I had arrived by mistake at some sort of bawdy house and would receive a bill for her services in the morning. But she appeared quite agitated, and then it occurred to me that perhaps she was simply another guest who had wandered into the wrong room. I closed my mouth and decided the best course in any event would be to greet her and introduce myself.

"Good evening, Madam. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

She smiled. It was an amazing smile, and completely transformed her face. But she said nothing, walked to the french doors, opened one, and stepped out onto the balcony. As she stood there, the full moon illuminated her garments and made her almost seem to glow. The harbour breeze kept all the layers of her clothing swirling about her in constant motion, so it seemed she was surrounded by some sort of mystical aura. She stood there for a moment, then walked to the rail and gazed out over the harbour.

Dumbstruck, I rose from my chair and followed her out onto the balcony. She took no notice of me - indeed, except for that brief moment earlier when she smiled, she might have been totally alone in the room for all the notice she had paid me. Still staring out into the harbour, she leaned far over the railing. Then, with no warning, she turned toward me and again that dazzling smile transformed her face.

Still smiling, she turned away, placed her hands upon the railing and in a single graceful motion vaulted over the rail and hurled herself into the air. For a second, I saw the shape of her body silhouetted against the moon, then stared in horror as she plummeted toward the harbour that glimmered far, far below us.

I raced to the rail and looked down, but could see no sign of her. Without even taking the time to don my coat, I dashed down the stairs, through the deserted hotel lobby, and out into the night. Though in my haste I had forgotten to bring a lamp with me, the moon was of such brightness as to illuminate the entire mountainside. There was not a soul to be seen. For the remainder of that hideous night, I wandered blindly through a maze of streets and alleys, searching and listening, until the first light of dawn appeared and the streets began to come alive. I found no sign of her body, no hint of the tragedy that had taken place. Chilled to the bone, I dragged myself back up the mountain and collapsed gratefully into a chair beside the lobby fireplace.

I was alone in the lobby for several moments, and then the landlady bustled in. Sizing me up with what seemed to be a practised eye, she said nothing, retired to the back of the building, and returned with a large mug of coffee
and a glass of some mysterious concoction.

"Drink this - it is the best thing in the world for the morning after."

Gratefully, I downed the coffee in two swallows, then politely refused the hangover remedy.

"Thank you, Madame, but my condition is not the result of overindulgence but of shock and fear!"

I began to describe the young lady and detail the strange encounter in my room. Before I could complete two sentences, she interrupted me.

"Oh sir, you have had a bad dream. There is no one resembling that girl in this house and what you are describing could not possibly have happened."

I protested, but she remained adamant that it must have been a dream. At my insistence, she agreed to send an urchin to notify the sheriff. He returned sometime later and reported that the sheriff was investigating, but had so far found no sign that a young woman had been killed last night anywhere in Steelhead. I sent him out again with messages cancelling my day's appointments, retired to my room, and immediately fell asleep. My sleep was filled with strange dreams of oriental palaces and beautiful women, and when I awoke the next morning it did indeed seem possible that I might also have dreamed this woman's appearance in my room.

For the next few weeks, my life proceeded in a quite normal fashion. During the day I travelled about Steelhead conducting my business and resuming my acquaintance with friends made during previous visits. Evenings I attended civic functions or enjoyed a quiet drink in the hotel lobby. For the first few nights, I waited apprehensively to see if there would be another mysterious visit, but none came. My nights remained filled with strange dreams, and I soon decided my experience the first night had been yet another of these.

I had now been in Steelhead for almost a month and the moon was once again quite full. I had written to my mother and invited her to join me in Steelhead, but she replied that she had met a delightful gentleman and did not wish to leave Caledon at this time. As I stood on my balcony enjoying the the moonlight, I decided that since my business here had reached the point where it no longer required my constant attention, I would wind it up quickly and join her in Caledon so I might determine what this fellow was about. Past experience has shown me that my mother is inclined to be impulsive in affairs of the heart and requires guidance lest she become easy prey for fortune hunters.

