10 May 2006:   from Greer Watson to Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Dear Jacqueline,

In my last e-mail, I said that about half of the Simes are changeover survivors from the Genfarms.   It occurs to me that, in light of what I have said before about the drugging of kids of establishment age, I need to say a bit more about this.

Pen Gens are drugged.   There is no doubt about this:   it's right there in canon from the very start.   The question then becomes when they are drugged.
        Certainly, I hold by what I said about the small-time cottage-industry Genbreeders:   they need to keep all their Gens drugged all the time, if only so that they won't be tempted to kill them themselves when the Gens throw a panic attack.  Being drugged into stupefaction, they are mute and numb.   The males only breed if drugged into potency.   The women produce drug-addicted children, who are raised addicted (and never learn proper speech), and then either establish (and are killed) or die in changeover from the various complications that come from delays caused by the drugs.

However, through most of the history of Sime Territory, children on the big Genfarms are not drugged.   There are certainly cultural shifts caused by the loss of the kids sent as tribute:   polygeny is one such shift; another is the common sight of a Sime overlord, especially around tribute time.   But, in other respects, life in a Genfarm village is a lot like life in a farming village in Gen territory.   In particular, a close watch is kept on kids of establishment age, and those who show symptoms of changeover are killed.   I honestly don't think the Simes who run the farm are going to care:   the kids who hide out and live to change over are going to kill “their” breeders (which is bad); and, if they escape, they will become competition for Gens (also bad).   There will always be some kids who escape.   Not many, but some.   For most of the history of Sime Territory they are simply the new replacements for the Simes who die.   Since children are few, they would be the principal replacements.
        As I explained, the Simes taken into the actual raiding band (i.e. the Genfarmers) are the longest lived.   They are hence likeliest to raise kids.   So they aren't going to want to share their privileged position with escapees unless they have no natural heirs.   A few escapees may be hired to work for the Genfarmers as junior labour; but, increasingly, this would not be possible.   Therefore, increasingly, escapees would be forced to head for other areas.   At first, this might mean joining a band of raiders, and killiing in Gen territory.   Later, as proper Sime villages and towns are built, it would mean heading there, instead, finding some sort of work, and relying on the Pen system.
        Most escapees have to take scut work.   They may eventually work their way up the ladder, if they're enterprising.   But they start at the bottom.

It is also possible that escaping is seen, at least in the early days (before there are more than a tiny handful of pre-Sime children), as a sort of rite of passage—something that all young Simes have to go through in order to prove themselves worthy of belonging in Sime society.

In the years from a bit before House of Zeor, but increasingly swiftly up to Zelerod's Doom, there would be a major shift in the Sime population.   First, the relatively slow increase marked by Zelerod would start to accelerate because of the better nutrition.   This would not at first affect the number of escapees; instead it would affect the death rate among those already Sime.
        But then the increase in the number of Simes would mean greater stress on the long-established pattern of life on the Genfarms.   Suddenly, a lot more Gens have to be taken as tribute.
        There would be an incentive, for the first time, to drug at least some of the kids of establishment age, even on the big Genfarms, because there'd be fewer adults around to keep close watch on them.   Not all Genfarms would do this though.   Certainly not at first.
        Nevertheless, in those areas where drugging became common, the number of escapees would go sharply down.

Countering this population trend would be the increase in the number of pre-Sime children.   First:   there's generally better nutrition, for the kids as well as the adults, so more live.   Second:   their parents live longer, and so are able to care for them until they are adult—so more survive.   Third:   their parents live longer, and so have more kids:   moderate sized families with three or four children are no longer an astonishing rarity.   Also:   their parents live longer, and hence are more mature.   I know all about the First Year bit, and how it adds about ten years to their apparent age.   But frankly, I know I was more mature in my thirties than I was as an undergraduate; and more so yet today.
        Hey, probably for the very first time in Sime history, there are parenting classes!   Sime Territory had a baby boom!

I suspect that this starts quite close in time to Zelerod's Doom.   And that means that the increased child population is still some ways off maturity at the time of the book.
        The joke is this:   because of the drop in the number of escapees, there probably would soom have been a natural—albeit temporary—drop in the Nivet Sime population as the older Simes died without being replaced.
        But then, of course, a few years later, this would have been more than compensated for as the larger than usual cohort of children started to mature.
        It's all moot, anyway.   The events of the book intervened.

Another thing:   I said in my first letter to Margaret that, since most Simes are accustomed to seeing Gens who are drugged, they expect them to always be that way.
        Clearly, this cannot be true for the escapees (though it would be true for the other half of the population who have Sime parents).   However, I would not be surprised if the escapees find it a lot easier to kill if their victims are drugged for as long as possible.   At the last moment, the drugs wear off, they go in and terrify their Pen Gen into a scream of “Don't! Please! Don't!”—but their intil by that time is far too high for them to care.   Probably the need to kill has so overwhelmed them that they can't even make out the words.
        For the other half of the Sime population, though, the words would just sound like an incomprehensible babble.   And they, of course, have been raised to think of the kill as wholly natural, and right and proper.   And they are the only ones who come from actual Sime families, which means the only ones likely to have inherited money.
        By the time of Zelerod's Doom, there is a fairly new, but pretty firmly established, middle and upper class in Sime society.   These are the people who actually do most of the governing—and they are almost all born and bred from Sime families.


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