View Full Version : The First Amendment

November 17th, 2004, 07:50 PM
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<FONT SIZE=1>AUTHOR - Ashley McConnell</FONT>
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A young reporter is smuggled into Stargate Command and witnesses the top-secret project in action, prompting SG-1 to demonstrate to him just how dangerous the universe can be.

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May 17th, 2005, 06:29 PM
I finished reading The First Amendment 2 weeks ago and just wanted to share a few thoughts about it. :) Besides the original novelization of the SG movie, this is the only other actual SG book that I’ve read. JMOHO - I personally feel that there is fan fiction out there that captures the overall spirit of the SG1 characters much better than this book did. I stopped a third of the way into the book to check out the publish date (February 2000), wondering if perhaps the short amount of time the writer had watched the show (2 full seasons and most of the third) could explain why the characters seemed different and more ‘cardboard-ish’ than they were in the show. It seemed only fair to give the writer some slack since I had the benefit of 8 years worth of shows to rely on to ‘know’ the characters and she’d only had close to 3, and in all likelihood didn’t have all of the DVD’s or as many on-line resources to use back then as are available to all of us now. But since I haven’t read any of the other books by this author I’ll reserve any other judgment on the overall writing until I get my hands on another book of hers to compare it to.

But that lack of good definition between the SG1 characters made some of the book’s dialogue hard to follow at times. A few more "he said/she saids" here and there would have worked wonders (IMHO) in some passages to keep track of the speaker. Adding to the confusion was that some passages jumped POV mid-paragraph or every paragraph so that in a few spots, within the span of 2 or 3 paragraphs, you’d have visited the thoughts of all of the story’s characters. :S I can honestly tell you I had to go back and reread some of those sections to make sure I understood who had done/said what.

However the writer’s characterizations weren’t totally bad. Her Hammond was good – very good, IMO. The first two chapters (of an 18 chapter, 190-page book) were mainly Hammond’s POV – his dialogue and introspection. I liked how she wrote him – to me he was easily identifiable as the Hammond I knew from the show. Ms. McConnell developed his backstory and tied it all in to his job as commander very nicely, giving the reader an up-close and personal look at the "Day In The Life Of" a base commander. Five years after the publish date, in the ‘here and now,’ you could imagine Jack in those shoes wrestling with the same command issues.

Another interesting side note is that the book is also missing the first 2 pages of Chapter 12 (pages 119 & 120). Instead duplicates of pages 130 & 131 had been inserted there (the 1st two pages of Chapter 13). I wonder if they’ll fix it in the next printing? (The book I bought new at Borders was one of the first editions from 2000… I guess after 5 years they still aren’t selling too well? :rolleyes: ) The other thing is *coughs* that there were some spelling errors that her editor didn’t catch. In one chapter, in the span of 3 pages there were 3 different easy-to-spot errors… (So if you’re like me & come to a screeching halt at the spelling errors, typos, & the like -- do not have a red pen anywhere in the vicinity or you’ll be likely to mark the book up! :P)

I don’t know… perhaps I’m being too critical? I guess knowing the story actually got published out in the real world (versus on-line fan-fiction) to me would have meant the manuscript had been gone over several times with that proverbial fine-toothed comb. And I assumed it would have been knock-your-socks off good with great characterization since the PTB had to have read it for canon/accuracy/etc. *shrugs* Live and learn I suppose. :o :)

What is irritating to me is that this was the only SG book they had at my local Borders bookstore. There were shelves upon shelves books of ST, SW, & books from other sci-fi shows and series, but there was only 4 copies of this one book of SG1 on the shelf. I know new books are slowly being churned out now, unfortunately (for us here in the States) for the UK and European markets, but it almost seems to me that it’s too little too late… I mean the best time to catch us for new book purchases is when we’re out there "feeding" our addictions by buying DVD’s & other things with our disposable incomes… not start to market the books after we’ve started to move on from the fandom or the character make-up of the show has been drastically changed. Otherwise I’m likely to wait until I can grab it cheaply for a dollar or less at a thrift store, yard sale or flea market a long long long time from now……

{RANT}Hello PTB. I’m a voracious reader. I have disposable income. (Although in this case I had a Christmas giftcard to use up! :rolleyes: :p :D ) Why the heck are you licensing and printing books in the U.K. that shipping would cost me and arm and a leg to obtain? Get busy with some well-written books on this side of the pond and catch my disposable income while you can before my SG addiction disappears… It’s a crying shame that anyone who wanders into their local bookstore has no SG fiction to buy. Little wonder TPTB might try to say there's no demand here in the U.S. for SG fiction -- there’s virtually none to buy!http://forum.gateworld.net/images/gw_icons/icon8.gif{/RANT}

Anyhoo… Please don’t let me scare you away from reading the book -- if you’re interested in SG fiction, it is a nice read. The book will also introduce you to a character who’s related to a certain Senator on the show that we love to hate… :) :D

May 17th, 2005, 06:51 PM
One reason for there being only 4 books is because they were not well received. And i'm not talking in general, but specifically that a lot of fans, just like you, didn't care for them.

