I also realized that nearly every SGA writer I talk about on this list has now (thank you jesus yes) gotten into Merlin fandom. So I wanted to post these author recs, because even if you aren't into SGA, you are going to want to follow them around blindly and devotedly begging them to write more Merlin fic for all of us.
A PRIMER FOR A
I just always sort of assume everybody knows about Stargate:Atlantis and John and Rodney, because how can you not? Then Myra will be like “which one’s which, again?” and my world will reconfigure itself.
Forgive me if I don’t spend too much time (or any) time going over who the characters are and why you should like them. Really, there’s only one thing you need to know about Stargate: Atlantis and the McShep pairing, and that is the following:
PART ONE: McSHEP. Which will inevitably take over everything one day, like kudzu.
In Which There Are Several Very Important Disclaimers:
Disclaimer 1: I’m going to snark about how awful canon is and you can’t stop me! The fact that I actually bought all 4 seasons on dvd should mean nothing, do as I say, not as I do, etc etc.
Disclaimer 2: nobody in this fucking fandom can spell the word “breathe” correctly. You’re just going to have to deal. (hint to SGA writers: there’s an ‘e’ at the end of the word; also hint: spell-check is not your substitute for a self-edit.)
Disclaimer 3: there is just no point in being in this fandom if you don't ship McShep. You can either push that rock up the hill or just slide on with it back the way it naturally wants to roll, my friend. So just get over your ship preferences now and roll with it, because it will make your SGA fandom experience that much easier.
(eta: this is not to say that there shouldn't be more popular pairings out there for this fandom - John/Teyla, John/Ronan, Rodney/Radek are all strong contenders and then some. (And I'm pretty sure J-Flan ships himself/Jason.) But for whatever reason McShep is the vast majority of all fics posted, and is the primary focus of this post.)
Disclaimer 4: I've never considered myself a fan of SGA so much as a fan of the fandom. I'm a major longtime lurker who's been watching the fandom from afar for three years. Everything I'm saying about the fandom below has been concluded over a long-term, long-distance relationship, followed by four months of finally just giving in and intensively reading the fanfic. But seriously, I'm just a lightweight who's only read twelve hundred fics, so the mileage you get out of this post will vary.
Some thoughts on McShep:
(All caps taken from http://stargatecaps.com because I am lazy.)
Here is the McShep dynamic in a nutshell.
- John spends most of his time following Rodney around, making weird faces at him, hoping Rodney will notice. Like So.
- Rodney has the most phenomenal d-face in the entire world. Look at it!
see? he even D-faces without opening his mouth. AMAZING.
- They are simultaneously the most ridiculously dorky, aging, unattractive men, and the most inexplicably hot. And they have the, like, most RIDICULOUSLY OBNOXIOUS PERSONALITIES, except for how they're simultaneously COMPLETELY ADORKABLE and endearing. God I don't know, it makes no sense, oh show you are so stupid.
- They have phenomenal body language. They shoulder-bump and arm-brush and hand-touch and grab and slap each other around like they're married for life, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing to behold:
Love means never having to apologize for throwing you off a balcony.
:D :D :D :D :D
They stand way too close together, 100% of the time.
seriously, it's like john's got rodney on a magnetized leash.
SERIOUSLY, YOU TWO. JUST GET A ROOM.
Some Crucial Facts About SGA Fandom, aka, Why SGA Fandom Is Pretty Much More Awesome Than Anything Else On The Internet, Except Maybe Penny Arcade or Free Eps of The Colbert Report or - No, That's Pretty Much It:
- SGA fandom is more awesome than yours or mine. No, believe me, it is, we should just all suck it up and deal.
- SGA fandom is an educational experience. If you're in fandom, any fandom, to any degree at all, you should dip your toes into SGA fandom at least once so you can get a firsthand sense of what makes this fandom unique.
- I really think that SGA fandom is the most transcendental fandom to not only exist, but flourish, thrive, and grow to an absolutely huge size, based on a canon that is unbelievably, hilariously shitty. 50% of all SGA fanfic is great literature. The other 50% is either mindbreaking porn, or mindbreakingly bizarre, mindfucky, or downright ludicrous AUs in which there are unicorns or spanokita or alien sex pollen or all of the above, and much more. It is the craziest fandom. I don't mean that the fans are crazy - I mean that the fandom hivemind is up for absolutely anything, so absolutely anything is what you're going to get.
