Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stephanie Meyer - Books->Film

BUT FIRST -- a public service announcement --

"Bloggers — particularly "mommy bloggers" — must now disclose freebies or money they receive to review products or risk an $11,000 fine per post, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. It's the first attempt to regulate what's known as "blogger payola.""

This ruling takes effect December 1, 2009.

That's from

As a reviewer, I often talk here or reference books which have been sent to me by publishers (or authors) to review in my review column which is posted at

And even if it was a free copy, I'll warn you off of a product that does not meet my standards or point out the flaw which might not matter to you. With a little practice, you'll know my standards and how they compare to yours.

I know I won't remember to put this disclaimer on every post, or to cite the source of every book (very often I don't know who sent me a given novel if I've lost the Press Release, which happens a lot)

Some of these books I discuss are freebies; some are not. And who can remember if some 30 year old title I discuss was sent to me free? Even before I was a reviewer, I was a SFWA member and as such got a lot of books free.

This ruling is impossible to comply with because the data is not available.

However, in this particular post -- I actually BOUGHT a copy of TWILIGHT at a Westercon from BOOK UNIVERSE which is a store operating out of Oregon. I don't yet have copies of the sequels or of THE HOST.

aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com is not my personal blog so I can't put a disclaimer in the header saying SOME books discussed here may have been promotional copies.

The article also says:
"While the FTC will obviously have a hard time enforcing these regulations, there can be no doubt that marketers regularly approach independent bloggers (and especially mommy bloggers) with freebies. When bloggers accept these exchanges, they may not always disclose them in the posts that result. So, while bloggers who are involved in these schemes often tend to say that they would have reviewed the product anyway or that their reviews are often critical, there can be little doubt that payments and freebies influence these stories."

Well, folks, nobody has ever approached me with any freebies because of this blog or any other that I write on. I get books via SFWA, The Monthly Aspectarian, Amazon Vine, and personal requests when I hear of them, and I even buy some. DVD's and other such items likewise. And if you read my review column, you'll see I ONLY review books worth reading (5 star level). Lots of what I get does not get reviewed.
--------END PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT------------------

I've just finished reading TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer, a trade paperback edition from Megas Tingley Books, an imprint of Little Brown.

On the front it says it will soon be a major motion picture. I've had this book for probably half a year high on my to-read stack, and only now gotten to it. I haven't seen the film yet, but I will.

From several sources, notably
http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/33694/stephenie-meyers-the-host-heading-big-screen ( @dreadcentral on twitter)

I saw the following
Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer is about to see another one of her projects up on the big screen, and luckily for us, this one's geared toward adults. Rights to Meyer's The Host have been acquired by producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz (who also teamed up for John Hillcoat's adaptation of The Road).

I haven't read The Host (yet). *sigh*


you can easily see that I do read a lot of (freebie) books and review only SOME of those. Still, there's more really good stuff out there than I can read.

I've always been a reader, even before I decided to go for publication. So I've acquired a view of the cross-section of the fields I've been discussing under "genres" -- see last week's post.

That may not be a full and clear cross-section, but it's the view I'm working with.

Your view may differ and that doesn't matter because the point of these posts is to demonstrate the workings inside of a writer's mind, how it works, what you do with what you observe. An artform.

Art can't be "taught" but it can be "caught," which is the basis of the apprentice system of teaching.

The point of these posts is not to argue the veracity of the data used to derive conclusions, but rather to grasp the method by which conclusions are derived from data. First you practice with my data. Then you go find some data of your own and use the same method -- the result will be Art, very distinctively different from anything I could (or would) do, but still with the stamp of commercial potential clearly visible.

With that in mind, and Marion Zimmer Bradley's oft quoted admonition "The book the writer writes is not the book the reader reads" let's take a good look at TWILIGHT and the phenomenon of popularity in general (which is the ultimate point here -- how do you make Alien Romance more popular?)

And now I see what Stephanie Meyers did with Twilight (yes, I plan to read the sequels), how she did it, and what people love about it as well as what people have been complaining about.

As I've mentioned before "spoilers" can't spoil a really good book, and nothing I've read about TWILIGHT before I actually read the novel has made a dent in my own enjoyment of the story.

The story is great, but more on that later.

First let me point out there are many technical glitches that should have been fixed in the editorial process.

One glitch that really grated on my nerves was the portrayal of a non-cell-phone; dial-up internet culture, and then 3/4 of the way through the book, a character casually pulls out a cell phone, upon which nobody remarks, and from then on cell phones are everywhere. That's a continuity glitch.

Editorial could easily have fixed it by involving the Sheriff/father in demonstrations around a new cell tower being built nearby. Only out-of-towners would have active cell phones that would suddenly come online the moment they juice up the tower. Only out-of-towners would complain of the lack of cell service. The addition wouldn't have added any words that couldn't be trimmed from excess verbiage elsewhere.

I can't imagine how that slipped through editorial. But I'm used to reading fanzines and book manuscripts and "ARCs" (Advance Reading Copies) so errors like that don't really spoil the enjoyment of the story.

TWILIGHT grabbed me from the first page. I opened it because it's a Vampire story, but I stayed with it because of the locale.

