Stargate Atlantis: Homecoming is the first in planned Legacy series of six books that set a new precedent for the Stargate franchise. Written by co-authors Jo Graham and Melissa Scott, Homecoming is the first published Stargate book to be purposely set after the series ended, picking up right where it left off and continuing the story. For those desperate for the Atlantis movie to be green-lit, this novel and the continuation of the Legacy series may provide something to sustain them. The sales of the Legacy series may also help to get the production of the movie underway.
As a fan of Atlantis, I think a Legacy series is a wonderful idea. It has limitless possibilities, even though it does present some problems. In the past, all Stargate novels, be it based on SG-1 or Atlantis, were set between episodes of the series. This forced the writers to adhere to certain rules. For instance, you can’t kill John Sheppard because he is in the next episode of the series. Or at least if you kill him you have to bring him back and in perfect health. You also can’t give the Lanteans some huge advantage over the Wraith, like a super weapon or five ZPMs, unless you are going to take it all away by the end of the book. If you don’t, your story won’t fit in with the rest of the series.
The Atlantis Legacy series has no such rules to follow. Writers have free reign. They can kill anyone they want, they can pair characters any way they wish, and they can create any scenarios they wish without having to worry about the fallout of their actions. This makes the books every bit as exciting as the series because for once you can’t say to yourself, “But he has got to be alive! They can’t kill him because this is set in season 3 and he’s still alive now!” Now there’s no way to know, and that in itself should make it impossible to put the book down!
However, this freedom could also rule the series out as canon some day. When an Atlantis movie is finally produced – and I say “when” because I refuse to believe that it will never happen – it could contradict the series right from the get go. In the movie, maybe Atlantis isn’t allowed to leave Earth. It would be hard to believe, but it could happen, and if it does, then Homecoming and it’s sequals would all be against series canon. Plenty of fans may not care, and they will certainly find it an enjoyable read anyway, but it will have lost sone of its relevance in the series. Despite this, the risk is well worth taking because the story of Atlantis has been left hanging far too long as it is.
The title “Homecoming” says a lot about this novel, given where Stargate Atlantis left off. The Ancient city is sitting cloaked in the San Francisco Bay. Todd the Wraith is still in a holding cell. Richard Woolsey, John Sheppard, and his team have to fight a diplomatic battle against the IOA to be allowed to take Atlantis back where it belongs, the Pegasus galaxy. They aren’t without allies. General Jack O’Neill and Colonel Samantha Carter are there joining the fight, one that goes all the way to the White House. Though his name was never given, President Barak Obama is easily recognizable, and his stance on Atlantis’ future is interesting to say the least. As the story gets even closer to home, the very real economic troubles and the war against terror currently faced by the world are cited as obstacles that prevent Atlantis’ immediate departure. Ironic, isn’t it? Economic problems are also preventing the Atlantis movie from getting off the ground. Was this Graham and Scott’s attempt to remind fans of how the real world can have an effect on the fiction we love? If it was, the message is not lost on this fan.
As I dive a little deeper into the story, you many find minor spoilers. You have been warned!
One of the reasons given for why Atlantis would not leave Earth was quiet a stretch though and it led me to wonder how much attention Graham and Scott gave to the respective time lines of SG-1 and Atlantis. As a stickler for such things, I couldn’t help but notice. With the Antarctic chair destroyed over a year earlier in the SG-1 movie, Continuum, a fact that is pointed out, Atlantis becomes an excellent weapon because of its chair and stock of drones. Therefore the argument is made that Atlantis needs to stay on Earth to defend it from the Goa’uld, the Ori, and the Wraith. Wait a second. The Goa’uld? There are precious few left now, the Jaffa have abandoned them, and the System Lords have been eradicated. They still pose a threat? And the Ori? The Priors have been turned, their faith destroyed along with their gods. Only the Priors can pilot the Ori ships, and without those ships or the Priors to lead them in a religious crusade, what threat does the human Ori army really pose? It would have been far more reasonable to cite the Lucian Alliance as Earth’s biggest problem given that we have been at war with them for over three years and we’ve seen the trouble they can cause on Stargate Universe.
