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Jennifer Keller

A reader asks, "What's your obsession with Keller? She's boring, she's wooden, and she's the worst character on the show. Why don't TPTB get off trying to shove Keller down our throats and realize she's not going to work? Just kill her off or leave her on Earth! She was badly written on the show and a waste of space. Don't you know that everyone hates her?"

Well, first of all, not everyone hates her. I understand that you do. But pretty much every character in Stargate has fans and haters. The job of a tie-in writer is to write all of the canon characters as well as possible, with sympathy and attention -- to try to include everyone and to give each of the series characters a chance to shine. Just killing off a main character or leaving them on Earth isn't playing the game. That's not what tie ins do. In fanfiction, yes. Sure. In fanfic I can kill anyone I want to, or have them decide to just walk out the door and never appear again. But in professional fiction, my job is to replicate the experience of watching the series as much as possible. Legacy is supposed to be season six -- which means Jennifer is there, just as she would have been onscreen.

Yes, I agree that her characterization was inconsistent on the show. That's a problem. But that's a problem that scriptwriters for season six would have had to contend with too. Her backstory in Trio and her backstory in Quarantine seem contradictory. But there it is. It's up to the tie in writer to make sense of it, to try to take these contradictory elements and make sense of them in a way that creates a whole, internally consistent character.

Lastly, there is no pleasing everyone, especially in terms of shipping. Jennifer and Rodney? Jennifer and Ronon? Jennifer and nobody? At a certain point, tie-in writer and show's writers are both in a bind -- there is no direction you can go that won't displease a significant number of people. The usual fix is to do nothing. Characters sit in limbo season after season, for years and years, apparently stuck in junior high school, unable to actually have adult relationships because any relationship would make someone mad! Or worse, there's the tease -- dropping hints and clues in more than one direction to feed every ship just a little bit without consummating any relationship. Eventually, this gives the impression that your characters are mentally ill or terribly manipulative. Or you can actually let the relationships play out in adult and realistic ways, knowing that some people in the audience aren't going to like it.

But more will. If a writer, whether of a tie-in or of the show, is doing their job well, most people will get on board or at least tolerate characters having relationships. For a while there has been the conventional wisdom that the male lead can never be in an established relationship because he has to be free to romance the babe of the week. Besides, guys in relationships are stuffy old dads who are too boring to be action heroes! Fortunately, this trope seems to be going away somewhat. I don't think that established relationships are boring, nor do I think the male lead of a show has to be chasing a different female guest star every week in order to be manly. (Farscape, folks?) Also, established relationships with complicated histories can be far more interesting than the tired old story of "this is how we met." (Sanctuary, anyone?)

In short, no, we can't drop Jennifer, and we wouldn't if we could. She's part of the main cast at the end of season five, and it's up to us to make her interesting and sympathetic. I'm sorry if we haven't made her work for you, but I'm not sure we were going to.



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Nov. 17th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
So, your Atlantis books are Keller heavy? I'm sorry to heart that. I guess I'll have approach them with caution then. Her character was so unappealing that I couldn't handle Keller heavy episodes, let alone books. Most of SGA S5.1 was simply unwatchable for me because of her and thanks to episodes like Brain Storm or Identity my dislike for her turned into real hatred. Oh well, good to know, better to be prepared than disappointed.
Nov. 17th, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
There is about the same amount of her that there was on the show. She's there, but she doesn't get as much screen time as the gate team.
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Nov. 17th, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC)
Exactly. In real life, either people would start something or drop it. They don't hang around having UST for five years. Past a certain point the characters stop seeming realistic.

In decades past most shows took place in the eternal present. In other words, at the end of each episode things essentially reset to the way they were at the end of the pilot, to the premise of the show. There were few multi episode arcs, and generally speaking the things that happened one week had disappeared next week -- a broken leg in episode 14 was gone in episode 15 as though it had never existed. The hero fell in love in episode 17 and she died. In episode 18 he'd forgotten all about it!