Years ago, I considered moving to Port Arthur, close to the main setting for this story.

I ended up living in Phoenix, where the author lives, and part of the story is set. So I know both settings, and that may color my responses. The coincidence may not be random.

Now, if you've been studying the "expository lump" as discussed in Sexy Information Feed and the posts linked in it

And this one on Michelle West's THE HIDDEN CITY.


you will understand this statement about Stephanie Meyer's (first novel!) Twilight.

She has committed (and sold to grand effect) a massively unskilled novel, and the truth is that is a very VERY common thing to have happen.

Future posts on astrology just for writers will show you how that happens and help you see when it will be most likely to happen to you. (No, Astrology can't predict "the" future, but it can show you open doors. You and only you shape the way you use those open doors. And yes, I see Divine Will as a component of how things turn out.)

So reading TWILIGHT is very like reading a really delicious fanzine more than it is like reading a tour de force like HIDDEN CITY by Michelle West which will curl the toes of any expert in writing craft and tickle most readers too.

The massive skill deficit behind TWILIGHT is one we have discussed in detail on this blog -- the expository lump and scene structure.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/07/6-tricks-of-scene-structure-part-2.html (and it's prequel post linked inside this one)

There is no mastery in Meyer's skill at hiding the lump which is almost the entire middle third or even half of TWILIGHT (I really do LIKE or maybe LOVE TWILIGHT for reasons I'll get to -- I love fanzine writing and I love the "Mary Sue" of which TWILIGHT is a fair example.)

BTW: the title TWILIGHT isn't right for this story. Post your suggestions for a title if you've read this novel or even just seen the film.

I don't know if anyone taught Stephanie Meyer "show don't tell" skills to avoid the expository lump in the sequels, or if all the praise made the editors protect her from learning these skills (I've seen that kind of pressure ruin new writers, and I've seen writers bear up under it and improve in skills despite roaring sales (Katherine Kurtz being an example.)

The expository lump is a tell instead of a show, and the most common cause of lumps is lack of CONFLICT. Without conflict there really is no neat way to SHOW anything. With CONFLICT, "showing" is easy.

Showing is illustrating by actions; or in the parlance of film, staying off the nose. The writer can't illustrate something that doesn't exist. CONFLICT brings things into existence.

In the case of TWILIGHT, the expository lump is disguised as dailogue mostly between just two people, the Vampire Edward and the human Bella.

The ostensible point of all this dialogue (not up to Buffy standards) is "getting to know you." The dialogue consists of asking questions about character, backstory, and worldbuilding facts. Without the appropriate conflicts, there really is no other way to convey this information but "on the nose" dialogue.

When you as a writer find yourself stuck in a dialogue trap, you know you have a missing conflict, and possibly a missing character.

So to get this complex and fascinating "world" across, the plot stops dead in its tracks while two people dance around each other and probe each other but without being at loggerheads, or cross-purposes, or in opposing camps, or misunderstandings, or secrets (think DARK BLUE) or anything that would illustrate a conflict.

But that stopped-plot problem is easily fixable on second draft if you know what caused it.

What really irritates people, even those readers who can't put their finger on it, is that the plot stops dead to progress the Relationship, which contains NO CONFLICT EITHER INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL, and therefore does not progress.

The relationship starts out perfect, without conflict and only a little strangeness which is easily accepted by both. From perfect, there's nowhere to go, so no plot and no plot progress.

During the dialogue scenes, the relationship progress becomes the plot, but there is no conflict to drive that plot, so it just sits there not even qualifying as a sub-plot.

This could have been cured easily by the editor who bought it sending it back with a rewrite note saying "put the werewolves and the killer vampires inside the school with Bella and Edward in Chapter One, and rework it so the threats escalate."

As it is written, both human and Vampire look at each other, storm and fume a bit at the awful problem of being attracted to a soul mate, and then gracefully and without event, they both accept the fact that they're soul-mates and proceed to ask each other questions about the nature of vampirism and relations between vampire and human, their respective childhoods, etc. The question of whether a Vampire even has a soul never comes up.

Both plot and subplot are at a standstill during this. Not even the third plot-line of Bella's mother following a second husband around a baseball circuit in the Southwest interferes with "getting to know you" conversations. Another set of (possibly werewolf) characters circle the edges and provide a hint of foreshadowing, but they don't matter to the "getting to know you" or to the ultimate threat (killer Vampires) that finally causes some action (meaningless and easily resolved action).

The werewolf premise sticks out like a sore thumb, a "plant" for future books. The plot-action here is created by some other vampires who JUST HAPPEN BY at an awkward moment. This violates a cardinal rule of story-telling which, if violated disqualifies the piece as a "novel."

That rule is simple. Accidents can trigger a plot - right before or just at, or just after the beginning, opening, chapter one, or preface. Accidents can CAUSE plot-problem but only if placed at the beginning of the story. Accident can be the "catalyst" beat of a script.

The theme then becomes something having to do with accidents -- karma, well deserved poetic justice, or an illumination of character that explains why someone deserves the adventure or come-uppance, or how things you don't deserve happen to you anyway.

