The Price of Knowledge
|Title:||The Price of Knowledge|
|Author(s):||Jennifer Lyon and Graculus|
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Reactions and Reviews
The Price Of Knowledge holds a sentimental place in my heart as it's the first Stargate story I ever read. I remember being blown away by its combination of alternate universe, romance and adventure — which is a relatively rare combination in most fandoms, in my experience — and also by its sheer size. This one is novel length and comes in at a whopping 690KB.
The premise is fairly basic: what if Daniel and Jack never made it through the Stargate at the end of The Torment Of Tantalus? This romantic AU imagines that they are stranded on Ernest's planet and follows their adventures as they explore their new world, convinced they will never make it home to Earth.
The most unusual thing about this story is the structure. It's written by two different authors and each author writes from one particular character's point of view: Jennifer Lyon writes as Jack, while Graculus writes as Daniel. The story is told alternately via an uncommon overlapping method: Jack tells a short section of the tale, then Daniel tells his version of that section and adds a new section of the adventure, and so on. This method is fascinating because it gives two different perspectives of the same events, which can be very revealing. However, you rarely see it in fan fiction because, in my opinion, it can slow the pace of the story too much to be truly effective. The Price Of Knowledge is such a lengthy story that I think it's too long to sustain this format all the way through. Perhaps now and then, for effect, would have been a better way to go. Alternatively, the story might have been better as two companion pieces: one telling the tale from Jack's point of view, the other from Daniel's. As it is, I think one of the main reasons I find it so hard to re-read this story too often is the slowed pace dictated by the format.
There is a lot of plot to enjoy in The Price Of Knowledge. Jack and Daniel encounter an amazing amount of interesting native flora and fauna, as well as some exciting adventures, within the short time frame of the story. The only downside is the lack of any real chance for the guys to evaluate or react fully to what happens before the action moves on. It's the details of their many adventures that still capture me today when I read this story. It contains a couple of my favourite scenarios, and I still enjoy the angst that both men undergo when their lover is hurt.
I very much like the portrayal of Jack in this story. He's a survivor who gets on with the tasks at hand in the practical manner I've come to expect from this character. He's laconic, funny, tough without being superhuman, and he can admit to being in love with Daniel without too much angsty denial. Even his approach to the sexual relationship they start is very much one of taking life as it comes; he doesn't suffer from unnecessary angst, just accepts that they are now lovers with a nicely straightforward manner. However, his "voice" within the story doesn't always gel with the Jack I see in the show. I can't see him saying "Major EEEWWW factor", for example, nor is "He is sweet silken strength in my arms" something I can hear Jack thinking, even to himself. Overall, despite his tendency to talk about his emotions just a tad too openly and to think very occasionally in quite floridly "romantic" language that would make your typical male blush with embarrassment, the Jack portrayed in this story is one I pretty much recognise from the show: snarky, down-to-earth and essentially practical in nature.
Another major reason for my reluctance to re-read this story is the characterisation of Daniel, which doesn't capture me in quite the same way as Jack's "voice" does. There are times when, despite a generally accurate and canonical characterisation by the author, he is portrayed in a way that seems a tad too emotional, needy, or sometimes even slightly irrational. The behaviour I found hardest to believe in was his extreme fear of being left alone. I can understand a fear of being deserted in an alien world but this Daniel panicked every time Jack left his sight — and that was a little OTT for me. The Daniel who faced life on the alien world of Abydos for a year without a qualm just would not be this needy. However, despite these small nitpicks with the text, The Price Of Knowledge succeeds in portraying both Daniel and Jack within what I see as recognisable canon parameters for most Stargate fans, and much of the enjoyment of the story is in the personal interaction between the two men.
When I originally read this story I was completely new to fandom and unacquainted with the fanon clichés of Stargate. However, since then I've encountered them again and again, and I now find that I have less patience with their use in a story. Whenever I re-read The Price Of Knowledge, the fanon elements are much more noticeable to me, and I find that this has affected my previously unqualified enjoyment. The fannish clichés found here are usually in relation to sex. The ubiquitous "heat pooling in my groin", and "I feel as though he's going to push his way up through my heart" — a phrase which always sort of squicked me — are both here. (The latter is followed immediately by a phrase so purple — "Piercing me like Cupid's Arrow itself." — that I definitely can't hear Jack O'Neill saying it.) The general sexual clichés are all here too: the magical erections that renew themselves within minutes of an orgasm; the eagerness with which both men want to be fucked, even though they've never "bottomed" before; the subsequent sexual ecstasy both feel the first time they have anal sex; and the use of strange fluids for lubrication — in this case, they use sunscreen and all I can say is: "ouch". There's also rather too much screaming going on when they have sex, which I found rather repetitive after a while and it made me wonder if they were in pain! There's nothing wrong with any of these things except that they have become, by virtue of constant use, clichés that lose their ability to please some readers. Any reader who likes the use of fanon or who is unaware of it (as I was when I first read this story) will just enjoy the action and the unique situations in which the guys manage to have sex.Despite any minor reservations I may have now, I really enjoyed this story when I first encountered it and it was a great introduction to Stargate fandom. Anyone who enjoys a good, meaty, romantic adventure story and doesn't mind alternate universes should find The Price Of Knowledge a wonderfully original and readable Stargate adventure.