- SGA canon is written, acted, and directed by a bunch of geeky white guys. It is, therefore, as geeky as your dad's original 1980 Star Wars mug, so SGA fandom, therefore, is full of die-hard shameless geeks. That means that SGA fanfic, by and large, is full of an extreme level of nerdiness. Certain fics are written entirely in mathematics. Certain fics are written entirely in made up languages. Certain fics are structured around theoretical physics. It's not that you never see these things in other fandoms, but SGA is the only fandom that sees them on such a consistent and pervasive level.
- SGA fandom could not exist at any other historical moment. It lives in a moment when pop culture is beginning to embrace and cultivate the interactivity of fans to their canon on a number of levels, across a number of social forums and technological platforms. SGA fans are hyper-aware of that, and tend to very openly and actively embrace and explore multiple fannish outlets. So you don't just get "Written By The Victors," you get the Victorsverse, which is one of the most amazing, most intelligent, and most creative collective fannish movements I have ever seen. You just do not get that in other active fandoms. More than any other fandom I know of, SGA fandom boasts deep, spontaneous explorations of multi-level, multi-media forms of fan engagement - with the underlying assumption that all fanwork is, on a level, collectively owned.
I think that's one of the things that makes the fandom itself so successful as an entity: it feeds off its own creative impulses, almost more than it feeds off its canon. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. And the fic this generates is just, more often than not, staggeringly good.
In Which There are Fic Recs and Author Recs, aka Very Important Name-Dropping.
If you only ever read fic by 3 authors in this fandom, you should read the following:
If you're a shameless n00bert who is only ever going to read 3 fics in this fandom, you should read the following:
1. Transcendental by Shalott
2. Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead by Cesperanza
3. A Beautiful Lifetime Event by Shalott.
Disclaimer to the Above:
The fandom will tell you that the two single most indisputably must-read fics in this fandom are "Freedom's Just Another Word" by synecdochic and "Written by the Victors" by cesperanza. And while I agree, I can't rec them to first-time fandom initiates, because I think that if you try to read either of those fics before you have some grounding in the SGA universe, you'll miss 90% of what makes those fics the amazing works of fiction that they are. (but basically, without going too far into individual recs, it just does not get any better than all of the fics mentioned above.)
However, to go much further into individual recs, here is
My Personal A-List of SGA Fandom Authors, Which Should Come As A Surprise To No One Because They're Pretty Much All BNFs Anyway:
There are just a couple of caveats here and there with each of these authors, but I like them all *so* much and I want to talk about them all a little more:
My Current Top 6 Favorite Fics By Writers Not Mentioned Above:
1. Strangers On a Six Train by eye_queue.
2. Where We Ought To Be by wojeleh - a tag to 3x12, "Sunday."
3. Do Over by crysothemis.
4. Close Enough by fabularasa
5. Rewind, Reboot, Restore by rheanna27.
6. A Place On The Corner by almostnever
All of my SGA recs are here. I was going to post a list of fandom classics here, but I think I'll leave those for you to discover on your own <3333
Post-Script to the Above: General Fic Themes:
* If there is an alien within a thousand-light-year radius of Atlantis, it's going to find John and Rodney, and it's going to make them have sex.
* John is an asshole because he is repressed and manly.
* don't-ask-don't-tell, or, John is an Asshole In The Guise Of Doing His Military Duty.
* John is an asshole because he is afraid to follow his heaaaaaaaaaaaart.
* John is an asshole because
* Ronon is a big stupid jungle thug. No seriously, this is the one thing that really and truly bothers me about SGA fandom, and that is that, with disturbing and alarming frequency, it turns a character who, in canon, is amazingly perceptive, intelligent, and strong, into this, like, culturally stupid, socially backwards ignoramus, and there are all kinds of really icky racial implications here that I just do not like to think about. (And it's not just me; SGA fandom has already epically wanked about this once, so I don't need to get into it, I'll just say that It REALLY BOTHERS ME.) okay. that said, seriously, Ronon on the show is totally awesome, and when he's written well in fanon, he's the best part of any SGA ensemble fic.
