sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-05 11:34 am

The Difference Engine: Epilogue

The early study of science, combining chemistry, metallurgy,
physics, medicine, and mysticism in the search for revelation.

The databurst from Earth came in the early afternoon, local time, and carried with it an entire packet of documentation on Tria Prima. Doctors at Cheyenne Mountain had taken over the study, a smooth if somewhat intense handoff (Rodney McKay was nothing if not intense) once John was capable of returning to Atlantis. The surgery had taken its toll on his body, which still twinged a little in the mornings all these weeks later, and the cold-start had given him an odd sense of disconnect that only began to fade when he was back -- back home, back in Atlantis where he'd learned how to be a human being again.

The databurst also contained the early proofs of a paper Dr. Jackson was working on about societal views of Artificial Intelligence, as well as a short video-brief from General O'Neill and a document labeled LtC JOHN SHEPPARD EYES ONLY.

He opened the document, studied it with a faint smile, and transferred it to a tablet to carry down to the labs.

As expected, McKay and Zelenka were alone in the lab, reviewing the Tria Prima documentation. He leaned in the doorway and waited for them to start arguing about something (never a long wait) before he cleared his throat.

"We must revisit the idea of a bell for you," Zelenka said, without looking up. "Go away, McKay is busy, no time for shenanigans."

"Won't take long," John drawled. "Stick around, Radek, this is for both of you."

Then they did look up at him, Rodney leaning against the desk expectantly. John held up the tablet, shook it a little, and then began reading off it.

"Dear Colonel Sheppard -- "

"Fan mail," Rodney snorted, turning back to his computer.

"They said I could write to you once the surgery was over and I was feeling better. I wanted to write to Doctor McKay and Doctor Zelenka too, but yours was the only email address I had. Guess you guys must be posted somewhere pretty dangerous if they've classified your email," he continued, ignoring Rodney's dismissive wave. "My name's Captain James Thatcher, and they tell me I'm the second man in the world to have a computer for a brain."

Whatever McKay's hands had been doing, they stilled; Zelenka was listening, head cocked.

"One of the doctors gave me your book," John continued, "and I wanted to say thank you. And to Dr. McKay and Dr. Zelenka for inventing all this. I guess you know it's not the easiest thing and I've got a lot to adjust to, but it beats being dead and that's what's important."

McKay snorted, but it was less derisive now.

"Hope this letter finds you well. Tell the Doctors thank you from me. I think it's a good thing they did here. Guess my two-year-old probably thinks the same. Sincerely, Captain James Thatcher, USAF, 332d AEW."

He looked up to find both men at a loss for words, practically an unheard-of event.

"Blatant romanticism," McKay said finally, not quite meeting John's eyes. "My heartstrings remain oddly un-tugged."

"Well, Rodney, that's because you have no soul," John replied, grinning.

"Excuse me," Zelenka said, also not meeting anyone's eyes and sniffling suspiciously. "I think I will go find something to eat in the mess."

John stepped aside to let him out the door, then closed the space between himself and Rodney in a few swift steps.

"Hey, Dr. McKay," he said, and Rodney looked up. "Think you did a good thing? Got your very own tin soldier, clockwork man -- "

"John -- "

"Yeah," he agreed, though he wasn't sure it had been meant that way. "Got me."

There was a sort of peace in kissing Rodney, in letting his thoughts fall away until the only thing left was the single code, the one he'd written himself -- Protect Listen Love Desire Mine Mine Mine Mine Mine.


Story Notes.

Beautiful work

(Anonymous) 2010-08-04 09:07 am (UTC)(link)
I've spent the last few days avidly reading your stories. I should have probably dropped a line on each, but I found myself closing the window as soon as I had finished one and racing on to the next! Thank you for your thoughtfulness, your joy in words and your care. Thank you for the gift of your imagination. I love your work!


