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11 October 2008 @ 10:24 pm
182: SGA: The Long Goodbye.  
SGA is ending. And the thing is, I actually got sad when I heard that, and I don't watch the show. (I watched, um, some episodes of season one. And it is not looking like I will have time for television before the earthling is, oh, twelve, so I doubt I'll see even those episodes that are Instant Slash Classics. I'm sorry! I'm just not very good at television.) But the fandom has been so very wonderful for me. I have over a thousand SGA bookmarks in my del.icio.us account alone. (No, you can't see that many. Most of them are unshared.) Almost five hundred of those are ones I consider recommendable. That doesn't include the vids, either. Or the art. Or the podfic. Or the comics. Or the meta.

I mean it when I say that this is an awesome fandom.

So, yeah, I'm sad that the show is going - because the fandom is sad, and because the fandom will change, and because there will be no more canon for this fandom to interpret and rewrite and argue about and vid. No more canon to transform. But at the same time, I'm not at all sad that the future of these characters is, in a few episodes, going to be entirely in the hands of fan fiction writers. Why? Well. Here are four reasons. Four of so very many.

Because When Fan Fiction Writers Do SG1 Crossovers, They Do It for All the Right Reasons. (Also, They Throw in More Gay Sex Than the Canon Writers Ever Have. But That's a Side Issue! Really!) At the Hour When We Are Trembling, John Sheppard/Daniel Jackson.

This story breaks two of my OTPs. TWO. And, you know, I usually won't even look at stories that break one, because I am a sensitive and fragile flower, and also I do not like to court pain. But I'd read Frostfire if she wrote Benton Fraser/Rodney McKay. (Well...I mean, I'd probably read that anyway, because talk about trainwrecks, oh my god. Giant Canadian trainwreck! Probably involving nuclear weapons! But if Frostfire wrote it, I wouldn't be reading with my hands partly covering my eyes.) And this story is exactly why.

This is - okay. Let's get this all out of the way up front - and, hey, let's do it movie-trailer-announcer-guy style:

In world destroyed by the greatest enemy humanity has ever faced,1 two men forge an unlikely alliance.2 They will fight...against overwhelming odds...to save the planet. But can they save each other?3

And I chose to summarize it that way because, truly, this would make an awesome movie. (The explicit gay sex would be particularly entertaining, although I suppose there might be some kind of ratings issue or something. The MPAA makes everything less fun.) But it makes an even more awesome story. (Also very engrossing. I pulled it up to re-check the capitalization on the title just now, and I had to re-read the whole thing again, even though I'd just re-read it in preparation for writing this rec. Block out some time for this one, is what I'm saying.) It's rare to see action written this well in fandom. Hell, it's not usually written this well in, you know, published action novels.

1 The Goa'uld might have been worse - I mean, I would much rather have my life sucked out of me than have my body and mind taken over. But movie announcers are allowed to exaggerate. For example, they often say things are funny. Or tragic. I have noticed they are usually wrong about both.

2 There also have, you know, a team. But movie announcers do not care about people whose names don't appear in the front credits of the movie.

3 Movie announcers would never talk about how they're already basically completely and totally crazy, and might be suitable for a padded room except for how you don't get padded rooms after the apocalypse.

Because Fan Fiction Writers Can Take Us Places Canon Writers Can't Even See from Where They're Standing. The Water Grinds the Stone, by auburnnothenna. Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

(Note: this totally stands alone, but it is in fact a sequel to The Taste of Apples and Sacrificial Drift.)

This is a fucking novel, people. A great one. (Which, I might add, Auburn wrote in, I think, four months. I watched her word counter go up. It was hypnotizing and kind of terrifying, like those animated things that show you how many cats you have after unbridled breeding for eight generations. I kept wondering if we should club together to get her a holiday in a very cold place; I was afraid her brain would melt. She was obviously overclocking it to a substantial degree, and I suspect she voided her warranty.) This is - okay. This is science fiction as I wish the published stuff was; it's science fiction without the part where I end up wanting to punch the author in the nose. (And I say that with love for the genre. It is my native genre! Just not one where I'm especially welcome.) It builds an epic future for our characters and the stargate program, and - okay. It's not just that most science fiction writers can't do this. It's that the show's writers sure as shit can't do this - they're not this smart, they're not this brave, and they're limited by the episodic format.

