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)
First and foremost: do any of you have a digital camera you really love? A source of digital camera purchasing advice you really trust? A link to the camera you wish you had? Please tell me. We are purchasing a digital camera, but thus far my attempts to make active steps towards the purchase have followed this process:
  1. Open camera-vending store in tab. (Recommendations for online camera stores also gratefully accepted, by the way.)
  2. Stare at cameras for a while.
  3. Say, "There are really LOTS of camera of in this world. Lots and lots."
  4. Close tab.
Too many choices! Head explodey! Halp!

Okay, and now in recommendations: I had the week from hell. No, really, it sucked in so very many ways - not every way it could have sucked, no, but each day was a new and festive cavalcade of minor and major disaster. I reached the end of the week in a shellshocked state, prone to crying at, well, pretty much anything. In this state, only vids can avail. So today I'm recommending four vids that have made me happy at the end of my awful, awful week.

The One That Proves That, When It Comes to Emo, Gerard Way Has Nothing on Spike. Or on the Bee Gees, Oddly Enough. Tragedy, by [livejournal.com profile] dualbunny. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Here's the first thing you need to know about this vid: it is absolute proof that auction winners can use their purchasing power for evil. [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro, [livejournal.com profile] jarrow272, and [livejournal.com profile] heresluck won [livejournal.com profile] dualbunny in the VVC auction, and they decided to have her vid the most evil song in the world. Scientific determination of the song's evilness was made in this very household; testing showed that people exposed to it just once sang it regularly for upwards of a week afterward, sometimes in public, no matter what efforts were made to stop. Repeated exposure resulted in seriously unfortunate dancing by the helpless victims of this song's mind control powers. EVIL, I tell you.

But what better for Spike than an emo, evil song? None, I would submit to you. Plus, this is the ultimate summary of Spike's journey, his character, his very personhood. (Vamphood? I don't know. Things get complicated when you're talking about people who are technically dead.) Every time I see this vid, I grow more convinced that this is precisely the song Joss Whedon had stuck in his head when he created Spike. It would explain so much.

And this vid makes me very happy. It is impossible to feel sorry for yourself when gazing at Spike's WOE set to DISCO.

The One with the Best-Ever Use of a Basketball Bounce. You Can Call Me Al, by [livejournal.com profile] sdwolfpup. Due South.

I will be honest with you. I hadn't previously recommended this because I was convinced that every fan on earth had watched it. And that was right and good and just, and I was pleased. This is a vid that everyone needs. It is gorgeous and hopeful and it fits the characters (both Rays and Fraser, in case anyone was worried about someone being left out) and the show so very well. It's distilled love in vid form. I turn to it whenever I am down and need to be reminded of the good things in this world.

So I was merrily going along, assuming everyone had this essence o' love in their lives. And then I discovered that a friend of mine - a close personal friend who I will not name here because after all public shaming is counterproductive - had not seen this vid. At all. Despite loving the song AND the show. And I was sorrowful and downcast, as I'm sure you can imagine. I tried to put things right for my friend ("DOWNLOAD THIS," I said, "OR I WILL BE FORCED TO COME OVER THERE WITH A BASEBALL BAT" - sometimes you have to be direct about these things), but then I had a horrible thought: what if there is another person in that situation? A fan of vids or due South or just, you know, wonderful things, who has not seen this vid? That would be even more of a tragedy than Spike, I tell you. So now I am recommending it, doing my bit to bring us into a better, happier, more loving world. A world, in short, where everyone regularly watches this vid.

So, hey, no pressure, but if you don't watch this right now, you're standing in the way of world peace. I just thought you should know.

The One in Which Rodney McKay Cain't Say No. Do I Need to Say More to Get You to Download It? I Would Hope Not. Atlantis!, by rache, aka [livejournal.com profile] wickedwords, and Sandy, aka [livejournal.com profile] sherrold. Stargate: Atlantis. (Note: Imeem and download links available there.)

First, let me just mention that while I am normally a fan of musicals, I have a tragic allergy to Oklahoma! No, not the whole "no legs, no jokes, no chance" thing, just - I like corn, and I like cheese, but I am not so much a fan of corny cheese on stage. (It's possible that I was just too young for Oklahoma! when I saw it. You know how they say if you feed a kid certain foods at too young an age, you increase the chances that the kid will be allergic to said foods? Well. I suspect that that's what happened to me with the corn and cheese fest, pretty much. I'm lucky I didn't develop an allergy to the entire Midwest.)

Except. It turns out that when rache and Sandy do Oklahoma! SGA-style, I am suddenly and totally in love. Or, okay, to be more precise, I'm laughing helplessly. (But it is loving, sincere, and earnest laughter. Honestly.) You really would not think that SGA had a perfect one-to-one translation with Oklahoma! (And let me just say - thanks to Helene Hanff I know that that exclamation point has been irritating everyone since before the show's premiere, and right now I guess it's my turn to wish it dead. I don't want to put random exclamation points in the middle of sentences anymore. Bad punctuation. No biscuit.), but apparently it does. Seriously, it's amazing. And did I mention funny? Also, it turns out there's a reference to fan fiction right in the musical. It's awesome.

Given that this vid was inspired by Rumble, by [livejournal.com profile] astolat and [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza, another vid in which a musical is perfectly mapped onto SGA, I have to wonder if you could do, like, SGA x A Chorus Line. SGA x Sweeney Todd. ...Oh dear god. I need to stop thinking about these things right now.

The One That Makes Biplane Fighting Look Like Ballet. Cathain, by Jill, aka [livejournal.com profile] klia. Flyboys. (Note: This vid is password-protected, but it takes only one password to get all the vids of Jill, Kathy, Kay, and Lynn, and I heartily recommend them all, so, seriously, get the password. You will get much shiny in return!)

I have a strange, abiding, and intense obsession with the WWI fighter pilots (It's, yeah. It's kind of sad. These things just take a person sometimes.), so when I saw this vid at VVC I sat bolt upright and watched very alertly. I suspect my mouth may have been hanging open slightly, although I hope no one noticed. I was certainly totally entranced. Months later, I still have that reaction. Whenever I watch this vid, pretty much. Because there is nothing like watching planes dance to Irish music (at least, I think that's Irish; feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) to make a person happy, I find.

Yes. Planes dance. It is awesome beyond anything. And, okay, if you are deeply peculiar and thus unattracted to the concept of dancing planes, let me add that there are also characters in this vid, with a remarkably well-cut slashy story. And a lion. Really, this vid has everything you could possibly want.

In terms of sheer rewatching, this is one of my top three vids from VVC 2007, and there's such a good reason for that: it's gorgeous, gorgeously edited, matching movement to music in a way that would totally make my heart sing even if there were not WWI planes involved. It is entrancing, and it is lovely, and I love it dearly. It makes me deeply happy. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, so, um, before we get to the recs (and there are recs - I know! I'm as stunned as you are), I have a question. Sadly, these leads us into deeply contentious waters, and I seriously considered hiding this behind a cut tag, because I love Best Beloved and don't want her to be lynched. But I trust you guys.

See, BB is watching The X-Files - she's just finished season one - and, um, she doesn't like it much. So she asked me to ask y'all some questions. For those of you who have watched the show, what's the best season, in your opinion? And what's the worst? And if she didn't much like the first season, mostly because she kind of felt like Scully got shafted, should she try any of the rest of the show? Please advise her, oh you who have watched the show. We will both be most grateful.

Now, before you reach for the pitchfork, can I distract you? I have things to recommend! Stories! Long ones! Because, you know, I've been away from this recommending thing for long time, so it seemed appropriate to come back that way. (Also, people are producing an astonishing number of fabulous longer stories lately, and this is a trend I want to encourage.) See? They are shiny and good. Please put down the pitchfork.

The One That Demonstrates, Once Again, That in the Jossverse, Retirement Is Only Possible If You're Dead. (And Buried. And Rotted. And No One Who Loves You Is a Witch.) Otherwise, It's Just a Temporary Retreat. Lilac City, by [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris/Faith Lahane.

I have a peculiar love of post-Sunnydale stories; to be perfectly honest, that's my primary reading (and, OMG, writing) area in BtVS these days. (It probably says some unfortunate things about me that I'm much less interested in the whole fighting vampires, saving the world thing and much more interested in where you go after you've saved the world. A lot.) And I also have a deep and abiding love for stories in which Xander is a person as opposed to, you know, a speaking prop in a comical shirt.

In other words, this story might as well have been made for me. (For some reason, I'm now tempted to break into song: "This fic is my fic/This fic is your fic/This fic was maaaaade for you and me!" And, whoa, I got flashbacks just from looking up the lyrics for that one, and of course I did have to look them up, because otherwise I get that song mixed up with the one about Tipperary. Or maybe it's Dixie. Thank you, music teacher of my elementary school: without you, I would not know how to sing several dozen songs about peanuts and cowboys and land, usually all at the same time. Also, because of your fine tutelage, I can bang arhythmically on any damn tambourine you care to hand me.)

Um. I think I was actually talking about this story, wasn't I? Right. So. This is Xander after Sunnydale, and he's settled into what we might call a very low energy state. But the thing about being around Buffy for a while - it's kind of like the Chosen-ness wore off on all of them; they gave her some normalcy, and it's like in return she gave them a bit of destiny. So, of course, trouble finds Xander. And he totally steps up. I love that, and I love how it unfolds, and there's one particular scene in this that I just - it was totally unexpected and wonderful and perfect, and I remember reading it while I was Trapped in a Hotel Room with Dogs and squeaking loudly enough to wake up Best Beloved.

The One That Is a Public Service Advisory on the Dangers of Heteronormativity for Everyone. From Superheroes to Supervillains, Heteronormative Assumptions Harm Us All. Useful Arts, by [livejournal.com profile] rivkat. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.

I love this one because - well, because, first, Lex Luthor is one of very few characters anywhere who would deliberately create a pheromone for his very own pheromones-made-them-do-it story. I mean, other characters - pheromones just happen to them. You know: it's the flowers' fault, or maybe the strange quirk of alien biology and/or ritual, or maybe the chocolate just has that extra special mystery ingredient. (Or, in The Sentinel, it's canon, in which case you have no choice as a fan fiction writer but to go there, too. I mean, obviously.) But Lex - Lex doesn't let things just happen to him, oh no. He makes them happen. Even if he knows damn well that he shouldn't.

Which is another reason why I love this story so damn much. Because Lex makes just about every major plot point happen and he knows it. That self-awareness - this is how I fucked up, this is when I fucked up, this is why I fucked up, these are fourteen historical references that thematically depict my fuck-up, and I knew all this at the time and did it anyway - is something I love to see from Lex, whose motto is apparently, at least in part: "If I don't outsmart myself, who will?" This story, in short, makes me want to simultaneously hug and smack Lex, and thus is just about perfect.

(And, as a serious, major bonus, it gives me a Supergirl I actually like. I never really gave Supergirl a chance in comics - there's, um, other issues in the way, there - but if she's like this, it might almost be worth dealing with those issues. She's like Clark, except a) comfortable in her own body and b) without all the buckets of "Yes, I'm more than human, but isn't more less in this case?" angst. I mean, I love Smallville's version of Clark, don't get me wrong, but it's refreshing to see someone managing to be superpowered and gorgeous and a hero to all without somehow turning that into a source of great personal unhappiness.)

The One That Proves That All Those Professional Perfume Creators, with Their Subtle Top Notes and Crap, Are Totally Missing out on Some Very Obvious Scents Guaranteed to Induce Passion in - Okay. Geeks, Mostly. I Fail to See a Problem with That. Instantaneous, by Cimorene, aka [livejournal.com profile] cimorene111. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

You know, I'd say the actual show - and remember, my experience isn't all that extensive here, so feel free to correct me with charts and graphs and what-have-you (I welcome multi-colored charts! I find them very inspiring! ...What. So I was a science geek; I blame my genes.) - is maybe 10% boys with toys. (Oh, shut up. Not that kind of toy. Sadly, the canon is 0% boys with that kind of toy, and will be until we get Squee TV up and running ("By fangirls, for fangirls. And anyone else who loves genre television and sex").) This story is conclusive proof that it should be 40% boys with toys, 40% girls with toys, and they can have the other 20% for - whatever. It doesn't matter. Funny hats, for all I care. (Actually, funny hats would be kind of...never mind.) My point is, when you have great characters, and you put awesome toys in their hands (and, see, that was totally funny, and you'll have to read the story to find out why), greatness is the result.

At least, in the hands of Cimorene, greatness is certainly the result. I've been regularly re-reading this story ever since she posted it, and it just never stops being fun. It's everything I adore about SGA, basically. (Or everything that doesn't include cliches, crack, AUs, grimly realistic SF, and stories where someone has to make friends with a super-smart squid.) It's fun. It's snarky. It's got a great little gimmick that turns into a fantastic plot. And there is sex.

I tell you, when we get going with Squee TV, I am totally nominating Cimorene for a job writing one of the shows. She'd be fabulous at it. And her stories would absolutely contain the appropriate ratio of boys with toys.

The One That Proves That, When Given a Choice, You Should Always Take the Bigger Boat. (Although, Really, I Think a Single Viewing of Jaws Should Be Sufficient to Teach That Lesson, but Some People Are Stubborn.) In the Wrong Story and Wandering Blind, by [livejournal.com profile] katie_m. Stargate: SG-1, Sam Carter/Daniel Jackson, Sam Carter/Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter/Daniel Jackson/Jack O'Neill.

You know, I'm not sure if it says more about this fandom or more about my tastes within this fandom that it was serious agony to pick only one of the many long post-apocalyptic SG1 stories that I want to recommend for this post. I mean, part of it is just that - well, you need something major to break SG1 (the team) out of the mold, and an apocalypse is a good way to do that. And part of it is that I'm a happy endings addict, and a lot of the happy endings I see for these people require, well, an apocalypse. It's like their motto is: "The end of the world is the first day of the rest of our lives."

And, yes. I am perfectly willing to have billions of off-screen deaths in exchange for my on-screen happy ending. When it comes to fan fiction, I am all about the needs of the few, okay? And the billions of deaths are definitely totally off-screen in this story; we start with Sam and Daniel, picking up the pieces (that's in In the Wrong Story, and I'm just not capable of seeing these two stories as anything but two parts of one long one - actually, they're kind of two-thirds of one long story in my mind, but these parts are entirely complete in themselves), and then move on to Sam, Daniel, and Jack, still picking up the pieces. I love that.

I also love the way the threesome plays out in this, because too many OT3 stories are all: "Hey presto, and the characters are together, and it's all perfect and also there are unicorns! Yay!" (For that matter, too many OTP stories go that way, too, but that's a deal for another day.) This story shows three smart but complicated people working out their relationship, with determination and difficulty. I adore the realism of that.

Also, there's an awesome road trip. And zombies, kind of, and yet not the kind of zombies I'm afraid of. And world-building. And just - oh, too much good stuff to mention. So just trust me: this story is made of perfection, and so what if it's a perfection that had to be built on the deaths of billions of people? With SG1, these things happen.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, our household acquired a package of Pepperidge Farms Milano Cookies. Best Beloved read the package while I was eating the cookies (we have a fabulous division of labor in our household), and then sat bolt upright, totally riveted, and read me the following line of package text:

The perfect balance of two exquisite cookies embracing a layer of luxuriously rich, dark chocolate.

Given the general nature of the readership of this LJ, I think I can comfortably assume your mind went to the same place ours did. (Actually, I have a hard time imagining what kind of person wouldn't go to that place. A deceased person, perhaps?) The cookies - longing for each other, staring at each other, thinking, god, so beautiful, so smooth and oval and golden. And they want to touch, but they can't. They can't. They're only cookies; how can they ever meet, when a cruel manufacturer has placed them in separate storage locations? And then First Cookie meets Chocolate, and Chocolate rubs up against First Cookie, slides on top of her, and she's so hot, so silky, and she feels so damn good, and First Cookie is overwhelmed. And then - god, yes. Second Cookie is suddenly pressed against Chocolate's back, and First Cookie can feel Second Cookie, feel every move she makes through Chocolate's welcoming, supple, seductive body. First Cookie rubs helplessly against Chocolate, pressing close, closer, closest, and she feels Second Cookie pressing back, and Chocolate is moaning now, and First Cookie gasps, and...

I need not tell you that this ends with the three of them as a single family unit, together forever, wedded into a single, blissful confection, all the better and all the happier for being three in number and two in kind. (Until I eat them. Um. Yes, okay, I'm now feeling some guilt.)

In short: Milano cookies make a person's mind turn to threesomes.

(After Best Beloved found this gem, I conducted further packaging research. In another place, the package text says: "Embrace decadent cravings. Open... Taste... Delight." And "gratification guaranteed." Just so you know that this is not an isolated incident. Pepperidge Farm is apparently really in love with the "Our cookies are like sex! Only better!" angle. Porn writers, you may wish to apply for a job there. I know, like, 3,000 of you who could write brilliant cookie sex for them.)

The One That Proves That Sometimes, Panties Are Optional and Sunglasses Aren't. Angle of Vision, by Zoe Rayne, aka [livejournal.com profile] z_rayne, and [livejournal.com profile] libitina. Thoughtcrimes x Scanners II, Brendan Dean/David Kellum/Freya McAllister.

One of the many joys of being in a fandom with older actors is that they sometimes have a deeply fascinating back catalog of work. (Not that I, myself, ever watch this back catalog of work. I am not that strong. But it's joyous fun to read other people's reactions to fine masterworks such as Boa vs. Python and Family Album, even if - no, who am I kidding? Especially because - those reactions consist of capslocked flailings about giant plastic snakes and the tragedy of growing up gay in a Danielle Steel movie.) But, even though I love the back catalog effect (especially with Canadian actors, who apparently have to appear in a movie or TV show every 15 days or else the Canadian government will shoot their moms, and sometimes, when you have to act to save your mom, you make artistic compromises), I've never gotten all that far into the six degrees fandoms. See, my first real exposure to the six degrees fandom thing was via Hard Core Logo, which scarred me, because Joe Dick is, for all intents and purposes, a clone of a guy I dated in my unfortunate youth. And I had already read HCL porn when I found that out. Scarring, I tell you.

But. But. (And, yes, we're getting to the story now. Shhhh.) This story is awesome even though it is a six degrees crossover, and I have never seen any of the canons involved. (Here's what I know about the canons via fannish osmosis: Thoughtcrimes is about this guy who loves cough syrup straight from the bottle, and this girl who has visions, and together they fight crime. And Scanners II is about a guy named David, who is hot, and probably has psychic powers or something. He might fight crime. He might BE crime. Fandom is not, on this point, particularly revealing.) Why is it awesome? Well, there's a threesome involving two bodies, which is always a neat trick. But mostly, actually, I love it for the sense of character it gives me. It doesn't usually work to wander into a story, especially a shorter one, featuring three unfamiliar characters from two unfamiliar fandoms; my mind is just not that flexible. But this works, and I found myself quite liking the people involved, and actually seeing them as people, even if I had to double-check their names so as not to call the pairing Mind Powers Girl/Cough Syrup Guy/A Mysteriously Skilled Guy Named David.

The One That Demonstrates the Many Positive Ways in Which Porn Can Change Your Life. It's Our Anthem, People! The Unholy Trinity, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Samurai Champloo, Fuu/Jin/Mugen.

(Note: this is a timestamp meme story, so it's technically a sequel to The Wind Will Not Subside. However, you could read this story without reading that one. I'm just not sure why you'd want to; The Wind Will Not Subside is wonderful - and, oh, dear god, I initially mistyped that as "winderful," which is the kind of pun I'm pretty sure you do hard time in hell for.)

Okay, see, this story actually had me from the title. As in, I saw the title before I saw the pairing or the fandom, and I thought, grumpily, "If that's not a Samurai Champloo story, I'm not sure I even want to read it." And then, inexplicably, it was a Samurai Champloo story, and I squeaked and made undignified noises and settled down to read with a song in my heart. And the title of that song was "Fuu and Mugen and Jin Are So Going to Have Sex, Sex, Sex Now." (Yes, in the official version of the song, there is an unfortunate dance step that accompanies the "sex, sex, sex" part. Those of you who have done the Time Warp would probably recognize it.)

And indeed they do have sex, sex, sex [pelvic thrust] in this story. But, in fact, I think I like best the image of Fuu stealing Mugen's porn. And being inspired by it. Because if the motto of Samurai Champloo is "just because we're technically set in ancient Japan, that doesn't mean we can't have hip-hop if we want to," the motto of Samurai Champloo fan fiction should totally be, "This time, the porn's not just for Mugen."

Actually, that pretty much is my motto, and not just for Samurai Champloo, either. But, hey, that's a different story.

The One That Will Cause Me to Reveal a Dark Secret of My Past. No, Not That I Was a Vampire. Worse, Actually - I Played One. Saving Roll, by Kate Bolin, aka [livejournal.com profile] katemonkey. (Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o!) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris/Anya Jenkins/Spike.

I. Okay. I have to make a confession here, and it's a little embarrassing, so just - you know. Be nice.

I was an AD&D geek. (You can tell, because I didn't write "D&D," I wrote "AD&D." That extra letter, when referring to the game, can be translated as, "Hello, I still have two giant bags of dice with side numbers ranging from 4 all the way up to 30" - yes, seriously, I have a thirty-sided die, which makes me a geek even by other role-playing gamer geeks' standards.) I played a lot of AD&D in college. I played a lot of role-playing games, just generally. I can create characters in twelve different systems. I can speak from the heart about my preference for certain skills systems over other certain skills systems. I can tell you humorous stories about various adventures that require a profound understanding of the alternate-rules third-edition system - wait, let me rephrase that, because I can sense your eyes glazing over from here: I can tell you humorous stories that will have you weeping with boredom.

(And you know the really funny thing? While I was obsessively creating player characters and collecting comic books and eating pizza for dinner all the time and spending 22 hours each day in various chat programs and just generally living the good life as defined by a 14-year-old boy who has not seen the sun in two years, I was comforting myself with, "Well. At least I'm not reading fan fiction." And now I think that, really, fan fiction is amazingly cool, but I'm kind of embarrassed that I need a whole closet just to hold my old RPG rules books. I - yeah. I am a study in contradictions, people! Admire my depths! Or laugh at me!)

Anyway. I had to tell you all that, not just because it's time to get it out in the open - defriend at will, and I'll understand; it's always hard when a person you thought you knew starts using terms like "percentile dice" and really meaning it - but because it explains my reaction to the framing device of this story. Which was basically a heart-clenching wave of love so intense that I very nearly started rooting around for my old DM screens. I mean, yes, I love alternate endings within a single story (and always have - I was a fan fiction lover born, not made, even if it took me a while to get here), and yes, the concept of Anya, Xander, and Spike having sex will always appeal to me more than it maybe should, but if you really want to get me dizzy with love, put in a d20.

Seriously. I am so in love that I have to go lie down for a bit.

The One That Shows That Cherry Blossoms Lead to Sex, Which Explains an Awful Lot About Both Yaoi Anime and the United States Federal Government, Two Concepts That Previously Had Not Been All That Connected in My Mind. Yoshino, by [livejournal.com profile] eretria and [livejournal.com profile] auburnnothenna. Stargate: Atlantis x Stargate: SG-1, Sam Carter/Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

This story asks an important question that I think many of our characters could stand to put some thought into. Namely, if you save the world, don't you deserve a night of really hot sex? I realize that it would be impossible for some characters to have as many nights of hot sex as they've earned. They only have so much time and energy, after all. (Note: The foregoing does not apply to Captain Jack Harkness.) But one night after all the world-saving does not seem like too much to ask.

This is why this story makes me happy for John and Rodney, yes, but it really makes me happy for Sam. Sam, as we've learned from Brad Wright (via, at least in my case, [livejournal.com profile] katie_m, because I don't listen to commentaries on account of a tragic allergy), has a lot on her plate, what with saving the world and having breasts, and it means she just doesn't have time for hot sex all that often. Thank god fan fiction is there to pick up the slack.

And [livejournal.com profile] eretria and [livejournal.com profile] auburnnothenna didn't just pick up the slack; they created an entirely new rope with this one. (Okay, fine, I overworked the metaphor. I don't care. What good is a metaphor if you can't take it to a ludicrous conclusion?) It's a tough sell, at least for me, writing this particular threesome from Sam's perspective, and I love what Eretria and Auburn did and how they did it: Sam making the decision, Rodney going along with so much enthusiasm that you expect him to form a "Yay! Threesome!" fan club, and John requiring an intergalactic trip, two rounds of hot sex, and some light bondage to get a clue. (I love him. I really do. But I totally buy that it would take two brilliant minds working in tandem to get him to figure out something he doesn't want to know.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
First, a question. My vid drive has been returned to its former glory - in fact, it is glory-enhanced now, what with its sleek new case - and I've been wallowing in vids as a result. (I missed them!) And - okay. I know someone out there will know this, and I don't. In Jossverse vids, I often see a sequence in which Wesley is visiting Faith in prison. He talks to her on the phone, and then she jumps through the window separating them and then out the window of the visiting room. Does anyone know off-hand what episode of which series that's in? I have secret special reasons for needing to know.

Okay. So. I could force some kind of connection between the question above and the theme below - maybe, I don't know, by playing with the whole hard drive thing (It's memory, in there! See? It connects!) - but we all have more dignity than that. Instead, let me just say that today's theme is that old favorite of mine (and of soap opera writers, and also of yours, I hope): amnesia. Nothing shakes things up like a good healthy fugue state, that's what I've always said. And, frankly, most of my favorite characters could use a vacation from their brains.

(Oh, god help me, I should never have said that. Now I have this mental picture of an Ancient/magical/mystical/supernatural device that provides 24-hour "holidays" in which you temporarily forget everything that is stressing you out. Which would be fine for, you know, me - I can think of days, and particularly nights, when I would have used that with pleasure, and in fact paid handsomely for the privilege - but for most characters, that device would end up erasing, at minimum, a whole decade or something. "It specifically said it was a vacation device! There was no harm in using it!" "Okay, then why does he think he's twelve now?" I...I don't want to write this. And yet I feel this horrible compulsion. Please tell me someone else has already written it, and provide a link. Please. I will be a happy, happy TFV, and you will have my love forever.)

The One That Conclusively Proves the Equation "Amnesia + Guns = NO." You Can't Take That Away From Me, by [livejournal.com profile] joandarck. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

I suppose one problem with the whole vacation-from-your-stress concept is that it might make you, for example, forget why it's a bad idea to shoot at your partner. Or hit on him. Or go down on him.

