Monday, September 30, 2013

Stargate SG-1: Moebius Squared

This book shows what a Stargate novel can be! The characterization is pretty much perfect, and the plot explores a well-liked episode in a new and exciting way. I even like the cover.

Nice nebula, yes?

This novel,  #22 in the SG-1 series, revisits the time-traveling versions of SG-1 that were stranded in Egypt on Earth in about 2492 BC at the end of season 8. It took me a couple of pages to recall the events of that episode, figuring out which versions of Sam, Jack, Daniel and Teal'c I was dealing with. I recommend watching the double episode before you read as a refresher, although it won't be strictly necessary. The authors do a fine job of catching the reader up on events. Since we have doubles of several characters, the authors use a clever but intuitive trick to distinguish them- referring to Egypt Sam as Sam and Atlantis Sam as Carter, and so on where applicable

From the start, I was pretty thrilled with the characterization in this installation. Vala's lines, in particular, seemed spot-on in humor and personality. Also, I liked the way it fit all of the main characters into the approximately current day Stargate setting of 2008, meaning Mitchell is leading SG-1, Carter is back from Atlantis but not yet commanding the Hammond, O'Neill is in Washington.

The story captured my interest as effectively as a backup SG team secures an offworld gate. A group of Tokra steal the time-traveling jumper and go in search of Egeria in an attempt to renew their dwindling race. SG-1 must follow them to preserve the timeline. Without going into details, this book is packed with side adventures and plotlines that converge expertly without ever getting so complex you need to keep charts.

I don't have a lot to say about this one because it speaks for itself. Aside from the handful of typos these always have, I don't have any complaints. The authors expanded on the canon in a few places, but I think it was done well. The only possible exception is that the alternate characters seem a lot more capable than they were in the episode Moebius, but this is explained by the intervening time and difficulties they've faced in Ancient Egypt.


This is a really strong offering in the Stargate Novel world. It's as good as well done episode, better than many. If you're going through all the books, get ready to enjoy this one. If you're looking for somewhere to start or for a one-off, there probably isn't any better place to start.

This is one of my top three Stargate novels, easily.


While the plotline about whether Teal'c's symbiote was really Egieria could be said to be predictable, I found it delightfully suspenseful and engrossing. Baal's sunspot device was a bit convenient (and if this was an episode, too overpowered to find) but I can forgive that. It was necessary and kind of neat.

This story takes place in a time I feel Carter seems a little lost. After Atlantis, she's kind of over qualified for everything on Earth. I think this comes through well in this book, as Homeworld Command debates the future of the General Hammond ship's command. Sam asks Carter about her life; they talk about Sam and Jack's baby daughter; Carter says about O'Neill that, yes, she thinks he will wait for her. It's pretty unambiguous and a little sad, but of course Carter doesn't stay down for long. As this takes place in 2008, it makes me wonder what Carter is up to in 2013.

 7 out of 7 chevrons locked!

7 out of 7 chevrons locked!

Meaningful, interesting plot:
6 out of 7 chevrons engaged

About as much as I could hope for- without any actual interaction between Jack and Sam! Our Jack and Sam, that is. There is a lot of fondness there (though our Jack isn't in it much) but we've got alternate Jack and Sam, and they have been together in Ancient Egypt raising a family for a few years! Leaning toward shippy even without considering alternate Sam and Jack, this one made me pretty happy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

About this blog

The Fandemonium Stargate novels, which are semi-canon as they are licensed and approved by MGM, are one of the only sources we have left of official new Stargate stories. They are also pretty good overall, and I encourage anyone to pick some up. However, they vary widely in quality from fair to excellent. The goal of this blog is to help people choose which to purchase (particularly if you don't want to read every single one).  Discussion in the comments would also be great!

I will start with the books I have been reading lately, which are some of the most recently published. I will eventually go back to review the older books, but wanted to start with what is fresh in my mind. 

The things I value most in a Stargate novel (and as such will be reflected in my reviews) are interesting storyline and accurate characterization. I hate seeing my friends (characters) do or say something out of character, and there's little point in reading a book that isn't interesting. I give high marks for incorporating new ideas into familiar plots lines (such as finding out more about the Ancients while sticking to canon). I also happen to like to see Jack O'Neill and Sam Carter together, so I will mention it, but it's not a requirement. 

I'm reading Moebius Squared (SG-1 #22) at the moment and looking forward to reviewing it!

Also, visit my etsy shop if you're looking for Stargate gifts or other geeky paraphernalia! I'm donating 10% of shop proceeds to Sanctuary for Kids.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stargate SG-1: The Drift

I like Ancient plot lines. I think the chair in Antarctica is awesome. This novel (#21) does some interesting things with both, but overall this dream-sequence style story lacks meaningful action and seems both rushed and a little thin.

First off, this is actually a sequel to Four Dragons, although I don't think this is mentioned anywhere on the actual book itself. It took me about halfway through to realize certain references to past events weren't from episodes (surely I would have remembered them, right?) but from a previous book. So, make sure to read that first, and you'll want to follow up with The Drift while you still remember events and characters from Four Dragons, or else major plot lines will not mean anything to you.

To me, this novel reads like a relatively weak episode. From the beginning, SG-1 is trapped in some sort of alternate, dream-like reality. The plot is heavily driven by some unknown hand and the reader follows along as details are revealed and the situation changes. While this follows SG-1's experience in the plot, it lacks certain elements of fascination and speculation (key elements of good sci-fi, I believe) as we have no information and are as powerless as the team. Angry rumbling and soft winds in this dream world seem rather trite and cliche to me.

Team interaction and characterization are done well, however. There is a lot of reacting and not a lot of doing, from both SG-1 and the rest of the characters, but reactions seem natural and dialogue flows easily, with some exceptions from the Chinese characters. In fact the anti-China sentiment in general was a little surprising. Of course, China is the new Russia.

The one big exception to the above is the use of ascended character(s). These are used in moderation in SG-1 and Atlantis, and I think including them in these one-shot type stories can be risky. Ancients and ascended beings interfere very infrequently; the author makes the case that the peril in this story is worthy of their intervention. The reader must decide if he or she agrees. Personally, it came out feeling a little contrived to me, a bit deus ex machina. In that sense, a Stargate tradition!


If you're going through the Stargate novels, by all means read this one. It's not bad. I found it a little frustrating and it could have used some editing (a lot of them feel that way), but it's not actively unpleasant to read or anything. We get to spend some time with our friends and the author does get creative bringing in new story lines, specifically related to Lord Yu and the Ancients.

If you're looking for just a few good SG novels, skip this one. I'm going to call it slightly below average.


Ok, bringing new historical and scientific phenomena into the Stargate realm by attributing them to the Ancients or others is usually cool. I applaud these efforts. Along these lines, bringing up the frozen Jaffa found near the DHD found in Antarctica in the episode Solitudes was a clever idea. However, deciding that plate tectonics on Earth are due to an Ancient device (the "drift" I guess) requires the reader to completely throw out modern geological understanding. So, if you've briefly heard of the concept of plate tectonic or Pangea, you might think, "cool!" But if you think about it a little further... It comes out as a wacky creationist-esque refutation of the geologic principle of uniformitarianism that people probably should have noticed at some point. This would be the point where Sam should, at least, be very, very surprised.

4 out of 7 chevrons engaged

5 out of 7 chevrons engaged

Meaningful, interesting plot:
3 out of 7 chevrons engaged

Not much; enough to placate me