On Resignation

Scary Boston weather of the day: record low temperatures

I’ve been thinking about the difference between the traditional fanfic solutions to the J/C problem and those applied to Sam/Jack. I wasn’t expecting there to be a difference; in fact, my first Sam/Jack fic corresponds closely in approach to my first J/C fic. My idea for an ice planet fic similarly resembles my second J/C fic. And I’m not the only one giving me VOY flashbacks - SuzVoy gives me the same sense of J/C deja vu.

I was never one for taking the traditional J/C approach in which Janeway suddenly comes to her senses, tosses Starfleet regulations aside, and lives happily ever after with Chakotay. I preferred more exotic solutions to the problem of protocol. I think Suz was willing to toss protocol aside; she’s brought that plot over to Stargate - but in my ickle newbie experience, she’s in the minority. The traditional Sam/Jack approach is rather to have Jack retire from the Air Force (or otherwise slip out of the chain of command) so that Our Couple can fraternize happily ever after.

So my question is, Why? Starting with two ships that share the same basic premise (two officers who can’t be together because of military regulations), how do you get two bodies of fic that are so different, especially considering the influx of J/C fans into Stargate fandom? Why are there so many fics in which Jack retires and Sam takes over the team, but none worth mentioning in which Janeway retires and Chakotay takes over the ship? Why is protocol all in Janeway’s mind, but not all in Jack’s mind?

I know some C/7 fans who would say that this is actually the same approach - J/C fans emasculate Chakotay by making him a lapdog, and Sam/Jack fans emasculate Jack by forcing him into retirement. Jack is getting a much worse deal, though - at least Chakotay gets to keep his job, if not his dignity. Not only is retirement bad for Jack, but don’t you think Sam enjoys saving the world with Jack? Yes, she could command SG-1 herself, but Sam is a Riker - she likes it where she is.

I don’t want to get all feminist-meta on this issue. I’m not asking anyone to password protect their swooning idiot women. At this point I’d love to see Sam give up her career for Jack, just for the change of pace. In fact, within the context of their respective shows, it would be a lot easier for Sam or Chakotay to go civilian yet keep on doing their jobs. So why aren’t there as many Sam resignation fics as there are Jack resignation fics? At least Sam has marketable skills.

All meta aside, it comes down to an issue of writing: why solve the protocol problem the same way every time, when there are so many other approaches that are being neglected? For me, fanfic is about the variety. I like to use technobabble or matchmaking aliens, but you can make your pairing a test case for fraternization as in the Captain and Counselor series, or start a court martial trend to rival the Janeway/Maquis/Equinox Trial tradition of Voyager fandom. The possibilities are endless.

Then again, the problem may be all in my mind. I’m the ickle newbie so I haven’t read that many fics. Resignation may be just a passing fad.

6 Responses to “On Resignation”

  1. Jerie Says:

    I think the main reason fanfic has Jack retiring is that he was pulled OUT of retirement twice. First, for the first Abydos mission (the Movie) and secondly when the SGC started (COTG). In talking to an ex-military friend, most officers retire in their 40’s when they have 20 years of service. Jack IS this age, Sam is not.

    “Window of Opportunity” also shows Jack retiring so he is free to kiss Sam. Canon has provided this precedence, not fanfic.

    Janeway and Chakotay do not have the luxury of retiring - unless it is to leave the ship. They have been thrown into permanent positions that are theirs as long as they are physically able to do them. To retire would mean getting home or settling down on a friendly planet and colonizing it - a solution I really think would have been prudent. I mean really, why is it so important to make this 70 year journey - especially after a few years, when Voyager has become home and the people aboard are family.

    As to the question about why protocol is in Janeway’s mind, but not in Jack’s - in canon, I believe it is both of their minds - or Jack wouldn’t have been so careful to resign - even when his actions would never be known by anyone but Teal’c.

    If you are talking fanfic, then I think writers take Jack’s penchant for bending the rules and apply it to fraternization - even though the show doesn’t do this. He has been known to commit court martialable offences when he believes it is the right thing to do. Canon-wise, I don’t think he has decided this because he may not believe it is right to risk Sam’s career for their relationship. Many fanfics create a situation for the risk to be acceptable, based on what is happening in the fic.

    I have often wondered why doesn’t resign and take a civilian position at the SGC. There are other non-military members (most notably Daniel). But if Sam were in SG-1 she would still be under Jack’s command and the fraternization rules would apply whether she was a civilian or not. Still why is it so important for her to be on SG-1? That is my question.