Of course, that's precisely what happens to Ray Kowalski in this story, and while it kind of sucks for Ray - there's nothing quite like being imprisoned in a hospital (no, really, doesn't that just sound like the sort of thing nightmares are made of?) when you don't know who you are - it's great for readers. There's amnesia! There's jokes about the extremely comical pants that Mounties wear! There's sharpshooting! There's humor! There's inappropriate touching! Basically, it's everything I love about due South, with added sex.

Really, this could be an episode, in a world where TV shows featured just slightly more gay sex. Although it's probably a good thing it wasn't, since Fraser stripping in a hospital hallway might, if filmed, caused certain fangirls I know to die. Of glee, yes, but I'd miss them. (Although just imagine the fascinating picspams the survivors would post. We'd have to invent a whole new cut-tag text warning just for them - something along the lines of, "Not dial-up or panty friendly.")

My point is: read this. It's fun for the whole family, provided your family consists entirely of people with a good sense of humor and a strong interest in underdressed Mounties.

The One That Left Me Googling Images of Xander Harris and Then Scrutinizing His Upper Lip. That's Not Exactly Normal Behavior for Me. Your Horoscope for Today, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris/Spike.

I have several things I love about this story. Or, okay, I love the story as a whole, but I am especially entranced by the beginning. Because the Spike at the beginning is totally the Spike I know and, um, have mixed feelings about: making Xander buy him a whole bunch of drinks and then trading Xander in on a poker debt. How awesome is that? (Um. Not that this is recommended behavior for, you know, actual people. Impressionable folks reading this, should there by some mischance be any: don't sell people to pay off your debts! And especially don't do it after they've bought you drinks. That's just tacky. Miss Manners would totally slap you down if she heard about it, and she's not someone you want to piss off.)

I am also entranced by the end. I don't want to spoil it for you, but - it is a fabulous ending that never fails to make me happy. Because, okay, this is the other side of Spike I believe in, at least when really good authors are writing it, and - oh, hell. There's just no way to explain why I love this so much without spoiling it. And I refuse to spoil this for you. I know better than that!

So instead I will just tell you that I also love the middle parts of this story, how [livejournal.com profile] eliade gets us from point A to point Z, and the fun we get to have along the way. I giggle every time I read about people's reaction to Xander's Big News. And most especially at Giles's, because - you know, I've known some people in my life who were experts at telling the truth in such a way that no one believed them, but you would think people who lived in Sunnydale would consider every statement to be at least possibly true. (No, really. Consider this hypothetical telephone call. Willow: "So how are you?" Xander: "Up to my knees in rats, but otherwise just peachy." Willow: "...Are these biting rats or metaphorical rats? Because if they're not metaphorical, I'm coming over there. Maybe Amy would like to make some friends." See? No matter what people say to you, if you live in Sunnydale, it's important to take it literally.)

The One That Proves That Heineken Is Indeed the Language of Love. Yeah, I'm Right There with You in the Horrified Shock. Time Is an Arrow, Time Is a River, by [livejournal.com profile] princessofg. Stargate: SG-1, Daniel Jackson/Jack O'Neill.

Oh, Stargates. It's like you speak the language of fannish cliches. And the proof is that you gave us canonical amnesia. It's like they're begging us to write lots of "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me my name" stories. And oh, fandom, how I love that you totally respond to that begging with tons of really excellent FF.

Excuse me. I need to pause for a moment; I'm overcome with emotion, including a really atypical and frankly scary love for all mankind.

Okay. Better now.

So, what we have here is a particularly interesting kind of amnesia story, because it isn't about what Daniel forgets - it's about what he remembers. Maybe remembers. And - okay, first I just have to confess that I have such love for stories where Daniel is basically lost in his own life. (And, seriously, who wouldn't be lost under those circumstances? Can you imagine coming back to the news that you were Daniel Jackson, he of the many languages, many deaths, and many layers? You'd be like, "...Great. I'm going to spend the rest of my life - which, from what you people have told me, won't be all that long - trying to decipher my own field shorthand. Christ, is this - is this Tocharian A? Intermixed with something that looks like Latin but totally isn't? Oh, I am so fucked.")

But, even amongst all the Daniel-returns stories out there, I have special love for this one. And I'm trying to think of a way to explain why without sounding, you know, fancy. Or incoherent. Or both. I guess it's because - well, for me, this story is all about spaces: the spaces of Daniel's life, the spaces in Daniel's head, the space between Jack and Daniel and how they each define it. If that makes sense. And if it doesn't - well, read it. Probably you'll see what I mean. (And then you can tell me what I should have said, and everyone will win!)

The One That - Oh, God. I Feel Pretty Much Obliged to Make a "Be Careful What You Wish For" Joke Here, but I'd Lose All Respect for Myself. Please Just Take It As Made. Fair, by [livejournal.com profile] minnow1212. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

This story is astonishing and wonderful in its own right, yes, but it's even more astonishing and wonderful when you consider the prompt that spawned it. Very few people on this planet could take that prompt and make it such a fabulous SGA story, but Minnow surely did.

And since the prompt is at the beginning of the post, and basically covers all this, I don't think I'm spoiling the story to say that in this, John is a fairy. No - wait - okay, fine. We'll take a minute so you can stop giggling and saying, "TFV, I've been reading in SGA for longer than ten minutes, so I pretty much already knew that. He's the fayest fairy ever to flap his tiny invisible rainbow-glitter wings!" Because I mean, like, a real fairy.

And now I feel like I've veered into an [livejournal.com profile] sgastoryfinders post: "So I'm looking for this one where John is a fairy, and Rodney's a little kid, and they're friends, and then they both forget everything, and magic happens. Or something. Also, I think there was sex." But, no, really, this is a brilliant story, and I love it to bits, and just thinking of it makes me happy. It's just that summaries - at least ones written by me - really do not do it justice.

In fact, this story is at least half responsible for how long it took me to write this post. See, every time I think about it, I have to re-read it - in general, Minnow's stories tend to have that effect on me. And then, after I've re-read it, I face this impossible conundrum: how do I describe this so that it sounds as awesome as it is and not as pathetic as the Harlequin prompt upon which it was based? Basically, after much desperate cogitation, I've decided to go the "pathetic descriptions + many, many superlatives + promises that it's really good" route, and hope you trust me. You do trust me, don't you?

I warn you: if you don't, I'm going to cry.

Because this is - well. It totally deserves every superlative I can think of, and more besides. And that is really all I can say about it.

But I have to ask - has anyone ever read the book the prompt came from? I am curious about it. But it's the same kind of curiosity I have about black holes; yes, the black hole is a fascinating mystery that needs to be understood, but I don't want hands-on experience with it. Same with this book. But if you have read it, I so want to know what it's like. (And if you recommend it strongly enough, I will even read it. Probably.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(True story about the title of this set: I had to look up the actual lyrics. I grew up singing the version of this song that goes, "I'm never in one place/I'm distributed over all space/I'm the electron." I...yeah. I was raised among the physicists, and I learned their tragically geeky native folkways only too well. As shown by the fact that I mutinously refused to transcribe the lyrics as written and just damn well fixed that comma splice.)

So. Last week was crappy for me, the kind of week that might make other people load up the car and drive off into the west (although, given where I live, it had better be a really short drive, 'cause if we didn't stop for pancakes five minutes in, we'd hit the ocean). I'm not a big fan of the random travel, though. (I'm not, um. Actually much of a fan of travel at all. My ideal journey is one taken by someone else, someone who wrote about it and then sent me a free copy of the book. Travel essays? Very much so. Actual travel, with strangers and hotel rooms and unfamiliar food? I need some time to work up to that.) So I just read road trip stories. And then I recommend them to you all, in case you also had a crappy week.

If you did, this set is dedicated to you. With my love and my intentions of staying very much in one place: fan fiction about travel.

The Story from When the World Was Young and Dreamed Not of the Big Gay (Interspecies) Love. But That Didn't Mean the Big Gay Love Wasn't Happening, You Know? Seawrack, by Hossgal, aka [livejournal.com profile] leadensky. Lord of the Rings, genish, or maybe it's Legolas/Gimli - who can say?

See, this story illustrates perfectly the problem I have recommending in LotR and all the other universes created back in the days when your average writer thought of The Gay as the unspeakable vice of the Greeks: namely, that it's impossible to tell what's gen and what's non-explicit slash. I mean, on the one hand, here we have a story in which Gimli frantically seeks out a missing Legolas, finds him navigating entirely based on feelings, curls up with him under a blanket, and asks him to swear that they will be together forever. To me, that reads like slash - hell, I've read 3,000 dS stories with that plot line. On the other hand, J.R.R. himself could've written precisely this story, and he didn't even write het romance; as far as I can tell, he deeply, deeply wished that sentient beings reproduced via courtly exchanges of epic poetry.

But, confusion or no, I had to recommend this. It's beautiful - it really does read like something Tolkien could've written, if he'd miraculously recovered from his two most annoying writing habits* - and it fits perfectly into the canon. And it's all about travel - about a trip Gimli takes through Middle Earth, and about a trip he and Legolas will take across the sea. Plus, pretty much all of LotR is about travel, and yet I don't think I've ever put an LotR story into a travel set - obviously a tragic omission, now remedied with this gorgeous, gorgeous (and ambiguously slashy) piece.

The Story That Proves That Psychometric Clairvoyants Bring a Whole New Meaning to the Concept of "Do What You Have to Do." The Big Picture, by [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Dead Zone, Johnny Smith/Walt Bannerman.

Any summary I could write for this story would sound like the start of a joke. "So, this small-town sheriff and his psychic friend are on a road trip..." (Don't ask me what the punchline would be. You do not want to live the horror that is me trying to tell a joke.) But, you know, that isn't it at all. Well, I mean, Speranza wrote it; the story summary could be "Two characters fuck their way across time, space, and three separate parallel dimensions," and somehow there would be plot and humor and tension, like, all this storytelling everywhere. She's just that way, and I salute her for it.

So. Not a joke. (And, really, we should all be glad. Because the thing is, I get, like, hideously polite silence when I try to tell jokes. Except sometimes people do laugh, but if they do, it will be in the middle. Not at the funny part, in other words. When the punchline comes, it will still be hideously polite silence, sometimes followed by an encouraging, "...Yes. And then what happened?") Instead, there's plot galore - this is pretty much a classic procedural mystery story, with the added kink that the mystery is in the future. And that, right there, is what fascinates me about this story. I don't want to spoil it, but - this story sets up an ethical dilemma that is, um. Damn. It really is impossible to talk about this without spoiling it. Suffice to say that it'd be tough to write this story as anything but fan fiction, and if anyone wants to discuss it further than that, I am all for it, because wow.

The Story That Demonstrates That N'Sync Is a Powerful Force, Uniting People Who, Let's Face It, We Probably Don't Actually Want to Be Together. Anywhere But Here, by Sarah T., aka [livejournal.com profile] harriet_spy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen.

You know, I spent this entire story riveted to the screen, and that is just totally unlike me, for the record; generally I have to pause at potentially embarrassing or disturbing or sad moments, play some Spider or Sudoku or something and brace for the inevitable. (It isn't inevitable, of course, but it feels that way. And if that hasn't told you entirely too much about my way of handling change (DENY DENY DENY), this will: I also tend, at those moments, to re-read the paragraphs of the story that I've already enjoyed, as reassurance and encouragement. There are some stories I can recite whole chunks of because of this tendency of mine.) This story is filled with disturbing moments, and yet I couldn't stop. Something about the road trip construction, perhaps; there is always this kind of what-happens-next imperative to a road trip story.

Or, hey, it could be the people who are on the road trip: Ethan Rayne and Dawn Summers are not precisely the perfect candidates for a fun buddy-movie style drive to Vegas. (As a total side note, people, please: link me to the story about Ethan, Giles, and John Constantine hanging out together in the 1970s, and maybe being in a bad band and doing a lot of really bad-ass magic. Please. They were meant to be, seriously.) There's a surprising amount of fun on the way to the seriously-I-mean-it-this-time inevitable chaos and disaster, though, and it made me - it made me want to see even more of this. Which should tell you precisely how amazing and compelling this story is, since I am not usually the person who wants to see good characters go bad, and I am so not a fan of chaos. But it's just - yeah. It's a story that I would've said couldn't work, and now I can't help wanting to see a whole universe based on it. Wow.

The Story That Will Fill You with a Strange Desire to Seek Cold, Cold Places and Order Wine in Them. Fight This Urge. Antarctica Has Some Down Sides, I Hear. Harsh Continent, by [livejournal.com profile] 30toseoul. Stargate: Atlantis, gen. (Look. It was posted in a slash community, but I see nothing in here that I don't see in the canon, so...gen, I guess, is what I'm gonna call it.)

This is just - this is just the most perfect Sheppard-in-Antarctica story ever. For one thing, it feels real. (I read this story a lot, trying to figure out what it is, stylistically speaking, that gives it the air of authenticity. I have no answer as yet, although I have, as you might expect, several theories.) For another - this is Sheppard at the end of the road; this story made me realize that when Sheppard said, in Rising, that Antarctica was the only continent he'd never been on, what he meant was that it was the only continent he wasn't finished with. Which makes the whole Pegasus Galaxy trip rather unsurprising, and now I want to poke him and make fun, all: "No matter what the coin said, you were going through the wormhole, 'cause where else could you go? But some people are just so good at their little denial games."

And, at the core, that's what this story is for me: an incredibly revealing look at the character of one John Sheppard, USAF. He handles Antarctica precisely the same way we'll see him handling unfamiliar planets in Pegasus - basically, he's lost most of the time, and never really knows what he's doing when he's on the ground, but he manages surprisingly well anyway. And he interacts with the assembled McMurdo, SGC, and military staff pretty much the way he will with people on Atlantis: he smiles, gets people to like him without letting them know him, and gives in way too much to Rodney McKay. So, you know, I love this story. A lot. Yup yup yup.

-Footnote-

* Namely, PoV disorders (like, he's always telling us about a battle from the perspective of a character who is hearing about it from a guy who wasn't there but heard it from these two other guys who were) and inability to break up the narrative to indicate simultaneity; if two characters were separate - and they often were - but doing things at the same time, he'd tell all of character A's story, even if it lasted for 100 pages and most of a century, and then switch over to character B, slam the plot into reverse, and start all over again, back in Rivendell or wherever. What, you thought I didn't actually have a list? I always have a list, people.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, see, here's the deal. I am the last person you should be trusting for vid recs. I deal with visual media pretty much by pretending it doesn't exist, because generally speaking it makes no sense to me. You know how most people come to fandom and fan fiction from TV shows? I came to TV shows from fan fiction, and the people who had to get me through Buffy, my first real TV watching experience (primarily Best Beloved and [livejournal.com profile] fanofall, who can still show you the scars), can relate to you that TFV/TV was an unnatural pairing right up there with Dementor/Wraith/Ringwraith. (Although. Hmmm. You know, actually, that's a way more natural pairing, in at least one sense.) It took me two and a half hours to get through the Buffy pilot. I still didn't understand it, mind you - I was just so exhausted that I no longer cared.

Seriously. TFV + TV = total disaster.

And yet I watch vids. They might be hard, but on the other hand they're only three minutes long, so I can watch them a whole bunch of times without bonding permanently to my couch. And they have songs, and they have themes, and just in general they are more approachable than the shows themselves. Which doesn't mean I'm good at watching them, mind you; just that I watch a lot of them. So, really, you might not want to take my advice.

We clear on that? Okay. Moving on.

In my recent poll, I asked all y'all to tell me what you love in fandom (and in my LJ). You were very helpful. To be specific, as of this writing, 372 of you were very helpful. (Given that this poll was posted on Christmas Eve, and that 200 people had answered it before the night was out, I have to ask: is it reassuring that so many people share my relative lack of a life? Or is it more concerning? Discuss.)

I was not expecting that many people to answer the poll. So at some point early on, I said to Best Beloved, "Hmmm. People want vid recs, do they? Hey, I know! I'll rec vids for fandoms that get at least 150 votes!" At the time, only two fandoms had that many votes, so that was, you know, a nice big number. It got to look like, um, a somewhat smaller number as the poll filled up, but I stand by my word.

Or I sort of stand by it. Some of the 150+ readers fandoms are vidless for the very good reason that they are books, which are notoriously hard to vid. Others are simply vidless because I haven't seen many for them. And I'm breaking the recs up into sets; otherwise this post would be long, and when I say long, I mean "an epic film by Peter Jackson" style long. It's amazing how many fandoms you people read. Yet more proof that you are fabulous.

So. On to part one. (This is not in any specific order, by the way.)

Jossverse


The Great Fannish Work of Absolute Love and Total Commitment. Scooby Road, by Luminosity, aka [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett.

Note: If that link doesn't work for you, try here. Right-click and save, please, and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] z_rayne for the mirror.

Availability: this one is gigantic, and it sucks bandwidth like a Sci Fi Channel original movie sucks, so it comes and goes on Luminosity's website. She's promised that it will be available from January 1, 2006 until, you know, the bandwidth situation starts looking dodgy. Get it while the getting's good; you won't regret downloading this one, no matter how long it takes you.

And if she ever opens up the orders for DVDs again? If you plan to get even one set of vids on DVD, make it this one. I cannot tell you how neat the package is (although in that respect - vidders are visual people, and so their DVD sets are almost always shiny and cool, which would have been less of a surprise to me if I was remotely visual) and how wonderful it is to see this TV-screen-sized.

Oh my god. How do you describe a project like this? How...just...see... Okay. What Luminosity did here, she vidded Buffy to Abbey Road. All of it. I have this on DVD, because I am just that cool (and yes, by certain definitions that is extremely cool, so don't even), and I've watched it bunches, and I have no shot at describing this. I haven't even managed to process it. It's an experience, not just entertainment. And I say this as a person who has seen roughly one season's worth of episodes of Buffy, spread out over the first three seasons. I don't know the context of most of the clips in here. And even so, I get snuffly near the end, and I'm pretty much awe-struck through the whole thing. (Except for Maxwell's Silver Hammer. I love that one. It makes me chortle. I am laughing through that vid.)

Scooby Road is intended to be presented as one piece, but you can watch each individual vid by itself. One of the most impressive things about this is that it is visually and tonally consistent, if that makes sense; it all works together and looks right together. But every vid is different, and every vid can stand alone. But, really, watch it all together if you can. It's just, the sweep of the thing, the scope of it - and, Jesus, I sound like I'm writing a freshman comp paper. Okay. Back to basics. You may think that all of Abbey Road is too much Beatles. You may think that all of Abbey Road is too much Buffy. You may think that this whole concept is completely insane. You are quite, quite wrong. This vid is riveting and stunning and maybe in the wrong hands it would be a grandiose mess, but my point is that it is very much in the right hands here. And there are advantages to watching something as long as this. Like, you know how, if you see more than about four Jossverse vids, there are certain shots you get very very tired of seeing? Well, you'll see some of those shots here. But only once or twice in 45 minutes, rather than once in 3. It's amazing how that brings meaning and effect back to those shots.

Seriously. I could talk about Scooby Road all day, but the bottom line is: this is something everyone who watches vids at all should see. I mean that. Download it now and watch it when you can. This is fucking masterwork.

I plan to have my copy bronzed.

Due South


The One That Hast Slain Me, and I Mean in the Most Emo Way Possible. (I Get Emo, for the Record. The Vid Is Totally Not.) Icebound Stream, by [livejournal.com profile] sisabet.

Availability: pretty much all the time.

Okay. Take a deep breath, Fraser lovers. Actually, no. Take a deep breath, everyone. Because this is Victoria and Fraser ripping each other to pieces, and I think after you see the vid you'll realize exactly how literal that is. Vidders generally don't use material from outside the source or sources in question, but, um, Sisabet does in this one, and I cannot imagine a better time, place, or application of non-canon footage.

So. Let's get the OMGWTFPOLARBEAR jokes out of the way right here, shall we? There are polar bears here. And they have never been less funny or more - you know, it's strange. I'm forbidden to watch most animal documentaries these days, but back in my high school years I watched many. (Burned out Biology teacher. Long story.) None of them ever conveyed the sheer brutality of predators the way the few polar bear clips in this vid do. And nothing has ever conveyed the sheer gorgeous cruelty of the Fraser/Victoria relationship the way this vid does. Even if you have never watched a minute of due South, even if you are one of those (really peculiar, but I love you anyway) people who said they were totally uninterested in this fandom in my poll, download this. I truly believe you can get everything you need to know about this relationship from this vid, even if you're starting from zero. And from a vid perspective, what Sisabet does here is intense and amazing and rare and just, you need to see this. There are frames I still can't see without flinching, and I mean that as a high compliment.

Of course, if you do know the fandom, you'll be bleeding a bit after you watch this. But, hey, I've got the poison and the cure, people.

The One That Takes the Naughty Emo Blues Away. Avalanche, by [livejournal.com profile] tiranog.

Availability: This vidder doesn't have a website. She will, however, upload it to YSI or MegaUpload at your request if you leave a comment on that entry. It's very much worth this extra step. Plus, trust me - after Icebound Stream, you are so going to need this vid.

Sometimes a vidder picks a song that is so absolutely perfect that I'm forced to make little squeaking noises while I'm watching. This is one of those vids, and I knew it would be as soon as I heard the line "Every since I met you, we've been tumbling towards destruction," because, well - I mean, Fraser and Kowalski have. It is pretty much their whole approach to life together. (And falling? This vid has more falling shots than I had realized were available in the canon. They, um. Spend a lot of time exploring the finer points of gravity.) And just as polar bears are the perfect metaphor for Victoria and Fraser, an avalanche is just right for Fraser and Kowalski. But it's the good kind of avalanche. This vid is happy without being sappy, which is nice, although in all honesty I have to admit that I'm, well, not entirely adverse to sappy in this fandom. (Shut up. I am in my happy place.) This vid - there's so many perfect lines and clips in here, and it fills me with joy, and I just. I love it. Some vids are wonderful because of how they unite lyrical and visual content, and this is definitely one such. (And, people? This song is vaguely country, I guess. Please do not rule it out on that basis, or rule any vid out based on song genre. There are great vids set to rap. There are great vids set to '70s power ballads. There are great vids set to country, and I would submit that this is one.)

Firefly


The Vid That Shows You How Much a Spaceship Really Costs. (Answer: More Than You Probably Want to Pay.) Hallelujah, by Bonibaru, aka [livejournal.com profile] boniblithe.

Availability: pretty much all the time.

Firefly is an unusually impenetrable fandom for me, at least when it comes to vids. See, I download vids for fandoms I wot not of all the time. If you post a vid for an obscure movie filmed in 1968 in a language I don't speak? One that has a single, 45-minute shot as the central portion of the movie, and is apparently about cheese making? I will download that vid. I will watch that vid, and if you mention the source in the credits (and, people, please - mention the source in the credits, because you obviously know who the cheesemaker - or any other character - is, but that knowledge is not automatically beamed into your viewers' brains), I will look it up in the IMDb and think deep thoughts about your vid. (And also about the kinds of drugs filmmakers were on in the '60s.) My point, though, is that the cheesemaking vid will probably be more accessible to me than your average Firefly vid, because you just. You really need to know the source to get these vids, and I really don't.)

But there are these very rare vids that come through loud and clear, unfamiliar source or no, and this is one. Hallelujah is an over-vidded song (to say the least; it probably is the only song with the distinction of being over-vidded in four different cover versions), and usually I cringe when I see it come up. But, here's the weird thing. In Boni's hands, the Most Confusing Fandom + the Most Over-Vidded Song = Brilliance of a High Order. I mean, I love Mal when I watch this vid. (Which, given that I had to look up his name just now, is rather impressive. Usually I need some kind of identifier before the true love takes hold.) I get his relationship with Serenity. I get this universe. I even get the story behind this episode. Because, see, this is an episode-based vid. An episode vid done right, in my opinion. Which means there's narrative, and there's character, and there's a purpose to this vid beyond just saying, "Hey! This is a great episode!" A large part of this purpose seems to be making me like Mal Reynolds no matter how much I totally don't want to, but you know what? I love this vid too much to care.

Stargate: Atlantis


The Vid That Makes It Clear That John Sheppard Needs Therapy in Bucketfuls. And Also That After Atlantis, He May Need More Help Than Any Amount of Therapy Can Provide. Requiem, by [livejournal.com profile] barkley.

Availability: this is a password-protected site; the username is hiro and the password is protagonist. (I have her permission to put that in here, people! I am not being rude!) The vid should be available all the time.

and

The Vid That Made Me Love a Character I Loathe. And That Is So Good That I Didn't Even Resent It. Welcome Home, by Kanzeyori, aka [livejournal.com profile] permetaform.

Availability: pretty much all the time.

I have to rec these two vids together, because in my mind they are indelibly linked. Don't get me wrong, they stand perfectly on their own, but - well, let me put it this way. I watched all these vids a number of times while I was writing this post, and watching Requiem and Welcome Home together inspired me to write some very bad FF about how Elizabeth and John differ, and about who they are and what they bring to Atlantis. Because that's the point of these two; Requiem is John's Atlantis and Welcome Home is Elizabeth's.

From a - I don't know, can I say "from a technical perspective" when I have not the first clue about vid-making? Hmmm. I vote yes. Yes, I can. And you are all welcome to mock me for so doing. So. From a technical perspective, what I adore about Requiem is the way Barkley used movement. Describing vids in words is just about impossible (at minimum, you need wavy hand gestures), but - watch the way the movement within each clip is designed to a) match the music and b) carry you through the vid. Watch how Barkley controls what your eyes do. It's just, wow. Really amazing, people. And also very helpful for those of us who would, left to our own devices, always put our eyes in exactly the wrong place in any given frame. (Many's the vid I've spent staring at someone's nostrils or some random patch of sky directly behind the subject of the vid. Really. If the vidder doesn't make me look at the place she wants me to, I will focus on the wrong thing.) And from the perspective of simple humble watcher of vids, I adore the narrative and tone of this vid, both of which are absolutely right for John's first year in Atlantis. Also, the ending is just - wow. Really quite the killer, and I mean that entirely literally.

