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13 October 2009 @ 12:32 am
Rec set on the topic of SGA and the closet  
My policy on how I do my recs (including for things like warnings and spoilers) can be found at [my post about my recs], for those interested.

I've been sitting on this one for ages because I've been having a hard time writing up my recs for each of these. I've decided that I want this rec list out more than I want my thoughts on these stories to be coherent (I've tried for coherency, honest! I'm not sure if I actually found it.). And you can always just click on the story links if you'd rather not read my verbal flailing about. :)

This is a rec list of SGA fics that deal with being closeted in some fashion. There are more fics that deal with this theme, especially in this fandom, but these five fics taken together say something to me. Not quite sure what it is (this is how I make mix tapes/CDs, by the way. I go searching for some emotion and I put stuff together until I've achieved that emotion.).

Fic spoiler warning: While I generally attempt to not spoil the plot of the fics I rec, I can't avoid it for this list. So there are massive spoilers here. If you would like to read the fics on this list without any spoilers (beyond the fact that I've placed them on this list), here are the links to the stories: [Scenes From a Lesser War] by amireal, [DADT, Damyata, Dayadhvam] by trinityofone, [ If You Want To Kiss The Sky] by siegeofangels, [The Known World] by vanitashaze, and [Time-Keeping] by [info - personal] thingswithwings.

Spoiler space.

Story: [ Scenes From a Lesser War ]
Author: amireal
Podfic: I think this would be difficult for a single reader to do clearly, but if two readers did it, with each reader taking the scenes in one time line, I think it could be done clearly.
Fandom, etc.: SGA, John/Rodney, NC-17, 20K words.
Author's Summary:* This. This was something that needed taking care of. In a non-traditional sense.
*I think this fic wins an award for having the most useless summary ever. Which saddens me, because the crap summary very nearly caused me to skip it when I was working my way through Ami's back-catalogue.
My Summary: The Daedalus brings the news that people who are gay can serve in the American armed forces. Watch how that affects John and Rodney. (And, via lovely use of flashbacks, watch how the restriction affected them before it was overturned.)
My thoughts: This is a story that I hadn't realised I was looking for until I found it. I love this story simply ridiculous amounts. There are two time-lines in the story (present [after the memo was delivered] and past) which alternate scenes. In each time-line time flows forward, and the very last scene of the past time-line leads to the first scene of the present time line. This works amazingly well for her story. The POV is tight third on John, which makes figuring out things a bit difficult (in a good way!) because John is never very good at telling you what is going on with him at the best of times, let alone when he cares deeply about things. I really admire Ami's skill at showing depth of emotion in this fic and at interweaving events on the two time-lines together.
Why it fits: This story was what made me want to assemble this rec list in the first place. In the strict time-line what happens is: John/Rodney, then they break up because it's simply too much to have a secret relationship, then a few weeks later the Daedalus brings the news that it is no longer illegal for US military personnel to be gay, then John and Rodney must decide if they wish to get back together and if they wish to be open about their relationship all whilst dealing with the reactions of the entire Atlantis expedition to the news.

Title: [DADT, Damyata, Dayadhvam.]
Author: trinityofone
Podfic: [mp3] and [audiobook] read by jessikast, 56:51
Fandom, etc.: SGA (AU), John/Rodney, R, 8900 words
Summary: He was aware of the controversy surrounding the application of DADT policy to an international expedition--and an international expedition to another galaxy at that--but in the end, it didn't matter. Everyone got the chip, or they didn't go.
My thoughts: This is a chilling story. It's a great example of a Sci Fi story telling us about the culture that produced the story. This story takes the self-censoring that occurs whenever there is a closeted identity and mandates it via the use of a chip in the brain. That scares the shit out of me. This is in some ways one of the scarier fics I've ever read in this fandom because of the ramifications for the society that this story takes place in. Here's a pull quote: Rodney: I don't give a crap what anyone else does, and besides, I'm straight. // The doctor giving him the implant: Normal, Doctor McKay. Please refrain from use of the other. It's on our list of proscribed terms. That exchange just gives me shivers. My one criticism of the story is how quickly John and Rodney become physically and verbally demonstrative after the chip is disabled. It makes sense from a narrative point of view, I suppose, but looking at it from a behavioural conditioning point of view, it happens faaar too quickly-- it takes time to learn to discard the reflexes.
Why it fits: The US government mandates that all members of the Atlantis Expedition have chips implanted in their brain which enforce 'no being gay or even talking about it'. Watch how Rodney initially is mildly annoyed (but only in an academic fashion) by it. And watch how he meets John and falls in love and then whole thing becomes less academic for him.

