This post contains SPOILERS. If you have not finished No Enemy Within you should back out and come back when you finish. 😉
When I started creating my series bible (January/February 2009) for Lantean Legacy I wrote down a few things and it went like this:
1. Sentient Atlantis
2. Abandoned by Earth
3. Left for Dead in Pegasus (I called it this for MONTHS)
4. Earth gets told to fuck off by the expedition
5. Will use Latin for the “Ancient language” because that makes the most sense.
After I had my basic idea I started to thinking about the mental gifts the Alterans had before the ascended. Gifts we didn’t see in any of the people in the Alteran galaxy (Ori episodes) except for the priors of course which weren’t the “normal” for that galaxy.
So, I started thinking about how they might have come to have the mental abilities and their crazy life span. It bothered me that Elizabeth got old in stasis pad after 10 thousand years but that one Ancient chick apparently hung out in a stasis pod frozen in ice for a very long while and came out looking like a super model. Okay, so what about the Ancients that got so old they couldn’t leave the stasis pods on the Aurora because they got too old after 10,000 years? Then there was Merlin (frowns). Just how long was he in that cave? Okay, so the mythology for the Ancients was a little screwy on the canon front and as always when canon doesn’t suit me or confuses me I just toss it out a window. (waves good bye to canon)
I knew that this was going to my big space opera series which meant I was in a perfect place to pick some of my favorite elements from different sci-fi movies and TV series and play with them. I knew immediately that 2001, The Matrix, Star Trek, and Farscape were on my list.
The first time I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, I spent most of the movie thinking—dude, turn back and watch that computer! It’s out to get you! Thankfully I was able to keep these comments to myself otherwise my then boyfriend might not have later become my husband.
The idea for The Atlantis Collective (Ally), of course, came from 2001 and a first person shooter game I have called HALO. In HALO, there is an AI who often appears in holographic form. Once she was born I picked up elements from Star Trek and their use of holograms in Next Generation and Deep Space 9. I only ever watched one episode of Voyager but I know that the Doctor was in fact a hologram. In the Star Trek world holograms are very sophisticated and complex and I wanted that imagery for Ally.
The creation of Theseus actually came in the writing but I knew I wanted the city to be living organic metal when I set out the basic plot. I will say the story changed a lot during/after the first beta because the first draft was only 37,000 and when I sent it to Chris King (December 2009). She returned it with 247 comments and the words “smut would be good” in the body of her email as there was no sex in it. Amongst her comments was a request for “more” on the matter of Ally’s children.
So Ladyholder did her beta (January 2010) for what would amount to the “first beta round” of the fic. She sent it back with 201 comments and a link to the Stargate timeline (not kidding). Her devotion to canon is charming but I’m slowly but surely dragging her away from it. It helps, actually, that there is no new canon for her to bask in.
I knew that I wanted to explore the living ship concept from Farscape and I wanted to write something different on the Sentient!Atlantis front. For a while I went back and forth on whether I wanted to do an AI or a living creature for the City and finally I just said—fuck it, I’ll do both. So I did.
Highjacking mythology for fictional purposes is Stargate’s standard operating procedure so I just threw myself at Google and eventually found an article about Theseus and then I started throwing down some names. I always knew that Atlas would be one of Ally’s children from almost the beginning but I had no intention of really introducing the children in the first book until Chris requested it.
So, I started building Theseus history and I knew he had to come Altera because in canon the Ancients used a “ship” to flee the Ori. I thought about that ship for a while and considered—oh, what if it was alive and it grew into the city? Then I wrote all that and Ladyholder said “hold up, girl, Atlantis is a hell of a lot older than 15,000 years” and she showed me a YouTube video to prove it. (grin)
But that information was fascinating and it allowed for the creation of a larger mythology for Theseus’ species that I would eventually call the Levyathans in honor of Moya from Farscape. The origin of the word leviathan is fascinating and I spent a few hours reading about that when I first got started.
1382, from L.L. leviathan, from Heb. livyathan “dragon, serpent, huge sea animal,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to liwyah “wreath,” from base l-w-h- “to wind, turn, twist.”
