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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
Greer's previous e-mail
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