* I did mention the alien sex thing, right? Okay. Because, I mean, if you have problems with Aliens Made Them Do It fics, you should stop reading this post right now, this is not the fandom for you. Just so we're clear on that. :))
PART TWO: In Which We Have To Talk About The Show To Prove We Are Actually Watching It, Which, May I Just Repeat, is Not Remotely Necessary To Your Enjoyment Of Fandom:
but first, a disclaimer:
SGA is a stupid, stupid show. Watching SGA makes you dumber. Watching SGA robs you of valuable time you could have been spending doing actual humanitarian missions to third-world countries, or learning actual physics. You should avoid watching SGA if you have any sense at all.
That said, if you feel you must partake directly of the show, then I highly recommend that you first focus only on the eps that have spawned the most fanfic and had the most direct influence on fandom. After which, if you should happen to find yourself inexplicably obsessed with the need to go out and buy all 4 seasons on DVD right now so that you can watch and record and freeze-frame every miniscule second of every ep in which John and Rodney happen to make eye-contact for .000032 seconds before looking hastily away again lest the power of their mutual love burn a deep purple hue into your tv screen for weeks, well, I can't say that's ever happened to me. Not at all. Um. Right, yes, well. Here is a list of reasons to encourage your descent into willful intellectual degradation.
The Top 3 Reasons To Watch Stargate: Atlantis:
1. David Hewlett.
2. David Hewlett.
3. David Hewlett
Now. With that out of the way:
EPISODE GUIDE SORT OF, if you are flighty and don't really like to watch things.
The Three McShippiest Episodes of SGA:
1) 2x08, Trinity1
2) 3x10, Tao of Rodney
1. Although not necessary, if you love me, you will watch Trinity (208) back to back with Aurora (210), bookends of my heart.
The Three Most Fanonically Important Eps of SGA:
Is fanonically a word? It should be. it is now.
2) Lost Boys / The Hive
The three episodes above are pretty much the eps from which all fanfic ever has sprung. Grace Under Pressure (S2) is up there as well – but if you only watch a handful of eps, then you shouldn’t watch Grace Under Pressure, because 42 solid minutes of David Hewlett How Are You So Awesome is something you have to earn, my friend.
The Pivotal SGA Episodes List:
- - The Rising, Part I and The Rising, Part II.
These are the first 2 eps of the show (or one long ep depending on your source). The least you need to know: Antarctica’s cold, John makes things light up with his emo mind, Rodney’s smart, Ford’s a dork, they go to the Pegasus Galaxy where they are greeted by Teyla and space vampires, and a big green glass city powered by these things called ZPMs, which our crew will manage never to have more than one of at any given time.
- The Storm / The Eye. There’s this dude named Kolya and he slices Rodney’s arm open, and John really doesn’t freak out about it and go on a rampage and kill 60 people, except for the part where fandom acted like he did anyway. :D
- Sanctuary, aka The Chaya ep. This is easily the most-referenced ep of S1. All you need to know is that John has glowy finger-sex with this ten-thousand-year-old chick and Rodney freaks the fuck out about it, which to fandom was code for – well. You know.
- The Siege p.1/2. There’s Kolya again and Ford gets bit by a wraith and idk, actually you don’t even need to watch this. The only thing that matters in this ep is that John tries to commit suicide under the guise of saving the galaxy, whatever, and says “So long, Rodney” just before he dashes off to personally deliver a nuclear weapon to a hive ship. Rodney turns around and John is gone, and Rodney spends the rest of the ep looking utterly shell-shocked. This moment is the foundation for approximately 50% of what passes for angst in this fandom.
Crucial S1 Fanon: Familiarize yourself with these things because you will see them over and over again:
- Rodney may or may not be allergic to citrus. And also anything that moves. Fandom takes the citrus thing very seriously, and makes much of Rodney’s deep and traumatic past bouts with anaphylactic shock, because Rodney clearly doesn’t have enough hurt-comfort issues to play around with as-is. :D :D :D
- Rodney may or may not have secretly wanted to be a great pianist, before his tragic dream was destroyed forever! Or, you know, before he realized he could get more attention building nuclear bombs in science fairs.
