Fandom: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
Character: Seamus Harper
E-Mail: chickadee _ from _ 3 @ yahoo . com
Spoilers: All five seasons, plus Coda and some Internet materials
Notes: Deep gratitude to Niko's transcript site, which came in immensely handy; to Andromeda-Web, from which the screencaps I used came from; and to the EI Harperchondriacs, who have provided so much material in the years that I've know them. Thanks, guys.
In October 2002, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda premiered on syndicated television and quickly acquired a small but dedicated fanbase. It told the story of Captain Dylan Hunt, a soldier in the Systems' Commonwealth High Guard. When the Nietzscheans, a self-centered race of survivalists, turned against and overthrew the Commonwealth, Dylan's first officer and best friend, Gaheris Rhade, betrayed him. A risky move in the resultant battle stranded Dylan and the sentient starship he commanded, the Andromeda Ascendant, in the event horizon of a black hole, frozen in time. When they were recovered three hundred years later, the Commonwealth was long gone and they found themselves in a universe in chaos.
Their salvation from the black hole came in the from of a straggly group of salvagers, led by Captain Beka Valentine, onboard a rusty, homebuilt cargo ship called the Eureka Maru. Her crew had pulled the Andromeda out under the belief that it was open salvage, and they would be able to make a tidy profit selling off the stripped-down ship; instead, they found themselves in a battle for control against the antique captain and the AI herself.
And in the end, Dylan offered the salvagers a place to stay, and steady (if unpaid) employment, as he realized he needed a crew to help him in his quest to restore the Commonwealth to the universe.
The five-season series followed Dylan, Andromeda, and Beka, along with Seamus Harper and Trance Gemini, throughout the three galaxies; the Magog monk Rev Bem was also a member of the crew for the first two seasons, while Nietzschean Tyr Anasazi stayed around for the first three; Telemachus Rhade, the descendant of Dylan's Nietzschean first officer, joined the crew in season four, and an android called Doyle completed the crew in season five. A constantly changing mandate, a dramatic change of writing staff, and severe budget and casting issues crippled the show severely, but the stubbornly devoted core fanbase stayed throughout to see what happened to the crew they had grown to fall in love with.
While each character quickly developed a vocal following on the Internet, the demonstrably loudest following was reserved for the young engineer Seamus Zelazny Harper.
On the Screen
"Oh, good. Now for another chapter in 'The World According to Seamus Harper'."
"Hey, my favorite book. Chapter 12, Paragraph 8, Verse 3. The universe hates you. Deal with it."
We were first introduced to Seamus Harper as a short, easily annoyed engineer with a rash. He mocked the Maru crew's employer, Gerentex, to his face, bragged about his genius, lusted after technology, and daydreamed about buying a seraglio.
But we were also shown that his bragging wasn't empty, as he consistently pulled engineering feats that left his crewmates pointing out the impossibility of what just happened: he found a twenty-million-cubic-meter ship in a vortex of ten trillion cubic meters, turned the Maru into a Roman candle to escape the black hole, cracked the Andromeda's IS Net, and deduced a way to leave a trail for Beka and Dylan to follow when Gerentex stole the Maru and ran.
His love of technology is probably one of his most immediate defining characters. Yes, he flirts endlessly with the Andromeda AI, who looks like a gorgeous human woman, but it's not the hormone-driven "pretty-girl-drool" reaction you might expect: before he even knows that the Andromeda has an AI, he's comparing her to works of art ("a Durer etching, or the Parthenon...OR, a Harley-Davidson"); he calls the Maru engines his "babies" and flirts instinctively with nearly ever piece of machinery that crosses his path. The boy's an engineer, heart and soul.
Following the pilot episode, we were treated to Harper's past in drips and drabs. In To Loose The Fateful Lightning, Harper erupted with a horror story about the murder of his twin cousins by Magog when he was a child, horrifying Beka as he used it to justify genocide. D Minus Zero revealed that Harper grew up in a refugee camp, and his immune system suffered as a result. Angel Dark, Demon Bright dug deep into his psyche and produced his hatred of Nietzscheans:
"Dylan doesn't know what he's talkin' about! All right, look. I'm sorry, ok? I grew up on Earth. I lived through Nietzschean raids. And Magog attacks, and famines, and plagues. And you know what? The Nietzscheans were the worst."
