Coming Home (Stargate Atlantis story)
|Publisher:||Agent With Style|
|Date(s):||September 11th, 2006 (online), 2007 (print zine)|
|Genre:||slash, BDSM AU|
|External Links:||Coming Home (Xanthe.org)|
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It is set entirely in an alternate universe where bisexuality is the norm and sexuality is classified according to BDSM power dynamics rather than gender preference. The story is a prequel to her earlier novel, General and Doctor Sheppard. Unlike the earlier story, which contrasts a comparatively canonical universe with the one Xanthe created, Coming Home stands on its own.
"Colonel John Sheppard knew, from the moment he first met Dr. Rodney McKay, that the man would be trouble. This novel-length story is a prequel to General & Dr Sheppard telling the story of how the AU John and Rodney first got together. This novel contains loving, consensual BDSM sex and spanking scenes."
First and foremost this is a story about two people finding each other and learning how to be together. The BDSM is just a backdrop to that story. [...] Please don't post to tell me how and why this society won’t work – I'm pretty sure I already know! If you like this kind of thing then it's an enjoyable fantasy. It's not intended to be a 'how to' guide to the functioning of a BDSM society or as to how BDSM should be practised.
Going against a trend sometimes described as ironic distance in fanfiction, Coming Home consciously and deliberately steers right into the id vortex by spinning a tale of true love, lifebonds, kinky sex, first times, and epic emotions.
Coming Home was posted in nineteen parts over the course of ten days, resembling the old-fashioned mailing list restrictions on post length. The daily postings built up a level of expectation and excitement among readers and inspired discussion between postings.
Coming Home was well received by the fans of the original General & Doctor Sheppard novel and also drew in a new audience, some of whom found the compare and contrast of the original difficult to find a connection with but could lose themselves in the straightforward love story of the prequel.
Reviews and Recommendations
I've heard that this story (along with the other long fic that Xanthe wrote in this AU, The General and Doctor Sheppard) created a huge bruhha in fandom, sparking lots of debates and 'homages' and righteous indignation about how a universe where BDSM is the societal norm could not possibly exist. As a result, I feel I should warn you that if BDSM really offends you, do not read this story. Trust me, you'll thank me later.
Now then, for everyone else: OMG, this story rocks! Typically I don't read BDSM because BDSM stories are usually PWPs about...well, BDSM. I'm much more interested in characters and plots and relationships than in how two characters choose to show their affection for each other. Fortunately, this story is *not* about BDSM. It's about two men who meet and fall in love and it just so happens that these two men are living in a universe where BDSM is the norm, rather than a subculture (and let's face it, is such a universe any more odd than one where humans can turn themselves into energy beings or where walking through a ring of stone transports you to another galaxy?) You will find intense scenes of BDSM in this story (see above warning), but it never feels like the lifestyle is more important than the characters.
The relationship between John and Rodney is what makes this story work for me. John is his usual closed-off self and Rodney is self-destructing (which, when you think about it, is just like canon: how many people manage to piss off their superiors so much that they get exiled to the *enemy's* camp?) and it's hard to imagine any two people who need each other more. Their relationship develops naturally over the story (which loosely follows season 1 canon) and I defy anyone not get get all mushy inside as John starts to open up and Rodney learns how to trust again. Even better, you have excellent showings by virtually all of the first-season SGA cast (Carson is especially good) and the plot ties in bits of canon and an original storyline to create a deeply engaging and very well written story.Final verdict: This is a fascinating AU with excellent characterizations and more shmoopy romance than you can shake a stick at. Beautiful, touching, and highly recommended.
I should have written this right when I finished it, but I will say here: I am hooked on Xanthe's BDSM universe--it makes for a great alternative reality type story, is brilliant, insightful, sexy, hot, delicious, and many other good things. I read this after Ricochet, and liked it hugely, despite knowing nothing about the original show, Stargate Atlantis. It's long, but nothing like the truly interminable 24/7.
Bottom line: the BDSM universe fictions are auto-reads for me, and I dearly hope Xanthe keeps going with them....
Following up on my other recent Xanthe reviews, there was a passage in this book that really stood out in encapsulating some of the more thought-provoking (as opposed to just sexy) aspects of the alternative universe Xanthe has created. Just to reiterate, in the BDSM universe, "everyone" is bisexual and identifies as a top or a bottom. But of course, "everyone" manages to exclude some people, who find themselves subject to prejudice and misunderstanding.
The passage below is not from a key scene, and one of the characters is minor, but it illustrates assumptions we carry around in a particularly useful, memorable way.
- Radek interupted him, looking kind of angry. "I do not top."
- "Oh. Right." John leaned back again, feeling unaccountably relieved.
- "I do not sub either," Radek said.
- John frowned. "You switch?"
- "No." Radek looked uncomfortable. "I do not do any of these things--they do not appeal to me. I identify as non-dynamic."
- "Really?" John was a little shocked but he did his best to hide it.
- "Also...I am not interested in Rodney that way because he is a man."
- John gazed at him blankly and Radek flushed an even deeper shade of red. He leaned forwards and spoke in a whisper. "I am monosexual."
- John did his best to keep his face non-judgmental because really it was no business of his if Radek only wanted to sleep with women, and he was cool with it in any case. He'd never actually met any monosexuals but there was quite a strong monosexual movement that had gained acceptance in the past few years.
