Just a few hundred genes separate humans from chimpanzees. Imagine someone altering the chimp genome, splicing in human genes to increase the size of the cranium, reduce the amount of body hair, and enable speech. What sort of creature would result?
Sims takes place in the very near future, when the science of genetics is fulfilling its vaunted potential. It's a world where dangerous or boring manual labor is gradually being transferred to "sims", genetically altered chimps who occupy a gray zone between simian and human. The chief innovator in this world is SimGen, which owns the patent on the sim genome and has begun leasing the creatures worldwide.
But SimGen is not quite what it seems. It has secrets . . . secrets beyond patents and proprietary processes . . . secrets it will go to any lengths to protect.
About the Author
F. Paul Wilson is the New York Times bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between. His books include the Repairman Jack novels, including Ground Zero, The Tomb, and Fatal Error; the Adversary cycle, including The Keep; and a young adult series featuring the teenage Jack. Wilson has won the Prometheus Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Inkpot Award from the San Diego ComiCon, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers of America, among other honors. He lives in Wall, New Jersey.
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By F. Paul Wilson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2003 F. Paul Wilson
All rights reserved.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY SEPTEMBER 20
A good walk spoiled, Patrick Sullivan thought as he trudged toward the rough where his slicing golf ball had disappeared. Somebody had got that right.
Patrick didn't actually hate golf, but he suffered from a condition he'd come to call GADD — Golf Attention Deficit Disorder. Nine holes and he'd had it. Maybe that was because during his first nine holes he racked up more strokes than most golfers did in eighteen. But today he was playing with Ben Armstrong, CFO of the Jarman department store chain and a valued client, who, although even less skillful than Patrick on the links, seemed immune to GADD.
Maybe it was the clothes. Armstrong, a florid-faced fellow in his sixties, sporting a neat goatee the same steel-gray shade as his hair, had decked himself out in a blue-and-raspberry-striped shirt, raspberry pants, and white golf shoes. Patrick wasn't into sherbet shades; he wore a white shirt, navy slacks, and tan shoes.
Golf or not, he was having a good walk on a bright September day among the luxuriously verdant rolling hills of upper Westchester where the Beacon Ridge club nestled its links. The air was redolent of fresh -mown grass and money.
Christ, he wanted into this place. Not so much for the golf, but because golf was such a great way to do business.
Like today. Armstrong, a club member, had asked Patrick out for a two -some. Wanted to get caught up on the upcoming negotiations with the sales-clerk union. Patrick's specialty was labor law, and though he worked both sides, lately he'd found himself billing more and more hours to the management end.
Beacon Ridge was packed with heavies like Armstrong. A goldmine of potential clients and billable hours. Patrick's firm loved billable hours — little else mattered at Payes & Hecht — and if he could tap into this mother lode ...
A sudden screech from ahead and to his left drew his attention. His caddie was pointing at the ground. "Here, sir, here! I find! Here!"
"Good eye, Nabb," Patrick said as he walked over.
"Yessir," Nabb said, his head bobbing as he grinned broadly at the praise. "Good eye, good eye."
Typical of the Beacon Ridge caddies, Nabb was an average size sim, about five-three, maybe 130 pounds; he sported a little more facial hair than most sims. Armstrong's caddie, Deek, was a bit different — beefier, and seemed taller, although that might be due to better posture. They looked like hominids yanked from the Stone Age and wrestled into the Beacon Ridge caddie uniform of lime green shirt and white pants, but they moved with a certain grace despite their slightly bowed legs.
Beacon Ridge had introduced sim caddies a couple of years ago, the first golf club in the country to do so. Caused quite a stir at the time, but the club members seemed to enjoy the status of being pioneers in the transgenic revolution. Other clubs soon followed suit, but Beacon Ridge remained famous for being the first. By now sims were practically part of the scenery around the links.
"Come on, movie star!" Armstrong called from the green. "You can do it!"
Movie star ... on their first meeting he'd said Patrick reminded him of Axel Sommers, the latest digital heartthrob. Patrick figured Armstrong needed glasses. Sure, they both had blue eyes and slightly wavy blond hair, but Sommers looked just a little too pretty for comfort.
Patrick waved and turned to Nabb. "Let me have the five wood."
The sim's dark brown eyes shifted between the ball nestled in the rough against a broad-leafed weed, and the green a hundred yards away atop a slope.
"Seven better, sir."
"That five's especially made for rough" — Christ knows I'm in it enough — "and this is as rough as it gets."
Nabb pulled out the seven and handed it to him. "Five too far, sir."
"What makes you think you know my game?" Patrick said, trying to keep his annoyance out of his tone. He'd take golf advice from just about anyone, even a sim, but he knew his own limitations. "This is the first time you've caddied for me."
"Nabb watch Mist Sulliman before."
"Really?" He didn't get to play here all that often. How could this creature know his game?
