Comments from Lexie Pakulak
1) Why is Sime~Gen So Popular?
2) Hello from the past, present and future.
|ALIENATION VS. INTIMACY IN THE SIME~GEN UNIVERSE
by M. Alexis Pakulak
First, the “sound bite” version, which I hope is postable on the website:
In every culture, in each generation, there are certain preoccupying themes or defining issues. These form the stress fracture lines along which that culture, and the individuals within it, will threaten to break when pressure is applied. They’re often so much taken for granted from within a culture that they’re effectively invisible to its members.
Nevertheless, those inside a culture are unconsciously steeped in its themes, and will respond powerfully to art, music, and literature which addresses them.
The defining theme of North American culture for the past forty or fifty years is alienation. And its counterpart or remedy, intimacy.
Powerful fiction is built upon conflict; the most powerful fiction is that whose conflict is most relevant to our own inner struggles. Alienation vs. intimacy is the theme and conflict that drives the Sime~Gen fictional universe.
Alienation stands at the root of this universe: Sime vs. Gen, parent vs. immature child, and later also Tecton vs. Distect. The kill is the quintessential act of alienation.
The remedy for alienation is intimacy. The struggle towards intimacy, exemplified in the relationship between channel and Companion – or indeed, in any situation where a Sime and a Gen set aside their fears to meet in mutual vulnerability and trust, is at the core of every Sime~Gen story.
If Gens and Simes can struggle their way towards Unity, perhaps we too can find our way out of alienation into a world where intimacy is possible.
That’s why we read this stuff, and keep coming back for more.
Longer more detailed version to be posted in CZ.
Feb 2004: (Editor's Note: "JL" refers to Jacqueline Lichtenberg. "Jean" refers to Jean Lorrah -- a convention developed because both have the same initials. This note below was written in response to a letter from Ronnie Bob Whitaker)
I'm glad to hear that Jacqueline still remembers my mom as well as me. We first met when I was a kid in college, and Mom and I were going to cons together. I think it was the big ST con in Toronto in '76 -- only my second con, and I still hadn't figured out that stuff happened in the evenings, after the official programming was over.
Mom bought a copy of HoZ in hardcover. A few weeks later, Jacqueline pulled Mom's address out of the receipt book, and wrote to ask her how she'd liked the book. Mom looked around, couldn't find the book (she'd probably left it behind at the con), so she bought another copy, read it, handed it to me to read, wrote back to JL -- and the rest is history. For a while I was subscribed to everything available: Sime~Gen, Kraith, whatever. I saw JL at numerous cons; most memorable was one at the Statler Hilton in NYC, Feb of 1980. After most of us had checked out of our rooms and the Shriners' con had moved in, we discovered the city was snowed in and no transportation was moving. Jacqueline stuffed as many of us as possible into her room that night, and we all sat around reading chunks of her latest work in progress, and living on the chopped chicken liver she was keeping cold by hanging it out the hotel window!
Shortly after that I moved out west to Calgary and dropped out of touch.
I was in Toronto for the Worldcon this year (2003), and ran into Jacqueline again (and was amazed that she remembered me). I was too ill to spend more than a few hours a day at the con, but I did get to one of her parties, and picked up a HC of the Unity Trilogy. Went back to my mom's house, reread all the Sime~Gen books she still had, and by the time I got back to Calgary I had an idea for a little Sime short story that I might offer to one of the Sime~Gen 'zines.
Well, the "little short story" now stands at 57,000 words in completed first draft; Householding Willow has a 250-year timeline developed, with at least two other stories begging to be written, and my other writing projects are gathering dust. I'm not sure where to e-mail the story to; there seem to be several different sets of instructions in different places on simegen.com, indicating entirely different ways to submit a story. Can you advise me on this?
(EDITOR'S ANSWER: Submission Guidelines for CZ are found here. As of March 2004, Karen MacLeod is editing this "little short story" for posting in Companion In Zeor, and if this page doesn't get updated with a direct link, you should be able to find the story(ies) by searching our site via the Google search for Pakulak, or look on the Companion In Zeor index page where you will also find many other recently posted Sime~Gen stories and novels.)
I've been reading my way through Rimon's Library, but am only beginning to explore the rest of the huge simegen.com website.
-- M. Alexis (Lexie) Pakulak
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