thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Many moons ago, I had a discussion with [personal profile] hradzka about AUs, which of course got me reading and re-reading AUs, which, in the fullness of time (or perhaps even the lateness of time, these days), has led to me recommending AUs.

So, David, this set is dedicated to you. Because, um, it's full of stories you won't like! (Except you might like Phoenix Burning, actually; it's your kind of AU.)

The One That Explores Vulcan Teenage Sociodynamics in the Kind of Detail That Makes You Wonder if There's Already a Paper on It. Love Is Strange, by [personal profile] garryowen. Star Trek XI, James T. Kirk/Spock.

I have never seen Dirty Dancing. It was one of my father's favorite movies, so I am familiar with the general outline of the plot (there are people, and they dance!), and of course I've heard the quote "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Many, many times. But until I read this story, I thought that Baby said that line, in that emphatic third person people sometimes use. (So I would say, "Nobody tells [personal profile] thefourthvine not to use a serial comma!") I sort of pictured her pulling a knife out of her boot when she said it, to be honest. It - it really changes my impression of the movie and the line, to know that the guy said it.

Anyway. As you might have guessed from that incredibly fascinating digression, this is a Dirty Dancing AU. And it is awesome. I love this version of Spock, with his earlier exposure to humans (and to the ultimate vector of human-type feelings and also, I am absolutely convinced, super-kinky sexing, James T. Kirk). I love this entire story. It works as an AU because it's a believable backwards extrapolation - what is Spock like if he encounters humanity a little younger? (Kirk is actually just Kirk. I mean, for all we know, in addition to committing whatever felonies - NO I AM NOT MAKING ANY GUESSES - maybe he was dancing professionally during his pre-Pike years. I can totally believe that. It's hard to come up with a profession I couldn't believe he was doing during those years, although the ones that require a lot of schooling or, um, responsibility are kind of a stretch. It's a lot easier to buy, like, dance instructor, skilled second-story man, hacker, makeup salesguy, companion to the thirteenth Doctor - oh god I have to stop this RIGHT NOW. But you take my point.)

This story came with an awesome bonus, just for me. In between my first reading of it and the re-reading I did so I could rec it, I watched Journey to Babel. I had no idea, the first time I read this, how awesomely [personal profile] garryowen worked that episode into this story, or how much this is the perfect blend of TOS and Reboot. But, obviously, you can love this story even if you've never seen Journey to Babel. (Hell, you can love this story even if you've never seen any Star Trek, although I sometimes wonder if there's anyone in fandom who hasn't. But, in case there is, and that's you, a primer. Kirk: the captain. Spock: the alien. Ears: pointy. Love: eternal and true. There, you're ready to go.)

The One That Actually Made Me Go to YouTube and Put in "John Sheppard Free Skate." I More or Less Regained My Sanity, but Damn It, I Still Want to See These Routines. Out of Bounds, by [personal profile] icarus. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.

This story nearly killed me. Because, okay, here's the thing: I do not read works in progress. I need to be able to wallow in a story, binge on it and, if necessary, even roll in it. I've learned that even if the story is finished and just being posted serially, my experience of reading it is different and less fun if I don't wait to read it, because: no wallowing! So I wait. And with this story, I waited for four years. (I think. Because I'm pretty sure this one started with the last winter Olympics.) But here is the thing: it was totally worth it. It was worth every sad face I made when an Out of Bounds update appeared and I had to remind myself, yet again, that I don't read works in progress. Because this story is awesome, and at more than 200,000 words, it deserves all the wallow I can bring to it. And, wow, did I bring a lot of wallow.

Plus, hey, clearly this is the time to read it, because it's topical. (Okay, sort of topical. But I still see people on my friends list talking about Johnny Weir, so topical is my story and I'm sticking to it.) Because: figure skating AU. Which is, by definition, awesome. (Yes, I am trying to imagine figure skating AUs in other fandoms, and - well. Arthur Pendragon as a figure skater? Awesome. James T. Kirk as a figure skater? So awesome it hurts. Sam and Dean as ice dancers? I - okay, I admit it, even I would read that, because of the awesome. But my point is: even those stories could not bring as much awesome as this one does.)

Admittedly, it's hard to imagine John Sheppard sparkling quite as much as Johnny Weir (Largely because no one can; I suspect Weir's a metahuman. Power? Supersparkle. And the convenient thing is he can just throw a cape on over his skating costumes and he's good to go fight - crime, or dullness, or visible roots, or douchebaggery, or whatever it is he fights.), but it's fun to try. I think we can all agree that what SGA was really missing, over the five seasons, was lamé and rhinestones.

Fortunately, this story will give you all of that. It's like every great sports movie you ever watched, except a) more epic b) more gay and c) starring John Sheppard and Rodney McKay. And I don't know about you, but for me, that's exactly what those movies were missing.

The One That Makes Me Wonder if There's an Old Slayers Home in the Jossverse Heaven, and What Exactly They Talk About There. Phoenix Burning, by [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy Summers/Angel. (ETA: Changed link to AO3, because it's more readable there.)

I don't ever want to be the person leaving a comment on a 4000 word McShep PWP that says, "This was really good! Except for the sex, man, I hate slash, and John and Rodney aren't gay and if they were they wouldn't be gay for each other, but still, this was good." So in general I try not to start off recs by listing all the reasons I shouldn't have liked the story. But in this case - yeah, I'm going to, because I want you to understand how wonderful this story must be.

First, I hardly read any Buffy or Angel fan fiction. (True fact: I am far, far more likely to write fan fiction in the Jossverse than read it. I don't even know why. I have written hundreds and hundreds of pages of the stuff, which for me is just a ton.) And, second, okay - I have problems pairing Buffy with anyone from the series. I just. I just do. The only character I ever feel comfortable seeing paired with Buffy is Faith, and her canon arc makes a happy ending there difficult. And, also, for some reason I cannot actually see any words on the screen at Yahtzee's website. (It's just - all white. I don't know why. I can still cut and paste the words, but I can't see them. I blame the internet gods.)

So, what with all those obstacles, I have had this story in my mental to-read folder for, oh, about three years or so. But recently someone mentioned it, and I do love the long stories these days. And, most of all, I have never read anything by Yahtzee that didn't leave me astonished and gleeful and simultaneously replete and wanting more. (You know the feeling: you close the book and you're so happy and you wish you hadn't read it so you could still have the pleasure in front of you.)

This story is, of all of Yahtzee's stories, the one that most left me feeling that way. It's AU from "The Gift," the episode in which - um, spoilers, by the way - Buffy dies. (Another spoiler, although probably this one is not going to surprise anyone: she doesn't stay dead.) It's set 350 years in the future. And it is incredible - right and true and awesome and just. Just. Amazing. I really don't want to say any more than that.

No, wait, I want to say one more thing. (Yes, I know, you're so surprised.) If you're like me, and you're waving this story away because you think it's something you wouldn't like: look, I hear you. I do. But even if this story is the kind of thing you don't like, you will still like it. It transcends its genres and categories and tags. Don't wait three years to read it. Now is a good time.

The One in Which Merlin Is Even Worse at Magic Than He Is in the Canon. Yes, It's Possible. Easy There, by [livejournal.com profile] syllic. Merlin, Merlin/Arthur Pendragon.

Okay, yes, this is the second sports AU in this set, and there is a reason: I love these. I love when someone takes another hobby of hers, a fandom outside of the usual run of media fandom - NASCAR, equestrian events, figure skating (although right now this probably counts as a mainstream fandom, thanks entirely to sparklepower), crewing - and writes a massive AU in it. (But where are all the non-sports alternate fandom AUs? I'm patiently waiting for the choral singing and competitive orchid growing ones. Surely there are fans with these hobbies! Surely they long to write epic AUs featuring said hobbies!) The writer loves the characters, and she loves the subject, and this pretty much always leads to glory.

It certainly leads to glory here. I had, prior to this, pretty much no interest in competitive rowing of any kind - seriously, a whole bunch of boat crews practice at the lagoon where I often take the earthling, and my only vague interest has been in what happens when you get sand under all that Lycra - but this gripped me. I cared deeply. And not just about getting Arthur's tab inserted in Merlin's slot without anyone breaking any fingers. (I am actually not a huge fan of awkward sex in most fandoms - I mean, I appreciate the realism, but I tend to cringe with embarrassment for the characters - but Merlin is wholly an exception, because Arthur and Merlin are just so incredibly dorky. And young. And speaking as someone who is dorky and was once young: the combination leads to a lot of hilariously awkward sex. Also hilariously awkward visits to medical professionals afterward, but there's none of that here, for which I am grateful.)