But the cardinal rule is that ACCIDENT can not resolve a plot conflict. There are other forms of narrative that are popular, and don't even have a plot so don't need conflict, but we don't study them here.

Romance needs conflict. Conflict is sexy.

Well, since TWILIGHT has no conflict, there's nothing to resolve so maybe I shouldn't complain about the lack of plotting.

However, the un-caused, un-summoned, expected only by precognition arrival of killer-vampires is an ACCIDENT, so it's in the wrong place in the narrative. It should be in Chapter One.

The arrival of stranger vampires who just wander into town triggers the run-for-your-life sequence that ends in (off-shot, off-stage) violence, but it's violence without conflict.

That structure is the reason for the expository lump.

The only reason to insert the random band of vampires at that late point, after the "getting to know you" sequence, is to attempt a "show don't tell" that it's dangerous to "get involved in the affairs of wizards" and that this little girl Mary Sue character is tough enough to handle that danger (she thinks).

The flaws in TWILIGHT are legion. I won't enumerate because the point of this discussion is not how bad this novel is, but HOW GOOD IT IS, and why and how it has achieved such fame and glory.

I don't know the real story of how Twilight got to be such a best seller, nor how it got to become a film. But through my unique cross-section of the field of SF/F/Romance I see a clue.

The fact that Twilight has been financially successful in the woeful shape that the narrative work is in (it's as if it got published in 2nd draft when it needed to be 5th) tells me something that you possibly are not interested in.

So if you are not interested in the magickal view of the universe, seeing "reality" through the lens of Tarot and Astrology blended seamlessly with Science and even History, stop reading this post here. The rest of this is really, really boring.


Now, all the rest of you try to grab this idea and hold it while you read on.

I personally am delighted and tickled that Stephanie Meyer and both her novels are so successful and can become films. This may be the break we've been waiting for.

These events, which appear on the surface to be Stephanie Meyer's personal triumphs, just as Harry Potter appears to be J. K. Rowling's personal and individual triumph, are in fact much, much larger than these individuals, and possibly not triumphs at all (I've discussed Pluto transits a bit, but there's more to learn -- Pluto transits don't deliver triumph but rather melodrama).

Gene Roddenberry's success with Star Trek went far beyond his personal life.

He's still being written ABOUT, and I've commented on this recent post which I found through a mention on Twitter


Michael Cassutt has written about how many other people contributed to the phenomenal success of Star Trek (the success we're looking to repeat for Alien Romance) and mentioned Theodore Sturgeon and Amok Time which I've been talking about in this context on other posts on this blog.

Meyer's, Rowling's and Buffy's creator Joss Whedon's successes can be viewed as due to the confluence of what you might call magical forces.

(BTW Rowling and Joss Whedon are examples of success attained AFTER acquiring skill with conflict generating plot which progresses by show-don't-tell not expository lumps, and resolves at a precisely structured ending).

In the magical view of the universe, everything (people, places, things, artifacts) are all connected by unseen threads of energy, resonances. The Universe and all of us are of one piece. I've explained this in my Tarot posts here on this blog.

Rowling's work paved the way for the Twilight teen novel success.


Which says:
"Harry Potter" books have sold more than 400 million copies and been translated into 67 languages -- not to mention the history-making film adaptations, which collectively have gone north of $5.3 billion in worldwide box office."

We all, as writers, aim for such towering achievement, and pursue that with dogged determination and soaring aspiration.

Our society and civilization are structured around some deeply hidden philosphical ideas (the kind of philosophy that rules your personal life even though you don't know you have a philosophy nevermind this one).

We are embedded in and awash with this philosophy. Like air we don't even know it's there. Or like a fish that doesn't know water is there. It's an unconscious cultural assumption. Transmitted to young children in school, it becomes an incontrovertible fact like gravity.

It is a Hellenistic philosophy, a view of the universe within which the entire "scientific revolution" was incubated.

For more on the residue of Hellenistic philosophy at the root of our culture, the root upon which the scientific view of the universe is grafted see my non-fiction book on the Tarot: Never Cross A Palm With silver.

(The publication of my 5 books on the Tarot is delayed waiting for ARTWORK to show-don't-tell the principles).

The following assumes you've read Never Cross A Palm With Silver (see Amazon, that first volume was published on paper), or that you didn't have to read it because you already understand the history of Philosophy. If you can dissect our world into a conflict between Hellenistic Philosophy and Biblical Philosophy (Kabbalah), then the rest of this discussion will make perfect sense.

We sometimes believe, because we are embedded in a Hellenistic world, that success such as Meyer has achieved is something you do on purpose, and somehow she has just had a little LUCK that we haven't had, due to no particular trait of her own that we don't share. Not only that, but she's not as good a writer as some of those reading this blog who haven't published for money yet.

That assumption can trigger jealousy -- "Why should she have all the luck?" "It's just not FAIR!" -- and jealousy (coveting your neighbor's goods) runs counter to one of the 10 Commandments of the Bible.

The magical view of the universe provides some good reasons for that prohibition on coveting as well as the means to avoid coveting (which the Hellenistic view does not provide because in the Hellenistic view, coveting is the essence of human nature.)