"Because they're so strong?"
"No. Because when push comes to shove, they're human. And nobody beats us humans for downright nastiness. Let me lay a few ancient Earth human words on you: Crucifixion. The electric chair. The guillotine. Feel free to look 'em up."
"I think I get the point."
"No, you don't. The point is: Sure, I could be changing the future, but it doesn't matter what future I create, because ANYTHING is better than letting the Nietzscheans win."
"But you can't take that chance, because if you fire that off, it could destroy the nebula and kill everything in it. The Nietzscheans, the High Guard crew members, and us."
"That's a risk I'm willing to take."
- Trance Gemini and Seamus Harper, Angel Dark Demon Bright, 1x06
Poor, twisted, damaged little Seamus. And finally, the harsh realities of life as a street kid were shoved to the foreground when he tortured Gerentex in Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way, referencing his own experiences as a subject of Nietzschean torture and killing someone for a hunk of cheese. Ouch.
While Harper's past came out in emotion-laden bursts, we also learned about who he was now. Harper 2.0 particularly highlighted many of the traits we'd already come to associate with the young engineer: angst, obviously, but also genius, a desire for knowledge and creativity, and a stubborn loyalty to his friends that drove him to risk his own life.
"Listen up, Jeger. I think someone on board this ship here just might have some property you're looking for. So, if you want a piece of me, errand boy...PANSY MAN, come and get me."
"What the hell is he doing?"
"He's saving us."
"No. He's committing suicide."
- Seamus Harper, Beka Valentine, Dylan Hunt, and Tyr Anasazi, Harper 2.0, 1x14
He nearly got himself killed before Beka, Tyr, and Dylan managed to track him down and save him.
Harper had extreme difficulty dealing with the idea of someone he cared about suffering, and would often try to sacrifice himself in their place, once going so far as to attempt to confess to murder to save Rommie's life (his confession fell apart when he couldn't come up with a reasonable motive under pressure). He was a hopeless flirt and had a tendency to make jokes at inappropriate moments, attempting to relieve tension. But he was also tough, loyal, and brilliant, and saved the small crew more than once.
So imagine his heartbreak when this is his payment:
"Then leave. Then just leave. Leave! And let me do my job! You know, Harper, I've saved your skin before, and I'll save it again. But you have got to get off my back or SO HELP ME, I will drop you back on the trash heap where I found you!"
- Beka Valentine, It Makes A Lovely Light, 1x21
As the season drew to a close, Harper grew like all of his crewmates grew: he came to Beka's rescue despite her Flash-induced threat, cradling her as she overdosed after nearly killing them all; when an attempt to investigate a backup personality of Andromeda went wrong and the ship was overrun by Magog, Harper faced his worst fear, back to back with Tyr...and paid for it.
"Sounds like fun."
"Yeah, it was. It was. Till they ambushed us. An entire Nietzschean platoon outside the barrack waiting for us to show up with our stupid little toys. Brendan spotted them right away. He's good like that. He warned me, but Isaac was on the other side of the compound and we could hear his shrilling...and then it was cut off by gunshots. Yeah...you're gonna love Earth."
Oh, season two! Season two when we got actual concrete glimpses into Harper's past. But let's start at the beginning.
Season two opened with Harper living out his worst nightmare: he had been infested by Magog larvae, and was spared an immediate death only by a medicine with a limited shelf life. With a severe deadline (emphasis on the dead) hanging over his head, Harper got to work with Trance and Rev Bem to find a cure. This story arc did not serve to show Trance and Rev at their best; Rev was hardly ever on board, and the reasons given were all along the lines of "meditating on retreat"—while Brent Stait's makeup difficulties kept Rev from appearing often, we could at least wish the writers had given him excuses like "checking into a possible medicinal lead for Harper's problem"—and well into the arc, when Harper declared a desire to start looking into possible treatments himself, Trance's response was "That sounds complicated. When do we start?" Start? Really? From someone who had supposedly been looking for a treatment for a good few months already? Sinister and wrong.
But Harper shone. Well, not shone. He overdosed himself on his medicine and was very nearly tempted to the dark side by Satrina Leander, an agent of the Abyss with poor taste in clothing but nice taste in pretty engineer boys. The tangle with Satrina led Harper to investigate tesseracts as a treatment option, eventually allowing him to remove the larvae from his gut, although it cost the life of his friend Hohne and allowed Trance to switch places with her even more sinister future self, commonly known through fandom as Gold Trance or GTrance.