This is a really old fashioned mode of storytelling today! Most viewers expect a season to have an overarching plot arc, and for the events of one episode to have consequences in the next one.
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Nov. 17th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Keller and other reasons to be jealous of the lucky women on SGA:)
I was a late arrival as far as SGA is concerned. I actually caught it for the first time the week it was to be cancelled. I was lucky that an SGA marathon was playing on SciFi at the time so I was able to catch many of the episodes.

So, what did I walk away with? "Who is that gorgeous actor playing John Sheppard and why haven't I ever heard of him before?" It was a travesty that I had missed 5 seasons of his acting. But enough about me...the greater tragedy? That even I, a relative newcomer to the series, could see the attraction from the first meeting between Teyla and Sheppard.

There were dropped hints in Sunday that there might be something going on, but nothing more was said. Then BAM! She's pregnant with another man's child and Sheppard is acting overprotective and jealous. Later, he's pretty much out of control as he does everything possible to save Teyla in season 4 & 5--even traveling 40,000 years in order to do so. I thought he was going to shoot Kanaan during the rescue mission.

I thought after everything was said and done that they'd at least hint at something in the season finale, something to sooth my inner shipper. But no...it was obvious that Ronon and Amelia had something going between them, and of course, the ever despised Keller and McKay (which I had no problem with, BTW):) I never realized anyone hated her until I read it in some fanfiction.

But Sheppard and Teyla are standing apart on the balcony, not even within touching distance. That picture was the biggest disappointment to me of the finale because I knew that any chance at their relationship finally being acknowledged was over. With no SGA movie in sight to correct TPTB's mistakes, I knew that J/T would only exist in fanfiction.

So, thank you for Legacy. It's been a wonderful ride so far. Your writing has fleshed out many of the characters' backgrounds and for that alone I'm grateful.

I hope you write a Season 7, because there just is never enough Sheppard.:)
Nov. 17th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Keller and other reasons to be jealous of the lucky women on SGA:)
I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far! We've had a wonderful time writing it, and it's sad to be coming to the end.

The series didn't end so much as stop -- and I suspect that's because they hoped it would be continued in movies, but that was not to be. And so everything was left hanging, unresolved and unresolvable. It's been an incredible experience to try to tie up the plots left hanging in a way that feels like Stargate.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 17th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you didn't find them overdone. The gate team are the main characters, as in the show, and each of them does get their own book to be "their episode." And of course the first and last books are complete ensembles! I hope you enjoy The Inheritors.
Nov. 17th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
>>>Or you can actually let the relationships play out in adult and realistic ways, knowing that some people in the audience aren't going to like it.

But more will. >>

That remains to be seen.

It's also a sure-fire way to lose parts of your audience. How big that part is can vary, of course. But just because an author prefers a certain relationship (and tries to write it as good as he or she can) doesn't mean that the majority of the audience will finally come around to like it as well or even accept it.

Pairing Jennifer with Rodney just because a certain writer of the TV series wanted to fulfil his personal "dream" of "the geek gets the girl" (as stated in an interview IIRC) doesn't mean that the majority of the audience would finally like this as well (perhaps not even if it had been written better) and I guess the same applies to the "Legacy" books. Just because the authors like the pairing of John/Teyla doesn't mean the majority of the show's audience will finally like it as well.

Of course, the feedback will probably come mostly from readers who liked John/Teyla anyway and find the books catering to their preferences. The disappointed readers who dislike the pairing or prefer no pairing at all will most likely in their majority not bother to write feedback on this but will simply stop reading.

It's a different matter with original fiction and storytelling because the expectations of the reading audience is different - you don't have an audience with various preferences coming from several seasons of history. But if you write for a tv-series that has several seasons of history and then you start to push a pairing in their faces - IMHO a move of questionable cleverness. You *will* lose some of the audience, the series authors had to learn that as well when they pushed Rodney/Jennifer.

And you (generic "you", of course) won't even win new people as an audience because nobody is starting to watch or read an established series just because the authors started to pair up some of the major characters.

IMO starting to pair up major characters permanently late in a series is just a way to lose parts of your established audience without gaining newcomers. You can call it an outdated way of storytelling and for original fiction I would actually agree with you, but personally I find it is different with an established series.

It's just my personal opinion, of course.