And, okay. I suspect that if I were a vidder, I'd be a beat whore. So my technical love with Welcome Home is how it appeals to my retarded inner beat whore. Because of the retardedness, I can't explain to you why acknowledgment of the beat is so important to me, but it is. It's something to do with the way the music is supposed to take me through the stuff I'm seeing; beats suggest Something Happening Here to my hindbrain, and I look for what is happening on the screen. If nothing is happening? Or, in the worst-case scenario, if sometimes something is happening and sometimes nothing is? I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be seeing, and it makes me cranky. So a vid like this one, where the musical punctuation matches the visual punctuation so perfectly, is not just a thing of beauty; it's an inherently more enjoyable and understandable vid. And, frankly, I need all the help I can get in the understanding department. There's a narrative in this vid, too - it tells a story about Elizabeth, about who she is in Atlantis and what she does. (I'm trying to avoid spoilers for people who haven't seen Season 1. But if you have, you'll recognize the story pretty much instantly.) For me, this vid shows the Elizabeth I always hope to see in the canon and never do; I love that Kanzeyori managed to carve the canon to expose the good Elizabeth lurking inside it. And if that sometimes makes me want to sulk and kick the SGA writers for screwing up so much, well, it's small price to pay, frankly. If you love Elizabeth, download this. And if you hate her, definitely download it.

Still to come, assuming I live so long: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, X-Men Movieverse, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Sentinel, Smallville, Star Trek, and Stargate SG-1. Plus anything else I have vids for that tips the 150 mark before I finish posting these. It's going to be a very vid-intensive time, in other words, but I promise there will also be fan fiction. I have enough obsession for two fannish pursuits! At least! And possibly also enough time! We shall see.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This was going to be a set of stories about the undead, because of Halloween. (Yes, it was started before Halloween. I'm the Pokey Little Poster!) And then it was going to be a vid recs set, because, well, vids. But somehow I got completely sidetracked into crossovers, and I'm not the least bit sorry. I don't think you'll regret it, either (especially when I tell you that there were no zombies in the undead set), because who doesn't love a good crossover? And these are great crossovers.

But, hey. Does anyone know what kind of crossover the first story is? I've been calling it a fusionesque, because it brings elements (but not characters) of one universe into another, but I'd love a proper, dignified term. And obviously nothing I come up with is going to qualify for words like those.

And as long as I'm asking questions - Best Beloved is getting an iPod for an act of devotion above and beyond the call of any marital contract, so obviously it needs to be a good iPod. An exceptional one, even. Those of you who have them - do you like yours? Hate it? What would you buy if you were getting one today? (A video iPod is definitely not what we want here.) Are there accessories I should get, too? Give me advice, people, please. And, if you're feeling especially loving, links. Links would be very nice.

Best FF That Once Again Proves That, in Defiance of All Reason and Logic and Sanity, Snakes Are Sexy. Daemonology, by [livejournal.com profile] trinityofone. Stargate: Atlantis x His Dark Materials, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. So I guess the first question here is, have you read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy? And if not, why not? These are brilliant books, people, and they include one of the best concepts introduced in any book anywhere ever: daemons. If you don't know what those are, [livejournal.com profile] trinityofone has provided a handy guide that will tell you everything you need to know to read this story. Which you should obviously do at once. But after that, well, know that I will weep tragic Victorian-heroine tears if you don't try at least the first book of HDM, The Golden Compass. (And let me just say that daemons are not the only marvelous concept incorporated into this book's universe.) Okay. I'm getting off-track even for me, so enough with the mixed pimping and back to the story. Except - there's not a lot I can say without spoiling this. These are precisely the characters we know and love from SGA; the HDM add-in may even have made them slightly more themselves. And, hey, there's sex, and it is amazingly appropriate, and also weirdly sexy, considering that it mostly involves a lot of mouse-touching. Hmmm. I think I'm doing a terrible job of conveying just how good this story is, and just how much love I have for it, and just exactly how cool the mouse-touching is. (Although I imagine I have now done an excellent job of persuading you that I am sick.) Just read it, okay?

Best FF with More Cops Than the LA Freeways on Three-Day Weekends. Five Homicides Never Investigated, by Samantha, aka [livejournal.com profile] inlovewithnight. Homicide: Life on the Street x Angel x Battlestar Galactica x Firefly x Horatio Hornblower x Stargate: Atlantis, gen. I warn you, I'm not familiar with all of these fandoms - I mean, I can just about spell Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, and that's it - but I still totally get, and love, the point of this story. See, we know who the good guys are, and why what they're doing is right and good and necessary (unless it is totally not, like for example marrying Rowena instead of Rebecca), but - well, in their local universes, the cops usually don't. So, yeah, we all understand why the Mayor on BtVS had to die, but to people who weren't there, it must've looked remarkably like a graduating class going insane, rioting, killing the Mayor (and their own principal), and torching the school. Which is unusual even in California. (Well, in the suburbs, anyway.) I'm usually happy to suspend my disbelief about these things; after all, the alternative would've been for Buffy to turn into a courtroom procedural in its fourth season. (Maybe with Spike as the slouchy, smiling, weirdly scary prosecutor who does all the cross-examining - team him up with Lindsey McDonald for an extra-scary Joss-cross DA team! - and Ethan Rayne as an extremely worrying judge.) But one of the reasons I love FF is that I can find stories that give some much-needed attention to real-world outcomes without having a full season of episodes with titles like "The Process Server Always Rings Twice."

Best FF in Which a Fork Is Used As an Aphrodisiac. No, I'm Not Kidding. And No, It's Not Icky. What, Don't You Trust Me? Thrift, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1, and Pares, aka [livejournal.com profile] kormantic. Buffy the Vampire Slayer x The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/Faith Lehane. Um, yeah, you read that right. I don't usually enjoy crossover pairings that much, and we all know I get seriously bitey, if not downright rabid, when people trifle with my OTPs, but, well, this is an exception. Because Faith works with anyone. She's the super-sexy little black dress of fandom (and if this makes anyone think of pairing her with that other little black dress, John Sheppard - huh. You know, I was going to say don't, but...) and it turns out she looks excellent on Blair. Or all over him. Whatever. But in this story, my greatest joy actually comes from watching Blair Sandburg deal with the assorted oddities of Sunnydale - vampires, mechanical failure, sexy minors with mysterious fork abilities. I won't say he manages with panache, precisely, but when you consider everything that happens to him in this - well, let's just say that life with Jim Ellison is apparently excellent training for dealing with strange with a side order of dangerous. (At this point, Blair could probably write a whole self-help book called Listening to Adrenalin: When to Run, When to Fight, and When to Call for Backup.) And I'm sure Giles will have a fascinating chat with Blair. Once Faith's done with him, of course.

Best FF in Which It Really Is Vasculitis. Evil Vasculitis. Change Is the Only Constant, by Mara, aka [livejournal.com profile] marag. House x DCU, gen. Well. Okay. Some crossovers just don't work. You can, like, find them on some crack-pairing list, and giggle about them, and maybe test your brain's flexibility by imagining them, but the fandoms just don't mesh. You know what I mean: Crossovers That Woman Was Not Meant to Read, Let Alone Write, God Help Her. I would have said that House x DCU is one of those, except that I totally do want you to read this, and furthmore I encourage all kinds of writing like this, because it so totally does work. (Which suggests that any crossover can work in the right hands. I have long suspected this, though no one should write Pride and Prejudice x Backstreet Boys just to prove it.) I'm not spoiling anything when I tell you that the central concept here is Tim Drake = Gregory House. And, wow. That's an equals sign that just has no business at all existing, right? But [livejournal.com profile] marag does a fabulous job of showing how point A gets to point B, which is way the hell out of spandex, without breaking any characters. (As far as I know, I mean. I've read, like, four House stories and seen absolutely zip of the canon, so I'm making no promises there.) And, okay, I should probably mention that this story contains spoilers for Identity Crisis and WTF Games, or whatever the hell those canon clusterfucks were called, but the thing is - it resolves those arcs in a way we probably won't get to see in canon. Plus, this story has Cass, and she always elevates the level of discourse. So - grown-up, snarky Tim. Grown-up Cass. Batfamily guilt trips. Emotional resolution. This story has it all. And did I mention the whacked-out crossover aspect?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
First, let me say that I am not responsible for any insanity that creeps into this post. A bird is. Specifically, the bird that lives somewhere near our back yard and has a message to share with the world. And that message runs as follows:

Bird: Woooo woo-woo.
Bird: Woooo woo-woo.
Neighbor's dogs: Hoooooooooowwwwwl.
Bird: Woooo woo-woo.
Bird: Woooo woo-woo.
[pause in which Bird assesses work to date]
[Bird gives itself a hearty pat on the back for a job well done]
Bird, allegro con brio: Woooo woo-woo.
Neighbor's dogs, crescendo: ArooooooooOOOOOO.
Bird, really cranking up the soul: Woooo woo-woo.
Neighbor's dogs: Ooooooh, for the love of goooooooood, nooooooooot again.
Bird, not to be outdone: Woooooooooo woooooo-wooooo.
TFV: [shrieks, throws hands in air, begins Googling handgun waiting periods]

This has been going on throughout all the daylight hours. For weeks. It's like living next door to a home for fraternity boys tragically transformed into members of the animal kingdom. (No, frat boys are not normally members of the animal kingdom; scientifically speaking, they belong to the Certain Squidgy Sea Creatures, the More Offensive Primates, and Anything Covered in Chitin kingdom.)

Makes it hard to focus. Makes it hard to be filled with loving kindness for nature. Makes it hard to do anything except swear vengeance on our feathered friends. This is how mad scientists come to be, people.

So, you know, FYI: not at my all-time record mental stability, here. Could possibly have some effect on the recommendations. And I say that because I have decided to make this a whole set of stories in which aliens (or other non-human entities) make people have sex. Which, yes, is by definition a good thing, but I can't help thinking it reflects badly on my sanity.

Ah, well. I'm going to blame the Bird. And if that isn't enough, I'll also blame the icon pairing meme. (Which I so shouldn't even have tried; I mean, Batman's Robin/Christopher Robin? I don't wanna go there. And Nagiko from The Pillow Book/Poison Ivy is, if anything, worse.) It put bad thoughts into my head. And they ended here. With aliens. And sex.

Best FF That Gives Some Very Valuable Advice Concerning Giant Warrior Pigs. And Makes It Obvious That There Should Be More Giant Warrior Pigs in Certain Parts of the Multiverse. The One in the Cave, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander Harris. Look, I refuse to be sorry for recommending Anna all the time. She writes the good crack. I recommend the good crack. It's a functional, healthy relationship, and I'm proud of it - simple as that. (And, no, you may not "just mention that it's a relationship built entirely around gay porn." There is nothing wrong with that, and any argument based on the premise that there is is inherently flawed. And you also may not "point out that you don't actually interact with her, so maybe it can't be called a relationship, per se," because if I let you get all technical about the definition of a relationship, pretty soon I'll have hardly any left. It's better this way.) So. There might be, like, three people who haven't read [livejournal.com profile] eliade's work yet, and if there are, this is their wake-up call. Attention, Anna-Deniers: you'll be happier if you just go read everything she's written. I don't care if it's not in your fandom. Because, like, take this one: there's a guy. And another guy, who is technically dead and evil, but don't let that get to you. And some big baddies conveniently located just off screen are forcing them to have sex. It's a classic plot, people! An archetypal plot, even, right up there with the other classics: man v. man, man v. nature, and man fucking man on the orders of a deus ex machina, but it's okay because secretly they want to! What, you didn't cover that in English class? Well, that's why we have fandom.

Best FF That Proves That the Phrase "It's for Your Own Good" Can, on Occasion, Be Entirely Accurate. Although I Still Wouldn't Advise You to Trust Any Aliens Who Happen to Utter It; Probably They Just Want to Eat You. A Strange but True Story, by [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. I'm going to sing here, and I want you all to join in on the chorus. "It's back, it's back, the dS mojo is back! It's back, it's back, the -" What? No, I don't know what the tune is. Like that would make any difference anyway; I mean, I'm the one doing the singing, here. You just pick whatever tune you like and come in strong on the "mojo is back" part, okay? Because the point, in case you missed it, is that my dS mojo is back. It's still a little fragile - I'm not clicking on random stories in archives just yet, and I'm afraid to so much as think about fanfiction.net, but otherwise, I've got a fully functional dS mojo, here. And thank god for that. I was flirting with brand-new fandoms for a while there: Doctor Who, Dead Zone, Deadwood - basically anything that began with 'D.' But turns out I don't need to. And the proof is my recommendation of this charming little gem. I mean, yes, technically I read it before the whole Mojo Issue, but I re-read it just now, and I enjoyed it heartily. No surprise, either, with the clever inverted storytelling, and also the part that's from Diefenbaker's point of view, and also the worryingly parental aliens. Yes, my friends, dS is indeed a happy place to be. And I? Am there.

Best FF That Proves That If You Don't - Oh My God. I Was About to Make a 'Come Prepared' Joke. Someone Needs to Save Me from Myself. Although It May Already Be Too Late. Objectives, by Shalott, aka [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. I have something of an embarrassment squick, and by that I actually mean an embarrassment squick so severe that when I tried to type out an example for this sentence I had to take a twelve-hour break from writing this post. Seriously. It's bad, people. I'd rather random-browse on fanfiction.net* than read embarrassment fic. What does this mean for my life? Well, yes, it means that I flee from movies intended for the under 21 crowd. But, hey, not like I'm missing much there. Unfortunately, it also means that I sometimes flee from perfectly good pieces of fan fiction. So I have a special notation I put in my shorthand descriptions for stories that could've hit my squick, but didn't. It consists mostly of exclamation points, and this story gets a lot of them for the way Shalott navigates a conversation that had the potential to be hideously painful (well, for people like me) and instead is just wildly funny. (That Shalott, how I love her. She never triggers my embarrassment gag reflex. These days, I don't even stop reading her stories when I realize a potentially embarrassing scene is coming up, because I know she'll handle it with style and grace and no squick at all. I think she might have superpowers or something.) So, basically, in this story, there's humor, and then there's alien-induced sex, and then there's more humor. I can't imagine a world where that would be anything less than delightful.

Best Two Stories That Prove That Pegasus Galaxy Grows Some Truly Excellent Aliens, Even If They Seem to Be Mostly Just Rustic-Village-Oriented on the Show Itself. Advantage AND Abstain, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. I actually have three reasons for recommending both of these stories, and I'm bound and determined to write them all down. Just - indulge me, okay? First. I have to acknowledge outstanding achievements in the field of alien-induced sex, and Resonant and Stargate: Atlantis have both been doing amazing things in this arena. Seriously. SGA is, like, the Fandom of Pervy Aliens, and Resonant is - you know what, I don't think I want to finish that sentence. It's better that way. Suffice to say that Res totally deserves some kind of frameable certificate, maybe even a plaque, from grateful aficionados of aliens who make humans have sex for reasons best known to themselves. (I'd certainly chip in, because wow.) Also, second, and more tragically, I know everyone who reads this LJ has already read these two stories. So I had to recommend them, because - because I had to, dammit - but I figured I'd put both of them together. Isn't this the perfect time for a re-read? And, finally, these stories prove that if cliches are fun, twisted cliches are even more fun. Because, like, in Advantage, the aliens aren't making them have sex; they're just making John, well, I guess you could say altruistic. (I'd say "subservient," but he so isn't. Because even when John Sheppard is a willing slave, he's still insubordinate. And that, people, is why I love him.) And in Abstain, the aliens specifically make them not have sex. Which of course causes them to have sex. What can we learn from this? Well, my take-home lesson is that everything leads to McKay and Sheppard getting it on, and it's one that I'm glad to have learned.

Best FF That Proves That Our More Local Aliens Are Very Helpful, But Also Slightly Creepy. What You Want, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor. Okay, let's get the unpleasant part out of the way first: I'm disappointed in you, Smallville fandom. Because, yes, this is a great and wonderful story in which aliens make Clark and Lex have sex, but it's the only one I've yet found in this fandom. And, granted, I haven't exactly delved into the depths of SV FF just yet, but - there should be pervy aliens everywhere in here! I shouldn't be able to click on a link without tripping over two or three stories in which aliens turn out to have needs! (Obviously, I mean aliens in addition to Clark. Because he has needs, yes, but you have to hit him with a kryptonite brick to get him to notice that. I'm just saying - why can't that brick be wielded by aliens?) But - and this is the not-complaining part of the summary, here - if there had to be just one aliens make them do it story in SV, I'm glad it was this one. Because, oh my god, the world needs a story in which a person initiates sex with another person by saying, "You should probably come here and smell me." Or am I the only one who is rendered incoherent with joy - and giggles, yes, but the joy is paramount - by that line? Hmmm. I may actually be the only one. In which case, feel free to tell me what a freak I am. I'm not afraid. Well, I mean, obviously; I just posted a whole recommendations set involving aliens who are apparently closet slashers.

-Footnote-

* I swear this will be the last fanfiction.net dig in this post. It's just - it's funny 'cause it's true! And also, I went there recently, and oh my god, people. You wouldn't believe what fangirls are Mary Sueing these days. It's like wall-to-wall Lady Raventroth of Butterfly-Kitten in there.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am having a series of crappy days. As in, like, prize-winningly crappy. I mean, I've been hugging my dogs and they haven't even been protesting, just bearing up nobly and accepting that when things go this wrong it is a dog's duty to be squeezed much too tightly. When dogs go stoic on you, you know things are bad. Or, okay, I guess if you had naturally stoic dogs, that wouldn't be true, but we have a dog who, it has been scientifically proven, limps when he is experiencing emotional stress - limps from an injury incurred more than four years ago and long since healed. So, no, we leave the stoicism to the fictional characters in this house.

Except, I'm not being stoic. I'm being in denial. Why did no one tell me that denial was a critical life skill? I mean, my teachers spent all that time going on and on about how useful communication skills would one day be - hah! - and yet never once mentioned that the ability to ignore bad things would be downright critical. It's a failure of the education system, people.

Anyway. I've been engaging in shameless self-indulgence, which is yet another coping skill no one mentioned back when they were trying to get me to be assertive and open. Which means, yes, whining in LJ. But also it means re-reading stories guaranteed to make me smile. And I noticed this, well, trend: things I re-read on bad days are about characters having amusingly bad days. Apparently I feel better if other people have it worse than me and are still smiling. (Or, well, kvetching, but in a way that makes me smile.) And since I was re-reading them anyway, I thought I'd rustle up four of my favorites and put them in recs set. (Yes, I have more. Many, many more. Some fandoms seem to assay out at approximately 40% funny-bad-day stories, and my god how I love those fandoms.) So here we go, and I dedicate this to anyone who is having a bad day, bad week, or bad year - basically, any unpleasant period of time. Because this is the set that proves that "Well, it could always be worse" actually can cheer you up, provided it comes in the right package.

Schadenfreude, here we come.

Best FF That Answers, Once and for All, the Age-Old Question, "Is That a Slice of Apple Orbiting the Sun?" Day Break, by [livejournal.com profile] giddygeek. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. See, now, this is exactly why I'm giving regular thanks for SGA these days. I mean, if I'm going to have the universe throw up on me daily - and, really, the last eight days have sucked more than that - I need stories like this. Because John Sheppard is having a seriously bad day in this story. You know how bad days just go on and on? This is worse than that. And, lord, I am familiar with the horrors of insomnia, but he's got, like, externally-induced sleep deprivation in this. By remote control. And also, Inventory Hell. This is the first I've seen of a story type I had been happily anticipating since my third minute in the SGA fandom, and, wow, it does not disappoint. (And neither, for the record, does the other SGA story I've seen like this, which I will also be recommending just as soon as the sequel is out, so someone poke [livejournal.com profile] the_moonmoth for me, okay?) This is just - there's funny in spadefuls. There's Punish the Idiots Day (which is every day in Pegasus, if you ask me, but Rodney brings a special verve to the occasion), and there's John Sheppard off balance, and then increasingly exhausted and desperate, and there's a wonderfully snarky Radek Zelenka, and there's the single best explanation for a person's presence in a meeting ever, and there's, like, note-passing through space and time, which is just - wow. Cool. I love this story. In every particular. Yes, stories like this turn the red and jiggly skies to blue, all right, which comment will make more sense after you read this story, so go do that right now, please.

Best FF That I Totally Pasted in the Entirely Wrong Set of Links for the First Time I Posted It. Did I Mention It Has Been That Kind of Day? Sorry, Jenn. And Madelyn. Frantic, by Jenn, aka [livejournal.com profile] seperis. Smallville, Lex Luthor/Clark Kent. So, Clark has gone home for a visit, and Lex is also in Smallville. Is it any wonder that sentient green goo would also choose to be in town that day? No, it is not. Not if you've been paying any attention to the canon or the fandom, here. And I think it's safe to say that Lex started out having the worst day in this story, but he gets the upper hand fairly quickly. (I know, try to contain your surprise.) Because Clark doesn't get pork chops, and then his truck gets destroyed, and then he gets trapped in a cave with Lex. Which, OK, standard day in Smallville, yes? But then come the environmental control problems, and then we all start asking ourselves just where it was that Lex took horseback riding lessons, and what else he learned there, because he adapts himself to new mounts with the greatest of ease. All of which means that Clark's day goes totally south. Um. In some definitions of the word. This story never fails to make me giggle, in any number of places. (Like when Clark evaluates the Justice League's collective sex life, which - well, that's not what I hear over in DCU FF circles, mind, but he could very well be right.) Also, there's a follow-up story by [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn (conveniently available on the same page) that is just - wonderful. Best epilogue ever, in my personal opinion, including a truly hysterical last line. This story is so good and ends so well that after I finish it I inevitably just scroll back up and start reading it again. And, for the record, there is just no way to experience the depths of self-pity in the face of Lex and Clark having a truly shitty day. Together. Again.

Best FF That Draws a Connection Between Charles Baudelaire and Beetles. Not That That Isn't a Perfectly Natural Connection to Make, Mind You. A Week of Wrong, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander Harris. Xander is having a week of shitty days, poor guy. Because a week in which every single day features escalating unintentional sexual activity with Spike - that just sucks, you know? You have to pity him. No, I'm not kidding. You have to pity him. Also, you should probably pity Spike, who isn't having a good week, either. Good weeks feature fewer beetles. I know this for a fact. Oh, and in re the beetles - in case anyone doesn't recognize it, the poem Spike quotes is Sed Non Satiata, by Charles Baudelaire, which one sometimes-reliable party has translated as "Unslakable Lust." (Reading through this today fed my Baudelaire kink to such a degree that I actually went back and started making notes on my never-to-be-finished Angelus/Baudelaire story. Because, come on, he so totally did - just listen to the way he talks! In the one episode! With the, um, alien lust lady! Why aren't there many, many Angelus/Baudelaire epics? In which it is explained that Angelus is responsible for all of Baudelaire's poems? Including the one Spike is quoting? I've been whining about this since I started in this damn fandom. Seriously, ask [livejournal.com profile] fanofall if you don't believe me. Attention, Angel fandom: get with the poet/vampire stories, please.) And if Spike quoting smutty French poetry at Xander doesn't get you reading this - well, actually, then you are just way too hard to please. But there's more: he does it in the presence of Giles, who knows debauched poetry when he hears it. See what I mean about Xander having a whole succession of bad days? Ah, Xander in adversity. Good times for all.

Best FF That Demonstrates That Everyone Is As Allergic to Giant Teeth As I Am. Although, in Fact, I Wasn't Until Movie Stars Everywhere Started Having These Horrible Privacy Fences of Teeth, Like Their Tongues Needed Lots of Personal Space or Something. Damn You, Hollywood! Grown Men Don't Freak, by Annie D., aka [livejournal.com profile] dachinchilla, and Katryne, aka [livejournal.com profile] serabut. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. When I find myself quoting a story repeatedly, I know the time has come to recommend that puppy. And, well, what with the bad days and all - here we have Sam having a bad day (because of bouncing balls), Jack having a bad day (because of Daniel), and Daniel having a whole series of bad days (because of Sam, Jack, and himself - Daniel is always such an over-achiever). Teal'c, though - does Teal'c ever have a bad day? I'm not talking about the betraying-your-god-to-side-with-infidels kind, or the dead-loved-ones kind, because every single character the SG writers get their hands on has that kind of day, including many of the red shirts. I'm talking about the amusing kind. Does he ever, I don't know, wake up on the wrong side of the bed, have meditation candles that don't light, have an allergic reaction that makes his tattoo swell up, that sort of thing? Hmmm. You know, it's hard to imagine Teal'c in that kind of situation. That boy has got gravitas coming out his ears. Anyway. This is a story I love for the little things - or, no. Let me be honest. I love it for the Jack O'Neill contained therein. The Jack that listens to Daniel's barrage of speech and hears only the two words that matter, the Jack that is, for once, described exactly the way he actually looks to me, the Jack that is so obscenely in lust with a flying remote-controlled glider thing that you want to avert your eyes and order him to get a private control room - that Jack. Daniel's always fun (or, well, tragic, but we're not even going there today), especially when he's insanely self-conscious and just, well, insane, but this Jack is a special treat.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I love animals. Not in, you know, the way that means you need therapy; I just care about them and admire them. And, I'll be honest with you, I like them a whole lot more than people. There are lots of canons with animals, but not a lot of FF featuring them, and a lot of what there is doesn't meet my standards for goodness to animals. These do. Of course, given my preference for animals over people, the animals triumph in some of these. But what I say is, I don't want to be in a fandom if the characters can't be thoroughly trounced by, say, a single angry deer during mating season. Takes all the fun out of it.

Best FF That Proves That Drilling for Emergencies Is Pointless Unless You Include the Penguin-Related Ones. Mating Rituals, by Karen McFadyyon, and is she on LJ? And does anyone know if I'm capitalizing her name correctly? Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. And some penguins. You know how you'll be reading along, and some sentence hits you just right and suddenly you're laughing and laughing and oh god you're never going to be able to breathe again and you really wish you could say something reassuring to the loved one now looking at you with concern but it's just so fucking funny that you can't? This happens to me sometimes. A disproportionate number of times have something to do with animals. While reading Connie Willis's Bellwether, for example, I broke up over a vomiting sheep, to a degree that Best Beloved was threatening to call an ambulance by the midpoint of the laughing fit. And in this one, it was a biting penguin that got me. (OK. Technically, the penguin got Ford, but I was the one who got to laugh when Ford complained about it.) I almost dropped my laptop from joy. And here's the thing - after an experience like that, I don't look for more from FF. The author could've finished this story with a 3,000 word discussion of the avian cloaca and I'd still want to recommend it. But in this case? Not a worry, because fifteen minutes after the Penguins 2, Whole Rest of SGA 0 scene, when I could finally focus again, I discovered that this story brings the funny and the touching in really excellent amounts. Frankly, I'm sort of stunned anyone could sell a story with this one's premise, but Karen McFadyyon does so with style. And then there's the excellent use of points of view, and the rocks, and...just the whole thing. 'S wonderful.