- John and Rodney never actually play prime-not-prime. Realizing this was such a betrayal. >:0
- John’s two personal possessions are War and Peace, which he reads on a schedule, and a copy of some college football game where this guy named Doug Flutie throws some incredible Hail Mary pass. The best fanonization of this ever is in Ces’s “Things to Do In Denver When You’re Dead.”
- John loves Back to the Future. Rodney hates it.
- John COULDA BEEN IN MENSA. This revelation, in canon, is approximately the moment he moves from ‘slightly more interesting than my idiot lab minions’ in Rodney’s opinion to ‘unexpectedly surprising and also, hey, hot!’ (P.S. That’s canon too.)
Season Two (aka *the* must-watch season): Crucial Eps. If for whatever reason you only watch one season, make it Season Two, because even though it’s nowhere near as consistently fun and awesome as S4, it has the highest number of fantastic eps, and easily the highest number of fandom spinoffs.
- The Siege P3. All you need to know about this ep is that they get to go home to earth for a while! So this is when 80% of fandom’s earthside fics are set.
- Duet. The Ep Where Cadman And Rodney Switch Consciousnesses And Cadman!Rodney Kisses Carson. A fandom favorite, v. camp, and also, god, Laura Cadman is hot.
- Trinity. If you only watch one ep of this show, it should be Trinity. If you only watch two eps of this show, watch Trinity back to back with Aurora. Back in 2005, after watching 30 eps, the Trinity/Aurora combo was the first time I actually saw the slash potential this fandom was harping on about.
Trinity is really a great episode for many reasons. It’s also a very rare ep because everyone is freaking happy in it for once. So happy! Until they aren’t anymore, and everything goes pearshaped before you can go D:
Trinity is one of the two or three most written about episodes in this fandom, and is solely responsible for the other 50% of what passes for angst in this fandom. Which makes me really happy, because it turns out that Trinity fix-it fic is one of my favorite fandom tropes.
- Conversion. You don’t actually need to watch this ep, you just need to know that John really hates bugs and gets turned into a giant kafkaesque blue one and kisses Teyla, which is disgusting to everyone involved.
- Aurora. In a rare moment of cohesiveness on the part of the writers, Aurora picks up some of the John/Rodney tension in Trinity and diffuses it a bit. They manage to simultaneously be awkward and uncomfortable around each other while having great chemistry together in this ep, and it’s not quite as satisfying as a Trinity fix-it fic that ends in porn, but considering this is canon, it comes surprisingly close. (Also? Ronon in the beginning of this ep is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Jason Momoa is so smart, so awesome.)
- Grace Under Pressure. And if that wasn’t enough, then John has to save Rodney from being 20,000 leagues under the sea with only a whale, hypothermia, and Sam Carter for company, and it’s an *awesome* episode, and god-David-Hewlett-is-such-a-great-actor-i-h
- Lost Boys / The Hive, aka *the* most written about eps in fandom. Wraithy!Ford kidnaps everyone and gets them hooked on meth, no, really, and Rodney gets to escape by being manly and hilarious, and John gets to almost-hook up with a Wraith queen and try once again to commit suicide in the guise of galaxy-saving. Yay, more wangst! And DRUG-INDUCED PORN. And so you see, fandom wrote many fics.
Season Three: Crucial Eps, Which Can Basically Be Summed Up As: The Hewlett Family Is Awesome.
By S3, John and Rodney were really really awesomely in love with each other, so S3 and S4 are kind of light on actual reasons to watch for, like, plot (lol), and not for the moments when all Rodney and John do are sit around and bicker and try not to make out in public. Also, S3 is all about proving that the Wraith Are Human Too!- mostly so they can introduce a new enemy, an army of sentient microchips that make fake machine people who take over the universe, and so the writers can feel as though they have depth. (lol. lololololollll.)
