1. The hand-corrected, drawn upon , etc. Silk auction has a little bit more than three hours until it ends (though by the time I finish this entry, it'll have quite a bit less, so you might want to check it out now and come back here afterwards).
2. Yesterday I wrote the title page, dedication, and epigraph page for The Dinosaurs of Mars, so I know that, at last, the game's afoot. The rest of the day was spent gathering last minute bits of research — never mind that my office currently strains under the weight of Mars-related books. My thanks to Sonya Taaffe (sovay) for the eloquent Rilke translation and to David Kirkpatrick (corucia) for sending me William K. Hartman et al.'s 1999 letter to Nature, "Evidence for recent volcanism on Mars from crater counts." This story has quickly gone through a number of permutations, mostly born from the realization that it should be the sort of story I want it to be, not the sort that might (or might not) make Locus reviewers happy. The setting has gone from present day to near future (though the past weighs heavily), and it has become a story of exploration and discovery, which is what it should have been all along. I'd thought it would be primarily concerned with Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum, but then the six "skylights" were discovered on the slopes of Arsia Mons a little while back, and I could not resist shifting the main action of the story west to the Tharsis Montes. Unfortunately, I need caverns that have been more or less stable for at least 65 million years, and the great Arsia Mons caverns might be as young as 40 million (though they might be as old as 100 million). So, I needed a new locale, which led, yesterday, to me moving the story still farther west to Apollinaris Patera, a roughly three-billion-year-old volcano, three miles high and a mile across. And it shall have caverns, as well, though, of course, no such discoveries have (yet) been made. They are plausible. So, yes, yesterday was spent reading Mars lit, and also emailing back and forth with the book's cover artist, Bob Eggleton (among many, many other things, Bob did the cover for From Weird and Distant Shores). Here's a wonderful rough sketch of the cover (which ought to make this project seem nearer to publication). We've intentionally taken a "retro" route with the tyrannosaurid's design:
3. Good sleep again last night, so thank you zolpidem tartrate. I think I got another seven hours.
4. My thanks to Bob Strootman, who fronts a Minneapolis band with the august title, The Dunwich Whores. They've recorded two songs based somewhat on Alabaster, one which I heard yesterday. Drad.
5. Spooky has finally gotten back to dollwork, and before getting down to a long-delayed owl commission, she turned out an adorable sort of Cthulhu hatchling thing, which you may see here. It's not for sale, though she might make more and they might be. Also, Madam Spooky has a birthday fast approaching, and, conveniently, she has an Amazon wishlist right here, for those who may be so kindly predisposed.
5. About 2 a.m. this morning, one of the six or seven Second Life Nareth Nishi's had what alcoholic's refer to as a moment of clarity. I blame my blasted work ethic, but it seemed to make sense to me that I should support my second existence with an SL job, and few SL jobs are as lucrative and as easy to land as stripping. So, that's what I've been doing, first at the Dark Goddess in Dorje, then at Club insureXtion in Bro City. And I have made some decent money. But I've grown sick of the people, most of whom seem unaware they've come to a strip club, and that strip clubs have strippers, and that it is customary to tip the dancers, who are, in fact, working to entertain them. And there's a certain inevitable level of assholery and sleaze and dimwittedness that one finds in such an environment, which I might have been able to tolerate, had the tips been better. Add to this the realization that even my best nights netted me only as many Linden dollars as I might have bought outright for about $5 US, and the fact that I'm dancing so much that I've hardly had time to allow the other Nareths to explore the vastness of SL. So, in short, I think I'm done with stripping. Instead, Dr. Nareth Nishi will be taking up residence in a quiet little steampunk town and having adventures and so forth. My thanks to netdancer for directing me towards Grendel's Children in Avaria, where I got a magnificent gazelle skin, an experience that played a role in the aforementioned moment of clarity. Also, I am smitten with the Isle of Wyrms, with the rambling NeoVictorian splendor of Caledon, and with the sadly abandoned cyberpunk metropolis of Gibson. So, yeah, there will likely be no more titty bars for me...unless they are suitably strange and accommodating to qualify as adventures in their own rights. The experiment continues.
And I wanted to post this comment by blu_muse, in response to the complaints I made on the 12th about the pervasive "normalcy" one encounters throughout much of Second Life, but I'm putting it behind a cut, because this has gone on a bit, I see:
I've thought a lot about the subject of character development in SL. I've seen some absolutely MARVELOUS creatures that fascinated me to no end, and then I saw more than my share of just plain sad and mundane avatars. It is amazing, that with all the possibilities, there are so many clichés, but I think you have to consider the source when looking at avatars.
Hanging around that "Celine Dion" castle, I got the idea that there were a lot of stay-at-home wives at that particular place, bored with their life and husbands — so, to them, making an avatar that looks like Barbie in a long flowing gown and waiting for a man to waltz them into the night is about as high as their fantasies go. They'd never — say — venture into the realm of evil elves or xenomorphs 'cause those kinds of things freak them out. I told you that when I was stuck there, the guys would walk by my character, check her out and then trot off in the opposite direction. I think because my avatar is a borg/elf/harpy/whatever thing that I was just too freaky for them.
The guy with the big green liberty spikes is probably an introverted geek who's never been brave enough to grow them. His avatar is the punk rocker he always wanted to be, maybe.
Similarly, at insureXtion last night, I was surprised at how humdrum the "underwear" contestants were. They all looked like your run-of-the-mill strippers.
Another thing I've been told about and have read about in the SL Blog, is that a lot (and I mean a surprisingly big percentage) of the woman avatars are actually men — so they're building their ideal woman, which is probably one step away from the latest Playboy bunny, and looking to score some girl-on-girl action. It didn't make sense to me at first until I talked to my brother, who said in PC games that it's not unusual for men to play women characters because they're "uncomfortable" modding a male character and don't want to play a whole game watching a guy run around the screen (homophobic much?).
It would stand to reason that the more creative the person, the more open-minded the person is, the more unusual and creative their avatar is going to be. I think everyone starts out a little like themselves because it's what's familiar to you — even you were recognizable at first — tall, long red hair — even the facial features were somewhat similar. My character had hair similar to what I actually have until I found Grendel's Children and morphed it with the harpy feathers. With exploration and learning what's available, things morph. You can tell just comparing the early photos I took of Nareth to the later ones just how much she's developed. It's fascinating.