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Stargate SG-1: Roswell by Sonny Whitelaw & Jennifer Fallon (Book Review)

I've just finished this book and although I've posted my thoughts on various threads at Gateworld, I thought I'd write up a review of it here.

From the back cover of the book:

When a Stargate malfunction throws Colonel Cameron Mitchell, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Colonel Sam Carter and Teal'c back in time, they only have minutes to live.

But their rescue, by an unlikely duo - General Jack O'Neill and Vala Mal Doran - is only the beginning of their problems.  Ordered to rescue an Asgard also marooned in 1947, SG-1 find themselves at the mercy of history.  While Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c become embroiled in the Roswell aliens conspiracy, Cam and Vala are stranded in another timeline, desperately searching for a way home.  As the effects of their interference ripple through time, the consequences for the future are catastrophic.

Trapped in the past, SG-1 can only watch as their world is overrun by a terrible invader...

Okay, now I went into this book with a few reservations.  1). I'm not really a big fan of the later seasons of SG-1.  I enjoy stories mostly set pre-Season 8 or 9.  For reasons I'm sure a lot of you know about already, so I won't get into them here.  2).  A few fans told me there was some implied S/J and D/V ship in it.  I don't actively seek out stories with these pairings and truth be told I like the "official SG-1 novels" such as this to be strictly gen.   As all the ones I've read up till now seem to be.  Yes, I was told there could be some Cam/Vala ship in it, which I quite enjoy, but on the whole I prefer the books to be gen.

To be honest I don't know why I worried so much.  I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  On the whole, the authors got the characterizations of each SG-1 member down very well, and created some very interesting OC's as well.  There were a few minor spelling errors (saw "Val" instead of "Vala" a few times, a character whose name was "Bennett" referred to as "Beckett" once), and a couple more cosmetic errors that could have been cleaned up in a further proofread, but I'm usually a big stickler for details and a big snob when it comes to reading. *g*  Another thing I could tell was that the authors had to be British, because although the spelling was for the most part American (which I'd say was due in part to where it was printed... although I did see "storey" a few times instead of "story" which had me scratching my head a little), some of the informal expressions sounded rather British.  For example, they mentioned Cam slapping a dollar bill or something like that onto the "bonnet" of one of the trucks.  I was sitting there in confusion until I remembered that "bonnet" is a British term that is the same as our American "hood" of a vehicle.  As another example, they'd mentioned that a character had "sat his exams" in high school, which I think I've heard before in Britspeak.  We usually say "passed his exams" or "taken all his exams."  But no big deal.  I realize these books are mostly published in the UK, and from what I remember, both authors (or at least one) are Australian.

Moving on...

The whole premise of the book was very interesting.  It's set sometime in Season 10, probably before The Quest since Daniel mentions something along the lines of "If they ever get back and end up finding Merlin's weapon", but after Memento Mori since it's mentioned that Vala has become a full-fledged member of SG-1.  Basically, Cam, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c are offworld being attacked by a group of indigenous people who are loyal to the Ori.  As they get attacked and make their way across some icky swampland, the Ori are about to interfere.  SG-1 makes it through the wormhole but at the same time the Ori cause something to happen to it.  SG-1 makes it back to Cheyenne Mountain, but way back in time.  Like, prior to 1961 when Cheyenne Mountain was carved out.  No Stargate there, apparently.

Meanwhile, back in 2006, an old Sam from the future ("General Carter") visits the SGC along with a mysterious old stranger named Herbert, and tells Jack and Vala that they need to rescue SG-1 because they'll be dead within minutes (i.e. they'll probably run out of oxygen).  It is here that there is something that the S/J shippers could see as 'ship, but it was vague enough that it could be taken any way and I certainly didn't see it as ship.

Jack and Vala with some help go back in a jumper to rescue SG-1, but then they all get trapped in the past around 1908. Did I mention along the way they seem to collide with an Asgard ship?  They end up in Rhode Island and just happen upon a plucky young teenager by the name of Howard (that's H.P. Lovecraft to you).  While they're trying to find ways to get back and get the ship working again (see, they need lots of stuff from the chem lab that Howard knows about), Cam and Vala get stuck outside and something happens to change the timeline, so they've created a parallel universe.

It all happens when Jack asks Vala, Cam and Daniel to accompany Howard to get the stuff they need.  A cute scene ensues where Howard gives them some clothes to disguise themselves.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it), they're all from his mother's wardrobe.  Vala gets a nice old dress and bonnet, but so does Daniel.  Cam lucks out with just a simple, thick old coat.  Vala goes with Howard to the chem lab while Daniel and Cam go to a tack room near a coach house for some of the other supplies.  Unfortunately, their break-in is discovered and Cam and Daniel end up setting a huge fire.  And then poor Cam gets shot and has a horse trample upon him.  In the process, one legendary baseball player Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown dies in the fire, which sets off this change in the timeline like a domino effect.  Vala tries to save Cam's life with a healing device and then...

Daniel gets beamed back onto the ship but leaves them behind.

