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04 May 2005 @ 07:52 pm
Slashy Nominations 116: Speaking in Tongues  
You know you love somebody, be it in a friendly or romantic or familial way, when you can turn to that person and make a comment that appears to all others to be a random assemblage of words, and that person laughs or pats you sympathetically or nods sincerely and offers another random word array that makes total sense to you. At least, that's how I know; private language is perhaps the ultimate symbol of closeness in my world. (This may just be because I don't make much sense most of the time, so I'm really touched when someone actually gets me at all. I still maintain that it works on a more general level, though.)

These stories are all about private language, be it the language of two or the language of one or the language of people stuck in a pocket universe with only their own brilliance and absurdity for company. (And, you know, someday I want to see a story like that for every fandom. Except Sports Night, where I think that's pretty much already true in the canon.)

Words. They're all we have to go on. Given certain fairly inclusive definitions of 'words.'

Best FF That Contains a Reference to The Night of the Hunter. Which Makes Me Wonder if Ray Has Seen the Movie. Or Fraser Has. D R A W N, by serialkarma and lalejandra. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Isn't it lovely to see two people really communicating? Well, no, not when they're, say, the people behind you in a movie (the woman who repeated words at random from the dialog of Mission: Impossible to her husband with sinus problems, for example) or in line at the supermarket. ("I see where that boy is still on trial." "Isn't it Michael Jackson on trial?" "He's just after the money, you know." "Who?" "The boy. Michael Jackson wouldn't do that. He could do better." "Oh, I don't know. Maybe he did. What I say is, does it matter? They're all like that anyway." And meanwhile you're wondering a) is it contagious, b) will the checker understand if you abandon your half-unloaded groceries and flee the store, and c) why you don't carry a gun. Or at least, that's what you're wondering if you're me.) But it's pretty damn nice when it's Fraser and Kowalski, especially when they're communicating by means of drawing. On each other's skin. With ink. And how they do it is nice, too; Fraser telling a story using his own private, unspoken, unexplained language - because for a man who talks a lot he's not much with the communicating - and Ray keying into it intuitively - because for a detective he's not much with the logic. That's so them. A big part of the appeal of this pairing for me is that it involves two people no one has really listened to. And then they start listening to each other. And if that doesn't just make the tears of joy well up inside...well, you're probably not pre-menstrual, at any rate.

Best FF That Left Me Reaching for the Book on Animal Sounds in Other Languages That I Do in Fact Own. It's Like I Spent Years Preparing to Read This Story! Absurdity Theory, by julad. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/Radek Zalenka. So. If it quacks like a duck, but does not in fact look like a duck, what is it? In this case, two people paying a slightly higher-than-usual price for certain unkind comments. But, hey, if you know stuff, it doesn't matter that you can't talk to others; you can still entertain yourself with a Turing machine or the Theory of Universal Absurdity or lots of sex. This is why everyone needs science. (The sex. Though the entertainment is nice, too.) And everyone also needs this story, although you probably don't need it as much as I did when I first read it, because it was the perfect antidote to an unfortunate vid experience I had last week. Vidders, please: avoid the all talking heads, no action, no meaning blue-light-special vids. But if you're going to make one, for Christ's sake don't center and zoom in on those faces too far. Because you may find that dramatic, but all I see is nostrils. Gigantic, flagrant, unignorable nostrils. ("Nostrilriffic" is not a word I had previously been tempted to coin, but this vid - it needed adjectives as yet undiscovered in the English language.) And when a love song is wailing in the background but huge nostrils are flaring in the foreground, I am in an unhappy place. Or, actually, a seriously happy place and laughing myself sick, but that's probably not where the vid was supposed to take me. Worse, after I watched said vid, I couldn't read SGA without thinking mostly of nostrils, and it was inhibiting my new-fandom love. But then, fortunately, I found this story, which completely derailed the memory of hysterical nostrils via hysterical quacking, and also the honking, and also the Czech. So my love has returned. Healed by the magic of fan fiction!

