reviews

this is not a rec for "Written By the Victors"

As much as I am impressed by cesperanza's story, and more than a little in love with all her fictional historians, both Earth- and Atlantis- based, it's not a story I would recommend. Which sounds bad, but -

As excellent as Written By the Victors is, I'm not sure the show it's based on is the same show I watch. And I don't think the characters are the same characters. And while all organizations make mistakes, military as well as civilian, I don't think the basic premise of the story would actually fall out the way it's written. The author seems to be following a mind set that I see frequently, and which irritates me a lot. Namely, that Atlantis=good and Earth=bad. Particularly, SGC=bad. And I don't see that at all.

Yes, John and the other people from Earth - but particularly John and Rodney, I think - found something good on Atlantis, something they didn't have at home, but Atlantis isn't the be-all and end-all for them. It would hurt for them to have to leave, as shown in "The Return", but I'm dubious that they would rupture all ties with Earth because of it.

And as for the SGC (or some part of it - I couldn't really tell from the story how much was SGC and how much was the IOA) being collective idiots and handling the situation completely wrong - it's possible, but I think they would have been idiots in a slightly less homicidal way. (Which probably isn't the proper term to use, but I can't think of any other at the moment.) Maybe I feel that way because I like to think people can look at previous mistakes and learn from them, maybe it's simply because I respect our military and hope that they wouldn't make that sort of mistake. In any case, the story's presentation of the military really bugged me.

When I think of John and Rodney refusing to return to Earth and choosing to stay in Atlantis, the only (believable) scenarios I can come up with are basically variations on janusglance's I Feel the Earth Move. There the author gives me an Elizabeth I can see simply abandoning the Pegasus galaxy, and a pressing reason (beyond the presence of the Wraith and a love of Atlantis) for John and Rodney to remain behind. The situation given is all too believable, and reads like something that could happen on the show, if the writers decided to take it in a slightly darker and grittier direction. And the relationships between all the characters, and especially Rodney and John, are note-perfect.

It's a story I wish I could write.
I'm just curious -- and also, I can't remember -- have you seen a lot of SG-1?

There are a multitude of unspoken premises underpinning the fic. You're definitely not the only one to be troubled by them (if that is the case), and one seems to be that SG-1 lost control of the situation in the SGC. This does happen to be absolutely plausible for Stargate SG-1. From the text, I surmise that somewhere in there declassification happened, because generally even the original policy -- what to do with extra ZPMs -- would in mid-season SG-1 be an in-house decision. Woolsey, for one, wouldn't have gone along with it, since he was there with Jack, so maybe there was a break in the IOA... and the involvement of the CIA in the first place is such a break from the end of season ten.

In any case, it's not necessarily a comment on the real U.S. military, but the fictional political situation in canon.

That's not to say you're not hitting on something that's valid, because I'm interested in that dynamic and how different people read it. It's just that SGC=bad is kind of oversimplifying what happened in the fic, and in canon.
I admit that SGC=bad is a bit of an over-simplification, but there does seem to be a tendency in this type of story for the SGC - or whatever organization happens to have wound up in that position - to seriously screw up with(or attempt to screw over) the Atlantis expedition. Which is understandable, I suppose, or else there wouldn't be any basis for the separation from Earth. And perhaps there was declassification at some point, but I couldn't tell from the story. Which, admittedly, I only read twice.

It might simply be the unstated premises that throw the whole story off for me - I don't know. I can't exactly place my finger on it. All I know is that, for whatever reason, the story doesn't ring true for me. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, but only that it's not one I would recommend without caveat.

Incidentally, what brought you to my corner of the woods?
I think it all comes down to - not just fanon cliche - but the whole cliche of "evil, know-it-all, pushy, whatever" government agencies wailing on the little guy. The military as an evil entity, which, me being a former military brat, annoys the crap out of me. The author is in need of a different kind of bad guy or conflict, so they go for the political.

Then there's the "isolation" mind-set, where separation keeps the SGC out of the loop, therefore the people of Atlantis always knowing what's best for Atlantis. It's a fanon cliche that's been built up over time turning the SGC into the bad guys. Like with most cliches, it's easy to fall into, especially if one is looking for a different kind of conflict with a different kind of bad guy.

Keeping with the isolation mind set, Atlantis could just as easily end up being the bad-guy and the SGC the goodguy.

What I find just as annoying myself is the attitude of earth being destroyed as a good thing, where not only does the gang never what to see earth again, they don't care what happens to it.
Then there's the "isolation" mind-set, where separation keeps the SGC out of the loop, therefore the people of Atlantis always knowing what's best for Atlantis.

