Rereading First Channel
(the following is excerpted from the simegen-l Sime~Gen discussion List. Jean Lorrah's answer and discussion by several fans can be found in Companion In Zeor Issue 21 or 22..
Colleen M. writes in a post to simegen-l on 10/12/04:
It's been ages since I've reread the S~G novels so I just began them again last week. I always read them in chronological, not publication, order so always begin with First Channel. As always, when it's been a long time between readings, I forget how much I like these books - I get so deeply involved in them, I don't want to put them down, I don't want them to end, and I always wish there were more. (For some reason, though I've enjoyed the S~G fanfic I've read, fanfic doesn't do it for me the way it does in other fandoms. I'm content with good Buffy fanfic, for example, and don't feel the need for more eps or movies now that the series is done. But with S~G, I always want more of the JLs.)
Anyway, I just finished up First Channel and a few thoughts occurred to me as I was reading it. First, I got to wondering why Yahn/Nerob is cast as a villain. Kadi and Rimon see him as cowardly and manipulative and clearly dislike him and he seems to me to be deliberately written in a way that makes the reader dislike him as well. I know I did the first time I read the book (when I was 15) and every time after that till this time. Actually, it was something that someone said on this list earlier this year that made me begin to see him in a more sympathetic light, and I sure wish I could remember who said it and what it was. But really, Yahn is not a villain. He's a very pathetic character - raised among Simes, son of Simes, expecting to be a Sime and then - boom - Gen. His world falls to pieces around him. Maybe he becomes manipulative but I imagine he thinks that's the only way he can keep on living. As for being cowardly - when people you used to think of as friends and family now see you as a food animal, I'd think that could turn anyone "cowardly". As far as asking Syrus for Kadi - I can understand why that would upset both Rimon and Kadi. Having someone you're not attracted to want you is uncomfortable and having someone else want your intended is never pleasant, and when you're all just 15, as they were, it's even worse. But the thing is, what Yahn wanted - Kadi for his mate if she turned Gen - was not improper in that time and place. Not what Rimon and Kadi wanted, true, but not out of bounds. As I said, I can understand why Rimon and Kadi disliked him - and I'm impressed with them for trying to buy him away from Syrus - but why do readers dislike him? Why was he written in an unfavorable light?
My thoughts about Yahn got me wondering about his father. I wonder what he would've thought and done had he been given the opportunity to see Fort Freedom and talk with the people there. It seems to me, from the conversation he had with Rimon at Summer Fair, that he never quit loving his son.
The Morcots never quit loving Kadi either, as evidenced by the fact that they packed up and left the genfarm. I wonder how many Sime parents are able to truly convince themselves that their Gen children are simply food animals now and that they don't love them anymore.
I wonder why Rimon and Kadi never tried to find her family. I wonder why they never even discussed it. (At least they didn't "on screen".)
Every time I read this book, I keep wondering where Rimon's cousins came from. At one point, he's thinking about all the Farris wives who've died giving birth through the generations and how it affected their husbands so deeply that the men never marry again. So where did Zeth's dad come from and where did Lenara come from? Obviously, the Farris men don't have to marry to have children, but if they know that giving birth to Farris babies will kill the mother, are they really going to continue having children, married or not?
Finally - I just cannot like Jord. I try, because I see him try, but he's really just an unlikeable person. I understand that he suffered mental abuse from his father as a newly changed-over Sime but other people suffer abuse and don't grow up to be nasty and cruel and he almost always is. I don't get it. Is he in disjunction crisis 24/7 for the rest of his life? His parents are decent people, his father was truly sorry for the grief he put Jord through in his younger years, he's got a supportive community, he's got a loving wife, but he's never nice to her. I'd even classify him as verbally abusive. (Though to be fair, I'd have to classify Willa as nagging.) I want to like him but I just can't. Is it just me? Am I reading him all wrong? Maybe I'll change my mind sometime down the road - after all, I used to dislike Yahn and now I feel badly for him and wish his life could change.
A heartfelt thank you to Jacqueline and Jean for such wonderful books. You can tell how much I love them by the fact that I refuse to loan out my copies! I won't take a chance on losing these.
Colleen -- ________________________________________