And Merlin (the show, although also the guy) lends itself especially well to AUs, I think because there's kind of an "AU goes here" label inserted into the canon itself. (I'm sorry, Malory and White and all the rest of you King Arthur writers, but what are we supposed to think with all the time jiggery-pokery and vague references to Arthur's return and so on? It's like you're begging us to write modern AUs, and future AUs, and also AUs set in Regency England (oh my god someone please tell me there's already Arthur and Merlin in Regency England), and we are just not that good at resisting temptation.) These are classic characters, and they work anywhere, and they definitely work so very well here. (Which is on boats. In case you forgot what I was writing about.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn linked to some free Harlequin books, and she mentioned a NASCAR romance novel as being one of the ones available.

I had to look. I had no choice. NASCAR romance novels, people! (I have, um, a weird obsession with NASCAR marketing. I could not care less about the drivers, but I dream of being able to meet the geniuses at NASCAR HQ. True fact, and don’t ask me why, as I have at least five thousand words of answer that I’m just dying to share.)

Anyway. I totally recommend the Harlequin site. It features a sort of Mad Libs (does anyone else remember those?), romance novel style, which they suggest you can use to insert yourself into a story, but I am here to tell you that you can put in Rodney McKay and John Sheppard or Merlin and Arthur Pendragon, change up some of the pronouns, and get the most awesome FF summaries ever. I especially recommend doing the Mars one with the SGA characters or the tycoon one with Smallville.

And then I was looking through the sincerely awful, and I do mean awful (if you were offering free samples, wouldn’t you try to pick good ones, or at least ones that aren’t openly gag-inducing?), summaries of the books available for download, and I found this one:

When a blizzard strands Fiona MacPherson and her students in Oregon's Cascade Mountains, their only hope of survival is to seek shelter at Thunder Mountain Lodge. Their host is John Fallon, a handsome, enigmatic war veteran haunted by secrets and scars that may never heal.

John Fallon never imagined he'd be playing host to this captivating teacher and her eight teenage charges. But when his solitude is shattered by their arrival, his world shifts on its axis. He needs Fiona—but does she need him? There's only one way to find out. The ex-soldier must find the courage to reach out to the remarkable woman who has transformed his life…


I read this to Best Beloved and said, "Oh my god, it's a Sentinel AU!" And it is! Look at it! Professor Blair Sandburg takes a group of second-year students on a field trip and they get stranded in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Fortunately, they just happen to be near Thunder Mountain Lodge, owned by Jim Ellison, a handsome, enigmatic veteran haunted by secrets and tormented by senses out of his control.

(Jim, in this AU, obviously couldn't control the senses very well after his return from Peru, and couldn't take living in the city. He had no choice but to buy this remote lodge. And Blair couldn't find a sentinel for his dissertation, so he had no choice but to choose a different topic, and now he's an actual professor. Blair can help Jim! Jim needs him! But can he learn to love again? Hint: Yes. Yes, he can.)

If you try to tell me that is not perfect, I will openly laugh at you.

Obviously, this got me thinking about AUs. (It also got me wistfully wishing for more Harlequin challenges. These summaries are fan fiction gold, people. There's an obvious Highlander one, and several that would work for Smallville, and, just, really: Harlequin AUs. In quantity, and in every fandom in the land. Is that so much to ask?)

Hence, an AU recs set.

The One That Teaches Us That Surviving the End of the World Ought to Be Featured Way at the Top of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. With, Like, a Point Value of Nine Million. The Hard Prayer, by [livejournal.com profile] rheanna27. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

And we start with one that could not be more unlike a Harlequin AU. However, it also could not be more awesome, so that's okay.

This is an apocalypse AU. Usually the end of the world makes me geechy - can’t imagine why! - and, in all honesty, this story did freak me out somewhat, and there were a couple spots I had to skim on account of my own personal issues. But. Wow. Seriously. So very, very worth it. I can’t even tell you how much.

What I love about this story is what Rheanna does with the characters we know and adore. They've been changed, seriously changed, by what's happened - as indeed one would be. Live through the apocalypse, anyone's going to get a little twitchy, you know? And John and Rodney are indeed very, very twitchy. I found myself nodding along as I read this, thinking that this was totally how they'd snap, if they were going to snap. (And if I have a personal motto, it’s: once the world is over, you might as well snap. What, like it can get worse?)

It's particularly interesting to me - and, upon reflection, totally right - that John is the one who can't handle the situation as well. John, in some ways, is a border collie: he needs a pack. Rodney just needs a goal. (And, of course, they neeeeeeeed each other! Look, sorry, I'm an OTPer by nature; I had to add that. It's in my OTP Fan Contract, right under "Sulk a little bit when your friends start writing other pairings.")

(And, for the benefit of any readers who might be Best Beloved and thus even more allergic to apocalypse stories than I am: yes, it has a happy ending. Read this, damn it.)

The One That Shows That the Punishment for Adultery Is Hot Sex with Stephen Maturin. Are You Feeling Deterred at All? Duende, by [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Master and Commander, Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin.

Is there any AU more marvelous than a Master and Commander AU by [livejournal.com profile] astolat? No. No, there is not. And this is just a classic: swords! Magic! Swordfights! Life bonds! Duels! If you've ever thought to yourself that what O'Brian's series was really lacking was at least 400% more swordfighting Maturin, this is the story for you.

Even if you've never thought that - and I admit it, I hadn't, possibly because I am just of very limited imagination - this is still the story for you. (Even if you, like me, are kind of geeched by the idea of life bonds. And, look, I know they are a classic trope of slash fiction, not to mention vampire fiction for the YA set. I've read many excellent stories featuring said trope (from slash fiction only; I've pretty much wimped out on the YA vampire life bonds, I admit). But I tell you this, and tell you true: waking up eternally bound to someone, your lives physically linked together, unable to stand separation, and possibly with telepathy: oh my god, that is my nightmare. If there's a hell, that's what it looks like.)

It's amazing to me how well the Master and Commander universe adapts to anything: space! Magic! Life bonds! Dragons! I'm pretty sure a Master and Commander with vampires, or lightsabers, or even fairies and the Seelie Court and maybe Thomas the Rhymer would work awesomely well.

Or maybe it's just the magic of [livejournal.com profile] astolat - she has the secret, special power of putting O'Brian's characters in any situation and making the resultant story something you would happily read fifteen volumes of. In which case, I'm really hoping whoever she gets assigned next Yuletide has requested the Seelie Court AU.

The One That Proves That Maybe a Real Marriage of True Minds Isn't Something Most of Us Should Be Hoping For. Walked Right out of the Machinery, by [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong. Stargate: SG-1, gen.

Oh my god. This is - this is just - I just have so much love for this story. It's brilliant. I love Jack O'Neill so damn much, and this is kind of the ultimate story for Jack-lovers: this is pure, perfectly-written Jack; Jack as he would have been in the canon if someone as talented and imaginative as [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong had been writing him.

And that's kind of odd, given that this is a rather changed Jack. I don't want to spoil it - the slow reveal (and, seriously, all you impatient types: let that reveal happen, because it is SO WORTH IT, and if my reassurance isn't enough for you, know that there is an awesome shipboard battle waiting for you near the end) is part of the pleasure, here. But this is Jack not exactly as we know him. It's just, somehow that makes him almost a distillation of Jack. Eighty proof Jack, if I can be pardoned for making a really awful joke.

No? Unpardonable? Okay. I stand by my low sense of humor.

Now, I tell you honestly: I realize this is AU from a specific point in the canon, but I, of course, don't know the canon, and I can't figure out what that point is. (Possibly some kind soul will tell us all in the comments. Kind souls? Are you out there?) You don't need to know that to read this, though. In fact, as long as you know the basic tenets of the SG1 universe (Egyptian gods, American military, snakes-why'd-it'd-have-to-be-snakes, Ascension, and there you go), you could read this without any canon knowledge at all.

All of you who are right now wondering where you will get your science fiction, now that half the genre has been tarnished with the brush of a whiter shade of fail - here's part of your answer. This is one of the three best SF novels I read in 2008 - any format, anywhere. It is incredible.

The One That Features a Padawan of Convenience. How Wonderful Is That? Episode One: The Quiet Padawan, by [livejournal.com profile] flambeau. The Phantom Menace x Georgette Heyer. I am really not kidding about that, and you would think it could not possibly work, but you would be wrong. Qui-Gon Jinn/Obi-Wan Kenobi, sort of.