But even outside of the Magog arc, Harper was given plenty to do.
In Una Salus Victus, Harper was given command of the Andromeda while Dylan, Beka, and Tyr were all otherwise occupied. Despite his increasingly hysterical worry over Beka's safety and vengeance-inducing hatred of the Drago-Kazov, Harper acquitted himself well and saved the convoy.
Bunker Hill followed Harper back to Earth (Boston, to be precise...three cheers for Beantown!) at the request of his still Earthbound cousin, Brendan Lahey. Brendan was trying to get a revolution started to overthrow the Nietzschean slavers controlling the planet, and Harper's Commonwealth connections should've come in handy. Note the should've, and this time it's Dylan's fuck-up: the revolution is put on an impossible timeline, and despite Harper, Rommie, and Brendan's best efforts, the human revolutionaries are slaughtered by the Dragans. It's not a good time for Harper, emotionally; all of his friends on the Andromeda are terribly obvious about the fact that they really couldn't care less if Earth remains enslaved indefinitely; Brendan tells him point-blank that he blames him for leaving Boston in the first place; he blames himself for the deaths of the revolutionaries.
"When I started this, things were different. The circumstances have changed."
"Did you think you were the first person to stand on a rooftop and shout that the Nietzscheans had to go? These people have heard it all before, Seamus. Hell, our fathers heard it, and their fathers before them."
"If that's true, then why did they listen? Why are they all out there fighting now?"
"Why did your father fight when the slavers came for your mother?"
"Because he was a fool! Would you shut up about my father!"
"He fought because he was sick of lying down for them. Because he was sick of being spat at, laughed at, stolen from, and beaten. Sick and tired of living in fear and desperation. So tired that he was willing to give up his life so long as he hurt them."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. And they laughed at him right up until they slit his throat. And after."
"That's true. But in the end, he laughed back. We both heard it, Seamus. He fought. He finally fought. And after that, nothing else mattered!"
"Yeah, especially not to him."
"Seamus, you gotta let it go!"
"I don't have to let squat go! You don't know what you're talking about! You don't even know what happened! You wanna know what really happened?! They didn't come for my mother! They came for me, ok! They both died because of ME!"
- Seamus Harper and Brendan Lahey, Bunker Hill, 2x11
See? He's screwed up. He's allowed to be. The word "pleasant" has no bearing whatsoever on Seamus Harper's past, a fact which is further reinforced by the episode Be All My Sins Remembered, in which Harper and Beka recount the story of their first meeting.
20-year-old Harper is a skinny, dirty little street punk, wearing filthy, torn layers of clothing and an earring that I adore more than is logical, and behaving in a way that can only be described as "feral": he sniffs Beka, swings around the Maru like it's a jungle gym, and screams obscenities at the firing Nietzscheans. He's adorable. It's so wrong to think of an angry, starved little feral wolf child as being adorable, but he is. He was hired onto the Maru by Beka's then-boyfriend Bobby, who fully intended to use his knowledge of the Nietzschean systems for profit and then dump him back on Earth, breaking his promise to take Harper off the planet for good. Lucky for our boy that he was both smarter and more loyal than Bobby, then, because at the end of the job Bobby was hitting the road and Harper had a permanent bunk.
Season two also revealed that Harper liked Old Earth swing music and was not a half-bad swing dancer. Just more reasons to love him.
"Yeah, I was in Boston the night before we set off on this mission... a baseball game at Fenway Park."
"A baseball game, huh? Fenway Park... The last time I was at Fenway Park, I watched the Drago-Kazov crucify a guy in the cheap seats."
Oh, season three. I have to skip over certain episodes to keep from ranting endlessly about the character abuse. This is also the reason why the season four overview will be so very short.
Season three did have its high Harper points:
Harper went on an away mission with Dylan in The Shards of Rimni and got to beat people up and be clever. Interesting point: in a fight, if Harper is picked up by the throat, he wraps his legs around his attacker's waist and keeps punching. Also, he hoverboards.
