Sime~Gen

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Name: Sime~Gen
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Date(s):
Medium: books
Country of Origin:
External Links: http://www.simegen.com/
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Sime~Gen aka Sime/Gen and Sime-Gen is a Science Fiction shared universe created by Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

"All the work by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah revolves around themes of an "exchange of lifeforce." Both of them have written "traditional" vampire novels and stories (not in the Dracula vein), but their major work has been reinventing the vampire archetype in the Sime~Gen series." [1]

Some of the "Sime~Gen's" appeal to fans is the exploration of gender, power, destiny, and sexual relations. It is, outwardly, presented as almost entirely het, though same sex relationships are explored in subtle ways.

Elements of this universe are very similar to the fan-created Alpha/Beta/Omega and more extreme elements of the Sentinel AU tropes. Also see Dominance Hierarchy.

Sime-Gen, Sime/Gen, Sime~Gen

The terms: "Sime-Gen" and "Sime/Gen" were used in the print zines. "Sime~Gen" is used online.

There appears to be no meaning attached to whatever punctuation is used.

Regarding the use of "-" and "/": Lichtenberg certainly was aware of those terms' meaning in early fanfic, and while "/" did not originally refer to same sex fanworks, the virgule certainly took on the meaning in later creations. Perhaps Lichtenberg used "/" until it became what she may have thought was misleading? The choice to morph to "Sime~Gen" may have been due to the "~" being available on newer keyboards, and to distance itself from slash.

What Is Sime-Gen?

Fan Descriptions

Summary from "Secret Pens":
Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, they tell the story of a humanity split into two separate races: the energy-producing Gens and the tentacled, energy-feeding Simes. At first, Simes kill Gens to get their selyn or life energy. The two halves of humanity live in separate nations in a state of perpetual war. But then it is discovered that some Simes, called channels, are able to take selyn safely from a Gen and give it to another Sime. Some Gens, called Companions or Donors, can learn to give selyn safely to any Sime. Eventually there comes to be peace. Together, the eight published novels and two published short stories span several centuries from horse-and-buggy era to spaceflight. [2]
Description from another fan:
The Sim-Gen series was about a future Earth in which humans had split into two species, one of which became dependent upon the other in a pseudo-vampiric way. The stories revolved around efforts of some of the 'predators' to find ways to draw sustenance from their 'prey' without killing them in the process. The act of transfer was described in these books in a highly sensual, subjective way... long before Anne Rice made her fortune with gothic-romance-vampire stories. [3]

Official Descriptions

From a 2015 for-profit book of Sime~Gen fanfic:

Sime~Gen is a series of novels written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah It is set in a future where humans have mutated into two subspecies. Simes, who go through a brief but dramatic change at puberty and Gens, whose change, whilejust as dramatic, is invisible to the naked eye.

The outward sign of the Simes' change is development of tentacles on their forearms, four strong and flexible "handling" tentacles and two smaller tentacles just for selyn transfer, called "laterals." Gens produce life energy called "selyn" which Simes require once a month to live. Unfortunately, the result in obtaining this energy is usually the death of the Gen.

This physical transformation happens just prior to puberty. There is no way of knowing, before that, if a person will be Sime or Gen.

At the chronological beginning of the published novels by Jacqueline, and Jean, a second mutation of Sime emerges. These "channels" are able to keep Simes from Killing Gens, thus saving mankind from self-annihilation. The stories that you find here, and the published books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, explore the role of these new Simes, and the Gens who live side by side with them as humankind struggles to become one again. [4]
From an 2012 interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg

I'd say it's more Science Fiction in a Vampire garment. But even that doesn't begin to scratch the surface.

It's not totally untrue to indicate the core themes of Sime~Gen as being related to the driving conflict we are seeing in the modern Vampire stories, especially Vampire Romance.

Vampire fans generally love Sime~Gen if they prefer Vampire stories that are not horror-genre. Those who seek horror-genre Vampires really dislike Sime~Gen because the worldbuilding behind Sime~Gen is more like "Star Trek" in that it is the optimistic view of the universe.

