Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday Book Review Books: First Channel

What would you do if the life of someone you've known and loved suddenly becomes necessary to your own survival? Either they die or you do - how do you choose? What if your child suddenly turned from the sweet kid you've raised and loved into a ravening monster whose merest touch can now kill you? This is the world that is Earth's future as the human race has divided itself (through evolution or genetic manipulation - no one is sure) into two types: Simes and Gens. Gens appear as what we would call a "normal" human except that they produce an energy field called "selyn." Simes appear mostly human except they have a set of tentacles on each forearm and they require an infusion of selyn each month in order to live. Simes also have extra "senses" and are stronger and can move more quickly than Gens. They are the ultimate predators. Unfortunately, the process of taking selyn from a Gen each month results in a dead Gen. In addition, no one knows whether they will be Sime or Gen until they hit puberty. The world is divided into two territories - one controlled by Simes where they raise Gens as livestock in pens and feed off of them each month and the other controlled by Gens where they live in fear of Sime raiders and the constant worry that a child may suddenly hit puberty, turn Sime and kill the first Gen it comes into contact with.

"First Channel" is the original book in the series and its main conflict centers around Rimon Farris who discovers one day that his intended fiancee, Kadi, has suddenly become a Gen. In Sime territory, she is now considered a non-person and must be turned over to the nearest Gen Pen where she can be purchased by a Sime, fed from and killed. But Rimon only sees her as the woman he loves and is desperate to save her - despite the fact that he is a Sime himself and in a month will need to feed on a Gen just like every other Sime.

I've always thought this was one of the most original sci fi premises I've ever come across and I've been addicted to the series ever since I read the first book back in the 70's. These may be somewhat hard to find since they've been out so long, but Meisha Merlin publishing is in the process of re-issuing some of them (combined in large single volumes) and they can also be found at used book stores in the meantime.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are actually two authors in this series. Jacqueline Lichtenberg (who rose to fame as the author of "Star Trek Lives!") originally created the series and wrote most of the books, but her partner, Jean Lorrah wrote the volume "Ambrov Keon" and has been involved in the creation of some of the other books as well. In fact, if you decide you like the Sime/Gen universe, you might want to check out Jean Lorrah's "Savage Empire" series.

Finally, since Lichtenberg and Lorrah got their start through fan fiction, they've got a very involved website dealing with Sime/Gen fanfic as well as background to the universe, technical details, and writing workshops for those interested in pursuing fanfic and/or professional writing. They often post Sime/Gen fanfic stories and other types of fanfic for free on the site, too. Here's the link:


Lastly, a new Sime Gen book has been in the works for FOREVER, but I believe that Meisha Merlin has finally set a REAL publishing date for summer of 2006. The working title for the book is "To Kiss or to Kill."

Have a great weekend and zlin you later (and if you want to know what that means - read the books LOL)


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