Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review: Stargate Atlantis - Homecoming

As a huge fan of SG1 and Atlantis, I was ecstatic to find out there had been audiobooks and novelisations published; specifically a series of eight books taking place after series five. At just under £4 each on kindle I wasted no time in downloading the first, entitled Homecoming.


Atlantis has returned to Earth. The team members have dispersed and are beginning new lives far from the dangers of the Pegasus galaxy. They think the adventure is over. 

They’re wrong.

With the help of General Jack O’Neill, Atlantis rises once more — and the former members of the expedition must decide whether to return with her to Pegasus or to remain safely on Earth in the new lives they enjoy... 

Featuring many familiar faces from both series', from Col. Sheppard and team, to Richard Woolsey, Col. Carter and Gen. O'Neill, the book did quite well in starting a new season for the Atlantis crew.

It was bogged down at first with some heavy politics stemming from the fact that season five ended with a cloaked Atlantis floating in the ocean just off San Francisco, but there were many uplifting - sometimes funny - moments from our beloved team, specifically Teyla and John with baby Torren.

I loved that we got to see our characters in a more domestic situation, specifically Rodney and Jennifer arguing over what to name their new cat. It was a little like watching the fun of Sunday, just without the impending danger and WTF ending. I really loved just returning to these characters, even in a different format. We got to see more of a friendship between Carson and Jennifer, some hilarious scenes with out favourite Czech scientist, Radek Zelenka, and even how far Rodney would go to protect Atlantis.

Rodney and Jennifer
There were some great throwback moments to episodes, especially earlier ones, such as brief mentions of Kate Heightmeyer, Laura Cadman and Peter Grodin, to Carson's 'past' (SPOILERS!), and Sora and the Genaii from The Storm/The Eye. I especially loved the interaction between Sora and Carson.

Carson and Sora in 'The Eye'
That said, I did sometimes feel the characters were a little off. It's clear the authors have in depth knowledge of both series', but sometimes certain things struck me, pulling me out of the book. Carson didn't feel entirely Dr. Carson Beckett at times, which - being a huge Carson fan - annoyed me to no end. The 'relationship' between John and Teyla felt fake, and I didn't really buy into O'Neill's motivations. Considering how much effort the show's producers put into Carson and Rodney's friendship also, especially in later seasons, the two just didn't get very many scenes together, which was frankly disappointing. As much as I enjoyed the book, sometimes it didn't read as a continuation from the series, with the characters not entirely acting as we knew them to.

Carson and Rodney: The ultimate BrOTP
As much as the story began to tie up some loose ends, there were also some it cheated on, and some reasonings that didn't feel right. 

In the prologue, Carson is in the command chair flying Atlantis back to Lantea, and the author notes that 'Nearly six years of practice had made him a competent, if reluctant, pilot.' Firstly, Carson - as he has always been reluctant to use his ATA (Ancient Technology Activation) gene - has only used the command chair a handful of times. Secondly, the first time he piloted Atlantis was in the series finale, so he wouldn't have had such training to be competent. Granted, the series itself didn't really explain his capabilities in the finale (The commentary simply stated they wanted him in the episode) but either way this line wasn't necessary. 

Carson piloting Atlantis in 'Enemy At The Gate'
The show proved to us that Carson can pilot; second in the CIA (Chair Interface Aptitude) rankings. That's the end of it. We didn't need a reason for why he's piloting with Sheppard. In fact, the authors end up contradicting themselves with this line in the same section; 'Five and a half years he'd put up with Rodney bullying him over this damned interface'. This is correct, as in the series Rodney - and occasionally Sheppard - have had to bully Carson into using the chair, when he has constantly tried to come up with excuses. In my opinion the section read a little like the authors were trying their hardest to stick with canon whilst still coming up with an excuse for why Carson was capable of flying Atlantis, which - as I said above - isn't needed. 

And if I want to be really picky (Don't take on a cult TV novelisation if you can't handle the super geeks!) 5.5/6 years isn't accurate for Carson's 'Atlantis experience'. Circumstances (SPOILERS!) prevented Beckett from being with the expedition for at least one year, but realistically 2-3 years.

Secondly, when they encounter difficulties with a section of the city, Radek is blamed for actions in the finale we didn't see. It felt a little like the author was trying to answer too many questions, over-explaining some while still being increasingly vague, whilst still telling a separate story and it just didn't work.

The story is great, including the throwbacks, though some of the characterisation could use a little work (Granted the actors do a lot of the work on the show). The 'explanations' were mostly terrible.

Overall, I give the book 3.5 stars. A great read if you just want more SGA, but not so good if you're looking for answers.

Also, there's not nearly enough Ronon!

Don't make Ronon angry...

All images from the GateWorld Image Gallery:

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