So this is SGA (and SG1) with a great writer at the helm. And the brakes off. And, see, here's the thing: this story contains at least a little of a lot of things I don't like, including a couple of things that are deal-breakers for me. I did not care at all. I read this thing at what was, at the time, an incredible pace. I had a new baby, and I skipped sleep in order to finish this. (For those of you who do not have babies: this is like skipping food after you've been eating 400 calories a day for two months.) It's that compelling and that intense.

(Oh, and this story kind of breaks up two of my OTPs, as well. Because anyone who tells you John Sheppard/Atlantis isn't an OTP hasn't been reading in this fandom very long. Johnny and the city, sitting in...an ocean. Okay, the rhyme doesn't work. But the sentiment is definitely all through this fandom.)

I realize that a quarter of a million words is kind of a lot, and you may be hesitant about starting this story, but trust me: you will not be sorry. (Okay, there are a couple of places where you might be sorry, but let me promise you it all works out eventually.) (Also, you will be sorry if you have to get up the next day.) (But, really, other than that - no regrets! Probably! My apologies. I really shouldn't try to make absolute statements about anything.)

Because That Makes Us the Victors. I Mean, We're the Ones Still Writing the History, Right? Written by the Victors, by cesperanza. Rodney McKay/John Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan/John Sheppard.

If The Water Grinds the Stone brought SGA into reality in one way, Written by the Victors does it in a totally different way. Because just as that story is a very probable depiction of how declassification might go down, this is so absolutely how academia would deal with Atlantis. (As far as I can tell, the academic motto is, "When in danger, when in doubt, hurl citations all about. And if that doesn't work, build a blanketfort out of footnotes (or endnotes, depending on your field).")

But what I love about this story - my secret and abiding love for it - is. Okay. Once upon a time, when I was very young (seriously, I was in high school, and I do not want anyone telling me that this was unethical because I know it now but I was 14, okay?), I made money doing lit reviews for grad students. (For anyone who is blinking at the screen right now: people doing dissertations have to do a lot of reading on their topic, and then prove they've done it by writing it all down. A lot of them would, as it turns out, prefer not to do the actual research part of this, even if that means paying someone else to do it. And I guess once you've already paid a high school student to research everything in your field ever, photocopy it all, and give it to you ordered by topic with helpful sticky notes, it is not that hard to slip her a little extra money to do the writing part, too.)

My point - and, really, I'm getting there - is that I spent a lot of time in high school sitting in university libraries reading through various obscure journals, following the intensely formalized bickering that seemed to be 35% of what academics did, sometimes snickering at the obvious bitter grudges just barely concealed behind weasel phrases. And then, when I got to fandom, I had this immediate sense of familiarity when it came to certain kinds of meta and wank, but it took me some time to realize that was because it perfectly, but perfectly, recapitulated the academic bickering I spent so much time photocopying. It was like I was back in that bizarrely lit university library slaving over a hot photocopier. I'd come home! Sort of!

Well. This story - yes, fine, shut up, we've gotten back to the story now - is the perfect encapsulation of that. It's about how academics interpret things, yes, but it's also about how fandom does - and, really, it shows very clearly that academics and fandom are two peas in an awesome but somewhat contentious pod.

So that's my major source of joy in this story. Okay, and I also like the plot, yes, and I revel in this glorious, glorious ending for our heroes, which again is well beyond anything the canon writers could create, and, yes, I love so very many bits of it. But most of all I love that it makes my high school endeavors worthwhile.

Because Fan Fiction Writers Believe in the Characters. The Canon Writers Just Believe in the Show. Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose, by synecdochic. Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

Some stories I read waaaaaay up high on the catwalk over the chasm of disbelief. The slightest break in my laser-like focus on my mantra ("ignore it ignore it ignore it" or "it's just a story" or "I should really just relax"), and suddenly I'm falling into that chasm, shrieking as I fall, "Science doesn't WORK THAT WAY." For example. And after that, I have no choice but to shake hands with Mr. Back Button, your friend and mine.

This is not one of those stories. This is the opposite: a story so perfectly right, so perfectly accurate, that I was nodding all the way through. Because science really does work this way. I mean - not, you know, the wormhole and Ancient tech and all that, no, sorry - that's what we gently and kindly describe as science fantasy. But the academic stuff in this is dead on.