So. I put off reading this for almost two years, largely because George Lucas has scarred my psyche so badly that even the words "Star Wars," can, in certain cases, make me weep giant tears of true pain. I'm so Star Wars phobic that I didn't even see Episode Three: Let's Cut Some Limbs Off, or whatever it was called, largely because I believe in that old saying: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and we'll have to enter couples counseling. There's shame on both sides, Mr. Lucas, but I have no intention of entering couples counseling with you, mostly because lives would probably be lost.

(Long before we'd read any fan fiction, and just before TPM came out, Best Beloved and I sketched out exactly how we'd do episodes one through three. I still dream that those movies were made, some nights. Those are happy nights. Basically, our fantasy movies remain my own personal canon, and I just pretend the real movies were something I found on fanfiction.net.)

Anyway. Enough about my Star Wars trauma. Let's talk about this story. Because, oh, I am so sorry I put off reading it. It is brilliant. It is perfect. It is a work of stunning genius. If you've never read Heyer (her romances, I mean; I think I'm alone, and I mean alone in the universe, in having loved most of her mystery novels), it doesn't matter. Think mannered regency romance. With Jedis. He's a master who has loved before, and badly! And he's a young, rustic student with a stain on his reputation and a need for a master! And Yoda is a meddling busybody who always knows best! And Mace Windu has a hangover and a very snarky tongue!

My love for this cannot be rendered in any medium whatsoever. This story has done more to reconcile me to the Star Wars brand than a written personal apology from Lucas could. Hell, it's done more to reconcile me than someone punching Lucas in the nose could. If you are - as I once was, and not too long ago - in the tragic situation of somehow having failed to read this, remedy that at once. Your life will be sunshine and puppies thereafter.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Thank you for the joy! Both the specific joy - the virtual gifts and compliments and wonderful things from today - and the general joy, because all of you are wonderful all year round.

This is my (other - first one here) attempt to spread joy, and I'm doing it by recommending things that make me happy. (AUs that make me happy, actually. Because apparently that is just what today calls for: joy in as many universes as possible.)

The One That Proves That, No Matter Where They Start, Ray and Fraser Are Destined for a Canadian Shack. (I Am So Going on a Shack Tour in Canada Someday.) Bell, Book and Mountie, by [livejournal.com profile] lamardeuse. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

I read this story when it first came out, and enjoyed it greatly, but I also spent most of it profoundly confused. "Where are the displaced children?" I asked myself. "Shouldn't someone be learning magic via correspondence course?" And, of course, "At what point do the animated suits of armor show up?" None of these things happened. It was very weird. Almost like...like it wasn't based on that movie at all.

Astute people will already have figured out that it was not, in fact, based on that movie at all, and that I had two movies confused. Bedknobs and Broomsticks, as it turns out, is totally not Bell, Book and Candle. I have seen the former. I have not seen the latter, mostly because Best Beloved has a serious, lifelong hate for that movie. (Ask her about it, and she'll just start muttering hostile things about florists, and she is not normally a floristphobe. And so I reassure her, and also anyone else who has a similar problem with the movie, that there are no florists in this story that I noticed.)

So, in case you're like me and very easily confused, I will spare you the two and a half bewildered (but fun) readings it took me to realize why my expectations were seriously awry: at no time in the course of this story does anyone animate suits of armor, and that is as it should be. And, in case you're like me and haven't seen Bell, Book and Candle (Side note: Oh my god, typing that so many times without the serial comma is killing my soul, but this story is worth it, and that's saying something, since I don't often put - well, basically anything ahead of the serial comma. Judge if you must.), rest assured that you don't need to have seen it to enjoy this story, and in fact you might be better off, since you won't be starting out with florist-related issues.

I love the switches and changes to the canon that [livejournal.com profile] lamardeuse has made here. This many major adjustments to a canon - like switching up Dief and Stella (people, don't try that at home) - can totally destroy an AU, but here, it works, and works so very well that the story's worth reading just as a perfect example of a transmogrification AU, even if you for some strange reason have no interest in dS on magic. (Although, really, is there anyone who doesn't want to see Ray Kowalski casting spells? I didn't think so.) Plus, you get Ray Vecchio in a jazz band. What more joy could you possibly want?

The One That Made Sexbots Legitimate. And Isn't It Past Time? The Soul and the Company Store, by Leah, one half of [livejournal.com profile] leahwoof. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

This is one of the stories that has been recommended everywhere, and deservedly so. And so, as usual, I had to have my internal recommender's struggle (it's very angsty and tense, you wouldn't even believe it) - on the one hand, everyone will have already read it! But, on the other, what if someone has not read it? What if perhaps you, specifically, are thinking you don't really need to read a nice, long, plotty AU in which John Sheppard is a robot? (No, really, he's an actual robot - this is not one of those Shepbot jokes.)

The conclusion, as always: I will lend my voice to the multitudes. It is my duty. Because, honestly, you so need to read about robo-Sheppard. Which is not really like - actually, you know, I can't say that. I have never seen Robo-Cop and only have the vaguest idea what it might be about. (My guess: he's a robot! And a cop! Am I close? Also, I bet he doesn't spend a lot of time filling out reports or giving speeding tickets.) But, in any case, this is its very own thing, and deeply awesome, and I admit I never really had much desire to see an actual robot Sheppard, but now I totally do.

(And now I really need to interrupt this recs set to complain about a certain salesman. Salesman, when I tell you "no, I'm sorry," I mean NO - the "sorry" is just a little social lube, and you shouldn't take it to mean that I actually care. What it really means is no money for you. You have a range of appropriate responses to this - a time-honored one is calling me a bitch when I can't hear you - but, really. Do not whine, "Whyyyyy nawwwwwwt?" like you're eight and I just told you you couldn't have any more candy. And certainly do not spend a further five minutes whining at me, wasting my time and yours and instilling in me a violent hatred of a) you b) the company that employs you and c) the "service" said company provides. It's doubtful I could, at this point, bring myself to purchase that service if it was the only thing that could save my life. I could, however, totally bring myself to complain to your manager. Just, you know, FYI.)

Sorry. I needed to get that out. We now return to the recs set already in progress.

Except, hey. I might as well use this space to write further complaints, because here is what I need to say about this story: it is AWESOME. There are ROBOTS. And PLOT. Also, SEX. If those elements do not entice you, I have no help to offer you. (But I can refer you to a whining salesman - like a singing telegram except infinitely more annoying! - if that's more your speed.)

The One That Proves That One Universe Really Isn't Big Enough for Lex. Unless It's the Wrong Universe, in Which Case of Course He's Totally Happy. Looking Glass Country, by [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Smallville, Lex Luthors/Clark Kents. Yes, the plurals are deliberate.

[livejournal.com profile] astolat seems to have asked herself, "What is better than Lex Luthor?" and then answered, "TWO Lex Luthors," which is obviously the entirely correct answer. (I will give half a point to anyone who thought the right answer was, "Naked Lex Luthor," though. And, hey, this story has something for you, too!) In this story, she's masterfully reconciled the various editions of Lex (because, let's face it, even in a canon not precisely known for its slavish dedication to continuity, the many faces of Lex are, at best, a wee bit confusing) by, um, not really reconciling them at all. Here, they're really and truly different people. And, wow, they totally hate each other's lives. But, being Lexes, they can fix that.

And it is awesome and brilliant. And also there is what I consider to be a wholly appropriate treatment of Gorilla Grodd, who I have never liked. (I'm not a fan of the higher primates, for one thing.) And confusion to - well, to Lexes' enemies (let me just note here that I wholly support stories that require me to consider the various plurals of a character's name - I mean, I want to have to figure out if it should be Rononi or Diefenbachia or whatever! This is the sort of problem that makes life worth living! - but I feel that the truly considerate author will weigh in with an opinion on that in the story notes), but also to his co-workers, his minions, and, eventually, his friends.

I also think this is a brilliant extrapolation of Lex's personality (however it manifests): he actually does better at living someone else's life. Well, of course he does. It's more of a challenge, for one thing, and it's pretty much what he was raised to do, for another.

In short, I love this story. It gives me all the Lex a girl could want, exposes the inner workings of two universes, and makes my continuity-loving heart so very happy.

The One That Proves That Whoever Said Hell Was Looking in the Mirror Was Obviously Looking in the Wrong Mirror. Another Fine Universe You've Gotten Us Into, by [livejournal.com profile] tafkarfanfic. Stargate: SG-1, Daniel Jackson/Jack O'Neill.

