From Alicia Shank:
Dear Ms. Lichtenburg,
Hello! You don't know me (I imagine most people start out that way--isn't the connection
between author and reader peculiar that way) but I've been a fan of your work since I was a
junior in high school (eight years ago). I love science fiction, but I've never read vampire
novels, so Sime/Gen was an entirely new world for me. I picked up First Channel because I
recognized Jean Lorrah's name (she wrote my all-time favorite Star Trek novel, Vulcan Academy Murders), and brought it along with me on a family car trip. 100 pages into the story I still didn't have any idea what was going on or how the world worked (I'm sure you get that a lot--it's entirely the opposite of criticism, because you've invented an entirely new language and a world with rules consistent in itself--an entirely new "playground" as us math geeks like to say about vector spaces...) --anyway, though, the story was so compelling that even without understanding it I was hooked. I must have read the book four times during the course of that trip. The only other that our public library had was Rensime! (one of the happiest, in my opinion--do you have any idea how sad Digen's story is! Well, obviously, since you wrote it, but Unto Zeor, Forever never fails to make me cry, after umpteen times...well, anyway)--and after that one I was well and truly part of the universe and of your fan club. I have all eight books now (read them more times than I care to count, refinished First Channel last night), and I've just ordered To Kiss or To Kill (hurry, Ms. Lorrah!).
I have two reasons for writing just now (after enjoying in anonymity for years). The first is
that I wanted to tell you how wonderful your Dushau trilogy is. You may be surprised to get
this (it's what--nineteen eighties?) but it's brand new to me (at least of this past month;
courtesy of used books at Amazon when I was bored and looking for something to read). You did it again. Well, more than that really...I immediately fell in love with Krinata, I wept when they had to turn off Arlai, I took some time to get used to Jindigar's perspective (you've done something that is truly a gift--you've created a real alien with truly different perceptions and values), I was late with my math assignment when I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Eithlarin... anyway, I wanted to just write and thank you. You've provided a real encouragement during a personally difficult time, and I don't mean that just in the sense of escape. There were several moments that I had to stop and write in my journal to reflect on later--stuff like reaching the place where you can feel joy without immediately knowing despair will follow. I don't know how you manage to get it into your compelling fiction stories, but you have a truly unique persepective, and some valuable insights into the nature of life itself. I appreciate that. Thank you.
The other reason is that I have a favor to ask. It's really okay if you don't have time! --but
I have an English paper coming up where we have to interview someone who graduated with an English major to find out what kinds of jobs we can do. I have a friend who's here, who I can interview, but I also wanted to write and ask you if you'd be willing to answer just a few questions over email--just stuff like how you got started in writing, what you do with an idea that seems too far-fetched to be workable (don't know HOW many times I tried to explain sime/gen to my dad!) and yet is too beautiful to not send out there...that will attract at least a few people who will never leave. (When I get bored in class sometimes I'll look around and wonder which of my friends have the personalities to be Sime and which Gen...there are several subtle differences...of course, I never tell anyone about that!) --how in the world do you DO that? =) Anyway, if you have time, I'd love to hear your perspective. If not, just know that I just subscribed to the newsletter--and also know that you have made such an impact in my life. Some stories we just read--some come in and change us, and I believe I am better for it.
Thank you so very much--
senior, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix
Jaqueline Lichtenberg's answer:
Your note made my day!
I live in Chandler now - just moved from New York. I am Jacqueline Lichtenberg -- Jean Lorrah is cc'd on this reply so she can answer your questions. I'm not an English major -- I majored in Chemistry and Physics. And yes, in a way Sime~Gen was modeled after vector spaces, with many other physics and math concepts mixed in with some very bizarre concepts added. So Jean won't be able to say "how" Sime~Gen was created or from what -- but she can surely address "how" it can be written to explain these concepts.
Vulcan Academy Murders is also one of my favorites. Have you read NTM?
I'm glad you found the newsletter-l newsletter for the domain -- I hope you've also subscribed to simegen-l -- the Sime~Gen discussion list.
I see you saying you've found it hard to explain Sime~Gen to your friends. You can help us spread the word by dropping a review on amazon on the page for Sime~Gen: The Unity Trilogy. The more reviews an in-print book gets the more often amazon will display and recommend it to other readers with similar tastes. (doesn't work for out of print editions)
Also if you click on the "I own it" button and rate the book (you have HoZ, AK and ZD, so except for the new introduction and afterword you've read UNITY), amazon will present Sime~Gen to others who have bought the books you've bought. So that would help us a lot and it doesn't cost you anything.