Nov. 17th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
As I said to begin with, it's impossible to please everybody. Past about halfway through the first season of any show, people have made their minds up about pairings, and there will be people who don't like any development. So it really is a question of storytelling style: is this like Original Series Star Trek or The Man From UNCLE or an older style of show where you know that the main characters will remain essentially unchanged by their experiences and will certainly never form permanent relationships? Or is this the newer style of show like Battlestar Galactica or Farscape where each episode's events impact each future episode and the characters' relationships develop and change?

It seems to me that in terms of mode of storytelling, Stargate is firmly within the newer style. For example, Daniel's marriage to Sha're didn't disappear or cease to be important. What happened with Sha're played out over several seasons. Ditto Teal'c's marriage and relationship with his son. Even Daniel's death, though he came back, wasn't handwaved away as though it had never happened. In Atlantis, Carson's death had impact, as did Elizabeth's loss. For that matter, Elizabeth's dissolving relationship on Earth had consequences that played out over several episodes -- Simon wasn't forgotten the moment he was offscreen.

And Rodney and Jennifer's relationship was developed over a full season. Now, that doesn't mean it was well-written, or that the viewers liked it, but it's there. It's part of the story, and it has to come to resolution.

Our job in these books is to resolve. It's to write an ending. It's to tie up the plot threads left hanging, to come to conclusions, to give Stargate Atlantis the ending it never got on screen. That's what the Legacy series is for. And of course there is no ending that will satisfy everyone. But I hope most people will find that it's better than where it was left.
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Nov. 17th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
I love your (and your co-authors) Legacy series books and I think you are doing a wonderful job with all the characters, including Jennifer. She has become a much more interesting and rounded person through books. The path that her relationship with Rodney has taken makes perfect sense, given the circumstances. And the way she relates to Todd and vice-verse is also original and very interesting. I can't wait for the sixth book, but it will also be very sad to see the end of the series. Will there be more SGA or is this truly it?
Nov. 17th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Jennifer and Rodney is definitely a challenging relationship to write, and I think they've come to a real crisis based on where they actually are in their lives.

I don't know if there will be more SGA. MGM has not said whether or not they are renewing the license for the books again. If they do, then there may be more. If not...perhaps sometime in the future.
Nov. 17th, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
I actually loved Keller and her effect on Rodney's character seemed to me part of a series-long arc that made him bearable. Don't get me wrong, he's very well-played, I just have too many of him in my real life for him to be entertaining as he was on SG1. So there. :)

Plus, I quite miss the lead actor romancing the guest star every week. Guess I'm a true child of 70's TV or something. It doesn't have to be the lead, but I generally wish someone were the playboy/girl. It doesn't matter to me which, but I think American audiences have a lot of baggage around a woman engaging easily in sex.

I think all your points are great--I don't expect to be pleased all the time and I actually expect my taste to be unusual, based on experience--I just thought I would chime in to offer a dissenting voice.
Nov. 17th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
Oh absolutely American audiences have trouble with women engaging easily in sex! Which was one of the things I loved about Sanctuary -- Helen had all the exes, and pretty much all of them were wonderful!
Nov. 17th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
I wasn't one of Keller's biggest fans when the show was still running but that was due to how she was written, not how she actually was. I saw her as a character with a lot of potential but on screen it seemed very much like she was just there to satisfy Gero's and Mallozzi's obession wth Jewel Staite and to pair their self-insert Rodney off with her. She did grow on me but episodes like Brain Storm made it especially hard...

Anyway. I love the way you, Amy and Melissa wrote/write her because you let her be what TPTB never allowed her to. She grew on me in the Legacy books, a lot more than she did on screen. Well done! I thank you for that and I really need to catch up with Legacy...
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad she's growing on you. There are a bunch of clunky Jennifer episodes, and there really is the issue of inconsistent backstory between the episodes Quarantine and Trio, but all we can do is work with that. I'm glad to know our attempts to flesh her out are working for you.
Nov. 17th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
I felt that the McKay / Keller relationship was sudden in the tv series, however excepted this. However I feel in the legacy series you have really help me to understand this relationship, especially in Homecoming when we see them living together on earth but also how Keller deals with Rodneys disappearance. I totally understand that to stay canon there were certain things that couldn't change. I have really enjoyed seeing how you have developed their relationship and look forward to the final installment. Great job all three of you!
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it's working better for you in the Legacy series. As you say, we can't just change everything or write Jennifer off the show, and so the challenge is to make sense of what we see and develop it toward a coherent whole.
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
I think I'll have to pick these up now.

