thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
And, frankly, I'm going to need the comfort. I will be spending the next week - seven glorious days! - shut in a very expensive hotel room (five minutes away from where I live) with two large dogs, one of whom does not like new things and howls if you leave him alone for any reason whatsoever, and the other of whom is going to view this as the best thing that has ever happened to her, and also terrify the housekeepers. And who has an unholy ability to manipulate new environments to her advantage.

I - I know I'll get through this. And worse things happen every day, and some of them have even happened to me, and there's a time when we'll all look back on this and laugh. (That time, I predict, will be when we are on massive medication overdoses.) It's just that right now, my near future is looking to be kind of unpleasant, especially given everything I have to do to be ready for this adventure. And there's also the fact that I expect to be hearing bad news no later than this Friday, when I will be already fairly unhappy, on account of, you know, spending a week trapped in a hotel room. With insane dogs.

Seriously. Odds that I will survive this? At least 99%, and I know it, and that's a very good thing. Odds that I will survive this with my dignity and sanity intact? So vanishingly small that I might actually hit the "it's a one-in-a-million shot, but it just might work!" exclusion.

Obviously, the thing to do right now is ignore all the things I have to get done today, not to mention my impending doom, and recommend some happy-making stories. And I don't know about you, but there's nothing that makes me happier than fan fiction cliches put to good use. (I think we all know what I mean by "good use," too. Oh, hush, I do not only think about sex. Just, you know. Sometimes. And one of the stories I'm about to rec is basically gen, so there.)

On to the fan fiction, then. And if anyone has any suggestions for surviving my immediate future - things to read, games that can be played in a hotel room you can't leave (ideally involving two large dogs in a way that will keep them quiet), breathing exercises, pocket universes where time passes more quickly that I could escape to - I'm entirely ready to hear them.

In the meantime, cliches. Which I dig. (And, OMG, someone please send me the link for the Canada shirts - I saw one a week ago, and it was profoundly awesome.)

The One That Reveals at Least Two Great Truths. One of Them Is That in Any Group of Teenagers, You Have More Repressed Sexual Overtones Than You Can Shake a Stick At. The Other I Leave As an Exercise for the Reader. Game Theory, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men, gen. (And some might question me calling it gen, but, well. This story does indeed have all kinds of subtext, just gallons of it in fact, but so did every variation of this game I ever played. Which was an unfortunate number of them. Oh my god, I am so grateful to be done with adolescence I can't even begin to tell you. I would rather spend the rest of my life trapped in a hotel room bored out of my skull with two even more bored dogs than spend a single week back as a teenager, and I mean that. I mean, given time and the test, I'm sure I can think of lots of fun things to do with complimentary toiletries.)

So. As you will already have gathered, this is about a party game (which means it's also about a form of culturally-mandated torture, in my opinion); the game is Truth or Dare, which is something of a cliche in fan fiction and in real life. As a veteran of it in real life, I can tell you that, in my experience, it takes a maximum of three rounds for the game to get either boring or mean, unless everyone is intoxicated, in which case it gets either silly or mean.

It was kind of inevitable, given the players here - Marie, Jubilee, John, Bobby, Kitty, and Peter (which I initially mistyped as "Petter" - oh, I am going to have to proofread this entry really closely, I can already see that) - that this would go the dangerous route. And it does, in a way that is so perfectly in character and so perfectly adolescent that I seriously cringe in memory every time I read this.

But that's only half of what I love about this story. (Yes, I love the cringing, in this particular case. What's not to love about a story that reminds you of all the reasons you should give thanks every day that you grew up?) The other half is Kitty's perspective. Penknife's Kitty is the smart, observant, and socially, um, limited girl many of us were back in our teen years. Except she quite literally has the ability to sink through the floor. I tell you, there were times, especially in middle school, when I would've sold my soul to be able to do that. Or to turn invisible. Either one. So for me, this is like revisiting my teen years, except that no one is tripping or having sex, everyone has mutant abilities, and I can get out whenever I want to. How could that be other than awesome?

The One That - Well, I'm Not Sure. Either It Proves That a True Bat Will Go to Any Lengths for Useful Knowledge, or It Proves That a True Bat Is a Vaguely Repressed and Very Twisty Fucker. You Make the Call! Things We Have Never Done, by [ profile] derryderrydown. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson/Roy Harper, with minor Garfield Logan/Victor Stone.

Another great party game cliche is Never Have I Ever, also called I Have Never. We all know how this is played (and if you don't, this story explains it, although what you do with that knowledge is of course up to you), and we all know that in a mixed-sex group, if "I have never had sex with a [person of a given sex]" hasn't made its ordained-by-the-petty-minded-gods-of-party-games appearance within three rounds, then everyone playing has some practical experience with bisexuality. Need I explain why this is such a popular concept in slash fiction? No. No, I need not, because you all have brains in your heads. (Also, many of you have been there. Greetings, fellow unfortunate-sexual-decisions-following-drinking-games alumni! The fruit plate is over there.)

But what I do need to explain, maybe, is why I love this cliche so damn much. See, because - you can't just start out the story with the "I have never had sex with [whatever]." Or I guess you can, but I, for one, would feel cheated. Because the great lure here - aside from the sex, which, yes, yay - is the stuff that comes first. I just love seeing what people think of for characters to have done. And not done. (Actually, I love this so much that one of my favorite I Have Never stories on earth is a gen one, if you can believe that, and there are several other stories I love all the way up to the Obligatory Sexual History Reveal.)

Derry does a spectacular job with that, here, coming up with what I think may be one of the meanest "I have never" statements ever devised for the superheroes of the DCU, and also dealing very nicely with the problem of having a player who has done everything, which is quite a challenge in the DCU fandom.*

So, you know, I am a very happy camper (...okay, reader) with this story, even before we get to Dick and Roy and the cocksucking lessons. Which I think is more than a sufficient explanation of why you need to read this story immediately. Party games! Happy campers! Cocksucking lessons! ...Oh my god, I just - I just almost made a terrifying Scouting joke. Save me from myself, people.

The One That Proves That Ancient Technology Is Hard on the Repressed. And Even Harder on Sudden Inexplicable Frogs. Straight As a Circle, by [ profile] toomuchplor. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, John Sheppard/Kate Heightmeyer. (Warning: minor squicks for embarrassment and animal harm. People, I promise you, you won't care. It's that awesome. Also, you'll know when to skim, if need be.)

I'm pretty sure everyone even remotely interested in this fandom has already read this, but I had to recommend it anyway, because this is the most awesome cliche use in the whole history of fandom. John Sheppard wakes up straight. I mean, if that doesn't make you clap your hands and squeal like a little girl, then - hey, there's medication that can help you. Look into it.

It's got everything an SGA fangirl could want: John Sheppard being repressed and very, very gay, Ancient technology being obstreperous and very, very difficult, and native persons being inscrutable and very, very stubborn. Plus Rodney McKay being, you know, Rodney. And also handling a difficult situation with surprising grace, which is something I love about him that doesn't get showcased too often. (Yes, he also fucks up difficult situations sometimes. But it's not like that is rare in this canon.) I think my favorite part of this, though, is - well. Okay. You know how genderswap stories often have, at least in part, a "Hey, human sexuality really is much more of a continuum than I'd previously imagined!" resolution? This totally turns that on its head, and I just love how this whole concept forces John to - well, deal with his issues.

And, yes. I firmly believe it would take a massive lifestyle change, meddling Ancient technology, and a skilled psychiatrist - plus a lot of patience on everyone's part - for him to begin to do that. He's not, as far as I can tell, exactly the "I enjoy processing my issues to achieve a higher state of consciousness" kind of guy. More of a "Let's just repress this and with any luck I'll die before I have to think about it, okay?" guy. And I love that. But I also love the sneaky things fan fiction writers do to get him past that. And this - this is gorgeous sneakiness of a very high and refined order.

The One That Proves That the Key to Drinking with Others Is Knowing When to Flee to a Distant Part of the Bar, and When to Lock Yourself in a Bathroom and Wait for the Climax. So to Speak. Getting off on a Technicality, by [ profile] nestra. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall.

If I had to write a list of My Personal Sports Night Canon, some of the entries would probably look like this. (Although, sadly, there would be lots of others. I have Theories. Oh, do I have ever have Theories. Also Opinions.)
  • Danny and Casey are destined to be together. No, really. It is fate. And it is very important. Do not fuck with the Danny and Casey together forever thing.

  • Kim can be evil, but evil can be a force for good. The same can be said of Natalie and Dana, and if that makes you wonder about Aaron Sorkin - um. Probably it should, but that's a whole other list.

  • Jeremy is the world's greatest living example of the innocent bystander. It's like what he was born to be.

  • The people of Sports Night spend about 15 hours a day together, at least five days a week, working under stressful conditions. Alcohol is often involved. If you don't think untoward things happen there from time to time, you may not have a clear understanding of how humans work; some remedial research is indicated.
And, see, I'm not sure if those items would make my list because of my knowledge of canon (and I actually do have some, which is something I'm so proud of you cannot even begin to imagine it), or because of, well, this story.

Because, wow. Nestra hits those notes so beautifully she might as well have written this story because of a future me zooming back in time to force people to write fan fiction that I knew I'd want to read. (And, yes. Given a time machine, I would so totally do that. Don't even claim you wouldn't, either.) Of course, if that's how it happened, Future Me was probably crazed and unwashed and just muttering, "Sports Night! Kissing! Dan! Casey!" And Nestra, alarmed but very much on her game, pulled out something brilliant that she'd already written. Because one thing Future Me has probably forgotten (on account of tragic time-travel-related insanity - or possibly just trapped-in-hotel-room insanity; we have no idea when I'm going to start my jaunt into the past, after all) is that you can't force awesomeness. And this is awesome.

The cliche, by the way, is a dare. (Yes, we started with a dare, and we're ending with one. I think we should take a moment to meditate on the beauty of that, because frankly with my writing actual coherent closure doesn't happen all that often.) And Kim is doing the daring. So, of course, Dan and Casey are fucked. (In all senses of the word.)


* Although the ultimate challenge there, I think, would be having Methos in an I Have Never game. I mean, Methos says, "I have never died," and everyone at the table protests, and he makes it, "I have never died permanently, then - you all knew what I meant." Of course, nobody drinks.

The next round, Methos can say either, "I have never given birth" or "I have never had children." And if it's an all-Immortal game, no one drinks then, either.

Basically, Methos is the guaranteed pass round of I Have Never, because if he's never done it, neither has anyone else. Oh, I guess at a multi-fandom table you could have him say something like, "I've never been to another planet," at which point John Sheppard, Teal'c, and Clark Kent all drink. But, failing multiple crossovers selected with extreme care, Methos's turn is a built-in opportunity for everyone to sober up just enough to discuss some of the things he did drink on. ("I - with the goat. I didn't think he'd drink there." "You didn't? Fool. But my question - I mean, when in god's name did he detonate a nuclear device?")
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So. Someone on my friends list linked to the YouTube clip about the T.S. Eliot Equation, and I realized it could be used to prove three things about me:
  1. I won't have any cats in my old age, because zero divided by anything is always zero. This is good, because I am tragically allergic to cats.

  2. I won't live to be old, because some right-thinking citizen will throttle me before then. I can best explain this via a conversation I had upon viewing the YouTube clip.

    Me: But...okay, I get the concept, and yet. Well. Shouldn't the number of exclamation points be an intensifying rather than a mitigating factor?
    BB: What?
    Me: Because if you divide by the number of exclamation points, then that reduces the total number of cats. Whereas obviously more exclamation points should increase the total number of cats, and -
    BB: Are you arguing the terms of an equation from a YouTube comedy clip?
    Me, quietly: I just think it's important to be accurate, and that's obviously inaccurate, because -
    BB, loudly: I said, are you arguing the terms of an equation from a YouTube comedy clip?
    Me, very quietly: Possibly.
    [There is a long silence.]
    BB: Oh my god. Do you hear yourself?
    [There is another long silence in which I reflect upon my life to date.]
    Me: ...Maybe I need a hobby.

  3. I need to post. Yes, I had my usual December quietness, induced by Yuletide + work + seasonal depression, but obviously if I want to live through this year, never mind to a (sadly cat-free) old age, I need a hobby. One that doesn't involve critiquing YouTube math. And, as it turns out, I already have a hobby: fan fiction! It's time to get in touch with my hobby again, ideally before the person who throttles me is Best Beloved.
So, courtesy of the math in some guy's YouTube comedy bit, here I bring you: crossovers.

Yeah. That transition sucked, but in my defense: a) I think you'll find, if you think about it, that there is no possible good transition there, so I can hardly be blamed for not finding it, b) I have to get this post done before I turn into a Crazy Pedant Lady, which is much much worse than a Crazy Cat Lady, and c) I'm sick, so I am excused from having to have smooth transitions and polished prose and stuff. (No, really. I have a note and everything.)

That said, shall we get right to the crossovers?

The One That Features Draco Malfoy in a Cage and Yet Is Somehow Still Gen. Five Have a Magical Time, by [ profile] lazy_neutrino. Harry Potter x Enid Blyton's Famous Five, gen.

I - I don't know if other people will react to this one the way I did. (My reaction, for the record, was laughter interspersed with broken sobs, because I was obsessed with the Famous Five books in my youth, people, and they read just like this, and oh my god I've wasted my entire life.) You pretty much need to have spent three years of your childhood hiding in your closet with a flashlight and a stack of Famous Five books.

Yes. I was just that cool as a kid. Fear me.

But I think even if you had a more normal childhood - one featuring light and good literature and a total lack of lashings of ginger beer, a phrase that can still cause my entire right side to cramp up from phantom flashlight-holding pain - you can enjoy this. Just know that [ profile] lazy_neutrino has hit the style of the Famous Five so perfectly that I would actually suspect her of being the reincarnation of Enid Blyton if that wasn't such a horrible thing to say about a person who clearly a) is a very talented writer and b) spent much of her childhood in the same kind of thrall I did, and therefore has suffered enough.

And, of course, the Harry Potter elements are perfect. I just - I love this brilliant (smashing!) clash of two subgenres of British children's literature (the magical and the Blyton, and yes, Blyton is entirely deserving of her own subgenre), and the way the Harry Potter world looks through the eyes of the Famous Five, and, well, every flashback-to-my-unfortunate-youth-inducing word of the narrative.

Bonus: after re-reading this, I felt a lot better about my need to argue YouTube math, because obviously I was broken from the start. Which means I can blame my parents. Or, possibly, Enid Blyton. Both are, obviously, excellent choices that take the burden of normalcy off me. And that, my friends, is the key to mental health.

The One That Is Perfectly Timed for Post-Holiday Reading, Since It Will Make You Feel Good About How Functional and Healthy Your Family Is. Really. The Gods Might Offer Gifts, by [ profile] iseult_variante. Supernatural x American Gods, gen.

I think it's safe to say you'll enjoy this story if you know either fandom. I don't know Supernatural (well, beyond what I pick up from vids, which is: two brothers, a car, and a woman in plastic wrap taped to the ceiling, plus a lot of scary stuff that means I could never, ever watch the show) at all, but I totally got this. And, going by the comments, people who don't know American Gods also love this story.

Of course, if you love Supernatural, I have to wonder why you don't know American Gods, because you'd probably love it, for the same reason that this crossover is such a fucking brilliant idea. (Brilliantly executed, too, let me just add.) Both canons address similar themes, albeit in a different way, and they are just such a natural fit that I am now wondering where the Dean/Shadow is. Or the John/Loki. (Oh, come on, I can't be the only person thinking that.)

But if there's only going to be one Supernatural x American Gods crossover, I'm glad this was it, because this is so damn perfect. [ profile] iseult_variante picked just the right characters, just the right moment, and just the right themes - oh my god, people, this hits my family complications kink so hard that I think it might actually have broken it - and does it all so well that it looks easy. Which it manifestly is not.

Bonus: I'm glad I re-read this one immediately after Five Have a Magical Time, because I now feel better about my childhood. I mean, okay, I was a weird, closet-dwelling (ha ha ha - no, literally), book-obsessed little troll, but obviously that is, in the grand scheme of things, both normal and healthy. (No one should point out that neither of the families in this story are ideal barometers of mental health, okay? Let me be pleased with my newfound normalcy.)

The One That Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Concept of Teyla's People. X, by [ profile] trinityofone. Stargate: Atlantis x X-Men, gen.

This one you can definitely follow if you only know one canon or the other, but if you know both, it is so very wonderful that I would recommend acquiring whichever canon you don't know (or, hell, both canons) just so you can obtain full enjoyment of it. [ profile] trinityofone does an incredible job of fusing these canons, of mapping the X-verse onto the Gateverse; every time I read this, I experience a vague sense of shock when I finish it and realize, oh, right, this isn't canon. They don't actually have these powers and they aren't actually these people.

But if they were. Oh, god, I would faint from glee. Seriously. I might even die: first ever fannishness-induced implosion. Because it is so right.

If by some chance you haven't read this story (and, really, I don't see how anyone could have missed it, but just in case), I don't want to spoil it for you - the slow reveal is part of the joy of this, figuring out how things fit together and what's going on. I will say, though, that I have special and unholy glee for Zelenka's, um, form in this - the only thing that could have been better is if he'd been Beast. (Oh, god, who is Beast in this universe? Is there anyone awesome enough?)

And now I'm going to shut up, because, really, I am bouncing with eagerness to spoil this whole story for you, all, "And then - and also - and oh my god, you will not even believe but it's so -" Obviously I need to be quiet. Now.

Bonus: I think a few of you know that I am a recovering X-Addict. So many of us went through these little stages in college, and I was not immune. But because I got my sex and drugs and rough-approximation-of-music issues out of the way in high school (a total time-saver, but nonetheless not recommended unless you have excellent mental health coverage), I was left with nothing but geekiness to explore in college. I'd like to say, oh, there was this boy, and it was his fault, and I was totally innocent, but I know damn well I can't shift the blame on this one. It was my inner fan emerging, and she bought every damn comic book that had an X on it. Those of you who have been there will understand what this translates to, in terms of dollars, shame, and square feet of our guest room consumed by long boxes. My point is: this story made it all worth it. It made my heart glad. It also kind of made me want to relapse, but I am stronger than that.

I hope.

The One That Proves That Observer Bias Was Alive and Well and Living in Pseudo-Ancient Greece. Hercules ex Machina, by [ profile] falzalot. Hercules: the Legendary Journeys x The Bible, gen.