I loved this when I first read it. But I've been putting off recommending it for two years. I was afraid to re-read it, and I really don't know why, because this isn't in the category of Brilliant Things I Can Never Re-Read Because They Will Make Me Cry Myself to Death. (Examples of this category: samdonne's Your Cowboy Days Are Over. Or rheanna27's Theory of Everything. Totally worth reading. Totally. And, sorry, I can't get you links, because even that would potentially destroy me. Typing the titles was risky enough. ETA: The links are available in the comments, though, thanks to elaran, who is stronger than I am.) This didn't leave me sobbing helplessly, trying to keep from getting so much saltwater in my keyboard that it would stop working. It didn't leave me crying at all, because it really isn't a sad story. (It could have been. Written with a slightly different focus, it could have been a soul killer.)

No, I avoided re-reading this because it really is just that much like life. When I finished it the first time, I believed it - believed it more than the canon. Because the canon feels like a story. And this feels so real that after I finished it the first time, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't canon. Everything looked a little fake for a while after I was done.

I did re-read it for this rec, of course. I had forgotten how quickly this story grabbed me the first time through, and it did it again - I read the first sentence, telling myself that after two paragraphs, I could go read one in my current Story That Heals All Wounds. (It is always best to have such a story waiting for you in a safety tab. Just in case.) I looked up some undefined amount of time later, smiling helplessly, just slightly teary, blinking away a different world. This is an incredible story, people.
 
 
 
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on October 12th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
I love all of these SO VERY MUCH.
tried to eat the safe banana: Batgirl in glassesthefourthvine on October 12th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
And I love YOU so very much. (The stories, too. I have a lot of love to go around!)
puckling on October 12th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
I've read half of these, and am looking forward to the other half, but it made me really happy to see you reccing again. Not that I don't love the Earthling tales (one day someone in the library's going to ask me why I'm laughing so hard, and I will have no words because I'll be too busy gasping for breath), but it's nice to see that you're still bopping around fandom and digging up good stories for the rest of us to read and describing them in hysterical ways.
tried to eat the safe banana: Like Penguins Dothefourthvine on October 12th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm happy to be recommending, too! I still do a lot of reading, but recommending takes a long time now, because I so infrequently have two free hands. I am hoping I'll be able to do more soon - I miss it. And I'm glad I make you laugh in the library!
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on October 12th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
Sing it Janis!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FMhnl0__Vo

I love that story, and now have Me and Bobby MacGee in my head. :D
tried to eat the safe banana: Musicthefourthvine on October 12th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I had never heard that song before. (And it has a couple other quotes I recognized, too. Apparently it is very well known, and I'm just way out of touch.)
winter_elf: McShep-Lovewinter_elf on October 12th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC)
*sobs* I hope you never stop with the recs for SGA. As one who IS watching (and I do understand the baby thing), I'm very, very, very sad. *sob*

And, I couldn't read 'Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose' without sobbing my heart out. And I have read it more than one, cried, and then had to go read happy stories.

I love 'Written by the Victors' and I think I need two days off from work to be able to read 'The Water Grinds the Stone'. I'm looking forward to it soon. That and a box of kleenex. I've never read 'At the Hour When We Are Trembling'... might consider it. It breaks two of my OTP's too... so...
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA infinitythefourthvine on October 13th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
*sobs* I hope you never stop with the recs for SGA.

*pats you* I can't make the show come back, but I can keep recommending stories in the fandom for a long, long, long time. I have quite a backlog.

And, I couldn't read 'Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose' without sobbing my heart out.

It's interesting to me how reaction to that story is divided. I know some people who cried and cried, and some people (I am one) who see it as a basically happy story.

I think I need two days off from work to be able to read 'The Water Grinds the Stone'.

That's ideal, yes. Or you can choose the "no sleep 'til 250k words" option. But some people seem to think they need sleep.

I've never read 'At the Hour When We Are Trembling'... might consider it. It breaks two of my OTP's too... so...

You know, I'm the OTPest OTPer who ever read fan fiction, and I find that that story still works for me, and doesn't mash any of my broken-OTP buttons. But I can't articulate why it doesn't, so I can't make any promises for you. It's an awesome story, though!
elaran: Fangirl - CAPSLOCKelaran on October 12th, 2008 06:18 am (UTC)
hell yes to what you've written there. hell yes hell yes HELL FREAKIN' YES.