This one brings me joy through sheer fun. I mean, haven't we all wanted to see the slapstick side of quantum mirror use? Okay. Probably most of us didn't even suspect there was a slapstick side of the quantum mirror. I know I didn't. But in retrospect, it makes so much sense. I mean, you have multiples of various people. (You know, when I put this one side-by-side with Looking Glass Country, I start to wonder if perhaps I get too much joy from characters meeting themselves, or traveling to alternate universes, or, as in this case, both. And then I think a) this is fan fiction, so I'm allowed and b) is there really such a thing as too much joy?) You have wacky interdimensional hijinks. In short, you have the opportunity for mix-ups on a scale that the Marx Brothers could only dream of. (Although let me say here and now that I think those guys could do awesome things with a few extra Harpos. Or a few extra Daniels, even. Oh, ow, now I have crossover brain freeze.)

Anyway. My point is that this is a whirlwind tour through many universes, as Daniel tries to find the right one and mostly ends up with shrimp and other assorted badnesses, which is unsurprising, since apparently the quantum mirror's purpose is to prove Leibniz right - sure, SG-1's universe may be a little fucked up, but apparently it's the best one on offer. And it's not like this story disproves that. It just proves that Jack and Daniel are past the point of being thrown by anything. If you'd been on SG-1 all these years, you would be, too.

It's rare that we get humorous fan fiction in SG1, but when we do, it's totally worth the wait. (And totally joyous, too.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Thanks for all the hard drive advice, folks - operation Save the Vids is underway. And good thing, too, because I am starting to twitch without them.

So. I had a whole introduction here linking 2007 and AUs and stuff, but I managed to delete it in a way that could not be undone. (The technological disaster front is weakening, but still present. Exorcism of our premises may be required if this keeps up much longer.) Instead, I will just say this:

Hey. Here are some AUs I think you should read.

The One That Proves That the World May Change, but Macaroni Sculptures Stay the Same. A Chip off the Old Blog, by Salieri, aka [livejournal.com profile] troyswann. due South, gen.

Okay, two things: I'm not going to spoil this (not not not, no matter how much I want to, and oh god I so do) and I am going to warn for something. There is a suggestion of animal harm. The harmed animal is not Dief. The animal harm does not appear onscreen, as it were. And yet, it bothered the hell out of me, and I know there are a few people out there who might also be bothered. Hence, warning.

But here's the thing: I love this story anyway. And those of you who know me will know how stunning that is. Normally, if there's animal harm of any kind, that's it - my brain wipes and the rest of the story becomes meaningless. In extreme cases, this ends with me sobbing helplessly against a fence in Disney World (Curse that animation demo, with the clips from Certain Animated Classics We Won't Mention, Because Just the Names Sometimes Make Me Cry!) to the degree that Disney employees grow worried and offer to "help," for which read, "Take you somewhere where you won't disturb the people who are having fun in the happiest place on the earth, unlike you, you - um. Are you all right? God, can you even breathe?" (Yes, that really happened. It wasn't a shining moment for my dignity. Also, please keep in mind that I was twenty-four at the time. And I couldn't talk, so Best Beloved had to reassure people that no, really, I was perfectly fine - not easy against a background of choking sobs - and then tow me out and keep me from bonking into random tourists, because I also couldn't see very well because of all the crying. Disney animators: destroying hearts, minds, and lives since the 1930s!)

Anyway. My point is: I love this story so much that I just deal with the whole animal unhappiness. Because this story is incredible. I have an unhealthy love for science fiction anyway, and this is like a tribute to certain SF classics (which I am not saying, because remember how I am not spoiling this?) and the most perfect dS AU ever. The casting is - oh, it is so perfect that I get light-headed from glee just thinking about it. (You can tell because of all the italics. I get crazy with the emphasis when I'm gleeful.) I - I kind of want a dS v 2.0 TV show, based on this premise, because I tell you and I tell you true: the only thing better than a sexual-tension laden buddy cop show filled with magical realism and Diefenbaker is that same show in a classic SF setting.

Oh, I can't even begin to communicate the perfection of this story. Or, okay, I could, but I'd end up spoiling it. Which I am not going to do. Just - just read it, okay? Please. Otherwise I'll be forced to keep babbling, and since I can't talk about the story (which is oh my god so perfect), I'd end up talking about other cruel things Disney animators have done to me and mine. You don't want to hear about how my father (yes, it's genetic) and I both cried all the way through dinner on my 16th birthday, alarming waitstaff and fellow diners and forcing my mother and sister to come up with topics of conversation that didn't revolve around the two freaks weeping into their linguine across the table. (The restaurant manager refused to charge us for our meals, even though my father tried to explain that it wasn't the food that was the problem.) Neither do you want to hear about my first and only childhood moving-going experience. Really you don't. So just read this story, okay?

ETA: The day I after I posted this recommendation, Salieri posted an extended version of this: Real Boys (A Chip off the Old Blog), due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. It is all of the awesomeness described above times about fifteen.

The One That Will Heal the Wounds Left on Your Soul by Long, Stilted Sentences. And Classic Fiction. Seriously, This Is the Anodyne for 90% of English Class Related Scarring. Jane Narf, by Parhelion, aka [livejournal.com profile] parhelion_aloft.** Pinky and the Brain, and the pairing is - Pinky/Brain, maybe? Assuming Jane Narf is Pinky? I don't know. I'm a little shaky on this, as I have never seen or even heard of the canon. (I'm just assuming this is an AU, actually; I don't know for sure. If the canon is really like this, oh my god someone please tell me, because I will immediately procure it even if I have to commit illegal acts to do so.)

So. I don't know Pinky and the Brain. But I do know Jane Eyre, and let me tell you, reading it was an unfortunate experience. I was 8 or 9, and as far as I was concerned, the book started well. Orphans! Injustice! Picturesque diseases! All it needed was a magic amulet or something, and it would have been on the road to greatness. And then it deteriorated into this long story about exceedingly boring old people who, in my 8-or-9-year-old opinion, were pathetic: they spent long periods of time whining and then deliberately making life worse for themselves, apparently so they could have more to whine about. I just could not believe how stupid they were. I kept reading only because of my sincere conviction that sooner or later the magic would turn up. I finished with a feeling of great betrayal: where was the magic? Stupidity was not okay without magic!

Well, as it turns out, the magic is here, in this story. Clearly, Pinky and the Brain is the secret ingredient that makes Jane Eyre magical and right, at long long last. Well, okay, the actual equation would probably look more like this: Parhelion(Jane Eyre + Pinky and the Brain) = awesomeness of a previously undiscovered caliber. Because, obviously, it took a mind of great genius to produce this work. It is - god. The voice, the tone, the sheer joy this brought me. I cannot begin to describe it.

I will say, though, that this story healed me. I've been carrying around resentment about Jane Eyre since, well, I was 8 or 9. No longer. Now it is and forever will be a wonderful story - a classic work about a young lab rat and her forbidden romance with the mysterious Mr. Brainchester. And it will remain forever on my list of Things That Bring Me Great Joy.

Narf.

The One in Which We Learn That We Must Throw off the Shackles of Superstition, for It Can Stand in the Way of Orgasms. String Theory, a Concerto for Violin in D Minor, by [livejournal.com profile] toft_froggy. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

I have a great fondness for the alternate occupation AU. If there's a story where Beecher is a bartender and Chris Keller is the bar's bouncer, I will read it with pleasure, even though there are well-documented problems with taking Beecher and Keller out of a prison setting. Same with, for example, a story about Ray Kowalski and Benton Fraser, zoo employees - I will read that one and likely chortle with delight as I'm doing so. And if you make Batman a ship's captain running down the Dread Pirate Joker, I will not only read it but likely die of unbounded fannish glee in the process.

SGA gives me an unusually high dose (even dangerously high, but that's fine: my tolerance is astonishing) of this kind of happiness, because the characters fit anywhere. Seriously. I'm not sure why, but it's tough to think of alternate occupations you couldn't give the SGA crew. (It's just like - I have this game I play with Best Beloved: name a movie, and I'll recast it with SGA characters. Classic romance is especially good for this, but almost anything works. The Matrix! Master and Commander! The Godfather! Pride and Prejudice! No, wait, I think someone already wrote that last one.)

So, here we have Rodney McKay the brilliant composer and conductor and John Sheppard the fuckup violinist. And I just - I have such love for this, because it works. These are recognizably our Friends of Pegasus even as they slot perfectly into the orchestra AU roles. (And Ronon is a percussionist. I was a percussionist once, so I practically collapsed at my keyboard when I read that. Seriously, Ronon was born to play percussion.)