Best FF That Proves That the Essays You Wrote When You Were a Teenager Can Come Back to Haunt You. Probably Be Better for Everyone Not to Write Any, Really. Unaccommodated Man, by [livejournal.com profile] kindkit. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rupert Giles/Daniel "Oz" Osborne, and I've had to be corrected on Oz's name every time I've used it, so go ahead and correct me here, too. I'm resigned. I'm even looking forward to it. This story took me by surprise in an entirely different way than "Mating Rituals." I didn't know the author at all, and this is one of those pairings I normally only read when written by people I trust, because when it's done right it's so very right, but when it's wrong it is oh, god, kill me now awful. But I looked at the title, thought, "Lear? Is that you?" and four seconds later I was hooked. This is an AU from the episode "Phases," which I personally have never seen on account of my tragic allergy to the hair + teeth + cheese formula TV makeup artists use to make werewolves. But all you need to know is that Oz almost bit Giles in that one. So what if he had? Well, Giles would be a werewolf, too. What then? Turns out what comes next is wolf-on-wolf action witnessed by Wesley in his original ultraprat incarnation, and that should so be scarring, and it is so not. (Mostly because you never actually see it.) And then the inevitable non-wolfy aftermath. I'm not the biggest fan of long, painful morning-after conversations, but this is perfect and perfectly in character and filled with wonderful bits and just...yeah. Wow. Again. And, hey, "lycanthropy made us do it" is a brand-new excuse applicable to a number of fandoms; authors take note!

Best FF That Demonstrates the Life-Saving Powers of Kink. Acquire a New Kink Today; the Life You Save Could Be Your Own! Elvis Has Left the Building*, by Salieri, aka [livejournal.com profile] troyswann. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. So, it's a fair night, and SG-1 are in the great outdoors, gathered around a campfire, to listen to Shakespearean sonnets and Jaffa love poetry, and then retire - Daniel to his slumbers, Teal'c to his appointed rounds, Sam to her quiet solitary giggling, and Jack to his astronomy and boot porn. So very lovely and romantic, no? And then a moose shows up and it all goes to hell. We learn that the Atlantis team may routinely to lose to penguins, yes, but it takes a big moose (though that's probably redundant; in one whole college class, the only useful thing I found to put in my notes was "Moose - big motherfuckers") to defeat SG-1 and the whole SGC. Bonus features include Daniel's mysterious aversion to Swedish, a moose's equally mysterious love for Swedish, and Jack's not at all mysterious love for the moose. Not to mention Hammond's attempts to be dignified even though he's in charge of a top-secret installation that has been brought to its knees (and the edge of its sanity) by a one-moose army. You have to admire that.

Best FF That Proves That All of Life's Most Important Events Really Do Happen at Table. Even if the "Table" Is Actually a Tundra. The Company of Wolves, by [livejournal.com profile] viridian5. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sort of. I'm normally uninterested in AUs of this kind - you know, the kind where the two characters meet in past lives - because they tend to veer so far from the actual canon and they're often out of character or improbable. This, though, is seriously in character, and even in canon, in a strange way; I mean, you can't be totally in line with the canon when you turn the two main characters into, you know, wolves. But still. Strangely right. This is, really, a perfect translation (into wolf) of the way Fraser and Kowalski met each other. (But it's condensed, of course, because wolves get things done more quickly. No, really. When was the last time you saw a wolf tooling around in a flaming Buick Riviera?) And also why the two of them need each other. Plus, wolves. This story is strangely comforting to me, one of those ones I read when I'm down. (Or when I've just watched a really grim dS vid. There are happy moments in the canon, people! I've actually seen them. But not, for the most part, in the vids, which tend to fabulous but somewhat grim.) But I do need to warn those of you who are sensitive to animal unhappiness that this is, if not 100% realistic, at least honest about the lives of wolves. I can handle it because that's how they are, and also because I know things will be all better soon, but I thought I'd best warn you just the same.

-Footnote-

* Salieri, if you're reading this - the version of this story on your website has a sizable chunk of text missing, starting just after "Major Carter didn't laugh right out loud." That's why I linked to the LJ post.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Today I saw an Iams truck hit a fire hydrant, take it clean off, and stroll down the street with it. And then I saw what happens after you completely remove a fire hydrant from the pipe that spawned it: a lot of water comes out. Enough water to create a lake in seconds. Enough water to make the sidewalk explode. I mean, I've seen some floods in my time - my family appears to be genetically unlucky with regards to plumbing, after all - but never have I seen one like that. It was fabulous. And all the suddenly tiny-looking cars inching over into my lane to try to get away from the water just made it better.

I'm trying not to want to see it again.

When we can't have what we want, we sublimate, yes? Thus: a set about water. And the thing is, what I saw today was just seriously excellently cool, but these stories? They are better.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Importance of Embracing Your Ethnic Roots. Or Embracing Mutants. Whichever. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Give or Take), by Merry, aka [livejournal.com profile] merryish. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard. Have I mentioned how totally I love this new fandom? Because I do. I love it enough to marry it. I mean, the funny, and the snark, and also the occasional appearance of actual science and math - any two is enough to make this girl's heart go pitter-patter, but all three is just. Wonderful. Really. In fact, now that I've braved the due South canon (reminder: it actually is as wonderful as the FF would make you think, or at least season three is, and you should watch it immediately), SGA will likely be replacing it as The Fandom I Love So Much I'm Afraid to See the Canon. This is a highly coveted position, folks. Or at any rate, it is in my personal universe. But I have to put SGA there, because - well, look at this story. The humor - and I'm talking about humor that made me giggle like a loon even after the first time I read this. The near-death experiences, with accompanying panic attacks (excellent!) and hostile, defensive sarcasm (even better!). The believably intelligent characters. Who are also believable people. And did I mention the plot here, and the setting, and the wonderful extension of canon? And also the humor? Oh, I feel the love, folks. And if you have any sense, you'll start feeling it, too, because I'm not alone; some of the best writers on this planet are also clearly loving this fandom to the point of bringing it home to - well, bringing it home, at any rate. You want this fandom, my friends, you so totally do. Don't even try to deny it.

Best FF That Always Makes Me Say, in Tones of Muted Horror, "There Isn't Really a Streisand-Gibb Duet. Is There? Really?" Abeyance, by [livejournal.com profile] witling. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. Y'all know I enjoy giving you fictional whiplash, right? (No. That is not what we Americans develop after any impact more bracing than a kiss if a major corporation is at fault. It is, you know, whiplash. Given to you by fiction.) Well, you should. And so we go from a near-death experience in water that is funny and sweet and light to water as a safe haven is a story that is not funny or sweet or light but is just really damn good. I have a major, ongoing anger at the way Xander-the-character was handled after, oh, season three - I mean, I don't know whether it was that he was a bone of contention between the writers or if the actor was pissing everyone off or if they just thought, "Wow, we really need a one-dimensional running joke in bad shirts! That will make this show great! And I know, let's use a major character for it, too!" Whichever, though, Xander was never the same. Here we get to see him as he always should've been, and I can't even describe how it is, so just go look. Plus, swimming. Which [livejournal.com profile] witling must know, because she describes it here perfectly, enough to make me hearken back to my own (yes, shameful but true) swim-team days. I just have an unholy love for this story, and if it always makes me a little sad, it's only because it's so good. And because I wish someone on the writing team had understood Xander this well.

Best FF That Makes Me Reflect Thoughtfully and Just a Trifle Unhappily on the Phrase "Blood Is Thicker Than Water." Bloodline, by Sarah T., aka [livejournal.com profile] harriet_spy. D. C. Universe, Batclan, gen. And now we go back to water as a near-death experience; its appearance is briefer than in the previous two stories, but when I think of this, I always think of water. And blood. And one other thing, which I won't tell you now. This story is just - amazing. Seriously amazing. So amazingly wonderful that when I read it I insisted my Best Beloved read it immediately and confirm for me its wonderfulness. Because, OK. It isn't just the vaguely AU-ish storyline, here; it's also - this is the way Dick really was as Robin. This is how things really were between Batman and Robin I. Or at least, that's how I remember them, from the canon - the neediness, the sense that all parties would benefit from years of intensive psychotherapy, the strangely upbeat Robin voice that somehow made the whole thing seem worse. (Yes, Batwriters: an orphaned teenager in frighteningly brief spandex issuing bad "wise"cracks at terrible villains will certainly lighten the tone of the books and make them more suitable for children. How did you know?) But don't think this story is - OK, well, it is dark. But not how we usually mean it in fandom. And if there's angst, it's only what the canon brought there. And it is just so goddamn good. And Best Beloved will back me up on that.

Best FF That Once Again Proves That What a Pirate Really Needs Is a Ship. But He'll Still Take Anything Else That's Going - or Coming - His Way. Out of His Depth, by Gloria Mundi, aka [livejournal.com profile] viva_gloria. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow/Will Turner. And now water becomes a metaphor - and, of course, an actual substance, something boats float on, something you swim in, something unwary boys might sink in. Well, I mean, we had to have one sailing-fandom story, didn't we? Water. Sails. They go together. And this is a story I have loved since it was written (for the first Yuletide), even though the pairing, not to mention the point of view - well, let's just say Will Turner was not the most compelling character in the movie to me. Even if you subtracted all the other characters that had more than five lines from the competition. But that's why I love and adore this story, because he was so totally out of his depth, from the beginning to the end, and maybe what he needed was to, you know, sink. In all senses of the word, including the one at the end of the story. And the thing is, this Will is three-dimensional in a way the on-screen character simply was not, and yet I can buy this Will, can totally buy him. You know those programs where you put in a line drawing and it makes it all perspective-y and three-dimension-y? Well, this story does that to Will. And a writer who can do that, well - in my opinion, she can do anything. And should.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
You know, there are happy families, even in our fandoms. And there's happy family-related FF, too. But here I've elected to go with stories that feel real (which is pretty remarkable, given the predominance of aliens and undead and former queens of closet-based kingdoms in the story below). So these are brilliant stories, but some of them are slightly, you know, depressing. Not a lot! Really! No SSRIs required! Just - consider that the National Fan Fiction Tracking Service has issued a mild (really! mild!) Bummer Warning and expects it to be in effect for the next four recs.

I promise that the next set will feature mostly uplifting and cheerful stories, and also possibly some exceptionally perky baby vomit. (And now I never want to hear you complain that I don't give you things to look forward to.) I also promise that these are stunningly good stories that will repay reading even if you don't know the basics of their fandoms. (Except the third one, but everyone knows the basis of that fandom.)

Best FF That Proves That It's Basically Impossible to Make Small Talk with Daniel Jackson. Although, If You Ever Meet Him, I Still Suggest You Try; It's Bound to Be Entertaining. Almost a Statesman: Teal'c and the Jaffa of the Alpha Site, 2003-2004, by [livejournal.com profile] katie_m. Stargate SG-1, gen. This story is just - just amazing. Because, OK, I've hardly ever even found a story in Teal'c's voice, and the ones I do find are often so not right that even I can tell. (Which, given that for all I know Teal'c could talk like Shirley Temple on helium, means those things are pretty damn far out of character.) So a story that's narrated by, no, written by Teal'c's son? Brilliant or disastrous. There's no middle ground. So we're all very lucky that Katie M. has "brilliant" in her box of writing tools. (I'm guessing she keeps it somewhere between the nifty clicky eraser shaped like a pen and the cuneiform stylus - and, yes, I do plan to steal her writing toolbox if I ever get the chance.) But this story doesn't just have a fantastic Rya'c voice and a fantastic alternate future; it has a whole bunch of other wonderful aspects that are, frankly, going to make us all really tired of synonyms for 'fantastic' before we're done. (Hence my need to engage in toolbox theft.) Because, see, there's Teal'c, who in a lot of FF is more of a "This Spot Reserved for the Jaffa" placard than a character, but who is real and human here. And there's the rebel Jaffa culture, which is just fascinating. And there's Rya'c, who proves that certain things are definitely inherited. Most of all, though, there's a look at what it means to be both ahead of your time and the catalyst of change - in other words, different. I'm guessing you don't have a lot of personal experience with Goa'uld symbiotes and staff weapons, but you can probably key in to 'different' pretty well. I mean, you must be fairly different, right? You're reading a LJ devoted to media smut. And you're seriously considering reading gen. (Do it! You won't regret it!) That, yes, makes you a bit different. But not as much as Teal'c is. And because of the bummer warning up above, I have to point out that Teal'c, in this story, seems fairly happy to be the odd Jaffa out, and happy with his life in general. Possibly eighty years of slavery to a false god improves your perspective on certain aspects of life, which is something to keep in mind as conversation fodder for the next time you sit next to a really whiny chatterbox on an airplane. Plus, hey, Teal'c's got SG-1. And the false god is probably sorry he (Teal'c) was ever born. So, really, his life does not suck, and this story shows that, too.

Best FF That Will Make Your Family, No Matter How Dysfunctional and Non-Traditional and Humiliating to Visit Malls with, Look Staid and Nuclear by Comparison. Involuntary Bodies, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander Harris. I freely admit that this story is probably a lot cleverer and sleeker and more intricate than I could possibly know or appreciate, because it's probably an AU based on some specific episode or season or something that I haven't seen. But you know what? I appreciate this story a hell of a lot as it is. It's just - wow. Amazing, and I submit myself as evidence that you don't need to know anything (about, well, anything) to know that. This is set somewhere in the last three seasons of the show (as it features Dawn). And it's about life in Sunnydale after you subtract Buffy, Angel, Willow, and Giles (none of whom dies, for the record). What's left? Well, either the leftovers and the unwanted, as Xander thinks, or the heart and soul of the group, which is pretty much what this story proves, as they're sort of smushed into the world's least likely family. Because, hey, even if your parental figures are undead, robotic, or Xander, love is what makes a family. Or, no, wait - actually it's love and commitment. (First and foremost, commitment to not getting all above yourself. Or glowy.) And, yikes. I just wrote sentimental prose worthy of an off-brand greeting card and I don't even have it in me to be sorry. That's how amazingly good this story is; it leaves me sub-Hallmarkian and without a hint of shame. The author says in her notes that this could have been twice as long, and oh how I wish it was. This is one of those rare pieces of FF that leaves me wanting a whole series of novel-length stories, and even then I don't think I'd be satisfied. So, really, how can the greeting-card thing matter much? And, hey, silver lining: perhaps I can get a job at Hallmark. I think I'd be very good at producing schlock to commemorate events unique to modern lifestyles. Bonus: this is actually a damned happy story. Happy ending and everything. So read this, because, well, you might need it.

Best FF That Inspired Me to Write a Story Summary That Is Basically a Compressed and Not Even Remotely Funny Rant. I Therefore Advise Everyone to Go Directly to the Story, Which Is Excellent. And Totally Free of Suicide, I Promise. Growing Up, by [livejournal.com profile] sheldrake. The Chronicles of Narnia, gen. Someday I am going to write a list of a hundred (or so) things fandom has done for me, and somewhere in the top twenty will be this entry: "Turned my lingering discomfort with certain aspects of Narnia and my dismayed sense of betrayal at the ending of the series into a seething festering spewing ranting hatred of C. S. Lewis who I hope to god is even now coming face-to-face with his characters in Writer's Hell." And if you think that's strongly worded, well, you just haven't read the right FF yet; I'm sure I can get you all ranty and hostile with just five well-chosen recs. Possibly less. Probably less. Those who were traumatized by the last one will be pleased to note that this story involves no death of any kind - oh, well, except the deaths which happened in the canon, which as we all know involved every human character except one. And the funny part is that Lewis makes that character's survival sound like a bad thing. Yes, thank you, Professor; you managed to convince at least four generations of little girls that growing up was evil and lipstick and dating were unforgivable sins. Why this man isn't the subject of at least as many women's studies dissertations as Barbie I will never know. (Note, because this entry sounds so vituperative as to verge on insanity: I actually still quite like some of Lewis's writing for adults, and even certain of the Narnia books. I just think the warping of children via entertaining literature should've been left in the hands of Roald Dahl, who was seriously twisted, yes, but also kinky, which helps quite a lot.) We should all just be grateful that there's FF to make it up to the characters somewhat; as you may have guessed from the tenor of the hysteria above, this is a sympathetic view of a much older Susan, which makes it a rare collectible FF even before you get to the comparison between Susan and Lucy, then and (sort of) now.

Best FF That Suggests That a Scalp Squeegee Would Be a Thoughtful Gift for the Bald Man on Your List Next Holiday Season. If the Local Weather Is Inclement. And the Bald Guy Has a Sense of Humor, or at Any Rate Doesn't Own a Gun. Fathers, by [livejournal.com profile] katallison. Due South, gen, or maybe really mild Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski if you squint in the right place. And, OK, yeah. I know that some people react to the uttering of the name "Kat Allison" with a combination of instinctive flinching ("Those're the marks 'Executor' left on me. And right here? That's from 'The End of the Road,' back when I was a FF newbie. Can still feel it something wicked when it rains.") and signs of the cross ("Get thee behind me, you brilliant and depressing writer!"), but I love her. Which means, well, yes, I flinch - hey, I've read all her stuff and I'm not immune to classical conditioning - but then I dive right into whatever new thing she's written. She writes such real, perfect fiction that she routinely leaves me slack-jawed with astonishment and gasping in envy. And, yes, OK, sometimes hurting, but it's a good hurt, really. And it's from pain without angst, which is one of the toughest tricks out there, and most of the local supply of which can be found in Kat's toolbox. So, anyway, some people are already fleeing for the hills. I know that, and I don't blame them at all. But the rest of you really, really need to read this. Apart from anything else, it is honestly not that painful. (Yes, that's what comes after all that build-up. Believe me, it's better this way.) If someone is dying in this story, well, that's happening off-screen and anyway it's no one we know. And this isn't really about death; it's more about carrying on. Also, of course, about fathers, both the literal and the figurative, which makes perfect sense; the canon is just rife with daddy issues. (Well, can you think of another way to describe Fraser's relationship with his father?) And this is Kat's writing we're talking about, so stunningly good goes without saying.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Don't like the title? I do, but I can see how you might think it's a bit off-message for a recommendations set celebrating kissing. But I had a hideous time thinking of anything to put up there, and even after I resorted to searching, everything I found had, well, unfortunate overtones. I seriously considered "like kissing God," even though that was about drug addiction. I also flirted with "with eyes that saw not, I kissed her," (I'd have changed the "her" to "him," of course), but, well, if you know that one, you'll see why I refrained; I love the first part of that one, but the last bit makes me alternately recoil and hiss. (I freely admit that this may be an idiosyncratic reaction.) Plus, you know, the girl he's kissing is his daughter, which, in this context - ew.

So instead I went with sarcasm about kissing. It had a certain appeal.

Best FF That Shows Us That There Are Bad Habits, and Then There Are Very, Very Good Ones. Unplanned, by Beth H., aka [livejournal.com profile] bethbethbeth. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. For some reason, stories that don't use kissing as just a quick stop on the road to hot kinky sex seem to be more common in big fandoms. I think maybe in small fandoms there's too much tension; the writers are thinking, shit, if I don't get them fucking, who will? Whereas in larger fandoms people can have a certain confidence that if they don't get to the 69-while-hanging-from-a-chandelier* part, someone else will. This story doesn't get to the inverted oral sex, but I think you'll agree that it doesn't need to. I've loved this for a long time, had it in the recs database for a long time, but watching the canon made it so much better. Because the thing is, lots of times the guys looked like they were about to do this, like this is exactly what would happen if they forgot themselves for a second. They acted like a couple, so much so that there were scenes that seemed to end just before Ray and Fraser casually, coolly, and calmly stuck their tongues in each other's mouths. (And, yes, I will eventually stop trying to make everyone watch the dS canon. But those of you who have been here for a while may remember the SN Siege, when I had Obsessive-Compulsive SN Recommending Disorder for a month. This may be like that. Just warning y'all.)

Best FF That Will Make You Clutch Your Gum and Your Porn to Your Bosom, So Be Careful; No One Likes Sticky Porn. Things to Get Arrested For in Singapore, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Choosing this one was tough; SN has so many excellent kissing stories. But in the end, I had to go with this one, because it's just so Danny to do this; he's one of the very few people, real or imaginary, who can be annoying and adorable at the same time. (Mind you, dogs do this effortlessly pretty much all the time. It's only people who usually can't manage it.) Shrift sees this. She gets this. Which is why I love her dearly even though I cannot look at her name without wanting to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth. Or it's one of the reasons, anyway; there are many reasons to love Shrift, just as there are many reasons to love this story. (Yes, fine, I know that was a lame transition. If you can think of something better, let me know.) I love the structure of this story, how you go through the day following this recurring theme (or, hey, trope). It feels almost like an episode, with lots of snappy, funny dialog and a surprisingly touching conclusion. Plus there's random information about Singapore. How could I not love it? I couldn't. And you should join me in this love.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Deleterious Effect Confessions of Cannibalistic Urges Can Have on Your Sleeping Arrangements, So You Wannabe Cannibals Should Think Before You Speak. Or Not. Definitely Not If You're Sharing My Bed. Kryptonite, by [livejournal.com profile] mimesere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz "I've Forgotten His Real First Name Again" Osbourne/Xander "I Do Remember His But I Never Can Bring Myself to Use It" Harris. I have a weakness for Oz, that lycanthropic sayer of the strangest right things in the fewest possible words. But the thing that makes me love him makes him hard to write. (I suspect that the canon writers took him out of the show so that they wouldn't have to think so hard all the time.) Which means that a story like this one, where Oz sounds like Oz - I will go a long way for such a story. I will read Oz/Buffy for that. (I'd even consider Oz/Dawn, although I'd have to punish myself for Bad Bad Thoughts afterward.) Which makes it all the more wonderful that I didn't have to go anywhere unfortunate for "Kryptonite" - this is one of my favorite BtVS pairings, right here. I think we can all rejoice about Oz/Xander sex. And we can be happy about the length of this story, too; it's surprisingly long for an "only a kiss" piece. Note, particularly, the last segment - look at how much Mimesere manages to convey in such a short and seemingly trivial piece of writing, how much she manages to suggest without showing a thing. That is perfect, folks, a perfect ending, and not an easy thing to write. Be amazed.

Best Slash FF Featuring Entirely Chaste Behavior on the Part of All Participants. Or As Chaste As These Guys Ever Get. Nesting Place, by [livejournal.com profile] destina. Master and Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. This is very non-explicit, and what I like about it is how well it illustrates a certain thing about the M&C books. Because, OK, there's one part of one sentence in this story that Patrick O'Brian would never have written (at least as far as we know, although, let's face it, we don't know much about the guy - he could've been writing all manner of Age of Sail gay sex scenes in the privacy of his home, and, god, I'd love to live in a universe where he did); if you take that itty bitty part out, this whole thing, including the kiss, could've come directly from the books. Jack and Stephen are that close. Which makes the books so slashy they almost transcend slashiness. Reading them, I generally get the feeling the O'Brian was just being reticent and polite and eliding the sex parts. (Which, yes, I'm sure would mortify the guy if he was still alive. I'm reporting how I feel, not what I think, OK?) But I'm more with the nosy and the details and the smut, so I like Destina's approach, which is writing like O'Brian minus the gallant, respectful courtesy.

-Footnote-

* Is it wrong that I can see - well, no, but hear - this happening?

"I can't take this much longer. All the blood's rushing to my head."
"Whine whine whine. You think I'm happy? I got the world's worst wedgie, here."
"So cut the fucking cord already."
"Yeah, right. You like toast? You wanna be toast? 'Cause that's what'll happen if we fall."
"Jesus. Just - feeling really light-headed, here. Can't you die like this?"
"I'm not dying with my face two inches from some jackass's crotch, thanks." [thoughtful pause] "Huh. So, you really uncomfortable down there?"
"I told you, I'm dying -" [zzzzzzt] "What - oh. Oh. Oh Jesus God."
"Mmmm."
"Yes. Yes. Yes - oh no you shit don't you fucking dare stop."
"So. More comfy now? A little less blood pooling in your head?"
"No! I'm not more comfortable! Go back to what you were doing!"
"Maybe I would if you put that mouth to some use besides whining."
[pause]
"Yeah, sure, OK." [zzzzt] "Mmmmm."

And I refuse to say what fandom that was in on the grounds that it may - no, would - incriminate me. It wasn't any of the ones recommended above, though; I'll tell you that for free. Now allow me to slink off in shame for even thinking, let alone actually transcribing, this.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's another "dress you up with my love" entry; the only reason I didn't use that for the title is that I'm sure we'd all prefer not to remember that particular phase of musical history. (Of course, now we all do remember it, and some unlucky person will be humming that song for another 48 hours, but baby, sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind.)

This entry, though, features no cross-dressing at all; frankly, there's a limit to the number of cheerleader outfit stories I can cope with in any given week, and that number decreases violently if there aren't any women in said stories. So instead, I'm offering stories in which clothes serve a significant purpose, a revelatory purpose - in other words, where an article of adornment acts as an agent of discovery, and, yow. Think I switched writing gears there for a second. But I'm not going to worry about it, and I'm not going to go back to correct it, either; onward and upward, that is my LJ motto. Onward to the stories, so that you can move upward to someone else's writing. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends, and close up the wall with our English smut.

Best FF That Could Almost Make Me Like Thongs, Only Not, Because Thongs Are the Work of Satan and No Amount of Fan Fiction or Ready Cash Could Convince Me Otherwise. Cotton, by Vera, aka [livejournal.com profile] copracat. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor. I have something I need to get off my chest. Smallville has become one of my fandoms. I thought I'd just come out and say that right now; I've learned the folly of swearing in public - or at least here - that I will not acquire a given fandom, no no no a thousand times no, because then the rabid weasels come for me. So I'm saving myself some weasel-time by admitting I'm on the SV train now. And also because, um. Let's just say that you might as well accept the fandom in your heart once you find yourself explaining to your Best Beloved, your Best Beloved who has actually seen episodes of Smallville, in direct contrast to you, who has most certainly not, that it's a pity the show didn't start a few years earlier because Lex was made for pre-turnover Hong Kong. And defending that statement with supporting evidence even though the Best Beloved seems not just willing but anxious to let it die a quiet, unacknowledged death and blame it on the fever. So this is my first SV rec, to the best of my knowledge, and I've begun as I mean to go on, with a lovely story in which Martha does the laundry. No, really, that's the whole story. It's fantastic. (Yes, this is how I mean to go on. In terms of quality. And, hell, laundry too, but if there proves not to be a large archive of SV laundry stories, I will be forced to resort to smut. Just a friendly warning.)