Having made my decision, it seemed best to begin preparing immediately. I opened my trunk and began packing the items I did not anticipate using during the next few days. The moonlight through the French doors made the room so bright I did not even need to light a lamp. I worked away, wondering what this cad could possibly want with my mother.

A sudden motion caught my eye. I looked across the room and was astonished to see the same young lady I had encountered before. She was dressed exactly the same as on the previous night, all in white with many layers of soft clothing swirling about her, and the moonlight once again gave her a strange glow. The totally astonishing thing was that she was emerging directly from a solid wall as though she had simply walked through the wall and into my room.

She glided to the centre of the room, exactly where she had been standing when I looked up and discovered her on my first night in the hotel. She turned toward the desk where I had been sitting. Once again, that extraordinary smile illuminated her face. She opened the French door I had just closed and stepped out onto the balcony.

I could not believe this was happening again. I lunged toward the balcony, intending to do anything I could to prevent her dreadful fall.

Once again she turned and smiled. I was so close that I could almost touch her. I reached out and felt my hand grasp something whispy and soft.

She placed her hands on the balcony. Again, with a single graceful motion, she vaulted over it into the night. Something cold slithered through my fingers, and then my hand was empty.

I don't know how long I stood upon that balcony under the moon, but it seemed like a very long time. When I could move again, I turned and went back into my room.

I had encountered a spectre once before, in the haunted mine of Steeltopia, but that one was so distorted and so obviously supernatural that it was impossible to mistake it for anything except a ghost. This was an entirely different experience, yet there was no doubt in my mind that I had once again experienced a visitor from the other side. But the question remained of who this young woman might have been and why she was compelled to repeat her final evening in this room.

And what was on the other side of that wall? It had never occurred to me to wonder about this before. I walked out into the hall to see if there was a door there leading to another room, but there was none. Yet there was definitely some space between my room and the outside the building. I tapped on the wall and heard the unmistakable sound of a hollow space behind. What was there and how did one enter it?

I began investigating the wall, running my hands along it. Suddenly I heard a click and felt something move beneath my palm. A section of the wall slid away, and I looked into a dark hole. Light from somewhere far above revealed a staircase leading down into an unlit pit and another leading up to a higher level.

Lighting a lamp, I resolved to investigate. The stairs led me down into an almost empty room. Narrow wooden bunks ranged along the walls. Some had tatters of hangings tacked above them and one or two seemed to have the remnants of a pillow. Every empty spot on the bare walls was covered with the stains of black smoke and the cryptic designs of Chinese written characters.

During the course of my travels, I have spent a bit of time in the Oriental lands. I immediately recognized this space as having once been that type of notorious place commonly known as an opium den. No doubt at one time it was filled with Chinese labourers and white ne'er-do-wells seeking to escape their shabby lives by partaking of the smoke of dreams. Coming closer to the far wall, I discerned a drawing of a dragon standing in a field of flowers, and this confirmed my conclusion. Since the readers of this publication are doubtless not familiar with the manufacture of opium, perhaps I should explain that the drug is a distillation of the sap of the poppy flower.

So part of the mystery was solved. My room had once served as the respectable front for a den of iniquity.

But what was upstairs? And how did this young woman fit into it all?

I ascended the other hidden staircase. At the top I found another room much like the first. There were some slight differences, however -- the ceiling was lower. And the couches were broader, as though made to hold more than one person. And the room seemed rather small in comparison to the one below it.

I walked to the far end and discovered there was a door I had not seen at first. When I opened it, I knew at once that I had found the home of my mysterious visitor. Although the few remaining furnishing were old and half-decayed, there was no one else they could have once belonged to. And every inch of the wall was covered with more oriental writing, and with lovely graceful drawings.

I spent a good deal of time exploring that room and the one below. Some of what I found cannot be told in a family publication. Of the rest, I will simply say that I was left convinced that this hotel had a dark and shadowed past indeed. When I had finished, I felt a strong need to clean myself. I bathed and dressed.

When I had finished dressing, I began unpacking my trunk. My mother could fend for herself this time. I was not leaving until I had discovered who this beautiful woman had been and whether anything could be done to end her captivity. If so, I resolved not to leave until I had seen her pass on to her eternal reward.