Friday, June 8, 2012

Jeddin's Underground City

Last month, Second Life Newser was informed about a build that was created by a science-fiction writer, Dana Paxson, whom is known in Second Life as Jeddin Laval. From outside at a distance, it looks like a gazebo next to a tower on a hill with some larger white and glass towers in the distance. A closer look reveals some doorways, which lead into an underground complex, Jeddin's Underground City. A smaller building next to the city entrance has an introduction for visitors to read.

A notecard given described some of what his place was about. In 1995, Dana Paxson wrote a novel he titled "Descending Road," a number of stories about an underground city on the Earth colony world of Tarnus. The story takes place ten thousand years after it's settlement, which takes place "after 20,000 years of difficult evolution beyond our present time." The main story is about a man named Andrew as he grows up on the world, in a tale that "is painful, lonely, brutal, passionate, courageous, and wildly varied."

Contacting Jeddin, he teleported me to inside his virtual city, "We're standing on the floor of a City access well, called an 'aswal' in the stories. There are several floors above us." Describing this setting of his Descending Road  novel, clickable items often give links to a webpage, a notecard describing the object, or animated something, "I always encourage touch to explore here."

Talking more about the novel his build is based on, "The story is a large-scale struggle among human factions, andros, and aliens to take control of the planet. The planet, Tarnus, was colonized by humans about 10 millennia before the time of the story. The aliens played a role in attempting to destroy humanity long before, and try again. There are several parallel stories in the work.  The main line centers around Andrew, a human caught up in a poverty-stricken life, who finds his way to a rebel faction. And of course he runs into terrible trouble from almost every side."

Jeddin noted the changing light in the city, "The overhead lighting here changes color and intensity as the Second Life day advances. That echoes the story setting, which is far underground, doing the same thing. … the underground city tracks the aboveground day." He also pointed out some groups of vines hanging from the ceiling, "Those hangings are plants designed to provide enriched air in the deep city." To get between levels without flying up and down the central shaft, there were various disks on the floors, "These floor circles are 'Eleporters' to take us between levels. … I play with words.  A lot." Another notable spot in the city is the memorial wall, or "Memwall, where the dead are remembered. … If you touch a few of the graffiti … you'll get a page offered of the scene in which a person died." In another spot, "there's a commemoration of a terrible scene. A detachment of corpo soldiers toches a home, killing two old women. But an alien revives one of the corpses and speaks to the soldiers  via the body. The alien condemns the whole human race for its crimes against itself."

In the stories, the city has both human residents, and bioandroids. Jeddin took me to where the "andros," as they were called, are created: large tubelike vats, big enough for a human-sized avatar to enter and slide down, "The embryos are inserted at the top, and grown through several floors of fluid until they emerge fully-grown and trained at the bottom. Several of the story characters, including one named Jeddin, are andros." Some information on the wall nearby explained more about the andros, "ere you get some writeup on andro capabilities, and an exhibit regarding their five-octave visual capacity. Andros can see from IR to UV, and have many color names for colors in each range."

Jeddin went on to say in the stories, the main character "Andrew is assaulted by a powerful industrialist named Arlen, founder and owner of ArCorp, the company that built the andro vats where we're now standing." The businessman suspects Andrew is somehow mixed up with the aliens plotting against the humans. Before leaving, Jeddin showed me the control panel for the vat valves, "A visitor here can let a friend drop down through a vat and come out at the bottom. The one inside a vat can also open and close valves by touching them.  The valves are the pale blue-green floor circles."

One place we went to was Caladrina's Restaurant, which in the stories is where a number of scenes took place. In one, "A girl writes silent messages to her father in salt she spills on a table in the back. … The girl is Lejina, and her story is called 'Lejina's Change' or 'Lejina's Song'." In one of his secondary stories, "One guy trashes the place with a beam weapon. The trasher is in one of the secondary stories - his name is Tomas, and the story is 'Pyro'. …Pyro is a drug. … So much of what I write has some resonance with SF I've read long before."

Jeddin showed me other rooms, some showing the architecture of the city through diagrams and holograms, both 2D and 3D. Another showed a room with a simple but challenging game where one tries to move all the pieces from one pole to another, one at a time, until they're all on the other side. One of the last rooms Jeddin showed me displayed Tarnus from space, along with it's larger moon Lulith. There was also a small model of the colony ship that had settled the world long before the plot of the novel takes place. On the wall is a poem, written by one of the settlers:

They clapped us in the chains of sleep,
and drove us frae the Sun,
The bitter chills of blackest space
near killed us every one.
But now we've got a new world's light,
nae mair to gang awa,
We'll walk again the hills and dales
of Caledonia.

Jeddin had first come to Second Life five years ago, through a real life friend of his, "Daaneth Kivioq got me a place to start, and that was when I started building. He and I go back to the 1980s. He and I ran D&D campaigns together. One of mine was set in, an underground city. That was the seed for the fiction, which was the seed for this place. Our D&D campaign lasted over ten years. When we finished, I was starting to write science-fiction. That's when I started writing the City as it is here."

Jeddin explained his build had gotten some attention outside of Second Life, "This place has been shown as stills and a video in art shows at two colleges. University of Michigan Alumni Shows, and SUNY Empire State College shows too."

Jeddin's Underground City is at the Palm Breezes sim. His website suggested "if you want to start exploring on the surface level, use the City Surface Link" at (100, 98, 46). But if you want to start at the city's lowest level, go to  (130, 117, 25).

Bixyl Shuftan


  1. Welcome. :-) Sorry it took so long, but there was a lot to write about last month.

  2. Bixyl, this is one of the very best pieces I've seen on the build and the stories - you asked a lot of questions I didn't see before. Thank you very much - I'm linking this on FB.


    Jeddin / Dana