This one you can read with only a vague knowledge of both canons. Yes, I am actually the only person I know who hasn't read the Bible. It's - I tried, okay? All I remember is that there was a chapter that was a lot like that one chapter of the Iliad that lists all the ships everyone brought: just an endless series of people begetting other people, is what I recall. It broke me. (The potluck chapter of the Iliad - "And Ajax of Salamis brought a tasty casserole that served twelve," or whatever it was - didn't break me, but I was a lot older. Also, it was required reading. That helped. And, um, do I need to mention the extremely motivating slash factor? No. I thought not.)

So. Hercules and the Bible. You can see why I chose this as the fourth perfect-fit crossover, right? Hercules: set in ancient times, all about gods. The Bible: set in ancient times, all about God. And, as far as I can tell, the Hercules canon is all about running roughshod through every god-related story on the planet (plus the occasional disco, for which I have still not found an adequate explanation that doesn't involve illegal chemicals in the drinking water), so why not a run-in with, well, I'm not going to say. The beauty of this story, for me, is the moment when it goes off the rails: you're not expecting a crossover, and then suddenly whoops! You're in the Bible. It's fabulous.

Plus, I love the way Hercules reacts to his situation, which is both very Hercules and very appropriate. And, most of all, I love that none of this really merits a blink. Sure, there's the occasional complaint, but this isn't actually different than your average day in the lives of Hercules and Iolaus, professional monsterbait.

Which is, of course, why it's a perfect crossover.

Not Actually a Bonus: I should never have brought up the Iliad in close conjunction with Hercules. I see this now, but it's too late. I'm already picturing Hercules and Iolaus encountering Achilles and Patroclus. (Which, huh, I guess they pretty much could have. Did they?) My head is ground zero of a very unfortunate crossover that involves a hell of a lot of pouting, people. Yikes.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Amazing and Wonderfully Kindly One,

Thank you for the Frank-o-Lantern! I would offer a story in return, but, well. I can't. So instead I will give a gift in your honor. (And if you want to suggest a recs set theme or something, my comments are here for you.)

Much love and many happy returns of the season,

Dear Ants,

Fuck the fuck off. My house is not your house. No, not even a tiny part. No, not even if it's cold and moist outside, because - look, I'm sure it sucks to be an ant, but if you want a nice warm house to keep you safe from moisture, develop your own technological society and get your own mortgage.

Also, stop whining about moisture. We live in Los Angeles. It's a fucking desert. If you can't cope with this level of water in your environment, move to Mars. You will not be missed.

Please consider this as your final eviction notice before I poison you hideously ha ha ha,

Dear Symantec,

Do you - do you hate customers? Or is this some sort of incredibly comical performance art type prank? Or are you maybe, just maybe, run by evil troglodytes with mud for brains? Because I find your insistence that I run Internet Explorer, aka the least safe browser on the planet, in order to use your webstore to buy a subscription to update my anti-virus definitions to be - well, somewhat nonsensical, in the same way that setting my own toes on fire because I might soon have a headache would be nonsensical.

Also, if you want to outsource your CS, fine. That is your choice. But if you cannot find people who can accurately transcribe addresses after not one but three repetitions, thus resulting in the delivery of my product - which I had to order by phone, because see above in re: IE, and how I would not be at all sorry if someone set your toes on fire - to some random address to be signed for by some other random person, and fourteen email exchanges before I even managed to get my money refunded, then perhaps you should think about how the C in CS stands for "customer," not "crappy."

Off to see if some other anti-virus software vendor wants my money and is willing to take it via Opera or Firefox,

Dear [ profile] daegaer,

Thank you. I think. Because the snippets of my imaginary fandom were gorgeous and wonderful and seeing it in text was perhaps the strangest kick of my life - and I'm including my teenage years in that - but now I am writing stories about it myself. Many of them. This can only end badly. Especially since you write one of the main characters far better than I do.

Love, hate, and authorial convenience,

As you may have guessed from the above, it is time for a hearty round of document-related stories - specifically, letters. And their ilk.

The One That Proves That Your Mother Was Right When She Told You Not to Put It in Writing. (Well, My Mother Told Me That, Anyway. And She Was Right. Because Telepaths and Schoolkids Could Be Reading It.) Repair, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men movieverse, Scott Summers/Jean Grey.

This one is going to feel deeply, deeply familiar to anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship. And I'm not restricting that to romantic relationships, either; I think any not-precisely-fight-but-definitely-not-a-non-fight with anyone you've known for a very, very long time works like this. (Although, for your sake, I hope yours have ended better than this one does; it ends on kind of a hopeful note, yes, but - well. Only kind of.) Familiar as it is, though, we can all learn an important lesson from this: do not make innocent faucets the victims in your semi-fights. They don't need to suffer.

Also, if you live in a building housing many people, including the occasional telepath, remember that Miss Manners, if she was an entirely different kind of person than she is, would tell you that there are two things you should keep decently behind closed doors: fighting and fucking. Your fellow residents do not need to know about your orgasms, your arguments, or your arguments with the people who give you orgasms.

My college experience would have been greatly improved if other people had followed this simple rule. (Frankly, I'd rather they'd covered this in freshman orientation than how to buy books. Why would you be in college if you didn't know how to buy books? But almost no one knew how to live with a person not a relative, do laundry, or cook food. Were those topics covered? No.) And I'm sure the people at Xavier's School for the Mutant Arts or whatever it's called are wishing Scott and Jean would follow it, too. (Probably loud enough for Jean to hear. I would. If she's going to go be telepathic all over the place, by god I'm going to make my thoughts as embarrassing and unpleasant for her as possible. Not that I have, you know, telepathophobia or anything.)

The One in Which We Learn That Peace of Mind Isn't Possible When Lex Luthor Has Your Email Address. Of Epistles and Epiphanies, by [ profile] nifra_idril. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.

It was once said of Dave Lister that when he got drunk, he really got drrrrr-unk, and all he did was end up broke, diseased, and 793 million miles from home. Lex Luthor would naturally not do anything that simple. Well. I mean. If he woke up broke, diseased, passportless, and in the wrong part of the solar system, it'd take him about two weeks to get home, and he'd conquer the solar system as a byproduct. So obviously he can't go with the tried-and-true for his drunk fuck-ups. No, Lex - if Lex is going to do something stupid, it's going to involve Clark.

In this case, it involves writing the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Clark and then sending the email. The story is about Clark's reaction to said email, and it is delightful and perfect and I don't think I need to go into it here.

But what I love, once I've reveled in the actual story for another re-read, is to picture the other side. Because, okay - we've all had moments where, seconds after we clicked "send," we wished we could get the message back. Or maybe just die a merciful, humiliated death and be buried under a nameless stone that merely reads: "She clicked 'Send' too soon." But Lex - Lex really must've wanted to cancel that message, and he's not good at not getting what he wants. He must've woken up the next morning and tried to, like, buy out the internet. Or maybe he knew better. After all, if there's anyone who can keep Lex from doing something, it's Lex, so maybe he just laid there in bed, one arm over his eyes, and thought, Well-played, Self. But next time the drunken mistake calls, I think I'd rather just nuke Metropolis.

I'm betting he still wiped out a few telecommunications conglomerates after he thought that, though. It's just his way. And that's why we love him, am I right?

The One in Which We Learn That You Shouldn't Try to Hack the Afterlife. Sincerely, by [ profile] rageprufrock. Angel, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce/Charles Gunn.

Fred teaches Angel to use email. This is, as you might expect, fraught with difficulty - frankly, only a person used to fighting against long odds would even have considered such a thing. But the biggest problem doesn't exactly come from the places you might think - Angel getting involve with Nigerian scammers or penis enlargement schemes, Angel discovering that "the god in the machine" is actually a demon, Angel accidentally taking down the entire internet for seventeen hours and nearly kicking off a worldwide economic collapse.

No. The problem is that he's getting email from Cordelia. Who is, actually, dead.

What I love about this is the hope of it. It argues that some things never change, and even when they do, and even when the change is for the worst, some things can be salvaged, and the important things keep on. I also love that it shows what Cordelia meant to the Angel crew, what a pivotal place she had. Because, you know, the Angel team? Totally a family. And when you lose a family member, things go into unstable orbits for a while.

Basically, this is a story about finding new stable orbits. Well, and email from beyond the grave. And I am quite aware that it is very thoroughly jossed, and I do not care. In my head, they're still out there, helping the hopeless forever. And dealing with the inevitable disasters and tragedies pretty much like this - with romantic comedies and Lush bath products and the occasional technological seance.

The One in Which We Learn That Boys Being Naked Together Can Be Quite a Problem. Unless You're Invited, Too. A Change in Relationship Dynamics, by [ profile] debchan. Samurai Champloo, Jin/Mugen/Fuu.

You probably don't need to know the canon to read this, although it would help. But some stories are as old as time, and we all know them - two warriors and a girl with a squirrel, wandering through ancient Japan to a background of hip-hop music, chasing and being chased by prostitutes, organized and disorganized criminals, foreigners, politicians, and fighters of all shapes and sizes. I think we've read and seen that one countless times, yes? (And if you haven't, well. Maybe you should try watching Samurai Champloo, you big dork.)

Plus, this story is mostly about a girl thinking about two boys being naked together, and if you can't relate to that, well, why exactly are you here? So you can certainly read this without the canon.

What I love about this, though, is not the indubitably right Samurai Champloo feel, or the way it acknowledges that Jin and Mugen and Fuu are all essential to the story, or the way this is one of the few threesome stories I see leading to a stable relationship, or even the diary entries. (Although I do love the diary entries.) No, I love the way it makes me giggle, pure and simple. Every time I read it, the word "naked" seems funny for days afterward. It's as fun and shiny as the canon can be.

With added sex. I really don't see how you could ask for more than that.


The One That Elucidates Several Methods of Coping with Boredom. The Only One I'd Recommend You Try at Home, Though, Is the Sex. The Fuu Diaries, by [ profile] gogoangelgunboy. Samurai Champloo, Jin/Mugen.

This is a bonus because - well, you really do need to know a bit of the canon to appreciate this, um, diary entry. But, hey. I think I've already made it clear that the canon is very much worth getting to know. Get thee to some Champloo. It's worth it in its own right. And to read stories like this one.

Because if you know the canon, this story is wonderful. I can hear Fuu's voice reading this out loud, and the focus (on the last piece of sushi) is so very right for her, because if there's one thing that Fuu teaches us in the canon, it's that food is more important than. Um. Basically anything.

And if there's one thing that Fuu teaches us in this story, it's that there's no point in trying to deny the sexual tension. Just succumb to it. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the swords (...No. Really. That was not a double entendre. I did in fact mean actual swords. Okay. And cocks, but there are swords here. You can't deny that.), and you don't miss out on the food, either.

Plus, I had to recommend this alongside "A Change in Relationship Dynamics," because in my head they will always go together. I think, when you read it, you'll see why.

After you stop giggling, that is.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Last night, Best Beloved said to me, "Hey, remember when you used to rec fic?"

Of course, I immediately snapped, "I still do rec fic." And I was entirely correct. But it seems that some actual recommending of actual fan fiction might go a long way toward proving that.

And, possibly because it's been long enough that I have forgotten a hard-earned lesson, I've decided to start with everyone's favorite thing: an extra-long set of shorter gen stories!

Um. I don't hear any actual cheers. Or even any polite clapping.

That's - no, that's perfectly all right. I'll settle for a "Well, it's better than nothing." Can I get one of those, at any rate?

Fine. See if I care. I'm going to do it anyway. Let me just see if I can ... hmm. You, um, press some buttons, right? It's kind of been a while. But I'm sure it's like riding a bicycle. Although, of course, I can't actually do that.

Ah, well; unlike riding a bike - which, seriously, I have never understood how you're supposed to learn that, since you have to be able to do it just to sit on the damn thing - it's probably best to learn by doing. Shall we begin?

The One That Reminds Us That Batman Is Not Just a Mysteriously Sexy and Seriously Broken Crimefighter in Need of Several Successive Lifetimes of Therapy. He's Also a Skilled Nurturer of Those Qualities in Others! Squandered My Resistance, by Petra, aka [ profile] petronelle. DCU.

Perspective is a major kink of mine, and this story hits my kink just about as well as anything ever has. (Okay. Except An Instance of the Fingerpost, which hit my kink for something like 500 densely printed pages and still left me wanting more.) The perspective, in this case, is Jim Gordon's, and if you know anything about the Batman canon (and I do mean anything - like, if you know who the Robins are, and how the first two retired, that's enough), you know more than he does here - only a bit more, though, because the man's no idiot. So it's not like we're learning any new plot in this one; the change in perspective is the story. And it's amazing what that change can do.

Jim Gordon is a good man. But he accepts the unacceptable, or what should be unacceptable, because, see - Robins, whatever else they are, are kids. (Dick Greyson was age 12 when he started as Robin, as you'll know if you're even vaguely familiar with All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (and if you have a sense of humor at all, click on that link, people - you don't need to know anything about comics to marvel at this truly stunning train wreck), also known as Who the Fuck Are These People in the Batman and Robin Costumes and How Did They Get out of Arkham Asylum?) Hands up everyone who thinks that it's a good idea to put kids in spandex and send them out to fight vicious criminals and psychotics, often in the company of someone only marginally saner than said opponents. All right. Frank Miller, seriously, put that hand down. And, oh my god, do not even tell me where you have your other hand. Okay. Anyone else have a hand up? No. And Jim Gordon's hand wouldn't be up, either. But he still accepts it - and not only that; he uses it, uses the Robins. And this story explains that. Which you will grant is amazing.

The other amazing thing about this story is that it's interstitial. All the action takes place off the page; it's like this is the text that happens in the space between the panels of a comic book. So, really, all we see is a series of conversations. But you don't need to know a thing about the canon to understand what's happening all around these conversations. This is the written equivalent of the kind of play where you hear the shots and the body fall, but you never see anything on stage but the characters' reactions. Except that in this story, we don't hear the shots. But it's impossible not to hear the body fall.

No, wait, I was wrong. There's a third thing that's amazing about this story, and that thing is Jim Gordon himself. Because on the Worst Jobs in Fiction list, Police Commissioner of Gotham has to rank in the top 50. And Commissioner Gordon is just a guy, a decent guy in an awful job he does because he can. That, to my mind, makes him as interesting as Batman, but it's rare that anyone, canon or fan fiction, actually shows that. Petra does. And that? Is totally amazing, and I love her for it.

The One That May Actually Make You Grateful for Adolescence. Who Knew That Was Even Possible? Slouching, Forever, by Torch, aka [ profile] flambeau. Good Omens.

And now let us speak briefly of Torch, who has evidently recently ascended to the next level in her mystical pursuit of fictional perfection; in fact, I suspect she may be close to achieving union with the fictional godhead. If you cruise by her house, I bet you'll find her all swathed in robes and sitting in a lotus position, meditating. And then, once in a while, she'll leap up and go over to her computer and type stories like this. She calls them snippets, but oh my god. In almost all of them, she's turned the canon inside out, shaken out its pockets, and found a whole new universe inside, and I - I'm kind of scared of her, actually. What if she has other powers? What if she can change the universe or something?

I'm just saying, maybe we should wonder if there's a reason that Lance Bass came out recently.

Anyway. This story is maybe, maybe my favorite of all the "snippets" she's done recently, although it's kind of locked in a three-way tie with Over the Hills and Far Away and Suburban Consumption Rituals. (Which was written for meeeeee! And that just proves that Torch has mystical powers, because, as anyone who has ever gotten one will tell you, I give the shittiest fic prompts in all the universe. Only a very few, highly cherished writers have ever managed to make one of mine work. And yet - Torch took one of my prompts - and did - well, this.)

Of course, I've spent all this time talking about Torch because I can't really tell you anything about Slouching, Forever, except that you need to have read Good Omens to get the story. (But, well, you need to have read Good Omens, period, no exceptions, so I'm hoping all of you have.) If you have, get clicking. (The other two snippets, by the way, are SGA, and I can't tell you anything but that about either, except that they are just fucking amazing, so if by some chance you haven't read Good Omens yet, head for the other ones. And then get your butt to a library or bookstore and do some light reading about Armageddon.)

The One That Proves (Yet Again) That the Ancients Are Not Our Friends. In Fact, Just As a General Rule, I Think It's Best Not to Trust Those Who Think That Superior Power Makes Them Superior Beings. Uncanny Valley, by Sarah T., aka [ profile] harriet_spy. Stargate: Atlantis.

I. Here's the thing. I secretly kind of believe this story. I've seen dozens of fictional explanations for Why John Is Weird (But We Love Him Anyway), and many of them made me want to do highly intimate things with the author. And most of them really worked. But this one works maybe the most of all of them, and - well, it doesn't make me want to do highly intimate things with Sarah T. It makes me want to take her hostage until she writes a fix-it sequel to this. Because the fix is hinted at, and I believe it's coming, but I want more. I want an ending with puppies and sparkles and love and very probably some pie. In general, I need stories with explicit happy endings way more than I need or even want stories with explicit sex, and for this one - well. I want "And they lived happily ever after" in writing. Signed by the author. And notarized. (Doesn't have to be in her own blood or anything, though. I'm no fanatic.)

You know, I'm kind of amused that I'm writing this whole "This gutted me but in a good way" writeup for a story in which no one dies and no one is, like, raped or tortured or drained by the Wraith or just anything like that. All that really happens is that two people eat breakfast. But, you know, in fiction, especially when it comes to making people honestly ache for a character, less is more. You really want to turn the knife? Don't give me star-crossed lovers killing themselves because they each think the other's dead. Don't give me all the death, loss, torment, and abuse you can pack into 57 chapters. Give me one loss, one loss of something essential, and then make the characters - and me - live with it.

(I'm also amused that I didn't rec the other SGA gen story that seemed to fit in this set because I was like, "Nah. Don't want people to think all gen is depressing." But, really. It's not! Even this story isn't, actually! It's just - it hurts. But there's a happy ending on the far horizon, and - okay, screw it, that's never going to work. How's this: the last story in this set is the perfect antidote. I'm offering the pain and the cure, people. What more can I do?)

The One That Proves That You Really Can Get Used to Anything. But You Might Not Want To. All His Funerals (Back in Black Remix 2006), by Punk, aka [ profile] runpunkrun. X-Files.

This is such a small story in terms of word count. And it's in a fandom that I, despite all my efforts, still don't understand at all. But it doesn't matter - you can read this no matter what you know about the canon, as long as you know something about serial fiction. Because this is, yes, a gorgeous story about how one person gets used to a very particular kind of loss, but it's also a great meta commentary, because we've all been through this, I think, in one canon or another.