It was easy for me to see how stories of Theseus growing and changing in the ocean on Earth might have lead to the word “leviathan” and the mythology around sea beasts in Earth’s history. It fell nicely into the Atlantis legend and the Greek mythology I wanted to use for the naming of the children again because I was in love with the idea of calling one of the children Atlas.
Sometime during the first beta Miko got a new husband. I hesitate to even tell you who I had her originally married to (the primal screams would be horrific I’m sure) and she got pregnant. That came in the writing and I was like “whoa, chick, you didn’t plot that!” but it was there and I liked it so I kept it.
After developing Theseus, Ally, and his children—it was VERY obvious where the ATA genetics and the long lifespan of the Ancients came from in this AU. Obviously, it came from Theseus himself. The choice to link Theseus and the expedition genetically was rather organic after that. It made sense to me—the empathy, the mental gifts, and the genetic requirement in Ancient technology. All of it just made a crazy amount of sense in my head. I’m still not sure how well it translated in the writing.
The Citizen Induction Center is actually my little nod to The Matrix. I’ve always thought the coolest part of the movie series was the part where they could “plug in” and get KUNG-FU downloaded into their brains. You can’t beat that with a stick on the pure awesome front. In order for John and the others to interact with Theseus mentally so he and Ally could teach them what they needed to know they would need the gene therapy he’d once given the Alterans. It made sense to combine the two things together—gene therapy and kick ass “in your head” training that they would have to take into the real world and practice.
Also, along this time I decided to reboot that whole “exploding tumor” bullshit concept into something more useful which is where the Dead Man’s Switch came from. I knew that Ford wouldn’t survive the first book (sorry!) but I didn’t want him to go out like he had in canon so I gave him a very heroic death. It still pisses me off that TPTB made him a homicidal/suicidal drug addict but I digress.
Okay, so I sort of shelved No Enemy Within at that point because Chris and Ladyholder both were decimating what was then book 2 of the series (In the Silence) and I wanted to see what would shake out in their comments and how it would relate to the first book.
I busied myself with Ties That Bind and Sentinels of Atlantis. I’d like to say that while they were working on Lantean Legacy that both of these ladies were still actively doing beta work for TTB and SoA. This means I’m not the only one keeping the details of FOUR separate AUs in their head because at one point in a discussion one of them pointed out to me “No, wait, that didn’t happen in SoA – that happened in What Might Have Been” – BLUSH. It was hardly the last time we’d have to remind each other of that either.
So, around May 2010 I picked up No Enemy Within and started working through Ladyholder’s first beta round and the end result was that I added around 16,000 words to it and then I fiddled with it a lot and made new things, and deleted about 23,000 words and rewrote several sections. I have 2 “scrap files” for this series with about 45,000 words of narrative that will probably get recycled into later books.
In early July of 2010 it finally crossed my mind that In the Silence was actually book 3 in this series. Ladyholder and I had a big brainstorming session for books 4 and 5. It promises to be a screaming good time. In the middle of July I decided I was “finished” with book 1 and both Chris and Ladyholder geared up for what amounted to the third round of beta. Ladyholder got first jab and sent me a file with 247 comments which I fixed and then sent off to Chris who was kinder (grin) and returned with only 67 comments.
My first draft was around 37,000 words. The second draft was 59,000 words and the final was 67,000 and some change. The amount of hand-holding, beta, and support from Ladyholder and Chris King cannot even be measured!
So, I sent it off to Djaddict (who had graciously agreed to be my grammar nazi for my McShep Match entry and got press-ganged into what has all the appearances of a production team for Lantean Legacy) at the end of July who waged a WAR on me in line edits and returned the monster far sooner than I actually expected considering its size and my pure lack of respect for commas and other grammar type situations.
I wrote John’s last line which is a homage to Ripley’s last line in Alien during the plotting stages. I knew from the beginning that would be the last thing he’d say to Earth for a while.
Well, that’s how that happened and questions are welcome on this thread as long as they are not related too closely to plot I’ll answer them.