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10 December 2009 @ 10:18 pm
... and quacks like a meme ...  
So. I don't do memes. It's in my contract.

But ... I like to do fanfic meta, whether reading it or providing it. And thanks to sholio, I've become aware of a fanfic meta ... thing ... that's making the rounds:
Pick a paragraph (or any passage 500-1000 words) from any fanfic I've written, and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what's going on in the character's heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the rest of the fic, lots of awful puns, and anything else that you'd expect to find on a DVD commentary track.

I can't promise anything quite that exciting, and I've only written four stories, but I'm willing to play. Over in sholio's journal, folk are posting snippets along with their particular reasons for selecting that passage or questions they have about it, which seems like a very useful way to spark thought processes. So if you have any such questions or interest, please feel free to pose such questions here.

I consider this journal to be my primary fiction location, but my filtered Dreamwidth account is the easiest way to see all my stories at a glance.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
sophia_sol on December 11th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
I'm hugely in love with your story about Rodney and Sam and 48 Hours. And what I REALLY want to ask about it is whether Atlantis is real or a delusion*, but I know that you're not willing to answer that question, given your discussion at SGA Talk, so...

McKay immediately pointed to the markings, identifying the script more quickly than the physical scientists usually ever did, his hands never moving closer than a good foot away from the surface. "Two clusters. The first looks related to two — pair or couple, maybe, or join. The second one is more vague. Delay or time … or forecast? That's the one that would be trouble. But you've had this thing for a while, so let's skip the pop quiz. What does it say?"

"Well, we're still not certain," Daniel said, warming to the topic, "but that's actually very close to what we found. You're right, that second term is the harder one. I think prediction or forecast is the best fit, but we weren't able to find any supporting artifacts, so it's still tentative. We've just been calling it 'the Valentine,' though, based on what it does. Or what we thought it did, at least."

McKay gave him a disgusted look. "All right, that does it. Please stop pretending linguistics is remotely related to science. You see something that could be related to pair and something that could be forecast, so of course you decide it's a Valentine's card. It could just as easily mean quantum entanglement!" With that he stomped over to the whiteboard, grabbed a couple of markers, and slashed a line down the middle of the board.

Daniel was starting to understand that edge McKay inspired in Sam's voice. "It's actually just a nickname," he said. "The people who gave it to us were using the devices as matchmakers, but they had scavenged them from an abandoned civilization that died out or drifted away thousands of years ago. That society was probably pretty close to a true Ancient influence on their technology, based on what the analysts here say about the design of this object, but the writing shows clear signs of drift. We have no way to know how much their version of the language itself had changed by then, especially if they were only using it as a scientific language, which we've seen before. For that matter, we can't be certain whether the original designers included those markings or whether some other group added them later. We have several viable interpretations, but as I said, we weren't able to track down any supporting artifacts and only have a few fragments of any form of script from that society."

I'm very intrigued by the device, and would love it if you could share how you came up with it, what its actual history is, what it was created to do, etc etc.

*Interestingly, when I first read the story, I was utterly convinced that Atlantis was real, and didn't even consider the possibility that SG1 might be right and it was all a hallucination type thing. Despite the fact that now, when I reread it, there is plenty of space left open for the latter interpretation.
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Fingermichelel72 on December 11th, 2009 07:09 am (UTC)
Oh, a nice tough one right off the bat!

I've actually written the backstory for the device, but I can't share it or even explain the device properly without spoiling the sequel, unfortunately. So I'll talk around it a bit.

In terms of my creation of the device, it was first only a prop in a drabble about Sam's determination to make Rodney understand. I started thinking about the two shows in meta terms, though, and it rapidly became something else entirely. (Yes, "Remorse" was meant to work as meta commentary as well as a story in itself, though the story is absolutely meant to be primary.) It changed yet more through the beta process; and to be perfectly honest, it's been refined a bit more in the development of the sequel.

The device was never completely designed, top to bottom, for what it actually is. Seeds of its function were designed a very long time ago, and that long-ago device's constituents were passed down, disassembled, reused, copied, studied, adapted, found amid ruins, evolving so far that the original device's intent could never be truly discerned by modern humans. Given the history of the Milky Way in the Stargate franchise, technology isn't a clean, regulated development; surely things are picked up, used for whatever they seem to do, and adapted or copied from there without a true understanding of the underlying principles necessarily being present. (Imagine if you found an object that lit up briefly when you pressed a button, so you built it into your new gadget that needs to light up, never realizing the object was an mp3 player with much more to it than lighting up. Then multiply that by thousands of years.)

The Kauai usage was not especially related to the original device's intent. (They are clearly accomplished entrepreneurs: they found something, played with it, and then built a business model around it.) Sam's purpose, though also not right, is closer.