Best FF That Reminds Us That No Matter How Strange and Illogical Our Own Culture's Marital Customs Are, It Could Always Be Worse. For Example, It Could Involve Parakeets. A Bird in the Hand Gets Tangled in the Sheets, by The Grrrl, aka thegrrrl2002. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. You know, for someone whose whole life has been about communication, Daniel's private language is remarkably singular; no one speaks fluent Daniel Jackson. I love this story in part because it proves that that doesn't matter. Jack speaks enough and is patient enough, and the rest of it...works out. (For Daniel and Jack. Probably not so much for the men who had to do whatever-it-was involving birds after they married, which in my opinion goes a long way toward explaining why that particular culture died out. Marriage and birds are not an OTP.) The other reason I love this FF may say more about me than it does about the story, but who am I to shy away from writing down potentially revealing personal information and posting it in a searchable, public medium? I mean, I'm on Livejournal, here; oversharing is the name of the game. So I will not hesitate (except, you know, for all the preliminary verbiage, which is more of an art than an avoidance thing, really) to tell you that this story contains the sweetest and best declaration of love of all time. Really. Actually, it contains two of them, because the response is just as good and sweet and true. This is one of those short pieces I read whenever I'm feeling especially out of touch with the world; it reminds me that it doesn't matter if the world gets me. It only matters if one person cares enough to try. And, lord, the treacle is practically coming out of my ears, now, so we'd best move on to the Batworld, where things just don't get that sweet.

Best FF That Proves That There Are Modes of Attack Even Tim Drake Hasn't Anticipated. I Know, I Know - It's Crazy. But True! Obsessive, by Derry, aka derryderrydown. D.C Universe, Batclan, Batgirl/Robin III. Yet another story I love intensely, and not just because it incorporates both of my favorite Batclan characters. (Nightwing is a close third, though.) What I love is this look at Cass, who I suspect was introduced to the DCU solely so that there'd be one inhabitant harder to understand and write than Batman. (Because, look. I love him as much as the next girl, provided I get to pick who the next girl is, but the man is about one cerebral misfire away from Arkham Asylum. If that.) Cass spent much of her life mute, and she still prefers not to speak. Also, she fights crime. So I don't have much in common with her (I never shut up, and the closest I come to fighting crime is giving dirty looks to vocal movie attendees), but I still relate to the language Cass is speaking in this story. Body language shouldn't be a private language - we all speak it, we all read it - but a lot of the time it seems like it is, because so many people do all their body communication unconsciously. Sadly, I'm not as fluent in it as Cass is (I mean, I can't manipulate anyone with it. Tragically. Because if I could, you can bet world leaders would make a lot more sense.), but I'm more comfortable with that language than any of the other non-verbal ones. And the thing is? Once you start watching it, it really is this easy to read. I love that Derry gets that, and even if her Cass doesn't read bodies the same way I do, I read this again and again because it makes so much sense. I don't know if it will to you, but I don't think it matters. Even if you can't picture the conversations described in here, you should still read it for a look at the world through Batgirl's eyes.
tried to eat the safe banana: Wombatsthefourthvine on May 4th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Summary, Part One (Well, I told you it got big.)

Once upon a time, there was a thing called a stargate. It took people to other planets with a whooshing noise; in particular, it took people named Jack, Daniel, Sam, and, after some initial exchange of gunfire, Teal'c. These people worked for the SGC, a branch of the American Air Force. They had encounters with the Ancients and their technology, most of which did not go too well for the SGC, although not because of any meanness on the part of the Ancients. They also had encounters with snake parasites called the Goa'uld; those encounters generally didn't go too well for the snakes, despite considerable meanness on their part.

After many adventures, they discovered a big underwater city that had originally (I think) been on Earth, but had been moved to the Pegasus galaxy in a last-ditch effort (by the original inhabitants) to avoid an enemy as bad as the Goa'uld. (In the the Stargate universe, the general rule is that everything, including rocks, trees, and sticks, will eventually try to kill you. The smarter they are, the more it will sting.) This was the lost city of Atlantis, the home of the Ancients.

