13 May 2006:   from Greer Watson to Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Dear Jacqueline,

You said:
        I'm sorry I nearly forgot to answer this in the helter-skelter of “life”.

Yeah, I too have to do some real work.   However, it's occurred to me that—given that the Doom figures I calculated never actually occur, because Zelerod's Doom intervenes—it would be at least as interesting for people if I tried to work out a more generally applicable set of numbers.
        I've already suggested that most (not all) Genfarms, over most of the history of Sime Territory, worked differently from the Doom model that I described in detail.   For centuries, probably, there would have been an apparently stable Genfarm culture.   The broad sketch of this culture probably would have happened in most areas, since it's based on the demographics.   But, of course, as you point out, there would be many, many local variations.
        So, at some time, I'll do that.   The broad sketch, I mean.   The local details are, as you say, the stuff of individual stories.

I totally agree that there have to be different lifestyles in different places at different times.   I mean, just think of the wildly varying cultures in Europe even today—and more so if you go back a century.   If you want to point out that, geographically, Europe and North America differ:   fine:   think of the varieties of First Nations cultures that existed before the coming of the Europeans.

How far Simes who change over on Genfarms are “retarded” by this is surely going to vary with time.
        Initially, there would have been no drugs used by the Raiders-turned-Genfarmers on their Gen breeders.   After all, initially, there were very few Simes and a lot of Gens:   no need for drugs.   Furthermore, initially, everyone in North America (Gen and Sime alike) was at some early cultural level, from stone age up to medieval depending on the region, but no higher than medieval.
        I'm inclined to look at the neolithic, myself, as the most common cultural level: farming and herding, fishing; pottery and weaving; villages of huts (built of whatever material is commonest locally).   But, of course, cultural levels would vary.   There would be metallurgy in some areas; and maybe even some amalgamations of villages into little countries with trading and ruling classes.   Yet other parts of the continent would have hunting-and-gathering cultures.
        So in the really early days (this would be long, long before First Channel), there'd be no culture shock.   In the very early days, all Simes were escapees.   And escapees from very different cultures.
        However, history progresses.   Sime Territories are established; and Sime society advances in terms of culture and technology.   So does society in Gen Territory.   By First Channel we are looking at something like the Early Modern period, maybe; and by House of Zeor something like the mid nineteenth century.   (Not in all areas; but in the cultures described in the books.)   For example, both Gen Territories and Simes become widely literate.   At least, by the time of House of Zeor this seems to be true.
        As far as the Genfarms are concerned, though, there would be absolutely no incentive towards such advances.   Quite the contrary, I should think, looking at it from the perspective of the Simes.   So Genfarms never advance beyond the primitive level.
        So, it is actually by the time of the books (or somewhat earlier) that the culture shock for escapees would be extreme.

And then there are the drugs.   I guess that the first drugs used on Gens were introduced to keep the tribute Gens quiet, on the road and in the Pens.   And, when (in the early days) there are “spare” Gens among the tributees (we know Slina had some extras), they too would be drugged.   I mean, if they weren't, they'd likely panic; and then they'd get killed.   Furthermore, Simes wouldn't want to be troubled by the emotions of their property.
        But eventually drugs might also be used on the Genfarms to ensure that kids don't change over and kill the breeders during the night when the Gens are sleeping.  Sleeping pills for the teenagers, or something on those lines.   I have no trouble seeing this as delaying changeover, increasing mortality rates, and—among survivors—causing assorted nasty complications.   But, again, this would be in “historical” times only.   Before the time of the books, obviously; but not necessarily a long, long time before.
        Side effects from drugs + culture shock.
        This would be a way of providing an explation for the “retardation” that you have established—and also explaining how it can be that escapees from Genfarms are retarded in the books, even though, initially, all Simes must have been escapees.

As you point out, times change.   One of the remarkable things about Sime~Gen is that it takes the long view of future history, and recognizes that societies are not static.   Or species, either.

By the way, before the days when drugs are used (and cause retardation), escapees should have no difficulity learning Simelan, since they are in First Year.   I know they are past the point at which languages are easy to learn (about ten years old); but that's for Ancients (i.e. us) and Gens, not Simes in First Year.   Otherwise, escapees from Gen Territory would also have trouble learning Simelan; and we know that they learn it fluently.
        However, if one of the effects of the drugs is to cause Simes in changeover to suffer brain damage, then this could well affect the language centres of the brain.   So, once drugs start being used, escapees from Genfarms cease to be able to learn Simelan properly.   On top of all their other problems.
        Of course that doesn't stop there being variations and exceptions.   The obvious cause of regional variation would be different drugs used in different areas, or Genfarms that don't use drugs (or don't use the specific drug that causes that particular problem).   But you can also have individual variation, or variation within certain families, caused by an immunity to the brain damge effect of the drugs.   After all, some people are less (or more) affected by any drug.

You talk about mutations.   There could also be “semi-viable” ones—short lived, and pretty weird looking.   Circus freaks?   Pickled or stuffed museum specimens?   I've wondered more than once why no one has written about what, to me, seems like the most obvious mutation of all:   the Sime with four sets of tentacles.   After all, arms and legs are pretty similar on a very basic structural level.

I'm still thinking.   Haven't done with Sime~Gen yet.   There's a lot in there!


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