Story: [ If You Want To Kiss The Sky ]
Author: siegeofangels
Fandom, etc.: SGA (AU), John/Various, R, 8400 words.
Contains: John fucks a lot of people, willingly but not necessarily happily.
First Lines: John likes Antarctica. Nobody pretends that he's there for any other reason than to finish out his career without fanfare; nobody requires him to pretend that he's friends with them. (no summary given)
My Summary: The US Military is much more Spartan and John is once again in the hidden minority as far as sexual preference goes. But he still somehow ends up in a relationship with Rodney.
My Thoughts: I love the lyrical way it is told, I love the very premise, I love that the execution is fabulous. I love the single-mindedness that John has-- he wants to fly and he does, I love that he is still an outsider and still an excellent soldier in this AU. I love the bits of the universe that we see through the story. I love that there is still a John-and-Rodney relationship that works for both of them and is true to both of them. There is a deep melancholy running through this story.
Why it fits: Lyrical storytelling style, John is hetero in a US military that views homosexual relations as a way of forming/deepening camaraderie. Even when the societal assumptions change there's still a closet.
Same universe: [The Wealth Of Our Nations Fed On Angel Blood] by [info - personal] synecdochic looks at SG1 (and Daniel especially). This story isn't part of this rec list, but I've included the link for those who prefer to have 'verse links all laid out in one place.

Story: [Time-Keeping]
Author: [info - personal] thingswithwings//thingswithwings
Fandom, etc.: SGA, John/Rodney, Katie Brown/OFC, Rodney/Katie, G, 400 words.
Podfic: Doesn't exist. Would be quite short, but I think could be a very chilling read.
My Thoughts: This is a short little piece that packs a punch. The writing style is different from [info - personal] thingswithwings's normal sort-- it is more making-a-list descriptive (rather than her normal visceral description) which feels almost bleak to me.
Why it fits: This story has a great hollowness to it that comes from the hiding of their relationships and the fronts that they display to the rest of the expedition (and possibly also to themselves). Summary of the relationships: Rodney and John have a secret relationship as do Katie Brown and an OFC-- in this story Rodney and Katie date as a deflection.

Story: [ The Known World ]
Author: vanitashaze
Fandom, etc: SGA, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard, R, 4700 words
Pull Quote: A part of him hates Samantha Carter for making him learn that - for taking him out of the theoretical and into the world never as beautiful as the one in his head. A part of him loves her for it. Another part likes to stare at her breasts. A greater part still sees her stern smile and how much of an asshole he is to her, the way she fucks him over in every universe, and thinks, yes, this is it, this is my dream woman. // Of course, when Rodney dreams, he dreams of being eaten by a whale, so maybe it's not a fair comparison. (no author's summary given)
My Notes: I love the way this story is told-- it is sparse and yet has strongly descriptive scenes, there are time jumps and Rodney-run-on thoughts and it feels very real to me. Like this is quite possibly exactly inside of his head.
Why this is on the list: This was the last story to get added to this list. As soon as I read it I knew that it belonged on this list and that the list was complete. This is not a story about DADT, it is a story about Rodney and Rodney being in love in Atlantis and in a relationship with John. But by the very nature of the pairing, the story is profoundly shaped by DADT-- you can see the policy in the empty spaces of the fic, its fingers reaching in and influencing things.

As always, please let me know if I am missing anything or have any errors.
Blue Yetiblueyeti on September 25th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oooh, thank you for this list. Awesome. I hadn't found If You Want To Kiss the Sky or The Known World yet.

(And I completely understand about the Scenes From A Lesser War love. I think I've reread that at least 8 times (and I only got into SGA in May), and the last six times have been trying to figure out how to make it work as a podfic. It doesn't even lend itself to three second indicator music, because the pacing is strongly tied together and some of the scenes would be less than a minute long. ...and I probably need to thank you for that again, because one of your recs lead me to Amireal in the first place. Go figure.)
Fishfish_echo on September 25th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
Gah, didn't close an HTML tag the first time *facepalm* try 2:

Oh, thank you! It is wonderful to hear such lovely things! :D :D :D

(I keep meaning to rewrite [well, strictly speaking, add more to] this list, since it had a working topic of 'SGA fic with regards to DADT' for a while and then only later did I realise that it was actually 'Stories about being closeted, as chosen by Fish', and that dichotomy is still shown in some of the 'why it fits', which I forgot to overhaul.)