Consider when an "advertising campaign" succeeds, how the success is attributed to WHAT the advertising agency did, or how much they spent.

That's like the Hellenistic/Scientific view where the results of what you do depends entirely on what you do and never on who you ARE.

Advertising execs keep trying to do the same thing that someone else did and expecting similar success. That would work in the Hellenistic view of the universe, but not in the magical view.

Have you any idea how much money was spent advertising Space 1999 specifically to Star Trek fans after Star Trek was canceled? Space 1999 was sold as having an inevitable appeal to Star Trek fans.

Do you realize how much of that money was totally wasted because Star Trek fans just turned up their noses at the shoddy product that bore no recognizable resemblance to Star Trek?

The producers of Space 1999 thought they were doing the same thing Gene Roddenberry did, and that therefore it would succeed.

How much money was spent promoting Chicago for the Olympics only to lose to Rio?

Now I can't recall a recent Presidential campaign that spent less money than the opponent and still ended with the impecunious candidate winning. The most money almost always wins political campaigns.

But in political campaigns in the USA, most of the money spent comes from the very people who will vote & from corporations whose advertising responses have taught them public taste. So the amount of money collected for a political campaign is proportionate to the size of the support base for the candidate (sort of).

Sales campaigns don't work like that. All the ad bucks spent on a promotion come from the purveyer not the customer.

Can you imagine paying money to a Fund to pay for ads for Pepsi at the Olympics?

There's a different dynamic at work when you have a product to sell and need to advertise it.

See my post on Marketing here

And notice this post from an Agent on writers' personalities and "networking"

When the product you are selling is entertainment, it gets very complicated because what entertains you is influenced by those invisible "connections" that bind us and our material universe into one. I hope to trace some of them for you in a future post here, another part to Astrology Just For Writers.


For now, remember my discussion of the Suit of Pentacles in the Tarot and the nature of a "Pentacle" and what it really symbolizes.


10 Pentacles can be taken to symbolize the epitome of success in the material world (a type of HEA), and many people would think that Meyer or Rowling have materialized that symbolism. Nothing can destroy the success they've achieved.

Life is never that simple because of all those connections that make us one with the Universe.

Did Meyer's success come only from her own efforts?

Entirely and only from her own efforts, and the efforts of those around her, people she knows, who helped her materialize these novels? (see the Gene Roddenberry post linked above).

Or do we need to examine a much broader cross section of reality to understand what is happening in this world and why, and therefore perhaps understand where it's all going and what it means?

Let's look at a cross section from a different angle and see what turns up.

The first novel in my key universe, Sime~Gen, "went viral" via the Star Trek fan network connected through my Kraith fanzine universe and my professional non-fiction book STAR TREK LIVES!

http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/ for Kraith for free reading.

Sime~Gen spawned about 6 different fanzine publications started by fans and contributed to by fans, discussing aspects of the Sime~Gen universe.

Most of the Sime~Gen fanzine material is posted online and one of the 'zines, Companion In Zeor, is still publishing online. A totally separate "shared universe" co-operative fiction Sime~Gen story is being created by a number of fan writers and posted online.

The master index page is

The Rimon's Library section contains most of the fiction and you'll find a separate link to the Co-operative fiction at the bottom of the master index page.

The second Sime~Gen novel, Unto Zeor, Forever, won the Galaxy Award.

For the timeline, see my biography page

During and after writing/publishing Unto Zeor, Forever, I brought Jean Lorrah onboard to write the professional novel FIRST CHANNEL in the Sime~Gen Universe. The whole concept of FIRST CHANNEL was entirely Jean's idea.

That was a major first - female-female SF collaboration. Jean had already written some really splendid fan stories which are posted on /sgfandom/ in Rimon's Library.

I don't recall exactly when, but during those initial years a manila envelope appeared in my mailbox with a return address of "Andrea Alton."

As most of you know, Marion Zimmer Bradley had become my writing mentor and really helped sell House of Zeor and Unto Zeor, Forever. She actually wrote one of the paragraphs which survived to the final draft of Unto and taught me how to "sharpen" a sentence by writing my sentence for me. (then I went back and used that technique throughout the novel)

One of the families in Bradley's Darkover series is named Alton (common enough name, but it had never turned up in my mailbox before).

I was active in Darkover fandom, and fans have a habit of taking names from the fiction they be-fan. Bradley had grown up in fandom. So had I.

I looked at the envelope, saw the name, thought it had to do with the fan organizational work I was doing for Darkover fandom (I ran "Keeper's Tower" the group that kept track of official fan groups; I was Fan Guest of Honor at the first Darkover Grand Council Meeting; I grew up on the planet Darkover and eventually sold Marion a Darkover story for an anthology).

With my mind on the Darkover fan activity and the growing Kraith fandom (55 creative artists worked on Kraith at one time or another, and the print run would sell out 1,000 copies within weeks of publication), plus the budding Sime~Gen fandom, I just stared and stared at that name, ALTON on that envelope and mentally screamed FAN HOAX.

Someone was playing a joke on me. For sure.

So I opened the envelope prepared to be the butt of a fannish joke (not the first time).

It was a Sime~Gen fan story titled Belling The Cat by "Andrea Alton."

