Sime~Gen Inc. Presents

Recommended Books

October 1998



Part One:
Honor - A new Broadway play.
"His Way" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode broadcast in April, 1998.

Part Two:
The Enemy Papers by Barry B. Longyear, White Wolf Publishing, Feb. 1998
(quality paperback containing 3 novels and lots more).
Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Avon Eos, pb 1998.

Part Three:
Finity's End by C. J. Cherryh, Warner Aspect hardcover, 1997.
The Arm of the Stone by Victoria Strauss, Avon Eos, 1998.

Part Four:
Death of an Adept by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris, Ace Fantasy hc, 1996.
Mainline by Deborah Christian, Tor Science Fiction, 1997.




Last month, we ended Part Three of this four part essay with the question, "Who deserves your charity?" Presumably, you've answered that question by now and are ready to consider the larger question of the connections among charity, power, intimacy and honor.


Ultimately, power (power = possessing a wide array of options, including the ability to override other people's free will choices) is what charity is about and the reason that motive doesn't matter when judging an act to be charitable the reason that the only criterion by which an act is judged charitable is whether the needy person was helped is that charity consists of giving away power and getting nothing back for it except that pleasure-hit of having done an honorable deed.


Now, how can giving away something precious to you often a non-renewable resource produce a pleasure-hit?


I think there are a lot of ways that can happen but to me, it generally boils down to "empathy" or "heartsensing" as Strauss dubs it. It boils down to seeing the world from someone else's eyes, identifying with that person, feeling their feelings knowing both what you would feel like in their situation and what they actually do feel like in their situation. And the pleasure hit that is the payoff of doing charity comes from a shared joy.


It's magic, you see. You take this physical object (sometimes a thing like a warm winter coat that's not worn out yet or some money that's a symbol for a coat) and you share it with someone, and the backflow brings you a shared emotion. An "Oh! Oh, how wonderful!"


Volunteering to work a charity drive is the best way I know of to break out of a period of depression. The hard work and exercise alters your brain chemistry while the astral-plane backflow hits your spirit body, and wham, you're back to "normal" (whatever that may be for you).


Now, just like magick, the thing that makes doing charity "work" on your spirit body is your emotion and your imagination. That's why the highest form of charity is anonymous charity where the donor has no contact with the recipient. In that form, the entire operation is on the astral plane, and just barely manifest via the physical object. This is what you do when you take canned food to the distribution center for the homeless.


To the degree that you light up other people's lives, your own life will be lit.

It doesn't matter why you do the deed if the other life is lit, so will yours be. It's a law of the Universe it's inherent in the structure of reality, subjective and objective. It's a law of karma. As you ignite emotions in others so those emotions will ignite within you. The brighter your inner light burns, the more you light up other lives around you. Charity and the Six of Cups is the key.


And honor is an emotion that works just like that. It belongs to this group that charity belongs to and thus has that same form if not the same substance.


I don't yet understand the details it only yesterday occurred to me that I've been looking in the wrong place for the key to this puzzle. Lots more thinking has to be done on this. But I suspect honor is one of those basic key differences between white and black magick.


Which brings us to my current favorite white magician Sir Adam Sinclair. Death of an Adept by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris is a 1996 book, and so is probably around in paperback by now. And I understand there are more in The Adept Series to come.

This one has the same structure as the others there's a mystery for the police to solve (I do love a mystery, you know), death and violence aplenty to fit the genre requirements for publication, and some solid magic to study.


Sinclair leads a small band of Hunters duly sworn guardians of the world whose job is to protect you and me from the depredations of the black magicians. Each has a psychic talent, and together they make a formidable team.


In this novel, the problem lies in a stonehenge like Stone Circle tucked away far to the north in a small, sleepy, unsuspecting town. A Black Adept named Raeburn (the name may be familiar to readers of this series) has conjured an ancient evil an even blacker force named Soulis. It is Adam Sinclair's job to thwart their purposes.


Thwarting isn't the same thing as triumph or victory, you know you can succeed at thwarting and end up much the poorer for it in money and health. In some thwarting actions the objective is to oppose a particular person for revenge or other personal reasons then you've got an Enemy situation.


But many times thwarting doesn't involve being an enemy for example, thwarting a drunk who wants to drive doesn't constitute being his enemy though he might think so at the time. Thwarting a nicotine addict who wants to quit from finding where he stashed his cigarettes doesn't constitute being an enemy it's an act of charity.


So it's Adam Sinclair's job to thwart Raeburn and Soulis. In this case, Raeburn and Soulis would define Sinclair as Enemy but Sinclair succeeds because he doesn't define Raeburn and Soulis as Enemy. Thus he doesn't acquire them as part of his personal karma.


Adam Sinclair defends the helpless. He puts his own body and life between the helpless and those whose purpose is to work harm on the helpless. As a result, their blows fall upon Sinclair, not upon the helpless. But Sinclair isn't helpless. Sinclair deflects the blows from their purpose of harming the helpless and thus thwarts the evil purpose.

This is, you may note, exactly what Qwai Chang Caine does on Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.