So then, Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c end up in 1947 in New Mexico. The Roswell conspiracy thingy gets started because some Asgards had actually crash landed (but shhh!! They're mostly clones that Loki was going to use for himself), and the one named An is the one they need to help get their ship working again so they can go back and get Cam and Vala (they'd had a brief encounter with Loki in 1908 but darn it, he'd sabotaged things again and left An to doom). So they have to do a lot of damage control, but it doesn't work out too well.  Well, at least Teal'c's obsessive fanboi-ness as far as Roswell is concerned is put to good use.

There are some scenes of Jack, Daniel and Sam in a Roswell diner (in disguise as countryfolk), overhearing some reporters and commonfolk talking about what they'd seen in the sky and wreckage and whatnot.  They find a headline in a newspaper that Daniel has issues with because it talks about a history that is different from the way he remembers it.  It discussed an Egyptian exhibit at a museum in New York and included an old photo.  Apparently there were only supposed to be 3 people at that site instead of the four pictured.  And wouldn't you know it, two of the people included a Cam and Valerie Mitchell.  Now things get interesting (as if they weren't already).

At one point, Jack stays in the diner (Teal'c is back at the jumper all this time) and Sam and Daniel go walking outside down the road.  They discuss ways to restore the timeline, even though they lack a working time machine (which was basically what had been sabotaged by that no-good Loki).  At first they think of getting the puddle jumper that was on Maybourne's planet (the one found in It's Good To Be King), but that is a no go, so Sam then thinks about getting Janus' machine from Atlantis. 

While she and Daniel are discussing this and sharing a few light-hearted observances (always good in my book *grin*), they witness an accident and Sam rushes to help the young soldier whose bike had collided with a truck.  Daniel tells the onlookers that Sam is a military nurse and has experience with these things.  This is how Sam is granted access into the military hospital to check on the Asgards, one of whom she hopes is An, who is the one that can help save them.

She sees the famed "alien autopsies" going on, and apparently one of the corpses is so foul it is emitting a noxious gas (it later turns out that this is an Asgard-human hybrid that Loki was working on).  However there are several Asgards who seem badly wounded but not dead.  One of them ends up dying, but as luck would have it, it was just a clone Loki was working on for himself.  Sam discovers the other one to be An, who is badly wounded.  Her older self had left some Asgard supply kit on the jumper, so she feeds poor confused An some nutritious Asgard squares and water.  Luckily he recovers.

But not before some nasty guys storm the room and beat Sam up.  She's interrogated by a couple of nasty men whom seem to be forerunners of NID, and whom she's affectionately named "Cancer Man" and "Brylcreem."  At first they think she's a Soviet spy.  Meanwhile, back in the jumper, Daniel and Jack are trying to pick up Sam's locater beacon but can't yet.  Daniel has faith that Sam isn't dead - that the NID wouldn't want to kill her. 

Later on, Sam is knocked out, then taken to New York (where the pre-NID headquarters are located) and given some kind of Truth Serum before being grilled some more.  She tells them her real name and that she is from the future. "Cancer Man" is dubious, but a well-meaning young military man named Bennett decides to hear Sam out... before a squadron of alien fighters believed to be Ra's forces decide to start attacking Earth.

Going back to 1908 for a moment, Cam and Vala take refuge in Howard P. Lovecraft's basement.  Several years later, they seem to be doing quite well for themselves, mostly going on Cam's basic knowledge of the era and things like sporting events, which he is betting on.  He and Vala amass quite an amount of money, somehow befriend a Lord Carnarvon and a Howard Carter who are interested in this expedition to Egypt.  Cam and Vala accompany them, if only to find the Stargate and try to set things right... or to start that going, anyway.  Once they get the Stargate up and running, Cam and Vala go through it and end up....  er, somewhere not very good.

Back in New York, 1947, Jack, Daniel and Teal'c end up rescuing Sam and take Bennett along with them.  New York City is a veritable war zone, filled with attacks from the sky and plenty of Jaffa roaming around.  But wait - one of the Jaffa looks eerily familiar.  He is also a First Prime, but not of Ra... rather, Qetesh.  And his name happens to be Cameron Mitchell.  During a fire fight outside, Sam ends up with a staff weapon wound to the head (and impaled by a branch nonetheless).  Jack, Daniel and Teal'c are assumed captured as well.  Sam is revived by Cam with a sarcophagus, and turns out the good ol' boy isn't really out to get them.  He's been planning this all along and just playing along so he could reunite with SG-1 and try to restore the timeline.  He tells SG-1 what he and Vala have been up to all these years.  He mentions the two of them have been a couple and Vala has been pregnant twice.  She (apparently) willingly allowed Qestesh to take her over (who is planning on defeating her father Ra), but her son is destined to become Ra's next host (and her daughter Seshat is apparently going to become Qetesh's next host).  See, Cam does not want all this to happen to Vala, and no one wants someone as evil as Qetesh to be in charge of everything, so that's why they have to restore the timeline!!