The sim thrust the iron forward. "Seven."
Patrick snatched the club. "Okay. We'll do it your way. But if — I should say, when — it falls short and rolls back down that hill, I'm gonna have your hide."
Nabb said nothing, simply stepped back to give Patrick room.
Patrick took two practice swings, stepped up to the ball, and whacked it. The ball sailed high, sailed straight, and plopped out of sight somewhere atop the slope.
Armstrong started clapping. "Nice shot! Less than a dozen feet from the hole!"
Patrick turned to Nabb and had to laugh when he saw the huge grin on the sim's apelike face. "Don't say you told me so!"
"Nev say, sir. Just want Mist Sulliman win."
Wants the nonmember to win? Odd. But who could figure what went on in an animal's head.
Patrick one-putted and birdied the hole — an event rare enough to warrant a victory jig, but he resisted. Armstrong's caddie seemed as pleased as Nabb.
As they strolled toward the next tee, Patrick noticed swelling and bruising around Deek's right eye.
"What happened to you?"
"Bump door, sir."
"Deek ver clums," Nabb said. "Always bump self. Not watch where go."
"Quit jawing with the help, Patty," Armstrong said. He laughed. "Next thing you know you'll be trying to unionize them."
Nabb dropped Patrick's golf bag.
"Sorry, sir," he said as he knelt to gather up the clubs. "Sometime Nabb too ver clums."
Patrick won the round by a single stroke, so Armstrong would have to buy the drinks. Before heading for the bar, Patrick slipped Nabb a ten-dollar bill.
Armstrong snatched it from the sim's fingers and handed it back to Patrick. "No tipping sims. That's a no-no."
"I always tip my caddie."
"If he's human, sure. But what's a sim gonna do with money?"
"Buy candy bars, or maybe a bottle of Cuervo. Who cares?"
"Better not. Holmes'll have a fit."
Patrick knew all about Holmes Carter: club president and a notorious pain-in-the-ass stickler.
Patrick winked at Armstrong. "You ever caddie?"
Of course not, Patrick thought. You were probably getting private golf lessons instead.
"I did. Right here, before anyone ever heard of sims."
And I don't care if he's human, sim, or some kind of robot, Patrick thought, I will always tip my caddie.
When Armstrong turned toward the locker room, Patrick rolled up the bill and palmed it to Nabb.
Inside, they had a corner of the bar to themselves, and while they were talking and drinking — Armstrong a Gibson up and Patrick a Rob Roy on the rocks — he had the odd feeling of being watched. But whenever he looked around he saw only the sims bustling about. The wait staff was human, but sims did all the bussing.
Patrick listened to Armstrong's idea about opening negotiations with the clerks by demanding a few choice give-backs from the full-timers' benefits package. Figured that would put them on the defensive. What an asshole. The idea sucked, truly and big time. Not because of the give -backs — nothing Patrick liked better than putting the screws to the opposition — but because the clerks' negotiator was a bitch on wheels who'd take that kind of opening salvo personally. From there on negotiations would go straight downhill.
But he said, "The idea's got merit, Ben. Let me think on how to approach it."
No sense in miffing a deep-pocketed client.
Patrick ran a hand over the polished mahogany of the bar and looked around at the well-heeled members gathering in clusters on either side or filtering into the adjacent dining room. He wanted to belong here so bad it made his gut ache. Wander in whenever he damn well felt like it, set his foot on the brass rail, and hang with the high rollers, trolling, setting his hooks, reeling them in.
But he'd already been turned down three times.
While Armstrong was ordering another round, Patrick headed for the men's room. After he washed up, the white-coated sim attendant handed him a towel.
"May sim speak, Mist Sulliman?"
Patrick glanced at him in the mirror. An older sim, touches of gray at his temples and above his large ears. Patrick had been here often enough to recognize him. His brass name tag read "Tome."
"You know my name?"
"Read you in paper, see play golf —"
"Wait-wait-wait. Read in paper? Sims can't read."
"This sim read."
That jolted Patrick. The world was still trying to get used to talking animals, but reading — sims weren't smart enough. Or at least they weren't supposed to be.
"How'd you learn to read?"
"Taught self, sir," Tome said, puffing his chest. "Not good, but can do."
Patrick stared. "This is amazing! Why haven't you told the world?"
Tome shook his head. "Other sim name Groh learn read. Tell evyone. Mans come take way. Nev more see Groh."
"Really?" Who could that have been but SimGen? But why recall a reading sim? Unless it was to see how they could replicate the ability.
"Please not tell."
"Okay. Mum's the word." But a reading sim ... he shook his head in wonder. "So what'd you want to say?"
"Mist Sulliman lawyer, yes?"
"Yes." Patrick grinned. "This isn't going to be a lawyer joke, is it? Don't tell me you do stand-up too."
