9 May 2006:   from Jacqueline Lichtenberg to Greer Watson


Even at the time of the novel Zelerod's Doom, the general population was very far from the actual collapse that “Doom” predicted—however, it had happened (at Ardo Pass and in Norwest Territory) and news of those disasters made the concept that Zelerod had popularized (I suppose the Bards picked it up in doggerel and it was sung in taverns all over!) into something that finally alarmed people.

Also, fortuitiously and coincidentally, there were local population centers that suffered very real Pen Gen shortages.

Consider the effect somewhat like the Tsunami and Katrina wake-up calls for the structure of worldwide disaster relief organizational plans.   Consider how Katrina has affected the planning for a pandemic.   It takes a shock that is unrelated to the actual predicted disaster to energize the body politic to deal with a problem that doesn't exist (yet).

As it happened, such wake-up calls rippled through connected Sime population centers in North America in a way that did not happen in the rest of the world, and that's one reason the Householdings of North America (includes most of Mexico and most of Canada) established the Modern Tecton and the World Tecton grew out of that.

Zelerod's Doom never actually happened world-wide because people got scared enough to “see the light” and act on the basis of a purely mathematical prediction when local effects demonstrated what it would be like if Doom happened and that it really could happen—not in the abstract but in reality.

So the figures you're looking for have to be localized.   Norwest Territory (Oregon, Washington, parts of Idaho and up into Canada, maybe part of Montana) is probably the model you're looking to focus on for what would have happened had Doom occurred.

And again, local politics, religion, the presence or absense of charismatic leaders, and the strength and stability of the local Householdings (or lack thereof) were major factors in bringing down Norwest Territory in such a spectacular manner as to send ordinary Sime citizens out hunting as Raiders.

I don't know the actual percentages—but to bring down a Territory Government (in paper-pushing days, not computerized days) it would only take one or two “counties” or regions to have a major collapse of the Pen System.   A couple of runs on a Pen-system (localized supply chain) could send normal citizens out to Raid Genfarms (easy pickings) and when the Farms could not or would not deliver (owners would defend), those ordinary citizens would Raid Gen Territory, Gen armies retaliate, “liberate” some Pens full of Gens, plague strikes—the whole system comes down and thousands of ordinary Simes go Raiding (after they attack and demolish several Householdings).

So you don't need the mathematical calculation to account for the collapse of Norwest, which triggers the takeover of the Householdings in the novel Zelerod's Doom.

I don't know if Norwest was actually at that balance point when the collapse happened—but I suspect they were close enough that a couple of cascading disasters and political unrest caused by the uncertainty in the Gen supply was enough to bring the system completely down.   Remember Raiders tend to take more than one Kill a month—and become easier and easier to murder as months go on and health deteriorates.

I believe the balance point is not 1:1—but way before that.

Now during the novel, Zelerod's Doom, we depict the center part of the continent (Oklahoma and across through New Mexico, southern Nevada) as very sparsely populated—it's a dustbowl from the Genfarming practices with crops and an extensive drought.   The collapse of that fertile region's productivity of Gens (and food for Gens living elsewhere) is a big factor in bringing ZD into public consciousness to where they will accept the channels.

Here's a clue you didn't touch on.   Simes are predators by nature, and have (to varying degrees) a sense for others' emotions (even fellow Simes).   Therefore they prefer to live far apart from each other and from Gen concentrations.   Simes can become “civilized”—forming towns and villages, and even cities—only when construction techniques reach the point of being able to insulate one room from another, and inside from outside (otherwise they prefer underground and caves—which doesn't create civilization).

Domesticating Gen production, breeding Gens, requires and creates such centers where Simes must live shoulder to shoulder with each other—and on the Farms with Gens.

So it spurs the development of building techniques.

Stabilizing “life” creates, as you point out, the conditions where a population grows.

The Sime population is sprinkled in small villages, in establishments with lots and lots of space between houses, spread far and wide, but very thinly.   Still, towns and cities develop around the Pen distribution system and the economics of it all drives the development of systems very like those out-Territory (because some kids coming in-Territory after changeover can read, write and cypher and have a notion how business operates and what government does).

Study what's happening in China right now, and you'll see how a little tech, a little convenience, changes the expectations and demands of the younger generation, spurring change.

So the Sime population growth rate will exceed the Genfarm production growth rate—as the rates converge on that “balance” point, people get nervous at spot-shortages (study the oil situation today) and demand political action.   Politicians thrash around and (as you point out) create solutions that make matters worse.   (Windfall profits tax killing all chances of diverting oil producers into alternative-energy research).

The trigger point for the Householdings taking over will come way before the actual mathematical balance point.

But, that balance point will be reached in some “high profile” local instances.   Ardo Pass was a trading mecca—word went out over the whole continent about what happened there.   Norwest Territory following so close upon Ardo Pass convinced people the malady was spreading and Doom was upon them, and they acted.

It just so happened, though, that in North America, at that moment in history, four charismatic leaders (Hugh, Klyd and Risa and Sergei) were positioned to act.

In other places, that didn't happen.   So the Tecton took over North America, and then, when other places they traded with had trouble, they had the solution and imposed it—in self-defense because now the Gen population growth (and food consumption rate) in North America far outstripped the Sime population growth rate.

If you want to model Zelerod's Doom actually happening, wiping out all Simes and Gens leaving an empty Territory—that would be a great story addition.   I don't know where it did happen—pick a point somewhere in the world—Russia, China, some place with a cultural history of utter callousness toward the weak that couldn't be overcome by the increase in Compassion which is the core of the mutation.

I'm sure there's a big chapter in every Sime and Gen history textbook titled The Empty Territory, about exactly that.