(I realized this at the end of X2, which I saw with my mother and Best Beloved. My mother knows nothing about comic books and had never heard of the X-Men before the first movie. And my mother is, by the way, the queen of being spoiler-free. As in, she saw The Phantom Menace and had no idea that Anakin was going to grow up to be - spoiler warning, people! - Darth Vader. And that Darth was Luke's father. Anyway, at the end of X2, she was all upset, and Best Beloved and I were stunned that anyone could be upset by that ending. Because knowing comics mean you develop the same attitude that Scully has in this story.

And, wait. Did I just spoil the story (or X2) or not? I can't tell. Um. If I did, someone let me know so I can cut-tag it; even if it is a spoiler, I don't think it'll have any effect on your enjoyment of either, but I aim to be polite. My mama - okay, she didn't give a shit about my manners, but my internet mama raised me right. Admittedly, my internet mama was Usenet, so she mostly did it via a constant stream of very clear examples of what not to do, but still.)

But here is the coolest part of this story - cooler even than the meta commentary. This is Punk remixing one of her own stories, and how insanely excellent is that? I would so love it if other folks who have been writing a while did this, because I've read the original of this story, and it is just. Um. Not the same. At all. Whereas the remix is brilliance. So the two stories together are the most perfect example in the world of how Punk has changed as a writer, and I would love to see that same demonstration for other people. So if any of y'all are, you know, bored or anything - well, just don't say I never give activity suggestions along with my recs.

The One That Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Phrase 'Body Dysmorphic Disorder.' The Kingdom of Heaven, by [ profile] c_elisa. X-Men comicsverse.

This story contains spoilers for a certain development in at least one iteration of the X-Men, uh, "plotline," for lack of a better word. (Sorry, but I have no idea how many X-Men books/movies/universes/parallel dimensions/other assorted thingies have this development, and I lack the software equivalent of the TARDIS crossed with Hal, which is what it would take for me figure that out.) I'm not at all sure I can discuss the story without mentioning that same spoiler. So I'm cut tagging this. )

The One That Proves That, Looking at It from a Technical Perspective, the Wizard of Oz Should Have Been a Zombie Story. Big Damn Zombies, Sir, by [ profile] shrift. Firefly.

This is another fandom I don't know from Adam, Eve, or in fact the entire garden of eden. I mean, Jayne - that's the guy with the hat, right? I see him in vids, acting dim or showing the ethics-free brand of cunning. He's generally comic relief in vids, except he also occasionally seems to do the thing that no one else could quite manage to, even though it really needed to be done. But, hey, I don't know him at all, so I could be totally wrong there.

My point is that obviously you don't need to know diddly-squat about Jayne or Firefly to enjoy this story. Because, see, what happens here is that Jayne turns into a zombie, and mirth ensues.

Now, wait. You need to understand just how weird it is that I am recommending a story about zombies as comic relief. Because, okay, I admit it - I'm afraid of zombies. I was not the happiest person in all of fandom when zombie stories got popular for a while there, because I'd be reading a story quite happily and then suddenly Daniel Jackson would be lurching around calling for brains. (But I never did see, say, zombie Aragorn, so I have much to be thankful for. Believe me, I'm quite aware of it.) And I would have to flee the story, or possibly the room, for a while.

But this story is funny even to a certified zombiephobe, because - I just, I can't explain it. It just is. I avoided it, for obvious title reasons, for quite a while, and I so should not have, because Shrift proves that zombies can, in fact, be entertaining to have around, providing they are made from the right sort of character. Or, more specifically, providing that the right sort of characters are standing around commenting on the zombie, because it is the dialog that makes this story. And that includes, but is not limited to, the dialog that goes, "Braaaaaaaains."

(I do feel the need to state, just for the record, that there is nothing amusing about zombies. They are a major imaginary scourge against which our planet has no defenses. Garlic does not work on zombies, people. Think about it. And in the next election, make yours a vote against the zombie menace. And don't forget to ask your politician of choice what he's doing to prevent the zombie takeover!)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I love, love, love things that never happened stories. (And all hail [ profile] basingstoke, the creator of this format that brings joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Yeah! (Also to fishies in the deep blue sea, is what I hear. In other, wholly unrelated news: songs your parents sang to you when you were little have the power to derail any train of thought. True fact: Einstein managed to finish the sentence that began "E=m" only because his parents didn't know any catchy songs.)

Recs sets involving things that never happened stories have a few rules, people. Some of you may remember them from last time. But I'm restating them, because some of you are new since last time. Hell, some of the rules are new since last time.
  1. Things that never happened = TTNH. There's only so many times I can type the full words before I succumb to that tragic disease known as Keyboard Ennui.

  2. TTNH stories can be disturbing. Or sad. Or, in cases where the author is very special, both disturbing and sad. They don't have to be, mind you. (Except they kind of do. Because either they're about things that would suck, or they're about things that would be most excellent. But if it's the latter, isn't it kind of a bummer that these are things that didn't happen? Yes, this is both a story style and a deep philosophical conundrum. When [ profile] basingstoke is on, she's really fucking on.) So if you're already in a place of emo, maybe you'll want to consider each of these stories carefully before you click.

  3. TTNH stories usually make more sense if you know the canon. As I said last time: it helps to know what did happen before you read about what didn't. I've included some sense of how much canon you need to know. (Because this is fandom, that great big pool of cross-pollination and spoilers, we all know a little about, for example, Kirk and Spock, even if our entire first-hand knowledge of them consists of a single episode in which they hit every slash cliche known to science within roughly 30 minutes, using only styrofoam and aluminum foil. And that may be all you need to know.)

  4. TTNH stories may contain gen, het, or slash. So when it comes to these, I am not a pairing index; some TTNH stories, that alone would keep us here all day. So go in braced for anything. Although I swear I will warn you before, for example, Doctor Who/TARDIS.

  5. I interpret "things that never happened" rather loosely. It just has to follow the basic format: [number] of [things] that [happened/didn't happen/happened one night/you totally can't prove/happened to your mom].

  6. If you are distressed by any of the (un)events of these stories, I advocate industrial-strength denial. It's always worked for me.
The One That Should Come with a References Section, a Bunch of Footnotes, and a Gift Certificate Good for Punching One DC Editor or Writer in the Location of Your Choice. Five Things That Never Happened to the Robins (and Interlude: Five Things That Never Happened to Carrie Kelley), by [ profile] monkeycrackmary. D.C. Universe. You don't need to know the canon to read this one, but you do need to know about the Robins (including the part about Carrie Kelley), Identity Crisis, and maybe No Man's Land. Obviously - and I cannot even believe I'm saying this; next thing you know I'll be advocating all knives be labeled "Caution: Sharp" - there are major spoilers at those links. Also, warning: my total lack of love over Recent Unfortunate Events in the DCU is, um. A bit obvious, here.

TTNH stories are AUs with the fat trimmed off - we get the story, but we're left to extrapolate a lot, including most of the set-up and, sometimes, the resolution. I cannot tell you how much that works for me. And it's variable; TTNH stories can be snippets, just glimpses of the AUs. But in DCU, particularly, TTNH stories contain multitudes: sprawling, intense universes that feel real, wholly populated, wholly complete, and internally consistent and logical.

This one certainly seems more real than anything D.C. has published lately. That's in part because the characters are intensely in character here (and do not even get me started on how it's completely and totally impossible for Certain Characters to be themselves in the face of Recent Unspeakable Retcons, for, as you can see, that way lies madness and random capitalization), but also because these stories are so detailed and so - I don't know how to put it. So much like the stories D.C. is writing in the alternate universe where they have character and plot continuity. And writers with brains. This is an incredibly meaty story - I mean, the interlude alone could stand as five separate stories. It's got...hmmm. Room to grow, in a way the canon universe just doesn't right now. If I ever write an essay called Why I Prefer Fan Fiction to the Canon, this story is exhibit A.

The One That Makes It Clear What's Really Behind All Those Macho Bone-Grinding Handshakes. (Let's Just Say It Didn't Come As a Huge Surprise.) Five Battles Teal'c of Chulak Never Fought, by [ profile] cofax7. Stargate: SG-1. To read this, you probably need to know, for example, who Teal'c is. And the more you know about SG1, the more you'll likely get out of this. Of course, that isn't exactly a promise, since I don't know much about SG1, but it's a very good working theory.

This is the ultimate example of trimming the fat, here; these stories are short, short pieces about big, big worlds. And that is, without doubt, a good thing. But what I love about this is - atypically for me - not the AUs, but the person I see here. When I started reading SG1, it was all about Jack and Daniel for me. Which, I mean, of course: Jack! Daniel! What's not to love? But lately I've also been getting interested in Teal'c and Sam. I still want the story in which those two are genderswapped (it'd be fascinating, and I continue to hope against hope that [ profile] katie_m will write it). But, basically, I just want any stories that will make these two characters human to me, real to me, because in a lot of fan fiction they are - I don't know. Plot devices or enigmas, I guess: not the people whose eyes we see through, but rather the people we see. From a distance, usually.

In this story, Cofax let me see through Teal'c's eyes, and that - that is quite a gift. There's always something that ties a TTNH story together, and in this case, that's Teal'c himself: his character, who he is, who he's been. So, basically, if you've ever wanted to get to know Teal'c, well, here's your chance. (And if you haven't, why not? The man is, at least at the start of the canon, a formerly-evil member of a race of people who have unnaturally long life at the cost of a kind of devil's bargain. And he's now fighting evil and dealing with the repercussions of his past life. All of you people who love vampires and things written by people named Whedon should be rushing to embrace this man.)

The One That Defines PMS As Being the State in Which You Wish Everyone Would Get Hit by a Car. Works for Me. 19 (x19) Things That Never Happened, pt 2, by [ profile] rageprufrock. Hikaru no Go. Yes, you do need to know a bit of the canon to read this, but if you don't, oh my god why not? This is - this is due South with Go, people. Hell, it's Harry Potter and the Ghost of Go. And if you are now wondering how any series could be both those things, why not try the first 8 volumes of the manga? (1-4 and 5-8. Attention, Person Who Gave These to Me: if you don't want them up here, let me know and I'll take them down. If you want credit, likewise let me know and I will be happy to glorify your name and works and noble lineage.) Read them. They will prepare you for the Hikaru no Go Fandoms I Have Loved, which - yes. It's coming. I'm in love, okay? I can't help myself. Shut up.*

This is only one part of Pru's Hikaru no Go TTNH series, and definitely my favorite. (Other parts: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6.) And this is another style of TTNH, here, because it is a commentary, but not on a character. This is a reflection on the canon, on the...well. I'm afraid to say "culture," because I am not qualified to start that discussion (and I'm not brave enough, either), but that's pretty much what it is. Culture is what defines Akira and Hikaru's, um, relationship. (Rivals. Totally rivals.) So how would culture define it if something was different?

When I read this story, I thought: this is a story that would only really work and be interesting in certain fandoms. (For the record, and this isn't much of a spoiler: Pru changed the sexes of one of the characters. I don't mean she genderswapped him or genderfucked him; she made him female from birth.) I mean, making John a girl is fascinating if he was male up until the aliens got their hands on his DNA, but if he was born female? The story doesn't change much. But now I'm wondering how true that is. If Aragorn was born to be a woman king, that does change things, does make for an interesting story. If Brian O'Conner (from the Fast and the Furious) is a girl, I lose all interest in the story; if Rusty Ryan (from Ocean's 11) is a girl, my interest skyrockets (and it's already really pretty high). So now I'm basically confused, and I'm all doubty about the thoughtful remarks I had for this story. Anyone else want to be thoughtful instead?

The One That Proves That There's No Canon Development So Disastrous That a Talented Fan Writer Can't Make It Work in the Service of Good. Temporary, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men movieverse. This is post-X3, and if you haven't seen the movie and you plan to, you shouldn't read the story. You shouldn't read this story summary, either. But if you already know, either from spoilers or from seeing it, what happens in X3, well, you'll probably understand why I am choosing to skip the movie and go straight to the fan fiction. And you'll also be perfectly primed to read this story.

So. I can't really do a better story summary than [ profile] penknife did: "Five ways Rogue finds out nothing's permanent." But I will say that I choose to think of this as "Five places to go from here." Because the X3 story - well, one of the many problems I had with it (back when I first read the spoilers) was that it closes off possibilities and undermines the message and central question of the whole X-Men universe. (And, you know, that's an impressive feat, diverting an entire canon away from such a central and basic concept. I mean, it's impressive in the way that eating an airplane is impressive - yes, amazing, but why would anyone bother? But impressive it is.)

Anyway. Turns out I was wrong about that closed, nowhere-good-to-go-from-here thing. Maybe the heat was getting to me. Because as soon as I read this story, I realized that there are as many interesting avenues to explore now as before, and X3 might change everything, but it doesn't actually matter that much. This story features five of those interesting avenues, and I just - I love them, love this whole story, in a very sincere, honorable-intentions kind of way. (I'd propose, but reader/story marriages are still illegal in my state.) This is a fabulous riff on the potential of the future, from the first segment, which I would argue takes us back, not to movie canon, but to early(ish) comics canon, to the last, which takes us in a totally unexpected, fascinating direction that leaves me whimpering for more. ([ profile] penknife: total narrative tease. News at 11.)


* I do not as yet have a source for the anime, sadly, but you can add the first two discs of it to your Netflix queue here.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am having a total I-suck day. And apparently I'm not alone. Did anyone not have a job disaster today?


I am going to cheer myself up, or at least get past the I-want-to-die point, with totally self-indulgent recommendations. From the general look of the old friends list today, I am not the only one who needs this, so I refuse to feel guilty.

The One in Which a Bowl of Soup Changes Everything. Marry into the Family, by [ profile] julad. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.

This story never fails to make me smile. Possibly it's the line "Say ten 'Hail Luthors' and perform an act of Callous Economic Rationalism." Possibly it's just - come on. Maybe your day was bad, yes. Maybe mine was. But I think it's safe to say that none of us came out to both Lionel Luthor and Jonathan Kent today, and don't you feel better already?

Story summary? Well, please just imagine an announcer doing a voice-over that says, "In a world where real love is sometimes real hard, Lex Luthor is about to learn that a bowl of soup can make all the difference." But it's not the plot that gives me the hit of pure joy when I read it; the joy is in the details, people. First of all, there's the way Lex totally throws Lionel for a loop, thus proving that soup and the love of a good man really can make your strength as the strength of ten. And then there's the scene with Clark showing that he learns entirely too well from example. (Oh, Clark. You're the archetypal impressionable youth.) And then there's the way that the ending of the story is actually the beginning of it, so by the time you find out that Lex and Clark are in a certain amount of trouble, you know it ends happily. I just - is there a better definition of comfort FF than this story? I would say no. (And if you'd say yes, please please give me a link.)

The One in Which J.D. Doesn't Quite Get a Unicorn Called Sparkles and Feed Her Gum Drops and Candy Canes. My Space Adventure, by [ profile] skoosiepants. Stargate: Atlantis x Scrubs. And in my opinion, this is gen, because, well, everything that happens here could happen in Scrubs. Including the unicorn.

You know, until I read this, I had never once thought to myself, "J.D. is a perfect fit with Atlantis. I don't know why he isn't already there." But now I see clearly; only in Pegasus can J.D. achieve a true match between his life and his fantasy world. Actually, it'd be kind of a cage grudge match: J.D.'s twisted imagination v. Pegasus Galaxy. They'd go 40 rounds for sure.

This is another joy-is-in-the-details story. Like, of course Ted would have an iPod filled with motivational podcasts. (And a few prime time theme songs, I'd wager. You know, I hadn't heard of Charles in Charge prior to that particular episode of Scrubs, and - well, am I the only one who thinks that the show pretty much had to be about the wacky BDSM dungeon hijinks of a Master and his crew of misfit slaves? Oh, don't look at me like that. You're totally wondering what channel that's on.) Anyway. My point is - J.D. is a natural for Pegasus, and so is everyone else in the cast. Dr. McKay and Dr. Cox were clearly meant to have a tense, hostile, sarcasm-filled relationship until they night they get drunk together on Athosian krrrrup and spend three hours arguing about whether J.D. or John Sheppard is the greater burden on a sane man who wants to keep all his limbs attached. And Elliot would obviously be sent to Atlantis because no one could think of a place that was even further away. It's just - it's fabulous. You need to read this story.

The One in Which We Learn That There Are Two Types of Kids in This World: Those Who Take Applied Science Way Further Than It Should Ever Go, and Those Who Always Know Where a Fire Extinguisher Is. Aviation, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men movieverse, gen.

(Yes, I'm trying to figure out which kind of kid I was, too. And - wow, I can hear Best Beloved laughing from all the way across town. But! Seriously! I could very well have been a fire extinguisher kid! I was just very accident prone. And, okay, slightly too interested in things that burn, but...) This story makes me happy in that quiet, joyful way where I just want to hug my monitor. Because - Scott! Being grown-up and worried! And Hank! Being HANK! It just does not get any better than this, people.

And, on another level - the very small number of levels that aren't totally occupied saying OMG HANK I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, which is, believe me, a very few of them when I'm reading any story in which the Real Hank appears - there's also substantial Xavier love in here for me. Which is something I don't feel that often, mostly because I do not like telepathy. Or telepaths. They just - seriously, I have a major telepathy phobia. (I have actually told Best Beloved, on more than one occasion, "If you develop mind reading powers, it's over." And I meant it, too. See why Best Beloved is a three-state smiling and nodding champion?) But I love Xavier most when he's displaying the wisdom telepathy has given him, and here he so does that, and I just want to kiss his shiny, shiny head.

The One That Manages to Make MREs Romantic. I Am Totally Not Kidding. You Will Never Look at Military-Produced Eggs and Cheese the Same Way Again. (Actually, I'm Hoping You'll Never Have to Look at Them at All.) Downtime, by [ profile] merryish. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson.

What with [ profile] destina_fic and the Jack/Daniel ficathon, SG-1 has been my total happy place lately. And I do believe that this story made me the happiest of all the ones I've read (thus far - that's a wondrously massive backlog of brilliant FF, folks, so it'll be some time before I've managed to process it all). It's like all the things that drew me to this pairing - the crazed missions, Jack's determination and quirky sense of humor, Daniel's intelligence and astonishingly deep kindness, missions gone awry, inexplicable aliens, involuntary camping trips, convoluted excuses for Jack and Daniel to get some alone time together off-world - packed into one glorious story.