"No, sir. You lawyer for union, is true?"
"Some days, yes; some days I'm for management. Where's this going, Tome?"
"Sims been talking and ..." His voice trailed off.
Impatience nibbled at Patrick. Out there on the bar the ice in his drink was melting.
"And ..." The words rushed out: "And sims want you start sim union."
Patrick's jaw dropped — he was looking in the mirror when it swung down and he saw it hang open like a trapdoor. Slowly he turned.
"A sim union? Have you been nipping at the aftershave, Tome?"
"Have money," Tome said. "Have saved. We give you make sim union."
"Wait a minute ... wait a minute ..."
Patrick suddenly had a wild thought. He looked around for a video camera. When he didn't see one, he checked the stalls — all empty. Laughing, he came back to Tome.
A reading, AFL-CIO sim. Sure.
"All right, who put you up to it? Armstrong? Rogers? Come on, who?"
"No, Mist Sulliman. We know you. Want hire."
Could this cloned ape be serious?
Patrick sighed. "Tome, you have no idea what you're saying. Unions are for people. Sims aren't people. That's the law."
"Yessir, but Mist Sulliman lawyer. Lawyer change law. You —"
Just then the door swung open and Holmes Carter waddled in. About Patrick's age — mid-thirties — but he looked older and had a commanding lead in the gut department. A bulbous forehead and no lips to speak of, and where Patrick's hair lay thick and fair, Carter's was dark and thinning; his scalp gleamed through his comb-over. Soon he'd be a chrome dome.
Or maybe not. Looking at Carter's hair now, Patrick noticed that it was thicker; didn't appear to be a rug or a weave either. Must have gone and got himself a splice to replace his baldness gene. You ol' devil, you.
Too bad the genemeisters couldn't do anything to reduce his fat. Scalps were easy: a limited number of cells to splice. Fat was a whole other deal — trillions of fat cells in a body.
But fat, thin, bald, or pompadoured, Carter would always be a first-class dork. No splice for that. But he was also third-generation Beacon Ridge and first in line to inherit the family's string of car dealerships. In his teens Patrick had caddied for the two preceding generations of Carters and they'd been pretty decent. But Holmes ... Holmes must have been fashioned from what had collected in the skimmers of their gene pool.
Although Patrick qualified for the club professionally and financially — at least on paper — he hadn't been able to squeak past the membership committee. The blackball rule was alive and well here, and he was pretty sure Holmes Carter had used it to keep him out. Probably couldn't tolerate the idea of a former caddy hobnobbing with the members.
"Talking to yourself again, Sullivan?" he said, baring his teeth in what passed for a smile.
"You might not believe this, Holmes, but Tome and I were just ..." Patrick noticed a sudden fearful widening of the sim's eyes "... having a little chitchat."
Carter swung on Tome. "You know the rules! No talking to people — even if it's a nonmember. You are to be barely seen and never heard!"
"Yessir," Tome said. He turned away and hung his head.
Patrick spotted the ID number and bar code tattooed on the nape of the sim's neck.
"Lighten up, Holmesy," he said, then eyed the man's gut. "In more ways than one. What's he supposed to do when I talk to him? Ignore me?"
Carter bellied up to the urinal. "If it's you, yes. What's the matter? Can't get any people to listen to you?"
"I guess I like sims better than some people I know — present company included."
Carter had that shark grin again as he returned from the urinal and began rinsing his hands. "You never learn, do you, Sullivan. Why do I keep seeing you around here? When are you going to quit cadging rounds of golf from our members and bamboozling them into sponsoring you? Didn't you get the message when the committee turned you down? You're not wanted around here."
That stung. But Patrick hid the hurt and said nothing, simply stared at him.
"What's the matter?" Carter said as he dried his hands. "Cat gotcher tongue?"
"No," Patrick said. "Just wondering why you sprang for a hair splice and passed up one for a personality." Figuring he didn't have to worry about burning nonexistent bridges, he added: "Also wondering why I'm standing here listening to a used car salesman —"
"They're not used!"
"— who has to use a homing pigeon to get his belt around his waist."
Carter's pie face reddened toward cherry. "You think you're funny?"
"I'm no Bill Hicks, but I have my moments."
"Keep it up, Sullivan. I hear you tipped a caddie today. Just keep it up and I'll have you banned from the grounds, so no matter how many friends you have here, you'll never step on our course again."
He threw his towelette at Tome and stormed out.
Patrick waited for the door to close, then turned to Tome.
"When do you get off?"
"Club close ten," Tome said.
"I'll meet you then. You may have found yourself a lawyer."
Patrick buzzed around in his new Beemer 1020i, more car than he cared for, but if you wanted to snag the big clients, you had to look like you didn't need them. As he drove he pondered how to tackle this sim union thing, and wondered why he was attracted to it. He smiled, realizing the two things he most enjoyed in his professional life were making money and pissing off people he didn't like — in that order. And when he could combine the two, that was heaven. Better than sex. Well, almost.