Those people would delay acting until that critical balance point is reached where there is just one Gen per Sime left—and then it's too late.   That place would have to be bounded (as Ardo Pass was snowed in) by something that prevents the remaining Simes from going Raiding outside the Territory.   And the result, for archeologists to find, would be bodies frozen (like Pompeii) in the act of dying, clutching at life.

Your figure for the support of 31 Simes is an excellent piece of work.   And you are right that the Gen population (and thus the Genfarm population and also the out-T Raiding Grounds) far outstrips the Sime population by thousands and thousands. Millions worldwide.

The only reason the majority doesn't rule absolutely is that their downfall is in their genes—their own children, and the human attitude toward their own children.

One important thematic point in Sime~Gen is that the destiny of the human species is not determined by mathematics alone.   But without the knowledge of mathematics being made public, the destiny of the human species would indeed be determined pretty much by mathematics—if not alone, then predominantly.

The true core of the matter is the question of how highly improbable chains of events happen—by “accident” or by Divine Intent and Action?

The novel Zelerod's Doom depicts the result of centuries of chained improbable events and asks the questions, “What does it take for humanity to learn?”   “Did Klyd Farris make a horrendous mistake?   Is the Tecton wrong, evil?   Or the lesser of all evils?”

So your demographics discussion is right on the topic of that novel—you are examining the forces that drive societies to irrevocable decisions, leaving their grandchildren to clean up the mess.

And it is the brutal understanding that Gens are a limited resource (something our world can't quite grasp about crude oil) that is the key for junct society.   It's after that realization that they are able to start thinking about the idea that Gens are actually people, too.   With that comes the Gen society realization that Simes actually are people too.

That whole process can only start when and where an entire civilization gets to the point where they can see Zelerod's Numbers are real—or gets to that point where that balance point is close to being reached, and can't see it (Norwest Territory).

So, as you point out, politics being politics, the imposing of the “efficient Genfarm” methods creates the situation where the Sime population is growing and the in-T Gen population is not growing.

Also consider that during this period, when the Territories have been established, and the wars have become spot skirmishes with Licensed Raiders, the out-T Gen population is exploding (which is what drives people to farm or ranch near Sime borders).

As the Gen population explodes, the absolute number of Simes surviving changeover and making it to Sime Territory increases—spurring the increase in the in-T Sime population.   That Sime population increase causes (as you point out) the Genfarm population flattening.

The price of a Gen goes up.   Simes die for lack of resources to buy Gens.   (Raid and get murdered by Gen militia.)

The situation is almost stable (dynamic equilibrium) until some change initiates Doom.   Either something decreases the Gen population (plague, war among themselves, supervolcano, whatever), or something increases the Sime population (nutrition as you point out—the availability of food, and nearby Gens to spur appetite—climbing the social ladder).

That theoretical point of 1:1 in practice can't be reached on a large scale (Ardo Pass nothwithstanding) because humans will do what they must to avoid it.

The takeover by the Tecton in ZD could not have happened if the ratio had reached 1:1 because after the takeover, Doom would still happen.   There wouldn't be enough Gens to supply all the Simes even by re-using the Gens.   (I have a mathmatical article posted on simegen.com somewhere about selyn production and the Rating System of QN and TN. Karen probably knows where it is.)

Over a large enough area (from today's New York all the way to Nevada and Colorado), however, there were still enough Gens to supply all the Simes with lots and lots left over.   Huge out-T areas did not donate selyn for years to come.

They were far, far from the actual Doom.   But they could see it coming, and see it as inevitable.   Hence a generation of juncts died really nasty deaths to give their children a chance.

That's the bond with children.   Our children are our immortality in a way.   In the crunch, we will do anything for our children, even die.

So I don't know where in the ratio development they actually were during Zelerod's Doom—I just know they weren't where they thought they were—but had they not thought themselves to be at ZD, they would not have let the Tecton get the upper hand, and another solution (maybe better, maybe not) would have been found.

2.   In-T Sime families—well, I would expect the majority of the Sime population didn't form “families” as we understand it.   We write about such people forming families because they are (like us) mavericks who struggle against the trend for a vision of a future others don't share.

I would say you probably wouldn't find many families (town-dwellers with economic support) with more than three children.   Upper class, rich people could probably support three children through puberty.   Poor families would (as today) sell their children they couldn't support.   (Child labor and child sex rings undoubtedly abound.)   Out-T this produces Genrunners as a profession.

Most poor wouldn't form actual families—a man would go post with whoever was willing this month.   If he's Raiding, he'll move a lot.   Raiding women members of Bands (licensed or not) aren't terribly fertile.   (Wild West, the “drifter”.)

Remember, Killing, in any form, blunts fertility and interferes with the ability to bring a child to term.   It costs more for pre-natal extra Kills than for modern day pre-natal OB-GYN care.

So for in-T figures, look more to maybe the 1500's and 1600's in Europe—or perhaps Africa would be the better model.   Today's figures in Africa would probably come close—if you don't count any big cities in somewhat stable countries, and don't count the white population.   (Now those women have lots of pregnancies, but very few babies who survive—starvation reduces fertility.   Rape abounds.)

Africa is being destroyed by AIDs, which might be about (statistically) equivalent to the effect of Need, Pen Kills.   Non-licensed Raiding would be equivalent to say, Heroin addiction on the ability to produce and bring up a child.

Have you read that article of mine—I know I wrote a whole lot about Transfer Mechanics and touched on this topic, of how fertility and longevity is affected by variations in Transfer—and on the genetic mutation spread and how different factors in types of transfer affect different sub-mutations differently.   I'm sure that's posted in Rimon's Library somewhere.

I'm CC'ing Karen on this—save this maundering in case Greer wants to quote it in some additional commentary.   Do you remember the title of that article of mine?


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