Blue Mars

Returning to Blue Mars

A couple of months ago I was talking to Riven Homewood about Caledon’s outpost in Blue Mars, Caledonia when I realised I hadn’t been back to Mars for months. I decided I’d kill two birds with one stone and see both the new city and what changes had come to the platform.

Now before I tell you what I thought let me say that I do like BM (it looks gorgeous and I like the way the company handle their public image) and I admire what the Caledon/Caledonia designers have set out to do.

That out of the way I can’t see myself dropping SL for BM anytime soon – the UI is still really basic, the avs are still pug ugly and the world (and Caledonia) is still empty. I can’t change my look, build anything or take a picture. For me at least there’s simply nothing to do. Yet…

Anyhoo, here’s some shots I took using Fraps – I doubt I’ll be back to BM for another six months, unless the UI and features suddenly get better but I just get the feeling it’s going to be a beautiful shopping place than a roleplaying arena. But what do I know?
BlueMars 2010-04-30 11-41-15-26

BlueMars 2010-04-30 11-42-22-39

BlueMars 2010-04-30 11-42-40-70

BlueMars 2010-04-30 11-45-01-75

Pre-Posting Edit: By the time you read this, these shots will be a month old and the original text a couple of weeks (I schedule 90% of my posts weeks in advance and then shift them around a lot as stuff happens – this post was originally scheduled for the end of July but I brought it forward as I’m currently exploring other worlds). Since I wrote this at the beginning of June quite a bit has happened to BM if the email newsletter I received today is to be believed. There is a shop open in Caledonia, meet & greets with Blu$ prizes are taking place, people are developing new skins & looks and there is even classes in roleplay going on. The last two float my boat big style. I’m still not jumping in yet – the UI is just horrible and the lack of snapshot feature annoys me as regular readers to this blog (all three of you) will know all to well – but this is promising and maybe I’ll go back sooner than the six months I mentioned above.

Far From Home: Chapter 5 – The Erasing, Part 1

“Danger?” I asked the disembodied voice? “What danger? From you?”

{No. Not from Shade. Danger is to your other Unit, Chosen Unit Antarm}

I was confused, “Why do you call me chosen unit? What is my other unit?”

{Chosen Unit is you, you were chosen. Your other Unit is in grave danger, Chosen Unit Antfarm}

My thoughts were slowing, my head filling with water “I’m tired, you know” I said, “funny to be tired in a dream.”

{You are not dreaming Chosen Unit Antfarm. You are in grave danger. You must not sleep Chosen Unit Antfarm}

The voice no long pulsed through me, instead it wrapped around me like a warm blanket. The world faded out and the floor caught me.


I dreamt.

I dreamt of the meadow.

I dreamt it was on fire. My nose filled with the stench of burning flesh.

I dreamt my skin was burning away, melting off my body like wax. The muscles and bone beneath gleaming in the hungry flames.

I dreamt I screamed and screamed and screamed.


I opened my eyes and saw the face that was both mine and not mine looking back at me. Curious how it was curved, big and round. With a slight smile I realised I was looking into a large glass bubble the colour of steel. I moved my head back and could see I was looking into the lens eye of a beetle-like collection of metal and wires hovering above me. I was led on the ground looking up at what I guessed must be a robot.
Far From Home: Meeting Shade

{Chosen Unit Antfarm} it spoke to me, its mechanical voice urgent {I have stabilised the connection but you are in grav…}

“Grave danger, yes I heard. I remember.” I yawned a soul-deep yawn, “What is this danger? Who are you?” I struggled groggily to my feet.

{I am Shade. I am the city, the oceans, the forests, the sky. I am all you see here. The danger is to your other Unit in not-Shade. A non-you Unit wants to shut it down}

“But this is just a dream, Shade, just a dream.” I smiled.

The robot whirled and hummed, {Negative. Units have split. Chosen Unit Antfarm in Shade and not-Shade. Unit in not-Shade currently malfunctioning. Repair process started. Non-you Unit has begun shutdown attempt. Relay available. Download initiated}

“Huh? Downlo…ARRRRRRG!” I began to ask before a thin beam of light shot from under the robot’s lens directly into my eyes. My mind was filled with the image of a small hospital room, it was night and bent over the only bed in the room as a figure hidden by a dark hood and cape. Whoever it was had a small bottle in one hand a pipette in the other dripping something into the mouth of the patient beneath them. The patient was in a bad way with what looked like burns to his whole body. I knew without knowing that it was me and that the mysterious figure was not a doctor on night rounds. The image blurred, faded and was gone. The download was over.

“What the hell was that?” I demanded.

{Relay from not-Shade} Shade informed me as if the fact were simple enough to be understood by a child. I struggled to my feet, the hovering machine humming gently as it kept up with me.

“And not-shade is?”

{Not Shade}

“Of course. And I am there as well as here?”


“How? How is it possible?”

{Dimensional split evident. Reason for split unknown}

“So you are saying this not a dream?”

{Correct. Shade is real. Not-Shade is real. Split between two is real}

I had the strangest feeling that this all should surprise me, terrify me even, but it didn’t. Although not sure why, I took this information calmly, “Can we start at the beginning?”

The machine whirled slightly {Time is limited Chosen Unit Antfarm, yours and mine}

“OK, we’ll have to be quick then. Stop me if I’m wrong. I’m not dreaming, I’m really here but I’m also led in a hospital bed badly burnt and with someone there trying to kill me, correct?”