I was a big shipper of John/Teyla from the moment they met (and I don't consider them at all analogous to Jack/Sam, which I dislike), and I thought it was horrible that they had to pull a different relationship out of nowhere for her when the actress was pregnant. Come on, Amanda was pregnant and they didn't have to shoehorn it into Sam's character somehow (oh god, can you imagine?). And there's camera and wardrobe tricks to hide it (Dr. Quinn, HIMYM). I would love to read J/T coming back to that original chemistry.
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
Spoiler, but John and Teyla do get together in the Legacy series. Some people like it and some don't, depending on whether they can see them as a couple or not. I thought it was a really big deal for MGM to approve that.
Francesco M. DiGiovanni
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC)
Stargate Legacy #6: The Inheritors
For the last several months, www.stargatenovels.com has been saying the E-book for the Inheritors will be available in November 2012. November 2012 is almost over and Barnes and Noble and Amazon still do not have any updated information nor even seem aware the e-book exists and/or is supposed to be coming. And the information at stargatenovels.com on it has not been updated for a long time.
What is the present status and likely availability date of the Inheritors for the Nook?

Francesco DiGiovanni
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Stargate Legacy #6: The Inheritors
It will be January. The Inheritors is currently back from first edits, so about eight weeks is likely.
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:04 am (UTC)
I never liked Keller much, but I must admit that I find her to be well written in the Legacy series. Even though I find her character just as annoying as I found her on the show. But as far as her relationship with Rodney is concerned, I don't find it forced at all. It was even hinted at in "The Last Man". I think she is good for Rodney, having well seen his weak points and still appreciating his better side. I hope their relationship gets fixed by the end of Inheritors.
I also find John and Teyla a good pairing. Even though John was shown to be still interested in Larrin well into the fifth season (see the end of "The Lost Tribe"), Teyla is much better for him. Unlike the bossy Larrin, Teyla would understand Sheppard much better and be more supportive of him. Besides, I really disliked Kanaan for his cowardly ways. I would have shot him myself in "Search and Rescue". So, no complaints here.
But this comments section seems somewhat inclined to complaints, so I'll voice mine here, even though they have nothing to do with Jennifer.
What I really didn't get was why the wraith seemed to believe that some human women were queens in the same way that wraith queens were. Surely they must have known that in humans about 50% of the population are females. Or that humans have different social structures. And why did Dust refer to Teyla as "the young queen"? She was just one of the many women on Atlantis, even though she was the only one with wraith telepathy capabilities. And how did he know she was pregnant with her first son? Why does he assume Sam would find Teyla a threat and not others? It is this part of the series that I find rather baffling, as it shows the wraith (or at least Dust) knowing a lot of things about Atlantis, and yet misunderstanding a lot of things in ways they shouldn't. Todd/Guide also should know enough about humans not to make such assumptions, and yet he is shown as thinking Keller is also a sort of queen (even though, when he feeds on Death's hive, he doesn't find anything special about feeding on a female human - to him, it's just another human.
Anyway, aside from such things that I find inconsistent, I really liked the series. The fact that I liked it enough to get geeky about details should be proof enough. Anyway, I am looking forward to "Inheritors" finally making an appearance, as well as to "Ouroboros" - I am really curious about how Guide& Co are portrayed there. And I really hope that you and your fellow writers find it in yourselves to come up with a little more in the future.
Nov. 18th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
About the Wraith -- it's one thing to know someone has a different culture, and another to not see them through the lens of your own cultural assumptions. For example, if we see a woman with a child, we tend to assume that she's the child's mother. However, she may be from a culture where children are raised by servants and she's a nanny. Or she may be from a culture where children are raised by older siblings and she's the child's sister. Or aunt. Or grandmother. Or teacher. A friend of mine is Latina and lives in a metro area. When she goes to the park with her lighter-skinned son she's always mistaken for the nanny -- because in that culture, in that place and time, there are a lot of Latina nannies for highly paid Caucasian women. That's the assumption of people in that culture. And we all do it -- we all look at others through our cultural lens. In the US, a young man and woman shopping together are often assumed to be dating, rather than being brother and sister, which would be the assumption in many other parts of the world.