A bid to unionize the Beacon Ridge sims would be a definite two-fer.
As he wound through the back streets of Katonah he tried to organize what he knew about sims. They weren't news anymore but they hadn't been around long enough to be taken for granted. He was old enough to remember the uproar when Mercer Sinclair introduced the first sim at an international genetics conference in Toronto.
He shook his head. He remembered how at the time it had been all anybody talked about. Religious groups, animal rights groups, and branches of the government from the FTC to the FDA had raised holy hell. You couldn't turn on a TV or radio without hearing about sims or the Sinclairs.
Everybody knew the Sinclair brothers' story. Sims hadn't been their first brush with genetic notoriety. Ellis and Mercer started gene-swapping while grad students at Yale, published some groundbreaking papers, then quit and went into business for themselves. Their first "product" had been an instant success: a dander-free feline pet for people allergic to cats. They used the enormous profits from that to start work on altering apes.
What they came up with was a creature more than chimpanzee and less than human. As Mercer Sinclair, the brother who seemed to do all the talking, had tirelessly explained on every show from Leno to Letterman to Ackenbury, and anyone else who had an audience, they'd settled on the chimpanzee because its genome was so close to a human's — a ninety-eight-point-four percent match-up in their DNA. As Sinclair liked to point out, there was far greater genetic difference between a chimp and a gorilla, or between the different species of squirrels running around the average backyard.
One-point-six percent, Patrick thought, shaking his head ... the difference between me and a monkey. If ninety percent of DNA was useless junk, how many genes was that? Couldn't be many.
With so much shared DNA, it hadn't taken a whole lot of germ-line engineering to produce a larger skull — allowing for a larger brain, greater intelligence, and the intellectual capacity for speech — and a larger, sturdier, more humanlike skeleton. That took care of functional requirements. Smaller ears, less hirsute skin, a smaller lower jaw, and other refinements made for a creature that looked far more human than a chimp, one that might be mistaken for a Homo erectus, but never for a Homo sap.
The result was the sim:a good worker, agile, docile, with no interest in sex or money. Not an Einstein among them, but bright enough to speak a stilted form of whatever language they grew up with.
To manufacture and market the product — Mercer Sinclair insisted from the get-go on referring to sims as a product — the brothers had formed SimGen. And SimGen got the government to agree that the creatures were just that: a product.
Excerpted from Sims by F. Paul Wilson. Copyright © 2003 F. Paul Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
TWO: THE PORTERO METHOD,
FIVE: THY BROTHER'S KEEPER,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the near future, two brothers Mercer and Elias Sinclair formed a company called SimGen that spliced chimpanzees and human genes creating a new life form, Sims that is neither human nor chimp but a sterile hybrid. Sims have forty four chromosomes and humans have forty six but the most crucial difference of all is that Sims are considered property even though they can think, talk and pray to the same God humans worship. They are leased to individuals and corporations but SimGen owns them and this situation is very repugnant to Romy Cadman who works for a secret organization headed by Zero. He is dedicated to forcing the public to accept Sims as a branch of the human family. Patrick Sullivan is approached by a group of Sims who desire to form a union. What starts out as a task becomes a cause as the attorney comes to believe totally Sims deserve civil rights. What the public doesn¿t know and Romy and Patrick are only beginning to learn is that there is a shadow organization within SimGen that will go to any lengths to protect their experiments and dirty secrets. This work is science fiction though the technology to create a Sim outside of the game world seems just around the corner. The story line is exciting, fast-paced and scientifically based raising powerful social issues that should be dealt with sooner than later. F. Paul Wilson is well known for his repairman Jack Horror novels but readers should note that SIMS is totally different but just as creative and cutting edge. Harriet Klausner
"My nook charger pt is broken. Completely. I'm really going to miss you. Alot. This is whats tearing me part the most. I have to leave you guys. My email is bridger r m @ crcsbulldogs. Org if you want it. Please email me. I can't leave you guys.
I shall email you. And you'll be okay. Leaving isn't that bad. I'll miss you, friend.
Pepperkit: black tom with gray stripes and dark blue eyes. Silkykit: pretty she-kit with silvery fur and big green eyes. Lotuskit: tiny white she kit with creamy streaks of shell-pink in her fur and blue eyes. These kits will be born saturday morning this week. Go to dark glow result 3 on saturday. Father is Nightstream. Mother is Jadeflame.
Combine Jurassic Park with Planet of the Apes and throw in Blade Runner for good measure and you get Sims, an intelligent, cautionary tale from F. Paul Wilson. Splicing a clever, twisting plot with just enough cutting edge science, Wilson produces a great summer read.
"I hope we made up. Cause if you didnt do it for me I sure as hell hope you did it for Rose." He vanished.