(Anonymous) 2010-08-10 04:10 am (UTC)(link)
So very lovely - I especially admire how you integrated Sheppard's personality with his robotic thought processes. This story also has the added bonus of proving how much of a gigantic freak Sheppard is, that this could even be possible :D
sundara: (Default)

[personal profile] sundara 2010-08-15 05:44 am (UTC)(link)
Fabulous story! Lovelovelove how so much of canon fits eerily right into this story, how canon-John is weirdly 'different', enough so this story works seamlessly. Love your taut writing style--no wasted words, yet lush all the same. And your depth of characterization is just....*kisses fingers*. Fabuloso. Found you through a friend who rec'd your current White Collar I usually don't read in-progress stuff, but the WC is beyond excellent. Can't wait to read it all. Thanks for sharing your creativity with us.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-20 03:10 am (UTC)(link)
this was wonderful
fabulous way to explain sheppard's not quite correct emotions in canon

love how it evolves as an AI would learn and change
really enjoyed this ,thank you


(Anonymous) 2010-08-29 03:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, well done.

Fantastic story.
supermouse: Simple blue linedrawing of a stylised superhero mouse facing left (Default)

[personal profile] supermouse 2010-09-05 11:30 am (UTC)(link)
Hey, this is really good. And, by the time I finished reading it, I had forgotten you'd written it, so I was surprised to see your name at the top. I suppose this is proof you can do different narrative voices and styles.

The story was intense. No constructive crit, since I fell into the story and never paused until it was done. The last part was a real tear-jerker.

(Anonymous) 2010-09-20 05:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for sharing this...I don't really have words.
billions_of_stars: (Default)

[personal profile] billions_of_stars 2010-11-21 11:18 am (UTC)(link)
Interesting premise, and a very funny and touching execution. Thanks for the great read!

(Anonymous) 2010-12-12 01:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Your story is really beautiful !I reall like how you show the problem with AI (is he a huma , does he feel?).
I like your o'neill,jackson ,carson ,radek and mac kay.
I really like how you show us that john learn to have feeling.I'm pretty sure he has now all the feeling!

(Anonymous) 2011-01-19 06:44 am (UTC)(link)
Just discovered this in your archive and... :D

At first glance, this was totally one of those idea that seemed like crack, but- holy shit- you actually made this work! I love your John and his Rodney and it all seems so weirdly plausible the way you tell a story. (Of course there was wankery! And eye laser jokes!) And the ending... very satisfying. Sometimes, it's not all about John/Rodney. A bit late in coming, but a great deal of love for this story!
pionie: (Default)

[personal profile] pionie 2011-02-01 10:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed this story, particularly, well everybody! Everyone seemed like a real person, even the clockwork one.

I Couldn't Stop Reading

(Anonymous) 2011-02-07 03:19 pm (UTC)(link)
OMG! I am new to your stories - I have no idea why I never saw them before, but am sooo glad that I have found them now :o)

And this one is just amazing. You totally retained John's voice, even as a robot, and Rodney was perfect, too. So beautifully done! Thank you so much for writing this - it's going to be a favourite forever, now!

You so rock!

ceares: cookie all grown up (Default)

[personal profile] ceares 2011-02-13 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
So I managed to control the spamming as I raced through your work with glee. Loved it all, the HP, the SGA, the Sherlock(so so much)and the White Collar which a few, Jeffrey Nullier's Man with Fedora and Paperchase have definitely made it onto my favorite fics list. Frankly Man with a Fedora would make a gorgeous episode. So glad to have found your fic,it's truly been a pleasure and I'm only sorry that I'm not into the other fandoms you've written in.
mecurtin: John Sheppard, cutest little signifier ever (John is the cutest signifier)

[personal profile] mecurtin 2011-02-27 06:51 am (UTC)(link)
I've been going through my old recs list at delicious, fixing bad links, and came to this one. I put up the rec and got sucked into re-reading the story, for the first time in a while.

It still works.
sunnyd_lite: by Drusplace (Default)

Difference Engine

[personal profile] sunnyd_lite 2011-03-07 10:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow-- this was fabulous. Adored the little details (laser eye beams!/why play Prime Not Prime) but what made it soar was the characterization.

Perfect title -- beautiful piece.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2011-04-09 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
ivadel: (Default)

[personal profile] ivadel 2011-06-01 01:36 am (UTC)(link)
One of your White Collar works was just recc'd at Crack Van. Looking for that fic, I found this story. It's wonderful, touching, and all those other good praise words that get hauled out when you find something original and fine. Thank you for sharing.
bead: (Atlantis - John/Stupidhead)

[personal profile] bead 2011-06-23 06:14 am (UTC)(link)
You know, this just explains SO much about John. So, so, much.