- McKay & Mrs. Miller – in which we meet Rodney’s sister Jeannie! (David Hewlett’s sister in real life, Kate, who’s awesome.) and in which Rodney has a much cooler alternate universe self, “Rod,” who John kind of can’t stand. And in which we find out that John keeps videos of Rodney on his laptop. Just saying.
- Common Ground. – This ep has surprisingly little bearing on fandom but it’s important. To, uh, like. Plot. Ok, actually, I don’t know why you should watch it either. Except that it introduces a character who will later become known as Todd (Todd!!) and Todd is awesome.
-The Tao of Rodney. – because this show is really an excuse for David Hewlett to be awesome all the time, in this ep he gets SUPERPOWERS and then gets to almost-die tragically in John’s arms. :D The post-ep tags for this one are predictably porny and fantastic. And by this ep you are just like, holy shit do they need to sleep together already.
- Sunday – aka the One With The Exploding Tumor. You have to watch this ep for three reasons:
1) LOL SERIOUSLY EXPLODING TUMOR.
2) It’s actually a really lovely, warm ep.
3) You can't read one of the best fics in the fandom, wojelah’s “Where We Ought to Be,” before you've seen it.
Season Four, aka The Queerest Thing To Ever Appear On Cable TV During An Odd-Numbered Year:
The only thing that you really need to know about S4 is that at some point John will talk a total stranger into killing himself, purely and solely so he can keep Rodney with him forever, and if you are anything like me the rest of the season will sort of slide by in this heady blur in which you sit and repeat sluggishly: Talked! A man! Into! Killing! Himself!!!!!!!! until you are drunk.
Also, you should probably know that Elizabeth died somewhere along the way and Sam Carter is her replacement, a fact which could have led to all sorts of hilarious Sam/Rodney tension, given his lol epic love for her, but which pretty much goes nowhere because at this point Joe Flanigan is a producer, and he is totally intent on producing the hell out of his Great Gay Love. (Talked! A man! Into! Killing! Himself!!!!!!!!)
- Miller’s Crossing - this ep honestly reduces me to alsjfsldjfkldsfj;adskjl because in this ep John does something so completely insane that there is literally no way to read it that’s not “John will do anything, ANYTHING, for Rodney.” Ahhh, I will never not get over this. This ep also contains pretty much the best we’re-not-having-a-love-scene-REALLY I’ve ever seen on a show-that’s-not-House, and pretty much permanently erased all doubts I had about the nature of John and Rodney’s mutual eternal love. :))
- Outcast. – in which Rodney acts like a REALLY concerned lover for the 2 seconds he’s in this ep, and we finally find out that all those fics where John’s dad is military and/or a deadbeat were lolariously wrong.
- Quarantine. – In which Rodney sorta proposes marriage to someone who’s not John and somehow ends up even more married to John than he was before. (Talked! A man! Into! Killing! Himself!!!!!!!!)
My Favorite Eps That Are Totally Dispensable, But You Should Watch Them Anyway Because, Hey, Awesome. :D
- Inferno. (S2) - in which john and rodney spend the whole ep cockblocking each other, and if john gets any gayer for rodney, seriously, the sci-fi channel will have to hire a new production team just to cope with the increased budgetary need for sparkly furniture.
- Irresistible. (S3) - In which john and rodney are the only hold-outs against the Ultimate Evil, and john gets really pissed when he suddenly doesn't have Rodney by his side as his crime-fighting buddy. I love this ep. <3
- Echoes. (S3) - in which John and Rodney hang out and whale watch together, and then the whales give everyone free cable!!!!! :D :D :D
- Harmony. (S4) - in which we find out that john is a queen, and rodney will fight twelve year olds for his love.
- Trio. (S4) – in which we find out that Rodney totally wants to sleep with Jon Stewart. By which we mean John Sheppard. (Talked! A man! Into! Killing! Himself!!!!!!!!)
And that's basically it! WATCH THIS STUPID ADORABLE SHOW OKAY. And even if you don't watch it, read the fiction. It's amazing. It's fucking amazing. It's what every fandom should aspire to be. And one day all the SGA writers will discover prince of tennis and we will be all transported to new portals of Crack Heaven for Eternity - but until that day comes, watch the show. read the fic.
Seriously, John talked a man into killing himself. It's the least you can do.