In The Lone and Level Sands, Harper had the chance to hang out with some people who not only didn't mindlessly abuse him, but also connected with him over engineering and Earth.
Harper doesn't like ghost stories. Also, he has bad luck with pets.
Day of Judgement, Day of Wrath saw Harper and Rommie off-ship, stranded from all help. And with Rommie under the control of a rogue AI called Remiel for much of the time, Harper was pretty much on his own. Verbally and physically abused by Remiel/Rommie, he nevertheless managed to hold his own. Come on, you have to admire a guy who, after being electrocuted, strangled, and having his confession of love dismissed out of hand, comes out with this:
"When you tried to take over the ship, it was just a distraction so we wouldn't suspect you of this."
"When you grow up on the mean streets, you learn to be pretty mean, doll."
"What else did you do?"
"Well, it's kinda funny, actually. In all the, uh, rush to build you, I sort of forgot to make you anatomically correct. Don't worry about it, though, you make up for it with your personality."
- Balance of Judgement/Andromeda Ascendant, Seamus Harper, and Remiel, Day of Judgement Day of Wrath, 3x21
He just can't keep his mouth shut, but he's smart enough and quick enough that it doesn't matter much. He rushed to Rommie's defense, declaring his love for her outright and begging her to see reason; he constantly found ways to subvert Remiel's hold; and he fought. Plus Rommie admitted she loved him, too, even if she didn't say it to his face. It was pretty much lovely, yeah.
"In a world gone wrong, then simply gone, your mind was refuge. Your mind has never seen its worth."
"Hey, flattery'll get you everywhere."
Season four was, for the most part, cringeworthy and Dylan-centric, so we're going to skip over most of it here. The episodes of note, however, included Waking the Tyrant's Device, with an absolutely gorgeous Harper & Beka subplot that had the two old friends treasure hunting gleefully, reminiscing about their pasts as criminals, and thinking in perfect synch, as well people remembering that their engineer is a genius and Harper hugging Rommie affectionately in a very pretty moment.
Harper/Delete is not half so Harper-centric as the title might suggest, but Harper gets to be clever and innovative, and the crew manages to restrain themselves from humiliating him too very much.
Machinery of the Mind, which still suffered from Dylan-is-god syndrome, included a few good Harper moments on the way. His speech-making skill have improved drastically since the days of Bunker Hill, and his genius becomes a major plot point. It's brought down by the blatant statement that it's impossible for a woman to be interested in Seamus Harper unless she's evil and looking to use him for evil purposes, which sucks.
In an alternate universe, Harper's brilliance and moral ambiguity allowed him to become a Commander in the High Guard, and then dictator. Yes, dictator. Plus he was married, and had quite a few boot-licking lackeys. Every time I watch Warmth of an Invisible Light I start wondering why we couldn't have had that Harper, since it seems like he got a better deal out of life than ours did. On the other hand, the cyborg enhancements are seriously unattractive, and our Harper managed to not stay dead, so maybe we're better off.
Abridging the Devil's Divide was nothing if not a shrewd insight into Harper's psyche. When he and Rhade are captured by the Templars, genetic purists on a mission to wipe out all non-pure-humans from the universe, Harper is enslaved and put to work figuring out the secret to time travel. The kid who grew up under the constant threat of slavery to Nietzscheans grew up to become a slave to a group of people determined to wipe out Nietzscheans. Ironic.
But enslaved, sleep-deprived, beaten, and terrified of getting Rhade and Dylan killed, Harper starts showing the sides of himself that he usually keeps hidden. The badass street tough comes into play a bit, but more important is the scientist, the one who is desperate to know and to learn and to create, and damn the consequences. He faces his demons in this episode, and while he doesn't come out shining, we come out with a better understanding of him: of the beaten Earth kid that lurks under the laughing façade, and of how terrified he is of winding up back in that mental place. It's not just the Templars who instill that fear in him, either: he's absolutely freaking petrified of being gotten rid of by Beka or Dylan:
"Please, please, don't give me the boot."
"Well, that's strike two. One more and you're out."
"Strike two? What was strike one?"
"Careful. Forgetting strike one is enough to be strike three."
"Right. Now I remember strike one. That won't happen again either."
"What was strike one?"
- Seamus Harper and Dylan Hunt, Abridging the Devil's Divide, 4x17
And the season ends, of course, with Harper watching everyone he loves die (or appear to die), and coming very close to death by Magog himself. Cliffhanger!