(Anonymous) 2011-09-15 05:13 am (UTC)(link)
This is amazing. No other words for it. Kudos to you. Thank you for writing this and sharing it.
samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)

[personal profile] samjohnsson 2011-10-28 10:29 pm (UTC)(link) did I miss this the first time I went stalking through your corpus? Brilliantly written, and perfectly sensible for John. And I adored all the literary references!

(and now, back to _Dead Isle_. I am now a Sam!addict, apparently.)
glibbit: (Default)

[personal profile] glibbit 2012-03-18 06:48 pm (UTC)(link)
This was beautiful and kind of everything I love condensed in one excellent fic. Thank you :)
sobelle: (Default)

[personal profile] sobelle 2012-06-13 03:17 am (UTC)(link)
How did I miss this? Or did I read it and it got lost in my faulty circuitry?

All I know is that it's marvelous, wonderful and I'll be re-reading as I'm sure I'll be picking up new thoughts on each.
tabaqui: (Default)

[personal profile] tabaqui 2012-07-06 02:33 am (UTC)(link)
Ah, man.
*wipes eyes*

That was heartbreaking and lovely and horrifying and omgdon'tturnhimoff!! and just....

Great Story!

(Anonymous) 2012-09-30 07:09 pm (UTC)(link)
I just finish your story, it's great, has good plot, sub-plots, and twist and turns. I never know what's going to happen next until the end. I am so glad I find it.

(Anonymous) 2012-11-20 10:46 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you. I don't know what else to say. This is a lovely story, and unlike McKay, my heartstrings were most definitely tugged.
kat_of_rafters: (Default)

[personal profile] kat_of_rafters 2013-01-03 02:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Only you could make me love McShep. Only you.

Your works in SGA are just as amazing as your Torchwood stuff, I see. I don't know what superpower gives you the ability to write these characters with such life, but I bow down to it. Your own perfect little robot- brains, down to the proper Czech accent. Thank you for another spectacular adventure, another world for my thoughts to lavish in, and an insight into how this McShep thing could actually work (though Sheppard/Weir will always be foremost in my heart).

Now excuse me while I go back all your stuff up to my Kindle.
mf_luder_xf: (SGA Weir)

[personal profile] mf_luder_xf 2014-01-17 05:01 am (UTC)(link)
This was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed John writing a book and the experiences we are familiar with seen through his - yet somewhat different - eyes. I also enjoyed the Daniel and Jack (and sometimes John) interaction. And the epilogue was truly stirring.

(Anonymous) 2014-03-26 07:41 pm (UTC)(link)
This is my third read through of this story. Every time I'm just blown away by it (you're an amazing writer, Sam). It always leaves me chewing over the same point though: namely that clockwork!JS (for want of a better way to distinguish them) is intrinsically not the same person as the original John Sheppard.

For me, the procedure John undergoes of having his memories copied across and having code added never strikes the chord of saving his life. Rather, that they have created a copy of his mind and plugged it into his original body. The chemistry of the brain dictates everything about us, a million little nuances that make up a person. So with the death of the organic material, so too the original John Sheppard dies.

That is not to say that the 'clockwork man' version of John Sheppard is not a person. Just... not the same person.

And so I can never work out why this never occurs to John or anyone else? He's intelligent enough to realise that code can never fully mimic the interaction of millions of synapses. He would almost certainly make different decisions to the original John Sheppard. Surely at some point he would come to feel that he has moved away from that original identity? Or is it so solidly built into his code that it will never occur to him and he will always remain secure in his identity?

Either way, it leaves me grieving for the original John Sheppard, while at the same time feeling for the new John Sheppard, who is both John Sheppard and, in his own way, a completely different person at the same time!

Phew. As is probably clear, your story gave me a lot of feels. ;) If you feel so inclined, I would love to hear your views on this. In any case, thanks for a great read.

(Anonymous) 2014-03-26 08:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Edit: That should really, really read 'namely that, in my interpretation, clockwork!JS (for want of a better way to distinguish them) is intrinsically not the same person as the original John Sheppard. '