tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana
thefourthvine

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.
Tags: [rec theme: long], stargate: atlantis
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