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Sims

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Sims

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Author: F. Paul Wilson
Publisher: Tor, 2004
Forge, 2003
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Near-Future
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Synopsis

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, 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 genetically transmitted diseases are being eliminated. 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. Sims explores this brave new world as it is turned upside down and torn apart when lawyer Patrick Sullivan decides to try to unionize the sims.


Excerpt

I

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 twosome. Wanted to get caught up on the upcoming negotiations with the salesclerk 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."

Copyright © 2003 by F. Paul Wilson


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