This story made me so happy that I was genuinely depressed when it was over. And then I remember that there's a surefire cure for that, and I scrolled right back to the top and started reading again. And, you know, it made me just as happy the second time. This really is almost everything I love about these guys, and if there's a sadness there - I mean, as far as I know, the canon has closed the door on this pairing - it's the kind of wonderful ache that comes from thinking, "I was really, truly happy there" about a place you know you can go back to. And, oh my god, I need to stop before Hallmark offers me a job. (Of course I'd take it. But I'd probably end up making cards with pretty pictures on the front and verses like, "You were tortured/By a cruel snob/Let me heal you/With this blowjob.")

The One That Proves That Anime Vidders Don't Always Have Their Minds Fixed on Higher Things. Unless the "Higher" Applies to the Vidder Himself, As in "He's Been Higher Than Me Ever Since He Got the Really Good Crack." Waka Laka (for Osaka), by Scintilla. Azumanga Daioh.

Okay, anime vid recommending day was - um, back whenever I did it. But. I dug out a bunch more links for [ profile] elishavah (And she's in a place of great weakness right now, people, so if you've got any shiny pretty anime or anime vids to show her, seize this moment.), and in the process I rewatched this one. And then I did it again. And I learned a great truth: this is the vid equivalent of cotton candy. Substance? Not so much. But it's sweet and wonderful and as soon as it's gone you want a lot more. Obviously, I watched it a few more times today.

And then I learned a second truth. A horrible, hideous truth, at that. Namely: this song is just - wow. It burrows into your skull and sets up home in your cochlear nuclei. And, as we all know, there are only two cures for persistent earworms. First, you can try to pass it on to someone else. I'm giving that my best shot here. (And, truly! Do not let the song dissuade you! This is all things shiny and pretty and you don't need to know a thing about the canon. It's cotton candy crack, basically.) Second, you can listen to the song a whole bunch of times and pray that you'll build immunity through repeated exposure. So, um...does anyone have this song? It's Waka Laka (E=MC2 Remix) by Jenny Rom vs. Zippers, apparently.

Bonus: Speaking of songs - the title of this post comes from Code Monkey, by Jonathan Coulton. (As far as I know, this is a totally legal download - he encourages people to share his music. I, in turn, encourage you to visit his website and maybe buy stuff from him.) If you haven't heard this, you so need this song. Especially all of you who have been having work problems lately. It's just - well, it's yet another thing that's making me happy today.

Courage in adversity, people.

Also, if tomorrow isn't better, I'm going to bite someone.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am afraid of series. I'm willing to admit it because a) I don't think a person should be ashamed of her fears and b) I have someone to blame this on. Namely, C.S. Lewis, who apparently wrote The Last Battle solely to ensure that his readers would never read the last part of anything ever again. Or the Book of Revelations (upon which Battle is loosely based).

But there are really and truly some excellent series out there in the FF world, and the great part about FF is that I can always pretend the author is even now working on another chapter or epilogue or same-universe story ("PWP 221f: Return to the Last Rimjob, Part 8"), so the phobia doesn't come into play as often as it does in the world of Real Literature. (I could pretend the same about those books, yes, but at least half the authors I read are dead. And hoping for published different-author sequels is like hoping for experimental genital surgery performed by monkeys, given the quality of much of the FF the publishing world has seen fit to put between covers.)

So I read FF series. But I don't recommend them very often; I'm much more likely to pick my favorite story and let people know it's part of a series. There are reasons for that, too. For one thing, well, it's tough to maintain consistent quality. In most series, there's one story that is just legions better than the rest, or there's a couple stories that are just legions worse. And I have to be pretty much ready to propose to a story to write up a recs entry for it, so I'm not going to include those less-than-the-series-best stories, even if they have good elements or I enjoyed reading them. Also, I figure it's asking a huge commitment from the readers to embark on a series based entirely on a paragraph of mostly irrelevant babbling; better to get y'all addicted to the AU or the characterizations or the sex, then tell you it's part of a series slightly longer (and way better) than the collected works of Harry Stephen Keeler.

Occasionally, though, I find a series that has to be recommended in toto. And now my list of said series is too long to ignore. So that's what I'm recommending today. (Not the whole list, though. I considered that, but decided I prefered to finish this entry sometime this decade.)

(Note to series authors: I love you guys. I seriously do. I love reading FF series, even if I don't rec them in their entirety that often. And, please, if you love (or even like) your recommenders (or just being recommended), include jump pages. It's a lot harder to rec when we have to choose between linking to a general index or bunches of individual stories that are all part of one series.)

Best Series Featuring the Only Appearance of the Highlander Characters That I've Been Able to Handle Thus Far. Although Isn't There Supposed to Be a Methos in There Somewhere? Imperfections: Imperfections, II: Believing in Fairy Tales, III: Visiting, IV: Necessary Parts, V: Passing Through the Underworld, and VI: What Comes Around by Dasha, who doesn't have a LJ. The Sentinel x Monk (all) x due South (II) x X-Files (II) x Highlander (V) (and if anyone picks up any others, please let me know), AU, gen.

Warnings: This is likely a work in progress; there's a few plot arcs that aren't entirely resolved, and she's still posting new chapters regularly. (Yay!) Also, in all honesty I have to tell due South fans that they'll be irritated by a few things here - but it's mostly minor stuff, like problems with names, or it can be explained away by the AU-ness, like Diefenbaker on a leash.

So. I promise you sex-based addiction, then begin by recommending gen. But I'm not sorry. I've only relatively recently discovered TS gen; I mean, I knew it existed, but I didn't understand it. Slash makes the TS universe much more believable. Otherwise, well, you've pretty much got all your available disbelief tied up in accepting that a) these guys are, all appearances to the contrary, not actually fucking and b) they work around a bunch of good detectives who don't know about the senses and still don't think there's anything, oh, vaguely gay about them. That's a more improbable AU right there than, say, the one with the horse-robot sex slaves. So, what with my difficulty buying a slash-free TS universe, I did not so much do the gen thing for a while. Stories like these, though, they make me glad I did. This series has to be gen, at least as it currently stands. It can't work otherwise. But it turns out that there are other ways to make the Jim and Blair relationship make sense. Dasha goes here for the world-where-sentinels-are-known thing, and manages to create one that works, that makes sense, that is the modern world with just that one change. (Usually common-sentinel AUs are not nearly so close to reality.) And she also includes loads of plot. Cases! Real cases! That they legitimately work as detective-and-guide! The series is, at the start, highly engaging. And then it gets better.

Favorite stories: It's tough to pick a favorite from this series; they're all fantastic for different reasons. Maybe, um, II, V, and VI?

Best Series That Owes a Great Debt to Cows. Celebrate Our Bovine Friends! Steak: 1: The Box, 2: Steak Dinner, 3: More Steak (Steak in the Rain), 4: Steak in the Dark, 5: Steak In-Between, 6: Steak-In-Waiting, 7: Steak and Cows, 8: Steak and Territory, 9: Steak and Separation, 10: Steak and Motility, 11: Steak and Lizards, and The Rememberers, by [ profile] keiko_kirin. Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson (with mention of Jack/f, Daniel/f, and Teal'c/f in 10).

This is a famous series in the fandom; it was, in retrospect, wrong of me to avoid it so long simply because of the predominance of the word "steak" in, above, and about it. By the time I started reading SG, I knew Keiko Kirin's work in other fandoms, so I knew she was good. But I kept looking at this and saying, "Yeah. A twelve-part series about steak. Just what I've been hoping for." Well, that was wrong, and now I know it. For one thing, it isn't about steak, not really - the steak is a metaphor, a device, a bunch of those things you gladly forgot after you passed your last English test. For another thing, this is justly famous and in fact not as famous as it deserves to be. (I understand some people in lowland New Guinea haven't heard of it.) The Steak series is one of the best switching-teams stories I've read, yes, and it's funny and dramatic and sweet and everything else under the sun, yes, but that's only a part of it. Because there's plots here, people; almost every one of these stories could be an episode (well, apart from the sex, but that's obviously a failing of the show, not the series). I'd wager that these are also better than most of the existing episodes. The basic theme here is exploring new worlds - abroad, in bed, and with steak. And you get a heaping helping of all three, in twelve stories that make me want to fall to my knees and give thanks to the gods of FF.

Favorite stories: The last two, entirely for plot reasons. Part eleven takes me home to my SF roots, only with added sex, and "The Rememberers" (which she doesn't number like the others, so I didn't, either) is about some of my favorite things: memory, long-term relationships, and how people become who they are.

Best Series That Helps a Certain Teenage Mutant Find His Inner Drama Queen. And a Cigarette Lighter. And Ice Cream. And, in the Fullness of Time, Sex with His Roommate. It's Just Like He Went to College! Thermal: Freeze Out, Applying Heat, Defrost, Liquefy, Flux, and Mercury Rising, by Zahra, aka [ profile] hackthis. X-Men movieverse, Pyro/Iceman.

Warnings: Those who hate the use of "St. John" in the movieverse will fume over this series; so will people who insist on the name. It's an equal-opportunity offender!

There's no better summary of this than the author's own, so I'll begin by quoting that: "It's those damn teenage hormones, again." In short, this is mostly smut - smut with build-up and context and background. And I admit I'm mostly recommending it for those last two. (I know. I hardly recognize myself these days.) See, the X-Men movies have a lot of strengths, including some major improvements over the comic books. (No universe reloads. No White Queen parading around like a bleached blow-up dominatrix, pretending to be Jean Gray. No Summers family history complex enough to destroy life as we know it should anyone ever actually manage to comprehend the totality of it. No 18 million Wolverine crossovers with every other comic book, including Asterix and Tin Tin. And so on.) But there's some things the movies just cannot supply to an old comic book fangirl (which, yes, I am, but I consider myself a recovering one, although Te constantly tempts me to backslide, the evildoer). Like depictions of ordinary days in the lives of our mutants; in the movies, there's always something heavily tentacled attacking or some moderately slashy world-ending scheme to prevent. So I enjoy the look at mundane daily life for a teenage mutant, which looks pretty familiar to any non-mutant that has lived through those years. With, you know, a few minor exceptions, like getting caught masturbating because you froze the room. Again. Also, I like that we get a look at the students - not just Pyro and Iceman, but Kitty and even Jubilee (who I fucking detested in the comic books, so it's impressive that I like her here, and frankly astonishing that I'm willing to admit it) - as people, rather than background. The movie focuses on the core team (lightning, claws, lasers) and the bad guys, which is as it should be. But I'm grateful to FF like this for fleshing things out. And for letting boys be boys.

Favorite stories: I view this more as a continuum than many series; it's hard to have part IV without part III, in other words. But probably the last two are my favorites. I like the Bobby-taunting.

Best Series That Contains Everything. Including the Kitchen Sink. Very Much Including the Kitchen Sink. Unfinished Business: Unfinished Business, A Little Less Conversation, Coda I: Conversation, Coda II: Bella Morte, The Debt You Owe, The Price You Pay, and Sway, by [ profile] maygra and sometimes Bone, aka [ profile] thisisbone. The Fast and the Furious, Brian O'Conner/Dominic Toretto.

Warning: This is a work in progress, although all the stories linked above are complete. And some of those pages contain pictures that are definitely not work-safe. Finally, some of the stories are rougher, in terms of grammar and spelling, than others.

First things first. You do not need to have seen the movie to read this. You hardly need to know who the characters are. So don't make that your excuse for missing out on this - this - well, I can't really call it a series. It's a universe, a whole bunch of branching possibilities. It even has its own AUs. Of course, if you haven't seen the movie, you won't appreciate just how well this series fixes the mess the movie left behind - and builds on that. And then builds some more. And then adds two outbuildings, a cupola, and a gazebo. Truly; if you track down all the various parts and fragments and works-in-progress that are either contained in or spawned by this series, you will have several days of solid (and lovely) reading ahead of you. What I linked above is a couple novels' worth, but it isn't all of it by any means. So, obviously, I cannot possibly summarize this. It would take a finer blurb-writer than me; it would take genius. Instead, I'll tempt you with a list of randomly-selected items you will find somewhere in the series. (Think of it like a print version of Where's Waldo. With porn.) Border-crossing motorcycle hijinks! Lasagna! Handcuffs used for their intended purpose! Handcuffs used for an off-label and exceedingly not-manufacturer-recommended purpose! Assorted beatings! Sex in a multitude of locations! And a shopping trip to what I have always believed was Century City Mall, although in fact it's probably Beverly Center! (Why not email the authors and ask them? Well, aside from the fact that it would distract them from adding a guest house and a semi-finished basement to the universe. And, yes, I know I've fractured the hell out of some metaphors there. Don't care at all.) Seriously, you need to read this. It's worth picking up a new fandom just to discover the heights (and breadths and depths) that FF can reach.

Favorite stories: Well, "Sway" was dedicated to me, so that has to come first. And then "The Price That You Pay" and "Unfinished Business" itself. And "Damage," which I didn't even link above, because it isn't finished yet. Hell, just read all of them.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
...and hold there is no sin but innocence.

That's pretty much the attitude you'll be needing for this set, which is made up of stories that somehow involve religion. I have no idea how many readers of this LJ (assuming there are any after the Long Hiatus, about which more, only - later) are devout adherents of any religion, but those of you that are might, you know, want to look away from this entry. Or at least skip to the last rec, which involves the Amish Satanism Plus Goats religion. Because, while I'm sure that one is just insanely popular and all, its members probably don't have internet access and therefore won't be offended.

But the rest of you can probably count on being irked somewhere in here. Just, you know, FYI.

Important Email Note: I have learned that something was wrong with my non-fannish email address (the one with 'dsl' in it) for most of the last week. Anyone who has tried to send something to it over the past five to seven days please please resend unless you've gotten a response from me, because I've replied to the mail I've received. Also, anyone who knows what I've done to offend the email gods - because when it was just my fannish email that screwed up all the time I could believe it was the server, but now I have to accept that the problem is me - or what ritual would appease them should let me know. Via comment or, for the braver set, email. Please.

Important Website Query: Will someone please tell me what's up with I've been out of the loop for long enough that I don't know anything except that it has apparently gone the way of the dodo. And that it's a total bitch assembling recs sets without access to the trickster sites. Should I go into mourning or what?

Best FF That Could Probably Cause the Author to Be Stoned in Certain Highly Intolerant Times. But We're Past All That, Aren't We? His Own Soul, by [ profile] sssenza. The Bible, David/Jonathan. This is NC-17. Yeah. I thought I should begin as I meant to go on in the offense department. But, look - it's canon. Don't believe me? Check out the actual text, which says "and then they had sex" so clearly - I mean, come on, Jonathan takes off his clothes and hands them to David - that it doesn't even need slashing. But the author of this piece did a lovely job elaborating on the canon, including many fetching details about who did what to whom. And she took it out of the language of the King James Version, which is a good thing, because KJV is very pretty and excellent to quote and just packed with thees and thous and untos, but it is not all that easy to read as a story. Whereas this is extremely easy to read. And fun. And good. Still, I realize that "NC-17 Bible fic" is a squick all by itself for some people, so I'm offering an alternate story for this rec. Note that I don't call it a Certified Safe Alternate, though. And for very good reason.


Best FF That Proves That You Don't Need to Deviate from Canon to Produce a Highly Disturbing and Squicky Story, Provided You Choose Your Canon Carefully. Brotherly Love, by [ profile] daegaer. The Bible, gen. Sort of. I mean, the Bible is far more explicit, in places, than this story, and the only sexual relationship mentioned herein is definitely canonical. But if you thought gen (or religion) was squick-free, my children, this will prove you wrong. I can't really warn any better than that without spoiling everything. (Those of you who like to be spoiled, though, might want to Google Amnon and Tamar.) Also, this story is one of the best short character studies I've read; it's only 500 words long, yet you don't need any familiarity with the Bible to understand the nature of Jonadab. (Which nature is, for the record, pure evil. Admittedly, he's really damn good at being evil, so good you almost have to admire it even as you're horrified by it, but that just makes the whole thing worse. Trust me.) In short: an amazing story. Bonus: if you were disturbed by the David/Jonathan story, you won't be after you've finished this, because this will show you what disturbing really is. Note: I've already recommended this story once, but it's worth rec'ing twice, and it's not like there's a ton of gen Bible FF out there.

Best FF That Shows Us That Religion Has Its Place in Oz. And That That Place Is Not a Comfortable or Happy One. Incense, by Brighid, aka [ profile] brighidestone. Oz, Christopher Keller/Tobias Beecher. We all know that Keller has some issues, yes? Religion is, canonically, one of them (and even more so after he had a vision of Hell while he was dying - one of the deaths that didn't take, for the record). Here we see what religion means to Keller and what Beecher means to Keller, and how those two things are not as separate as they might be in a totally healthy and stable person. It's another brilliant character story, with one of those joyful, fun looks at Keller's past that Oz writers love to give us. And the ending is just a killer, provided you know how the series ended; this is another short story that packs a godawful punch. Warning for the easily offended who have somehow made it this far in this recs set without spontaneously combusting: the very first line of this story features the word "Jesusfucking," and that's not exactly the only obscenity you'll find here. Or the only blasphemy. So probably best not to read this unless you're good with the blasphemy thing.

Best FF That Shows Us That When You Have New Powers, You Also Get to Commit Entirely New and Original Sins. Ten Thousand Candles, by Andraste, aka [ profile] andrastewhite. X-Men, Charles Xavier/Erik Lensherr (but non-explicit - blink and you'll miss the only reference to it; to my mind this is gen). You need to have seen X2 for this to make a lick of sense. If you haven't seen it, go on to the next rec now, because the rest of this summary will take place deep in spoiler territory.

And now that they've all gone, I've got a confession to make to you: the second movie didn't work for me. There were some good parts, but overall, it didn't hang together, and one of the biggest reasons is the thing that Andraste built this story around: Xavier, as we know him in XMM canon, couldn't have survived the events of the movie. The invasion of the school was bad enough, but then there's also the tiny fact that he murdered thousands of people. Murdered. Thousands. Xavier would not be, shall we say, comfortable with that; he wouldn't be able to keep his chin up, keep a stiff upper lip, keep on keeping on after doing that, no matter what the excuse, no matter what the circumstance. But the impression I got from the movie was that he'd found himself not guilty by reason of mindfuck, and that's just - not Xavier, not for me. So I have an intense love for this story. Unbelievably intense. Scarily intense. Go thou and read, and you will love likewise.