Er, DO NOT CLICK ON THESE LINKS because I will feel guilty for making you cry, please don't cry, oh Gods I am bad with dealing with tears. 0.0 But you could tell people that the links are in the comments [because you just typing those story names out made me want to reread them so this is YOUR FAULT TOO OKAY]: Your Cowboy Days Are Over and Theory of Everything
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Ronon smilethefourthvine on October 13th, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
Thank you! I will note that those links are there, and then I will NEVER THINK ABOUT THEM AGAIN.

*bravely does not cry*

(And lest you think I'm kidding - last night I made the mistake of trying to talk to Best Beloved about a story we are not naming at all, although it is certainly named in this post, and just speaking the title out loud was enough to make me cry. I am WEAK.)
Lucelucia_tanaka on October 12th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
I'm really glad I stopped watching SGA after the third season hiatus (or was it fourth? I dunno, Ancients had the city) because I'm tearing up just thinking about this show being over. It must be immeasurably worse for people who stuck with it.
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Sex and Fightingthefourthvine on October 13th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
Beats me what season that was. I'm the last person to ask about things canonical. But I also tear up when I think about it being over. *sniffles*

(And, yes, the sadness of people who actually WATCH it must be incredible, if we're sniffly and we don't.)
bitter_crimson on October 12th, 2008 06:52 am (UTC)
This ENTRY made me tear up! *clings to show and fandom*

Argh, I need to somehow make time to go back and re-read these and other fics. *shakes fist at the universe for giving me a busy schedule*
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA smart/prettythefourthvine on October 13th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
*joins you in the clinging, at least to the fandom*

*shakes fist at the universe for giving me a busy schedule*

Why does the world not understand that fan fiction comes first? PRIORITIES, WORLD: GET THEM IN ORDER.

Auburnauburnnothenna on October 12th, 2008 07:00 am (UTC)
Ha, my brain didn't come with a warranty or I'd have returned it long ago. Now I must go stick pins in my ego before it balloons up too much bigger and pops my skull open.

tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Weird lostthefourthvine on October 13th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
*sad* Your parents went with the no-warranty option, too? It's hard to go through life without the extended coverage plan. We should bond over this.

Now I must go stick pins in my ego before it balloons up too much bigger and pops my skull open.

Some inflation is good for the ego! (And I've heard that if your ego gets REALLY big, you can use it to float through the clouds to Magic Fairy Land, but usually only movie stars manage that.) Also, pins are owie. I'm just saying. There are points to consider before you go this route.
Vera: zelenka - nor ever chastecopracat on October 12th, 2008 08:55 am (UTC)
I am very impressed that, of the four you choose, three are stories that I simply cannot bear to read, which is really much more of a compliment to the authors than it might otherwise seem.
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA infinitythefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
I'm guessing Victors is the one you can bear to read? The others - well, I can promise you they're very good, but if you can't, you can't. It's a very good thing to know your fictional limitations. And not to worry - I will re-read them for you! (Not really. Oh my god, that would take forever; I did it once to write this post, and if I did it again it'd be another month before I recommended anything. But I will admire them for you, anyway.)

I'm curious; what aspects of them make you unable to read them? (I'm nosy. I like to know other people's bulletproof squicks. It's a thing.)
(no subject) - copracat on October 15th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
macey musemacey_muse on October 12th, 2008 10:09 am (UTC)
Those last two are my favourite SGA fics, possibly favourite fics overall, in fandom. And the whole multimedia revolution Victors sparked was fascinating to watch (& participate in ~ what, you expect me to resist the chance to record gregorian plain-chant? XD). I have a feeling I read & loved the first one (is it the one where they form an army? kinda? man I've read too much.), but I think the second is new, which is -fabulous- because a) that very very rarely happens and b) it will save me from resorting to trawling ff.net, which is a -bad idea-, yet is the existence I have been reduced to having seemingly read -everything on the web ever-.