It's a pretty simple reversal, and yet I found it a very effective reminder of the way I and most people normalize certain mainstream arrangements, and unconsciously relegate other arrangements, other desires, to the margins. I frankly feel a little indicted by John's insistence that "he's cool with" the fact that Radek is "monosexual." I value tolerance very highly, especially now when our gains in gay rights are under siege by reactionary forces in many different parts of the world, but I do tend to lose sight of the fact that the mere idea that something deserves tolerance is marginalizing. That doesn't make tolerance wrong--or diminish the hideousness or immorality of intolerance--but you just have to imagine someone glibly reassuring you that they're "totally cool with" the fact that you're a heterosexual married female to realize how annoying and condescending it would sound.All of this is just to say that the BDSM Universe is more than just a sexed up fan version of a popular TV show. It's an alternative reality that in the best tradition of thoughtful Sci-Fi twists certain of our assumptions just enough so that we can no longer take them for granted. And that does seem to me the first step in moving beyond tolerance for those on the margin towards true inclusion where there is no margin. 
"Colonel John Sheppard knew, from the moment he first met Dr Rodney McKay, that the man would be trouble.” This novel-length story is a prequel to General & Dr Sheppard telling the story of how the AU John and Rodney first got together." It was a slow burn with Dom Colonel John Sheppard pursuing the Dr. Rodney McKay. Once these guys established what each wanted from the other, we see another BDSM relationship move from a rose thorn to a rose bud. Beautiful story and fun to read. I love Xanthe's books. 
Couldn't put it down! Great character development. And it's Stargate Atlantis fanfiction! Love SGA. 
In 2007, Coming Home won the Stargate Fan Award for Best Romance in the Sheppard/McKay category as well as the multifandom Titanium Whip BDSM Award 2006/7 for Best First Time Slash and Best Spanking Scene.
In November 2006, Helen posted Take Clothes Off As Directed, a responsefic to Xanthe's story premise from Coming Home, that took the original novel's universe and restructured it into a way to explore gender roles and sexism in modern society. The story achieved popularity with some readers for its metaphorical approach to gender roles. However, the story generated a lot of controversy. See Take Clothes Off As Directed for more information.
The unique universe and strong emphasis on romantic relationships in Coming Home inspired two stories that retold the origins of the main characters and their developing connection. Both stories adhered closely to the romantic tone set forth in the original story, and the authors sought and received permission from Xanthe before posting their works.
Xanthe herself has expanded her Coming Home universe in 2008 with a sequel to General & Doctor Sheppard that features a crossover between Stargate: Atlantis and NCIS with a focus on Gibbs/DiNozzo. The title is Hiding In Plain Sight.
More broadly, the current popularity of BDSM AUs as a panfandom trope can be traced to Coming Home.
...When I came to write “General and Dr Sheppard”, and “Coming Home” in the SGA fandom, I had learned from my experience in “24/7” and I alternated points of view between the top and sub. This was my ideal writing experience and I think “Coming Home” is my very best piece of BDSM writing.
In “Coming Home”, my exploration of the top’s perspective was a particular source of pleasure for me. Often in fanfic the sub is mixed-up and the top is stalwart, caring and steady – but I wanted both sub and top to have their own issues.
In “Coming Home”, I dealt with John being a top who had only played around with the role before he fell for Rodney. Then suddenly he had all these protective and sexual urges he was struggling to control. This was an interesting area of sexual psychology to explore and I loved it. In this story, John had a need for Rodney that was raw and all-consuming, and at times Rodney had to be the strong, calm one, to bring John down from his top headspace, which can be just as powerful a place as the sub’s headspace.
The psychology of the top doesn’t tend to be explored as much as that of the sub in fanfiction, but I think it’s just as interesting and rewarding.... My epic SGA story, “Coming Home” was set entirely in an alternate reality where BDSM was the norm and most people identified as top or sub. I loved how this removed the need for our own society’s interpretation of BDSM as abnormal or just plain kinky. I didn’t have to have the characters be furtive about their needs, or worry about their sexuality because it was the norm, and nothing to be ashamed of. I loved inventing little details for this world and essentially wrote a big love story, with the major theme of two damaged people learning to trust one another and finding out more about themselves in the process. The BDSM was almost incidental, the backdrop to the world, integral and yet not the sole point of the fic. This story caused some controversy when it was posted – the fandom hadn’t experienced this kind of story before, and some people found it very challenging to see BDSM depicted in such a loving and romantic context. I realised then that there are STILL so many misconceptions about BDSM.However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the same story won in the McKay/Sheppard romance category in the recent Stargate Awards, and generated a huge amount of very positive and much appreciated feedback. It’s also true that although I’ve written in lots of genres, I’ve had by far the most feedback and the most hits on my website for my BDSM stories. They are simply the most popular of my output so there’s clearly a massive audience out there that loves reading BDSM romances.
Seperis posted an essay on fanfiction as romance, where she listed Coming Home as one of her top two choices for escapist romance reading, along with thoughts on why fandom sometimes seems to dismiss or mock the romance genre in fanfiction. Comments in the entry also explore the underrated genre and various opinions of the stories Seperis cited to illustrate a fanfiction romance.
- General & Doctor Sheppard, 14 February 2006, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- Xanthe, Author Notes , 11 September 2006, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- Seperis, Rec – Coming Home by Xanthe, 17 September 2006, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- Epic Recs, 2007
- Lilla Ford Goodreads, September 2014
- Brina Brady Goodreads, September 2013
- Anna Heidick Goodreads, July 2014
- McKay/Sheppard Fan Awards – Winners 2006 (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- Stargate Fan Awards 2007 (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- The Titanium Whip Awards – Results, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- The Space Inside 03 February 2007, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- First part: High School Confidential: John, 29 July 2008, (Accessed 17 October 2008)
- Xanthe, Writing BDSM, 31 March 2008 Accessed 17 October, 2008
- Writing BDSM
- Seperis, Romantic Shenanigans Are Like Music, You Just Need to Know What You're Hearing
- Take Clothes Off As Directed by Helenish, 15 November 2006. (Accessed 21 May 2010)