And it's just - it works. It's wonderful, and it's fun, and it makes my heart turn cartwheels from happiness. What more can I say?

The One That Made Me Like a Creepy Talking Monkey. And I Loathe Monkeys, People; As Far As I'm Concerned, Hell Is Talking Monkeys.* Home Is Where the Heart Is, by Martha Wilson, aka [livejournal.com profile] ltlj, and Kimberley Rector, aka [livejournal.com profile] researchgrrrl. Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, gen. Ish. (It's hard to say with Hercules, unless someone's cock is in someone else's mouth, because if you're writing in line with the canon, it feels slashy even when it's totally gen.)

Okay. So. You don't know Hercules? I don't care. You can read this as original fiction - it's that good, and that original, and that much fun. Here's what you need to know: there's this guy named Hercules, who you may already have heard of in other contexts. He's a demigod, in case you didn't know. His friend and long-time companion Iolaus died, and he tried to find another one, but it didn't work out. There. Now you're ready to read this.

And read it you should, because - oh my god, this is so good. The Egyptian elements made my heart leap with joy. (People with heart conditions that preclude leaping should consult their doctors before reading this story.) I can't even talk about how wonderful this is, and partly that's because I don't want to spoil it, but also because I get incoherent and babble-ish, and this soon after my re-reading of Jane Narf, that could be dangerous.

And if you do know Hercules? Well, you may remember a spot of unpleasantness that those in the know call "the fifth season." This fixes that. It's an AU that doesn't just erase the whole whatever-it-was that ended up with Iolaus dead and replaced by WTF-that's-not-Iolaus (because, seriously, I don't know for sure what happened there - Best Beloved stopped watching Hercules after season four, thanks to some advice I got from [livejournal.com profile] marycrawford, who is my Hercules consultant). It takes those events, accepts them, and then somehow makes them all better, in a way that is both brilliant and perfectly in line with the canon. And is also full of Egyptian mythology. Did I mention that?

(By the way, if you read this story and think, "I want more Egyptian mythology influenced fantasy. But, by god, this time I want it with time travel and Lord Byron," let me know. I'll have an original fiction recommendation for you.)

-Footnote-

* Yes. Ironic, isn't it?

** Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] mutecornett!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Some of you may remember - or maybe not; a livejournal generation is only, like, eight days, so we're talking about ancient history, here - when I recommended fan fiction in this space. When I was knee-deep in vids, I swore to myself that those days would come again. It was very dramatic and meaningful, although the pervy LotR vid playing in the background might have detracted from the nobility of the moment slightly. Still, it was Oscar-worthy, and I think there was triumphal music (courtesy of the pervy vid), and you should all be very sorry you missed it.

So. Alternate universes. God, how I love these things.

Best FF That Almost Makes Me Grateful to the DC Folks for Their Persistent Attempts to Reboot Their Universe Until Our Memories Are Completely Wiped of Every Reason Why We Liked Their Comics in the First Place. Almost. Although I Still Reserve the Right to Punch Willingham in the Nose If I Ever Meet Him. Kids' Game, by [livejournal.com profile] __marcelo. DC Universe, gen or Jason Todd/Stephanie Brown. You know how the infinite universes theory says that everything happens? Every time you flip a coin, a new universe forms, all that? (Yes, that is an oversimplification. Yes, there's more than one theory about this. Don't even get me started, seriously.) Well, I have long suspected that the DC folks are trying to represent that in their books via reboots; every two years, we have one, and the universes rotate one place to the right. So it's inevitable that sooner or later we'll end up where [livejournal.com profile] __marcelo goes here. Only, totally not, but wouldn't it be cool if we did? No more of this deal where we add three years to this character and then subtract them from that character and then pretend a whole bunch of other characters never existed. I mean, there's a reason I don't read this stuff anymore: I can't handle all the change. I'm not smart enough to keep up. But if DC did do this with the Batverse characters? I would so, so read it. So what is this mysterious thing that the author has done? (I'm trying for suspense. Are you suspended, yet? Well, fine. I'll keep practicing.) He made them all the same age: Bruce, Dick, Tim, Jason, Steph. And it's just - this story pretty much had me from the opening (is there a universe in which opening with Tim is a bad move?), but it turned into this whole illicit, secret affair when I got to Jason and Steph. Because they work together so much better than Tim and Steph ever did, and also - no. I was about to go to the dolphin-noises place, and you don't need to be here for that. Go. Read. (Eeeeeeee!)

Best FF That Makes Me Add Holmes to the List of Tragic, Cracked Crimefighters. Please Do Not Mention Holmes/Batman or Holmes/Batman/Bond to Me. My Brain Will Explode. Thank You. Out of This Room, by Dorinda (does anyone know if she has an LJ name?). Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson. AUs in rare fandoms are, well, rare; I suppose that if there are only a handful of stories in your fandom, there's not a huge temptation to explore, say, the universe where Holmes is the surgeon and Watson is the detective. But I still want to read that, and a million other ones besides, so I treasure the rare fandom AUs I find. And this one is three in one, so you can imagine all the embarrassing clinging and fawning I do to it. Or maybe you'd better not. This is - okay, it's a brilliant look at some of the possible outcomes of a single canon situation. And can I just say how much I love that? It's kind of a variation of the Five Things That Never Happened story type, and I have a shameful love for those, and also for eigenstate AUs. But combine them - and this story does; it's basically Three Eigenstates We Didn't Observe in This Universe - and you have hit me square in the possibility kink. (I want to see all possibilities fully elaborated. This is one of the reasons I love fan fiction so much; you can find stories featuring all the possibilities and many of the impossibilities, too.) Plus, this story persuades me. See, Holmes is one of those fandoms where I'm handicapped by knowing the canon and, worse, having formed opinions about it long before I ever knew of fan fiction. So it's hard for me to buy Holmes/Watson, because it's hard for me to picture Holmes ever doing anything as messy and human as that. Dorinda, though - she writes Holmes precisely as I have always believed him to be. And then she gives me a Watson I am happy to accept, and it's Watson who makes the happy ending here a real possibility. So my reaction to this story is basically many inarticulate variations on the theme of wow. To wit: wow.

Best FF That Makes Me Really, Really Want to Learn How to Make Paper. A Heart for Every Fate and Wild, by [livejournal.com profile] destina. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. Okay, you're all familiar with the broccoli test, right? Some of my favorite pairings pass it, some don't. Many would know broccoli was wanted, but flatly refuse to get it. (I like 'em prickly and difficult, apparently.) Jack and Daniel might pass, although I think the refusing to get it thing would come into play with them. (Jack, for example, would know Daniel wanted broccoli, but he'd pretend he didn't. He'd come back with something seriously lame and stupid, like a lawn chair and three boxes of tampons, and then sit back to appreciate Daniel's expression when he saw them.) In any case, my point is, in this story (Yay! We're back to talking about the story!), Jack and Daniel pass the desert island test, which is much more stringent. (Since I just made it up, I suppose it's unreasonable to expect you to know what the desert island test is, so - if two people can spend the rest of their lives trapped alone together with no entertainment or distractions or conveniences, and at the end of thirty years they're both alive and as sane as they ever were? They pass.) I've often said that lost-earth (either it's gone, or they can't get to it) stories are not sad endings in SG1, and, as Destina proves here, neither is the desert island scenario. The obvious ending for a story like this is, "Yay! They're improbably rescued shortly after they find true love and hot sex!" I in no way object to that, not at all. But I love Destina for doing the brave thing here, skipping the deus ex machina and showing that, really, for some pairings, the desert island is a happy ending. And for writing this so damn well. Don't miss the sequel, either, which is basically an elaboration of the happiness of the ending, perfect for those of us who need a lot of reassurance.