"I've been here a while, with nobody and nothing."
"So you started thieving."
"No. I started thieving when I was, like, four."
When we first see Harper in season five, he is not particularly stable. Trance managed to save the crew's lives at the end of season four by tesseracting them away from the battle with the Magog, but it left them individually stranded, landing in different places and different times, but all in the technophobic system of Seefra. And Harper got the brunt of it.
He spent three years on Seefra, with, as he says, nobody and nothing. He had the malfunctioning remnants of Rommie's AI; he scored himself a job with the immoral, megalomaniac Marika; he built androids to serve as his friends and confidants. But every time he tried to rebuild Rommie, she either tried to kill him or tried to leave, looking for Dylan; Marika used his inventions to kill people and plot a takeover of the system; his android buddies are used for emotional blackmail against him, as when Marika tortures Gogol.
By the time Dylan and Rhade found him, Harper's mental stability was hanging by a thread.
Much like Rhade and Beka before him, Harper declined to rejoin Dylan's fantasy world by signing back up as crew. But given that Dylan, Rhade, and Beka all three greeted Harper with insults and accusations, it's difficult to blame him.
When Harper's current closest friend, Doyle, discovered the truth about her existence (namely, that she was an android housing the remnants of Rommie's core AI, and not an amnesiac human woman), she was angry with Harper for lying to her...at least, until Harper's life was placed in danger. Then she immediately became the loyal friend and bodyguard again. This was a very nice change from the rest of the main cast.
Harper came into possession of a bar on Seefra-1, and Doyle came with him. They were both very adorable about the whole thing throughout the season.
In So Burn The Untamed Lands, Harper was infected with an infection that slowly stripped him of short-term memory and heightened his emotional instability to dangerous levels. He physically attacked Rhade, swearing and sputtering at him like...well, like a Boston street tough with a failing short-term memory. Eventually, his crewmates actually noticed that he wasn't well and got him treatment. He recovered.
Hohne returned from the dead—in a manner of speaking—in Through A Glass, Darkly. It turned out that the malfunctioning tesseracts they thought took his life actually dumped him on the ship in season five, ready to bring old wounds back to the surface for Harper. While Harper was dealing with his guilt over his friend's supposed death years ago and his joy at seeing Hohne alive again, the two geniuses were hard at work trying to rebuild Harper's quantum teleporter.
By the end of the episode, Hohne was dead—for real this time—and Harper was in emotional pain, furious at Dylan, furious at himself, heartbroken over losing Hohne.
When necessity demanded that Andromeda's humanoid avatar Rommie be rebuilt, Harper refused, and kept refusing, pointing out repeatedly that her core AI was damaged and insane. Doyle overrode his protests and put Rommie together herself, and Harper was proved right, as Rommie went on the warpath seeking revenge against Dylan, Doyle, and her own shipself for the eternity she spent damaged and robbed of control. Harper eventually managed to repair her programming and saved the day.
When the season, and the series, drew to a close, it left Harper in a very odd place, emotionally. Most of the crew were awarded happy endings: Dylan got Tarn Vedra and a functioning Commonwealth back; Rhade was reunited with his wife and children; Rommie was restored to her former glory; Beka got power and respect and a future; Trance found her future. Harper, however, watched his home planet of Earth destroyed in front of his eyes, along with any family members and friends he may or may not have had left there. He remained basically alienated from most of the crew, with the notable exception of Doyle (who, interestingly, agreed to fight in the final battle explicitly for Harper's sake). In fact, even immediately after Harper watched his home planet be destroyed, Trance and Dylan were throwing around jokes at his expense.
It was a strange, unsettling ending.
On the Nets
Robert Hewitt Wolfe's Coda
"Harper, if there's a God, it's greater than you or me or the Abyss. It's beyond all meaing. All understanding. The Abyss is just the other side of the coin. The Lucifers want energy, chaos, expansion. The Abyss wants harmony, order, singularity."
"So on one side... Love. On the other..."
"Blowing Things Up."
Quick background: RHW was the original producer, headwriter, and idea guy for Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. He and Tribune parted ways halfway through season two; Ouroboros was his official swan song, and he had no input on the direction of the show afterwards.