With the cute little Asgard An's help, they manage to beam some "Fat Man" or "Little Boy"-esque bombs up to Qetesh's ship, and beam Cam off of there and back into the jumper.  Then they high-tail it back to 1908 so they can rescue Cam and Vala.... oh yeah, and stop poor ol' Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown from perishing in the fire.

They do so, and all's well that ends well.  We think.  Apparently, SG-1 is destined to mess with time at some point again in the future.  Old!Sam .... er, "General Carter"... and Herbert are still at the base when they return, and they basically make some obscure references to the fact.  Oh, yeah, and Herbert ends up being H.G. Wells, to Sam and Daniel's astonishment (guess no one else has really heard of him.... or cares).  How he knows about Vala and how she steals the remote DHD device (aka the one we saw Old!Cassie use in 1969 to send SG-1 back to their time), we will probably never know.  Guess it's up to our imaginations.

Whew! So!  Parting thoughts... Um....  Well, I enjoyed the character interaction in this book.  Jack and Daniel had a few sort of nice "awkwardly-not-trying-to-appear-much-like-friendship" moments, especially in 1947.  The "classic team" interaction - meaning between Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c as a whole - even when they were separated - was bang on.  I loved it.  The interaction between Vala and Howard (Lovecraft) was even cute, and I can't complain one bit about either the Cam/Vala or Sam/Daniel interaction. *grin*

As much I was warned that there could be some things that could hint at S/J ship, as well as D/V ship, I didn't really see anything like that. There were a bunch of comments made by Vala in reference to Daniel, but I took them as her just teasing about him as usual.  When Cam told them about what he and Vala had done all those years, he mentioned that they only pretended they were a couple, and that Vala told him "this is all pretend, I'm saving myself for Daniel."  Okay I know all the D/V'ers will seize on that, but I could very well see it as her teasing him.  What I found interesting was that Daniel asked him "She said that?" and Cam replied "Some things never change, Jackson, no matter which timeline you're on.” Cam was grinning when he said this, so I pretty much took that as teasing Daniel as well.  But they go on to say "Sam thought there was more to it than that, but now was not the time."  I have to wonder what was meant by that...

When Cam mentioned Vala had some kids, Daniel asked who the father was.  Cam's reaction was pretty telling, at least IMHO.  He had a "warning edge" to his voice saying he didn't want to discuss it (his reply was something like "what does it matter").  There was a reference made to the goa'uld Qetesh being promiscuous and having her way with at least several Jaffa.  But I wouldn't doubt that one of them was Cam.  Hey, he was a Jaffa - First Prime, in fact.  That's my C/V shipper story and I'm sticking to it. ;)

And I can't end my thoughts here without mentioning that there were some very nice S/D moments in it. There was the one scene in Roswell during 1947 when they were walking around the road together that I mentioned earlier.  But when Sam was inside the military hospital, after Daniel kept insisting that she wasn't dead, their inability to find her then had him quite worried, especially that she was killed. He kept insisting that she wasn't dead though, really showing he has faith in her, and when he seemed to get more worried Jack tried to reassure him of it. It was a nice touch that showed how much he cared about her (even if it was as a friend).

Then there was another scene where they're all in New York, again 1947. After Jack, Daniel and Teal'c manage to locate Sam and rescue her, they're all holed up inside the "pre-NID"'s office building, basically sleeping (the place was deserted in the air attack). Daniel is over by the window just looking out and Sam comes up to him and they start talking. Just a nice moment of friendship. She tells him that they'll find Cam and Vala (another thing I liked was that Daniel didn't harp over Vala being gone so much, he worried equally about her AND Cam, so it wasn't like Vala was the only one he cared about). Daniel tells Sam that he sees it the same way she does, that it's important not to try and do something to change the timeline because of all the carnage that's happened in New York.

This line was in the scene: “Sam put her hand on his shoulder, a wordless gesture that said much more.”

See, it's stuff like this that I love. It would be so great to see stuff like this in the movies, but I'm pretty much convinced it won't happen. Sad that we have to rely on fan-written stuff... oh, and the early eps... to get our fix of those great moments.

But then again I guess we should be grateful we even have that, right?

Back to general stuff I liked... as I mentioned before, everyone's characterization was bang on.  Another issue I've had with Daniel in the recent seasons is his sometimes OTT snarkiness and seeming lack of care and concern about his fellow teammates.  We didn't see any of that here.  There were even times where he'd start babbling incessantly about archaeology or anthropology that seemed reminiscent of the earlier Daniel, which I really enjoyed.  Everyone played a great role in this book.

So, that's my entirely-too-long review of this book.  I hope it was helpful.  I enjoyed it and I think that fans of both the more current seasons of SG-1 and classic SG-1 will do so as well.
Tags: books, stargate, stargate: sg-1: cam, stargate: sg-1: cam/vala, stargate: sg-1: daniel, stargate: sg-1: daniel/vala, stargate: sg-1: jack, stargate: sg-1: jack/daniel, stargate: sg-1: sam, stargate: sg-1: sam/daniel, stargate: sg-1: sam/jack, stargate: sg-1: teal'c, stargate: sg-1: vala

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