Best FF That Proves You Can Build a Story Around Religion and Still Keep It Light and Silly and Totally Not Blasphemous. You Just Have to Find the Right Belief System. Happily Ever After, by Merry, aka [ profile] merryish. Once a Thief, Mac Ramsey/Victor Mansfield. Yes, we've reached the one that's safe for everyone except Amish Satanists and fans of human (and goat) sacrifice. Yay! Now let me tell you how astonished I am to find myself recommending anything in this fandom, because I just finished watching the movie, or possibly the pilot, of this show, and - wow. Bad, folks, I'm telling you. Bad. I can't tell you not to watch it - there's a scene involving a chandelier that makes a reality out of all the "swinging from the chandelier" jokes in various FF stories, inasmuch as the two male characters spend a goodly amount of time tied to each other and rubbing against each other so vigorously that you could use the scene as a visual definition of frottage while hanging from said lighting fixture - but I can tell you that you should be good and drunk when you do. Or just skip to the Chandelier Scene. Trust me, you won't be missing much. Anyway, the Best Beloved and I had just finished watching the movie/pilot thing when I read this, so the scars were fresh. And yet I found myself reading and giggling and loving this story. So I just have to recommend it. It healed me, I'm telling you, and it will heal you, too. Well, provided whatever ailment you have isn't made worse by laughter.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Fan fiction is, at its core, things that never happened. That may be why [ profile] basingstoke's fantastic story concept caught on the way it did.

But, really, do we even need an explanation for the popularity of this trope? (Note use of litgeek vocabulary! I can be taught!) No. No, we do not. When something spurs stories this wonderful, we do not analyze or complain or indeed retain higher brain functions of any kind, although those of you who know me will recognize that complaining is pretty much a brain-stem reflex in my case. We simply feel the love. And show the love. For the authors, I mean. And also for the concept, because I just purely love Things That Never Happened stories.

So should you.

Warning: Before you read further, know that Things That Never Happened stories can explore some, um, challenging territory, and by challenging I mean "really fucking depressing or disturbing or just 'oh my god please give me sedative-hypnotics, and give some to the author while you're at it.'" For example, character death is often one of those things that didn't happen, and while the character's continued existence is usually inarguable, imagining it is still fairly grim. When this occurs, I advise going with the coping mechanism suggested by the story title and chanting, "Never happened never happened never happened" while moving briskly to the next entry, but if that isn't going to work for you, or if you are having an especially bad couple of days, maybe you'll be wanting to give most of these a miss for now.

Warning the second: Things That Never Happened stories usually make a lot more sense if you're familiar with the canon. It sort of helps to know what did happen, in other words, before you read about what didn't.

Best FF Whose Cool Life-Event-Related Chapter Headings It Took Me Forever to Notice, for Reasons Best Not Explored in Detail. Five Pictures That Were Never Taken, by Annie-Lee (or just Annie, and Annie, if you read this, feel free to tell me which one you prefer), aka [ profile] out_there. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. I love this story. I love it because it's the perfect adaptation of the "never happened" concept for this fandom. I love it because it encompasses all the emotional extremes you find in the canon and encapsulates a lot of what I find most appealing about the show. And I love it 'cause of all the stories that are behind these pictures, the stories you know without even needing to be told them, the points you get even though they're never explicitly made. Seriously, this story proves that you don't need to be able to see the picture for it to be worth a thousand words, and I bet you hoped I'd get all the way through this summary without mentioning that aphorism, but you must've known you were doomed from the start. Added bonus: there are several fantastic Sports Night TTNH stories out there, but this is the only one I've found to date that doesn't leave me wanting to ingest massive quantities of psychoactive chemicals. Or maybe radioactive ones. Know of another? I'd love to hear about it.

Best FF That Makes Me Want Snow. No, Need Snow. Which Sucks, Because I Live in Southern California, but Don't Let My Pain Interfere with Your Enjoyment of the Story or Anything. Four Things That Didn't Happen on Christmas Eve, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men movieverse, assorted pairings and gen. This is all about turnings not taken. For some reason, I find the last segment the most fascinating - and I mean seriously fascinating; the day I read this, I couldn't stop fantasizing about an AU in which Magneto v. Charles Xavier would be totally overshadowed by Caged World Death Match: Telepath v. Telepath. Seriously. I sketched out changes to major canon events and a timeline and everything. Because, see, there's a reason Jean Gray had to become Phoenix, and die an irritating number of times, and, like, get new powers and keep the old, or lose the old, or whatever the fuck happened to her. It's because the good guys don't need two telepaths, and the bad guys can't have even one without unbalancing everything. What difference does it make if people can control storms or fire if there's someone able and willing to control the people themselves? And, see, if Jean went evil, then Xavier would have to say goodbye to all of humanity or start breaking his own code of telepathic ethics, and, see - OK. I'm obsessed, and I admit. But all four segments are good, and I defy anyone with a heart to read the third one without feeling wistful, and it's about to be December. Read, read, read.

Best FF That Made Me Use the Phrase "Pocket Universe" Five Times in the Original Story Summary. But I've Deleted Three of Those, and I Think You'll Be Glad I Did. Family Business: Five Things That Never Happened to Dick Grayson, by Lucy, aka [ profile] cereta. D. C. Universe, gen. It never ceases to amaze me that people can write TTNH stories for the main comic book universes, because the comic books themselves do a pretty damn fine job of exploring every possible option and most impossible ones and at least 50% of the ones that leave you shrieking obscenities at the writers. But here we have five Dick Graysons that truly never were, at least to my knowledge, and if this story does not make you want to move to a pocket universe ruled by the author, then you have no sense. (Or possibly way too much. Too much to be reading this LJ, anyway.) And though I said you need to know the canon to be able to read TTNH stories, I don't want people to steer away from this one on that account. For some of these, you only need to know who Batman, Robin, and Catwoman are; for one, you'll need more Smallville than DCU canon. And every segment is worth reading on its own account, I swear it. Plus, you know, if you do get sucked into that pocket universe, you'll want to be able to fangirl the supreme ruler effectively.

Best FF That Teaches Us That, If Someone Offers You a Car, You Should Always Offer Him a Ride. Five Things That Never Happened to Brian O'Conner, by [ profile] kelly_girl. The Fast and the Furious, slash and gen. And please note, folks, that this may be a temporary link; I think [ profile] dirty_diana is hosting this, but I don't know for how long. Here, Kelly Girl rewrites five scenes from the movie to change Brian's life. The weird thing about reading this right after I saw the movie is that so many of these TTNH make more sense than the way the canon chose to go. No, really. I totally understand how the first one couldn't happen in the movie - and I'm glad it didn't. And I get that the second one wasn't going to happen, even if I'm convinced it was an unfilmed scene. But the third and fifth ones? Those make so much more sense than the way things turned out in the movie that I found myself briefly wondering if maybe what got filmed was some weird AU FF for the real script. Then I got better. But I still loved the story. And if you've seen this movie (or just read a detailed and highly biased description of it), so will you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(And, hey, apparently General Patton has come back from the grave to invite me to enlarge my member. I'm - touched, I guess, though he's doomed to disappointment.)

Ah, jealousy. It's not an emotion so much as a disease, one that overtakes formerly sensible people and turns them into twitching, frothing wrecks. I whiled away many hours of my unfortunate teen years listening to sobbing and incoherent wails along the lines of, "he's fucking her! I know it!" And I once watched a guy punch another guy over advances purportedly made to me by the guy of the second part, even though I didn't know - and still don't know - either guy's name, even. And we won't discuss that one infamous New Year's Eve party that the police in the town where I grew up are probably still talking about, except to say that I hope that officer didn't have to pay for a replacement uniform. So, basically, my perspective on jealousy: it's a terrifying thing that comes out of nowhere and wreaks havoc all around you for no apparent reason.

Let's play with this fascinating malady ourselves now, shall we? Or, rather, inflict it on the characters we love, which is much, much more fun.

Best FF That Leaves Me Wondering, for Reasons Probably Best Not Explored, If Due South Ever Used the Phrase, "Truth, Justice, and the 'Canadian' Way" in Its Advertising. Respect, by Colleen Kane, and does anyone have a link for her of any kind? That actually works, I mean, as opposed to her MRKS site, which is dead and gone, my loves. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Here's why I love this story: it shows that Ray knows how to be in a long-term relationship and Fraser doesn't. And, I mean, why would he? His longest-term relationship has been with Diefenbaker, and a deaf half-wolf with an attitude and an eating disorder is not a set of training wheels for marriage. (God only knows what Dief could be considered training for. Nothing that's going to happen in this world, I hope.) In every relationship there's a moment when you have to step down, step back, accept that being with this person is more important than being right, holding the moral high ground, having the toaster settings the way you like them - whatever. Fraser, who is the definitive "my way or the highway, and then I'll still have it my way, thanks" guy - would he know how to do that? No. But Ray does. And, yay! Ray is a good, good teacher. (And he uses sex as an educational aid far more than I ever remember my own teachers doing. Which, you know, good thing, because otherwise they'd be in jail and I wouldn't know how to find the pressure of an ideal gas at a constant temperature, not that I've needed to lately.)

Best FF That Sets a Fandom Record for Number of Seriously Uncomfortable, Not to Say Unpleasant, Conversations and Yet Somehow Still Manages to Be Funny and Have a Happy Ending. Semaphore, by Helen, aka [ profile] helenish. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Here we have a story that pre-dates the famed Rydell Second Season Meltdown, but oddly echoes the mechanisms that induced said meltdown. Except that Danny's the one who made a list, and Casey's the one who is jealous. For a whole variety of reasons, really. And then there's sex. Seriously, this is how that second season arc should've gone, and I wouldn't even insist on the sex. Because in between the list and sex, there's Danny not slinking or prowling but definitely acting as a pie procurement agent for the residents of Manhattan. There's Casey, who is not jealous. Not at all. Except for the parts where he's throwing a jealous tantrum, which is the entire story. There's Natalie and Jeremy breaking up, and wry conversation about said break-up. There's humor in dialog, which is very appropriate and good. There's angst, but not to worry - it all ends well. And did I mention they have sex? I did. Did I mention there's pie? I did. Did I mention the funny? I did. So why are you still here, instead of reading this story?

Best FF That Always Gives Me a Startling Burst of Sympathy for Two Characters I Otherwise Regard As Dull and Vaguely Loathsome, When I Think of Them at All. Green-Eyed Monster, by [ profile] shati. Harry Potter, gen. Pretty much. See, the thing is, every bad guy needs his good guy. What's Joker without Batman? What's Ahab without Moby Dick? What's Angelus without, um, Angel? What's Sauron without - well, Frodo, I guess, or Aragorn, or maybe all Nine Walkers? (OK, so the answers are, in order: laughing every minute, sane and fully limbed, guilt-free and full of job satisfaction, and the vicious ruler of all Middle Earth ha ha ha ha, but you take my point.) Draco used to by Harry's bad boy, but by book five he really isn't getting a look-in anymore. It's all Voldemort this and Voldemort that and it's understandable that Draco would be, well, jealous. I love this story, which is more like an outsize drabble, because it highlights a problem JKR had better address if she knows what's good for her. (Because, baby, I write a mean letter when I'm irked, you betcha.) What's she going to do with Draco? His importance in the first part of the series argues that he should be important in the last part, too, but - not as he currently is, the conniving prat who can't look further than the next Quidditch cup match. He can't be important if he stays like that. It's unlikely she's going to take the fanon route, turning Draco into an oversexed sexy sex-god of sexiness, so - what, exactly? My own hope is that she's setting him up for a redemption character arc, but the truth is she's probably just planning to make him the first real Death Eater Harry knows personally, or something. Sigh.

Best FF That Gave Me an Entirely Different Impression the First Time I Read It Than It Has on Subsequent Readings. What New York Couples Fight About, by Zahra, aka [ profile] hackthis. X-Men movieverse, John Allerdyce*/Bobby Drake, John Allerdyce*/Piotr - um, Piotr. Will someone please help me remember what Piotr's last name is? OK, see, this is why I love this story, because it is so completely what teenagers do when faced with jealousy. They feed the monster. They declare true and eternal love and whisper "only you, only you, only you" as they fuck on the balcony of a cruddy apartment somewhere. And, you know what? Sometimes it works out fine. Sometimes those teenagers grow up to be adults who cope with jealousy the way adults do. I'm not trashing the teenage coping strategy. If you can skip the meaningful conversations and go straight to the great make-up sex, go for it, is what I'm saying. Because this LJ? Totally pro-sex of pretty much any kind at all. But this story teaches us an important lesson, namely: even if you are going the teenager route with the jealousy, don't hit someone who's made of metal, 'cause that way lies pain. Embarrassing pain. Oh, warning: you might not want to totally trust me on this story summary; I wasn't kidding when I said I read this an entirely different way the first time through. I mean, I really liked it that way, and I also really like it this way, but still - two totally different and mutually exclusive interpretation. So mine may not be the most reliable opinion about it on the planet.


* I've accepted that John Allerdyce, aka movie Pyro, is a whole different person than comicbook Pyro, and I'm therefore reluctantly coming to terms with the name change. Though, dammit, St. John is just so much the cooler name, and it's his name, but I'm not going down this path again, I'm just not. It's one of those changes you have to learn to live with, unless you prefer to live with insanity.
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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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)
For the record, I totally disagree with the title of this entry, and consider that statement definitive proof that Virginia Woolf was off her rocker, because telephones are not romantic. They are evil. There's a creeping, insidious malevolence about the telephone that most people just don't understand, probably because they were victims, early in their lives, of Brave New World-style psychological conditioning conducted by a telephone company. (And, yes, a telephone company would do that, because telephones may be evil, but telephone companies are Satanic.)

This all just goes to prove the magic of fandom, though, because in these stories fan fiction writers create good from telephonic evil. But you shouldn't take that as an excuse to let your guard down around phones. You can't trust those things for a second.

Best FF That Shows Us How to Handle Long-Distance Relationships: with Lots of Telephone Calls, Lots of Talking, and Lots and Lots of Mutual Masturbation. Springfield, [ profile] estrella30. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Fraser does not strike me as a phone sex kind of guy. Which is why this story works so well; Ray almost has to handcuff him to the receiver to get him going. (I can just picture that, actually. Ray'd have to get Fraser to cuff himself to the phone, since he's not in the room, and he could probably persuade Fraser to do that, too. Immovable Object Fraser, meet Irresistible Force Kowalski. Turns out the result of that kind of meeting isn't the end of the universe, as we used to theorize back in high school, but rather hot, hot sex.) I also love that Estrella has Ray weirded out once the guys are actually in the same room together, while Fraser turns into Constable Sex Machine. But then, I love everything about Estrella's writing, so it isn't a surprise I'd love this story, which I think is her longest one to date. And she doesn't waste any space, either; every single detail is right, from the way Ray reacts to sitting in a courtroom (he sort of vibrates, like Kid Flash, only with more swearing), to the conversations that Fraser and Ray have before they get to the sex portion of the program (they don't say much, but they both view their conversations as a lifeline), to Dief's ceremonious dispatch into the hallway ("I thank you for your company, but you're excused now.") To sum: this is a wonderful story.

Best FF That Proves That a Certain Sports Anchor Can Use His Way with Words for Evil. And Also Proves That He Should Do That Way, Way More Often. Reach Out and Touch Someone, by Caroline Baker, aka [ profile] linabean, and Fox, aka [ profile] darthfox. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. For the record, "Reach Out and Touch Someone" was going to be the title of this entry, but Caroline Baker and Fox got there first, and I don't even hold it against them, 'cause they used it on a great story. This is funny and light-hearted and insanely porny, which I suspect will sell about 85% of this LJ's readers on it. Not enough? Wait! There's more. Because the funniest part is actually not technically part of the story - it's the chat extract that follows the end. So be sure to read the chat transcript at the beginning, because otherwise you might not get the joke. And if that still isn't enough for you - although, really, it should be - this story has yet another attraction to lure the jaded reader: evil Danny. Not, you know, Angelus-type evil, where you have to send nuns away for their own good. More like Spike evil, where, OK, yes, technically he is evil, but he's so good at it, and he's so likable that you just love him anyway. And people find him inexplicably sexy. (I sincerely hope that bit didn't make anyone imagine Danny being played by James Marsters, though, because that would be too weird for words.) So. I've told you there's phones in this story, and that it's funny, and that it's up to its apostrophes in smut; do you really need to know more? OK. One other detail. In this story, Casey has hurt his elbow. Now go read it.

Best FF That Features - I Swear to God - a Cameo by Ewan McGregor, Even Though It Is Set in a Totally Ewan-Free Canon. Conversation, by [ profile] cara_chapel. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. (You know, I'm starting to feel like I'm always recommending the same three fandoms, which means, I imagine, that the people who read this must be well and truly sick of said fandoms. So for the next entry I'll look through my list for a set that is made up of fandoms I haven't recommended for a while. It'll be kind of a palate-clearer for us all. Anyway, back to the rec.) Jim, on stakeout, commits an act of Sentinel voyeurism (which is just like regular voyeurism, except that it's got more detail and more sensory involvement than most of us get when we're having sex right up close and personal). And then he calls Blair, which is so what he would do, and only Jim could convince himself that he's doing it for some reason other than a desire for late-night phone sex. But, hey, Sandburg's no dummy, and he totally isn't fooled, so they have their phone sex anyway. The thing that always draws my attention when I read this story, though, is the couple Jim watches have sex; they sound to me like the characters played by Ewan McGregor and Yoshi Oida in The Pillow Book. (Hence the title of this story's award.) Anyone else get that? No? Well, but the blond guy in this story is named Jerome, and so was McGregor's character. Still don't see it? Maybe I'm insane. Anyway, this story just feels right to me. Somehow, Jim seems like the kind of guy that would feel more comfortable talking on the phone than in person, and Blair seems like one of those people that use telephones as almost an extension of their bodies, just one more way of guaranteeing that there'll always be someone to talk to. I doubt that's canon, or even in line with canon - for all I know, both guys hate phones - but it's one of the reasons this story works for me. Only one of them, though, so feel to read it even if you don't agree.