The Sime~Gen Universe is built on the concept of the Human as essentially Good. Given no restraints and no outside control, the Human tendency is to do GOOD. The Natural Human is constructive, not destructive, and we tend to Love not Hate.

This is an assumption about Human Nature most people need to view via a Science Fiction lens. It's bizarre. It doesn't match up with what we think we see in the real world around us. It's fiction. But as such, it makes a terrific cornerstone for a science fiction worldbuilding exercise.

Another bizarre assumption behind Sime~Gen worldbuilding is (as with Star Trek) that the universe is essentially benign, a comfortable and welcoming natural home for the basic Human.

[...]

One basic cornerstone postulate behind Sime~Gen is:

The Sime~Gen Universe
where a mutation makes the
evolutionary division into
male and female pale by comparison. [5]
From the Sime~Gen website:
Imagine a world, our world, in the far distant future. Humanity has mutated into two different races. There are the GENS or generators of SELYN the energy of life. Their bodies produce more selyn than they require to live. Then there are the SIMES. They require SELYN to live, but their bodies don't produce it. The only way they can obtain SELYN is from a GEN, which can kill the GEN. Can humanity survive under these conditions? This is the premise behind the Sime~Gen universe, created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. For almost 30 years these novels have captured the imaginations of men and women of all ages. They have banded together, created beautiful art, written wonderful stories and novels, published fanzines, formed mini-clubs known as Householdings, and more recently have invaded the internet, to create what we lovingly call the Virtual Tecton. [6]

Its Origins

Also see Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe, an article by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

From a 2012 interview with Lichtenberg:

How did Sime~Gen fandom form? I couldn't honestly say it ever FORMED. It's an amorphous sprawl of happy role players who just love bouncing ideas around and rewriting the established Sime~Gen Universe exactly as Star Trek fans (me, too, with Kraith) rewrote Star Trek.

The fans create all these alternate universes that I just totally adore, and another one just started bouncing some ideas around on the Sime~Gen Group on facebook.

Remember those 60 copies of HOUSE OF ZEOR that I sold on a money back guarantee? Well they were to Spock fans, who were mostly fans of my Kraith Series of Star Trek fanfic -- and the reason they knew me was from reading fanzines, in which many of them also wrote stories.

I drew a bead (aimed) directly at that nerve that Spock's character twanged in those writers, and they responded to Sime~Gen the same way they responded to Trek -- the reached out their hands, grabbed the wet clay of my universe, and remolded it.

And that's how Marion Zimmer Bradley taught me -- molding my words with her hands, running my words through her typewriter, kneading them as you knead bread.

The Star Trek fan writers sent me Sime~Gen stories they'd written.

When you've got a tiger by the tail, there's nothing to do but swarm aboard and ride it. So I sent the stories to the editor of Ambrov Zeor (which was various people at various times) and she published them.

OK, it wasn't quite that simple. Before I would allow anything to be published in Ambrov Zeor, I had to make sure it met the highest professional standards of craftsmanship I knew how to meet. So often a fan written Sime~Gen story would go through 3-5 rewrites before it went to the editor and copyediting (and more little tweaks and twiddles) -- the exact same process any professional publishing house uses.

By doing this, we trained a lot of writers in the craft, and several editors, two of whom are working professionally now on the basis of what they learned then. I can think of two of the writers who have sold professionally, also. But many fan writers just don't want to write professionally -- not that they don't want to turn out high precision craftsmanship, but that their subject matter isn't geared to the commercial markets.

That squeezes a lot of material into the fanfic market which is now online with all kinds of fanfic spun off from TV shows. Many of our writers still write in those venues. [7]
From a 2003 chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg:
I used the same research I had done for Star Trek Lives! based on fan reader responses to my Kraith Series to construct the first novel in the Sime~Gen Universe....The core of that novel, House of Zeor, is what I called in Star Trek Lives! The Spock Effect. I sold it to 60 Spock fans on a money back guarantee and never had one returned. In other words, it works. Today, many more than 50 fans are writing Sime~Gen fanfic, posting it to the web, and having a ball. They role-play online, and do all kinds of things. So Sime~Gen does indeed capture whatever quality it was that ST had that made people want to write ST fanfic. I'm very pleased with the way that has turned out. I was as far as I know, the first writer to allow people, to encourage and train people, to write in my universe.[8]

Dominance Hierarchy, Genetics, Need, and Survival

"Sime~Gen" is a fandom focused on the genetic need. Simes need organic body elements of Gens, Gens need to give this to Simes, despite the danger to themselves. Puberty is the time when some humans become Gens.