Best FF That Makes Me Wonder If I Should Start Inspecting the Labels of My Clothing for Statements Like "55% Ramie, 45% Cotton, and No Moral Fiber to Speak of." Paddle to the CSC, by Julian Lee, aka [livejournal.com profile] julianlee*. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Sam Donovan, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. A new fandom does not mean I do not still love you, old fandoms! I'm as slutty as slut can be when it comes to fandoms, and I continue to read all my old ones even as I assimilate new ones. (Why no, I don't get much sleep. Also, I'm experimenting with various dangerous, completely untested time-alteration devices. They could potentially destroy the world, but apparently slash can do that even on a good day, so I'm not worried. Plus, when you weigh the importance of smut versus a stable space-time continuum, well, let's face it; we have clocks 'cause none of us is that good with time in the first place, so who is ever going to notice if time breaks?) This story revolves around the Shirt. Yes, that Shirt - the one that Gordon got from Casey via Sally; the Shirt that is basically the all-cotton equivalent of a venereal disease. Did you know the VD Shirt had further adventures? It did, and Julian Lee is here to tell us all about them. (Note: Dan/Casey shippers should not be alarmed by the pairing list here. For one thing, I'm pretty much right there with you guys, so you should know I won't lead you astray. For another thing, the Sam interlude isn't, you know, permanent or anything. Plus, who doesn't feel the Sam love? Well, not me. And, judging by this story, not Danny, either.)

Best FF That Reveals the Unsung Sexy Side of the World Wildlife Federation's Logo, but Not in a Way That Makes You Want to Call the Cops or Anything. Adorned, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski, plus mention of Ray Kowalski/Stella Kowalski. (Note: if you are a diehard Kowalski/Fraser fan - and I'm naming no names, here, but one of them has been sleeping in my bed - you will want to read the follow-up story, Borealis.) Just so that no old fandom (all together now: "get new fandoms but keep the old - one is shiny and the other is also shiny, only with a richer, deeper luster") feels left behind, I'm recommending another of my much-loved pairings. This one is so much a part of my life at this point that when I typed "Benton Kowalski/Ray Fraser" just now, it took me several seconds to see what was wrong with that. Plus, Resonant. You all know Resonant, right? Well, if you don't, it isn't from lack of effort on my part. She's high on my list of writers I'd chain up in my spare bedroom if I wasn't concerned that a) that might not actually increase their writing output b) they might compete with me for computer time and c) they might also pick up on the unfortunate Stephen King overtones of the whole thing. Plus I understand there could be some sort of legal repercussions. Anyway, this is one of the first dS stories I read by Resonant, and it just totally reinforced my unhealthy feelings for her, because almost every single word of this story is perfect. (I mean it. If there was anything even approaching justice in this world, Resonant's works would be way outselling John Grisham's.) This story is about what we put on our loved ones, how we mark them and how we make them our own. And, oh, Jesus. Worst story summary ever, so let me start again. Ray likes to make things pretty, and that goes double for the people he loves. Now go read the damn story already.

Best FF That Made Me Strangely Comfortable with the Concept of a Peep Show, Which Always in the Past Has Struck Me as Just One Step Above Stalking and Approximately 30,000 Steps Below Any Non-Skeevy Sexual Activity. Nice Shirt, by [livejournal.com profile] glossing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Daniel "Oz" Osbourne/Xander Harris. Warning: this is a work in progress. I don't normally recommend works in progress, but this one belongs in this set, plus each entry stands alone as an essentially complete story, so I refuse to feel guilty about this. Do you hear me? No guilt. Cannot be made to feel guilt. And I am not protesting too much. But getting back to the story - well, first you should know that this is all about this shirt. Those are not photo manipulations; Oz and Xander really do wear the same shirt at different points in the canon. And while that could just be a coincidence, or a lazy costume director, or - hell - even two similar but not identical shirts, it could also indicate another shirt with low, low morals. And given what the shirt actually says, plus my general opinion of the morals of the cottton crowd, guess which way I'm betting? Glossing is justly renowned for her Oz, and this story will show you why. Also, her Xander is just the way I like to see him. And I actually did have more to say about this, but here's where I'm going to be ending this story summary, because my keyboard has just developed an irritating glitch. Arg.

-Footnote-

*Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] laylee!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Halloween is a great holiday. For kids, it means free candy and socially acceptable dress-up; for adults, it means fun without the emotional burden and enforced togetherness of certain other holidays that shall remain nameless. Plus, vampires roam the streets, tripping over their capes. How could it get better?

To celebrate this fine holiday, I have - well, scary recs. Or, more to the point, evil recs. Here we have bad people doing bad things, and, for a change, good people doing bad things. Very bad things. It's tricks and treats! Ready to hand over your peanut butter cups yet?

(Note: I'm not listing pairings here. In some of these stories it would be - well - complicated. And in all of them, the pairings aren't the point. The point is evil. So instead I've noted the main character, the person who is getting down with his dark self; if you can handle the character badness, you can surely handle the deluxe sex assortment, so I'm not worried about sending you people off unarmed into the Fan Fiction Wilderness or anything.)

Best FF That Proves That Yes, It's Better to Give Than Receive, but Sometimes It's Best to Do Neither. Divine Possession, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ethan Rayne. (Yes, there's vague slashiness. But that is so not what this is about, and it's pretty much canon anyway, so don't avoid this (or seek it out) because of slash.) I really don't think I should tell you too much about this story; I've told you it features evil, and now you know it's about Ethan Rayne, so it's a given that the evil is chaotic, powerful, and in touch with some very disturbing gods. Here, Ethan has an Evil Plan, which should send shivers up your spine; the man is lethal enough when he's just playing. But when he actually wants to do something and has a plan of action? Run for the hills, Ma, because the Hellmouth's starting to look tame. I mean, at least the thing isn't intelligent. (Probably.) I think this story amply proves that there's nothing more fearsome than a Bad Man with a Bad Plan. Well, besides clowns. And mimes. And - ew - miming clowns.

Best FF That Proves That, Really, FF Isn't All That Perverted, Especially When You Compare It to Really Disturbing and Explicit Works. Like, for Example, the Bible. Brotherly Love, by [livejournal.com profile] daegaer. The Bible, Jonadeb. If you're cringing about the whole concept of Bible fan fiction, don't. This is 100% canon (yes, I checked); she's just focusing on a particular moment in the story and viewing it from an unusual angle. But somehow that only makes it worse, at least for me; knowing that this actually happened in the canon is worse than thinking it just came from a FF writer's mind. Jonadeb is another Bad Man with a Bad Plan, and, really, I'm beginning to think that's what we all ought to go as next Halloween. I mean, hell, if you meet a vampire, things could work out fine. He might have a soul, or he might be so busy being angsty and pretty and gay that he doesn't want to bite you, or he might just want some hot sex. But if your life in any way intersects with that of a Bad Man with a Bad Plan, you are screwed. All you can hope is that he'll eventually get bored. Which won't necessarily improve matters.

Best FF That Features an Assortment of Pairings Both F/F and F/M and Yet Is Completely Unsmutty. Sex Isn't Always Sexy, Folks. Because, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1. X-Men, Rogue. (Warning: This features assorted canon character deaths.) If you've only seen the movies, you can still read this, but you should know in advance that Rogue was originally a baddie. (Her name makes even more sense that way, yes?) And in this story (which is in fact an AU, but it's only shifted about two universes over), she never stopped. One of the interesting things about the Marvel universe is that being good is the greatest limitation on most superheroes. The good guys are so powerful that if they ever let their scruples drop, everyone else would be royally fucked. Charles Xavier, anyone? The man could do so much more than making you do or say or think or believe anything he chooses; mind control would just be the beginning of the madness. I think 1984 drove home the horror of not being able to call your thoughts your own, but if you haven't read it, just consider what it'd be like to have a bad Xavier around. (And now you want a dorky Magneto helmet, don't you?) So, getting back to this story, here we have Rogue, who is bad just - because. Because she can be. Because no one can stop her. And when she has no scruples and no limits, she's terrifying. And yet she's still very Rogue. For her, it's never been about morality or issues or saving the world; it's always been about surviving her own power. And this is one way. A bad one.

Best FF That Shows Us That in the D.C. Universe, Homosexuality Isn't Even Close to the Most Shocking Secret You Can Learn About Your Friends and Loved Ones. Bloodline, by Sarah T., aka [livejournal.com profile] harriet_spy. D.C. Universe (Batfolk), gen. The first time I read this story, my jaw hit the floor. I was inarticulate with awe, and it's quite rare that I am rendered speechless by anything. I was so amazed that I insisted that my Best Beloved drop everything and immediately come read this fabulous story, and, really, I never do that. (What, never? Well, hardly ever.) But in this case, I had to, because this story is just so right. It makes so much sense. Here we have an alternate explanation for the canon that works better than the real one, and how impressive is that? And I really can't say anymore about this story because I'm afraid I'll spoil it for you. Instead, I'll just say: if you aren't deeply impressed by this, re-read it. It's possible you've not quite grasped the wondrous beauty of it all. Or, hell, maybe I'm the only one in love with this story. (I'm certainly the only one reduced to incoherent babbling by it, but then, lots of things make me incoherent and babbly.) If that's the case, though, this world sucks; everyone should love this. And I'm really afraid that this inarticulate lovefest is going to make you hate the story before you even read it, so I'm going to stop right now.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Note: I try not to do two entries in one day, because I figure my entries are long enough in people's friends lists without risking having two of them on the same page. What can I say? I'm bored. And I have this strange accession of energy brought on by sleeping for more than an hour at a time ; suddenly I'm not writing four nonsensical sentences, then heading into the kitchen in search of the caffeinated beverages I threw away when I thought they were causing the insomnia. It clears up all this time for - well, for what? That's the question. This, I guess. But my apologies to those who feel I'm oversharing.)

I love rare pairings. I love stories that stun me with their pairings - what? who'd ever think of writing this? - and then totally sell me on them. It's not an easy thing; I mean, there's a reason Ray/Fraser is more common than Welsh/Dewey (note to the easily alarmed: I've never actually seen a story with that pairing, so stop worrying) (note to the highly suggestible: I'm not sure I want to see a story with that pairing, either, so stop cackling in that scarily evil way) - subtext. It's a lot easier to slash people who have some chemistry. Hell, it's a lot easier to slash people who occupy the same part of the space-time continuum. But when an author finds some hidden gem of subtext or rationale for a pairing no one else would write, well, I want to embrace that author. And then tie her to keyboard and force her to write me stories every day. But I usually refrain from both those things, and I imagine the authors are grateful.

Best FF That Pairs the Two Least Scrutable People in a Whole Universe, Leading to a Relationship That Must Be Like Reading Runes in the Dark. But With Way More Sex. The Undiscovered Country series: Plans, by [livejournal.com profile] debchan, Sun, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1, and Moon, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Daniel "Oz" Osbourne/Ethan Rayne. This is one of the very few series I've found with every entry by a different author; it's all the rarer because all the stories are good. (My personal favorite is "Moon," for the world's best look at the unimaginable power and impulsiveness of Ethan Rayne.) And Oz/Ethan isn't a pairing that seems like it would work, especially in a long-term sense - I mean, come on. Ethan Rayne? Committing to something? Committing to someone, and I don't just mean in the show-up-and-torment-him-every-few-years way, but in the here today, here tomorrow way that most of us mean by commitment? Except - if he was ever going to do that, it'd be with someone as deep and unfathomable (and, yes, those are horrible adjectives, but I'm sorry; they just are Oz, and there's nothing I can do about it) as Oz. Oz is never going to get boring, that's for sure, and yet he's reliable and constant. (That makes him sound like Oz Osbourne, the original strange attractor, but let it go.) Um, sorry, the Oz-love is getting a little overwhelming, isn't it? So let me just say this: read these stories, and you'll be able to buy into Oz/Ethan, too.

Best FF That Makes Me Pity a Character I Normally Dislike. And Makes Me Absolutely Despise Her at the Same Time. Which I Think You'll Admit Is Quite a Trick. Covet, by Speranza, ak [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza.* Due South, Stella Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Yes. I am not kidding. Speranza has clearly taken the Fan Fiction Writer's Commandments to heart (#8 states that there is no practical difference between love and hate when it comes to writing sex scenes). And this isn't just some random thing where someone thinks of the world's least likely pairing - Dan Rydell/Sally Sasser, say - and writes it, canon be damned. No, this is a totally believable Stella/Fraser pairing, which is one of the stranger sentences I've written today. But slashers, do not fear; this will not hurt you. RayK/Fraser shippers, including the one who shares my bed each night, do not recoil; this will not violate your deeply-held beliefs. And everyone who is looking from the pairing to the fandom and back again and saying, "What the fuck?" loud enough for the person in the next cubicle to look over in surprise, trust me. No, wait, don't bother trusting me; trust Speranza. You won't be sorry.

Best FF That Makes Me Forget All About the Stupidity of Rubber Suits, and Makes the Distant Sound of Squishing Frenchmen Positively Romantic. Springtime in Paris, by [livejournal.com profile] dijeron. I'm not sure what the fandom is - monster movies, maybe. Godzilla/King Kong. I am quite serious. And so is the author; this isn't played for laughs. When I started reading this, my mind was full of men in bad rubber monster suits tromping on tiny model cities, and I was prepared to giggle; when I was done, I understood for the first time why Peter Jackson wants to remake King Kong. I honestly can't think of any other way to describe this or to explain why you should read it. So instead I'll whine. See, the title makes me think of "Springtime for Hitler" - and, really, I'm not sure why, since there's only the one word in common - and every time I see it I find myself singing that under my breath. Which, OK, but there's a limit to the amount of time I want to spend with my own hideous live version of the soundtrack for "The Producers." Although that does suggest a rare fandom that I need to enter at [livejournal.com profile] yuletide...no, no. The sickness must stop.

Best FF That Accuses Dana Whitaker of Previously Unsuspected Evil - Namely, Love for K. C. and the Sunshine Band, Which I Think Is Punishable by Law in Some Boroughs of New York City. Girls' Night In, by Annie, aka [livejournal.com profile] out_there. Sports Night, Dana Whitaker/Lisa McCall. (I guess that's Lisa's last name, at least at this point in the canon history.) This story answers an interesting question: how did Casey get Dana in the divorce? I mean, yes, crush, yes, friends, yes, working together - but Dana was Lisa's friend first and longest, and that makes a difference. I would've expected, at the least, a year or two of strained friendship with both sides. But as early as the pilot episode, Dana has made her choice. Or did someone else make it for her? I'm amazed by this story, and the moreso because I have a hard time seeing femslashiness in Dana; she tries so hard to be simultaneously one of the boys and one for the boys that it's tough to imagine her focus switching to girls, even for a night. This story, though, describes a Dana who didn't used to be like that. It's astonishingly well-done and believable. All hail Annie, who saw the femslash potential in a show practically struck blind by the boy love. (Note: so far I have not been required to post a Certified Safe Alternate for SN stories. I suspect, however, that's only because I've never recommended a story that wasn't Danny/Casey and happy-ending-ful. We shall see if death threats and bouts of vicious pouting result from this rec.)

* Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] estrella30, for solving the Mystery of the Missing Link (the missing link being me, of course, not the story; the story was there all along, but my brain was MIA) in a timely and soothing fashion.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Ah, the wankfic. What can I say? It is truly a classic form. In fact, it is to fan fiction what iambic pentameter is to poetry: common yet satisfying, just structured enough to inspire without in any way constraining the brilliance of the author.

Um. Lost focus there for a moment. Sorry.

Anyway, yeah. I'm a big ol' fan of the wankfic. But then, who isn't? And since I don't seem to be able to write a coherent introduction, let's get right to fic.

Best FF That Proves You Can Tie a Vampire Up, But You Can't Keep Him Down: A Lesson in Principles, by Annie Sewell-Jennings, aka [livejournal.com profile] anniesj. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander Harris. (Does Spike ever get a last name? Is there some kind of law in Buffyland that vampires only have one name? Nail-thin models and female singers with distressed hair: is this the right kind of company for Whedonist vampires? Hmmm. You know, maybe it is. OK, objection withdrawn.) So now I have a humiliating confession to make: I like Spike. I like his attitude; I like that he doesn't take himself seriously. (And, yes, I grant that Angel learns this trick, too, when he has his own show. We're not talking about that now.) He doesn't take anything seriously. Other people might mope and brood and bleed, might obsess about the past and worry about the future, but he's having fun in the now, dammit. He's almost Zen, really. It's an example we could all learn from. Only not the evil and the biting and killing parts. (And no one should try to emulate the hair, 'cause I don't think there's anyone else in the world who could carry that off, and I'm not convinced he does, either.) But there's a downside to Spike's in-the-moment approach to undeath, as Xander learns in this fic. When he's not happy, it's not like he, you know, suffers in silence or anything. Here we get Spike at his most gleefully provoking, and I just love it.

Best FF That Strikes a Much-Needed Blow for Women's Rights to Equality of - Well, OK, Masturbation. But Don't Tell Me That's Not an Important Right. Really, Reasonable Founding Fathers Would've Put It in the Constitution. Jilling, by Te, aka Ficusbane, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1. Smallville, Chloe, and I honestly don't know enough about the fandom to know her last name. (Or, hey, maybe she's a singing model bloodsucker, and she only has the one name. Could be.) But I do know that girls do not get even close to equal representation in the masturbation fic realm. Trust Te to do her part toward redressing the balance. Gotta love this woman, and not just because she kills every ficus she lays hands on. So here we have Chloe being her own best friend, so to speak, while fantasizing about talking to - no, let's be honest - teasing Clark Kent. It should act as an inspiration to all those authors who don't think girls merit equality in every realm. (Try, as you consider this concept, not to imagine the League of Women Voters taking up this cause, because that could end all aspects of your sex life forever.)

Best FF Featuring the Quidditch Showers Being Put to the Use I Am Sure the Hogwarts Founders Intended for Them. Which Would Be Cleanliness Emergencies, of Course. Afternoon Showers, Chance of Rain, by [livejournal.com profile] memorycharm. Harry Potter, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin, Marauders-era. HP fangirls have devoted lots of time to the question of where boys who attend boarding schools jerk off. (Really, we should write a FAQ or something to help out the real-world boys heading off to Phillips or Hotchkiss or Deerfield or wherever. Only there'd probably be way too much focus on cleaning charms and silence charms for it to be entirely useful.) This particular story goes for that perennial favorite: the showers. Wanking, watching, water: it's a classic slash trifecta! What's not to love? (Oh, come on, admit you love it. Like you wouldn't read every story in a challenge built around those three words. Or maybe that's just me, in which case - well, you folks already knew I was a pervert, so I refuse to apologize.)

Best FF Featuring a Canoe Being Put to a Use I Am Quite Sure Its Manufacturers Did Not Intend: Cover. During a Shootout, of Course. The Sporting Life, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Ray Vecchio. This is actually the second in a series; the first one is Breaking Cover. It isn't necessary to read the first to get the second - I mean, if you're familiar with the concept of masturbation, you'll be fine - but it is fun. This is short, but it packs quite a wallop, and Speranza really makes the unusual setting work. (One of the many reasons I love dS: I can think of relatively few fandoms in which sex during a shootout in a sporting goods store would work, but in dS anything works, as long as it's weird enough. Or funny enough. Or, ideally, both.) And I know I've said bad things about stories in which Ray Kowalski is called Stanley, but this showcases one of the exceptions: when Vecchio is being dismissive. And, as Vecchio learns, you don't just write off Kowalski. He won't let you. Really, I think this story is the living definition of "safe even for hardcore F/K shippers," but because there's one extremely persuasive person out there I know I won't convince, I will, as always, provide a Certified Safe Alternate Story.

-Or-

Best FF Featuring a Pillow Being Put to a Use I Am Relatively Certain It Didn't Mind. And I Can't Actually Think of Anything Not Perverse to Say About That. Fighting, by [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. The theme of this pair of unsafe/safe recs is "flashfiction by two of the grande dames of the fandom." My subtle point here is, if you read dS, you should be reading [livejournal.com profile] ds_flashfiction, because great stories are posted there, often faster than I can rec them. So why wait? (And if you aren't in dS or one of the other fandoms that has a flashfiction community, you should start one. What, like you were going to do something non-fansmut-related in the next half-hour? Of course you weren't. So you might as well do something constructively smutty; it's getting the best of both worlds, really.) To get back to this story - which, you know, is technically the point of this part of the rec, even if I usually act like I don't know it - here we have a certain entirely normal and documented reaction to the endorphins triggered by physical combat put to a lovely slashy use. And I think you'll agree that the only thing better than boys being boys is when that's immediately followed by boys doing boys.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Canon repair is one of the most common and most irritating types of fan fiction. Why common? Well, canon creators seem to delight in breaking our hearts, hurting the characters and destroying the worlds we love. It's only natural to want to make it right, to fix the owie owie badness somehow. (Or, alternatively, bite the creators. Or, in many cases, both.) Why irritating? Because it doesn't work, is why. You have to dance with them what brung you, and that means you have to work within the canon instead of fighting it. Yes, you can write AUs, and if you're good then they will be, too, but we all know that a story in which Sirius miraculously turns out to be just pining for the fjords - and the Veil just teleports you to northern Norway (which some would argue is not all that far from the truth) - isn't an AU. It's a dream world. (A weird dream world.) Denial may be the third most popular fan sport, but it's fundamentally useless when it comes to fiction.

Except, of course, when it isn't. Because sometimes denial and fury and desperation produce works of phenomenal quality, stories so good, so perfect, so right, that I find myself cursing the canon writers for failing to think of this themselves and save us all this trouble.

That's what we have here. Repair work as it should be: better than the canon itself. Some of these are AUs. Others are interpolation or extrapolation built around the troublesome canon. But they all fix what I consider to be errors. (And of course we're using my own definition of canon errors; this is a supremely self-centered LJ, after all.)

The Best FF That Almost - Almost - Makes a Whole Wretched Season Worthwhile, Though I Imagine That I Might Feel Differently on That Point If I'd Actually Seen the Season in Question, as Opposed to Just Reading the Summaries with Ever-Increasing Horror: Poison, by Mandy, aka [livejournal.com profile] geneticallydead. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Chris Keller. OK, so we all know that season 6 of Oz was one big fan-fuck in a show full of fan-fucks, right? Some people have tried to deal with this by expunging the very memory from their minds. Others have regressed, fleeing to happier times in earlier seasons (and when you're defining the second season of Oz as a better place, you know you're in some kind of trouble). Mandy's taken a different approach; she twists the results of Keller's suicidal leap a bit, and suddenly we're back on the right path. Well, back on the true path; it's not like anything could be right and good and happy in Oz. But this comes as close as anything will, and it's satisfying on other levels, too; we get a really good look at what's going on in Keller's mind - a scary proposition, I'll grant you, but a worthwhile one - and we get to see Beecher using his brain and his will together for once.

Best FF in Which the Grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel Have the Same Effect on the Characters That They Do on Me, Namely a Strange Sense of Unreality, As Though I'd Been Transported to Las Vegas, and a Strong Desire to Be Elsewhere: The Memory of Hurts, by Sinead, aka [livejournal.com profile] smallbeer. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. It's not like Sports Night ever broke the way, for example, Oz or Homicide or Buffy did. It wasn't around long enough to deteriorate that badly. But the second season is harder to take than the first for a lot of reasons, most of which arose, I suspect, from Sorkin angst. (Hint to all TV writers out there: we use therapists to deal with our problems. We use television for entertainment. Try to keep the two separate, OK?) It's hard to explain the abrupt changes in Danny's personality from season one to season two, for example. And when you look at the way Casey and Danny behave right at the end of the show and compare it to the way they behave in the pilot, it's clear something has changed a lot. But we're never shown what that is, so it's jarring. Sinead fixes all that, and blends her story seamlessly with canon. (Note for sensitive Danny/Casey shippers: This story is definitely a season two story, but it does have a happy ending.)

Best FF That I Love Even Though Everyone I Know Who Has Read It Has a Different Opinion About What Happens in It (and Do Feel Free to Weigh in on That Point, Because - Surprise! - I Am Convinced I'm Right): What You Wish For, by [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer x Angel the Series, gen. This story is amazing because it fixes two major canon irritations (which isn't to say that there aren't lots left in the Whedonverse for other aspiring writers to address) - one for each show. And, in the process, it shows just how much better FF writers can do on occasion than, for example, Joss Whedon. In season four of Buffy, Giles and Xander get sort of lost - it's like the writers just couldn't think what to do with two handsome, strapping men who had lots of experience at fighting demons and bouncing back from personal trauma, even though that is the ideal resume in Buffy's world. And in season one, episode nine of Angel, Doyle dies. For no real reason. Just because the writers wanted to prove that they'd damn well kill whoever they wanted to kill. (Yeah, right. We believe that. Because they were so likely to kill off, say, Angel, right?) The problem of Xander's aimlessness is totally solved in this story. And even though Doyle doesn't actually live on in this fic, somehow it made me feel a whole lot better about his death.

Best FF Featuring a Title That Sums up Both the Story and the Canon Problem the Story Fixes. Plus I Just Really, Really Love the Title and I Wanted to Spend Some Extra Time Talking About It. Tepid Apocalypse, by Molly, aka [livejournal.com profile] molly36.* The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/Jim Ellison. And here we have a series ender that just made no sense. Because, OK, I've never actually watched the series, but I know enough about the situation in "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg" to know that a) there were other and better ways of resolving it and b) the way they picked wouldn't actually work. So that's fairly irritating. Also, way to destroy the character of Blair and the relationship balance between Blair and Jim, folks. Just in general, this episode's plot says to me, "We needed a dramatic last episode, and after 20 minutes of vodka-ridden thought, this was the best idea we had on the table." So post-TSbyBS stories that make that concept work impress me - I mean, the fic author is doing way better than canon writers did, yeah? And "Tepid Apocalypse" also manages to find a new balance between Blair and Jim, repair the character damage the episode did, and just generally fix what went wrong when the fine writers of The Sentinel had whatever massive brainstroke they did. In other words, this is a textbook case of canon repair. Go, Molly.

* Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I used to call this category car sex, and I considered it a tribute to my younger, wilder days. And then I realized that there's so much more to getting around than just automobiles. So now it's about all the ways of moving from point A to point B, ideally stopping off to suck some cock somewhere along the way. (And it's, yes, still a tribute to my younger days, because that was my younger days. There's nothing quite as beautiful as leaving your teen years behind, is there?)