Here's a snatch of dialogue from Death of An Adept: Another adept, Kerr, is explaining to Sinclair:


"Soulis was no common evildoer," he explained grimly. "So monstrous were his crimes that it was decreed his existence should be cut short not just once, in what is now your own past, but for all time to come: by denying him all future incarnations. In releasing Soulis from limbo, this man Raeburn has restored the potential to incarnate. The consequences of that act now threaten to change the whole fabric of creation, from this time forward."


Adam's mind reeled at the prospect. "Is it possible to put things right?" he asked.


"It is," Kerr responded sternly, "but it will not be enough simply to send Soulis back to the Other Side. The doors to his own future must also be closed against him."


"Do you know how to do this?" Adam asked. "For I do not."


See why you have to read this series? Enough said.


And now we come to the Honorable Mention that goes with these novels and that illuminates much more on these subjects.

There's a story that goes with this novel. The author, Deborah Christian, wrote to me after having found this column posted on the Web. She recognized in this column some of the things she wanted to accomplish with her own fiction which had, at that time just started to be published.


I wrote back, and she sent me her first novel, Mainline, in paperback. I read it as a top priority, right after I finished The Enemy Papers." She also sent me her second novel, which I haven't read yet. And she's sold a third and fourth, I believe.


If I'd stumbled over this book in a random bookstore sweep, I might not have bought it and having bought it, I probably wouldn't have reviewed it. But I'm pretty sure I'd have finished reading it.


You see, the problem with this novel is not the material that it handles but the style of the use of point-of-view. And that is a matter of taste, you see, not of objective quality.


In this column, I tend to emphasize single point of view novels because that is the form that best lends itself to "walking a mile in someone else's karma" and it is the form that best allows you to learn important lessons from your fiction reading. It is also the form I like the best that I enjoy the best.


In real life, we live only one point of view our own. The most significant data to us is the data we don't have what we don't know but can only infer or guess or deduce. Those are the things that we would know if only we could really be inside another person's point of view for a while. Wouldn't you like to spend an hour inside your boss's head and know, really know, his reasons for reaming you out? Or whether his lavish praise is a put-on? Or a come-on?


In novels you can. In real life, you can't. So I prefer novels that are more like real life where all I know is what the P.O.V. character knows, just as if I were that person and had to live his/her life. Reading single P.O.V. novels is the primary exercise in the kind of empathy the walking a mile in another person's karma that trains you to experience a pleasure-hit from doing charity. It also helps in retrieving your own past-life memories. And there are several other basic magick skills it helps develop. So I prefer the single P.O.V. novel as my primary source of entertainment.


Mainline other than in the use of point of view, is pretty much Intimate Adventure - the hero is a woman who is in a pickle because of a psychic talent. She has the ability to translate herself into parallel time-lines. She's crossed so many lines that she's lost and can't get back to her birth-timeline. She's found a way to make a living that isn't prostitution, though. She's become a hitman. And she's absolutely the best.


Lately, though, the life has begun to pall. She's lonely because when she shifts to another timeline after making a hit, she has to deal with people who aren't really the same people she had established relationships with. And as a hitman, she really doesn't dare trust anyone with her secrets in a world where telepaths are all around and some work for the law, a hitman with a secret can't afford relationships. As a result, she's lived now a few years without any relationship in her life and it's getting very, very lonely.


So she's promised herself not to skip time-lines again. She gets involved with a woman who is a smuggler and thinks she's real smart but isn't as smart as she thinks. Our hero tries (an act of charity) to help her learn how to cover her ass and be a good smuggler. Meanwhile, on a hit, our hero kills the boss of a man who has hired a really wild alien as bodyguard.


The alien is pissed. The alien's honor has been tarnished by this assassin and he's out for blood. Meanwhile, a lawman with a similar gift to our hero's is on her tail. He is developing an attraction to her, but doesn't want to admit it to himself.

This is an extremely densely plotted novel. In fact, the crazyquilt of shifted points of view makes the plot overshadow the characters and relationships. It's as if the author wanted you to be interested only in what happens next and not to whom it happens and why. And certainly not to feel that it's happening to you.


But it's also a complicated novel. More, its complications are complex. That made the whole thing intriguing enough that I gritted my teeth and read over the raw, jarring point-of-view shifts. And when I got to the end of the novel, I was sorry it was over. So it must have been pretty good. But it's very hard to remember because there was no one person to hang onto.


Maybe you won't like this particular novel. It's got ESP, true, but not magick. And it smacks of the cyber-punk because it's got some sequences of hunting around inside an interstellar computer network, dodging anti-virus programs. I thought those sequences were well done and not intrusive, and avoided most of what I don't like about that sub-genre. But then I'm the one who wrote Molt Brother and City of a Million Legends, so who am I to talk?


But I think "Deborah Christian" will be a byline we're going to follow and discuss at great length in future columns so you might want to stock up on her first novel before it disappears.


I didn't get to do my vampire novels in this October column as I'd planned (space here is very limited), so I'm hoping to do them next month. Meanwhile, go to and look up vampires.

Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg,POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952.

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