So yes, the Wraith "know" that humans are culturally different, but there are many human cultures and many Wraith cultures, and "knowing" doesn't mean being free of their own cultural perspective.
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:23 am (UTC)
Ah someone kicked the Keller wasp's nest. Memories of the fan war's of 2007/08....Good times, good times........

In all seriousness I will admit to not being one of Jennifer Keller's greatest fans. Okay in the television show I hated her with the heat of a supernova and after reading all the Legacy books to date I have to admit I am still not warming up to her and I don't think I ever will. Two things however, firstly and most importantly the Keller character being there doesn't detract one iota from the overall storyline and secondly on a story as vast and complicated as Stargate Atlantis the odds are always that you are not going to like every character or the way every character develops. That doesn't mean however that there aren't a lot of people out there who do enjoy them and the authors have to try and cater for the whole audience and the remit set by MGM and I have to say I think they are doing a darn good job. So if anyone is letting the Keller character stop them from reading the books then as someone who shares their loathing of her as a character I have to say I think they are cutting off their noses to spite their face.

John/Teyla......I have to admit I could have lived without that plot point; I was never a fan of that potential pairing on the show and I'm not sure I think it's working in the books. I find myself wanting to like them as a couple but as yet I'm just not feeling it, maybe it's something that will grow on me during the Inheritors.

Let me just reiterate however that overall I have really really enjoyed Legacy, it's been great to have more stories with the characters from the show and be introduced to some new ones (can I just say how much I love both Eva and William). Of course there are some things that haven't worked for me on a personal level, I'm sure everyone who reads the books have things that they love and things that they would perhaps have liked to see go differently, but overall the story has been engaging and has really felt like stargate and is very much a case of more than the sum of it's parts.

I suppose the acid test for everyone is do they want more? For me it's a case of absolutely, any day.
Nov. 18th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
That doesn't mean however that there aren't a lot of people out there who do enjoy them and the authors have to try and cater for the whole audience

Exactly! Every character has people who love them and people who hate them. Our job is to present all of them fairly and interestingly. The gate team are the main characters, and so they get the most screen time, but everyone has to get at least some good stuff. I'm glad you think we're doing a good job with that.
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:38 am (UTC)
Very well said. The three of you have done an excellent job with all of the characters, keeping everything well in balance and most importantly for me, having everything make sense. You have nailed their voices, and since we're talking about Keller here, you have fleshed her out for me, and in the Legacy series she finally feels like a real person to me.

I hope that MGM does decide to renew so that there will be more SGA novels, because I would love to see the three of you write more in this universe. My Nook is waiting! :)
Nov. 18th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I won't say that Jennifer is the easiest character for me to write, as we're very different, but I'm glad it's working for you!
Nov. 18th, 2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
Jennifer is a challenge to write because she is so badly portrayed in the show, but that can also make it far more fun to work with, as at least you can develop what's lacking. As for who I think she should be with, well, we all know the answer to that.

However, it bothers me someone would refuse to read a book because of one character? I'm thinking of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which has one of the most repulsive antiheroes I've ever read. I loathed Covenant with a passion, but because I cared about the others, I had to see the story through to the end. And damn, those are fine, fine books.

Personally, I think you've all done a sterlng job in keeping the balance right - though there's never enough Wraith in anything for a Wraith fan! *shrug and sheepish grin* Or Guide. Guide thinks there's never enough Guide, though.
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
I must agree here, that there is never enough Guide, or wraith. And it's quite a shame that there's only one volume left of the series. I already feel somewhat depressed when I realise that there's nothing coming after Inheritors! How will I get my fix?
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