“Right, and here is a city called Shade and you are the city, or its monitor, correct?”


“Do you know how I got here?”


“But you said something about a dimensional split?”


I stared at the robot before realising that was the entirety of its answer. “Well, care to explain what that is?”

{A energy force large enough to achieve escape velocity would be required to break through the walls of the multiverse. Speculation is not within my nature, but evidence would lead to speculation that you encountered such a force and were transported to Shade dimension from your own and the process split your units in two}

“But how can I be here and there?”



Again a long pause from the robot.


It hummed briefly and gave a click {Your unit here is not your unit. Speculation is your other-unit consciousness is here in this not-you unit}

I looked down at my body, at hands I didn’t recognise and at a reflection of a face I knew was not my own, “Makes sense,” I said to no one in particular. “But then,” I addressed Shade again “where is the person who owns this body.”

{All units have been erased} It’s cool, mechanical voice could have been reading the shares index or shipping forecast.

“I’m sorry? What did you say” I struggled to make sense of what I had just heard.

{All units have been erased}

“All units?”

{All units have been erased}

The city was empty. I hadn’t seen or heard a single soul. Coffee steaming in cups. Half-eaten food. Not one single person. No bird calls. No dogs. Nothing. No one.

{All units have been erased} Shade repeated as I slumped against a wall on legs suddenly made from string…

{All units have been erased}


To be continued…
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.


Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Amarantis Belfire watches over the burnt man here.

Far From Home: 3 – Shade

The city I dreamt of was large and sprawling.

Walkways stretched above me, bridges crossing the street I walked along. Waves washed ashore behind the buildings to my left, streets and walkways led to parks and fields behind the ones to my right. It occurred to me I had seen no one.

I called out. My voice seemed small and was quickly lost in the concrete that surrounded me. No one answered.
Far From Home 7

Shops stood open and empty. Doorways led to rooms that looked as if their owners had just left them. Here and there were signs of life, a steaming drink or a half-eaten pastry, but no one to claim them.
Far From Home 8

I called out. The concrete and stone swallowed the sound up. No one answered.

I turned and realised I no longer knew which way I had come. I tried not to panic, but fear rose inside me nonetheless. I began to run but the buildings that webbed about me held me fast. I could no longer hear my own footsteps and no matter which way I turned I was heading in the same direction.
Far From Home 9

And all the while, through the criss-crossing walkways and supports above me, the distant sky-scrapers kept a silent watch on my progress.
Far From Home 6

The city was large and sprawling but I saw no one.

{Hello Chosen Unit Antfarm}

The voice was everywhere, a metallic lilt that filled the air. Every wall and doorway, every window and billboard resonated with it. It filled my head and moved through me in a wave. I stopped dead and said “Hello?”.

{Welcome to Shade}

“What?” I asked, uncertain of the voice’s meaning. “What is shade? Who are you?”

{Welcome to Shade, Chosen Unit Antfarm. I am Shade}

“I don’t understand,” I said, “Where am I?”

There was pause and a barely perceptible click before the voice washed through me again.

{This is Shade and you are in grave danger, Chosen Unit Antfarm}


To be continued…
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.


Far From Home: 2 – The City

I dreamt of a city.

I opened my eyes and the sun was bright. I was standing beneath trees in the foothills of a mountain whose peak seemed poised to pounce into the sea shimmering away at its base.
Far From Home 1

I looked down and followed the rolling fields through small woods and across a river and there it was, the city.
Far From Home 2

It was beautiful. Surround by water, it was angular, low and flowing. Shapes and shadows in the sun that stretched out away and folded over the landscape. Beyond its squat expanse a thousand thousand windows glinted in the sun from gleaming tower blocks that reared up into the shimmering sky. It was unlike anything I could remember. I had to go to it.

The journey was long and hot. For some reason my legs seemed weaker than they should and I grew tired and breathless long before I reached the river at the edge of the city. I bent to cool my face in the water and saw a reflection I didn’t recognise. I felt no alarm at this, merely a detached curiosity as I ran my fingers through my hair and found myself expecting to find something without knowing what.

The city called to me. I stood, my reflection forgotten and crossed a nearby bridge. The city’s concrete spans and walkways slowly enveloped me like the fronds of a web and I knew I could not go back. I had to find this city’s heart, a heart that was calling me, drawing me in, pulling me deeper and deeper…
Far From Home 3

Far From Home 4

To be continued…
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.


A Burro On Mars!

As I struggle through RL’s hectic time schedule at the moment, it would appear my neglected avatar has taken umbrage at my absense and booked himself on to a rocket ship tour to a newly blued Mars where they seem to be accepting new tester recruits. Here is the blighter after removing gazelle skin!
BlueMars 2009-09-05 08-37-01-90

And in the welcome area (with a constant trickle of SLers wondering how to move and change thier POV!)
BlueMars 2009-09-05 08-38-45-18

He went to a city…
BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-13-01-18

Although it was quite empty…
BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-01-45-93

BlueMars 2009-09-05 08-59-27-15

He also marvelled at the graphics! The splashes and dust when running through water…
BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-05-27-06

BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-05-32-07

And look! Water on the lens as you come pan out of the sea!
BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-06-06-54

The shadows are lovely…
BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-07-57-18

BlueMars 2009-09-05 09-09-18-48

He seems to be having a good holiday, doesn’t he… lucky bugger!