Best FF That Shows Us That Sometimes Even Telepathy Isn't Enough to Ensure You'll Win Mind Games. Golden, by Andraste, aka [ profile] andrastewhite. X-Men, Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr. (And, hey. Did everyone else know this interesting fact and just keep it from me? Because I was reading the Magneto entry at the Marvel Directory, and apparently Magneto once used the alias Michael Xavier. Am I the only person shocked and delighted by this news? Am I the only person now singing "Charles and Erik, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jean Gray in a baby carriage?" Less delightful - more neutral, really - is the news that in the comics canon Erik Lehnsherr is not necessarily his real name, which I also totally didn't know. And I call myself a comics fan.) So, getting back to the story. This is a telephone-based fic with no phone sex; in fact, there's no sex of any kind. Charles and Erik have moved past using the telephone as a sex toy; for them, it's more of a weapon in their reach-out-and-hurt-someone-you-love arsenal. Not that they need any help, mechanical or otherwise, to hurt each other, because they've got that down. But, hey, there's a lot of FF couples who can do that; that's not what makes these guys special. This story shows us what does. It captures that indefinable Xavier/Magneto magic, in which love and hate and pain and pleasure are all inextricably mixed, so that they can't stop loving each other any more than they can stop fighting each other. This isn't an easy dynamic to write, so be impressed with Andraste. I sure am.

Next time: a recs set that doesn't contain a single dS, TS, or SN story. If I can write such a thing without dropping dead.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I'm finding it increasingly hard to assemble gen sets. I'm sure, back in the days when Kirk/Spock and slash meant roughly the same thing, it was fairly easy to know if you were reading (or writing) slash. If there was the vaguest overtone of male homosexuality, there you go - slash.

It's a little tougher these days. We've got gay-in-canon characters and gay canons and gay pants all over the place. What do I call a story that makes a reference to Angel's past relationship with Spike? What do I call a story involving any of the Ultimate universes (apparent editorial slogan: "Stan Lee is dead. Bring on the gay!")? What am I supposed to call Beecher/Keller stories? No one is happier than I am that people are finally trying to put homosexuality where it belongs, squarely in the canon, but it makes it tough to classify stories.

So, for the record, let me explain what I am going to mean by these terms in the future. Only behind the cut, so people don't have to see it unless they enjoy mincing words. )

Best FF That Proves That a Really Good FF Writer Can Make Me Interested in Any Character, No Matter How Repellent or Dull That Person Is in the Canon. Damn It. Four Ways of Coming out of the Cold, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men. Storm has, in my opinion, not been well served by either the movies or the comic books; it's like no one knows what to do with her or how to make her entirely three-dimensional. Ironic, really, when you consider that a main theme of the whole universe is that mutants are people, too. Penknife does an excellent job of giving Storm some actual humanity, and I'm trying not to resent it. (I like disliking some characters, OK? Soon I'm going to like every damn character in the world. And then, if trends continue, the canon writers will feel obliged kill everyone off.) So, anyway, here we have four ways Storm's first encounter with Xavier could have happened. If Storm makes you gag, you should read this anyway, because it's also about Xavier, about who he is and who he could be. This story is an example of what I meant about tough-to-classify fic, because there's a hint of Xavier/Magneto in one of these vignettes, but, frankly, there was a hint of that in the canon, too. If it bothers you - assuming there are people left who still have problems with non-explicit m/m relationships - just remember their history of friendship and betrayal and hope and betrayal (and oh my god I never thought of the similarities between Xavier/Magneto and Beecher/Keller before, and I never want to again) and let it go at that.

Best FF That Makes Me Want to Dig up C.S. Lewis, a Man I Have Always Admired, So That I Can Punch Him in the Mouth. Although by This Time I'd Really Just Be Punching Him in the Mandible, Which Frankly Would Not Be Sufficient. The Queen in Exile, by LindaMarie, aka [ profile] lm. The Chronicles of Narnia. This is one of those I-can't-warn-you-but-I-need-to situations, so let me say that "The Queen in Exile" is absolutely brutal, and it is not for people who are taking psychoactive medications, seeing visions, or having a bad day. But it is so worth reading, and so totally, totally right. Before I encountered Narnia fan fiction, my feelings about Lucy were just vaguely uncomfortable, but some great authors have showed me the light. Or, in this case, the darkness. Because how hard did you search for Narnia when you were little, when you half believed that you only had to open the right door to find a world that was made for bookish little kids like you? So how much harder would you look if you were Lucy, if you'd been there, grown up there, loved there, lived your life there, and then lost it? No, that's not quite right. Had it taken away from you by someone you worshiped and served and never once let down.

Best FF That Heals the Wounds Left by Painful Canon Without in Any Way Being Canon Repair. TV Camp, by [ profile] shrift. Sports Night. What, you thought I could only rec SN slash? Well, you are so wrong, because this is gen, my friends. It is even cheerful gen. (I do have a lethally wonderful gen story for this fandom, too, but I didn't think I could handle re-reading it right after "The Queen in Exile." There's a limit to my ability to handle even the very best killing blow type stories.) This story makes me increasingly happy as I tentatively poke at the second season of Sports Night, because in that season Danny goes out on a ledge and over the edge. He's unstable in a way he just wasn't in the first season, in ways that weren't even suggested then; I think it's 'cause Sorkin needed to express his own instability, and he sure wasn't going to use Casey as a self-insertion. (But let's not get into that, or I'll be here all day.) This story lets me remember my favorite kind of Danny: the guy who listens and remembers and is just irresistibly charming, even to the self-absorbed, the neurotic, and the deliberately abrasive. As in, for example, Sam Donovan, who I also love because he is so damn competent. (The man could rule the world if he wanted to; really, the network types should count their blessings that all he wants to do is improve ratings, because if he wanted to eat their hearts, he would.) Here Sam, the world-conqueror, succumbs to Danny's water-on-stone method of making friends, and it is just really wonderful. I love it.

Best FF That Reminds Us That You Can Overcome Your History, Yes, but It's Far More Likely That You Won't. A Small Truce, by Marina Frants, aka [ profile] marinarusalka. Harry Potter. I honestly cannot believe I didn't rec this story long, long ago; it's been in my database forever, and I truly love it, and I thought I'd recommended it, but it isn't marked, so - here. Go read this. Why? Well, first, because it starts like a typical slash story and then goes in an unexpected direction - a direction that is far more in keeping with the canon than it would have been had it been slash. (Which isn't to say I don't love that kind of slash, because I totally do; you know that. It's just that JKR has never let either Sirius or Snape overcome the past or let go of hatred, so continuing to fail to do it is highly in character for them.) I think of this story as Harry Potter for grown-ups, Harry Potter the way JKR might make it if she was writing for an adult audience. Which we all are. Or had better be, because the next set is, believe you me, taking us right back to smutland.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
...and, in this particular case, their lives are what our thoughts make it. In other words, it's time for another set of Alternate Universe stories.

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

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

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

Best FF That Shows Us That You Never Get Tired of the Classics, or of Ray and Fraser in a Sweaty Environment: Two Men in a Boat, or Adventures on the African Queen, by [ profile] sihayab. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. The first reason I love this one is the idea of it. I mean, yes, when I saw the first half of the title I hoped it was going to be a take-off on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog! (and I will love forever anyone who actually writes that: RayK, Fraser, RayV or Turnbull, and Diefenbaker on the Thames). But what it actually is - Fraser as Katherine Hepburn and RayK as Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen - is inspired lunacy, and I adore it even if Dief (renamed Mackenzie, for obvious reasons) is back in Canada. Because admit it: you can see Fraser as strait-laced, uptight missionary Hepburn, and you can also see Kowalski as a hyperactive version of Bogart. So here we have a great example of today's final kind of AU: the transplant, where the characters from one world are put into the story of another one. This one requires a very deft hand and very careful selection of the two worlds being blended, because the characters have to stay themselves and the story has to stay itself. I think you'll agree that Sihaya was fully up to the task.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I have got an awful song lodged in my head. An awful, awful, awful song. A song by Joni Mitchell. A song that is, in fact, my mother's favorite song.

So I am in no mood to fuck around. Hence a set of fast fic. Because it's the fic that doesn't fuck around.

Best FF Introducing One Concept Comics Desperately Need and One Concept Fandoms Desperately Need: The Color Pink, by [ profile] basingstoke. DCU, and it's slash without a pairing - a whole new, um, ballgame. And I didn't mean that the way it sounded. So, can I just say that every single possible fandom should have a story in which one of the characters checks out the LotR boys? Think about it, people! Ray ogling Boromir, Fraser agonizing over deviations from the book to the point that he forgets to warn Ray that Boromir dies. Danny secretly buying all three editions of all three movies, plus a poster, and Casey finding out ('cause Danny'd have to have it delivered to his office, since he's never, you know, at his home), and banter ensuing. Bobby and St. John on a movie date ("It's not a date." "It's a movie date." "It's just a movie! No date!") watching Return of the King. Weird metaslash in which the actual book Aragorn watches the movies and says "It was not like that at all, at all. That is not it, at all." There's no end to the joy this could bring! OK. Maybe that's just me. But even if the idea of Kon + Tim + Fellowship of the Rings is not appealing to you (although, for the record, that would make you freakishly strange, possibly even mutant), this story should be. Because: pink kryptonite (that's the thing mentioned in the title that every comic should have). And Batman being so Batman, and Tim...Tim...look, just read this. It makes me giggly and incoherent, folks; it's just that good.

Best FF That Gave Me New Insight into a Character and Taught Me a Whole New Sporting Concept That Will Surely Find Its Way into Many of My Conversations in the Near Future: The Prevent Defense, by [ profile] scribblinlenore, who I forgive for her user name even though it makes me recite Poe every time I see it, because, hey, it's better than Joni Mitchell. Sports Night, Danny/Casey. Ish. You know, I read a lot of drabbles. (Well, we all do. I'm not claiming that's special or anything; I'm just saying.) And most of them inspire one of three thoughts: "Hey, there's a great story idea in here - it just needs an extra thousand words to flesh it out!" or "Was there a point to this? A point that I am missing?" or "What the hell was that?" But this drabble kicks ass. It makes me remember why I read all the bad drabblage out there - so that I can find the occasional tiny, perfectly-done gem like this one. What happens here? Casey's thinking of sports, but he's thinking about Danny. You know, the usual. But what the writer has done with that is unusual. And impressive.

Best FF Featuring a Werewolf Who Should Really Think about the Precedent He's Setting, but Won't, Because We Didn't Either at That Age. Or, for That Matter, at This Age.: Weakness, by [ profile] enarte. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Sirius Black. It's a look back at Sirius and Remus as they once were, before...well, before pretty much everything. And yet we can already see, in this small piece of fic, their entire future together. Sirius is just a little young for his age, just a little thoughtless, and Remus is forgiving but not forgetting. This story shows us why the interlude in Grimmaud Place couldn't be any more than an interlude (and I believe that even if I still resent JKR for writing Sirius so that it had to be that way, and then killing him off just, apparently, for fun). We also see the reason why Remus keeps walking away, moving on instead of fighting - or at least we have proof that he's always been doing that. This is a totally believable young Sirius and Remus, in other words, and teeny canon violations in no way undermine that.

Best FF Featuring a Superintendent of Schools Who Is Going to Learn Just How Totally Outclassed He Really Is: These Aren't the Droids, by [ profile] c_elisa. X-Men movies, gen. We began this set with a story from a comics-based fandom and containing a reference to a popular movie, and we're ending it the same way. Here we see why Xavier doesn't have to be evil, why he can afford to be better than that - how he is fundamentally different from Magneto not just because he's good in the moral sense, but because he's good in the skills sense. Xavier, my friends, is the original man with all the answers, and the sad part is that he usually doesn't even pull them from other people's brains. Who needs Jedi mind control when you've got Xavier spin control? Not this passel of mutants, I tell you. Go. Read. Admire. May I join you?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Nobody is a bigger fan of the explicitly smutty story than I am. But smut cannot stand alone, my friends; it has to fit in the story, be part of the story's framework, or it's just another boring cookie-cutter sex scene that readers skim through to get back to the plot. So I am also a big fan of those authors that only put smut where it belongs.

I hear you saying "But smut belongs everywhere!" I feel that way myself sometimes. The truth is, however, that some stories just aren't ready to go all the way, and authors who honestly love and care for those stories don't force them. So today I'm taking the time to praise those authors who respect their stories' boundaries even if it means going below the NC-17 horizon.

Best FF Featuring a Totally Anachronistic and Yet Totally Appropriate Song: Barter, by Gloria Mundi, aka [ profile] viva_gloria. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack/OMC. The easiest way to describe this story is to quote the author's summary: "'Last time the rum runners who used this island as a cache came by, and I was able to barter a passage off.' Barter? Barter what?" I read that and thought, hey, yeah! What did he barter? Glori asked the question and she answered it. This story is sharper and more serious than I usually like in this fandom; after all, the canon doesn't exactly bring the word "gravitas" to mind, so why should the fan fiction? But "Barter" works for me, possibly because if Jack's ever going to be angsty, it's going to be about the Pearl. Hell, the Pearl has to be involved just for Jack to be serious.

Best FF That Teaches Us How Dangerous It Can Be at the Forefront of the Fight for Equality of the Sexes: Gynecology1, by Charlemagne, aka [ profile] synchronik. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. Danny is made Woman for a Night, and learns some important feminine facts, which include:

1. There's nothing more dangerous than a group of intoxicated women.
2. Sweet, fruit-flavored alcohol is lethal.
3. Two can keep a secret. Unless they work together. Or the secret makes for really good gossip. God help you if both are true.
4. If you don't know what you're going to say, don't open your mouth.

This story, in my opinion, is a perfect example what sports Night FF writers do so well - humor, fantastically snappy dialog, and a touch of drama simmering under the surface, where you can see it or not, just as you prefer.

Best FF That Reminds Us Why Teenagers Are Dangerous Things to Have Around the House. Or Around the Planet, for That Matter.: Seeing Through the Spaces, by [ profile] pearl_o. X-Men movies, Magneto/Mystique, Pyro. There's been a lot of FF on Pyro turning to the dark side, and much of it is excellent. This story stands out for me, though, because not only do we see St. John as a sullen, somewhat thoughtless teenager, but we also get to see how vulnerable that makes him to Magneto's manipulation. And he's not vulnerable because he's somehow worse or more susceptible than other people his age; he's not. He's just an ordinary teenaged boy, making life-changing decisions without really knowing or even wondering why. Frankly, I think we should all be very grateful that in our world teenagers can't control elemental forces of destruction. Well, except for cars. And certain kinds of music.

Best FF That Manages to Make Contagious Disease and Its Affiliated By-Products Romantic: Wine, Women and Schlong, by Brighid, aka [ profile] brighidestone. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. This story could use a little proofreading, but it is so worth reading. It's light and fun and funny, and, as I mentioned in the category title, it actually manages to make mucous romantic, which is clear proof that Brighid is a slash genius. Also, I love Sentinel stories that point out what the writers of the canon apparently missed - namely, that no one on this planet could possibly have believed Jim and Blair weren't lovers. I mean, they live together, work together, get jealously possessive of each other, protect each other, and cuddle after life-threatening situations. They probably do each other's laundry, too. Newborn babies must have looked at them and thought "Gay. Totally gay," never mind the people who actually worked with them. It's nice that FF writers could step in and pick up the slack, here. Of course, that's what FF does for every aspect of the canon. This is why a portion of my personal mantra is, "Thank god for slashers, who return a modicum of sanity to the world of The Sentinel."


1 In all honesty I should note that the author himself considered this an NC-17 story. I've read it several times, and I just don't think it deserves such a high rating. R, maybe, but not NC-17. I'd be glad to hear other people's opinions on this point, though.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I never cease to be astonished at what writers manage to do with a handful of words. Or, in some cases, a few handfuls.

Best Two FFs That Prove That Everybody Does Indeed Have a Story to Tell: Fault, by [ profile] alestar, and The Fisher King, by [ profile] c_elisa. X-Men movies, Bobby Drake (Iceman) gen (or, potentially, very mild implied slash in one case). I did not like Bobby Drake in the comic books, and it was pretty easy to transfer that emotion to the Bobby of the movies. I just let my expectations take over. I ended up seeing the Iceman I expected to see - the good-natured, characterless dork who smiles too much.

I can't tell you how glad I am that other people saw more. Specifically, the people who wrote these stories saw way more. These are both about Bobby in the wake of X2, about his way of failing to handle what happened in that movie. (It turns out, if you were actually paying attention to his storyline, that a lot of interesting stuff happened to the smiling dork in that movie. If, as I say, you were paying attention.) These stories make him a real person. I find it fascinating that they so clearly describe the same person - the writers use different methods, yes, and tell different stories, but they're showing you the same guy. Now that is what I call being in character, people.

Best FF That Proves That You Really Can't Go Home Again, Because Even If They Have to Take You in, They Don't Have to Wait for You: Stanley Raymond Vecchio, by Cara Chapel, whose homepage does not appear to be working at this time. Due South, Ray Vecchio/Stella Kowalski with tiny hints of Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Yes, I am recommending a story about Ray Vecchio that is sympathetic in nature. No, I am not currently being remotely controlled by alien creatures. This is another story that completely changed the way I saw a character. In this case, it's Ray Vecchio. I've always been pleased with the way Vecchio ended up, which I pretty much summarized as "permanently out of the loop, but happy." It took Cara to show me that Ray Vecchio's ending is not necessarily happy; it's cosmic justice, pure and simple. And it isn't altogether pleasant to be the recipient of cosmic justice, folks. I don't necessarily like Vecchio any more now than I did before I read this story, but I sure do have more sympathy for him. And now I realize how significant it is that Vecchio went south.

Best Two FFs That Prove That the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Mirror, by [ profile] kassrachel, and Drabble #51, by [ profile] minim_calibre. Batman (and assorted Robins), Dick Grayson (Nightwing) mild implied slash. You know, I always sort of thought the endless parade of Robins was irritating, even though I liked Robin III a lot. Once again, two great writers prove me wrong. See, the whole point of the Batverse, as far as I can tell, is angst. Plus angst. And some more angst. In my under-construction DCU Fandoms I Have Loved, I describe Batman as the King of Pain. And you know what? Everyone who gets involved with him is a citizen of the country of Pain. (I assume they hand out passes to newcomers: "Welcome to the DC Universe. Your first traumatic life event is on the house!") So, clearly, anything that brings additional pain and/or angst to the Batworld is entirely appropriate and necessary. The Robin succession certainly does that, which is what we see here. Dick's moved on, but he'll never be able to stop looking back. (Side note: is there something about Dick Grayson's voice that causes people to write really great closing lines?)


1 Authors, recommenders ask for no better gift from you than an actual title for every damn thing you write. Please, people, I'm begging you. Do you KNOW how many stories I've got in my database under "Untitled"?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The joys of coitus interruptus are many. Totally unrecommended as birth control, mind you - anyone who has ever had sex with a male between 14 and 19 years of age will be able to explain why, should you be curious - but it does make for some, shall we say, amusing fan fiction.