That specific passage was meant to show that, whatever's happened to Rodney, he can now read Ancient better than his contemporary history explains. At first I wrote it poorly, making my beta think Rodney was schooling Daniel at linguistics, so I expanded into the current version ... because I think it's cool to consider just what challenges would face someone trying to read isolated markings in the Stargate Milky Way I described earlier. I don't have an actual English term for the phrase marked on the device; in a sense, Rodney's offhand remark is closer than he knows. That sense would be "if you're a poet with a remarkably metaphorical interpretation of physics concepts", though. (And no, pondering that really won't tell you anything useful. Heh.)

I will reveal the full truth of the device in the sequel; I have to, really, for the structure to work and to be fair to the reader. Figuring out how was quite a challenge, though! I have a plan; it's an odd one, but it'll do if I don't find one better.

I meant all along for the reality of Atlantis to be in question. I suppose I didn't sell that well enough, unfortunately. (I did have to be careful not to make Daniel and especially Sam villainous by having them insist on it even more strongly than they do.) That's actually why Part One is wholly from Sam's and Daniel's perspectives: I wanted the reader, but not Rodney, to rule out the VR ("virtual environment!") scenarios, so that the reader was stuck between, not knowing which side was actually right. In fact, I planned for Part One to be the full story, which in retrospect was insane; I'm profoundly glad I realized I had to keep going!
sophia_sol on December 17th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for sharing what you could about this! It's all very fascinating, and I am muchly looking forward to the sequel.

And on reread, you really did sell the questionable reality of Atlantis well. I'm just...too attached, I guess. Such that I wouldn't let myself think that Atlantis might be unreal. :P
schneefinkschneefink on December 13th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
So, if I may, about "Displacement":

They had words with her, after that, one at a time.

Sheppard was first. He made awkward small talk for a second and then said, "Look. The thing about Rodney … really, he's been a little … off since that whole thing with Katie Brown. And since that other thing with Keller, he's been … you know."

Honestly, men. "If you're so worried about him, why were you so quick to introduce yourself when I got here? Because don't think I didn't notice." He honestly hadn't tried anything with her, but she was curious what he would say.

He gave her one of those careful smiles. "Come on. I mess with Rodney because — well, because it's fun. Besides … if you could get distracted that easy? He'd never know if he could trust it, you know?"

"Well, I suppose," she said with mock severity.

He smiled again. "Good. So, that's settled. Great. So, welcome aboard, I guess," he added. Then he fled.

Zelenka was next. As they passed in a corridor, he pulled her aside and said softly, "He is impossible to work with when these things do not go well. So you will be careful with him, yes?"

Teyla asked her to stay for Athosian tea when she went to return a few garments she'd borrowed. After a long while of polite chat and strange-tasting tea, Teyla sighed. "Rodney can be very … difficult. But he has a gentle heart, and yet he offers himself easily. Those of us who care for him would not like to see him hurt."

Donna wasn't planning any such thing, and she made that perfectly clear. But Teyla was a woman, even from another planet, and they got to talking about other things, and her friendship with Teyla really started that day.

By the day Ronon cornered her in the mess hall and said, "You like him?" she got how it worked. So she just rolled her eyes and told him, "Ye-es." Ronon took a bite of the apple-like thing he held and said, "Good, 'cause he likes you. Don't screw it up," and wandered off.

I really like that scene(s), but it´s a bit short, and I was wondering if could have a few more words about what the others (=team and Atlantis in general) think of Donna and her relationship with Rodney.

Oh, and a short question:
Maybe this would have felt like victory once. "Okay. We can talk to Sheppard."

She gave him a look. "What, is he an actual pilot of guns, too?"

"What? No, he's military. The head of the military. They specialize in guns, and if you're going to learn something you should go to an expert. He would have to know anyway — he'd have to assign someone, unless he decides to do it himself. I can go with you, if you want, I should probably practice more —" He finally realized she had been thinking of his jealous little tantrum in the jumper bay their first day — or three-week day, whatever. He rolled his eyes. "How did you not just slap me?"

"It was a near thing," she grinned. She went back to hugging him. "But you're not so bad."

Why should she slap him? It was a perfectly legitimate comment. And it´s not his fault if she misunderstands, imo. Probably I just don´t get it ^^
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Pensivemichelel72 on December 13th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'm going to discuss both of those scenes by starting in the same place.

In my head, at the start of the story, Rodney's in a pretty bad place emotionally. Canonically, he's interested in some kind of relationship, but we see no evidence that he's having casual sex; from what we see, he doesn't just want a connection, he wants a long-term, committed relationship. Yet except for a few flirtations — several of which were spiked by Sheppard, such as Norina — we've only seen him with Katie and Jennifer, over five years. Here, he and Jennifer have fallen apart for normal, mundane reasons; the point-to reason is a disagreement about having kids, his probably-sometime to her maybe-not-ever, but I figure there would have been a lot more to it that they can't necessarily articulate. The common theme, between the spoken and the unspoken, is that they're in different places in their lives; age-gap relationships can work, but they're hard, and (here, at least) neither of them is the right kind of mature to make that work.