LIke you, many found them poorly researched and not very good.

Another reason why they're all you can find is the quirks of merchandising and buying the rights. ROC, IIRC, owns the rights to distribute books here in the us. Fandemonium has the rights for pretty much the rest of the world, which is why you're not likely to ever see the Fandy books here and likely won't see the ROC books on the shelves in any other country

I"m not sure where you're at, but i've always found the ROC books hard to find. it's possible that ROC, hoping to cash in on fandy's success, has cleared out their warehouses and decided to see if they can get a little money off their past investment

May 17th, 2005, 07:05 PM
oh, and shame on me.

shimmeringstar, thank you for doing this review. i'm sure, with the books apparantly getting back on the shelves, folks will appreciate it :)

May 18th, 2005, 08:06 AM
You're welcome Skydiver. :) It was just my 2-cents....

I hear you on the licensing issues. But to me it still seems like a shame. We're a big vocal, watching/reading/writing kind of audience & it's hard (well maybe it isn't) to believe that TPTB'd not want to cash in on that market as well.

Hope they change their minds soon. I'm happy SG is represented at the bookstore, even if only by this one so-so book, but myself - I'd love to see some books here in the U.S. of the caliber of Sally Malcolm kind.

I'm here in Maryland. I see plenty of Penguin books (ROC's parent co.)... can't remember if I've seen many ROC's. I think I have, but *not* SG - just other titles/shows/series.

But this was a whetting the appetite read. It's just too bad it wasn't a scrumptious hit the spot kind of read. :o :) :D

Elite Anubis Guard
May 18th, 2005, 08:52 AM
This and Resistance are the only ROC books I don't have however I did borrow it from a library a few weeks back.
As off after Price You Pay, which I really enjoyed BTW, McConnel seems to like having aliens which are gaint animals we've got here. In First Amendment theirs the Butterflys and in Morpheus theirs Squids and dogs. I did enjoy aspects of the book such as kinskys son and the whole opener with the meetings and the general house.

October 21st, 2005, 03:16 PM
I find Ms. McConnell's Stargate SG-1 novels to be decent, at best. Her charactisations are incredibly weak. Little things like almost always referring to Daniel as "Jackson" really got to me. Who the heck calls him just Jackson on the show?

The Price You Pay was pretty interesting, but The First Amendment downright stunk. This novel really does have the feel of a poorly constructed fanfic. McConnell shamelessly admits in her intro that the character Cassidy is based on someone she knows in real life. Presumeably, so is his counterpart, Pace. That deal would have been forgiveable, if she hadn't devoted so much of the book to these essentially unnecessary side characters - not to mention the fact that she put more effort into developing those individuals. Not like we even care about these two. Any of y'all pick up this book to read about military folk who wonder what goes on beneath the surface of Cheyenne Mountain? Any of y'all eagerly awaiting the spin-off series 'The Adventures of Pace and Cassidy'?

Even worse is the Mary Sue element of this book, i.e. the inclusion of Randolph and Rusalka. Talk about unnecessary characters! What exactly was the point of including random workers of the SGC, who share recipes and child care advice? Oh please! Hearing those two babble on and on with water cooler talk about SG-1 absolutely grated on the nerves. We're used to strong female characters like Sam and Janet, and the author throws in gender stereotypical swill. Really, the only thing those two ever talked about was cooking, kids, and cute guys. Why exactly were these characters written into the story when they had absolutely nothing to do with the plot? Ms. McConnell admitted to writing her "Tuckerized" former co-worker Cassidy. Who is willing to bet one of these women is based on the author and another is a friend? Or perhaps both are her.

The lead-up isn't interesting. The plot is weak and predictable. Of course, Kinsey's son isn't going to end up exposing the Stargate to the public. Of course, after he's seen the Stargate, he's going to go through and see something that makes him decide it's better that the public remain in the dark. And, of course, Kinsey's son was also depicted with more depth than SG-1.

I would say this is the weakest of her four books, by far. But then again, while some of her books have better plots, characterisation is weak in all of them. I am left to wonder why Roc didn't just decide to go with a more knowledgeable author, somebody who actually seems interested in getting a feel for each member of SG-1.