A rewritten and lengthened version is currently posted here:

Here's the editor's notes:
Editorial Note: The following story was originally submitted to A COMPANION IN ZEOR in 1981. After Jacqueline read it, her opinion was that it was a good basis for a professional novel. It was further developed into "ICY NAGER" which at one point had been submitted to Doubleday for publication. Because of that decision, A COMPANION IN ZEOR never printed this piece. What you are reading is the original first draft of "ICY NAGER" which has been available both as a print fanzine and on our Websites. Karen MacLeod

The first draft of the story that landed in my mailbox was PERFECTLY executed, with a firm artistic hand, with a disciplined and full-voiced stylistic cadence, with a deep full throated thematic chord and perfectly reticulated structure. It was better written than anything I could have aspired to write at that time (maybe since, too).

I loved it.

But I loved it because it was MY story.

The quality of the writing freaked me out.

It was a story I had had in my mind for well over 10 years and never told anyone about, that I could remember.

I had dreamed of being able to write and sell that story one day, if the other novels succeeded well enough. But Alton's story didn't have the Action/Adventure genre signature in the foreground as would be required to sell it commercially. It was pure Intimate Adventure.

Alton's story was more like a very well written TWILIGHT.

Alien Romance readers would love it, but there were no Alien Romance readers then, and no real "Vampire As Good Guy" novels either.

My ambition to sell Andrea Alton's Sime~Gen story was realistic since House of Zeor had been mentioned for the Hugo, and Kraith brought me in as a runner-up for the fan Fan Hugo even though the Fan Hugo was never ever awarded for fan fiction and there was a huge anti-Star Trek movement in SF fandom.

I sat there and read the original Belling The Cat story over and over, parsing every sentence, looking for a clue about who was playing a trick on me.

I tried to think who, of all the people I knew which was thousands, who could possibly have heard me mention this story idea, this plot. (every word exactly MINE) I couldn't think of anyone who might have heard me mention it who also had the skill to write like this.

Except Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Apropos of this, many years later when I was a Guest at a Star Trek convention in Great Gorge New Jersey, I met Theodore Sturgeon and told him about how I knew every scene and every plot move and Vulcan detail established in his script Amok Time (but I knew the broadcast version, not the version he wrote) before it was broadcast just from the footnote in David Gerrold's Ballantine paperback THE MAKING OF STAR TREK which noted that in the upcoming Star Trek season, Spock would go home driven by the Vulcan mating drive and the story was written by Theodore Sturgeon. That's all it took, and I KNEW.

Here's my post on Ted Sturgeon.

At the time that Andrea Alton's Belling The Cat arrived in my mailbox, I had already had the experience of KNOWING Ted Sturgeon's plot and mating drive details before seeing the episode. But I had not had the experience of telling him about it.

So I knew that I was capable of grabbing a story off the astral plane that someone was working on or planning to write. I knew what it felt like to access such an unwritten work.

This knowledge undermined my ability to simply attribute Belling The Cat to Marion Zimmer Bradley and call her up and accuse her of hoaxing me and sharing a good laugh.

The postmark on the envelope was not where Marion lived at the time, but she could have pulled off a re-mailing.

Belling The Cat had Marion's strength, but not her "style" -- it had my premise and idea, but not my style or skill level.

There was no clue of a cover letter, no note saying this was a submission to this or that S~G 'zine to indicate the author knew of Sime~Gen fandom, no real title or header on the manuscript. It was just what someone would do to play a joke on me.

In this period, I was "editing" (teaching to write) a bunch of fan writers for Kraith and also for Sime~Gen since we'd begun publishing fiction in the S~G fanzines. I knew a lot of people who would have a blast getting my goat.

And I had to answer that author.

So I wrote a very tentative, very cautious letter (yes, snailmail) kind of hinting that I'd like to know the history of this story and pen name.

Andrea Alton wrote back and said that's her real name and that she wanted to submit the story for 'zine publication.

I don't recall right now if she was a Darkover fan at that time, but she became one. She wanted to submit the story for the fanzines but was very afraid it wasn't good (!!!!) enough.

You see, it was just an idea she suddenly had, and sat down and dashed off as a story, WHOOSH like taking dictation. It was the first fiction she'd ever written.

It took quite a while to convince me of that, but it was really true. Eventually I met her. A real person, and NICE too.

Years later, she wrote and sold a truly fabulous, utterly original, completely perfectly crafted SF novel titled DEMON OF UNDOING.

The company she sold it to (the high prestige, nothing-but-perfectly-crafted novels packager BAEN) published it in 1988 and immediately offered her a contract for a second book. She turned down the contract. She never sold anything else that I know of.

Eventually Demon of Undoing was one of the earliest e-books, posted online for download. That e-publisher is gone now, and I've lost touch with Andrea, though people write to me looking for her.

I was able to believe BELLING THE CAT was her first attempt at fiction and that she had never heard of my intent to write that story (which I now won't ever write because it's been written) because I knew I had KNOWN what Amok Time would be without seeing it.

Only personal experience can convince you of something this impossible.

Well, impossible in the Hellenistic view of the Universe; not in the Biblical view of the universe.