Jack, who by that time was commanding the SGC (I think - I'm still back-engineering this fandom, so this is all third-hand knowledge), agreed to let a multi-national, mostly civilian group go through to investigate Atlantis. When they got there, they (meaning Rodney McKay) realized they didn't have enough power to go home, and they (meaning John Sheppard) accidentally sent a homing signal to the Wraith. Which were, as it turned out, the enemy that the Ancients were fighting and that they eventually lost to. The Wraith look like goths who've been a very strict diet, and they act like vampires; they "cull" most of the nearby planets on a regular basis.

Exploration teams were formed (the main one in the show is Sheppard, McKay, Ford, and Teyla), integrating science, military, and the local friendlies, who aren't exactly local but are definitely friendly (the Athosians). They face many dangers, including Wraith, Genii (hostiles allied with the Wraith), and Atlantis itself.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on May 5th, 2005 06:08 am (UTC)
Your summary is sheer brilliance, and quite helpful, too!

I will read. Some. Possibly. Because I think if I spend too much time around Rodney McKay, even the written version, I will strangle someone. My, but he's an arrogant bastard.
tried to eat the safe banana: Freaksthefourthvine on May 5th, 2005 06:48 pm (UTC)
Well, see, I like Rodney. He reminds me of the physicists I grew up around - my father was a Zelenka (although, you know, he's a real physicist, so he could not even repair a toaster without increasing local entropy beyond even theoretical bounds), not a McKay, but we knew a lot of McKays. They're fun.

Because, yes, arrogant, but that's one of the four recognized methods for dealing with being a lot smarter and a lot weirder than everyone else, and being hated for it. You can believe everyone else and hate yourself, too, or you can lie to everyone (including, eventually, yourself) and pretend that you're neither smart nor weird, or you can withdraw from the field of battle and retreat to your private universe, shutting out everyone, or you can decide that the rest of the world is wrong and you're right and never stop fighting about it.

I respect the strength it takes to fight it.

When a person picks the fighting strategy, he ends up a dickhead, at least on the surface - abrasive, tactless, rude, and hard (or impossible) for 99% of the population to be around. But for that other 1% - well, when you get past the massive, towering, crushing bluffs of attitude, you'll find either a McKay (decent, caring human being, no matter what he seems like) or a Kavanagh (total asshole, to the point that even his gluons are total dickwads and none of the quarks want to get near them). And the McKays - well, okay. Maybe my fondness for prickly scientists can't be forced onto other people.

But maybe, just maybe my fondness for this pairing can be. So go to this site and download "SGA - Dumb Things" - the big version, of course. (I also like "One Night in Bangkok," just because there could not be a better song for SGA right now.) It's a vid about McKay and Sheppard, and the thing is - for all that they're so smart, they do seem to spend a fair amount of time doing dumb things. But for good reasons.

Or, you know, really bad ones. Whichever.

Also, if you haven't already, read A Beautiful Lifetime Event, by Shalott, and reflect on the reality that you'll miss these kinds of stories if you stay away from this fandom (or pairing). Because that story? Is just incredible, one of the best I've read in any fandom; it made me inexplicably, insanely joyful for the rest of the day after I finished it.

So, girl, how do you like them now?
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glass: Ferris Wheels by Dzurladydzurlady on May 5th, 2005 08:48 am (UTC)
Actually, they knew about the power before they left, but they took the gamble that they'd find a ZPM when they got there.
The wraith were awakened when Teyla and several other Athosians and Marines were captured by the Wraith in 'Rising' and Sheppard, Colonel Sumner and some others went to get them back; then they accidentally awakened the Wraith while doing so, and Sumner was killed, leaving John the ranking military officer.

Also, if you have vid recs, I'd love to have them!
tried to eat the safe banana: The world is my fandomthefourthvine on May 5th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ah-ha! A person with real canon knowledge! You have revealed yourself, and now you are mine. Or at least, I'm hoping you'll be my answerer-of-questions.

The advance knowledge of the power problem explains much, so that's good to hear. But what was the deal? Why was power such a problem? It's just a wormhole, right? So why couldn't the SGC dial up Atlantis from the other end to bring them home? And why do they have enough power to visit all those other planets the team goes to but not enough to get home?

