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Sime-Gen Perspectives Newsletter

June 2000

<> *Stock up for Summer Reading* with new romances, scifi, and everything in between! Many at half-price! Our 1st SERIAL: FREE! That Miracle Man, a sensual summer read (1st weekly instalment: May 22)

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***** Feature Articles *****

** Conversation between New (to Internet) and Experienced Fans


If you don't mind a nearly personal question, I guess "Ronnie Bob" is a male first name?

Ronnie Bob:

I don't mind at all. "Ronnie Bob" is a male first and middle name. In the United States, (You may have caught this if you were around when the TV show "Dallas" was popular in Europe) two small and simple names are characterized as belonging to the South, while the North prefers to shorten the first name to a single syllable or using two initials. Texas, being partly South and partly West, has some of the characteristics of both. Please forgive me, because this is a broad-brush explanation. Thus, President James E. Carter, was Jimmy (from Georgia, with brother Billy Bob), President Ronald Reagan, was "Ron" (from California), and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was "JFK" (or "Jack" to friends. Funny thing about the North, they will even "simplify" a single-syllable first name to a completely different single-syllable first name.) My mom and dad named me "Ronnie Bob Whitaker" as my real name. This is almost unheard of. Even in the South, they usually change the name they call you, (James to Jimmy, Ronald to Ronnie, Robert to Bob, etc.) When I was drafted into the US Military, I had to have an actual copy of my birth certificate to convince the personnel people that Ronnie Bob was my real name (which made it Ronnie B. Whitaker to the formal method the Military used to classify names.) All throughout my career, it was constantly assumed that my real name was Ronald Robert instead of Ronnie Bob. I got so used to fighting to get my real name recognized, that I probably went overboard. Even then, I was constantly referred to by others who only knew me casually as "Ron" or "RB" which I generally responded to, but didn't particularly like.


I noticed that most of S~G fan authors are female. So I assumed most of the fans were also female.

Ronnie Bob:

Most of the S~G fan authors are female, and most of the S~G fans are female. Part of the explanation for this derives from two sources. Jacqueline and Jean were both avid Star Trek fans, but were most concerned with the character of Spock, who intrigued them. In Star Trek fandom, most females were intrigued with Spock and most males identified more with James T. Kirk. Thus, even the two JLs’s Star Trek stories were mostly liked and distributed to and by female ST fans. When Jacqueline published House of Zeor and gave a money back guarantee that you would like House of Zeor if Spock was your favorite character on "Star Trek." The majority of fans who took her up on it were female. Part of the explanation is that the core fandom for Sime~Gen originated out of the wider Darkover fandom originated by Marion Zimmer Bradley, who specifically tried to write science fiction and fantasy that would appeal to females rather than males, because she felt that they were not targeted by the mainstream SF/F books. She also went out of her way to help young, up and coming female authors and in fact helped Jacqueline Lichtenberg in her early years. JL has continued this practice by continuing to try to help mostly female authors in the production of novels that appeal mostly to females. I was a Star Trek Fan (I liked the ensemble, not any one particular character, but Spock was also fascinating to me), but I didn't get introduced to Darkover or Sime~Gen through that technique. I used to read a lot of SF books and ran across and read HOZ, UZF, and FC not too long after they were published in paperback and liked them. Years later, when I was trying to introduce a female co-worker to science fiction, I remembered the books, found all eight, and we both enjoyed reading them together. That was when I wrote to the PO Box 290 address and got hooked into the fan network. Kerry noticed that I was close to a Darkover convention that JL would be at and invited me and I've been attending ever since and enjoy it a lot. There are also other men who are part of the Sime~Gen community and enjoy it but are still vastly outnumbered by the women fans. I have written a couple of stories and got one of them close to fan publication before that outlet ceased publication for a while, had a short burst again and then stopped completely on paper, with only one transitioning to the electronic media. I may take the time to brush it off and resubmit it; but you are correct: it seems that most of the authors who like to play around in this universe are female.


How does S~G literature sound to a boy? Are there many of you?