It is similar to the Alpha/Beta/Omega trope in this way, though "Sime~Gen" is almost entirely het, rather than same sex.

The Intended Sime~Gen Audience

Jacqueline Lichtenberg commented on a male fan's letter of comment in Ambrov Zeor #7 that he was not her specific intended audience:
I am delighted that you liked "House of Zeor" so much. I normally say that it is written only for the SF of over 15 years' standing whose palate is somewhat jaded. I am always shocked when I meet a fan of the book who does not fit my intended audience (women between the ages of 18 and 25 who have been reading nothing but SF since they learned to read). But I've concluded that if one does something well, it can be appreciated by those for whom it was not intended.

Sime~Gen and Star Trek

From Ambrov Zeor #7: "Since Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg are collaborating on the same Sime novel, "First Channel," It is expected that a familiarity with both Jean's Star Trek stories... and Jacqueline's Star Trek stories, the Kraith series, will enrich the Sime fan's enjoyment of "First Channel" [a Sime~Gen pro book]."

Also, see the 1976 essay House of Zeor and Star Trek.

In 1978, a fan commented on the connections between the Sime~Gen universe and Star Trek in a letter of comment printed in Ambrov Zeor #7:
I'm certainly glad I read STL, and AZ #1 before I read HoZ; otherwise I would have thought the similarities between ST and HoZ which I spotted were due to an overdose of ST zines instead of due to your intended use of the "tailored effects". For me, (I don't know how it appeared to anyone else) the similarity seemed most profound in the scene where Klyd is in his cell in extreme need. When I saw his actions at that time, I said to myself, "Hey, wait a minute: that sounds like a Vulcan in Pon Farr, maybe going into linger death." Then I realized that this was one of the "tailored effects" — the "superhuman" species which is stronger, faster, more resistant than so called "ordinary" humans, but who has a need, which, if it is not met, can lead gradually to madness or finally death.
Another fan in 1978 speculated on Sime~Gen and Star Trek, specifically Kraith:
This is an LoC of sorts on AZ 5&6 which I received yesterday; I just sort of arbitrarily decided to send it to you.

I got some more ideas on Simes, etc., and also on Vulcans — in this case, re-workings of ideas of comparisons that I have previously discussed with Jacqueline (when I first got HoZ, and read it and critiqued it for her — I found a whole bunch of direct and indirect parallels between HoZ and Kraith — there was even a whole scene sequence I think JL just rewrote for HoZ right out of Kraith.) Anyway, I thought you (and other AZ people, including other readers) might be interested in the notes I jotted to myself last night.

One of the first things I did was make an equivalency listing: Vulcans = Simes; pon farr = need; (mating) Blooming = selyn (Gens). Now, I am aware that these are not exact equivalencies. The first two fit rather well (and the Vulcans are of course Kraith Vulcans — I do think that both Kraith Vulcans and Simes have many similarities, including a consciously constructed culture/ society. Other little details of similarity, things like Vulcan timesense, and Sime placesense. Body-knowledge/awareness, etc.)

The second one seems to me to be more than obvious. Both species are compelled by a basic biology they cannot deny; with the Vulcans it is pon farr, with the Simes it is selyn need. [9]

From a 2012 interview with Lichtenberg regarding Star Trek, and meeting Jean Lorrah:

I first encountered Jean's writing during the compilation of STAR TREK LIVES! Jean had co-authored a STAR TREK story which we wanted to include in a center section of STAR TREK LIVES featuring fan fiction -- no fan fiction devoted to any TV, film or book series had ever been professionally published, aired, or discussed in professional journalistic media of any kind at that time.