Best FF That Taught Me What GTO Stands for, Because I Honestly Did Not Know for the Longest Time, and I'm Ashamed of That, Yes, but This Theme Tends to Bring out the Shameful Confessions, and I'm Starting with Something Easy: Modes, by [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o. Due South, gen. Yes, you heard me. Gen. But this is the story that had to start this recs set, because it's all about transportation, and I'm not talking about the Australia thing, either. Is it any surprise that Ray Kowalski's life can be summed up through vehicles - taking this bus, driving this car, getting on that train? Kowalski's in motion, baby. And, even though this is gen, I think you'll like where he ends up. This is one of those stories that leaves me wanting more to the point where I go searching for stories that can serve as unofficial, unintentional, and totally spurious sequels. Which explains the next rec, in a way that will probably piss off both authors. Angering all sides is, after all, an honored fannish tradition.

Best FF That Makes Insomnia Something Sweet and Slashy, Instead of Pathetic and Irritating, Which, Trust Me, Is What It Actually Is: Stay, by Estrella, aka [livejournal.com profile] estrella30. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Yes, two dS stories today, because I really don't irritate everyone enough with the obsessive Southiness (rhymes with mouthiness, and for a reason, people) as it is. And because I understand that there are people who go into stark raving withdrawal if their due South doesn't end with a Canadian shack, or actually, I understand that there is just one such person. Or, OK, three. But I fear those people, except for the one that is me. So, as a chaser to the excellent genish work of "Modes," we have the excellent and slightly more slashy "Stay." Because, you know, everyone stops moving sooner or later. And I think we all know that Kowalski stops in Canada, with snow and Fraser and sex, and if the sex doesn't exactly happen on the page here, well, I'm sure Estrella would've worked it in somewhere if she possibly could've, and I forgive her. Mostly.

Best FF That Almost Turns LAX into a Place You'd Like to Spend Some Time, as Opposed to the Suspected Portal Straight to Hell by Way of O'Hare That It Actually Is: Leaving on a Jet Plane, by [livejournal.com profile] musesfool. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz Osbourne/Xander Harris. This one is for everyone who has spent too much time in LAX, which, judging by the last time I went there, is everyone in the world. (And, I suspect, some people from other worlds, planes, and times. I swear there was an Anasazi trying to make a direct connection to Chaco Canyon in line behind me in Terminal One a few years back.) So it's no surprise that Oz and Xander would end up having a drink in one of the appalling non-service bars selling bad overpriced booze for your in-transit convenience; the only surprising thing is that the amazing, excellent, and wonderful kiss in this story isn't interrupted by 18 Sassofovic demons asking for donations to a spurious charity supposedly helping homeless impspawn back in their home dimension. (And the intercom - this is absolutely true - would then announce that giving money to con artists in strange nurse/nun hybrid outfits is totally optional. Because LA is the city of freedom, folks, and you can be cheated however you choose.)

Best FF That Brings Back Poignant Memories That, Embarrassingly Enough, Involve Both River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves: Idaho, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun. My Own Private Idaho, Mike Waters/Scott Favor, sort of. Well. This is definitely a kick in the gut from my past; in retrospect, I should've known from my inexplicable fondness for this movie - inexplicable because, you know, I like my endings to be happy, or at least tolerable - that I was destined for slash. And this story is more of the same, more of the killer pain and sadness that hits at the end of this movie. It left me all sniffly and muttering, "Like, I really wanna kiss you, man" in a choked tone of voice. And, my friends, when a movie starring Keanu Reeves makes you sniffly a decade and a half after it was released, you know a) that's a seriously sad movie b) it nailed you right on your then-undiscovered weaknesses or c) you should've stopped with the sex and drugs and angsty sadness a wee bit earlier. Or, in my case, all three.

Best FF That Will Make You Feel Like an Intellectual and a Respected Pillar of the Community Because You Only Read Slash: Junk Novels, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun, and Sabine, aka [livejournal.com profile] sabine101. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. And here we have the flip side of Punk; apparently she and Sabine, when united, form some kind of uberhumor goddess, and I for one am totally prepared to worship whatever altar the goddess decrees. I love this story with a passion both intense and strange - strange because there is no sex in it, with the exception of some vague references to het, and I think once you've read the story you'll agree that it's a good thing those references stayed vague. I mean, really, are Punk and Sabine telling the truth here? Do junk novels like this actually exist? Because if they do, well, I don't see how anyone can give us shit about reading quality smut online. At least we don't have mothers having sex with their son's best (underage) friend. Well, not in my fandoms, anyway, and if that happens anywhere in HP, no one tell me about it. A Mrs. Black/James Potter story would kill me, or at least make me return to my unfortunate black-wearing, cemetery-hanging, moody-whining teenage self, and really, death would be better than that.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
After my long, grim, house-repair-related hiatus, I'm getting back in the recommendations saddle with a classic theme: threesomes. And, in this case, more. And because I believe in Fan Fiction Diversity (what, you thought my rainbow sticker referred to something else?), I'm representing all three major species of true threesome stories here. Points to the first person to identify them by their Latin and common names. Extra points if you can describe their natural habitats and behaviors.

Best FF Featuring a Sex Toy That Puts All Other Sex Toys to Shame. After You Read This, You'll Never Again Look at Your Home Bondage Equipment Without a Vague Sense of Disappointment. Other Smiles May Make You Fickle, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1. Teen Titans, Tim/Bart/Kon/Cassie. Well, I can't say this is a threesome. It's...I don't think there's a word, actually, for what this is. Unusual, that'd be one word. Twisted, that'd be another. Maybe I should go for "proof that Te's mind is a wonderfully perverse place, and in a just universe, things would always be the way she imagines them." Because, you know, I always thought the magic lasso thing was lame, and doubly lame given that Wonder Girl has one as well as Wonder Woman. "Magic lasso?" I was frequently heard to snort. "Hey, I know! I'll be Square Dance Girl, and I'll have a magic bolo tie! Or, wait - I'll be Wonder Texan, with a magic giant belt buckle!" This story has convinced me that I should not mock the magic lasso. It can make Tim lose control, after all. (It's also convinced me that I want to see what kind of sexual madness Te can do with a magical belt buckle, but I suppose some wants are destined to go unfulfilled.)

Best FF Featuring an Early Version of the Sock-on-the-Doorknob Technique, Making Me Wonder If the Sock Thing Ends This Way, Too. You've Got to Admit That Would Help Explain Fraternities. Fine, by [livejournal.com profile] kaydeefalls. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch/Sundance/Etta. This is almost canon, right here. And speaking of canon, you do know how this movie ends, right? Because if you don't, do yourself a favor and don't read this. But if you do, then this is a story for you; it doesn't read like fan fiction so much as a more accurate version of the events portrayed in the movie. Though I'm not sure William Goldman would agree. In any case, my whole Ocean's Eleven thing has extended to a longing for Butch/Sundance and Hooker/Henry (The Sting); there's just something so compelling about bad guys in love. And while I can't find any Sting, dammit, I've got some Butch and Sundance stuff, and I plan to send all of it your way. Consider yourself warned.

Best FF That Makes Me Feel Like a Total Moron About Popular Culture. Actually, All FF Makes Me Feel That Way, So Perhaps I Should Add a Qualification About Tick References Somewhere in Here. The Night Is Young and There Are Umbrellas in Our Drinks, by [livejournal.com profile] musesfool. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris/Oz Osbourne/Willow Rosenberg. This one is set after the series ended, I think, and it definitely shows the effects of seven years on a Hellmouth with a slayer. (You know, that'd be a great title for Xander's autobiography: "I Survived Seven Years on a Hellmouth with a Slayer; or, When You Look at It, I'm Lucky All I Lost Was an Eye, Assorted Girlfriends, and Most of My Mind.") I mean, sure, you might be a little tense about hopping into bed with your current boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend who also happens to be your best friend, but you probably didn't spend last night fighting demons that decorate their birthday parties with balloon animals made from human genitals and play Pin the Red Hot Poker on the Person. It's all perspective. And once again this story shows us that any triangle, no matter how angsty, history-ridden, or tortured, can be resolved with a judicious application of group sex. I think that's something we could all stand to remember.

Best FF That Proves That Not Only Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words, but the Right Hundred Words Can Be Worth a Thousand, Too: Untitled, [livejournal.com profile] debchan. Due South, Ray Vecchio/Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. And, yes, there will be an alternate story for people who just cannot stand the idea of Fraser doing both Rays, or being with Vecchio. But even if you are one of those people, you should read this, because it's funny and amazing and so in character it had me wriggling with joy. Also, it's so tiny that you won't have a chance to get skeeved out or irritated. I'm fairly sure that [livejournal.com profile] debchan's ability to write little gems like this is proof that she's sold her soul. So we should probably petition her to post an essay on "Selling Your Soul for Slash," because the world would be a far, far better place if everyone could write like this.

-Or-

Best FF That Makes a Valuable and Important Statement About the Inadequacy of Modern Towel Rack Construction: Rain, by [livejournal.com profile] laurakaye. Due South, Renfield Turnbull/Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Look, this is a threesomes set, so even a Certified Safe Alternate Story has to involve someone who is neither Fraser nor Kowalski. And who could be more harmless and fun than Turnbull? I always appreciate seeing Turnbull get some page time, so to speak, and it's especially nice when he's got talents, as he does here. I mean, Turnbull must be good at something, and for all we know he's so spacey during the daytime because he spends nights honing his cocksucking skills. (Um. Hope that didn't induce disturbing mental images in Turnbull-haters, except, you know what? You shouldn't hate Turnbull, so you deserve all the images you get.) Also, it's rare to see an established threesome story, so make sure you enjoy that aspect of this. You won't look on its like again for a long, long time. Plus: towel rack!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Every fandom has its big pairings. And if you read this journal, you'll know I'm no opponent of Danny/Casey or Jim/Blair or Sirius/Remus. But I also have an abiding love for stories with rare pairings, or pairings no mortal ever dared to pair before. And I think I can safely say you'll find at least one of each of those in this set.

Best FF Featuring a Powerful Anti-Drug Message; Namely, That If We Spend All Our Time Stoned We Might Fail to Notice Critical Things in Our Environment, Like That One of Our Friends Is Actually Green. Kissable Fanatic, Unhinged Minim Artists, by [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke. Marvel, Toad/OMC. There are very few pairings involving an original character that I'd put in a rare pairings entry, but I have never before seen Toad in any pairing anywhere ever. He could do nothing but jerk off in a story and I'd consider it a borderline rare pairing, and it's safe to say he goes well beyond that in this one. I actually put off reading this one for weeks because the thought of Toad doing, you know, that - well, it made me want to file taxes early, let's put it that way. But eventually I'd done all the accountancy and scrubbing I could do, and my curiosity got the better of me - and you know what? This is a damn fine story. It isn't squicky, the original character is an actual character, there's a plot - really, what more could anyone want? And if you said, "Someone who isn't green and sticky and whose tongue is less than three feet long would be first on that list," shame on you. Rank prejudice is what that is, and I tell you freely: you'll be the first up against the wall when Magneto takes over. But if you read this now, perhaps they'll be kind to you. So, really, I'm recommending this for your own safety as much as anything.

Best FF That Shows Us What Hides in Your Bedroom Closet After You Learn That All the Demons and Monsters Are Real and Right Outside: Paying Attention, by Lar, aka [livejournal.com profile] obsessedmuch. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris/Larry (does Larry have a last name?). Xander/Larry is one of those pairings that should just happen a lot more often. I've actually seen the episode in which Larry outs himself to Xander, and there's definite slash potential in there. I mean, it happens in a locker room. And Xander and Larry have always hated each other, and they've engaged in the manly-yet-moronic art of fighting together, and, honestly, the whole situation is crying out to be slashed. And yet still this is a rare pairing. I guess it's more proof that there is no justice in bed*. Or in slash. But Lar is struggling to redress this tragic deficit. Read this in the name of Slash Equality, if nothing else. Plus, hey, it could well be the only pairing in this set that doesn't make your eyes roll back in your head from horror. That's got to be a plus.

Best FF That Is Totally Based on the Canon Author's Writing and Yet Would Cause Said Author to Burst into Flames Were He to Hear of It, and I Don't Mean the Gay Kind of Flames, Either: Peter in Love, by Tosca, aka [livejournal.com profile] toscas_kiss. The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pevensie/Aslan. Really. Yes, I'm aware that this sounds even worse than the whole "That stag was a liar" bit in The Silver Chair. Please, don't run screaming yet. I wanted to stab my eyes out and spend decades wandering in the wilderness after I saw the pairing, too. But here's the thing: this story is great, and somehow Tosca manages to evade every single potential squick here, which must have been like doing an slalom. While stoned. And blindfolded. On a frictionless surface. Still not convinced? It isn't explicit, and that should help. So, really, give it a try. (Note: if you don't know how the last book in the Narnia series starts, I'm not sure this will make much sense to you. But, hey, if you don't know how that book starts, you are blessed beyond all measure, so be grateful. And I've never actually read The Last Battle, because I'm still bearing a grudge against C.S. Lewis for writing it, so you can be sure that don't need more than the bare plot outline.)

Best FF That Shows Us That Prison Showers Can Be Dangerous in Novel and Entirely Unanticipated Ways, As Well As the Old Boring Ones: The Color of Straw, by David Hines, aka [livejournal.com profile] hradzka. D.C. Universe, Scarecrow/Harley Quinn. I know. As if I haven't disturbed you all enough as it is, now I'm recommending het. Again. It's like some horrible disease. But this - this is amazing het. It's got the best damn characterizations I've ever seen in DCU fic involving either of these two - admittedly, that sounds like damning with faint praise, but it's meant as an enthusiastic endorsement; it's just that I'm not so good at showing enthusiasm. And it's so, so right and probable and in canon. And it's even funny. It's also not very explicit, so if you just cannot bear the thought of male and female connectors interacting, so to speak, you can squint your eyes and think of England during that part. (Although you should probably try to avoid thinking about Peter Pevensie in England, especially if you're still feeling jittery about the whole Aslan thing.)

-Footnote-

* Anyone who said, "Well, not unless you're sleeping with a judge" is going to be punished. I mean that. Hell, if you so much as thought that, you should be making like Rev. Dimmesdale right now. Have you no shame?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Some noms sets just do not want to come together, and I've spent the last two days casually poking at one that is more snarly and resistant than a whole passel of teenagers. Werewolf teenagers.

Well, when in doubt (or severely bitten), run away. And what could be further removed from my usual orbits than the delightful weirdness of crossovers? With luck, a few seasons of this sort of strangeness should enable me to get the Grouchy Teenaged Lycanthrope Recs Set under control - consistency plus love plus a bullwhip is the key, I'm thinking - and if not, well, we'll always have crossovers.

Best FF That Shows That Love of Sharp, Pointy Objects Brings People Together, or at Any Rate Helps People Reconcile the Seemingly Disparate: The Gargantuan Garden, by [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63*; can anyone tell me what name she uses? The Series of Unfortunate Events x Edward Scissorhands, gen. Yes, The Series of Unfortunate Events x Edward Scissorhands. I am not kidding. Neither is Yahtzee, no matter how much she takes the piss out of everything from LJ to Lemony Snicket to the distressed clothing fad. And, really, this almost makes a certain twisted sense. I mean, if you think about it, the Baudelaire siblings and Edward Scissorhands have a lot in common. They're orphans, they're surrounded by hostile people, their lives are filled with the strange and terrible devices of insane men (Daniel Handler and Tim Burton, respectively). And if there's one positive thing that can be said of The Series of Unfortunate Events, it's that it shows you that, really, there are lots of things worse than moving in with a strange stranger who has an apparent fixation on sharp, sharp blades (which should make anyone due to head off to college feel a lot better about the whole dorm situation). You'll need to have read at least one of Lemony Snicket's books to get the tone of this story, I'm thinking, but no big deal; we're talking about a few hours of your time. More than worth it to appreciate this story, people. And you don't need to have seen Edward Scissorhands; at least, I haven't. Although I spent so much of my adolescence with goths that I could probably test out of the movie at this point.

Best FF That Shows Us How Alligators Can Be Skilled Matchmakers Even Long After They've Ceased, Technically, to Be Alligators: Nice Boots, by Gloria Mundi, aka [livejournal.com profile] viva_gloria, who is probably even now working on a book called Better Writing Through Clinical Insanity. And the thing is, when she finishes it, I'll head out and buy it, and be grateful for the opportunity to do so. Peter Pan x Pirates of the Caribbean (because there's nothing Gloria can't cross with PotC), Captain Hook/Captain Jack Sparrow. Again, we've got characters who have a previously unsuspected amount in common: piracy, madness, travels with British runaway girls, persecution by annoyingly twee and pretty boys. The thing about this story is, by the time I finished it, I was sort of surprised Disney hadn't thought of it, which just shows that you can catch madness from writing if the author is talented enough. (You'll be relieved to hear that eventually I did recover a portion of my senses. However, I'm still searching for my disbelief, which has gone AWOL again.)

Best FF That Shows Us Just How Fortunate We Are That Joss Whedon's Universe Isn't Contagious: Satan Is No Gentleman, by [livejournal.com profile] afrai. Good Omens x Buffy the Vampire Slayer, either gen or Adam/Pepper; I'll entertain arguments either way. I think you'd need to have read Good Omens to appreciate this, but you only need to know the basic premise of Buffy. So. Pepper's a Slayer, and that right there tells you everything you need to know about this story. Except how good it is, and how amazingly right this look at the teenaged Them is, and how perfectly Afrai has got the tone of Good Omens down. And you'll learn those things when you read the story, which you might as well do now. It's only 500 words long (it's a response to Jae Gecko's Secrets Challenge). Yes, Afrai not only did a perfect GO x BtVs, she did it in less words than it would take me to say everything I want to say about her story. Which is why I'm shutting up now; I may not know much, but I know when to yield to my superiors. (My Best Beloved is ordered to stop snickering immediately. I didn't say I did yield, just that I know when I should.)

Best FF That Offers Hope to All Those Living in Tragic, Paralyzing Fear of Takeout Rice Containers: The Watchman, by [livejournal.com profile] madmadharri. The Dark Is Rising x Harry Potter, Will Stanton/Harry Potter, other pairings suggested. This, now, this is one of those crossovers that actually makes a lick of intuitive sense. Which isn't to say I could write one like this, or even imagine one; it's just that I didn't spend thirty seconds staring blankly at the screen when I read the fandom list. So. The war is over. And Harry has a severe case of what we might call magical shellshock. Fortunately, Will Stanton is on the case. Grown up, Will is exactly the kind of man we knew he'd become, if only because he was pretty much already like that at 11. I love, in particular, the way the author builds on Will's canon ability to sidle into difficult situations and take care of them without taking over or taking anything away from anyone. And, yes, I expect the prize for "Most Uses of 'Take' in a Really Unfortunate Sentence" will be on my doorstep tomorrow morning. So I think we can all see that crossovers render me more than usually incoherent, and, really, it's probably better if I move on while I still have some limited control of my verbs and nouns.

-Footnote-

*Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] untrue_accounts!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The subtitle of today's entry should either be "Everything That Is Wrong with FF Today" or "Everything That Is Right with FF Today." Depending on, you know, your perspective. Because today I am exploring that very pure thing: pure, pure smut.

Yes, I'm talking about everyone's favorite maligned fan fiction genre: porn without plot. Or, if you prefer, plot? What plot? (I myself prefer the former, but everyone else on Earth appears to prefer the latter. Since this is an entirely me-centrist LJ, I'll be going with my own preference here.)

PWP is like free verse; anyone with a sixth-grade vocabulary can write it, but it takes real talent to write it well. And bad PWP, like bad poetry, is excruciating to read. There's a lot of bad PWP out there, I'm sorry to report, which has given rise to the common perception that PWP fan fiction is all awful. It isn't.

At least, it isn't for those of us sitting over in the pervert corner.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Batsuit Body Armor as a Sex Toy, and a Damn Fine One, Too. But Then, I Always Suspected as Much. Dodge-Town, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson (Nightwing)/Tim Drake (Robin III). This is another sex pollen story; someday someone will explain to me why sex pollen works so very, very well. And someone else will explain why there aren't way more sex pollen stories than there already are. And then I will understand the mysteries of the universe. But what's fantastic about this particular sex pollen fic? I assume you mean aside from the inherent appeal of Nightwing on sex pollen, which is one of those things that requires no discussion; another one, of course, is Tim (Tim of the evening, beautiful Tim!) managing a sex-pollen'd Nightwing. Otherwise - well, did I mention the lovely, lovely sex? I mean, yes, goes without saying in PWP, but still - smut. Smut good! And this story has one of my very favorite morning-after sequences. All real-life mornings after should be like this one: full of excess carbohydrates and motorcycles and totally angst-free. (Join me, won't you, in Citizens for an Angst-Free Tomorrow? I'm the recording secretary of the Morning After Subcommittee, and we have excellent refreshments at all our meetings. They are chock full of Bad Carbs, but no one is allowed to feel guilty.)

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Pretty Much Every Aspect of Singing on Stage as a Sex Toy. And, Yes, Most Concerts Also Do That, but This FF Does It Better. Much, Much Better. Swim, by Sheila, aka [livejournal.com profile] mimesere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz/Devon. Yes. And why not? Devon is a lead singer, people, and while I may not be a popslash reader, I know one thing: after a few years of publicly deep-throating a microphone, lead singers just naturally swing all possible ways. Or maybe that's only in my own overheated little world. But Devon must be a total slut, people; I mean, I suppose I'd be willing to entertain a rebuttal for the sake of inclusiveness, but I don't think you'll persuade me. (Opinions expressed here absolutely do represent those of the management of this specific LJ. Responsible opposing viewpoints - and especially irresponsible ones - may be submitted care of the comments section. They will not be edited for clarity, because coherence is over-rated. No warranty is expressed or implied. Read at your own risk. And for god's sake don't use a hair dryer while you're taking a bath; I'm not sure why this needs to be stated, but judging from my hair dryer's documentation, that's the very first use that springs to the average owner's mind.) I sort of forgot where I was going with this, which is the hidden danger of legal disclaimers, so you'll just have to explore this story on your own. But here's a hint: this night, Devon wants Oz on his knees, incoherent and begging. And when it comes to sex, Devon always gets what he wants. Note that this fic stops before the characters get down to the serious sex, and it still manages to be PWP. Be impressed, folks.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Denim as a Sex Toy. Really, It Should Be a Law: These Guys Are Only Allowed to Wear Jeans If They're Willing to Have Sex in Them. Sadistic Sons of Bitches in Jeans, by Caroline Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] linabean, and Lizard, aka [livejournal.com profile] adannu. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall (because the world would end if it wasn't, no?). We join this sex scene already in progress, and if there was ever a good use of the in media res technique, this would be it. (Oh, sure, some people would point to various Star Wars movies as the, excuse me, stellar in media res examples. They clearly haven't read this fic. Or seen The Phantom Menace, especially the Love and Sand Sequence, which induces rashes and madness in all who behold it.) Because, really, when you eliminate all the detail about how they got together and how they got in bed and who said what to whom and when and why, what's left is the essence of smut. (Essence of Smut, by Calvin Klein. I want to see some print ads for that perfume, I tell you.) Though I think this story is an excellent specimen of the genus fan fiction, species PWP, it may actually be too smutty for those of you lot who just can't do without some redeeming value in your smut. If that's you, well, you have my sympathy. And you'll get an extra rec, too, to replace this one. The rest of you: enjoy.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Characters Played by Callum Keith Rennie as Sex Toys. Just the One Character, Actually, but I'm Told This Use Extends to Any of His Roles, Even the "Sexy Lump of Granite" One. Want, by [livejournal.com profile] estrella30. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. How do I love my Fraser? Let me count the ways, and let me start with all the various twisted or suppressed aspects of his personality. Number 34 on that sublist ("Fraser's Repressions: the First Thousand") is definitely the way he can be a prisoner of his own self-control, unable to leave the Mountie suit behind even when he's actually got on his much-worn relaxed-fit jeans and his over-washed blue flannel shirt. (No, I do not know for a fact that he has any such clothing. But that's how I picture him, 'cause he never quite belongs in the Big Red Gay Pants in my mind.) FF writers are, naturally, rather interested in helping him with the whole getting-out-of-the-Mountie-suit problem, possibly because we of the FF community are just such a caring bunch. Or maybe because we enjoy our lives more when Fraser is removing the Mountie suit, preferably slowly and with lascivious intent. Whichever. So, in any case, here we have a fine example of FF of the category PWP, subcategory Freeing Fraser. What's not to love?

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of a Sponge Bath as a Sex Toy. Or, Actually, the Use of the British Military Man as a Sex Toy. Sharpe's Colonel, by [livejournal.com profile] cinzia. Sharpe books, Richard Sharpe/Jean Gudin. I'm doing this as a bonus story in honor of my own current attempt to get to grips with the Sharpe canon. (May I say, in passing, that these are bloody, bloody books? So bloody that you probably don't even want to read the rest of this parenthetical comment if you're squeamish. The first three pages of Sharpe's Tiger feature one explicit shooting death, complete with eviscerated rib, and several plague deaths, complete with aspirated vomit. And then there's the detailed descriptions of the behavior of vultures, complete with disgusting metaphor. War is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, and neither is this book.) Cinzia brings her customary class and elegance to this story, this time showing us that porn can lack plot and still have all the right moves - perfect characterization, spot-on dialog, narrative that blends with the canon's, and even a canon tie-in so good you sort of wonder if Cornwell didn't intend this all along. Clearly, Cinzia should be writing more PWP. And you should be reading what she's already written.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Number 87 on the list of Reasons Why I Love Fan Fiction: there's no kink so peculiar that you can't find fic to satisfy it. And I'm not just talking about sex kinks. This particular set is a tribute to two of my lesser non-sex kinks: numbers and vignette series. I don't need to tell you why numbers are good, do I? (Pretty. Shiny. Countable. Reassuring.) But maybe I do need to justify my love for the vignette series.

When well done, the vignette series has all the charm and allure of a drabble with all the meat and content of a much larger piece. (I realize I sound like I'm writing copy for a diet food. I can only beg your indulgence. And, hell, Indulgence is probably the name of the diet food.) The medium is flexible, absorbing, and...dammit, now I'm writing paper towel copy. Look, clearly I'm not up to much on the writing front today. So let's just move on to the fics.

Best FF That Proves Once and for All That There's Nothing Sexier Than Linguistic Terminology and Men Who Call Other Men 'Mother': Ten Things to Get Used to, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. You know, there's going to be a time - relatively soon, at this rate - when I'll have recommended every due South story Speranza has written. And there will be tears on that day, I tell you, and possibly rending of cloth. But until then, I will continue to urge everyone on Earth to read Speranza's entire oeuvre. (Ooo! I'm not just a hack ad writer today, apparently, but a pretentious one.) What else could I possibly do for a woman who has written not one but four stories with numbers in the title? "Ten" (yes, I'm back to the story now, so you can stop skimming) is a series of looks at Ray and Fraser after "Call of the Wild," nicely settled in an established relationship in the back of beyond. I love the little things about this story - the argument with Phil, Fraser's version of a proposal, the world's best use of the word "fuck." I also love the big things about this story, but I'll leave those for you to discover on your own.