Ronnie Bob:

In a general broad brush, knowing that there are many exceptions, male SF fans seem to prefer a more technical or action/adventure type of story, while female SF fans want a relationship type of story. Sime~Gen is mostly a relationship type of universe. I guess I'm one of the exceptions as a male who likes many different kinds of SF stories, including relationship and action/adventure or hard-core science stories. There are exceptions on the female side as well. However, in S~G fandom, at least at the conventions I've attended, females outnumber males by about 3 or 4 to 1. However, I don't mind being in a minority. Quite a few of the male SF fans just don't care much for S~G or relationship stories at all. Jacqueline says that House of Zeor was specifically targeted as an action/adventure story in the S~G universe, but it is still filled with lots of relationships, the primary one being between Hugh and Klyd. (Many men have an aversion to male/male relationships, whether they are sexual or not.) JL wrote and got published two books under a pseudonym, Daniel R. Kerns, called Hero and Border Dispute that were supposed to be nothing but action from cover to cover, but JL just couldn't resist adding in the relationships to those as well and they didn't do as well among the target audience who just generally read pure action/adventure.

I hope you don't mind that I'm copying this to Karen and JL (as I have some of our previous messages which were not quite as personal), because they already know this about me and might have a different perspective that they might want to convey.

The Sime~Gen electronic mailing list is also mostly female, but we do have our male members, and we aren't afraid to express our views as well, and sometimes that gets a vibrant discussion started.

(And don't worry about "poor Ronnie Bob"! I'm quite used to working with Karen Litman and others to try to get more things done.)


Thanks a lot for your long message. I was very interested in all the insights you gave me. Of course, I noticed that SF by female writers, and specifically Jacqueline's, had something very special and very sensitive; but I've never thought before it could have been done on purpose to appeal to female readers.

Ronnie Bob:

Congratulations to Jacqueline. She purposely tries to write stories (novels, worlds) which have hidden layers of meanings, which allow you to read her stories again and again and discover something new and different things each time. Not all authors take the time to do this.


Very interesting also what you told me about the first names in the States and that it is dependent on the area. Do you know I thought (and I would say quite a lot of French people think the same) that the use of two first names (or first and middle ones, rather) was a kind of snobbery! It is in France (or at least, people think it is, specially when the two names, or their association, are not very common). For instance, "Jean Bernard": "Jean" (male name ) and "Bernard" are quite common, even if a bit old fashioned. But the two of them together sound snobbish. Or "Charles Henri": Charles on its own is really old. I guess it is very rare to name a child "Charles" nowadays. But both together sound snobbish and aristocratic. Of course, that's not true for all double names. Some are so common that they are perceived as a simple one. For instance, "Anne Marie" or "Jean Luc."

Ronnie Bob:

Wow! I didn't realize that my naming convention was marking me as a snob in French. Guess this can certainly be attributed to cultural differences. It isn't the same in our culture. Snobbery can be indicated by using the proper names, such as William Henry, or particularly if they use lots of names, such as the English Aristocracy do. (Diana's fumbling of the order of the many names of her soon to be husband in her wedding ceremony is an example I can think of.) I'm sure we have many ways to indicate snobbery that I'm not very familiar with. Even the snobs in this country want to be seen as "good old boys" when they are trying to promote their images to the public. What they do in private may be completely different.


About Jean, by the way, French translations of English books with Jean inside are very odd; because it's written the same – Jean – and in French, Jean is definitely male. No way, it could be female! I guessed it's always female in English?

Ronnie Bob:

Yes, Jean in English is always female (unless the author is French, then it can be male.) The English spelling of the male Jean is "Gene" (Gene Autry was the singing cowboy in early film "talkies") Both are pronounced with a "g" sound the way we pronounce the letter when we say our ABCs followed by a long "e" sound and then the "n" close. In an English dictionary, it would be jen with the long mark over the e. In English, we pronounce the French name Jean as we would John with a bit of a softer "j" mixed in with a "z" sound. All of us "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fans learned how to properly pronounce the word because of Captain Jean Luc Picard. (Who cherished his French ancestry.) (That was the sample of two names in French that were not an indication of snobbery, so I'm sure that Jean Luc appreciated that.)

[Editorial comment: The English equivalent of the French name JEAN is JOHN. GENE is short for EUGENE, which is the same in French, though with an accent mark: EUGÈNE. In English, Jean or Jeanne are female names and are the equivalent of the French Jeanne or Jeannette, though the latter is also an English female name. The closest English version of the French Jeanne is Jan or Janet.]


I've got two more questions, or two and a half, if you don't mind, and one more comment about French translations of the S~G universe. The first one is about the two words Sime and Gen. I understood that Gen stands for Generator, as it is clearly written in one of the short stories of the fanzines, and also it could be guessed even by French readers (the word générateur is nearly the same in French). But what does Sime stand for? Maybe it is obvious for English readers?

Ronnie Bob:

You are correct, Gen is short for Generator, as they are the generators of the biological life force needed by Simes. Interestingly, in English gene (when referring to the life codes that make up the genetic material) also has its origin in the Greek Genos, which is race or offspring.

Sime is not an English word, nor is it similar to any English word that might indicate something to do with the Sime race. Slime or Slimy is something which is used derogatorily by Gens to refer to the Sime tentacles being like slimy snakes, though in reality, this isn't true. I read in a fanzine that Jacqueline originally felt that Sime was an acronym where each letter stood for a word S.I.M.E., but I can't remember or find at this time what the words were and I'm not sure that this is the case any longer. So it is sufficient to say that Sime is merely a "made up" word to describe this sector of the mutated human race. It has no more meaning in English than it does in French (at least I think you said it didn't mean anything in French.)


Additional question, how do you pronounce the i in Sime? Like in see, like in sit (shorter), or like in five? Unless Sime stands for some word easy to recognize in English, it's impossible to guess the pronunciation even for an English reader, isn't it?

Ronnie Bob:

The i in Sime is a long i sound, not as in see, or sit, but as in five. English readers are so used to seeing and automatically pronouncing words they don't normally use that they rely on some basic guidelines that apply most of the time unless they are told otherwise. Among all of the English readers that I have talked to, there is no one I have found who didn't pronounce the word with a long i. This is based on a rather simple rule in English word formation that indicates that you use an e at the end of the word to make the previous vowel a long vowel. Thus sit is a short i and site is a long i; mat is a short a and mate is a long a; smut is a short u; mute is a long u.

Unfortunately, Jacqueline's pronunciation of some of the words was not the same as when I first read them. Indeed, many words have local variations of pronunciation in the US, though the widespread TV news and programs are making our language more standardized in pronunciation. Jacqueline intended selyn to be pronounced suh LINE (with the emphasis on the second syllable and a long i sound.) I saw it and pronounced it SEL in (with the emphasis on the first syllable and a short i sound.

For made up words, it really doesn't matter that much, unless you are talking to other fans. JL has pronounced many of the difficult Sime~Gen words and put them on the web site. If you have compatible sound equipment that will play the audio files, you can hear the way she intended the words to be pronounced.


My comment about the French translation of Gen, now (from House of Zeor) is that it is not translated at all; it is written Gen and Gens in singular and plural. And that is very odd! Gens in French (always plural) means exactly people and is a very common word, for instance, we say "des gens viennent," and it means "some people are coming". The French Gens is not used, however, in the "political" or geographical/historical meaning. For instance, when you say "the American people have elected Bill Clinton," we say "le peuple américain a élu B. C." and not at all "les gens américains ... ." It was so strange that, when I had only the French translation and no way to compare with the original English text, I was thinking that maybe the original English word for gen was something more related to the English meaning of "people." Of course, if Gen really stands for generator, I guess there is no way to avoid that little problem of translation. And it's not really big a problem. As I told you, the singular for gens in French does not exist, so when we pronounce "un Gen" (translation for "a Gen") the same way we pronounce "gens," it sounded really horrible. So I guess most of the readers, as I did, pronounce, how can I write it, "gène". And gène does not sound at all like "people".

Ronnie Bob:

I'm sure that translating made-up words into another language where that word might mean something can cause a lot of problems. We don't have the problem with Gen and Gens sounding like the word for people or race or any of the other more subtle derivations, and it is short for "generators" which makes the word easy to understand in context. There are probably other problems in other languages as well. Your convention for pronunciation in French is probably as good as any to differentiate the word that is short for generators from the word that indicates people.


As you can see, I'm very interested in languages. I hope this inter-cultural talk did not bore you. And I apologize very much if your French is so good that all this is obvious to you! But if you are still interested, I've received my order of the English version of through, and I'm looking forward to reading it and comparing it with the French version -- Not only the words themselves but also the way the action and feelings are accounted for .… Should be very good for my English.

Ronnie Bob:

I wish you the best of luck in your study of the English and French versions of House of Zeor.


I can already tell you that changeover is translated as simutation. Not bad, is it? But the verb simuter does not sound so good. But I'm not sure it is used, I must check.

Ronnie Bob:

Simutation -- I like that. Even in English it would be interpreted as "mutating into a Sime." I'm not very familiar with French (I took one course in College a long time ago), so I don't know what simuter might indicate.


By the way, when a book is translated, does the author discuss these problems of translation with the translator?

Ronnie Bob:

I'm afraid this question is better asked of Jacqueline; but if I were to guess, I would say that the author usually has no more control over translations than they do the cover art that is used for their books, which is little or no control at all. I seriously doubt that any of the translators contacted Jacqueline for some greater understanding of what she intended in English so they could properly convey that meaning in the translation.


I'm afraid my last question will be for next time, unless you beg for mercy, because I really should WORK now (my computer is at the office) !

Kind regards, Joëlle

PS: I would be eager to read your own S~G texts. If I can help doing some electronic type writing, I'd be delighted; don't hesitate [to ask]!

Ronnie Bob:

I'll look forward to any of your future questions (and I don't want to interfere too badly with your work.) My own S~G stories are mainly in my head and on notes (in electronic form already because my writing is lousy). Thank you for your offer to convert printed text to electronic text. I've been doing that for the fanzines using OCR programs and am almost finished with that project, so your conversion help isn't needed. If I ever do take the time to convert my S~G stories into ones that are acceptable to JL and the fanzine editors, then I'm sure they will be posted on the web and you can read them at that time. Before then, it wouldn't be a very beneficial type of story to read.

Having Fun in the Sime~Gen Universe,

Ronnie Bob



***** News *****

* AMAZON.COM HELPS NARHA (contributed by Karen Litman): Part of the sales proceeds from goes to NARHA. NARHA is the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association <>. Telephone: 1-800-369-7433 (1-800-369-RIDE).

What is Therapeutic Riding ?

References to the physical and emotional benefits of horseback riding date back to writings in the 1600s. However, when Liz Hartel of Denmark won the silver medal for dressage at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games despite having paralysis from polio, medical and equine professionals took active notice. It wasn't long before therapeutic riding was being used for rehabilitation in England and then in North America.

Individuals of all ages, with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and/or emotional disabilities benefit from therapeutic horseback riding and other equine activities.

The benefits of horseback riding are as numerous as the types of disabilities and conditions served. Research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional, and mental rewards. Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance, and muscle strength.

For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem. The sense of independence found on horseback benefits all who ride.

Before participating in therapeutic horseback riding activities, individuals need to consult with their physicians. NARHA riding centers require each prospective rider to present a complete medical history and physician's statement signed by their physician prior to a therapeutic riding session.

* REVIEW COPIES: Jean Lorrah has brought up an ethical issue that we should all be aware of. Publishers frequently send review copies of books to reviewers. The book belongs to the reviewer. However, we believe that it is unethical to sell the review copy until after the official publication date of the book. Potential reviewers for need to read the Reviewer's Agreement at <>. Ethical and other issues are discussed there.

* INTRODUCING M. KATHLEEN CROUCH (contributed by Jacqueline Lichtenberg): Please welcome M. Kathleen Crouch, a non-fiction writer who has contributed three splendid essays to the Fiction Writing Workshop and thus has become our first Teaching Assistant. You'll soon find her biography in our Faculty Lounge <>.

In her recent posts, she is chronicling the things she has learned from reading the free text material we provide -- from the introductory essays to the early draft of my novel Unto Zeor, Forever (Sime Surgeon, posted at <>) to her assimilation of some of the principles we've been emphasizing.

Her first essay is the one upon which I based the recent item I've done for the Chicago WorldCon Writing Workshop on Point of View and Description <>.

She has forged into a new area with her next two posts -- the art of rewriting, with some ideas all of you should read.

Her work spurred me finally to get around to the re-design of the Workshop pages -- so let us know what you think.

You can find her posts now by going to <>. Then click on her name at the left. Patric Michael (our Artist who made the lovely emerald for the school's emblem) has corrupted me with the concept of frames, so I put his emerald up there on the Workshop's top page, too. The emerald is carved with "runes" of a sort and represents the things it takes to learn to craft a world.

And all I set out to do was to post her essays for you all to read! Thank you Kathleen for being such an inspiration.

* JB BOOKS FAILS (Item submitted by Jean Lorrah): JB Books, the small new Aussie publisher has failed.

* SITES TO REMEMBER: To sign up for classes, go to <>.

To volunteer, go to <> for the latest openings.



*Please Note all material posted on Official Virtual Tecton is copyright (c) by Sime~Gen Inc. and all rights are reserved. to get your Sime~Gen(tm) material sanctioned for web posting or to get permission to repost from official materials e-mail, contact Sime~Gen (tm) is the trademark of a fictional universe) copyright (c) by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986 and Sime-Gen Inc. 1999, 2000.

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