Vid recs - well, OK, I'll try. I don't have bunches, yet, but I like:
Derry's vids (especially "Dumb Things" and "Hey Boys," and "One Night in Bangkok" is the best SGA song ever), and Mamoru's (especially "You Can't Take That Away From Me," though the effect can get a little nauseating for those prone to motion sickness, and "Falling for the First Time"), and Purpleyin's (I like that she vids under-vidded characters, like Ford and Beckett and Bates). I also have a couple of individual vid recs, if you want them. But keep in mind that I don't know the canon, so these are the vids that are most transparent or useful to a newcomer, not the ones that are most meaningful to a canon fan.
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on May 5th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
The reason the trip to Atlantis takes so much more power is that it's an 8 chevron address; it's a bit like the difference between a local call and an overseas call - the overseas call costs more to make. Once in Atlantis, the gate addresses they dial are all local and therefore take less power.

Relevant quotes from 'Rising pt 1':
JACKSON: I've figured the ancients packed up their entire city somewhere between five and ten million years ago.
O'NEILL: In their flying city.
JACKSON: yes.*Jack smirks*.What?
O'NEILL: *Stressing flying* Flying. City.
JACKSON: Well keeping in mind this is the race who built the Stargates. They did everything big.
O'NEILL: So why'd they leave?
JACKSON: Why'd they leave? er...Who knows? We know the Ancients who stayed on Earth were suffering from a plague, er... maybe some of them wanted to start over, seek out new life in a new galaxy. Maybe that's what Ancients do, the point is we know where they went.
O'NEILL: Pegasus
JACKSON: Yes, it’s... it's the name of a dwarf galaxy in the local group.
MCKAY: After all that time is the any hope of actually meeting them?
JACKSON: Who knows, but isn't that reason enough to go?
WEIR: I've been choosing members for this exhibition for months Doctor. I'm not the one who needs convincing *looks at Jack*
O'NEILL: Oh, I'm convinced, have fun.
JACKSON: It's a little more complicated than that...
MCKAY: we need the zed PM to power the Gate
O'NEILL: What?
JACKSON: ZPM. He's Canadian.
O'NEILL: I'm sorry.
MCKAY: The 0 point module General. The ancient power source you recovered from quator kanas and is now powering the outpost's defenses. I've since determined that it generates it's power from vacuum energy derived from a self contained region of subspace time.
O'NEILL: That was a waste of a perfectly good explanation. The answer's no.
[cut for intermediate scenes]
JACKSON: Jack, you know to gate to another Galaxy requires an enormous amount of power.
O'NEILL: Yes I do. Find another way.
JACKSON: There's no other way.
O'NEILL: You think there are more of these Zed things in Atlantis?
JACKSON: Yes and who knows what else we could find. This isn't just some other civilization we're talking about. These are the gate builders.
WEIR: The potential wealth of knowledge and technology. It outweighs anything we've come across since we stepped through the Stargate.
O'NEILL: Well with the amount of power you'll need to make this trek. Odds are it will be one way.
WEIR: Yes we know but the benefit to humanity is far greater than the risk General and it is a risk that every one of my exhibition members are willing to take.

Thanks for the vid recs - I'm not fussed about them being newbie oriented, I like newbie vids too!
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glass: I used to be sane by Dzurladydzurlady on May 5th, 2005 08:20 pm (UTC)
And then I forgot to credit: quotes taken from this episode transcript.
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glass: Serious science by queennelldzurlady on May 5th, 2005 09:17 pm (UTC)
And I should specify:
To dial Earth, since it's in another galaxy, would take a ZPM, which is one of the reasons they spend so much time looking for one. (The other is that they don't have enough power to fully operate Atlantis, and they currently have no shield and are vulnerable to Wraith attack). Dialing addresses in the Pegusus galaxy doesn't require a ZPM, though, which is why they do it so often.
Wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey...stuff: perfect day (by lowdownbeat)casapazzo on August 22nd, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
So why couldn't the SGC dial up Atlantis from the other end to bring them home?

Also, in addition to everything else dzurlady said so thoroughly, wormholes are only one-way (for matter, anyway - radio waves can go both ways). You can't travel out through an incoming wormhole.