In Review: Stargate SG-1: The Drift

Written by Diana Dru Botsford, published by Fandemonium Books, October 2012. Paperback of 346 pages.

The cover: A strong faced Richard Dean Anderson as General Jack O’Neill looks at Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson, who is looking at a glyph that could be on the Stargate. Nice composition of the two leads on a vivid blue backdrop with the glyph being a perfect sorce of focus. Overall grade: B

The premise: From the Fandemonium website (I read an eBook): “Earth’s Ancient weapon’s chair is at the center of an international dispute. Dr. Daniel Jackson is sent to Antartica to soothe diplomatic tensions while General Jack O’Neill reluctantly takes charge of a radical new weapons chair training program. But when a natural disaster hits Antartica, the future of the Ancient outpost–and of Earth itself–is thrown into jeopardy. Yet again, Earth’s fate lies in the hands of SG-1, but this time the team are lost and powerless to help. Trapped within a strange reality, SG-1 encounter old friends and enemies as they struggle to escape and stop the Ancient cataclysm that’s threatening to destroy the planet.” Nice introduction to the problem. I like how a countdown clock has been established even in this premise. Overall grade: B+

The characters: General Jack O’Neill is the leader of SG-1, but is not happy in his position. He’d rather be off exploring new worlds, only taking this raise in rank to keep another from running the operation he loves. He’s not much help in the science department, but he’s military smart and his wisecracks bring a nice dose of humor into the novel. He’s the gruff military leader who wears his heart on his sleeve if you’ll only look. Dr. Daniel Jackson is the linguistics expert on the team, who in an earlier novel, was captured and held by an alien race for a year. On top of that, he still feels the weight of a recent bungled diplomatic mission. This shows how much heart he puts into every assignment. His banter with O’Neill shows their respect for each other. Teal’c is an interesting character as the only alien among the team. He has the nobility and mysticism of Mr. Spock, but the warrior prowess of a trained soldier, which he is. A major secret from this character’s past is revealed and dealt with beautifully. One of the villains of the book is Huang Sun Tzu, one of Lord Yu’s Dragon Guards. Fifty years in the past he was transported through a Stargate to Earth. Unfortunately, it was a one way trip and he is unable to fulfill his mission. Thus begins a very clever feat by author Botsford: every chapter begins with Huang’s life in the past updated continually until his life catches up to the story’s present. This is a great way to give backstory and build up character expectations, that are delivered, when he meets up with all our heroes. There are other threats, but they are best discovered while reading the book. Overall grade: A-

The settings: The story begins at McMurdo Station in Antartica, where a powerful device has been left behind by the Ancients. Not once will you forget the blistering cold of this place. I enjoyed entering this location with our heroes; each page built up the locale as we got closer to “it.” And when the device is revealed, it’s understandable why this station is so important. The description of the technology is wonderfully alien, adding a good sense of impending danger once it’s activated. There is another location where our heroes go, but I can’t give any specifics since it’s key to a major reveal in the story. It’s very well done and described so well I found myself disappointed that I’ll never see such a place filmed. Overall grade: A

The action: When I think Stargate action I picture punches thrown, rifles blasting, and energy weapons firing. There’s none of that in this book. What does the author do for action? How can there be any? Oh, there is! How about massive earthquakes spreading across the globe due to something that’s happened at McMurdo? How about our heroes on a world swarming with Jaffra? And there’s a countdown established that will result in the death of millions unless our heroes can accomplish their task. There was plenty of action, suspense, and mystery to keep me turning the pages. Overall grade: A-

The conclusion: I got hit out of left field by something I should have anticipated. Botsford got it by me so well that when it happened it was great! It involves one of our heroes making a realization about themself. This was not a preachy, forced moment for the sake of character growth, but a moment of truth and clarity from a fully developed character. I appreciated that while I thought the book was focused in one direction (and that story wrapped up well), this moment had me thinking for some time after I had finished the novel. It was unexpected from what I thought would be a sci-fi/action novel. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Time to come clean: I have never watched an episode of this television series. I saw the movie, just didn’t have time for the show. If I could follow this novel easily, and it’s a sequel/prequel to Botsford’s popular Stargate SG-1: Four Dragons, I can only imagine how much fans of the series will enjoy it even more. Great characters and a great idea realized makes for a great read. Overall grade: A-

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