Living Is a Gamble by [personal profile] telesilla

May. 4th, 2010 05:55 am
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan posting in [community profile] the_comfy_chair
Living Is a Gamble is an SGA AU written for the recent John/Ronon exchange, [ profile] satedan_grabass. It's only about 3000 words, so if you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do so.

From the summary ("Ten years after the Plague, life's a little like an RPG. Or is it more like a comic book?"), it's clear this is some sort of post-apocalyptic world, but what sort is not immediately clear. The very first sentence ("When John was a teenager, back at the turn of the century and decades before the Plague") places it at some point in the near future, but that's all we get before we're thrown right into the action, which is just the way I like it.

Stories that start off with info dumps always annoy me. It doesn't have to be that way! This handles the exposition pretty well, dropping in hints throughtout the story and only giving us a big chunk towards the end (that could have been worked in a little better, but I'd rather have it there than right at the start slowing things down and not allowing for any surprise).

The first mention of what they're fighting comes just a few paragraphs in: zombies. But what eventually becomes clear as events unfold is that this is no ordinary zombie AU. [personal profile] telesilla has worked in SGA-specific elements such as the Wraith and the Iratus bugs to give the story a uniquely SGA feel.

And not only are these so-called zombies recognisable to anyone who's watched SGA, but the reveal that John himself is someone who was infected but didn't fully turn is a clear reference to his canonical transformation.

The hints that John is not quite normal are there from the beginning. As soon as they drop down in the sewers, he notices a strong smell. "But that was him; Ronon probably didn't smell anything." The references are easy to overlook at first, but it's soon obvious that something is different about John.

Even the idea of a failed supersoldier experiment maps easily onto what we know of the Ancients. While the Wraith have often been called "space vampires", these canonical elements work really well for a zombie AU, too, especially the sort of 28 Days Later "zombies" caused by a plague, rather than the more traditional raised-from-the-dead zombies.

And what's great about this story is that while it's totally self-contained and feels complete as it is, it's also ripe for more stories set within the universe. It's really just a snapshot of this world.

Date: 2010-05-04 09:08 pm (UTC)
carolyn_claire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] carolyn_claire
(Argh, Noscript killed my first comment! I hate retyping. *shakes fist at Noscript*)

Zombies! Another trope that I love to see brought into SGA stories (Sistinas by Jenn is one of my all-time favorites), and I thought it worked great, here. I liked the twist of canon events--in Atlantis, they tried to turn the Wraith human; here, they tried to make (certain) humans more Iratus-like, also with dire results. (We hear about Jennifer living in the Enclave; where is Carson? Was he a part of what happened here as he was in Atlantis?) The hints of what John went through at the hands of the military, the experimenting they did on him and others, is horrific. Tampering with bug-DNA is just risky, guys. (But it makes for a a cool story.)

It was fairly clear to me, early on, that John was impacted, and finding out how much was no surprise, really, that he'd been stuck in that mid-change state we saw him in on the show, not as bad as he eventually became, there, but familiar, because we'd seen what he'd become in the ep, could picture it. Was it his gene that prevented the full transformation? Does the gene even exist in this uni? (Does the Stargate?) It's interesting that, in this story, his change is actually beneficial to his community, in some ways, though hard on him, obviously, and heartbreaking when he comes across someone who may be more similar to him than not, and who, in Ronon's opinion, chose to die. And what about Teyla--why would John wish for her, when he's unsure of what he's sensing? What about a (presumably) unchanged Teyla would be helpful to him, there?

I like that there are a lot of unanswered questions in this story, because the world building is so good that I can still believe in it without those answers--they just make me want more. There's so many ways available to go in this uni, both going forward from here and looking back at what's happened, before. The characters, themselves, still don't know that much, in part because change came so fast, so many people died or were changed, and their focus, now, has to go toward finding ways to survive. I'd like to learn more about what's happened/is happening as the characters find out, and also see more about how it all unfolded, before this story. And how they all found each other, too, and what life in the Enclave is like, what kind of parents Rodney and Teyla will be, together, and lots more of the sweetness of John and Ronon's relationship, how good Ronon is for John and how tenderly he handles him--there's a whole story just in how they found each other and how this relationship evolved. There's tons of stuff to be explored, here, and I'd love to see it, but that doesn't mean the story isn't great, in itself--it's a terrific piece of brief, smart storytelling that gives a lot in a small space. Very cool.

Date: 2010-05-06 02:25 am (UTC)
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)
From: [personal profile] zillah975
I love this story for all the reasons you talk about here. I keep trying to come up with something intelligent to say, but it's all covered!


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