As I mentioned in passing a few weeks ago, I recently stumbled upon a blog entry from a reader in Australia who reread Unto Zeor, Forever (my second Sime~Gen novel published and my first Award Winner) recently and she identified the reason she had been fascinated by this novel years ago upon first reading.
Unto Zeor, Forever is actually SFR where mutation generates the Alien in Alien Romance.
Here's the blog post that started me thinking:
This was before I found romance. And looking back, the only one on the list that’s really a romance (and probably the only one of all the books I read at the time) is Unto Zeor Forever. Interesting that it was the romance that I obsessed abut the most, yes?
Unto Zeor, Forever is a novel that stands about among its contemporaries because the plot is relationship driven. It's typical SF in that the plot puts the fate of the world in jeopardy and appoints one particular individual to exceed his personal limits of capability (to sacrifice himself to near destruction, and even beyond destruction of everything dear to him in life) in order to Save The World.
It's a "first contact" novel. Two people from distant societies isolated from each other first learn about the other, find the "other" unbearably strange, and must adjust.
It's a "Mutant Novel" - in that it's set in the far future when humanity has mutated into two strains. It's set beyond the point where they each intend to kill the other side off, and at the cusp of the point where they begin true acceptance instead of an uneasy truce.
Acceptance means destruction of social orders on each side of their borders, so it's sociological science fiction.
It's "hard SF" in the sense that the main plot problem is a scientific puzzle that can be solved only by scientific experiment, investigation, amassing statistics, understanding the inscrutible nature of the two kinds of human biology (Sime and Gen).
The resolution of the plot happens only because of a scientific breakthrough. But the "science" is entirely "made up" - totally imaginary. It simply fills the spot in their society that our science fills in ours.
All of those kinds of SF novel were extant and very popular at the time Unto Zeor, Forever was first published in hardcover (1978).
What was unusual, perhaps even anti-commercial publishing, was that all these types of SF novel were jumbled together in one novel, a "cross-sub-genre" novel.
What you see when you read this novel depends on what you expect to see, what you want to see, and maybe also on your ability to follow a complex piece of writing. It simply would never make a movie. It's way too "deep."
Unto Zeor, Forever is also a trope-busting novel, another reason it was shoved aside and shunned by vast sections of the publisher's target readership.
What trope did it bust? SCIENCE FICTION must never contain ROMANCE, and ROMANCE must never contant SCIENCE FICTION.
The structure of Unto Zeor, Forever is basically SFR, and the blend is crafted in such a way that, unless you're well practiced at analyzing novels, you will have a hard time deciding if it's SF that contains Romance or Romance that contains SF.
Romance drives the plot, but not via sexuality. (but some readers can't tell that).
Science drives the plot, but not via "real" science or even extrapolation of existing science.
Because the science is totally made up, this novel published as SF then might today be published as FANTASY! (the field of futuristic fantasy didn't exist at that time so publishers had no way to market such a misfit novel)
What is the science made up of, though? The material underlying the made-up science of the Sime~Gen Universe is material no self-respecting SF writer (such as Robert J. Sawyer who had the grace to drop a very insightful comment on my post about his fabulous SF novel, WWW: WATCH
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/06/wwwwatch-by-robert-j-sawyer.html ) would touch.
As the success of STAR TREK (slow to start as it was) illustrated, one core value of SF decades ago was the total rejection of the model of the universe in which God runs things, up close and personal.
In STAR TREK, all divine beings turn out to be frauds.
At the time the Sime~Gen Universe world was built, STAR TREK had not yet been conceived, at least not in the form we eventually saw it take.
Science Fiction which I surveyed and analyzed had left the entire realm of human psychology, the human spirit, and the yearning for real touch with the Divine out of every story.
The philosophical premise of the SF field was simply that science can explain everything about humans (and non-humans) simply by studying biology, biochemistry, physics, and hard sciences.
The premise that there exists and Divine force, that souls are real, was discarded before the worldbuilding began.
The Sime~Gen premise is "real SF" because it takes that blind assumption of all the writers and readers of the field, and challenges it from the blind spot.
That's right, Sime~Gen was deliberately crafted to blindside readers, hit where no one had hit before.