Best FF That Appeals to the Latin Geek in All of Us. Because There Is a Latin Geek in All of Us, Right? Right?: Twelve Latin Phrases That Aren't Quo Vadimus, aka Some Ways It Didn't End, by [livejournal.com profile] scrunchy. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. In case you didn't know, Sports Night is off the air. ("Sports Night is dead. Long live Sports Night!") But, really, that doesn't mean it's gone - it's just been transmuted into a far more wonderful form: fandom. Don't believe me? The series only had one ending. This story alone offers twelve endings. Truly an embarras de richesses. And the whole fandom is like that, chock full of sporty goodness, so won't you join the SN Cult today? Um. Message from the people who have taken over my brain ends. Now that I have recovered full control of my hands, I must type a warning for those of you who like happy endings. Let's just say there are some of those here. Also some endings that feel like a real gut punch, including the second to the last one, which will probably bring back unpleasant memories for Americans and especially NYC residents. But no matter how you like your SN - slash, het, gen, happy, sad, mad - your needs will be met by this story, and in fact by the fandom as a whole. See? Living proof that when the canon dies, the fandom just gets better.

Best FF That Manages to Make Sirius' Death Almost Acceptable, and Definitely Way More Acceptable Than the Canon Ever Has: Thirteen Ways, by Sinope, aka [livejournal.com profile] eponis. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Severus Snape. So let me explain the acceptable death comment before you put out a hit on me. See, there's no reason for Sirius to die in the canon, and I'll never forgive JKR for killing him just 'cause she felt like killing. (What is she, a literary sociopath?) But if there's one thing I like about the whole unfortunate business, it's that the shock and pain and loss gave rise to some truly brilliant FF. And this is definitely brilliant FF, and I am not at all biased even though I was clearly born to love this story. There's numbers! There's vignettes! There's great poetry by a dead guy! Really, there's everything I need, and the fact that the pairing makes me, um, slightly wibbly - well, that's just something I'll have to get past, you know? And, actually, this is the way for this pairing to work; this is the fic that persuaded me it could work, and without any messy personality transplants, either. As the author says in her summary, "Lupin and Snape don't have the luxury of new beginnings." They have to work with what they have, and part of that means clearing away a few decades' worth of messy backstory. O perfect love? Um, no. Better than perfect love? Indubitably.

Best FF That Has Guaranteed I Will Never Order a Sandwich in Cleveland. Or, Potentially, Anywhere Else.: Thirty-Two Short Fics about Xander Harris, by [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. I don't want to get all distracted by the sandwich thing, so I'll just get this out of the way first: Wrongest. Sandwich. Ever. (Fear not, [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie; there's no sex in this fic, just completely sex-free scary sandwiches. So you can read it. If you dare.) Now that I've gotten that out of the way - and believe me, it needed to be said - let's move on to the rest of this story. Because this story is brilliant. It isn't just that the author has captured the dialog and tone of the series so well, or that the character here really is Xander in all his glory, although those things are part of the overwhelmingly wonderful package. What's really amazing about this is that it's episode fic that really works. [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat has added little bits to a bunch of different episodes, and those little bits show us so much more of Xander that it's really kind of sad these scenes weren't in the canon. Not enough for you? Well, we also get a look at post-series Xander in Cleveland, dealing with the Other Hellmouth, proving that life goes on, and so do the undead and the demons and the, um, terrifying foodstuffs. Oh, and you don't need to have seen BtVS to read this story - I haven't seen a lot of the episodes mentioned here - but you do need to be fairly familiar with the story arcs and so on, or else some of the short fics won't make sense.

Best Special Bonus Item That Will Stick a Song in Your Head for All Eternity. Don't Say You Weren't Warned.: 88 Lines about 44 Characters, by Valeria. Homicide: Life on the Streets, metathingy. This is today's Mutant Bonus Rec. It isn't a vignette, and isn't actually fiction, but it definitely meets the numbers criterion of this theme with room to spare. If you don't recognize the origin of the title you probably shouldn't bother reading it. But for those of us who are familiar with The Nails' "88 Lines about 44 Women," and who don't mind having it on cerebral auto-repeat for the next nine days...well, let's just say this is the shortest, handiest character index I've ever seen. Plus, you know, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it, and how many fandom summaries can you say that about?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
And by "chariot," I mean "car." Because, let's face it, we live a lot of our lives in cars. We kiss in cars, and fight in cars, and snack in cars, and, especially in our teen years, have sex in cars. And as in life, so in fan fiction. (Stop laughing immediately. I didn't say fan fiction was realistic, did I? No, I did not. I merely said it reflects our obsessions. If you believe you can successfully argue with that, go right ahead; I stand ready to defend my statement.)

Best FF That Puts a Hair Care Product to a Use That Paul Mitchell Would Never Approve. I Think.: Cool in the Backseat, by witchbaby, aka [livejournal.com profile] brooklinegirl. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sex. In a car. Plus some other stuff. Really, when a story has a title like that, I don't think I should have to write a summary for you to know what's going to happen. But I do believe you'll be deeply impressed with what these guys manage to do in a car; I'm not sure how many couples aside from Fraser-the-perfect and Kowalski-the-graceful could have successful anal sex in the backseat of a Pontiac GTO. Trust me when I tell you that any kind of automotive engagement, never mind what happens here, requires skill and talent in some amount far greater than I possess. (There's a guy who is probably still limping and bruised who can testify that combining a backseat, a hardcover Biology textbook, and me is an act both unwise and very, very painful.) So be in awe, folks, of what Ben 'n' Ray manage to pull off in this story. Um, so to speak.

Best FF in Which Sex Is Prevented by the Untimely Intervention of a Car Alarm: Diversionary Tactics, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night, Casey McCall/Danny Rydell. Why yes, I do intend to continue recommending Sports Night fic. The SN Cult has me in its clutches, and I will not rest until every single person on this earth is reading SN FF. And, see, this is what is both beautiful and terrible about the Cult: I'm doing this because I know you'll be happier when you've succumbed. (Unless you get hold of some of the depressing SN stories, because those are like a kick to the gut, or possibly even like a blow to the genitals from the pointy part of a hardcover Biology textbook. But I'm no sadist; I'll warn you when I'm linking to one of those.) This is a happy story, and it is absolutely chock full of cars. (Public Service Announcement: we residents of Los Angeles would prefer it if visitors to this fine city did not use their cellular phones on the 405. Trust me, it's scary enough watching you folks merge without the knowledge that three-quarters of your brain is back home, and half of what's left is trying to figure out if that's Ryan Seacrest on the radio. (It isn't. It's his clone. We think, although we are afraid to get close enough to check.) So, please, unless you're Danny Rydell, stay off the phone when you're in traffic. Thank you. Love, the Los Angeles troglodytes.)

Best FF in Which the Two Characters Argue about Whether They're Gay or Not, Pause to Have Gay Sex, and Then Return to the Argument, Apparently Somehow Unaware That Said Argument Has Been Definitely Overtaken by Events: Orange Crush, by Annie Sewell-Jennings, aka [livejournal.com profile] anniesj. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. This story is actually the second in a series that I think of as the Random Song Title Series. I don't know if it actually has a name. You might want to read the first story, A Lesson in Principles, before you read this one, although I do think that "Orange" could, despite references to what happened in "Lesson," stand alone. This story is based on an old tradition - sex in a crappy American car. I don't know why that's such a classic activity, but it is. Maybe people worry less about staining the upholstery when the car already sucks. (Get ready for a really impressive, top-notch, professional-quality transition here.) Sucks, in fact, like Spike does, only not in this story, which doesn't suck at all. (Yes, that was some excellent writing, there. Nothing quite like the knowledge of a job well done, is there?)

Best FF That Features the Phrase "Mi Dildo Es Su Dildo," Which, Frankly, I Don't Think Should Ever Be Uttered by Anyone: Toy Story, by Alanna, aka [livejournal.com profile] bayleaf. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Yes, it's an all-TV-show recommendations set! Apparently television characters are big on the car sex concept. Or maybe I'm just a helpless TV show fangirl. Whichever. This story wins two prizes from me. First, the Chutzpah Award, for portraying sex in a car parked in a police station's garage. How many people have done that? (Note that I said people, not fan fiction characters; I could assemble almost a complete nominations set built around this concept alone.) And, second, the Mysterious Lack of Chutzpah Award, because I think we can all enjoy the spectacle of Blair getting embarrassed in a sex toy shop. Evidently Blair never learned the girl decoy trick, where you give a girl the money and a detailed description of the dildo or vibrator you want and halfway through you realize this is actually worse than telling a stranger and you should've just shopped on the internet, because the girl is laughing so hard complete strangers keep wanting to give her seizure medication. At least she's laughing that hard when she's me. I'm sure those in the audience are much kinder to their male friends on these occasions.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Alcohol might not be much on its own, but combine it with fan fiction and we do indeed see how sweet life can be. Of course, there's not so much of the slight here; for the most part, these stories contain some serious intoxication. But don't worry about alcohol poisoning and don't bother ordering blood levels; in fan fiction, drunkenness is just a classic way of getting two people horizontal. Or, you know, into other assorted positions.

To put it another way: yay, drunkfics!

Best FF That Proves That Everything Is Better with Wombats: Vombatus poeticus, by [livejournal.com profile] q_skud_. Master & Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey (ish). I'm dedicating this rec to [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie, who understands that wombats do indeed make everything better. Wombats can even help with unrequited love, which is pretty much we've got here. This is an itty-bitty fic, and g-rated, so it's really fairly astonishing that [livejournal.com profile] q_skud_ managed to fit so many of my favorite things into it: wombats, Latin, good poetry (on this occasion by Catullus), Stephen Maturin. It's like I was born just to provide this story with its ideal audience. Plus, it helps fill the world's gaping need for wombatfic. Writers, what have you done for wombatfic today? Remember: fandoms need wombats.

Best FF in a Fandom I Am Absolutely Not Reading, Not Not Not: Vaguely Gay, by [livejournal.com profile] miriam_heddy. Sports Night, Dan/Casey McCall. Let me just repeat that: this is not one of my fandoms, people. I don't even know what the show is about (though I'm thinking sports probably come into it somewhere), and I am not getting involved in another damn TV fandom. They're too difficult. It's just - the title of this story really appealed to me, because that's what the guys we slash so often are; there's just something, you know, vaguely gay about the way they interact with their supposedly-straight, supposedly-platonic best friends. So I read the story, and it proved to be good, and so here we are. Of course I can't be sure that this is in-character or canon-appropriate or anything, as this is - did I mention this? - not my fandom. Not! My! Fandom!

Best FF That Scarred Me Forever with a Casual Mention of a Former President of the United States: Scotch Courage, by Kellie Matthews. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Come for the intoxicated Ray. Stay for the unintoxicated sex. And please, please, somebody tell me that the whole comment about our former President doesn't mean what I think it means, because if it does, the resultant mental images will torment me to the grave. In fact, they may torment me into my grave, so please, say it ain't so. (Sorry, folks. Wish I could provide a better summary. But every time I read or even think of this story, my brain fixates on that one horrible implied-but-please-god-not-true President thing, and it just locks up. Ew.)

Best FF Featuring a Sex Scene That Could Cause Impressionable Readers to Begin Singing "Giles of the Nine and a Half Fingers and the Xander of Doom," Which Is Grounds for Murder in Nine States: Four Dicks, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander/Giles. Can I just say right now that I hate alcoholic-Giles stories? Because I like my Giles shiny and idealistic, and I like him snarky and careworn, but I don't like him passed out. He cannot snark when he's passed out, people. But...I still like this story. It's set in a time when Giles and Xander were both disenfranchised, feeling lost and out of it and wondering what the hell came next; this is a solution way better than the one Joss thought of. And Xander is perfectly in character here, using humor as a cover and a shield. So, you know, even though I don't like stories like this, well, I like this.

Best FF That Makes You Want to Snuggle up to a Warm Fuzzy Evil Demon Monster of Your Very Own: Untitled, by [livejournal.com profile] wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. This is a bonus story, right here, because it's more of a scene, and anyway I try not to repeat fandoms in one set. But this is so worth reading, because it showcases something too many BtVS FF writers forget. I mean, we hear so much about the Ultimate Sexy of Spike that sometimes I wish Buffy'd staked him in season two. And there's almost as much FF talk about Spike's odd, soul-free humanity. There's just not so much focusing on Spike's evident caretaking need. But it's there, folks. He took care of Dru for a hundred years, even though she spent 99% of that time getting a direct feed from Planet Crazy. I understand he also took good care of Dawn, although I myself have not experienced what we might call the Dawn Season of Buffy (also known as the Sunset Season of Buffy, for an entirely different reason). Here, he's taking care of Xander, and he's clearly enjoying himself, and no, you perverts, it's not what you think. It's shmoop, which so clearly should not work with a BtVS-style vampire, except that it...does. And if that's not enough reason to read this, well, let me up the ante. It contains the phrase "make me your pirate bride." Thought that'd get you. Sure got me; I'll be working that phrase into nearly everything I say from now on.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I think we could all stand to remember the wisdom in the title more often. That said, it's obviously time to take another pass at masturbation stories. Or, no, wait, another whack. No. Another go?

I give up. This is hereby declared a double entendre-free zone for the duration of this nominations set. You will all just have to kick your own minds out of the gutters. To the extent possible with these stories on offer.

Best FF That Identifies Spike's Masturbation Fantasy Number 9, Leaving Me Wondering If There's Some Connection to the Love Potion of the Same Number. And Also, Of Course, What the Other Eight Are. Night Watch, by [livejournal.com profile] debchan + [livejournal.com profile] spike21 + [livejournal.com profile] thete1 = Webrain, and I hope I haven't left anyone out. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. (No, it is not my OTP in this fandom, I swear to god. I just...rec a lot of it, OK?) I admit this story is most of the reason why I'm revisiting the masturbation theme right now. I nominated another story called "Night Watch" in the last set, and it just seemed like a good idea to clear the decks of Night Watches, at least for the moment. Spike jerks off, Xander watches, and the inevitable happens. Pay special attention to the excellent disclaimer: "If they belonged to us, there would come a day when taffeta played a role in their lives." I can't say the same; I don't care for taffeta. But I'm willing to concede that I'm with the Webrain in principle. (NOTE: A Certain Person should not read this, because it contains a mention of blood that is brief but will nonetheless likely ick said Person right out.)

Best FF That Shows That, in Addition to Being Basically Twisted, Batman Has a Deeply Twisted Sense of Justice. And Humor. Wally West vs. the Chicken Salad of Doom, by David Hines, aka [livejournal.com profile] hradzka. Justice League, I think, and it's not a pairing situation, more of an, um, one-man show kind of thing, involving Flash. So. This is a sex pollen story, and I think we can all agree there is no excuse for sex pollen stories. Except that they tend to be strangely good. And they make me laugh, in some cases so hard that they should have a special warning. (Along the lines of "Caution: do not read this story while precariously balanced or around improperly stored liquids. Wear protective clothing and check all nearby surfaces for corners and sharp edges before beginning. Not for people who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or a need to look dignified.") This is one such story. At least, it appealed to my sense of humor.

Why I am sorry I admitted that in a public forum? Or even to myself?

Best FF That Makes Me Hungry - and Not for Sex, Sadly, but Rather for a Foodstuff I Have Not Had Since I Was in the UK, and Which I Am Ashamed to Admit I Love, Because It Is So British. A Trifle, by [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Ron Weasley, in a manner of speaking. Here, we have food leading to masturbation, which is not at all surprising, given that the characters are teenage boys. It's only surprising that they're so discriminating about their culinary triggers; in my experience, Funyuns (as one example) would work just as well with boys of this age, and they don't count as food, never mind erotic food. Once again, we have a strikingly simple proposition: boys. Food. Wanking. Does it work? You be the judge. And somebody for god's sake send me some trifle.

Best FF in Which Female Strippers Induce Homosexuality in Formerly Straight Men, and It All Makes a Mutant Kind of Sense. Shadow Boxing, by Sihaya Black (this is only her TS stuff; if anyone has a more complete site or a LJ link for her, I'd love to hear about it). The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. (I swear, that's not a pairing, it's more like a brand of slash or something. Jimblair, adjective: describing fiction that takes snippy "straight" guys who are clearly already together in the canon and nudges them over the NC-17 line.) This is a switching teams story that begins with a jimblair argument and ends with a jimblair marriage proposal. (Now that I think about it, that may actually also be a decent summary of the first season of The Sentinel.) In the interim, there's plenty of masturbation, as well as anthropological jargon and beer. Ah, TS, how we love thee!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Armageddon - it's the end of the world as we know it. (Serious demerits for anyone who says "...and I feel fine" right here.) So, hey, we've moved beyond mere character death to, well, world death. At, you know, minimum. Although I'd like to point out that those who are only squeamish about the deaths of those they know (or wish they knew) won't have a problem with all these stories; characters survive the, you know, End of It All more often than you'd think.

So. Depressing? I guess that depends on how attached you are to our planet. (Even more serious demerits for anyone who mentions 9.8 m/s2 here.) But some of these stories move way beyond depressing into the territory of totally surreal.

Warning: the Fan Fiction Mental Health Alliance warns us that overexposure to apocalypsefic can cause morbidity in rats and humans; stop reading at once if you develop lassitude, shaking hands, or a rash. That said, bring on the destruction!

Best FF That Shows Us That When The World Has Ended Any Company Is Good Company: Autumn Leaves: Winter Stays, by [livejournal.com profile] alestar. X-Men comics, Wolverine/Creed. Well. It never occurred to me that the Marvel universe ferals might have certain special issues with nuclear apocalypse, but Alestar is so right. Of course they would. Who's gonna survive the radiation? Cockroaches and people with mutant accelerated healing. And what fun they'll have. This story is short, sharp, and the only way I could ever picture this pairing happening.

Best FF That Shows Us That When the World Is Ending It Doesn't Matter Who You Kiss As Long As You Kiss Someone: Les Oiseaux, by [livejournal.com profile] ztrin. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. There's rather a lot of death in this one. As in, pretty much everyone - this isn't one of your merry, happy-go-lucky apocalypse scenarios. It's definitely what I had in mind when I said some of these stories were surreal. There's no explanation here, no solution, just a world that apparently isn't going to end in fire after all. And I have to admit I really like it; it strips all the extras from the end of it all and leaves us with just the essence of it. Isolation. And the water is rising.

Best FF That Shows Us That the Empire-Era British Navy Could Cope with Absolutely Anything: The One Who Holds the Seven Stars, by [livejournal.com profile] jacito. Master & Commander, Aubrey/Maturin. (Note: this can be read as slash or gen, because when you have characters who canonically call each other "Joy" and "Dear," it's tough to know exactly when the gay part starts. I myself choose to think of it as slash, but then, I choose to think of the canon pretty much the same way.) The Day After Tomorrow Challenge asked writers to destroy a fandom's world in the manner of the movie of the same name. Peculiar? Well, yes, but I was surprised at how much I liked some of the stories. This one is short and, um, surprisingly sweet, given the whole doom thing. I like this story because it gives me the strange feeling that everything will be all right. You know it's a comfort fandom when even the Armageddon fic is vaguely reassuring.

Best FF That Reminds Us That, in the Event of an Emergency, We Take Time to Save What Matters: According to Their Kinds, by [livejournal.com profile] daegaer. Fenndom, Bracy/Gedge. If you don't know what Fenndom is, don't worry; it's fan fiction based (in this case, quite loosely) on the works of G. Manville Fenn, who wrote Victorian-era books for boys. This story is AU, and Daegaer really tells you everything you need to know about the guys and their world, so not to worry. Like the previous story, this one came from the weirdly compelling Day After Tomorrow Challenge. I love this one. It's slightly disturbing - there are no on-screen (so to speak) animal deaths, but they are definitely implied - but strangely brilliant; it left me absolutely prepared to read a novel based on these two characters and their AU world. In fact, it left me on the verge of demanding Daegaer write said novel, because, hey, if she got me this involved in the characters in this story, it's only fair, right? A peculiar work of genius, and one that must be read.

Best FF That Shows Us That Even after Armageddon Things Can Actually Get Worse: Dark Horse, by Wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. Extra story in this set, because I am not revisiting this theme for a while; you can get too much of the apocalypse, I find. This is a vampires-taking-over-the-asylum story; tell me that isn't the end of the world in the Buffyverse, and I will scoff merrily. OK, not merrily if I've been reading this story, because Wiseacress appears to have what we might call a gift of grim. But, wow, she works that gift, keeping me riveted even while a large part of my brain is urging me to look away. This is an impressive story, folks. And what could be more appropriate to an end of the world theme than to finish with something both brilliant and down?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I associate crossovers very strongly with confusion; in the early days of my fan fiction reading, I didn't know about crossovers. (I was a sweet, innocent lass with a heart of gold, OK?) So I'd be cheerfully reading along, not paying close attention to the story summaries (mistake number one, right there), and suddenly the story would get...weird. And I would get...confused. I'd read through the rest of it wondering if I was supposed to recognize these strange characters from the FBI, or with fangs, or whatever, and wondering why the story had taken such an unusual turn. Basically, just wondering. It probably didn't help that this was when I was a single-fandom girl, so all these crossovers were in LotR, which is not a canon that takes well to incursions from, for example, television shows. ("Ah, Boromir." "Mmmm, Aragorn." "Hi! I'm Spike!" "That is...an unusual leather jerkin, stranger." "Not jerkin' just yet, pet. But I could be persuaded.")

That's probably why I disliked crossovers so much for so long. But I've learned that they, like everything else, can be totally brilliant in the right hands. And, naturally, examples of the right hands follow.

Best FF That Proves I Was Right All Those Years Ago When I Said That Metal Control Was a Fairly Lame Superpower: Curiosities, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. Harry Potter x X-Men movies, Tom Riddle/Magneto, Magneto/Xavier (sort of). This, right here, was the first story I read that made me think crossovers could be more than just a gimmick. Because, well, I never in my whole life so much as wondered what might happen if Tom Riddle met Magneto, or how a battle of HP magicians v. XM mutants might shake down, but I was gripped by this story anyway. The story works, in large part, because Penknife keeps everyone soundly in character and blends a tiny portion of the two universes without breaking either one. Read it and behold the mighty power of the Penknife, which is definitely better than metal control. (And, for the record, if you're ever offered a choice between magnetism and telepathy? Pick telepathy. If you're even tempted to go the metallic route, read this story first.)

Best FF That Proves That Anything Can Happen in the Arctic Circle: Denser Still the Snow, by Jane St. Clair, [livejournal.com profile] 3jane. Due South x Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser/Oz. Well, now, this is a perfect example of what I mean about anything working in the right hands. I looked at the fandoms and the pairing and knew it could not work. Right then, I was ready to write an essay, complete with quotes and possibly even illustrations supporting my thesis that this could not work. And I read it, and even though there was a lengthy period in the middle where I wasn't sure if I wanted to embrace Jane or send my second to her door at dawn, I was just in awe. It works, it works, see how it works.

Best FF That Proves That Zen Is Applicable to All Walks of Life but Not Helpful in All Situations: Zen, by [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke. Due South x Homicide (I think), Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. I read the first part of this story thinking I knew who the, um, mystery detective was. I was wrong. (I Googled his name to find out what fandom he comes from, so if I'm wrong, someone please tell me.) I'd never heard of the guy before reading this, so obviously I can't say that he's in character, or that the two universes are nicely mixed (though, really, cop shows seem to go together pretty well most of the time). But I can say that this guy blends almost eerily well into the due South world. And I can also say that I read "Zen" and suddenly wanted to know much more about this intriguing character. Which demonstrates a major bonus (or flaw, depending on your point of view) of the crossover: a good one can work you into a new fandom effortlessly. Painlessly. Unexpectedly. (I'm proud to report, though, that I've managed to resist the lure of "Homicide." So far.)

Best FF That Proves That It's a Bad Idea to Mess with History If You've Had Too Much to Drink. Well, Especially If You've Had Too Much to Drink.: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, by [livejournal.com profile] daegaer. Good Omens x The Iliad, Paris/Helen, plus assorted hints of slash. I'm still bitter about Troy, and I haven't even seen the movie; all I had to do to get my hate on was read [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda's Troy in Fifteen Minutes. I got as far as Achilles in bed with two women and I could feel the rant welling up inside. Just as well I didn't see it, really. In any case, I offer this to those of you also nursing resentment; here is Paris as I always knew he was. And an explanation for the whole mess that's really the only believable one if you insist on discounting the gods. Yes, Wolfgang, I'm talking to you. (Can't wait to see what he's going to do to Ender's Game. Actually, no, I can wait. Forever, if necessary.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Although there are times when we have to repeat that and repeat that and repeat that. Because it's a cold comfort to know, for example, that if Rowling had kept Sirius alive, she'd have kept on destroying him until we wished he was dead. So, today's theme: death in canon, and how FF authors react to it. Does this have any relationship to my recent exploration of the Buffyverse? What do you think?

Best FF That Leaves Me Liking Not One, but Two Characters I Never Much Liked in the Canon: Jason and Me, by David Hines, [livejournal.com profile] hradzka. Batman and Robin (or somewhere roughly similar), gen. Jason was Robin II. Jason died. Pretty horribly, in fact - just basically the Death You Would Not Wish on Anyone. So, how do subsequent Robins cope with that? Well, I suspect Tim coped by:
  1. Researching every circumstance and foible that led to Jason's death
  2. Ensuring that he was in no way vulnerable on any of those fronts
  3. Stealing a special Reanimation Tech from a secret government agency and keeping it on him at all times
  4. Reassuring himself that it could never, ever happen to him, because he'd Taken Steps to prevent it
  5. Updating his will and testament, just in case.
But that's Tim. (As I see him, at any rate.) How is Robin IV going to handle it? Well, David's got that covered.