Obviously Atlantis does manage to leave Earth thanks to some very clever tactics that I will not reveal. Once back in the Pegasus galaxy you would think that things would pretty much return to normal for the expedition. You would be wrong. A lot changed in the six months that Atlantis was gone and presumed destroyed. A new Wraith Queen has emerged and has somehow managed to unite the various Wraith factions. She calls herself Death, a name that has an ominous meaning for humans and Wraith alike. It doesn’t take long for her name to become manifested in her actions.
We learn more about the Wraith’s social order and customs in Homecoming than we have seen before in either the series or the previous novels. Some, like the assignment of names, may have been written as much for the sake of simplicity as anything. Rather than being alien names, the Wraith names are primarily nouns or verbs in English, like Ember, Snow, Edge, Hasten, Ease, and Guide. However there are also more descriptive names that strongly remind me of names given to the evil characters in Brian Jaques’ Redwall books: Steelflower, Bloodrose, and Bonewhite. I’ll leave you to guess which of these names belongs to our buddy Todd!
The Genii have fortunately or unfortunately survived in Atlantis’ absence, depending on your point of view. Ladon Radim still holds on to his title as Chief, but his control of the Genii is questionable. One Genii in particular, Sora, still has a death wish for Teyla and a hatred of the Lanteans in general. This is something I don’t quite understand, and I fear that the authors chose to return to this old bone only because it was convenient. After all, Sora did stop trying to kill Teyla after Teyla gave her the, “Is this what your father would have wanted?” speech. It’s been more than four years since then. Sora is definitely a stubborn little wench, and she has some mean fighting skills, but she’s not without reason so why the heck is she still so vengeful?
Galactic changes are not all the team has to cope with. There are some petty big changes happening within the team’s dynamic as well. Rodney McKay and Jennifer Keller are still dating. Let’s hope that if he finally decides to pop the question he doesn’t blow it this time! Despite the fact that Amelia Banks is still working the control room, there are no hints as to whether or not there is still anything going on between her and Ronan. Teyla has to care for Torren, now a precocious toddler. The early scenes involving Torren are far too precious to pass up! Meanwhile Kanaan is feeling left out. He was left behind when Atlantis flew off to save Earth, and feared the worst. The separation and the fact that Teyla wasn’t about to leave Atlantis puts a strain on their relationship.
Stargate novels have really never been known to promote shipping. If it’s an obvious one like Sam Carter and Jack O’Neill, the author might slip in a few awkward moments between them or maybe Jack gets caught daydreaming. However, that’s about as far is it would go. Atlantis fans have long wondered about a relationship between Teyla and John Sheppard. It was suggested very early in the series, and despite the fact that every time it was hinted at it was just as quickly dismissed, many fans latched onto it. It’s obvious to me that Graham and Scott are two such fans. The hints are unmistakable. As Teyla talks about Kanaan we learn (conveniently) that they were never married, nor did they ever plan to marry. Despite the love that Teyla always seemed to express for Kanaan in the series, and the love he showed her in return, there is an obvious rift between them when Teyla finally sees him again, a rift bridged only by Torren. Even Kanaan suspects that Teyla might be feeling attached to someone else, but his guess is far off target and it leads to a very awkward and amusing one-sided conversation. Because there are no limits to what could happen in the Legacy series, who knows! Teyla/Sheppard shippers just might get their wish!
Overall, Homecoming is a very well written story that develops into a cliffhanger worthy of the series. The Legacy series has the potential to answer many questions, solve numerous mysteries, and fulfill the desires of many fans. It successfully breathes new life into the characters we have come to love over five years and over 100 episodes. Its continuation, however, will depend largely on Atlantis fans’ willingness to find closure in a book rather than a movie, at least for the time being. Given the quality of this particular story, I can guarantee that readers will not be disappointed.
The next book in the series, Lost, is not yet published but may be released as soon as the end of this month.
Stargate Atlantis: Homecoming is available directly from Fandemonium at StargateNovels.com, and also in books stores in limited quantities. Go find your copy today!