Sime~Gen Inc. Presents
Black On Black by K. D. Wentworth, Baen Books SF, Feb. 1999
World Spirits by Aline Boucher-Kaplan, Baen Books SF, Mar. 1991
Wicked Angels by Michele Hauf, www.dreams-unlimited.com (sequel to Dark Rapture, Zebra Romance Jan 1997)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer -- all episodes to date.
At Ecumenicon 1999, (as I mentioned in the March '99 column) I had the honor of giving a seminar on Karmic Astrology. When I set out to shape that seminar's material, I had not a single notion in my head about what to tackle.
In my considered opinion, there is no such thing as Karmic Astrology. But after giving that seminar, I realized I had about 3 years' worth of material left over that I didn't even get to mention, nevermind cover.
If there's so much material -- how come there's no such thing as karmic astrology? Maybe because nobody has yet assembled that material in one place and named it karmic astrology.
Where did I get all that material? Watching television -- science fiction shows on television, mostly. Reading Futuristic or Fantasy Romance novels. Reading sf/f in general. And trying to jigsaw all that together into the "map of reality" described by Tarot and Astrology as I understand them.
As I've said in this column before, most sf/f is classed as Action/Adventure, especially on TV which is still hobby-horsing on SF/F formulae of the 1950's.
One bit of "material" is a quotation. I can't recall which show I heard this quotation on most recently -- Highlander: The Raven maybe. It has been a serious puzzle to me until yesterday (4/20/99) when the news story broke about the shooting at a HS in Colorado by the "Trenchcoat Mafia".
The quote: "Don't thank me: I'm just doing my job."
My response: "But I always thank people for doing their job. Why shouldn't I? Am I not to be grateful that they exist to do their job?"
Why would ANYONE object to being thanked?
The TV News showed a group of serious professional power-users "just doing their job" (one of them used that phrase in an interview) securing that HS and rescuing the trapped students, just what any White Magician would do. Why wouldn't everyone involved thank those S.W.A.T. team members? Why wouldn't the operatives expect thanks?
Ego. Power. Acceptance. Respect. And the implications regarding one's social status relative to the thanker?
If you're being PAID to do something (i.e. if your palm is crossed with silver), your motive is one thing. If you just volunteer and do it -- your motive is something else.
What class of people are due THANKS even though they also get paid?
Think back to the customs (historical romances are good for SOMETHING) in turn-of-the-century England. (this was brought home to me just a couple weeks ago when I went to the Catskills to a resort area for Passover week. Not only were the buildings from the early part of this century, but the CUSTOMS were too.)
When a noble invited other nobles to a manor house in the country, the host did not pay the servants extra for the added work load. The guests were expected to tip-as-you-go each servant belonging to the household.
The phrasing by which one dismisses a servant while crossing their palm with silver or copper was and still is, "Thank you. That will be all."
To pay and thank a person classes them as a servant -- someone beneath your own station.
You do not thank an equal you have hired. You simply pay them. And one can't "hire" a superior -- they don't work for hire, certainly not for their inferiors.
This is a very HARD notion for an American to contemplate because our society is so different with regard to CLASS. We still have social class, but we are all legally, morally and ethically free to choose which class we would prefer to belong to. Our only remaining constraint in choosing our social class is FINANCIAL.
OK, now back to the tragedy in Colorado. Soon after the S.W.A.T. teams had done their job, the media turned to psychologists asking why anyone would DO such a thing.
I heard one psychologist advance the thesis that an outbreak of vicious, violent and destructive behavior often happens because the adolescent is not 'accepted' by his peers, is seen as "different" and thus socially unacceptable and feels disenfranchised and powerless because of it.
Interesting that this socially rejected self-image is prevalent among sf/f readers and fans, and that the literature Manhattan and Hollywood have decreed is the only form you will be allowed to imbibe within the sf/f genre is the literature of violence and destruction (i.e. Action).
But sf/f is not just "Action genre" -- it is HEROIC ACTION. The main characters are the S.W.A.T. team that 'just does its job' -- and the villains are the ones who slaughter the innocent. The Hero, the "White Magician" is the one who uses his Power to rescue others, considering that his "job" -- a karmic job for which he/she is due no thanks.
Then there's Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, and Highlander. In Martial Arts, the reason to acquire "Power" is to have "Options" -- i.e. to have enough power to solve the problem without using maximum force.
According to that one psychologist, the boys who murdered those people felt they had no other option, no other way to make the world behave the way they needed it to behave -- to reject Blacks, Orientals and jocks and accept them instead.
The novels I had read before this incident erupted from my TV screen typifies the SF novel that I adore reading and writing. They are about how having or not having power (knowledge) or options causes karma -- as those boys have now caused themselves much sad karma.
Black on Black is about a kidnapped alien child raised by an Amerind family who later (as a S.W.A.T. professional) discovers the species he belongs to. He chooses to use Options which he, as a S.W.A.T. pro, has that are unavailable to his species and he defends their world. Most Highly Recommended, a wondrous good read.
World Spirits is about the scion of a wealthy family who must prove herself worthy of her family name. She chooses an Option available to her because of her offworld wealth that is not available to the natives she must manipulate.
Both these novels present plausible alien theologies well worth careful study with regard to the reasons for acquiring Power and applying the Options that power adds in order to generate your karma.
Wicked Angels is a Dark Vampire Romance with a Time Travel twist that traps the reader in a delightful paradox. The two lovers are caught in a time-loop which they are powerless (optionless) to break out of. Logically, irrational behaviors result, and choices must be made that generate further karma. This is a Horror-Romance crossover set after the marriage, so I'm not surprised that Zebra declined to publish it.
However, you can get this novel at a new, online Romance publisher www.dreams-unlimited.com that specializes in the mixed-genre novel disallowed by Manhattan and Hollywood. Wicked Angels is bound to be one of 1999's BEST. (watch that website -- one day you may see a Sime~Gen Romance there!)
Now, why did I mention Buffy: The Vampire Slayer in the list of reviews above? Because of the contrast between the behavior of teens on Buffy after a trauma with the behavior of teens after the equally horrendous trauma in Colorado (or Kosovo).
My HS had a bomb scare once. I felt at the time that it was boring and annoying. I wonder how I'd have reacted if people had been slaughtered before my eyes?
I think we need a TV show in which people react realistically to trauma, especially trauma which makes the victim feel powerless and optionless. I think we need to create some new options. That's why we need these mixed-genre novels that are starting to show up online -- the very novels Manhattan has refused to publish even though they are by noted professionals.
Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg,
Until I get the direct links installed here, you can find these titles by using copy/paste (in MSIE use right mouse button to get the copy/paste menue to work inside text boxes) to insert them in the search slot below -- then click Book Search and you will find the page where you can discover more about that book, or even order it if you want to. To find books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, such as the new Biblical Tarot series, search "Jacqueline Lichtenberg" below.
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Reviewed by Jacqueline Lichtenberg