Best Songfic That Is Touching and Right and Better at Addressing Certain Issues Than the Canon Will Ever Be. Yes, Songfic. God Help Us All.: Ghost, Descending, by [livejournal.com profile] wrack. Harry Potter, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin. And the prize for least necessary death-in-canon goes to: J.K. Rowling, for killing Sirius Black! Do I need to explain why? I mean, yes, I get that she didn't know what to do with him - the whole of Order of the Phoenix was pretty persuasive on that score. And, yes, I get that there had to be a sacrifice to get the death 'n' misery of the last two books started right, and some random red shirt student introduced in the same book he's killed in wasn't good enough no matter how nice he was. But, really - I'd ream a FF author who killed a major character so pointlessly and then so completely failed to resolve said death by the end of her story, even if the story was To Be Continued. I cannot fail to ream JKR even more. After all, I don't pay for FF, and I don't have to believe it. So, this FF is yet another in the long series of stories proving that FF authors are dealing with JKR's mess better than she could. And this is an extra-good one, at that - this author captures how it feels to keep reaching for someone who just. Isn't. There.

Best FF That Proves the Inherent Unkindness of Anti-Undead Precautions: Little Blue Bottles, by Kate Bolin, [livejournal.com profile] katemonkey*. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. So. Kendra died. I hope this isn't a surprise to anyone. I didn't watch the episode where she bit it. The Best Beloved's summary, which featured the phrase "Mr. Pointy" rather too prominently, was more than enough to make me sad. (And this despite the fact that I haven't watched a single second of Kendra actually alive in the canon, either.) I was not made for the Jossverse, people - I don't like it when characters die in canon. (See also Sirius Black, above.) Especially ones that never really had much of a life at all (See also Robin II, above) and that apparently aren't having much of a death, either. (In the world o' Buffy, death doesn't stop a person from having fun - see also Spike, various. But Kendra just never gets any, does she?)

Best FF That Is So Full of Nifty Parallels It's Physically Painful Not to Catalog Them All: Promise, by Shirasade, [livejournal.com profile] shirasade_fic. Lord of the Rings, and this has a Tolkien-esque feel but appears to be based on the movies. So we'll call it LotR Blend and leave it at that. Legolas/Aragorn. Let's talk about a death that doesn't make me sad or bitter or resentful. Aragorn is meant to die. His death is right, and it comes at the right time, and he's lived well - and if there was ever a good way to die, lying down after a fantastic life and saying, "hey, now's my time" has to be it. And Aragorn is emblematic of an age, of an era - until he goes, Middle Earth can't move on. Which is why I love this story. Because this story shows us a person who can't move on until Aragorn dies. Somehow, for me, this nicely balances the person who can never move on at all. And I'm starting to scare myself with the lit-crit words that I keep having to delete as I write this, so, in the words of Auron: this ends now.

Best FF That Proves the Title of This Nominations Set Is Right: Empire of Dirt, by Gemma Files**. Once Upon a Time in Mexico, El Mariachi/Agent Sands. And, finally, an extra story. Because when your whole canon is about death and saturated in death, really, does it matter who lives and who dies? Well, yes, a bit. Apparently. I include this here because I think it's fairly conclusive proof that Plato knew whereof he spoke: death is, indeed, not the worst that can happen to men. I would submit that El and Sands would probably both, at least in this story, sort of rather be dead. (And, yes, there's a character death-in-canon mentioned in here. Actually, there's a bunch. If there's one thing this canon isn't short on, it's deaths.)

* Thanks for the confirmation, [livejournal.com profile] minervacat!
** Thanks for the link, [livejournal.com profile] ardent_muses!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Today I realized I was more than halfway through Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Or, actually, I realized my Best Beloved was, but more on that later.) What better way to celebrate my approaching familiarity – or, rather, acquaintance – with this fine series than by writing a Fandoms I Have Loved for it? Sure, some people might say you should get to know the whole canon before, you know, writing about it or summarizing it for others. Those people would be wrong. Obviously.

Giles have I loved, but Angel have I hated. And I'm still fairly undecided about Buffy herself. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Can't make the commitment to long-term fic? Not to worry; these stories will be in your life and then out again in the time it takes to brush your teeth. And while they'll leave something behind with you, it won't be a disease, a pregnancy, a bad taste in your mouth, or a new psychological scar to add to your burgeoning collection. Fast fic: the safe one-page stand.

Best FF That Leaves Me, at Any Rate, Longing for a Happier Ending for a Certain Fandom's Number One Doomed Couple: Conjugal Visit, by C. Elisa. X-Men movies, Magneto/Xavier. This is a hundred-word story that packs a thousand-word wallop; it's a snapshot of Magneto in prison and of Xavier doing the Right Thing (which, for once in his life, coincides with what he wants to do). C. Elisa is the queen of this kind of story-telling; you should read all her stuff immediately. But read this one first, because it gets right to the heart of why M/X is so compelling - there's still so much left in the relationship, even after all the years they've spent destroying it. That's got to count for something. (And I have to quit now, before I succumb to the temptation to quote Philip Larkin's No Road in toto, with lengthy commentary on how this poem so perfectly sums up M/X. Help me. I'm one step away from writing "theirloveissoliterary!" and really meaning it.)

Best FF Involving Harry Potter and Severus Snape Touching That Still Manages to Be, Well, Touching: Pale Shadow, by Sushi, [livejournal.com profile] wikdsushi. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Severus Snape. This is an aged-up story (and how!); you will not be exposed to teacher/student or adult/teen naughtiness here. It's also a special prose form: four connected hundred-word stories, rated, in order, G/PG/R/NC-17. If that form doesn't make the writers in the audience want to get cracking, I don't know what will. And be sure to visit Sushi's website for the best implicit definition of slash I've ever seen. In the future, I will simply point slash doubters and nay-sayers to Sushi's site, and if they don't get it, I will point again. (I'm practicing the silent pointing so that I can come back as a Ghost of Christmas Future. My kind of afterlife, y'know?)

Best FF That Proves the Basic All-Round Usefulness of Yellow Goop, Especially in Teamwork, Bonding, and Character Perspective. Yellow Goop: Buy Some Today!: Small Unit Tactics, by Livia, [livejournal.com profile] liviapenn. Teen Titans, gen. This is one of those little stories I'll be recommending in the inevitable (but much dreaded) DC Universe Fandoms I Have Loved. It serves as an excellent introduction to the characters, which the average human desperately needs in DCU, and it's still good reading. We can't blame Livia for its G-rating; this story is already so densely packed that any more goodness, even of the slashy kind, would probably create an exceedingly literate and sexy black hole.

Best FF That Reveals the Evil That Lurks in the Heart of Men: Lights Out, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. Giles wants to kill Angel. Actually, he wants to hurt Angel. And he knows exactly how to do it. I love this story because it shows the side of Giles the canon implies but never (as far as I know, which isn't that far) truly explores. We know he's human and we know he has a dark side; it makes an amazing amount of sense that this is what he keeps there.

Best FF That May Be of Interest, or Even Comprehensible, Only to the Author, My Best Beloved, and Me: Your Pilgrimage Is Over, by Mooncalf. Final Fantasy X, gen. This is a special bonus story, included for the roughly 1.5 readers of this blog who a) have finished, or nearly finished, FFX (a must for this story, I'm afraid) and b) want to read gen fic about it. (I would, for the record, gladly recommend FFX slash, especially any combination of Auron/Braska/Jecht, except that it's damned hard to find. So gen is what we're left with, fellow player(s).) Note that I love Auron with an unhealthy passion, and this story puts him in a somewhat darkish light, but that's, well, perfect for good ol' Aurie. You want proof this is a fantastic story? It directly contradicts the canon; what happens here could not have really happened. And yet I believe this version of events; it just makes so much more sense.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's time to celebrate public sex. Because, really, that's what FF is.

Well, the kind I tend to nominate, anyway.

Best FF Featuring a Clear Case of Sandwich Abuse: Party Aliens, by [livejournal.com profile] daegaer. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect/Arthur Dent. In which we learn that some planets have office parties way more fun than ours. (Of course, Hitchhiker's Guide employees can flee to distant galaxies the next day. Probably how most new assignments get filled, actually.) OK, I'm just about the last person on Earth to recommend this story, but I had to add my voice to the multitudes. Because this - this is just so funny, and I love Arthur's sort of pathetic objections, and Ford's just so very Ford, and, well...just read it. And then thank [livejournal.com profile] daegaer for having such a twisted mind, and [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie for commissioning this, and [livejournal.com profile] fan_the_vote for providing the venue. Heck, while you're at it, thank your mom, too. Why not?

Best FF That Really Ought to Be Called "Love's Bitch": Subtleties, by Anna S., [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. In which Xander learns to like vampires and Spike learns to make stir fry. Among other things. There's a special prize for the first person to find the public sex in this story, because I admit it's a small part of a relatively long story. But it's definitely in there, and I'm counting it. So there. And now that I've temporarily left the kindergarten playground mentality, let me add that I started this story and then left it. For about a week. Because I was thinking, "Spike as a rentboy. Xander as a rich man. Um, Anna? That's insane." But I was the insane one, doubting Anna could pull this off. And the kicker is that this story is just a compiled series of off-the-cuff LJ pieces. Really, it isn't fair how well certain people can write. Or, no, let me rephrase that: it isn't fair that they can't spend all their time writing.

Best FF That Leaves You Making a Mental Note to Attend More Black Tie Charity Events and Keep Your Eyes Peeled: Proof and Pudding, by Aristide (does anyone have a more complete link for her?). The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. In which Jim learns that Blair is willing to fight for the title of "Kinkiest Inhabitant of the Loft." Well, if there wasn't enough public sex for you in the previous story, this one should make you feel a lot better; what we've got here is an entirely public PWP. And, really, I think you'll agree we could all use a bit more of that. If you've ever wanted to see Jim and Blair engage in inappropriate activities while wearing tuxedos and attending the Policeman's Charity Ball, well, dearheart, prepare to spontaneously combust with joy. Or something.

Best FF That Leaves You Making a Mental Note to Attend More Religious Charity Events and Keep Your Eyes Peeled: Relief, by [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. In which Ray learns that Fraser cannot resist a dare. If "Proof and Pudding" didn't persuade you that there's something unexpectedly sexy about charity events, let me offer Exhibit B. Although, really, I think these must be alternate-universe charity events, because I've attended a street fair or two in my time, and usually the most interesting thing about them is that you get to see who actually buys those pictures of big-eyed children. (Exactly who you'd expect, usually.) The sexiest it gets is the standard boy/girl teenage couple licking each other's tonsils, and, really, that wasn't that sexy even when I was in the couple. So can I buy a couple tickets to the public sex Alternate Universe? I promise my charitable contributions will increase markedly.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Today, I give you a mannered and educational nominations set in which our heroes (various) forget that they remember, and dream that they forget. Well, no. Actually, they mostly dream about sex.

Best FF That Teaches Us the Proper Way to Determine If We're Sleeping with Our Roommates, and the Improper Way to Behave Once We Remember That We Weren't: Not Exactly Funny, by Helen [livejournal.com profile] helenish. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. There was a time when I thought amnesia stories just shouldn't work. Then I read a few good ones and decided that in a skilled writer's hands amnesia could be quite effective. But now I think amnesia FF works because it's close kin to AU FF; we get to see what would happen if the characters started over. And in this story, it's especially nice to see Jim and Blair asking themselves the same question that everyone who ever saw the show must've asked - namely, how can this not be a sexual relationship?

Best FF That Teaches Us the Proper Way to Reward Your Partner for Being a Good Shot and the Improper Way of Wanting to Eat Your Partner: Throwing Shapes, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. Amnesia strikes again! Xander remembers the important stuff (like Sid Vicious, Pamela Anderson, Star Wars, and Snickers bars) and Spike forgets equally important stuff (like that, Englishman or not, he really shouldn't go out in the noonday sun). They make some unfortunate but completely understandable deductions (like that they're partners in crime, or possibly in a circus) and hilarity ensues. Wait, make that hilarity and hot sex. Because this is Anna S., after all, and she always remembers the important stuff. Note also that this story gave me a brand new motto: "I'll angst later. After my nap." Something we could all stand to remember, I think.

Best FF That Teaches Us the Proper Way to Thank Our Friends for Bringing Us Good News and the Improper Way of Riding a Broomstick: Aphasia, by [livejournal.com profile] rhoddlet. Harry Potter, Harry/Ron. Sometimes you need to forget some things to get where you need to be. Or, to put it another way, in slash stories, you can count on certain things, like that having aphasia will turn out to be an excellent way of getting in touch with your inner gayboy. And if it doesn't usually work that way in real life? Well, that's why we love fan fiction, folks. This story also demonstrates that aphasia (not to mention fan fiction) can, on occasion, be surprisingly innocent and sweet.

Best FF That Teaches Us the Proper Way to Handle Sudden Changes in Sexual Orientation and the Improper (but Fun) Way of Coping When Your Partner Kisses Your Sister: Baresark, by Laura Jacquez Valentine. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Ray actually sounds to me like he might've had aphasia in the canon; at least, lots of people seem to write him as mildly aphasic. But, as we've seen before, forgetfulness of any kind is no obstacle to finding true love. And, in the spirit of "I'll angst later. After my nap," Ray copes with a sudden urge to hop into bed with his partner with style and grace and about four seconds' concentrated thought. Apparently that's just not as difficult a decision as we thought. At least, not when your partner is Benton Fraser.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The first-time story is so common in FF that it's a cliche. Much less common is the long-time story, an episode in an established relationship. I suppose, in a way, I can understand the preference for first-times; the drama and emotion and sexiness is all there on the surface. But my heart really belongs to the long-times - the glimpses at what love looks like after one year, or two years, or ten, or twenty. And these stories are my favorites in that genre.

Best FF That Reminds Us That It Isn't the First Step That's the Hardest, It's the First Year: Habitation, by livia. Galaxy Quest, Fred Kwan/Laliari. Yes, it's het. But it's interspecies het, which helps raise the perv factor a bit. And yes, I am nominating a fan fiction story based on a movie that wonderfully skewers fandom and fannish behavior, and yes, there is some irony there. So, now that we've covered the mandatory objections, would you please go read this story right now now now? Because it is just so right, people, no matter how wrong it also is. This is FF at its best. Because, see, every marriage is marriage to alien creature. The marriage becomes real when you've become a species of two. (Help! Went too deep! Drowning in metaphor and simile! Send friendly, intelligent, anthropomorphic dolphin to save me and teach me important lessons about friendship!)

Best FF That Reveals Some Shocking Inside Information about the Magical Publishing World: Who Wrote the Book*, by Canis M.. Harry Potter, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin. HP established-relationship stories tend to feature endings - deaths, breakups, betrayals. And that's no surprise; in Rowling's world, it's hard to imagine a happy future, because everything's so hazy. Even assuming both halves of a couple do survive, it's hard to know how things will be in that still-nebulous Time After Voldemort. (Tell you what, though; I'd love to see a long-time story about Ron and Hermione with a houseful of kids. I'm convinced Ron would be another Molly and Hermione would be just like Arthur.) What I love about "Who Wrote" (yes, there was an actual nomination here - scan back up if you've forgotten) is the glimpse of Remus and Sirius without the Shadow of Doom; the SoD has come to permeate all FF about these two. I prefer to think of this as the start to an AU world, where Peter was caught, Sirius stayed free, and Harry went to live with Remus and Sirius.

Best FF That Explains the Wily Inner Workings of the Canine Mind: Likewise, by AuKestrel (no link for her, sorry). Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. I realize that this story may be too sweet for some people. But to me, it's a remarkable example of the long-time story; this is what it's really like when ten years have passed and it's still good. I smile whenever I read this. And, hey, she quotes my favorite REM song at the end, so the story must be good, right? (Note for the grammar-fixated, my sisters in pedantry: the comma splices must imitate the voice of Kowalski on the show. I've read other stories by this author, and she doesn't write like that most of the time, so it's a stylistic choice. Take a deep breath and go with it for a bit. I think you'll find it works.) This is just a nice look at the happier, mellower future editions of Ray and Benton, and I for one think they totally deserve this fate.

Best FF That Will Enhance Your Tolerance by Making You Wonder, the Next Time You See an Intergenerational Couple, If One of Them Is a Vampire: At a Glance, by Dira Sudis, aka [livejournal.com profile] dsudis. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. I've said vampire/human relationships can't work in the Buffy world, and I stand by that. But Dira Sudis has somehow found the best-case scenario here. And then some. I found myself wanting to buy into this version of Spike and Xander. I even found myself formulating strange theories to explain their relationship. ("Hmmm. Maybe they share a soul?") This is a Buffyfic that manages to be touching without angst, that is realistic and yet (I think) in canon. My early survey of this fandom shows that that is about as rare as the Questing Beast, so enjoy this one. Even if the ending is a bit ambiguous.

-Honorable Mentions (i.e., Previously-Nominated Stories That I Can't Shut up About)-

Best FF That Answers the Question "What Do You Do With an Aging Superhero?" (Take Him to Rural Areas.): I Still Believe, by Dasha (sorry, no link for her). The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. This is my favorite Sentinel story, so much so that for a while after I found this one I stopped reading in the fandom altogether. This story resolves everything so well that it made every other story seemed superfluous. I got over that, luckily for my self-image as an obsessed multi-fandom reader (for as a dog returneth to his vomit, so does this fan fiction reader return to her old fandoms), but I still re-read this one from time to time. It's wonderful.

Best FF That Answers the Question "What Do You Do With an Aging Dwarf?" (Take Him to Valinor.): Sky as Grey as Your Heart, by afrai. Lord of the Rings, Legolas/Gimli. This one is another essentially perfect long-time love story. And it converted me to a pairing I'd previously hated, canon or not. So if you've been avoiding this one - and you'd have to be not to have read it by now, 'cause it's been rec'd everywhere - now would be a good time to try something new. And if you've read it before, why not read it again? It'll give you something to remember the next time you read a story about Legolas weeping for the lost love of Aragorn and writing bad poetry ("To a Lost King" and "Sweet Man-Kisses" by Legolas Fangirl Greenleaf) and embracing his pillow at night.

-Footnote-

* Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] switchknife for her merciless pimping and helpful, custom-fit recommendations. This woman is determined to drag me kicking and screaming into the deep end of HP fiction, and of course I love her for it. Though I imagine my loved ones are wanting to have a few words with her right about now.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
There's funny fan fiction, with jokes and happy endings and true love forever. Sometimes it's great stuff. But I'm not nominating any of that today.

There's angsty fan fiction, featuring angst and tears (sometimes manfully surpressed, sometimes wept into pillows) and angst and I will never confess it, but I love you, I love you and then more angst. And then someone has a dream (75% of the time it's wet, 25% it's a nightmare), and then there's either tortured kissing or more angst, but usually both. And sometimes someone almost dies, or, in the case of certain fandoms, actually does die.I'm not nominating that kind of FF today, either. Thank god.

No, today's set showcases the grittier side of life, FF-style. If happy endings and light hearts are your thing, let me direct you to the previous entry, but if you can stand the sour, the bitter, and the uppercut to the jaw, read on.

Best FF That Proves That Things Can Always Be Worse, and Then Proves It Again, with Added Squalor: Modus Vivendi, by wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. File this one under "Cruelty to Xander" and go with it. The story begins with Xander getting the holy shit beaten out of him, and then things really start to go bad. "Modus" actually has an almost sort of moderately happy ending, in that all canon characters survive the story; if you finish this and you're aching for more aching (or more great writing), check out the alternate ending, Ars Moriendi, which shows that, when it comes to bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. And yet - this story is so good. The author gets that human/vampire relationships can't work, and she makes us get it, too. She makes Spike and Xander so real that I finished the story - both endings - desperately wishing things could be better for the guys, even though I knew they couldn't. I bought into this story completely and love it entirely. Of course, that just makes the whole thing hurt more.

Best FF That Teaches You to Beware of Staircases and Watch Your Step on Crime Scenes: Stop Whispering, by grit kitty. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Here, grit kitty tackles one of those weird fandom conventions; in Sentinel fan fiction, homophobia doesn't exist. Or it does, but only in the same way that sneezes exist; they happen, they go away quickly, and they have no real effect on anything. But Jim's a cop, and cops are not famed for their cheerful acceptance of their colleagues' alternative lifestyles. In this one, grit kitty plays out a very realistic, rather grim scenario, in which Jim and Blair out themselves and things go about halfway to hell. I love that no one is entirely clean here. I also love that grit kitty keeps things from reeling off the edge of "unpleasant" straight into "overdone angst," and that she manages to patch things up without making them any less real. Also, check out the three-dimensional Simon in this story; a human Simon is a rare bird indeed.

Best FF That Reminds You Why You Never, Never Want to Be 15 Again, Unless You Actually Are 15, in Which Case It's Bound to Have Some Other Salutary Effect: Practicing for the Ballet, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. Harry Potter, Harry/Draco. H/D is one of those pairings I just can't wrap my head around, mostly because I can't let go of the canon. (Entry #1 on the list called "Why It's Better to Read FF When You Don't Know the Canon.") The distance between fanon Draco and canon Draco is the distance between two universes, and the distance between Harry and Draco in the canon is, well, about half as far. So when Harry and Draco are falling all over each other, I'm cringing, waiting for the knife in the back. Penknife apparently is, too. This, folks, is exactly what it's like to be 15 and having bad sex with someone you hate; when you're in that situation, all you can do is decide whether you'll be like Harry or like Draco.

Best FF That Isn't So Bad in Any Particular and Yet Leaves You with an Overwhelming Feeling of Impending Disaster: When She Walks in the Room, by [livejournal.com profile] wax_jism. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Ah, Wax Jism. Every time I read a story of hers, she rewrites my brain. Sometimes it's for the best - you don't hear me whining about Bobby/St. John anymore, and that's at least 75% WJ's fault - and sometimes it's, well, not. This is one of those "not" stories. See, with Due South FF, I want a happy ending. I am totally convinced the characters need and deserve a happy ending, because from what I can tell, they were royally reamed in the canon. (For more on this topic, see Fandoms I Have Loved, coming soon to this blog right here.) And until I read this story, I was convinced they could have their happy ending. Now, I'm not so sure. WJ should come with a warning label. And that, of course, is why I love her.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Run in fear - it's kidfic! Kidfic is the slightly-saner older sibling of MPreg. The men don't get pregnant. They just rear, or care for, a child. And, yes, it can be horrible and desecrating and nauseatingly sweet - diabetics are strongly cautioned - but sometimes it works very well. Of course, I now believe that there's no horrible fan fiction subgenre or theme that can't work in the hands of a sufficiently talented author. (I think I realized this around the time I found myself actually nominating an MPreg story.)

Best FF That Will Make You Think Twice - and Then Three Times, and Then Send You Out on a Drinking Binge - Before You Decide to Be a Foster Parent: With Six You Get Eggroll, by speranza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser, Stella Kowalski/Ray Vecchio. This, my friends, is the end-all be-all of kidfic; apparently Ray and Fraser just can't do things by halves, because they end up with six kids in about the amount of time it takes me to commit to a toaster. Speranza takes this whole concept three times around the dance floor, in the process introducing us to some of the more realistic kids I've encountered in FF. She also makes some interesting and believable guesses about how these guys would do as parents. In a way, that's actually one of the best things about kidfic; it's similar to AU fic in that it shows us the essence of the characters by changing their circumstances. Please note that some readers may find parts of "Eggroll" a bit sweet. I did myself, actually. But the humor and the situation make it all worthwhile.

Best FF That May Send You Scurrying for Additional Birth Control Options (and, If You Are Male, Induce Some Thoughtful Back-Dating): Another Mode of Belonging, by grit kitty. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. This story fills a need I didn't even realize this canon had. See, the essence of TS is that Jim pretty much co-opts Blair. Seriously. Blair ends up doing Jim's work, living in Jim's house, coping with Jim's senses. And then, in the last episode, Blair loses the last vestiges of his own life. After I read "Belonging," I realized that parity could only be achieved by having some part of Blair's life overtake Jim. And that's exactly what grit kitty has happening here. Best part of this story is definitely Jim's mixed emotions and reactions to the presence of Blair's kid in his life; I don't think this could get any more realistic.

Best FF Featuring a Chase Scene in Which One Party Is Encumbered, Not to Mention Ensmelled, by a Baby: Not My Baby, by [livejournal.com profile] dsudis. Buffy the Vampire Slayer*, gen. Unfortunate spell hijinks result in a baby version of Dawn. Spike steps in as vampire-dad-for-a-day (well, night, really) and copes with various problems both mundane and, um, smelly. This story will be especially good for those of you who have long believed that people with young children are pretty much undead anyway; you'll be able to see a blood-sucker instead of a zombie in the parent role for a change.

Best FF That Makes Me Want to Send Angry Comments to the Author Deploring Her Apparent Desire to Destroy Every Last Standard I Have Ever Had: Five Things That Never Happened: The World Turned Upside Down, by shalott, aka [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Master & Commander, Aubrey/Maturin. Did I promise there would be no MPreg in this set? I certainly did not. Though, in fact, this is not technically MPreg. It's genderswitch. After all, the person who gets pregnant is functionally female. The curse of shalott rides again; this is an abhorrent idea and I'm embarrassed I read it, let alone nominated it, but, um, it's, well...good. Look, blame her, OK? I only read what others write. Be aware that in addition to genderswitching, an odd version of MPreg, and a serious AU, this story also contains het. After a fashion. And I flatly refuse to say any more about it; read it, and then we can all pretend this nomination never happened.

-Footnotes-

* Please note that I am warily dipping my toes in the BtVS fandom yet again. Every previous excursion has ended with me waving my hands around and saying, "How the hell am I supposed to understand this? I don't have time to get a freaking doctorate in Buffylore!" This time, though, my Best Beloved has nobly volunteered to watch the whole series and then teach me the basics. I'm hoping this will, in time, allow me to know the canon and love the fandom**, but right now I've just gotten started and BB is only on season two. So what I'm saying is, essentially, any BtVS I nominate may or may not be in character or in canon, 'cause right now I barely know the names of the major players, and I wouldn't know a canon deviation if it bit Buffy on the neck.

** What is the fandom? Love is the fandom. What is the fandom? The fandom is death. Sorry, sorry, but I couldn't resist.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I try to avoid the seriously squicky in my FF rambles; I think we all do. But sometimes I start reading a story, realize it's going to be squicky, and then realize I'm going to have to finish it anyway. These are stories that made me keep reading through the skeeve.

These stories all have a serious squick factor, at least for me. I've got a fairly low tolerance for this stuff, so some people will probably find them tame, but I sure didn't. The stories also have redeeming aspects, things that might make the discomfort of reading them worthwhile, which is why I'm putting them here. Let nomination in this category serve as a warning to those with weak stomachs: don't even think of reading these stories.

I don't warn in this blog, but this nominations set is going to be an exception. And I don't cut away in nomination posts, but again, this set is an exception. And I try to be amusing in most of my nominations, but you know what? Exception.

All Hope of Happy Fic Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here )

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