Andrea Algon wrote more Sime~Gen, and you can find all her Sime~Gen posted online in Rimon's Library.

Eventually, we were close to a chance to sell Sime~Gen novels by authors other than Jean and me. The fan novels we had published were professional quality work. They were fan novels only because they lacked backgrounding (what's a Sime; What's a Gen; What's a Channel; What's a Donor; What's the Tecton; Where did it all come from and why?) But they were all prime examples of Intimate Adventure in styles different from mine.

Andrea was one of the writers we tapped, and she turned the hero of BELLING THE CAT (nicknamed Icy Nager) into the hero of a novel titled ICY NAGER (which we couldn't sell; it's posted online too). And that novel has a fair adventure genre signature.

Now why am I telling you about Andrea Alton and Belling the Cat?

Because this is just one of many, many examples of this phenomenon.

This phenomenon (one person writing another person's mentally sketched (or obsessively dreamed) story and selling it) happens so often that Hollywood (which gets more submissions than Manhattan publishers + e-publishers combined) has a phalanx of lawyers who return submitted manuscripts "unopened" with stern notes of legal warnings.

Any writer who originates something thinks it's original because they haven't seen it anywhere else. And yes, it may never have been made visible anywhere -- but it might have been made visible (Pentacles again) somewhere the writer has never had access to.

One originator may think the other originator "stole" something, plagiarized.

Fans have accused Star Trek of "stealing" their fanzine ideas. I know that many in the Star Trek offices had read at least some Kraith. Fans see a lot of Kraith elements turning up in the films -- elements that were heretical when I first wrote them, long before anyone but Gene Roddenberry dreamed of films. I did things such as destroying the Enterprise NCC-1701, or giving Spock a sibling, or placing Spock's family high in Vulcan society.

But any good writer looking at Classic Trek would have done the same, no stealing involved.

The assumption that what you dream inside your own mind is original and belongs only to you is rooted in the Hellenistic view of the universe, the scientific view.

In the magical view of the universe, though, not only is it possible for other creators to envision or create what you have dreamed privately, it's a necessary condition for the complete description of a magical universe.

Thus, if you've internalized a magical view of the universe, you can't ever feel the urge to "covet" another's work, success, or possessions.

Look again at all the Greek Myths and you see the gods constantly attacking each other from jealousy, covetousness, or just to steal to demonstrate power. Coveting is deeply embedded in the Hellenistic philosophy, so deeply that you can't even find it stated, because it's assumed to be an element of human nature that is a reflection of the gods, immortal and unchanging.

Covetousness of one neighbor's position in life is not possible if you hold the Biblical view.

It's not "forbidden" - it's just not possible.

In my way of looking at it, that Commandment forbids the Hellenistic (or Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian etc etc) view of the universe. Why is that philosophy forbidden? Because it's not true and it doesn't work.

This overlapping creation phenomenon is only one small example of how the real world really works. We are all connected, of one piece, even in our dreams -- or perhaps especially in our dreams.

But of course, there are dozens of other explanations that don't require a Biblical philosophy; as I said above use your own data to derive your own conclusions.

The point here is the derivation methodology.

Take an explanation and interpret a fact. Take a fact and find an explanation. MAKE THEM MATCH to make your worldbuilding resonate with verisimilitude.

OK, look back on what you know of the history of technological innovation. Edison wasn't the first to make a lightbulb, and Bell wasn't the first to create a "telephone." Many patents are held by the second, or tenth, person to invent something, just as with TWILIGHT.


IDEAS (Wands) are "up there" somewhere, and they penetrate this plane of existence following whatever channel of least resistence they find. YOU may be standing under one of those penetration points at any time in your life. (To understand that, wrap your mind around what I've said about Tarot and Astrology - they are not two different subjects.)

Just because you "have" the idea does not necessarily mean you can manifest it (as I had been not-writing Belling The Cat).

The individual who can manifest it will have a certain kind of Natal Chart and be under certain types of transits, and have a soul that's due for whatever lesson that they would learn by manifesting that idea.

That may or may not be you, and there's nothing personal in that.

Yes, everything in art, love, and religion is personal! But that's another subject -- one centered on characterization.

IDEAS that are manifested often go nowhere commercially, as far as the world knows.

A book may "bomb" and sell only a few thousand copies (or a few hundred e-book copies). A movie may not make it past the Festivals. An invention may be a dodo before it's manufactured.

But every once in a while, the right person in the right place at the right time of their life, at the right time of the evolution of The World and maybe Humanity, will ALSO receive an IDEA just at that moment, and of their own Free Will they may choose to act on it.


It "goes viral" because a lot of humans are harboring that idea, can "almost hear" that idea rattling around "up there" above their minds where we are all connected, all of one piece.

The public may recognize the thing as their own dream even if they've never remembered dreaming that dream.

That's what happened with TWILIGHT.

It happened with Sime~Gen too, but on a much smaller scale.

Those who have read TWILIGHT can see the hint of a similarity with Sime~Gen. If not, consider that Sime~Gen has been billed as "Vampire In Muddy Boots."