It turned out that the fanfiction section would make the book too long, (and yes, they were against the concept of fanfic, and there were nasty copyright issues with Paramount which owned Star Trek at that time). So it wasn't included.

However, to their utter astonishment STAR TREK LIVES! was a best seller and went 8 printings -- we blew the lid on Star Trek fandom! So Sondra Marshak took on another partner, Myrna Culbreth and did the anthology STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES (and some sequels, plus some original Trek novels) while I went on developing Sime~Gen.

When HOUSE OF ZEOR first came out in Hardcover, I sold copies I had bought myself to Star Trek fans I knew via snailmail magazines and groups. I sold it on a money back guarantee (the hardcover was exorbitantly expensive). The guarantee was only to Spock fans. People who liked Trek for reasons other than Spock were not my target readership for HOUSE OF ZEOR (though McCoy fans were the target of UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER).

I sold over 60 copies of the hardcover on the guarantee and never had one returned.

Jean Lorrah, however, was not so much a Spock fan as a Surak fan.

So HOUSE OF ZEOR both worked and didn't work for her. She wrote a review in a fanzine titled Vampire In Muddy Boots calling House of Zeor a novel that was flawed in the way of typical first novels. She was a professional writer at that time, but hadn't sold a novel, and didn't know the "flaws" evident in first novels are there not because the author can't do any better, but because publishing houses would BUY a novel that was a first novel that did not have those "flaws." Catch-22.

Very soon after the publication of House of Zeor, my mailbox exploded with mail. I couldn't handle it all and found myself writing the same thing again and again. So I started making as many carbon copies as I could and putting them out in circulating lists (asking each person to forward it to another on the list).

That didn't work well, and before I knew it, Betty Herr had taken over creating a mimeographed fanzine Ambrov Zeor.

For the first issue, we wanted to publish Jean Lorrah's insightful review, so I wrote to her and asked permission. Within months she'd sent in several fanzine stories set in Sime~Gen -- and soon after that we met at a Star Trek/Media convention where she showed me the outline for a longer story. [10]

Costuming

photos of Sime~Gen fans' costumes at the 13th Grand Council Darkover Meeting [11]

Also see Faith Day Ceremony. Also see some photos of costuming and some shiltpron playing and listening at historical photographs; WebCite.

Recorded Material on Tape

Pro Fiction Books for Visually Impaired Fans

Around 1980, the Sime~Gen material was being recorded for Talking Books, a US government project. "Much of the S/G fanzine material has been taped for the blind and handicapped readers. But the project head has retired. If anyone wants to take over, contact Karen Litman." [12]

Filks and Original Music

There was also some interest in Sime~Gen filks and original music.

In 1981, these fanworks were to be sent to Lichtenberg:
INTERESTED in obtaining recording of Sime/Gen songs? Many have been written, but not recorded. Write some of them for us -- send to Jacqueline at [address redacted]. Tell us what you would pay for such a tape, and perhaps one can be made. [13]
Also from 1981, a fan's letter to other fans, explaining that she had contacted Winston Howlett (creator of the Star Trek fanwork, Fanzine), and asked him about making a Sime~Gen music tape:
I have sent Winston Howlett the letter, a copy of which is enclosed for you. I really would like some music for the S/G universe and wanted you to know that we fen are responding to the information you gave in CZ#5. (Exerpts from the letter to Winston Howlett follows): Recently, I learned that you are considering making a tape of music for the Sime Universe of Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah. I wanted to write to tell you that I certainly hope you decided to make such a tape, and that I would surely buy one if it existed. I would be willing to pay between$5 and It 10 for such a tape, and based on tapes of filksongs I have in fact bought at conventions, would expect to pay about $7 for such a tape, especially if mailed. In addition, if music for the songs were reprinted and could be purchased (perhaps in a zine format), I would be happy to buy a set of this music, either for myself (arranged for piano) or for a friend of mine (arranged for guitar). Of course, I would expect to pay additionally for this, perhaps another fll to $5 or so, depending on the number of pages and mailing costs and printing requirements, etc. I really do hope you go ahead with the project, and I know there are other Simefen who feel the same way. [14]

Conventions


Fan Art

Some fanart has been posted here.