Best FF That Makes Me Wonder, for What Has to Be the 80th Time, What the Hell Ginger Tea Is, and Why Everyone Drinks It but Me. The Convenient Husband, part one and part two, by Brighid, aka [livejournal.com profile] brighidestone. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. I'm sure those of you who somehow managed to miss this story can still tell it's from the Harlequin challenge, just from the title. (Those of you who weren't in the fandom for the Harlequin challenge - uh, it's a romance novel type thingie, and also, you are in for some amazing reading.) And that's one of the things I love about this story: it's just, it feels perfectly in line with the challenge. Perfectly. (And, seriously, I tried to think of something to write for that challenge, and I totally failed. It's not as easy as it sounds. Of course, it didn't help that my first thought, on seeing it, was that some sick, deluded soul in the SGA fandom wanted a bunch of flash fiction about jesters in masks. I was flat terrified, and had to click away to preserve my remaining sanity. I only figured out the truth some little while later.) I also love this story because I realized, reading it, that John and Rodney are the most portable characters ever. It's hard to think of an AU where they wouldn't fit. King Arthur's court? They fit! The Tokugawa Shogunate? They fit! McCaffrey-esque telepathic soul-bonding dragons? They fit! (I suspect, though, that Rodney would be a dragon in that AU. John would be his rider, of course. Chaya would be a queen, and Rodney would never ever let John mate with her.) Citizen Kane? Unfortunately, they fit there, too. (There are limits. I mean, John might end up as the sled, and also, no.) I just - I love that, and I love it especially when John and Rodney are so perfectly themselves, no matter where they are. They're definitely themselves in Brighid's story. (Don't ask yourself how anyone could consider marriage to Rodney McKay convenient. We already know John has no instinct for self-preservation.)

Best FF That Suggests That Unfortunate Things Will Happen to Those of Us Who Don't Answer Our Telephones. But I Don't Care; Those Things Are Incarnations of the One True Evil, and No One Can Tell Me Different. Last Will and Testament, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. This one is a bonus because, okay, look - if, by some chance, you don't know about it, go read it right now. All other commentary is going behind a cut tag, and please please please do not click on this cut tag until you've read it, okay? There's a spoiler that could possibly actually spoil the story for you, and that would be sad, but it's the only thing anyone ever wants to talk about with this story, so I'm putting it behind the cut. I mean it. Read it now. If you hate it, feel free to tell me that I suck. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Um, hi.

Does anyone out there still remember me? Is anyone actually reading this? Has all of fandom been destroyed by the Third Wank War, complete with nuclear flames and epic kerfluffles and weapons of mass defriending, so that all that's left is post-apocalyptic fandom, with a few tragic, scarred survivors cowering in their bunkers, posting about the irritations of radiation zombie attacks and the way you kind of get to like spam after the first eight months?

If that's what's going on, someone should please tell me. I've been hiding - emerging only in the dead of night to search for safe, friendly smut - for, like, ever, so if anything really good or really bad happened, I missed it.

There were many reasons for this whole hiding gig, including the dreaded Real Life Work Thing (felon Nazis must die!), but the only one of even marginal interest here is that I broke my due South mojo but good, and my friends list is so delightfully full of things dS-y that I couldn't go near it for weeks. Seriously, worst mojo breakage ever - I tried re-reading all of [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza's stories, and then [livejournal.com profile] resonant8 and [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel - the safest spots in all of dSdom! - and nothing helped. When you're at the point that even "About a Dog" can't fix you, you know it's time to retreat for a bit. So I've been re-acquainting myself with Jim and Blair (thank you, Sentinel ficathon, for posting stories just when I needed them) and mooching around SGA, hoping for plot and porn and as much McKay as possible, and I think it's helped; soon I may be able to return to the fond embrace of Ray and the Mountie. (For the record, they are engaging in the fond embrace; I am admiring the embrace and slipping assorted unhealthful snacks to Diefenbaker.) If anyone knows of some nice fresh dS with some humor and a happy ending and maybe some porn, that would probably cement my recovery.

Not that I am begging for links or anything, y'all. I'm stronger than that.

But I can't wait for dS to be fixed before I rec anything. I mean, there's a limit to the amount of time I can stay away and still stay sane. (Note: said limit may already have been exceeded. Just, you know, FYI.) So, without further ado, I give you: the first recs set I've written for a while. (I thought that sentence was going to end on a slightly higher note that that; sorry.) It's AUs, and it is totally dS-free, because of my tragic condition. But! There's SGA and DCU and, oh, lots of good stuff. So you maybe want to read on anyway.

Best FF That Highlights the Critical Role Sugar Plays in Scientific Progress. Have You Hugged Something with an -Ose Suffix Today? Hindsight, by [livejournal.com profile] rageprufrock. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, John Sheppard/f. (ETA: I should probably note that there's some disturbing content in here, and there aren't any warnings on the story. It's a basically happy story, but if you're feeling sensitive, comment and I'll warn you in more detail.) So. We'll start with an easy one, because, you know, it's been a while. I don't want to sprain something. And this one is easy because 1) I'm pretty sure everyone in the known universe has already read this, 2) anyone who somehow missed it will have already stopped reading this and gone to read that, because just the author and the fandom is enough to persuade any reasonable fangirl that heaven is a place called Hindsight. Or something. (Hey. I said it had been a while. Don't get uppity with me.) Anyway, if you haven't read it - although, again, why are you still here? - this is just. Wow. I can rave, but I can't possibly rave enough. It's a pre-show AU that ends in, well, not quite the same place where the canon starts. But close. Close enough, anyway, that your imagination can take things from there, though I really hope Pru will take over on that point pretty damn soon. So my point is, this is an AU history, which is really not that easy, folks. And, and - I mean, this is perfectly John, with just one tiny (but important) difference, and also so totally Rodney that I was forced to make undignified noises when I first read it. (He's whining! And shouting! At FBI agents! After he defused the bomb in his own car! And also nearly got shot! And did I mention the whining and shouting?) I have so much love for this story that, seriously, my heart grew three sizes yesterday when I saw that Pru had finished this. (I have this McKay-type allergy to works in progress, so I had been waiting and hoping hoping hoping that it would be finished soon, and it was! It was totally a miracle in the Church of SGA, people. Pretty soon I'll find the outline of Sheppard's hair on a tortilla!)

Best FF That Highlights the Importance of Crack in Fictional Progress, and I Mean That in All Possible Senses of the Word "Crack." Never Mind the Magic, by [livejournal.com profile] hjcallipygian. Harry Potter, assorted pairings. Ish. You know how sometimes you'll be reading a story, and you'll figure out where it's going, and you'll realize that the author should have been confined for his safety some weeks ago? This story totally did that to me. I was saying, "Oh, my poor crack-ridden friend - fandom has finally broken you, and we will all be really really sad when we attend your funeral or commitment hearings or whatever" to the writer (not that he could hear me, what with my monitor not having any kind of voice broadcast capacity, and we should all thank god for that) by, like, the first paragraph. First sentence, pretty much. And then I read a little further, and I was totally cursing at said writer, because it made so much sense. And by the end, I wanted to marry him for his insane crack-ridden mind alone. Because, yes, band AUs have been done and done, but this, this is the perfect band AU, and also maybe the perfectest HP AU ever. Because - OMG. And also, oh my GOD, with sex and drugs and punk on top. I don't know why J. K. Rowling didn't think of doing this with these characters - wait, no, wait. I totally do. It's because she has enough money to pay for buckets of therapy. But this is the kind of AU that works because it's taking characters out of a place where they were meant to be and putting them into an entirely new place where, to the surprise of all, they fit even better. The plot here can be roughly summed up as "everything that ever happened in punk, plus Yoko Ono," but somehow that doesn't capture the magic. Also? Bonus: Joni. Fucking. Mitchell.

Best FF That Highlights the Importance of Mullets to Musical Progress. Or, No, Wait, I Tell a Lie - It's Mullet Shame That's So Important. Naqqadah, by [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope. Stargate: SG-1, gen. Or, you know, OT4 music porn. Whatever. So. We had one band AU, and we're probably all still humming "Frigging in the Rigging" from that. (And, seriously, anyone who isn't - why the fuck not? Everyone in fandom needs to know that song by heart. All the versions of it. I'm really not kidding here.) And now I must link you to another band AU, because - because this one also works, in much the same gorgeous, insane way that makes you (or, OK, I'll be honest: it makes me) whine, "How come he, she, or it can get away with that? It's not faaaiiiiiiiir!" Which it isn't. But at least I get to read the results of it, so the universe is somewhat forgiven. This isn't precisely crack-ridden, mind you. Not exactly. It's just exactly what SG-1 would be if they were a band instead of, you know, a band of intrepid heroes and explorers. And you may be wondering how that concept could ever be other than completely crack-ridden, and you would be right to wonder, but I can only point you to the story and wave my hands around helplessly, because - look, just read it. The plot here is pretty much "There's these people that have this band, and they are so totally - like, dude," but, again, that doesn't capture it at all. Also? Bonus: Jack O'Neill with piercings. And I would so mention the mullet right here, except we're not allowed to talk about it, and who am I to taunt others for their unfortunate hair-related choices in the dim and distant past? (Jack and mullet, sitting in a tree, k-i...)