Stephanie Meyer has achieved with TWILIGHT (and sequels) what I set out to achieve with Sime~Gen (best seller to film), and she's used the same dramatic material that I was using.

For similar dialogue expository lump to TWILIGHT see the early draft of UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER posted online at

The published version of UNTO that won the award is 5th draft.

The spookiness continues for me with the news that Stephanie Meyer's THE HOST has been optioned for film (from option to theaters is a long complex journey).

The 2008 HC/pb release of THE HOST by Stephanie Meyer.

It's unusual for an author to be allowed to use the same byline for an adult novel as for a teen novel.

THE HOST has the following premise according to Publisher's Weekly:

In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back,


I have no way of proving the following because it's all in my mind.

Way before I started writing Sime~Gen, I developed several SF universes, all more complex and richly backgrounded than Sime~Gen.

Then I chose which one to launch my career with and discarded the others. In order to write HOUSE OF ZEOR, I had to pare the Sime~Gen background as I knew it way, WAY down to the barest hint.

One of the rejected worlds was a complex world I call the Diasite universe.

I found all the pages (hand-scribbled) ever written about the Diasites while thinking about TWILIGHT and THE HOST.

To my utter shock, none of the premise is on those pages. They're chapter-structured PLOT outlines, remarkably well done considering I didn't know then what I know now about plot outlining.

But I remember the premise, crystal clear, and recently have been noodling around with the idea of casting the Diasites into a feature film format. I keep stubbing my mental toe on the knowledge that "the world" would not accept this -- it's just too SF, even though Hal Clement did something similar in NEEDLE.

Then (just a few days ago) I discovered (via Twitter) that Meyer's THE HOST has been optioned, so I went to look up what it is about. I haven't read THE HOST, and have read only the barest sketch of the premise.

It's the Diasite universe, simplified.

And according to Publisher's Weekly on Amazon, Meyer has learned conflict and how it generates show not tell and avoids expository lumps (but who knows? I haven't read the novel yet.)

Meyer could be more successful than Jacqueline Suzanne.

If you're curious, here's part of the Diasite concept.

The Galactic civilization gives up its barricading of Earth because of an interstellar war and Earth has to become prepared to defend itself, galaxy-class weapons and all.

The prerequisite for membership in the Galactic union (whatever it may be called, you couldn't pronounce it), is that the world that wants to join must accept a colony of Diasites onto their world.

Here's the SF hitch that is more "revolting" than tentacles and that would prevent this premise from become big box office.

The Diasites are energy beings -- pure soul. (think Arisians; Hal Clement's aliens were evolved viruses)

The Diasite home planet was destroyed several revolutions of the galaxy ago.

On their home planet Diasites evolved bonded to physical beings, "hosts."

After nearly going extinct when their planet was destroyed (war with the same encroaching enemy that's "now" reappeared), the Diasites developed the ability to use any Intelligent species as Hosts.

The Diasites are very VERY peaceable beings who don't covet. (no exceptions; and yes that viciates the premise)

So the Diasites have basically created this vast galaxy spanning civilization using their species need for hosts and a trait they can give in return for bodies. They are parasites that have made themselves into symbionts.

Diasites contribute communication.

There is no scientific means of communicating across galactic distances.

But the Diasites are (this was invented before Star Trek) like cells in one brain, and they can all communicate "telepathically" with each other. Distance doesn't make a difference because Diasites don't exist in the space-time continuum, but "above" it where there is no such thing as distance. Hence they communicate instantaneously across galactic distances.

But they can't survive without HOSTS.

So it's a trade.

The member planets of the galactic union "pay" for galactic communications and trade etc. by HOSTING a colony of Diasites large enough to handle all the galactic communications for the planet. You have to HOST to join the union.

So one day (shades of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL) out of a clear blue sky, a "mothership" of Diasites appears over the U.N. Building.
And the appeal is presented to Earth -- host a colony of diasites and become well enough armed to fight off the menace coming, or don't and succumb (roll the film of conquered planets).

"Oh, sure. No problem. We'll take some of your Diasites. What do we do?"

Well, all you have to do is find (several hundred) volunteer women who will become pregnant with a Diasite, give birth in the usual way, and raise the (utterly indistinguishable from human) child to be an upstanding citizen of Earth.

That's all.

Shades of several horror genre SF stories -- but the SF premise here is that IT IS NOT HORROR. (it's like the Vampire-As-Good-Guy; it's a twist on horror, a reversal).

And yes, this bears a resemblance to "V" but was created long before that TV series.

So the first novel is about the arrival on Earth with ultimatum, the various lies and half-truths about Diasite non-physiology and lifecycle, the terrible angst of finding enough volunteers, the factioning of Earth for and against the Diasites (let's get conquered; we can make peace with those guys, but not rapists), the birth of the children, and their coming of age (entering High School).

(wrinkle - the Diasites procreating into human form never touch the women).

The second novel is from the POV of a young Diasite in High School at puberty.

The entire first generation colony of Diasites matures at about the same time because their mothers were impregnated at the exact same moment.

The Diasites send another Mother Ship to take the first human Diasites into their first reproductive cycle. (oy, the politics)

And of course, right in the middle of all this, the ENEMY arrives at Earth.