Speaking of podfics, lunate8 has made a lovely recording of [The Known World (mp3)] and [The Known World (audiobook)], it's about half an hour long, and I really do need to update the post with that too *sigh*.

But back to 'Scenes', yeah, I can see where that would be difficult to do as a single-reader...
Hmm, what if you recorded the two timelines in different-sounding recording spaces? So that there was a consistent 'sound' to each timeline, and a consistent difference between timelines? And that thusly the listeners could eventually figure out what was going on? (I'm thinking of something like hanging up lots of cloth in the background during the recording of one timeline, and then removing it all for the second timeline... probably the story would have to be recorded straight through in both sound environments and then edited later, or only the specific scenes belonging to that timeline read aloud and then spliced later, just in terms of being able to get the consistency... And it's a kind of long story, so I don't know how easy it would be to read in two sittings...) Well, I've got to say, I hope you figure out some way to make it work :)
Blue Yetiblueyeti on September 26th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
Hee, I've been working on a Queer SGA Podfic Anthem rec list myself, mostly so I can rant my love and pov about a few which are awesome/unexpectedly relevant, because there can't be too many rec lists proving that Sheppard is a very queer boy. So please, yes, add *more*. I'm coming very late to the SGA party, and I just know I'm missing some of the pivotal fics that I could be loving on.

I'm currently listening to lunate8's Recovery, so The Known World will come very nicely after that. Thank you for the finding.

I might try the two location/backgrounds idea out, but I suspect it would leave you feeling that one part was simply recorded *better* than the other half (and I'd have to do at least two sessions for each half, as 4000 words is usually where I drift into stupid mistakes). Although it would completely, unreasonably amuse me, in a meta-way, to record the past sections while sitting in a closet. I think getting a second reader for it is the best plan, honestly. Anything else would be invasive. Perhaps I'll ask for a second while everyone is in post-consumption-of-podbang flushed confidence.

And speaking of podfics/proof that I am so very, very easy to influence/procrastination for my podbang:
I recorded Time-Keeping. Mostly because I read 'chilling' and then attempted to make it so. I think I only arrived at clinical, though.
Fishfish_echo on September 26th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
I've been working on a Queer SGA Podfic Anthem rec list myself
Oooh, yay! Please do drop me the link when it is posted :)

So please, yes, add *more*.
Sorry for the confusion! I meant that I'll add more commentary, not that I'll add more fic to this list (I do mean to update it with links to podfics & any other works related, but that's because I like having all related links together). I think the fics on this are a good, self-consistent list which says well what I want it to say. There are, as you've mentioned, still many fanworks out there which are worth reccing and which are on a slightly different-but-related theme(s), and those will end up getting recced at some point (time-willing). I sadly don't remember which fics nearly made this list (and it's kind of hard to remember which ones are good for Oh-John-Sheppard, because his queerness is so much a part of my personal canon), but one that you should give a look at if you haven't seen it already is toomuchplor's [Straight as a Circle (mp3)] // [Straight as a Circle (m4b)] (podfic read by crinklysolution, but I don't think I've listened to it yet), which is the one where John wakes up straight.

I've downloaded your 'Timekeeping' and shall listen to it when I've got headphones and a lack of background noise :)
Blue Yetiblueyeti on September 26th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Ah, sorry for the misplaced anticipation, then. *grin* More commentary would be interesting too, though. You're completely right about Oh John Sheppard! fics; there are so many of them because it's just so *obvious*, and the ones which stick out to me are the ones where he's straight/assumed straight, or even just not spectacularly bi.

I've listened to Straight as a Circle, but I don't remember loving the podfic that much. Not for itself, if that makes sense. It was good, but by that point I'd probably read parts of the fic about seven times, so the few moments where it wasn't the intonation/meaning which I'd already placed on a scene/line were jarring. I mean to relisten to it before giving it a definite place on my queer podfic list (which is an increasingly broad, TMI list, honestly, nothing so well defined as closet fics).

And I just separated out the two sections of Lesser War, and it turns out the past sections come to less than 5000 words. So it's completely doable to find someone who is willing to do 30 minutes of fic. (Of course, I wouldn't get to record fic in the non-metaphorical closet, which would be a shame.)
Fishfish_echo on September 26th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
PS. but I suspect it would leave you feeling that one part was simply recorded *better* than the other half
Drat, yeah, that would be a potential difficulty :/

Although it would completely, unreasonably amuse me, in a meta-way, to record the past sections while sitting in a closet.
Heeheheeeee, :) 'Twould amuse me too!