Shortly after the final episodes aired, Robert went public (well, internet-public) with his original conception for the show's overreaching story arc, in the form of a one-act play, called Coda.
Coda sparked an intense reaction among the 'Net fanbase, from fans who had dropped the series when Robert left, fans who dropped when Keith Hamilton Cobb left, fans who stuck around for the entire run—the entire spectrum. Debate ensued over the fate of the characters, the merits of the Codaverse versus Engelsverse, the theology and mythology behind the explanation, and the final explanation for the assertion of writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller years ago, that their episode Una Salus Victus was about "Love and Blowing Things Up".
For the purposes of this essay, we'll skip over everything except Harper's fate, and a brief note that, entertainingly, Robert chose to explore his original idea via a small, intimate conversation between Harper and Trance.
According to Coda, had things all gone to plan, Harper would slowly have lost his humanity, replacing bits of himself, piece by piece, with machinery. In the end, he would have merged with the Consensus of Parts, a group of machines governed by one sentience, and become that guiding sentience. He would have single-handedly become the fourth great nation battling for control of the universe, against Dylan's Commonwealth, Tyr's Nietzschean empire, and Rev Bem's Wayist crusaders.
...Trance says it's the perfect possible future. She never claims that it's a happy one.
On a slightly lighter note, Robert mentioned to a discussion of Coda on ExIsle Forums that at one point leading up to that final, titanic battle, Harper would have hooked up romantically with Andromeda. He was also very clear about noting that it was definitely Andromeda, the ship, not Rommie, the avatar. It would have been fun to see.
Seamus Harper Online
So after my parents died, I fell in with some of the local neighborhood protection societies (you could be nice and call 'em that), fixing their stuff and running odd errands on their behalf. And that's what I was doing when the hand of the Divine reached down, tapped Harper on the shoulder and said "hey kid, I've got big plans for you." Actually, it was Beka Valentine and her psycho ex-boyfriend Bobby, who through a highly improbable chain of events took me on as a member of their crew. So I went from dining on rats and dodging Dragan patrols to cruising through space on the Eureka Maru as their new chief engineer.
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda seized on Internet viral marketing with a vengeance. Before the show even premiered, a site called All Systems University sprang up, lovingly detailing the government, history, species, and planets of the show's handcrafted universe. Several members of the writing staff got on message boards and communicated with fans, bringing enthusiasm levels up to a high in anticipation of the premiere—and they didn't stop communicating once the show was on the air, either.
Seamus Harper Online was another aspect of Andromeda's viral marketing. Written in large part by staff writer Zack Stentz, it purported to be a diary-style website designed and updated by Harper himself, even including an entertaining opening animation of "jacking in" to Harper's neural net.
The site contains many lovely Easter eggs for fans, both of the show and of Harper specifically, including Harper's opinions on some of the lovely ladies of season one, an enthusiastic overview of his designs for Rommie's humanoid body and a lengthy detailing of his love for the ship herself, a list of handy gadgets he built during the first two seasons (and other gadgets that he envied), and even a recipe for his favorite beer.
Most interesting to me, however, were the About Me and Logs sections.
About Me, subtitled A Bad History of Seamus Zelazny Harper, is a brief autobiography, including tidbits never seen on the screen (and thus of dubious canonicity). For instance, he purports to have been born in Dunwich, in upper Massachusetts, and says that his family only moved to the Boston refugee camps after his twin cousins were brutally murdered by Magog. He taught himself mechanics by scavenging junk from the Nietzschean scrap piles. He worked for a local gang, until Beka and Bobby snagged him up and he wound up working on the Maru as their engineer.
Logs consists of brief diary-style snippets, dating from a few months prior to scavenging the Andromeda on through A Heart For Falsehood Framed. Harper gives his opinion on the events of various episodes (he found Beka kissing Dylan as a diversionary tactic to be very funny, apparently was never told about Rev's progeny from Devil Take The Hindmost, and was deeply annoyed to not be included in Beka and Trance's adventures in The Pearls That Were His Eyes, among other things) and the pre-Andromeda bits offer an interesting tidbit:
1.10.10087 [ YASSC ]
A traveller's aid station on Sinti had a message for me... from Earth, of all places. It turns out Brendan and the gang scraped together enough cash to send me Christmas greetings from old Boston town. Made me feel kinda nostalgic, but I'm sure he wants something. And hey, not like I'm going back to that pit anytime soon.