Best FF That Shows Us Why We Should Take Care to Check Our Environs for Individuals with Enhanced Senses of Smell Prior to Any Impromptu Semi-Public Sexual Activity: Chemistry and the Things We Shouldn't Do, by Zahra, aka [ profile] hackthis. X-Men movies, Bobby Drake (Iceman)/St. John Allerdyce (Pyro). This story spawned this whole nominations theme, because when I read it I realized that it doesn't get much worse, in the coitus interruptus sweepstakes, for said interruption to come from someone with claws and a sense of humor who will live forever. Seriously, Bobby and St. John (and that is his name, dammit, I don't care what the movies think) will be dead of extreme old age and Wolverine will be hanging out over their coffins telling this story to their great-grandkids. Who, I am sure, will find it a highly educational experience.

Best FF That Shows Us Why It Sucks to Be a Superhero, and I Don't Mean the Good Kind of Suck, Either: Interruptus, by [ profile] silentfire. Justice League (I think), Clark/Lex. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I actually have my own personal set o' superheroes. Except they aren't so much superheroes as people beset by superpowers; I've always been more interested in the down sides of superheroism - the Rogues rather than the Wolverines, to put it another way. But this is one down side that even I totally failed to appreciate. I mean, we've all had unfortunate interruptions at some point in our lives. (My life, in fact, can be charted out in stages by the kind of interruption most likely to happen, starting with the parental phone call when I'm already late home, continuing through the drunken sobbing roommate, moving on to the professional emergency, and finishing, at least for now, with an uninvolved party throwing up.) But how many of us have ever had to choose between having sex and saving the world? Not me. (Good thing, really, because there were times in my younger and more hedonistic days when I might've made the wrong choice.) And, I hope, not you. So let us all take a moment to be grateful for those fictional individuals who make continued life on this planet possible, even though they have to wear dorky Spandex costumes and drop everything the minute disaster strikes.

Best FF Featuring the Phrase "Attack on Crack" That Doesn't Succumb to the Temptation to Make the Obvious Pun: Life Lived Like a Mentos Commercial, by Mallory Klohn, and does anyone have a current link for her? The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/OMC, Blair Sandburg/Jim Ellison. I think we can all agree that being found in flagrante delicto by Wolverine is about as bad as it can get, but Jim Ellison has got to be in the top thousand Worst Interrupters, anyway. And I think we can also agree that if you're having sex with someone who is wearing a Safety Dog costume, being caught by anyone is a bad idea. Unless, I suppose, you're an out-and-proud furry, in which case, go you! I, myself, would be forced to enter the Humiliated Persons Protection Program, seeking a new life under the name "Wanka Slasherson" in Abilene, Texas. (Side note: I'd be grateful if someone could explain to me why this is life lived like a Mentos commercial. Isn't this story based on the movie Groundhog Day? What do lame little candies have to do with this story? Or, for that matter, anything?)

Best FF Featuring a Phrase That Will Haunt Me Forever and Likely Prevent Me from Realizing My Full Potential: Five Things That Never Happened to Ray and Ray, by [ profile] cesperanza. Due South, Ray Vecchio/Ray Kowalski. This, my friends, is classic naive Fraser; I am particularly fond of versions three and four, which somehow distill naivete to its very essence. The phrase referenced in the title is, for the record, "What are you, the asshole police?" It will live in my mind forever, rising to the surface during job interviews, eulogies, and conversations with my grandmother. (This is one of the many reasons you will never see me on live television; my brain is full of things like this, and in moments of stress, they are all I can think of to say. It's a disease or something.) And, yes, I am fully aware that there is a small but, shall we say, extremely vocal contingent that refuses to read Ray/Ray stories; for their benefit, I am once again including a Certified Safe Alternate due South story.


Best FF Featuring Several Excellent Potential Topics for Dissertations and Theses: The Bodyguard, by [ profile] cesperanza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. I am particularly proud of this alternate, which not only fits the theme - in fact, there are two interruptions here! - but is also by the same author. Let it never be said I don't respect the strange quirks of my blog readers. Well, OK, really just the readers who know where I sleep. But still, I think it's very sensitive and thoughtful of me. This story has the disadvantage of having been recommended nearly everywhere. (Perhaps I should do a Slashy set consisting of authors whose every word you should read, including their high school papers on Romeo and Juliet and grocery lists written while stoned. It would save us all a lot of trouble.) But it has many advantages, including humor, hockey, fascinating alternative theological theories, and Fraser contemplating inflicting gross bodily harm on a helpless woman. (Well, relatively helpless, anyway. Or, actually not helpless at all. But still totally female.) And that's all just in the first page. Later on, there's jokes in several languages, and sex, and some surprisingly serious social commentary and - look, just read it.
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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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)
Today, we pay tribute to an activity that is, too often, just a short stop on the way to somewhere else: kissing. You know. The lips-mouths-tongues thing. I realize that in many slash stories kissing is just the thing the guys do until the author can get something else in at least one participant's mouth, but a kiss can also be, you know, important. Pivotal. Worth at least a paragraph or two, in other words. These stories don't all stop with just the kissing - well, I mean, what kind of smutty recommender would I be if they did? - but they all have kissing that matters.

At least in my opinion.

Best FF That Uses Kissing as a Means of Dispute Resolution: Leap, by Kellie Matthews. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. My high school was full of suburban boys who appeared to have only one means of settling an argument - the traditional method, which inevitably led to mano-a-mano, bloody noses, and, in the fullness of time, the principal's office. If only they'd known that all such arguments could be resolved far more simply and quickly with a kiss. (Although, given my high school, I'm not willing to swear that wouldn't also have ended in the principal's office.) We all would have been spared the lingering ennui of the same old fistfights, and I would, I promise you, have been much more scrupulous about attendance. In this story (yes, I've gotten back to the story), Fraser and Ray argue about risk-taking behavior. And, of course, it leads to kissing. And sex. But kissing first.

Best FF That Uses Kissing to Explain a Confusing Religious Concept Far Better Than Any Theological Texts I've Read: Ineffability, by V, [ profile] deepsix. Good Omens, Crowley/Aziraphale. This one is short and sweet, and if you don't get ineffability after reading the last line, read it again. Or, I suppose, you could seek out a member of the clergy. But, really, all things considered, I would just go with the re-read. And for those of you feeling squeamish about explicit sex between angels (as opposed to explicit sex involving Angel, which is a whole other fandom), this one does stop at (and start with) just kissing. So if you came here for smut rather than a religious education, you may want to skip this one. (But really, you shouldn't.) Note: this is a time-sensitive link; the host site is closing soon, and we will lose V's site, and Cimorene's site, and a lot of other good stuff. Read it and weep, folks.

Best FF That Uses Kissing as Ominous Foreshadowing: Trust, by the amazing [ profile] penknife. X-Men movies, Magneto/Xavier. M/X stories just can't end happily. Oh, there have been a few authors who've tried. There're even a few who have succeeded, except that even as you're reveling in the characters' apparent happiness, you can't silence the small voice in your head saying: "If you two knew what's coming..." In this FF, Penknife doesn't try. We see Charles and Erik as they once were, but we also see the future coming in fast, like a fist, and we know how it will end. (For the record, in case you haven't been paying attention: in tears. Well, OK, actually in them developing major ideological differences and spending the rest of their lives on opposite sides battling each other for the title of King of the Mutants, but "in tears" is the short version. To the extent that there can ever be a short version in the Marvel universe.) Lends real poignancy to the kiss, let me tell you.

Best FF That Uses Kissing to Precipitate a Sexual Identity Crisis That Is, Frankly, Long Overdue: The Right to Remain Silent, by Kass and Justine - [ profile] kassrachel and [ profile] sanj*. The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/Jim Ellison. There's a lot of competition in the Significant Kissing category in this fandom, but this one stands out because there's more than one Significant Kiss. Basically, Blair Sandburg goes over his nightly quota of said kisses, and finds himself switching teams before the week is out. Jim Ellison gets bitten and finds himself having sex in a car. All becomes right in the Sentinel universe. Readers everywhere cheer enthusiastically. And I end this set before I develop a tongue fixation.

* Thanks for the link, [ profile] the_star_fish and [ profile] kassrachel.
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 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 [ 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, [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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)
An actual, real relationship is generally not PWP. It affects other people, for one thing - friends, family, former lovers. And this is a set of stories that acknowledges that fact - a set of threesomes that aren't what we usually mean by that word.

Best FF That Only Features Sex in Retrospect: Kowalski Is Bleeding, by [ profile] cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Raymond Kowalski, Ray Vecchio/Stella Kowalski. This is one of my favorite due South stories ever, right here, but I've hesitated to recommend it. Yes, there's the aspect that probably everyone in the world has read it already. But there's also this: the characters are a little different here, and I'm not sure how a die-hard dS fan might take that. To me, this is the perfect version of them, though. Here we have a Fraser whose interior monologue is, shall we say, not quite as perfect as he forces his appearance to be, a RayK who is a little broken and a lot bitey, and a dislocated RayV. It's right that they should be like this, at least to me. And it's even more right that the story is told this way - there are two sexual relationships here, yes, but the focus is actually on a third relationship, the friendship of the real Vecchio and Fraser. Vecchio's not a bad guy, here; he's a real friend and a good cop and a decent human being. Don't see why this is a threesome story? Go read it.

Best FF That Shows Why Mothers Should Never Try to Interfere with Their Children's Romantic Pursuits: Sundress, by [ profile] rhoddlet. Harry Potter, Ginny/Hermione. This is a short story and an excruciating one, at least for me. Rhoddlet seems to have a way with Ron, and that's what I come back to again and again in this story. It's a happy ending, at least in the short term, for two people, but I can't say "Yay!" because there's also Ron. Who is painfully in love - and look how she shows us that with just a few details - and who is not going to get what he wants. Ouch.

Best FF That Proves That the Marvel Universe Should Be Looking for a Few Good Psychiatrists: The Elevator Series - Going Down, Suspension, Second Story, and Underground Levels, by shalott, [ profile] astolat. X-Men movies, Magneto/Mystique/Xavier. I've recommended "Going Down" before, but I was remiss in not giving you the whole story. This particular triad is, well, twisted; it's also the perfect example of triangulation. Xavier and Magneto can only express their feelings for each other through a third person, and what a perfect third person Magneto has found: Mystique. But it really is all about Erik and Charles; she's the medium and the message, nothing more. For me, the story doesn't end in "Underground Levels," partly because I don't want it to, but partly because I think Mystique is wrong. I think her estimation of Magneto is wrong - not entirely, but just enough that her scenario won't play out. So, for me, shalott's story Pilgrimage is actually the last in this series. That's just my opinion - she probably wouldn't agree - but this is how I see the twisted tale ending.

Best FF in Which Shirt Selection Is Both a Metaphor and a Transition: One Hundred Thousand Miles, by [ profile] alestar. X-Men comics, Bobby Drake/Pete Wisdom. And, very present in this story though he doesn't make an actual appearance, Remy Le Beau. (For those of you not familiar with the comics: Bobby is Iceman, but a grown up one, unlike in the movie. Remy is Gambit, an X person and an energy manipulator. Pete Wisdom is, coincidentally enough, Pete Wisdom, a spy and also an energy manipulator. That's all you need to know to read this story.) Bobby's got some issues to work out, and a shirt to wear. I like this story 'cause it's real. We all do stupid things for reasons we don't quite understand. And sometimes those stupid things actually work. I also like this because the Bobby/Remy pairing never quite worked for me. When I read "One Hundred Thousand" I realized why. As usual, Alestar has got the X-folks in the palm of her hand and perfectly in character.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
"But it's the best part of everything!" I hear you crying. Well, in most cases, you're right. Certainly when it comes to fan fiction, you're right. But there are exceptions to almost every rule, and this nominations set is made up of such exceptions.

Why am I posting a smut-free set? Well, first, it's part of my ongoing effort to prove to myself that I'm not totally subsumed by perversion. (Results: inconclusive. Try again later.) Second, it's my attempt to praise those authors who realize their stories don't need sex, and then don't force the story to feature sex. They are few, but, I hope, proud. Because I'd rather read one absolutely in character, plot-appropriate, truly hot sex scene than four sex scenes composed entirely of wet cardboard and recycled verbs and pasted into a story that just isn't in the mood.

Best FF Involving the Astronomy Tower and Nighttime and Snape Admitting to Being a Sadist and Still No Sex: A Little Night Air, by [ profile] penknife. Harry Potter. Severus Snape is one of the most widely fanwanked characters in existence, possibly because J.K. Rowling has, shall we say, left ample room for fan interpretation in the canon view of him. So when I read this, my heart swelled with joy. This is my Snape! Snape as I see him! He's snarky, difficult, brilliant - Snape of the evening, wonderful Snape. If I had a tail, I would wag it every time I read this story. Alas, I do not, so all I can do is rec it. And re-read it. And snicker.

Best FF That Will Give You Vaguely Nervous Feelings Every Time You Look at a Packet of Seeds for the Next Year: Bound, by Mary Borsellino. Lord of the Rings domestic blend. This is an AU in which Frodo took the ring, and it is creepy as are all good the-One-Ring-prevails fics. (I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's nothing as menacing as something small and pretty that should be totally harmless and yet turns out to want your soul.) The movies, in my opinion, really enhance the whole Evil Frodo concept; it's so easy to imagine Elijah Wood's Frodo turning. He'd be small and cute and have big blue eyes and he'd be so evil your heart would melt into your shoes every time you saw him. Or, as in "Bound," (See? I always get back to the story eventually), every time you got a letter from him. I suppose this entry just goes to show that I fear evil most when it comes in small and pretty packages. There's probably some childhood trauma that accounts for that, but lord, I don't want to know what it is.

Best FF That Reminds Us All That Batman Doesn't Play Well with Others and Doesn't Like to Share His Toys: Testimone, by Domenika Marzione. DC Universe. Who doesn't love the deeply dysfunctional Batclan, full as it is of angsty goodness (not to mention angsty moral ambiguity), blue tones, general darkness, and dead parents? Well, sometimes I don't. There are times when I get tired of Batman's unwavering belief that a) he knows what he knows, and that includes what's right for everyone b) he has cornered the world's supply of sorrow and c) by god, it's his way or it's the highway, on foot, in four-inch heels and a hobble skirt. So for me, the real value of "Testimone" is the view it gives us of the Batclan from outside. Because I do not know from the Huntress. For all I know, she could be an Amazon stalking the Gotham streets searching for men to enslave, or the current incarnation of Artemis, or a cyborg programmed to destroy everything with a pulse. But I didn't have to know her to love this story. And neither do you.

Best FF That Drives Me to the Kind of Lame Philosophy That Sounds Really Cool to Stoned College Freshmen Who Have Posters of Kafka on Their Dorm Room Walls: Normal, by [ profile] penknife, who has an astonishing way with gen. X-Men movies. I love Cyclops FF, because in it he's everything he should be but isn't in the canon. The first time I read a fic about Cyclops, I was just astonished; turns out there's a person behind that visor! This is one of my favorite Cyclops stories, because it shows him doing his anal-retentive thing - planning, thinking, obsessing - so that you really understand why he's like that. And it asks a question we've all had to answer at some point: how much of yourself would you give up to be normal? And how do you even figure out what normal is, when it's a mirage, when it vanishes every time you think you have it in focus?

Whoa. OK, good reason for me not to do too many gen sets; evidently they bring out the third-rate philosopher in me. Luckily, it's hard to get all intense and pseudo-profound about smut; I like the way sex brings out the shallow in me. And I will be returning to glorious, smutty shallowness next entry, I promise you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Sometimes what comes after is neither happy nor forever. Those wedding bells do not ring out. Keys are returned, photos burned, hearts broken.

Sometimes people fall out of love. Sometimes, so do the men we slash.

Best FF That Features Someone Who Is Even Worse at Telling Jokes Than I Am: A Lesson in Business, by [ profile] alestar. X-Men comics, Nightcrawler/Wolverine. Nightcrawler is getting what he always wanted; he's becoming a priest. And Wolverine is losing what he's always wanted. Or is he? The end of the relationship is not quite cut-and-dried here, but I'm with Wolverine on this one; there are some things that just are mutually exclusive. (Note: I have been reliably informed that I tell jokes like Marlin in Finding Nemo. But in this FF, Kurt Wagner makes me look like a real raconteur, which makes me feel a whole lot better.)

Best FF That Reveals a Little More About Harry Potter Than Even J.K. Rowling Knows: Je n'en Connais Pas la Fin II: Things to Do When Your Lover Is Dead, by Zahra, [ profile] hackthis. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. No one's lover is dead in this story. Doesn't matter, because - give me an O. Give me a U. Give me a C. Give me an H. Yes, this is some seriously ouchy FF, here; Harry's going through that part of the breakup where you wonder if there was ever any love at all. I know some folks won't agree with me, but I think this FF is very Harry. He really is very much like a steamroller at times; he tends to enfold people in his worldview and forget that there's another way to look at things. (Clearly he never read The Phantom Tollbooth, which is probably his whole problem right there.) This story is fantastic, in part, because it answers Harry's questions. Did he know Draco? Did he consider him? Did he ever even see him? He doesn't figure it out, but you will.

Best FF That Reveals the Healing Power of Music, Which Is Sort of Strange Given That the Main Character Goes Crazy When He Hears Electric Guitars: We Walk Like a Ghost, by Torch, [ profile] flambeau. Velvet Goldmine, Curt Wild/Brian Slade. This is a canon relationship and a canon breakup. It's excruciating to watch in the movie, and Torch lets us relive the pain in her story. With added gorgeous imagery and a hint of recovery, and from Curt's point of view. ('Cause, hey, he was way more interesting than Slade, mmm? Something Todd Haynes never really figured out, I'm afraid.) This is a great story to read if you've never seen the movie; Torch gets the characters, and she makes damn sure you will, too. But I think after reading this you'll understand why you need to see the movie.

Best FF That Features Ray Kowalski Doing Everything Right and Fraser Not Remotely Worried That Ray's Taking His Usual Role: Old Lock, New Key, by [ profile] thisisbone. Due South, Fraser/Vecchio, Fraser/Kowalski. Vecchio hurt Fraser. What luck Kowalski is there to pick up the pieces. In other words, folks, what we've got here is a story that will piss off both factions in the Ray Wars. Never let it be said that we FF types don't know how to make friends and make nice. This story does not, for the record (and for a Certain Person), violate my Due South "Happy Endings Mandatory" policy; the ending is happy. There's, you know, just the teeniest hint of angst on the way, but there's definitely hope at the end, and that's what counts.