Marion Zimmer Bradley contributed fanart to an unknown Sime~Gen zine. [15]

Role-Playing Games

a role-playing proposal, approved by Lichtenberg, printed in A Companion in Zeor #6, reprinted in #7 (1980/1981)
From a 2003 chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg:
Today, many more than 50 fans are writing Sime~Gen fanfic, posting it to the web, and having a ball. They role-play online, and do all kinds of things. So Sime~Gen does indeed capture whatever quality it was that ST had that made people want to write ST fanfic. I'm very pleased with the way that has turned out. I was as far as I know, the first writer to allow people, to encourage and train people, to write in my universe.[16]

Also see Borderlands SG RPG Index, a role-playing cooperative.

Zines

A For-Profit Fanfic Anthology

In 2015, Fear and Courage: Fourteen Writers Explore Sime~Gen was published. It contains forewords by Lichtenberg and Lorrah, as well as a 19 fanworks.

Welcome to the first Sime~Gen Anthology written by the fans. This Anthology is a compilation of stories and poetry written by people who have been influenced by the published works of Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, in such a powerful way that they felt compelled to explore this universe in their own writing.

A similar endeavor was DAW Darkover Anthologies.

FanQ Awards

Winners:

  • 2005 STORY – GEN-A Matter of Necessity – Author: D. DaBinett

Honorable Mentions:

Householdings

Fan clubs for Sime~Gen are called "Householdings."

Similar clubs are Weyrs (Dragonriders of Pern), Darkover Councils (Darkover), and Abbeys (Dernyi).

See: Sime~Gen - Householding Registery, Archived version.

Websites and Mailing Lists

a 1996 ad for the official website, printed in the zine, A Shift of Means

Meta/Further Reading

The Pro Book Series

  • House of Zeor (1974)
  • Unto Zeor, Forever (1978)
  • First Channel (1980) – with Jean Lorrah
  • Mahogany Trinrose (1981)
  • Channel's Destiny (1982) – with Jean Lorrah
  • Rensime (1984)
  • Ambrov Keon (1986) – written by Jean Lorrah
  • Zelerod's Doom (1986) – with Jean Lorrah See Zelerod's Doom: AN OUTLINE FOR A NOVEL By Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah
  • The Unity Trilogy (2003) – compendium of House of Zeor, Ambrov Keon (written by Jean Lorrah), and Zelerod's Doom.
  • To Kiss or To Kill (2005) – compendium of To Kiss or To Kill (novel written by Jean Lorrah),
  • Personal Recognizance (novel written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg).
  • The Farris Channel (2011)

References

  1. Lifeforce-L newlstter info
  2. What is Sime~Gen?(accessed 28 Feb 2010)
  3. [1]
  4. from "Fear and Courage: Fourteen Writers Explore Sime~Gen" -- a for-profit anthology of Sime~Gen fic published by Lichtenberg and Lorrah
  5. ... Jacqueline Lichtenberg ... ... on Sime~Gen, vampires in SF garment and German editions; archive link (2012)
  6. Your Gateway to Sime~Gen© Fandom (accessed 28 Feb 2010)
  7. ... Jacqueline Lichtenberg ... ... on Sime~Gen, vampires in SF garment and German editions; archive link (2012)
  8. StarTrekFans.Net from a chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 8 March 2003, accessed 9 May 2012
  9. "a basic biology they cannot deny" is also the basis for the Alpha/Beta/Omega trope
  10. ... Jacqueline Lichtenberg ... ... on Sime~Gen, vampires in SF garment and German editions; archive link (2012)
  11. SGPIC, Archived version
  12. Sime~Gen.com, undated comment, likely early 2000s
  13. from A Companion in Zeor #7 (August 1981)
  14. from A Companion in Zeor #7
  15. "...her anatomical sketch of a tentacled arm appears in one of the S~G fanzines." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe
  16. StarTrekFans.Net from a chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 8 March 2003, accessed 9 May 2012