This began because I've been reading a lot of Tolkien recently in an attempt to remind myself why my life-long goal has been to emulate him in the act of sub-creation--which led to the unexpected discovery that Atlantis has a place in the history of Middle Earth, and that there are certain similarities to that of Atlantis in the Stargate universe. Besides the obvious "city of a highly advanced race existing in the middle of the sea until it sank". In both cases the inhabitants developed a pretty severe case of superiority, pursued immortality, and left relics behind that would shape the flow of wars to come. Of course, one was utterly destroyed by external forces while the other was (temporarily) buried beneath the sea by its (more-or-less voluntarily leaving) inhabitants, so there are some fundamental differences, but still, it does raise some ideas and open certain possibilities....
- Was the pursuit of ascension a wise thing? What percentage of the Alterans did so, what percentage got killed trying to stop the wraith, what percentage wound up breeding back into earth's population?
- How many cities like Atlantis were there? how many Alterans were there? did they have an empire? if so, how was it administrated, and how much of it remains? Perhaps Sateda is/was like Gondor, the last remnants of a vast, advanced civilization.
- Where did the Wraith come from? Did they simply appear as they are (show's utterly unsatisfactory answer), or were they the result of someone tinkering? (If tinkering, then in an attempt to find a physical alternative to ascension, and suddenly you have a whole bunch of possible story-arcs)
- What exactly is the relation between the Alterans in the Milky Way and the Alterans in Pegasus? [[I know this was answered on the show, but I'd forgotten when I wrote this up and only just bothered to check on the Stargate wiki]] and how do the various other aliens fit in? (Unas, Goa'uld, Furlings, etc.) How long a time-scale can we work with before it becomes ridiculous in one direction or the other? (And space-scale, too; treating entire planets as though they were inhabited by individual villages)
- Oh yeah, and HOW THE HECK DO THEY ALL JUST UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER? Any sort of hand-waving explanation will do, just give one, please.
These are all background questions which may never need be addressed directly in the show/story, but are necessary to create coherent and consistent setting and circumstances. Past actions have consequences, after all--and the reason LotR hangs together so well is that those past actions were understood prior to the writing of it. SGA had the potential (as SG-1 managed, from time to time) to approach similar cohesion and depth of story, but that potential was increasingly squandered as the show progressed, until it was completely lost. (There's a reason I've never seen the finale, or significant chunks of the 5th season.) And all this was not helped by the frequent passing (or juggling) of the idiot ball(s) to make the plots "work".
Resources/Considerations to be handled consistently and not just for the convenience of the plot:
- John Sheppard: who can interact with Alteran technology as though born to it. Was he born to it? How does this ability actually stack up against real Alterans? (What is the proper conjugation of anything?) If, as per my personal preference, his mother is a de-ascended Alteran (and his father akin to O'Neill), did she share any of the Alteran culture with him? Does this come out at all over the course of the show? Perhaps he recognizes some of the stories/sayings/songs floating around Pegasus.
- Rodney McKay & all the other scientists: Create an actual roster, give them characters and specialties, and then use them consistently. Polymaths exist, but not omnimaths. Take this into account when giving the characters problems to solve. Perhaps bring out parallels between the path the Alterans walked and the expedition is now walking (beyond "Trinity")
- Databases: we know they exist, so why not make more use of them? A huge aspect of the show could be the discovery of Alteran history, and trying to assuage the problems left behind by them, beyond merely 'the Wraith'. ("The Game" could have this sort of thing if handled differently--if handled seriously; come on, both men are supposed to be professionals)
- Technology: how does Wraith technology work? How does Alteran technology work? Can we manufacture it? Can the two be combined, or are they inherently incompatible? How much do they reflect the cultures behind them? Why can John Sheppard fly anything and everything? (If this was ME, I'd say he was half-Maiar, a la Luthien, and that's his power/affinity. But it's not.)
- Military: Just borrow everything from miss_porcupine, as she handles that impeccably and I can't imagine any better way of doing it. But mainly, remember that there are marines, and that they're marines. And that Sheppard is military and not just a goofball/special snowflake.
- Pegasus natives: What kind of cultures would develop (or not) in a galaxy where everyone's treated as cattle by a technologically advanced race, and where they were abandoned by another technologically advanced ... well, culture? (Maybe the genetic markers used to lock Alteran technology mean that everyone has pointy ears like John Sheppard. So they really are elves. Ha!) How do they interact with the expedition? How do the Athosians interact with the expedition? Don't just stick them on the mainland and then forget about them (or move them off planet and then forget about them except when you want to hold them all hostage by a mad scientist created by the expedition; talk about fridging!) Where did the Satedans fit in? Or Kolya and his crew?
- Spy networks: because there would have to be some sort of deliberate information gathering/collating/analysis going on
- Aesthetics: do different worlds have totally different fashions, or is there a particular dominant fashion, which is tweaked in each world, a la that Greek native costume tea towel I used to have? Same goes for architecture and community design. Most importantly, don't just copy generic historical costuming/housing, because it looks ridiculous and also there is no such thing. (What would be realistic for materials at hand?)
- Stargates: how would they affect community design and population spread? Government? Actually, how did people come to be in the Pegasus galaxy to begin with? Were they brought from a particular Earth society, as was played with in SG-1? Can we track some sort of spread across the galaxy, so that certain planets have more shared history/culture than others? (Was this answered somewhere and I just don't remember? [[Yes: they were "seeded", which makes the later abandonment of them even more problematic) The thing is, planets are BIG. How many of them have gigantic civilizations hidden on the other side of the planet from the Stargate, never culled because the wraith don't bother looking that hard? (Do the Wraith have planets where they really treat the people as cattle? We sort of saw this with the Goa'uld)
Really, the more you pick at it, the more the whole thing (as handled by the show, at least) wants to come to pieces. I think it could work, but it would take a lot of careful knitting. I want to do it