  2. Jemima Says:

    I know there’s a canon basis for Jack retiring to kiss Sam, but that was in a dead-end timeline. Chakotay also retired from Starfleet before he became a wanted criminal in the Federation, yet he rarely retires in fic. There’s no reason why he couldn’t quit Starfleet and still do his XO things - or not do the XO things. What’s Janeway going to do - throw him off the ship? They don’t have to settle down for one of them to retire. If one of them were in a coma or dead, Voyager would go on, so one of them could retire.

    I’m not complaining about Jack’s retirement from a practical point of view, just from a fic point of view. If he retires, or Sam joins another team, there will be no more running around together on weird planets for them, but running around together on weird planets is a big part of their relationship. My question is, why don’t more fic writers try to let them have it all - SG-1 and kissyface?

  3. mike hollihan Says:

    I blame Jeri Taylor. Janeway is the reification of her obsession with non-fraternisation. Taylor wrote the novelisation of some TNG thing, and one of the invented subplots in the story had to do with Riker’s wanting a relationship with a subordinate but angsting over not “being allowed.”

    There’s also a remark she made in a TV Guide interview just before VOY started which is branded in my mind forever, that they had to deal with the problems of writing for a “female captain.” Janeway wasn’t a captain who was a woman, but a woman who was a captain. Sisko was never the “black” captain, nor Picard the “older” or “bald” captain. I’m convinced Taylor had some internalised issues that infected Janeway’s characterisation, which led to the whole Janeway/Chakotay romance “problem.” I think the “Talking Stick/Circle” fanfic series reimagined the Voyager premise nicely enough in a way that “solved” that problem. Too bad Jeri Taylor couldn’t. I mean, jeez, look how silly that whole New Earth episode, with the monkey, was! “My faith in our rescue is so strong that I can’t even make nasty with you on this private paradise, Chuckles. What kind of faith do you have? Grow some, why don’t you?”

  4. jerie Says:

    Well, technically, Chakotay isn’t in Starfleet. None of the Maquis are, but that’s how the command structure was set up to unite the two groups and distribute the duties needed to run the ship and keep the crew healthy and disciplined. And I disagree that any Voyager crewmember can retire. Voyager’s situation does not allow anyone on the ship to retire. Sure the ship goes on when a crewmember is hurt or killed but for the ship to perform optimally, all aboard need to contribute their fair share. This is one reason I was surprised that pairing off and having children *wasn’t* encouraged. The crew will need to have “new recruits” to replace aging and killed crewmembers if the journey does last the expected 70 years. This always surprised me about Janeway sticking so closely to protocols and fraternization regulations. Their situation was unique - there were no Admirals to impress or other ships to get promoted to, so the political aspects of the ship weren’t like the rest of starfleet. For Voyager to survive that long, the crew would need replacements. (Now before you go off on a semi-related tangent here, I need to make it perfectly clear that the above does not endorse J/C babyfic.)

    Jack, however, does have the whole military structure and associated political aspects attached to him. If he and Sam are caught fraternizing, her career will most likely suffer much more than his. Stargate draws on today’s societal norms, which still look down on women “sleeping around” much more than men. Jack doesn’t want her to go through that.

    Many fics let them “do the wacky” (terminology swiped from Lizbee), but usually there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth before they decide they will take that risk. You don’t like that kind of fic. Case in point: “Surface Tension” or “Christmas Flame”and it’s sequel “New Year’s Resolution”(all rated PG)

  5. Jemima Says:

    Chakotay and company have brevet commissions in Starfleet. I’m not saying any crew member could sit on their duffs all day, but some of them are not in Starfleet but still contribute to the day-to-day workings of Voyager - Neelix, Kes, Seven and Icheb are all non-Fleet. As Mike mentioned, there’s a nice solution to the Starfleet problem in Talking Stick/Circle.

    I also disagree that Sam’s career would suffer more than Jack’s. In the military, fraternization is about the superior officer taking advantage of their rank. It has nothing to do with gender, so Sam, as the subordinate, would get off easier - though maybe not easy enough.

    Janeway also angsts before she gives into the wacky impulse. I’m not sure which kind of stories you mean I don’t like - unless it’s explicit instructions on doing the wacky with no additional plot. I enjoyed “Surface Tension.” I’ll take a look at the other two, thanks.

  6. jerie Says:

    Sheesh! I’m never going to figure out what you like.
    You didn’t like “38 Weeks,” but you do like “Surface Tension.” hmmm…*shakes head*