Chandri MacLeod (chandri) wrote in sgabigbang,
Chandri MacLeod

Mother Country by Chandri MacLeod (McKay/Sheppard, 58,880 words)

The Prompt: A political shift on Earth has repercussions in Pegasus

We saw in canon what could happen when Earth tried to interfere too much in Atlantis. It wasn't good. But Mother Country takes place in the timeline we know, the one where John Sheppard came back - and then what happens later. What would Atlantis do if a political shift on Earth started having an impact in Pegasus? Rebel? Argue? Go quietly home? Or would they try and compromise? How far would our heroes be willing to go to protect what they have?

Highlights: Drama, snark, frustration, more snark, explosions visible from space, introspection, dysfunctional families, and kissing on a balcony. :)

The Preview: This wasn't exactly the preview I wanted to give, because I had trouble choosing what to show. I wanted to have a moment from each member of the Team, near the beginning of the story, a sort of scene-setting. There wasn't room for it all, but I think I got across an idea of it, at any rate.


The Art: Embarrassment of riches! I got two pieces of art! thisissirius made me a book cover that I want to print out and use (and may do), and leyna55 made a painting that actually manages to show the entire progression of the story for John and Rodney, all tied up in one moment. Go and look and tell them how wonderful they are.

Novel Cover by thisissirius | This Thing Between Us by leyna55

The Q & A: By artemisiabrisol, who could not escape the enormous story because her room's right next to mine ;)

Seriously, though, she engaged me in this huge sprawling discussion like a literature seminar, like it was a real book or something, and it spanned three days, on LJ and in e-mail, and I just finished coding it last night. You can read the whole thing on my site, here, or check out some excerpts below:

Question: Do you think Ronon and Teyla make the distinction between Earth culture and the culture of the humans on Atlantis?

Answer: I think that Ronon and Teyla both grew up in much more straightforward cultures and would have difficulties understanding the kind of redundant, multi-layered, well, bullshit Earthlings indulge in to justify the existence of otherwise completely useless people (on Earth, we call this bureaucracy).

I think it would have been hard for Teyla, being in Atlantis all these years without realising that the Lanteans are just weird; in Pegasus, on Earth, anywhere. Teyla, at least, understands by now that the group who first chose to come to Atlantis from Earth did so at least in part because they didn't have much to hold them there, and when he came to Atlantis, Ronon took a lot of his cues on assimilating from Teyla.

I don't think it's a distinction so much between the culture of the Earth- born Lanteans and Earth culture as between People Ronon and Teyla Know and Trust, and These Assholes In The Suits. After all, there have always been people in Atlantis with whom Teyla and Ronon didn't get along too well, people part of the first wave it would be hard to keep from counting as part of human culture on Atlantis; Bates and Kavanagh, for instance.

Question: Why did you feel that depicting the cultural part of Teyla's character was important to the story?

Answer: Heh. Okay, well, first of all I must admit that one of the first things I decided about this story was that Teyla? Teyla was going to rescue herself, damn it, because her boys were just falling down on the job. They tried, bless them, they kept up a brave front, they didn't give up, but as a team they kind of suck without Teyla's, well, adult influence. The birthing scene was kind of an extension of that - Teyla gets sick of waiting, Teyla takes matters into her own hands, Teyla holds Ronon and John together on the planet, and then when Teyla finally deigns to dust off her hands and go into labour, the boys have a chance to just curl up and be totally useless without feeling bad about it. And of course John and Rodney are twice as useless as Ronon, during the birthing scene, not because they're boys, but because Earth culture does not encourage the menfolk to be strong of will when it comes to icky terrifying female processes.

That latter part, though, was incidental - Teyla is stronger than they are not because she's female, but because she's practical, because she's Athosian, because she grew up in a world much more immediate and less abstract. Where she comes from, you don't endlessly discuss things, you don't record them on forms, you don't have reviews of their funding, you deal with them. You get yourself to safety. You speak plainly. You fight when you have to. You protect those you love. You accept no compromises when compromises are unacceptable.

And wow, I'm realising now (because I totally didn't do it on purpose, but hey! authorial intent is ninety percent crap) that all the discussion of Teyla's culture in this story serves as a parallel to the conspirators' efforts to escape the clingy tendrils of the IOA's bureaucracy, to be honest, to be effective, to take what happiness can be taken, when it can be taken. To keep promises. To define what home is.

Teyla cuts through a lot of nonsense that Earth people seem to take for granted - stuff I imagine she sees as unnecessary complications. She names her son of Athos and Atlantis. She tells Sam that home is where you make it, means what you want it to mean. She and Ronon frankly discuss things about their teammates that they know John and Rodney would never admit aloud, because it's so obvious. To be fair, it's not just about Teyla, because even Ronon thinks that the whole thing with John and Rodney? Is pretty damned obvious, that on Sateda, people would have assumed - so I think what I was trying to do here was express that being so aware of your mortality all your life, as most of the peoples of Pegasus must be aware, encourages you to stop wasting time on things that aren't needed, and to embrace what is.

Also, I have an embarrassing fondness for the mental image of the Marines toting Torren around the city in camo-print baby-slings. :)

And finally...

The Story: Betaed by calantha42 and mik100. This got... okay, I admit it, I am my own cliche: a whole lot longer than I intended. Things kept exploding on me. In the beginning this was a pretty straightforward, linear plot (at least as linear as my plots ever get): The IOA moves in, Atlantis resists, and it's harder because of their desire to keep peace. I had a nice little bottle-story about silent rebellion. But the way they rescue each other at the beginning suggested it was also about creating family, and the way Atlantis reacts when the orders come down meant that it was also about the meaning of home, and identity as it shifts based on circumstance - and thus it grew and grew and grew.

And now I'm going to stop giving away the plot for those of you who haven't read it.

You can read it on my site in four acts (this version has undergone some final tweaking), or on the official page, which is much prettier.

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