With a little bit more fuss, you can help others discover this Universe as you have discovered it. Go to
http://www.simegen.com/press/flyers/presskits/2003kit/ and print out the information sheets for the various in-print books. Take them to your local library -- campus library too -- and any bookstores you frequent and just hand them to the clerk with a recommendation. If they stock the book, someone else may discover it who responds the way you do and you'll make a friend.
I dropped into my local library here in Chandler and the reference librarian was able to access that presskit site and email the central buying librarian for all of the Phoenix system with this recommendation. So sometimes you just need the URL, not an actual printout.
I will also be speaking at a Creation Con here near Phoenix on Feb 15th (Buffy/Angel con -- not the ST con on Saturday) -- and doing a booksigning right afterwards for SEVEN SEASONS OF BUFFY (Jean and I both have articles in that book) and THOSE OF MY BLOOD at a nearby bookstore. You can bring copies of what you already own to be autographed.
There will likely be another booksigning around the Chandler area in January sometime, but that's only talk right now.
There should be announcements of these various Phoenix events on the Phoenix sf fandom NL from firstname.lastname@example.org and on simegen-l as well as newsletter-l (which is the one I think you signed up for. If you only signed up for lifeforce-l you may miss out on some more timely things. We desperately need an editor for that newsletter because Jean and I have no time to keep lifeforce-l up to date.
DUSHAU: Thank you for the compliment. I really had a ball writing those books as a tribute to Andre Norton. At the moment there are no plans to get that trilogy back into print, but another universe of mine is in print now -- MOLT BROTHER and CITY OF A MILLION LEGENDS are available. You can read free chapters on my homepage - www.simegen.com/jl/
As for "how" one creates such universes and writes about them, -- well, that's why Jean and I have founded the WorldCrafters Guild. You can learn how to do this kind of work by doing the standing courses. We expect to be adding lots of material there.
You will also find many of my thumbnail writing tutorials buried in my review column:
There is an early draft of UNTO ZEOR FOREVER titled SIME SURGEION that many fans love much more than the published book posted at
And you'll find many fan written stories which I edited and taught the writers how to write Sime~Gen. So the answers to your questions are posted all over simegen.com -- look at
http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/rimonslibrary/authlist.html which is an index of posted stories by author.
On there Jean's stories Donation and Committment are Risa Tigue stories, precursors to AMBROV KEON.
I'm not sure if it's up to date. Companion In Zeor is still publishing and we are starting yet another online Sime~Gen fanzine named after some characters Jean has been developing which see their debut in TO KISS OR TO KILL -- Zhag Piaget and Tonyo Logan.
You'll find the beginnings of an explanation of Zhag and Tonyo at
http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/rimonslibrary/Zhagtony.html And more and more in posts from Jean Lorrah in the archives of simegen-l.
That new online 'zine is called Genfarm Journal (after the Logan Genfarm which is the Sime~Gen equivalent of Hollywood), and doesn't have an active editor though we have one submission. But Karen MacLeod (cc'd on this message) who runs the Sime~Gen Welcommittee ( http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/welcommittee/ ) is still accepting material for Companion In Zeor. That material has to pass through our hands and is often sent back for rewrite -- which is how we teach people to write 'this stuff.'
And with the out-takes that have also been posted, (but I don't know where -- somewhere in /sgfandom/ ) you can piece together the version of UNTO that I originally turned in to the publisher, and which was then slashed drastically for various technical reasons. Many fans find the deleted material (the Rizdel Trial and Test Sequence) very valuable in understanding Transfer Mechanics.
I think you'll enjoy my contribution to TO KISS OR TO KILL which has more on how channels are trained at Rialite.
So if you're interested in transfer mechanics, you will find many hours of reading here online.
If you have any questions, just ask. We love hearing from those who find these universes of ours so interesting.
I would like your permission to post this first note of yours in the comments section of the Sime~Gen book site
Live Long and Prosper,
Jean Lorrah's answer:
Jacqueline has already answered you at length. Let me see what I can add.
Thank you for writing--we enjoy hearing from thoughtful fans like you.
I can help you with your English assignment; I majored in English, and went
on to the Ph.D. I am now Professor of English at Murray State University
in Kentucky. You can find further information on my website at
www.jeanlorrah.com . The link to "Essays on Writing" will take you to my
contributions to our writing school, the WorldCrafters Guild--those essays
will give you some insight into how I write, and how it is different from
the way Jacqueline writes. She and I work very well together because we
are so different.
Good luck. We'll look forward to hearing from you again.
Return to Sime~Gen