The science and worldbuilding of Sime~Gen is rooted in psychic sciences, spiritual sciences (karma, reincarnation), anthropology, linguistics, social sciences, psychology, and even religion.
But in order to sell it, none of that could be allowed to show on the surface in the early novels. (and to date, one novel where it's tackled head-on, has not made it into publication, The Farris Channel).
As a result of hiding the premises, and deliberately blindsiding the readership, half the fans drawn to the books really dislike the whole psychic, ESP, other dimensional aspects of the worldbuilding.
Two Sime~Gen Novels allow some of that "The Soul Is Real" premise to trickle through into reader consciousness.
Unto Zeor, Forever by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and First Channel by Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg are both blatant "Soul Mate" stories.
First Channel was recently singled out in this Romance blog:
While First Channel is not a romance, the story is propelled by Rimon and Kadi's feelings for each other. Other characters fall in love as well, some with tragic consequences. Events unfold over several years, giving it a more realistic feeling than in so many stories where everything is resolved in a relationship in a week or two. The setting was so unique that I am planning to read some of the other books in the series to find out what the future holds for the Sime and Gen.
It's more than "the story" that's propelled by the young couple's feelings for one another. It's the plot of the book, AND the fate of the entire human species, Sime and Gen alike, as love itself cracks a scientific puzzle that has locked humanity into a decline into primitive warfare where 30 years old is ancient.
Both these novels detail the meeting and mating of two people who are Soul Mates, Destined for each other. Their decisions actually change history, change the world, at a deeply personal cost.
Jean Lorrah, after analyzing and dissecting an early draft of Unto Zeor, Forever, penetrated to the core of the matter with her premise that ONLY LOVE could ever have taught a Sime how not-to-Kill Gens.
Buried deep inside Unto Zeor, Forever is the Great Theme of all Romance, "Love Conquers All" but it's not revealed until Jean Lorrah came along and detailed it in First Channel.
Each member of each couple makes certain independent free will choices, and the cascading results of those choices tumble them willy nilly into the annals of History.
As mentioned above, "The Soul Is Real" concept leads directly to REINCARNATION IS REAL in the Sime~Gen Universe.
So if you know how to read these novels, if you know the unpublished secrets behind what's really happening, you can see that you are reading a series of LIFETIMES lived by the same souls, taking different relationships to each other, learning from past errors, making up for the untoward results of their previous actions.
And in some lifetimes, the souls are rewarded by finding their Soul Mates and achieving spiritual goals -- all without knowing it, just like in our real lives.
None of these novels could ever have been published if all that "Fantasy stuff" and that "Romance stuff" had been blatantly displayed on the surface. And in fact, the merest whiff of these matters disqualified these novels from becoming publisher's "Lead Title" (the only one ever put on book shelves in chain stores or supermarkets).
So even though Unto Zeor, Forever ends in a tragedy of monumental proportions, and heads into a hiatus of spiritual progress for one of the souls, you can see that the tragedy had a past-life cause and will generate a future HEA when you reread the series of 8 novels in different orders.
Making a spiritual premise (Human Nature can change, and for the better too -- all humans are Good at the core) into the "Science" in the Science part of Science Fiction challenges the very definition of what SF really is.
That subliminal challenge offends some, and awakens others to the vast possibilities SF of previous decades left unconsidered.
That awakening is starting to explode into our world with Vampire Romance, with female lead characters in Urban Fantasy, with warfare against Evil led by women.
Here is a collection of links to links to my previous posts on the "science" upon which Sime~Gen's worldbuilding rests, included here because someone just wrote to me saying she'd found my first non-fiction book on the Tarot and wanted the rest.
And here's an exchange from twitter:
@JLichtenberg: @Azrael52 Novels now come in serials just like TV shows "story arc" - everything pubs send me is bk#X in YYseries #scifichat
@michaelspence @JLichtenberg (And whose fault is that? YOU were the first writer I read who talked in terms of series rather than individual stories! :^) )
I always find it amazing when other professional writers say they've read some of my novels, or even just Star Trek Lives!
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com (currently available)
http://www.simegen.com/jl/ (complete bio-biblio)
Camp Kingsbury, Part II
4 days ago