13 May 2006: from Greer Watson to Jacqueline Lichtenberg
I'm sorry I nearly forgot to answer this in the helter-skelter of
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
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
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
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
I'm still thinking. Haven't done with Sime~Gen yet. There's a lot in
Jacqueline's last e-mail
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