What Sime Gen Means to Me
I read the first published Sime~Gen book in 1974, a few months after its release. The bookstore owner knew my love of Vampire and alien stories and ordered a copy into Australia just with me in mind. I took one look at the cover. A young woman on her knee with a skimpy outfit and leather belt around her hips was being held by a strong looking man who was standing behind her. There was something very different about this man. He had tentacle extending from his arms and with his right hand he had a hold of the woman’s wrist while tentacles bound their arms together. Behind them on the wall was a stared cross carved into the rock, and the name of that book was House of Zeor.
I did not even have to read one word of what the book was about to know I wanted to read it. Something about that image was enough to buy the book and sit in the corner of the bookshop, as I often did, and start reading. I was only half way through when I was totally hooked. I was already identifying with the characters, especially with the tentacled Sime, Klyd.
The stories set in the Sime Gen universe are more than just science fiction. They are personal stories of individuals and communities struggling with and doing their best to overcome overwhelming circumstances and trying to reunite the human race.
I found that the internal and external troubles resonated with me and proved a powerful analogy to my own life. When I was ten my grandmother died while she was sleeping, resting her head on my shoulder while we were sitting on the lounge. At twelve my biological mother, in a fit of anger, said “You know Your Grandmother died because of you?” It was twenty years later, far too late to ease any guilt, that she said she did not mean it that way. I still feel that guilt today.
Thirty years after that childhood event I tried to talk to a professional and while I could talk about some things I could never talk about that night my Grandmother died. I felt just like the young children of Gens in the Sime~Gen stories who through no fault of their own, went through changeover to become Simes and in Need, Killed the first person they came across, usually a relative. I took House of Zeor to my doctor and said,” Read this so you will understand what I need to tell you.”
When she had read it, I told her my story in Sime~Gen analogy. I told her that at ten I changed over and the only person there was my grandmother and that I had ‘Killed’ her and that I had to go through a long process of disjunction, (separation from the Kill) Even that matched Sime~Gen as I ended up in a girls home for just over a year.
Having read the book, my doctor knew what I was inferring to and we were able to talk about it without my emotions overwhelming me before I could get it out. That was the first time I had been able to discus that aspect of my life. I have since found out that my Uncle probably caused her death due to his repeated physical abuse, either directly or indirectly with her taking her life. I will never know, but thanks to the writing of a deeply powerful human story I was able to tell my story to someone else. For this alone I will always be grateful to Jacqueline Lichtenberg.
As an adult I was treated in real life as the Channels of the books, the special Simes that acted against their societies norms and thus deemed perverted for not wanting to Kill or harm those who were not like them, and to help other learn not to Kill. Of course it is more than just being different for Simes and Gens, it is life and death for both, but the reactions from people and the feelings for me were as strong. From that first book I eagerly awaited each new one.
In 1989 for my Birthday a friend called the author, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, without saying anything and handed me the phone. Perplexed I asked who it was when she said hello. The voice said “This is Jacqueline Lichtenberg here.” Thinking I was being set up by friends who knew how much I lived in the Sime~Gen universe, I was shocked into silence by the fact that I was really speaking with Jacqueline.
Some years later I found the Sime~Gen webpage and other fans and fan fiction. I thought I was the only one in Australia up until that point. Through the role playing forum that was happening at the time I found a true friend who identified as Gen. She too used Sime~Gen as an analogy to life and we became best friends. In Sime~Gen parlance we became Channel and Companion.
I have written some short story fan fiction and some novel length stories. In 2011 I was lucky enough to get to go to my first WorldCon and I spent some amazing time with both Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, who is Co-author in the Sime Gen universe.
It has been thirty six years since I read my first Sime~Gen book and each time I read them I get something new, something different, and something meaningful from each story. With every re-read my connection deepens with the struggles of the characters, and strength needed to push through and do the best they can to survive and make the world better for others.
Thanks to these stories I have been able to push myself to face what I would have shied away from, and to look into myself and try to be the best I can be. I may not be the best person there is, but I try to be the best person I can be, and when I falter I think of Zeor’s motto which says that it is not the achievement of excellence, but the continual striving for excellence that is the important quality. Striving for excellence and striving to better myself and be of use to others is what keeps me looking ahead and positive.
Thank you Jacqueline, and Jean, for without Sime~Gen my
life may have turned out different, and not so positive.