So, yay fic! *cheers*
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Ronon smilethefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)
Victors and Freedom are certainly classics of the fandom. (As evidenced by the fact that they get single-word names; we all know what we mean.) And the multimedia Victors phenomenon was, indeed, just about the neatest thing ever. We were transforming our own work! It was like a glorious moebius strip! Only more cool than that unfortunate metaphor would suggest.

is it the one where they form an army? kinda? man I've read too much

It is indeed! Well. I mean, there might be more than one story where Daniel Jackson and John Sheppard team up and form an army, but this is the only one I've read.

And, hey, if you haven't read Water Grinds the Stone, that should keep you occupied for a number of hours, at least. (More if you haven't read the other stories in that series!) Plus, that might mean there are other Big Bang stories from this year that you've missed, and in that case you should be good for most of the rest of October, anyway.
(no subject) - macey_muse on October 15th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Deweydewey3067 on October 12th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
I feel exactly the way you do about Freedom. It feels "real" and breaks my heart all the more for it but is hopeful and life affirming and just the most amazing story ever.

In case some folks don't know, there is a sequel with Rodney 15 years later and I love it to death as well: and the band's playing "hail to the chief"
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Sex and Fightingthefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 05:56 am (UTC)
Oh, hey, I had not seen the sequel! Thank you! (And I will totally confess that I read it before I even replied to this comment. Because I am a bad person, yes, but also because I have a lot more time to read than I do to type, so that's my excuse. *repentant*)
Paceuspaceus on October 12th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
It's about how academics interpret things, yes, but it's also about how fandom does - and, really, it shows very clearly that academics and fandom are two peas in an awesome but somewhat contentious pod.

Omg! I never realised that! I love the academics in Written By the Victors, and I never realised that they were a metaphor for fandom! I'm simultaneously pleased and annoyed. (Pleased because it's a wonderful metaphor and I thank you for pointing it out; annoyed -- sort of -- because I didn't catch it myself.)

I read Freedom when I hadn't yet seen the show, and I'd only read a handful of SGA fics. Now I'm afraid to read it again. It is probably great and will give me more comfort than hurt, but still -- wah.

Thanks for the tip about keeping a Story That Heals All Wounds in a safety tab. I don't know why I've never thought to do that! That kind of an arrangement is exactly what I need.
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA smart/prettythefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 06:00 am (UTC)
I never realised that! I love the academics in Written By the Victors, and I never realised that they were a metaphor for fandom!

Well, that's how I read it. I can't promise that I'm right or anything, unless you are of the school that whatever the reader finds is right. Which I am, actually. I'm just saying I can't promise that's what Speranza had in mind; it's just what I got from it.

Now I'm afraid to read it again. It is probably great and will give me more comfort than hurt, but still -- wah.

I can see that. Totally. If it helps at all, I was afraid to re-read it, but I didn't find it as sad as I thought I would. Much less painful this time around, in fact, although that's probably for reasons more related to my life than to the story.

Thanks for the tip about keeping a Story That Heals All Wounds in a safety tab. I don't know why I've never thought to do that! That kind of an arrangement is exactly what I need.

I'm kind of stunned that there are people who don't do that. It's very important! It's one of the keys to reading safely online, right up there with back-buttoning quickly if the first paragraph is entirely about an original character with a name like Lady Melisande-Faith Ravendew!
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Weird lostthefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
I, too, mostly buy non-fiction these days. (This has actually led to a Situation, because now that I have a baby I most often want mass-market paperbacks to read - anything else gets too heavy to read one-handed - and most of my NF reading comes in hardcover or trade paperback. So I've had to branch out into the scary world of published fiction again.) I used to be more balanced in my fiction:non-fiction ratio, and then I discovered fandom, and realized:

1. I didn't have to suffer through a lot of what I didn't like in order to get to what I did. Fandom could provide almost everything I wanted, and it was much less likely to piss me off or alienate me in the process.

2. I no longer had to worry about running out of good things to read.

3. I could read forever without having to worry about our foundation collapsing under the weight of our books.

*joins in the fandom hug*
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Weird lostthefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
Wait - do you mean Willemakee? Because if so, oh my god, my thoughts are with you. I've never had the courage to read that even once.

But if you wait just a bit - I'm working on a Heals All Wounds set, and my current one is in there. Although I'm not sure anything could heal *that* wound. Eeeeep.
counteragent: mckay grincounteragent on October 12th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
Lovely, lovely!
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Ronon smilethefourthvine on October 15th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
Thank you! *beams*