Remember, at the time I created the Diasites, and at the time I discarded them in favor of the Simes, it was basically illegal to have sex figure in an SF novel unless your name was Philip Jose Farmer. Today's SF Romance would be considered porn. (plain brown wrapper, under the counter, no book keeping, go to jail for selling it, porn)

Each Diasite novel is in a different genre, -- that's what I've done with Sime~Gen, too. The point I'm trying to make is that SF is not a genre at all, because you can write every genre in it, including Romance. Well, especially Romance.

The third Diasite novel would be the galactic war (think my Daniel R. Kerns novels, Hero and Border Dispute.)

The fourth would involve Earth's Diasites reaching out to free a conquered world and bring that world into the galactic union. (Humans are much better at freeing and bringing-in than most of the rest of the galactics at least in our spiral arm.)

Along the way you'd learn what Diasites really are (human Diasites aren't given to know this until several generations into the colony, but being human they don't want to wait to be told). You'd learn what the existence of Diasites means about the structure of the universe.

Mostly you'd learn about the human Soul and what happens when a Diasite body is conceived by a human mother without a "father."

The Diasite universe is all about religion and sex, forbidden topics in SF of that time.

None of what I've written here is in the "outlines" I found in my files.

I think Stephanie Meyer has probably already written this universe and sold it to Hollywood as THE HOST and anything I might do with the Diasites would be seen as imitating her.

Know what? I hope THE HOST really is Diasites simplified. Look at all that work I don't have to do and the world gets the benefit anyway!

Even things you write that don't ever get read by anyone else, even things you think or feel that you never let anyone else see, affect the whole universe and perhaps beyond. Somewhere up there we are all connected. What one of us does in solitude enables another to do in public and neither could do anything at all without the other whether they know it or not.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. I've never read any of Stephanie Meyer's books, although I almost read THE HOST. My stack of ARCs takes priority at Enduring Romance.

    I am about to read a cool book someone mentioned somewhere (grin) called THOSE OF MY BLOOD, all about aliens starting the vampire thing on Earth, or so I hear.

  2. I've read all the Twilight series, and I've read The Host. I liked The Host better, but I'll mention now that it starts out REALLY slow. Action doesn't pick up until about 140 pages into the book. But its good enough that I cried like a baby at the dark moment.

    Jacquline, it does sound similiar to your plot/idea. But one of the complaints I've heard about The Host is that this supposedly peaceful race somehow managed to take over the people of Earth without a fight. (Personally, I can see very clearly how it could happen.) And the critters don't share a body with the host, they take the body over and pretty much kill off the original personality. The conflict arises when one of them *can't* kill off the personality and in effect, becomes two seperate individuals sharing one body. And the human part is a member of the resistance and has a love interest. To add to the conflict, the critter falls in love with another human male. So you've got two females in one body in love with two different men. Let the games begin.

  3. The following is from a post that may have a direct bearing on the future of SF Romance as a genre.


    Taking even the narrowest definitions of science fiction, I’d suggest Atwood would have trouble arguing that some of her novels are not part of the genre. Apparently though, as long as you persist, you can convince the established order that your heart and mind is in the right place.

    Just keep insisting that everything science fiction is tacky, silly and sad and ridicule its creators at every opportunity. Disown the genre as emphatically and publicly as possible. As a writer there are tremendous advantages to avoiding the label science fiction, and Margret Atwood has successfully done that throughout her career and gained literary credibility in exchange.

    Soak up this post if genre is an issue for you.

  4. Katherine:

    Thank you for the input. And yes eventually I'll have to make time to read THE HOST.

    I guess I didn't make it clear. A Diasite in a human body has no human personality or soul. They create the human bodies EMPTY.

    "Possession" and dual-personalities in one body in love with different people is not what I call "sf" (not even fantasy) but with the Diasites there's this "empty body created" wrinkle that I have never seen done yet. (I might have missed it.)

    As I said, THE HOST is probably a very simplified version of Diasites which is why it can succeed this way. If it were real SF, it would be doomed.

    To get another take on this whole hatching of SF into mainstream issue, see the post I put in just above this one.

    That article would easily describe the problem with "Romance Genre" items. Just replace "science fiction" with "romance" and see how well it fits.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  5. Appropos of two people having the SAME idea and marketing it at almost the same time, here's a mini-story from Twitter in several posts by a screenwriter professional. Note the ATTITUDE of covermyscript. Also note read these posts in reverse order, last first.

    # covermyscript validated that writing Showtime quality, annoyed no paycheck to go w/ validation. but at least agent and prodcos saw it before 1st ep aired.about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck

    covermyscript learned my lesson, will never call for music again. even tho in this instance, it was germane to the plot as it was on Californication. sob.about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck

    covermyscript They didn't steal it, they had the same ideas I had beat for beat, including the one time i ever called for a song "Can't find my way home."

    covermyscript sorry folks for worrying. was crying because spent 6 months writing awesome pilot & then just as it got out the door Californication did it.

    covermyscript it's hard to write when you're weeping. at least i don't need to see the keys to type. so i can keep working thru tears.

    See the professional ATTITUDE?

    Acquire it and you'll make the big time.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg