Way back sometime in the 70s, Jacqueline Lichtenberg introduced me
to a new way of thinking about vampirism with her (and Jean Lorrah’s)
Sime~Gen books. I believe they were published by DAW, as I seem to
remember they had the distinctive yellow spine that DAW used at the
time. That was a very exciting time in science fiction, as it was the
beginning of the era where SF wasn’t just a boy’s playground.
Now, I grew up reading science fiction, but it wasn’t something girls
were supposed to do. I was one of the few, the proud, the geeky who
watched Star Trek, read science fiction magazines, comic books and
novels, and dated and mated the male geeks who outnumbered us by so very
many. I loved it all – but except for Wonder Woman (whose boobs got
bigger and brain got smaller to the point that girl readers gave up on
her in the mid-sixties) there was something important missing from the
SF I loved. It was a woman’s touch. I grew up on Blish, Asimov,
Heinlein, Clark, all the big boys. Boys.
Heck, I didn’t know Andre Norton was a woman for years, but I found that
I enjoyed Norton more than I did some of the hard SF writers that also
filled my bookshelves. I do remember discovering Anne McCaffrey,
and learning from her writing that science fiction could be about people
as much as it could be about speculative ideas and technology.
That there could be romance as well as action in all those weird,
wonderful worlds. I wanted more of that! At the time it didn’t
occur to me that I could write that kind of story myself. Well,
okay, I wrote Star Trek stories for myself when I was in high school,
and they had a girl in them. She got to have adventures, save the
day, and get the guy. Even before fanzines came along I was one of
who wrote stories about Lt. Marysue (actually, mine was named
Ruth) saving the Enterprise and winning the hand of the fair Mr. Spock.
When I did discover the organized world of fan fiction and zines years
later, Jacqueline Lichtenberg was already there. Her Kraith
universe was one of the best of the series produced by fan writers.
It was fresh, original, full of great concepts and characters. I
wasn’t surprised at all when she went on to write brilliant original
fiction. She was one of the first of us to emerge from media
fandom into worlds of her own creation. And she got paid for it! Whoa!
And they were real find-them-at-the-bookstore,
check-them-out-from-the-library books! It was nearly two decades before
the itch to write “real” books myself caught hold of me. I n that time
Jacqueline Lichtenberg was out there influencing the world of SF/F.
This brings me back to the 70s. It was an amazing time for
women writers and women readers of science fiction and fantasy.
Feminism, and women writers, redefined what SF/F could and should be.
There was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover redefining space opera and
sexuality, Mary Stewart’s reimagining of Arthurian fiction, Suzy McKee
Charnas’s feminist dystopias.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro overtly introduced the idea of vampires as
romantic heroes. The first epic fantasy by a woman I can remember
reading was Joy Chant’s Red Moon, Black Mountain, and Morgan Llewellyn
gave us Lion of Ireland. The themes that are commonplace now, were
new innovations back then. And the authors were women!
When Sime~Gen came along during that heady era, Lichtenberg introduced
an entirely new concept of vampirism. The vampire not only as
“other”, but also as literally alien. The vampire story as science
fiction instead of gothic horror. She introduced the idea of
vampires who fed on energy as well as blood, the vampire as symbiote as
well as, or instead of, parasite. She put her vampires into
science fiction settings, gave them a complex culture and, most
importantly, used the Sime~Gen universe to explore the human emotional
Emotions, relationships and love are themes that belong in science
fiction and fantasy as much as they belong in any genre of fiction, and
have always been part of Lichtenberg’s work. When she introduced another
type of vampire alien, the luren, in Those of my Blood she continued to
explore human emotions and needs within a science fiction setting.
In Dreamspy she expands upon this universe with an exciting tale of
intrigue, and cultural and emotional clashes within two warring space
empires, where the very fabric of the universe is at risk and forbidden
love might be the only solution. It is very much a story about
love, about trust – in oneself and one’s friends. Dreamspy is a
great book, but you’re supposed to read it and find that out for
When I asked what I should write about in this introduction, it was
suggested that I “read the book with an eye to how its content relates
to the rest of the SF/F vampire-romance field and the direction the
field is going in.”
Okay, here’s my response.
“Jacqueline Lichtenberg doesn’t follow trends. Her work is
always completely original, and frequently seminal.”
Or to put it the way I really talk, “Skip what I’m saying, and just
But, even more important than Dreamspy being a great vampire book,
it’s a great science fiction book about telepaths. In fact, for
me, the best part of the book is the amazing way Lichtenberg shows how a
true telepathic mind might work. She brilliantly defines how
cultures that use telepathy deal with people who can read minds (or
influence emotions in the case of the luren), on legal, moral, ethical,
and practical levels.
Turn the page. Enjoy the book.
Susan Sizemore is the author of the popular Laws of the Blood series
from Ace Science Fiction. She has won the Romance Writers of America’s
Golden Heart Award and has been nominated for two Romantic Times awards.
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