Best FF That Highlights the Importance of Illegal Drugs to Proper Socialization. Um. That Didn't Come out Right. Tell You What, How About I Get Back to You on This? Next Friend, by Sarah T., aka [livejournal.com profile] harriet_spy. D.C. Universe, Catspaw/Speedy. So. You're all reading [livejournal.com profile] cereta's Hanging Work series, yes? If not, start with Hanging Work, which is the foundation story, and also, I don't love you anymore. No, don't even try with the excuses. Won't work. Well, OK, except for you, and you, and also you - you three are excused. And anyone who just does not grok the DCU at all is likewise excused, although, seriously - you're missing out on the Big Buckets o' Gay in Tights, people, so please reconsider. But the rest of you, if you aren't reading this, well, you've lost all semblance of sanity. And I've lost that loving feeling. So, anyway, I spent some time trying to figure out which danged HW story to recommend; there's a bajillion, with more coming out from minute to minute, and they're all brilliant. That [livejournal.com profile] cereta, she has found her groove. Or got it. Or whatever it is one does to a groove these days; I can never keep up. Then I realized that there was another aspect of this AU that I wanted to highlight: it's open. People are apparently allowed to play in this sandbox, because Lucy is generous that way. So I decided I'd recommend Sarah's first (as far as I know) entry in this universe, because I have unhealthy amounts of love for it, and I want more people to take note of this lovely AU. And there's, like, drugs and stuff, and important life lessons are learned. And also, there's a fantastic Roy Harper, not that that should surprise anyone. And Catwoman. Have I mentioned how much I am in love with the Catwoman of this AU? Because I am, because she is just - you know what, go have a look-see for yourself, because I can't come close to summing up her wonderfulness.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(For the record, Wordsworth is to blame for the title punctuation. I am innocent. Innocent, I tell you.)

Alternate universes. And I've said this before, but alternate universes come in many flavors, from body-snatch ("Wouldn't it be cool if Xander Harris looked like Justin Timberlake?") to eigenstate ("What if Two-Face's coin had come up heads?") to brand new suit ("What if Casey had stayed in gymnastics? And been really good at it?") to mutant hybrid ("So, if Beecher is Cathy and Keller is Heathcliff..."). I'm not a big fan of the body-snatch AU, but otherwise I'll read whatever is going. What's going today? Mutant hybrid, brand new clothes, and major eigenstate (only one thing happened differently, but it turned out to have a major local effect). In other words, just another ordinary day in fan fiction. FF, how I love thee!

Best FF That Will Give You a New Appreciation for Current European Monarchs. I Mean, You Think Prince Charles Has Funny Ears? Study in Emerald, by Neil Gaiman. Sherlock Holmes x H. P. Lovecraft, and I imagine the author would say it was gen. (It is, actually. But Gaiman does such a good job of recreating - or, well, re-doing - the Holmes canon that slash lurks in every corner and between every line, just waiting for someone to say its name and make it manifest. And then write a sex scene or two.) You need to know at least a smidgen about both fandoms to enjoy this. But if you do? Oh how you will enjoy it. I just can't give you specific reasons, because I can't say much about the story without spoiling it. So instead of persuading you with logic and incisive critique*, I'll have to go the whining, begging, pleading route: Read this! Even though it is not your fandom! (Unless of course SH x HPL is your fandom, in which case I have an anthology you'd like to read.) Even if it is gen! (Or, if you are a gen reader, even if it does have slashy overtones!) Because it is, well, really good! So good that I would even throw a second exclamation point into that last sentence, except that the shame would break me; I'd end up like Dimmesdale. (I.e., in a closet with a scourge. And Hester Prynne.). Or maybe like a Lovecraftian hero after he discovers - too late, too late - that research is the real most dangerous game. (I.e., gibbering in moderately purple prose.) My point is, you need to read this story right now, unless you don't know the canons, in which case you'll want to do some other reading first. (I suggest A Study in Scarlet and The Call of Cthulhu.) I may not be Lovecraft's biggest fan, but, seriously, this story is worth the effort.

Best FF That Will Make You Want to Eat Cake. A Decorated Cake. Or, OK, One Specific Decorated Cake. Or Maybe It's Just Me Who Wants That. Deke, by Rhi Marzano, aka [livejournal.com profile] rhiko. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Two authors I love share a dS site (this one, in fact), and of the nine stories there, four are AUs. And these are good AUs, AUs I have long admired. So picking just one was, you know, challenging; I finally went with this because it's got hockey. And we all need more hockey AUs. I mean, OK, yes, dS has more hockey than your average fandom (Although why other fandoms don't have much is an unsolved mystery. Who doesn't want to see Ron Weasley play goalie? Or Bobby Drake as center-forward in what has to be his natural habitat? Or Beecher and Keller suddenly playing for the same team? (Hockey team.) I hear all of you chorusing, "We don't want to see that," but you are wrong. Every fandom needs hockey. Even ones that are, technically, set prior to the invention of the sport.) Also, I'm beginning to think that NHL hockey may survive only in fan fiction AUs, so I'm doing my part to encourage fangirls everywhere to get to know hockey. (And then come explain it to me, because I've never met a team sport I understood.) You say hockey is not enough to convince you? Give up now, kiddo, because I've got lots more reasons you should read this. Like, for example - Fraser is still the canonical Fraser. Blending an AU-type character and a canon(ish) character is not easy, but Rhi does it with great panache. And you like panache, don't you? Plus, I find myself actually liking Smithbauer in this one, which is like a miracle on the ice. Also, there's cake.

Best FF That Proves That Dysfunctional Romance Is the Basic Black Dress of Interpersonal Relationships. Force Draw, by [livejournal.com profile] actizera. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Christopher Keller. A good Oz AU is hard to find, man. I don't mean eigenstate AUs; I'm talking about ones that change the setting. Oz is maybe the most setting-dependent canon in existence, and taking the guys out of the cage changes way too much for it to work. I mean, you could write, say, a law firm AU (sadistic senior partner Schillinger, newly-minted sacrificial lawyer Beecher, hotshot trial guy O'Reily, Keller bribing juries and sucking cock to get - well, pretty much anything), but it'd be tough to preserve the characters, let alone the relationships between them. Oz is all about having no choice, all about being penned up with wild animals (and everyone is a wild animal in there; the only choice is predator or prey), and even though many of us would liken attorneys - the ones we don't love, obviously - to wild animals, it's just not the same without the walls and guards and locks. Beecher/Keller is a particularly tough pairing to sell in a changed-setting AU; it's just really hard to buy their relationship outside of prison. Which is, as you may have guessed, why I love this story. These guys are canon Beecher and Keller, and they have the same relationship; they just play pool instead of cards, and they screw in a truck rather than after lights out, but otherwise it's all the same, and it's believable, which is a miracle. You don't even need to know how the characters got to this point; this is a vignette, not an epic, so there's not a lot of background, but that totally works. For one thing, you pretty much know the background after you read this scene. All hail Actizera, who wrote the impossible AU. And who apparently gets Beecher and Keller on a scarily deep level.

Best FF That Supports Gerund Rights. Specifically, Gerund Rights to Appear in Titles. All We Are Saying Is Give Gerunds a Chance. Coming up for Air Series, by Delilah. The Sentinel, gen. First, the caveats: this series is a work in progress, and although each story stands alone fairly well, the last one ends on a cliffhanger. Also, some of the stories need to be beta-read - there's a lot of typo-type errors. But it is definitely worth reading. It's a fascinating extrapolation of the canon; the potential for all of this is present in the series but never explored (or, I suspect, even considered). The minor characters are extrapolated, too; Jim's family is very present, and as much more than just plot devices. Stephen, in particular, is an interesting and complete character here, and Sally gets a lot more time. Bonus: the mystical stuff makes sense. Normally I can only take so much supernatural-shaman-spirit guide blah before I'm ready to move on to something slightly more probable, like why Ron Weasley is really Dumbledore. In fact, I sometimes OD on the whole caboodle in the time it takes to read the words "black jaguar." In this series, though, it makes much more sense and works a lot better than in most stories. And this AU concept just feels right; it's believable in a way the canon sometimes isn't. And for the record, I don't find these stories sad. Oh, didn't I mention that in the warnings? Because, yeah. Everyone I've ever seen mention this series (which is, admittedly, not that many, even though it's a rather famous series) has described it as sad. Disturbing, even. But for once I don't agree, and given that I can tear up over video games and the death of characters who are, technically, cars, that's saying something. (Although I can't tell you whether it's something about the series or about me.) No one dies in this. Nothing that happens is worse or more upsetting than the canon. Jim is different, yes - his senses came fully and permanently on-line when he was six, and that changed him and the course of his life - but I don't see him as even remotely a tragic figure; he is damaged, both by the senses and by some aspects of his family, but that's true of canon Jim, too. To me, this Jim is, if anything, more comfortable and more secure than the one in the canon. But, well, others don't agree with me, so you are hereby warned: this might make you sad. (If it does, please say so in the comments. I'd like to know, and it will serve as a warning to others.)