General Fandom Truths
The first thing to bear in mind is that Harper is almost universally beloved in Andromeda fandom. Well, I say "almost universally". There are, obviously, fans that hate him and fans that are annoyed by him and fans that simply don't care about him. But the fans that adore him are many and loud, so we tend to drown out the competition.
The central group of Harper fangirls (and fanboys, but sadly there are never enough) is the Harperchondriacs. Originally called the Harpies, the name change came about when they realized that most of their bonding occurred over their mutual love of inflicting pain and angst on the engineer. The group has rapidly spiraled out of control. They were originally based out of the Slipstream BBS, but when the SBBS went down, the group wound up fractured across several locations, most notably the replacement message board, ExIsle Forums, where the Harperchondriacs group thread garnered so many members and posts that they were recently forced to shut it down and open a new thread; the 'original' thread had 59574 replies as of December 7th, 2006, when it finally closed, more than any other thread on EI. Other branches of the Harperchondriacs opened on Yahoo! Groups, LiveJournal, Gordon Michael Woolvett's message board, private sites, and more.
It's a common complaint in Andromeda fandom that the majority of fic written centers around Harper. Despite the dedicated fanbases for most of the other main characters, the sheer vocal power of Harper's fanbase tends to drown everything else out. On the bright side, it means a lot of Harper fic, and quite a lot of it good, although there's a notable tendency for writers to inflict emotional pain, physical torture, and death on the character, so if that's not your cup of tea this may not be the fandom for you. Fluff is a rarity.
Andromeda fandom is notable for its laid-back approach to shipping—in all my time in the fandom, I've yet to see a serious shipping war. This is good. It means that Harper/Trance, Harper/Beka, Harper/Rommie (and Harper/Andromeda), Harper/Dylan, Harper/Tyr, Harper/Rhade (Gaheris and Telemachus), Harper/OFC, Harper/OMC, Harper/Minor Character Who Was Only Seen In One Episode, and Harper/Doyle are all written about enthusiastically, and no one fears repercussions from it. No matter how crack your pairing is, someone has thought of one crackier. (There is Harper/Maru fic. I'm serious. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. This fandom spoiled me.)
Me And Harper
When I first watched the Andromeda pilot, I immediately liked Harper. Cute, little, funny, and jaw-droppingly smart, what's not to like? But I also liked Beka, Trance, Rommie, Tyr, Rev. It wasn't until To Loose That Fateful Lightning that Harper became my favorite character: his speech about justifiable genocide immediately won me over. I'm a sucker for comic relief that will kill you dead if you let down your guard, I really am.
Even as the writing quality declined and I despaired more and more of being a fan of the show, I never stopped being a fan of Harper. It was, I suppose, a combination of Gordon Michael Woolvett's dogged determination to keep finding layers in the character even when the script had nothing, and the fic that kept the Harper of the first two seasons alive (or not, as the case may be). He's a vicious little street punk with no social skills and too much rage pent up, but he's also a charming, funny guy who regularly saves his friends and comes up with works of genius as if they're nothing. In later season, he's constantly slammed and insulted by his crewmates, but it's consistently obvious that he still loves them and would willing die for them. He's an enigma. I like that.
The fact that the fandom itself is so lively, engaging, and open to new interpretations certainly didn't hurt. Even today, years after the series ended, fic is still being written, discussions are still ongoing, and the characters are still being loved.
I mean, I get it. I die. More or less. Beka dies. Kinda. And maybe you or Tyr or Rev dies. Maybe even Dylan dies. But it’s all worth it. It’s all for something. And that’s what matters, right?
- Seamus Harper, Coda
Discussion and Resources
Niko's transcript site
mirror of the original Seamus Harper Online
Coda on Robert Hewitt Wolfe's website
Coda Q&A on ExIsle and Coda Q&A on SciFi Message Board
Harperchondriacs on ExIsle (current thread)
Harperchondriacs on Yahoo! Groups
Andromeda on Fanfiction.Net
The Command Deck
Andromeda Uncovered (adult fanfiction)
ExIsle's fanfiction forum (includes other fandoms, but is predominantly Andromeda)
And that's just the start.