So he's single again, unhappily, and reminded that he's past 40. He's self-aware enough to notice that neither of his long-term relationships was really "caused" by his going out and winning someone. From Katie, Jennifer, and Sam, he knows he doesn't have the best approach to winning someone new over, but he doesn't know how to fix that. He has to contend with that while knowing that he's always going to be next to John, who he honestly seems to believe to be a Kirk and who has historically blocked him. On top of all that, his career isn't what he had always dreamed: He gets to work on the coolest projects ever ... but he can't publish, he's not only not acclaimed but actively mocked Earthside (which has been reinforced by an unexplained science conference in Adelaide**, between the canonical Kramer one and the one here), and he's routinely expected to deliver the impossible but rarely, if ever, recognized for succeeding so far as we ever see onscreen. He's unhappy, bitter, but carrying on. (To be continued ...)

(** Left this out: Notice that Rodney says Sam volunteered him to go to Oxford. He doesn't know, but that wasn't random; Richard Woolsey had quietly asked Sam for advice about handling Rodney. Rodney and Jennifer were getting along acceptably, if awkwardly, and Rodney was doing his job, but Richard could see Rodney was quite unhappy and, as a manager, wanted to head off further problems before they escalated to the point that Rodney either exploded or quit. Sam suggested having Rodney take the Oxford conference for them, thinking maybe getting Rodney away from Atlantis for a short while would help; Richard wasn't convinced, because whatever happened at Adelaide certainly didn't help Rodney's mood, at all ... but lacking any better ideas, he went with it.)

Edited at 2009-12-13 07:53 pm (UTC)
michelel72: DW-Donna-Spookymichelel72 on December 13th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
(Continued:) Then Donna — whose wipe back to brash obliviousness is slipping, so that not just Time Lord knowledge but her own greater humanity are seeping out, casually gives him the one thing he truly craves: recognition ... at all, really, but specifically from a beautiful woman. He's hooked; she makes him happier than he's been in a while.

And his team and Radek see that. They knew Rodney was hurting, and generally speaking they've blamed that on his breakup with Jennifer. They know that they're most of what he has for a family, other than Jeannie, and they do look out for him in their own ways. So they're cautiously optimistic about Donna. John first did his standard competition thing, automatically; I'm not sure his second-given excuse was really his first thought, but he figures it sounds good and even might be kinda true. Ronon thinks she's pretty okay, kind of fierce ... and since Rodney's interested in her, he probably won't get back together with Jennifer, which means Ronon might have a chance again with her, which is cool. Radek prefers the atmosphere in the labs when Rodney is less bitter, even though that means there's more work to go around, since Rodney isn't burying himself in work so much. Teyla likes Donna's blend of humanity and forthrightness, while thinking she's sadly misguided about the Wraith. They all think Donna's readiness to shout right back when challenged, rather than getting annoyed/offended or wilting, makes her a better fit for Rodney than Jennifer or certainly Katie. That, combined with Donna's evident readiness to up and hug someone who needs it and Rodney's patent happiness with her, make them willing to accept her, at least enough to warn her in their ways that they'll take his side and she'd better not hurt him.

As for the second quoted scene: early on in the story, Rodney was still stuck at least partly in bitter jealous mode, certain that John had once again blocked him and that she would be throwing him aside for John any moment. She plainly saw that and got a little frustrated with him. In this later scene, he's mentioned deferring to John again, only this time for perfectly legitimate reasons ... and she doesn't see that at first, thinking it's a replay of his earlier jealousy. Once he catches on, he's retroactively embarrassed about his earlier behavior in the jumper bay, and he's asking why she didn't just smack him out of his jealous tantrum back then. They're both joking a bit here — he doesn't really want her to have hit him, and she wasn't really that close to it — but she's been known to throw a slap over in DW (as have most female characters, which is a little troubling meta-wise). The point here is to show that he's grown a bit and is much more secure with her, but I don't think I really conveyed that well. I'm not entirely happy with how that part came out, to be honest; it feels clunky and underwritten.
schneefinkschneefink on December 13th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
*lightbulb moment* why she didn´t slap him back then! I thought he was talking about now.

Very interesting, thanks! (Woolsey asking Sam how to manage Rodney is great, and now I want more John&Donna-interaction... ^^)

I hope you don´t mind if I friend you?
michelel72: SGA-Zelenka-Smilemichelel72 on December 13th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
I've been fiddling with a possible sequel, but I can't get much of anywhere with it, sadly.

And re friending: Not at all! Friend away!