Exactly - there are regular reports both ways. The SGC might not know first hand what's going on in Atlantis, but there's a steady trickle of information and personnel both ways. Atlantis is a lot less isolated than, say, America was for the first hundred years of colonization. I find it unbelievable that John and Rodney (et al) would simply sever all ties to Earth, rather than try to change the SGC/IOA's minds (and perhaps recruit SG-1, esp. O'Neill, to help) - and just as unbelievable that the SGC would simply dismiss their concerns out of hand.

Keeping with the isolation mind set, Atlantis could just as easily end up being the bad-guy and the SGC the goodguy.

It would be interesting (but very hard) to write a story with this as its premise. I don't think I could bring myself to do it, but I wonder what sort of reaction it would produce - if people would be so accepting of it as they are of the opposite set-up.

What I find just as annoying myself is the attitude of earth being destroyed as a good thing, where not only does the gang never what to see earth again, they don't care what happens to it.

I can't believe that they - that the characters as portrayed in canon - would feel this way. I think they would make every effort to negotiate something, to find some sort of compromise. To simply shut themselves off from home - I can't see that happening. Especially with Rodney's sort of reconciliation with his sister. They have families, friends, etc. It would be one thing for a third or fourth generation colony to break ties, but these people have spent almost their entire lives on Earth. For them to destroy any chance of ever going back would require something far more sinister than a simple 'come on home, and bring Atlantis with you'.
I was looking around for different reactions to this story and was happy to come across yours. I very much agree with you. Not only do I think John and Rodney would have a harder time cutting ties to Earth--I'd have to think it would have far greater negative effect. If medicines and supplies were that readily obtainable in Pegasus, I'd have to think their S1 dealings would have been much different. Pegasus just simply doesn't have the technological advancement of the Milky Way. Period. I wanted to see some actual consequences of this choice.

I had some other fairly profound issues with the story--though most of them boiled down to gross oversimplification of just about everything. I actually liked the "historians" and their take on things--that felt very authentic, but I found the story as told from John's POV wrong on just about every level. The John/Teyla sex in particular enraged me--and not because I felt angry on Rodney's behalf--far from it. It seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere, did real injustice to both their characters though Teyla's in particular, bowed to the cliche that women and men can't be close friends without sexing it up and to the second cliche that bisexuals immediately throw themselves at the first person of the opposite sex from their usual partner's gender who happens to be vaguely available. And then, once again, there was absolutely no consequence to it. It was just bizarre.

That said--I recced it and was very impressed by it anyway. It's ambitious and different in ways that I just don't think fanfic often is and for that alone I thought it deserved recognition. I will, however, be detailing my very real problems with it at some later date.
Pegasus just simply doesn't have the technological advancement of the Milky Way. Period. I wanted to see some actual consequences of this choice.

Yes - it all seemed too easy. And the way Teyla and Ronon were basically "Oh yeah, we could do this, go here, and we never mentioned it because you didn't ask," really bothered me.

I actually liked the "historians" and their take on things--that felt very authentic, but I found the story as told from John's POV wrong on just about every level. [etc.]

The second time I read it, I skipped most of the John parts and just read the historians' commentary on the events, largely because of this. Both the way he sort of fell into a relationship with Rodney and him having sex with Teyla really bothered me. Neither seemed to have any basis, any shown motivation - even though we were inside John's head. They simply happened.

It's ambitious and different in ways that I just don't think fanfic often is and for that alone I thought it deserved recognition.

Oh yes. I am somewhat in awe of everything surrounding the John POV, even if I don't agree with all of the premises. All the back and forth between the historians, in particular. I'm not at all surprised that it seems to have eaten fandom's brain at the moment. But at the same time, I'd love to see something similar, without all the . . . iffiness of characterization. It's not a good sign when I find myself more interested in the OC's than in the canon characters.
Those basically were my problems also. I think I had less problems with the J/R hookup than you did, but I did have problems with how all of a sudden Rodney's the most important person in John's universe when I'm not entirely convinced of that, on the show.

And yes, I was way more interested in the OCs than the actual characters too. I also thought there was more shades of grey in the historian's POV. Earth wasn't entirely demonized and you could see how, from the Earth perspective, that Sheppard really is a dangerous rogue who really does need to be dealt with, even with force.

The canon crew's whole plotline OTOH was so over-romanticized there just wasn't any tension to it. I couldn't be happy they got their oh so conventional happy ending when I never felt any fear on their behalf in the 1st place.
The canon crew's whole plotline OTOH was so over-romanticized there just wasn't any tension to it. I couldn't be happy they got their oh so conventional happy ending when I never felt any fear on their behalf in the 1st place.

Exactly. Earth's side of the story was much more compelling, because it felt real. Atlantis, on the other hand, seemed to abruptly become a utopia, with everything falling into place for John & Co. As you say, there was never any doubt how things would go - on that side of the equation, at least.
Hey! I remember thinking these thoughts! I was impressed at how she wrote it, but I was also like, seriously? SGC =/= bad!