-Footnote-

* I know. Like I ever do, right?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
...and, in this particular case, their lives are what our thoughts make it. In other words, it's time for another set of Alternate Universe stories.

Best FF That Shows Us That Hell Isn't Other People, It's Never Being Able to Get Away from Other People. And When You're Stuck in That Kind of Hell, the Last Thing You Need Is More Company: Opposites Attract, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. X-Men movies, Jean Gray/Scott Summers, Jean Gray/Logan. This is from the Powerswap Challenge. And it's - see, one of the things that's least forgivable about the canon (all varieties of it) is how they've handled Scott. He's got Ideal Marvel Superhero written all over him - the angst, and then the mutant power, and then the added angsty angst angst. He's got traumatic brain injury that keeps his power from turning off! That's fuel for the angst, people. That right there should have informed his entire character, and it's easy to believe that it did, that his inability to control his power is the reason he's so anal and controlled otherwise. But instead of showing us what it feels like to be trapped in a mutant body - a broken mutant body, with a power that doesn't work right - the canon gave us Cardboard Cyclops. Thank god for FF writers. Here, Penknife shows us how much worse Scott's situation could be. And, in the process, she shows us a truly agonizing triangle, where it's impossible to tell need from love and where no one has any choices at all. This story is astonishing on first read - and then you start to think about it, and it gets even better. This is a perfect example of the character-switched AU, the kind in which one or two things are changed about each character, so that we can better see the real core of each person. It just doesn't get better than this.

The Best FF That Shows Us the Surprising Similarities Between Television and a War Zone (Not, I'd Wager, a Surprise to Anyone Who Actually Works in the Entertainment Industry), and Also Shows Us That a War Zone Really Is Hell: April in Paris (The Hemingway Remix), by [livejournal.com profile] sabine101. Sports Night, Natalie/Jeremy, Natalie/Danny. (No, wait, give this a chance. Seriously. I know it's het, and I know Natalie/Danny is creepy and wrong. But, believe me, this time it works.) Sabine has taken the Sports Night folks to Paris. During WWII. Not ballsy enough for you? Look at the subtitle. She's written them as Hemingway characters. Just sit back for a second and let that wash over you. Now that you're convinced this is the weirdest thing you've ever heard, know this: she pulls it off. The characters are all recognizable, all right - they're who they've always been, and they fit right in to WWII Paris. That Sabine managed to write this is pretty much proof that nothing is impossible in the right hands. It also means I will be sick with envy every time I so much as see the name Sabine or the word Paris for the rest of my life. This, people, is the world-switched AU at its finest: the characters we know and love in a setting, universe, and style only one person could ever imagine, and even then only if she'd taken a recent blow to her head.

Best FF That Shows Us What Archaeologists Already Know: If Things Are Made Right, They Outlast the People Who Made Them. Surprising That This Applies to Superheroes, Isn't It? The Mystery of the Bat, by [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke. D. C. Universe, gen. One of the most important things about Batman - and, just in general, about a lot of the DC heroes - is that he's not super. He's a normal human. OK, bad choice of words there. How 'bout twisty, half-crazed, tormented, Original Gothic Brand human? In any case, he has no special powers, just a lot of skill and money and a brain that uses logic but not sense, if you get my drift. Among other things, that means that Batman can die a lot easier than, for example, any of the X-Men, or Superman, or Spiderman. But it also means that anyone just as fixated and obsessed and motivated - if there is any such person - can be Batman, because it's the suit that matters, not the man inside it. I love this AU, even though (warning, folks!) it's got character death in it, because it shows that. And it gives us all our, or rather, my, favorite people, just ever-so-slightly different. Dick's still in Gotham, Babs is in the batsuit, and Tim's the anal-retentive Fox (Yes, the Fox! Hee!). And, as usual, Dick has all the heart and Tim has all the answers. So here's a fantastic example of another kind of AU, the fate-switched: the characters are all here, but a few minor changes in their lives - including, in this case, a literal flip of a coin - and somehow everything is simultaneously the same and re-arranged.

Best FF That Shows Us That You Never Get Tired of the Classics, or of Ray and Fraser in a Sweaty Environment: Two Men in a Boat, or Adventures on the African Queen, by [livejournal.com profile] sihayab. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. The first reason I love this one is the idea of it. I mean, yes, when I saw the first half of the title I hoped it was going to be a take-off on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog! (and I will love forever anyone who actually writes that: RayK, Fraser, RayV or Turnbull, and Diefenbaker on the Thames). But what it actually is - Fraser as Katherine Hepburn and RayK as Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen - is inspired lunacy, and I adore it even if Dief (renamed Mackenzie, for obvious reasons) is back in Canada. Because admit it: you can see Fraser as strait-laced, uptight missionary Hepburn, and you can also see Kowalski as a hyperactive version of Bogart. So here we have a great example of today's final kind of AU: the transplant, where the characters from one world are put into the story of another one. This one requires a very deft hand and very careful selection of the two worlds being blended, because the characters have to stay themselves and the story has to stay itself. I think you'll agree that Sihaya was fully up to the task.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For a long time I hated AU stories. I didn't understand why someone would go to all the trouble of writing fan fiction and then change one of the most integral parts. What was the point? What was the challenge?

Yeah. I assume I had some kind of vitamin deficiency or something. People who are taking their RDA of B6 know that AU stories are wonderful. In many ways they are the perfect expression of the FF writer's art (yes, I did just say that - this time next year, I'll probably be writing a damn dissertation on FF); an AU story must retain the essence of the canon, even when almost everything is changed. This can't be easy to write, and when it doesn't work, it's a disaster, but when it does work - oh, my.

Best FF That Should Become a Continuing Series, Preferably with Movies, Novels, and Suitable Fast Food Merchandising Tie-ins: Five Things That Never Happened: All the Wonder, by shalott. Master & Commander, Aubrey/Maturin. This is Aubrey and Maturin in space. I know, I know. It sounds silly. But this is also the story that converted me to AUs, because shalott gets everything just right - the language, the setting, the characters, the dialog. This story is what O'Brian would've written in an alternate universe. I read this and was dying for more; when I re-read it, I have to restrain myself from sending shalott bitter reader comments demanding that she turn this into a novel.

Best FF That Gets All Snarky About Superhero Spelling Issues: Drawing in a Mirror, by C. Elisa. X-Men movies, Xavier/Erik, Scott/Jean. I know, I know, I just keep babbling about my affection for C. Elisa, but seriously - her stories are wonderful. This one's a powerswitch, and the characters are different and yet so much themselves. It's remarkable. I especially love the power Scott has in this, but then I have long adored The Once and Future King. OK, OK, I need to end this nomination summary before I run out of synonyms for "love."

Best FF That Explains Sports, Male Interaction, and Small Group Behavior in Terms of Sex (and That Actually Makes a Lot of Sense, Doesn't It?): Hot Sky Blue, by Livia, Julad, and Calico. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Maybe it's just the secret anthropology geek in me, but I read this story again and again for the way Blair integrates small group behavior into his sexual fantasies. I mean, c'mon, there's the sign of a man with his mind consistently on his work, yes? Or, now that I think about it, perhaps not. In any case, there are many reasons this story shouldn't be any good; it's AU, essentially PWP, the work of a committee. But it's actually fantastic, in no small part because we get a look at Blair as a person; too many Sentinel writers make him bouncy and garrulous and forget that he has, you know, an actual personality, too. These women don't, and I salute them.

Best FF That Isn't Just One AU, but Many: One of a Thousand Roads, by shalott. Gladiator, Maximus/Commodus. That shalott, she has a way with alternate universes. Especially those involving Russell Crowe, apparently. This story is far better than the movie was, which should not surprise anyone. I can't say much more about it without spoiling it. Go read this. I've seen the movie, but if you haven't, I think you could still enjoy this story.

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thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
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