So that's how we'll leave this depressing set: with the knowledge that, yes, people do break up. But, if I may quote the Weepiest Elf, there is still hope.
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, [ 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, [ 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 [ 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)
There are pairings we can all agree make sense: Magneto/Xavier, Aubrey/Maturin, Fraser/Kowalski, Jack Sparrow/Anyone At All. And there are pairings that aren't quite as intuitive. I find a lot more of the former, but I have a special love for the latter; a well done strange pairing story often lacks the "same sex, different day" feeling I sometimes get from FF, and it usually says more about the characters.

Best FF That Will Make You Stop Smearing Vitamin E on Your Surgery Scars: Scars, by Sonya, [ profile] virtualinsomnia. X-Men movies, Nightcrawler/Wolverine pre-slash. I have a well-documented problem with visualizing blue people having sex (See also: Beast, Mystique, etc., and why are there so many blue people in the Marvel universe? Did they get a special deal on the ink?), but I really believe I'm making progress. This story, though, didn't trip my issues at all; it's completely non-explicit. It also sounds so wrong and yet makes such sense after you've read it. We value our scars because they're physical memories. Wolverine has lost so much of his memory; isn't it something of an unkind cut that he loses this kind, too? And Nightcrawler doesn't just have scars - he has intentional scars, scars that tell a story, at least to him. I can get the envy, and I can get the attraction. But I couldn't until Sonya pointed the way.

Best FF That Pairs a Brad Pitt Character with a Matt Damon Character and Yet Doesn't Make Me Vomit: Drive, by Jess. Ocean's 11, Rusty Ryan/Linus Caldwell. We interrupt this nominations set for some intensive whining: why is this fandom not larger? Why why whyeeeeee? In my world, there'd be, um, oceans of Ocean's 11 slash, and it would all be this good. This movie has it all: subtext! Homoeroticism! A lot of men! A totally unconvincing token female character! It's crying out for slash, people! Whine ends. See, I looked at this pairing, and I thought, no. Just - no. Rusty belongs with Danny; apart from anything else, George Clooney and Brad Pitt have so much sexual tension in this movie they might as well have taken out a Massachusetts marriage license. But then I read this story, and I realized that, once again, I had been narrow-minded, and a great FF story had cured me of it. (If this trend continues, I may become the first person to die of excessive open-mindedness. Or the first person ever to cause a matter/antimatter type explosion upon coming into contact with Jesse Helms.)

Best FF Featuring a Fraser Who Is Actually Quick on the Uptake and Yet Still Totally Canadian (No Offense Intended to Our Beloved Northern Friends): Volpe, by Te, [ profile] thete1. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Andreas Volpe. (Note for those who haven't seen the series: Volpe is a real character; I think Te's intertwining this fic's plot with the plot of the episode "Asylum," though don't quote me on that.) Kowalski, yes, belongs with Benton Fraser. But isn't he entitled to more of a sexual history than just the Stella? I mean, come on; we've already got the classic one-woman history in Fraser, and I refuse to believe that Due South exists in a universe where men, on average, have 1.2 sexual partners in their lives. Vecchio's probably been married to more woman than Kowalski's had sex with. (And, tragically, Vecchio's probably been married more often than Fraser's had sex. Period.) That isn't fair at all, and I applaud Te for giving Kowalski a history, and for making it so believable. I also applaud her for not making Fraser clueless; given Victoria, you'd think he'd pick up on sexual, um, mistakes a lot faster than he mostly does in FF.

Best FF That Makes You Want Harry Potter Book Six to Feature a Campaign for Tighter Regulations on Teacher Malfeasance and Immorality, Most Likely Run by Hermione in Her Copious Spare Time: Perquisite and the companion piece Unnatural Acts, by Halrloprillalar, [ profile] prillalar. Harry Potter, Percy/Snape. So. Um. If you like your Snape loving and sweet, or with a hidden heart of gold, or tormented by a secret love, you won't like this story. But, hey, give it a try anyway, 'cause this is excellent. I admit I'm biased - teacher/student pairings, especially the ones that end in true love, usually don't work for me; I can't suspend my disbelief far enough. So I like the way this goes. And I love the way Hal makes a human being of Percy, who is, like so many HP characters, totally two-dimensional in the canon. So read this. But don't expect romance. (This nomination sponsored by Slashers Against Romance and True Love and for Nice Pornographic Sex. I'm not a member, people, so don't complain to me.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
There's more to love-times-three than threesomes, even if a certain college boyfriend of mine would be astonished to hear it. So, in addition to the traditional three-bodies-in-a-bed story ('cause, hey, I'm all for tradition - well, this kind of tradition, that is), this set features lots of other ways three people can get tangled up together. Ah, human sexuality. It is lovely. And complicated.

Best FF in Which We Learn That Even Wizards Can't Resist Choosing the Bad Boy Instead of the Good Boy: Waterworld, by [ profile] rhoddlet. Harry Potter, Harry/Ron and Harry/Draco. It's sort of sad to see Harry Potter doing something so regularly discussed in Cosmopolitan, but at the same time it proves that magic is no protection against human frailty. Or stupidity. The greatest thing about this story, though, is the way it's told. In FF, a relationship is usually seen through the eyes of one or both of the participants; Rhoddlet does a fantastic job of showing us everything we need to know (or want to know, in my case) through an uninvolved, though far from disinterested, party.

Best FF in Which We Learn That All Women Know Exactly How to Run a Threesome: Shameless, by [ profile] penknife. Teen Titans, Dick/Donna/Kory. They're just ordinary teen-agers. With superpowers. Having a threesome. And issues. Which, provided you're willing to count world-beating moodiness as a superpower, really pretty much sums up adolescence, now that I think about it. The surprising thing about this story is that it's the guy who's hesitant about having a threesome with two girls. Although, really, given that the guy in question is Dick, maybe I'm not so surprised after all.

Best FF Featuring a Prison Setting That Does Not Involve Hot Male/Male Prisoner Sex: In Dreams, by Elizabeth*. X-Men movies, Rogue, Xavier/Magneto. This is almost gen, which is the only way I could handle this unusual threesome; I mean, I don't want to read explicit Xavier/Magneto!Rogue. Ew. But I do love stories that look at what it must be like for the movie Rogue to be Xavier's student and have Magneto's memories. 'Cause, lordy, that's the perfect way to work up a real head full of crazy, having a supervillain's memories of happy times with your headmaster and parental figure. And it's not like Rogue needs more craziness in that stripy head of hers.

Best FF That Could Inspire a Whole New Edition of "Everything I Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten": Six to Eight Months, by [ profile] cherryice. Ocean's 11, Tess/Rusty, Tess/Danny, Danny/Rusty. Look, I didn't care for Tess much either. And I needed a lot of persuading, not to mention fortitude, to buy Tess/Rusty. But you know what? Cherry Ice sold me on it; it totally works. Oh, and the things you learned in kindergarten that are crucial in this story? Well, let's start with "sharing is good." Also important: "some things come in pairs, and it just doesn't work have one without the other" and "love me, love my friends." No, wait, sorry. That last one isn't something you learn in kindergarten; it's something you learn in Richard Curtis movies. Still, this is FF that incorporates a lot of moral lessons. But somehow I don't think it's going to make Robert Fulgham proud.


* Thanks for the link, [ profile] kaelie!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Yes, it's more humor. See, the thing is, after a few seriously angsty ones I need something light-hearted and funny. And as I've mentioned, I've been exploring the Buffy fandom, which is basically the second-largest angst, doom, and gloom resource in the world. (I'm thinking of petitioning the United Nations to declare it a World Heritage Site, to preserve the darkness for future generations.) So I find myself needing extra doses of humor these days, and I'm passing that humor on to you. (Which is only fair, since I have every intention of passing on the angst to you lot as well.)

Best FF That Proves That Fortune Really Does Favor the Foolish, Because If It Didn't, Benton Fraser Would've Been Killed by an Insane Bag Lady by Now: Interrogation, by speranza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. This is one of those stories that I turn to again and again, especially when I've just read a novella involving, you know, darkness and sourness and a 2,300-word torture scene. Why? (I mean, of course, why do I turn to this story, not why do I read darkfic. The latter passeth all understanding.) Well, consider the experimental line of Hallmark cards. Fraser's list of enemies. The mad or incompetent toaster bomber. Plus, is it just me, or is Frannie worried about what else Ray and Fraser might be doing in the interrogation room? I think she's a closet slash reader, people.

Best FF Using the Phrase "Snookie-Ookie-Wookums" (Please, God, Let This Be the Only FF Using the Phrase "Snookie-Ookie-Wookums"): Every Fanfic Ever Written!, by Mooncalf, aka [ profile] tsukikoushi. All fandoms, all pairings. You say you have no time to read fan fiction these days? Even fast fic is too much for you? Well, read Mooncalf's nifty encapsulations, and you'll never need to read another. She's missed a few of the rarer types, yup, but I think you'll be impressed at how much she covers. I know I was. My own personal favorite type of story: The Backstory Fic, Part 2.

Best FF That Needs to Be Forwarded to Every Marvel Author Immediately. With a Kick in the Pants or Two.: Phone Home, by Domenika. (I think, anyway. It's sort of hard to tell her name from her site.) X-Men comics, gen. I don't know if those of you who haven't suffered under the Insanity-Inducing Lash that is the X-multiverse will find this as funny as, for example, I do. I do know that even minute exposure to said Lash years and years ago will be enough to cause you to giggle at this. I laughed myself sick at this one, even though I quit my X habit cold turkey in my last year of college, when I realized that I could keep up with the classes my parents paid for me to take, or I could keep up with Marvel comics, which I had to pay to read and then pay for therapy sessions to resolve the existential confusion they induced. I couldn't do both, and I still believe I made the right choice. If you've managed to steer clear of the X gravitational well but you'd still like to get the joke, look at Alex Summers' biography, courtesy the scarily thorough folks at Mutatis Mutandis. Alex Summers is the main character in this story, so reading this will help you understand the background. Even more, though, reading his bio will give you a tiny, tiny sampling of the hysteria, chaos, and ludicrous insanity that is the canon for this world. Warning: Exposure to Marvel comics plot lines may cause cranial pain, facial swelling, and unexplained bleeding. In extreme cases, seizures and dribbling may result. Discontinue reading if any of the following symptoms appear: confusion, loss of will to live, scaly rash, disruption of electrical fields, secondary mutation.

Best Humorous FF Featuring References to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Charles Dickens: I Had a Dream, by francesca. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. For some reason, I just find this really - funny. Maybe it's the whole "Christmas Carol" riff - I have a well-documented weakness for the Ghosts of Various Holidays of Various Times. Maybe it's that this is the strangest method of initiating a relationship I've seen yet in FF. Maybe it's that this all seems so very, very, well, Blairy - I can just totally picture him doing this. Or maybe it's because I'm with Jim on this one; I actually find Blair's dream rather reassuring, too. (And I am here to tell you, folks, that it is a sad, sad day when you realize that you're the Jim Ellison in your own personal RL pairing.) I find the happy ending, the light-heartedness, and the silliness comforting, too. Read on, my friends, for grim fic returns soon to a blog near you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Well, it's a misleading title, I'll grant you that. This is really just Stories That Made Me Laugh, Part II. But, hey, I figure this FF obsession will end in therapy and tears sooner or later, so I might as well come right out and admit it now. My future psychiatrist is bound to be impressed by my level of self-knowledge. Right? (Do not argue with the crazy lady. Smile and nod.) Plus, madness is a sort of secondary theme running through these nominations.

Best FF with a Novel and Appealing Approach to Safe Sex: Chicago's Most Wanted, by speranza. Due South, Kowalski/Fraser. Show, not tell - that's the credo of writers everywhere, yes? Well, then, let me offer two quotes that will show you why you need to read this story right now. "It's a Fraser kind of plan! Diabolical and nutritious!" "Sucking cock and robbing banks. Fraser just hadn't been the same since prison." That last also serves an excellent plot summary. And if those quotes don't persuade you, I'm not the only one needs therapy.

Best FF That Serves As a Useful Diagnostic - If It Makes You Laugh, You've Spent Too Much Time on Livejournal: My Fucking Life, by [ profile] prillalar. Harry Potter, gen. Sirius Black's livejournal begins after Order of the Phoenix, which certainly colors his, um, perspective. Think of it as the Very Secret Diaries for the blogging community. If this story does in fact make you laugh, you may want to consider experiencing other sorts of communities - I understand they have fine ones outdoors, at a site called "real life." If you try this novel approach to life, please let me know how it works, OK? I'll be here.

Best FF That Shares a Basic Plot Summary with Several Children's Books: Throw My Head Away, by [ profile] alestar. X-Men comics. Bobby wants to change his name, and he goes to all his friends, one by one, to ask them about that; unlike most children's books with this plot, "Throw" is slow-burn funny. I love this story 'cause the characters' reactions are so right. Alestar, bless her, has apparently been reading the X comics long enough to know the characters (which means she's likely got X-induced insanity; do not tell her, though, because if she gets treated she'll probably stop writing FF like this), and she just - really - look. I can't explain why this story is good. I can't explain why it's funny. But I can explain what will happen if you don't read it: you'll be statistically more likely to experience random bouts of guilty schadenfreude, keening, and antidepressant addiction. Nobody wants that.

Best FF That Will Save You Money, Keep Your Hands Clean, and Protect Your Eyebrows from Harm: Kids Under Twelve Drink Free, by Mallory Klohn (no link for her, sorry). The Sentinel, Blair/Jim. See, Jim takes Blair to Vegas, and, well, there's gambling and sex and old ladies and sleaze and it's funny Sorry, but this is another one you just have to read to get. And please note that you can definitely read this story if you have no Sentinel experience; Las Vegas experience is also unnecessary, both for this story and for your life. I've been to Las Vegas far, far too often, and I promise you the place is a lot more fun when you're not actually there. So don't go; read this story instead, and not only will you experience the place as everyone should - from a distance - but you'll also save on airfare, gambling losses, and whatever it costs to get Vegas out of your clothes and your brain once you get home.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Yet another foray into the land of innocence. OK, not so much innocence as, um, slightly less decadence and moral decay than is average for my nominations. But that doesn't sound nearly as good as innocence.

Best FF Featuring Jack Sparrow Stopping at Just a Kiss: Tactics, by Halrloprillalar. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack/Gilette. Who would've thought that any fan fiction involving Jack Sparrow would ever, could ever be less than NC-17? I mean, usually, if you've got Jack, you've got sex with, essentially, every other character mentioned in the story. And, really, I'm all for that. When pansexuality is so very much IC, we might as well take full advantage of it. But I am still just nine kinds of impressed with she-of-the-unpronounceable-name (and I couldn't pronounce it in Ringworld either, in case you were wondering) for making Jack stop before everyone is naked, gasping for breath, and (in many cases) blind drunk, and making it believable.

Best FF Featuring a Massage That Doesn't Lead Us Deep into NC-17 Territory: Kept Awake, by Jenn, aka [ profile] seperis*. X-Men movies, St. John/Bobby. This is the first story in the amazing On Love and Lust at Mutant High series. The movieverse version of Pyro is another one of those characters that has the "any time, anywhere, anyhow" aura. Or at least so I assume, given what he gets up to in FF. So it's rather sweet to see St. John following Bobby around like a faithful hound and yet remaining in character. And it's fascinating to see him stop before the main event when he finally gets Bobby into bed.

Best FF That Manages to Be Touchingly Sweet Despite the Inclusion of Werewolf Attacks, Insults Galore, and Death Threats to Neighborhood Strays: Quiet, by Te, aka [ profile] thete1. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Severus Snape. Snape is many things to many people, including sex god, snarky bastard, exceptionally unethical teacher, weepy soul just waiting for someone to break through his walls, and vicious torturing monster. So I tend to approach stories involving Snape with a wariness more commonly seen in deer; at the first sign of Weird Snape or Weepy Snape or, god help me, Evil Snape Who Knows Many Alternative Uses for His Wand, I flee back to stories like "Quiet," where Te gets into Lupin's skin and, just to show us there's nothing she can't do, also gives us a look at Snape as a person. As in, canon-appropriate, in-character Snape acting like a human being. Will wonders never cease? Well, no. At least not in the HP fandom.

Best FF Featuring a Daisy Chain That Involves, You Know, Actual Flowers: Protection, by [ profile] sheldrake. Dark Is Rising series, Will/Bran. Yes, I am going to nominate stories in this fandom until every single person breaks down and reads this series. I actually think, though, that it might be possible to read this story without having read the canon, which is in no way intended to discourage you from reading it. This story is sweet without being sugary; a neat trick that other FF writers could stand to learn. And it will give you a greater appreciation for daisies, too - FF's version of multitasking. Consider it the dessert of this nominations set: no snark, no insults, no chase scenes, no tormented souls. Just two guys on a hillside covered in flowers. (And, yes, I'm well aware that that makes it sound disgustingly glurgy. Look, read it, OK? If you still think it's glurgy, I'll be happy to apologize.)

* Thanks, Te.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I'm revisiting stories featuring triangles, menages a trois, and other groups of three.

Best FF Featuring Three Characters with Remarkable Senses of Balance but Very Little Common Sense: Words Spoken in Winter, by grit kitty. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair/OFC. And how do I know these characters have good balance and no sense? Well, this is a threesome done standing up in a public place. Folks, please don't try this at home (and especially don't try this where you work). I like this story because it pays homage to the time-honored tradition of what I think of as sexual triangulation, when two members of the same sex want to get it on but can't, until the presence of a convenient member of the opposite sex gives them the freedom they need.

Best FF That Proves Excessive Snow + Lack of Quality Television = Insanity + Group Sex, Which Suggests That Norway Must Be a Very Interesting Place to Live: Bundling, by Janete, aka [ profile] 3jane and [ profile] thete1. X-Force comics, Cannonball/Rictor/Shatterstar. (This is the version of this trio that has a relatively happy ending; you can see a slightly grimmer story about these fine folks in Caressing the Marble and the Stone, which I actually prefer. I guess maybe I just like tears better than cookies.) Now, what is it about comicbook universes that leads to so many threesome stories? Maybe it's the emphasis on teamwork. And if so, then I've got to wonder what my PE teacher was trying to do to us with all those team-building games. (Hmmm. Could explain some things, there. Perhaps I should sue.)

Best FF That Teaches Us That You Don't Need Phone Sex When You've Got the Right Mutant on Hand: Going Down, by shalott. X-Men movies, Xavier/Magneto/Mystique. The convoluted relationship between these three has inspired a lot of excellent fan fiction, and as usual, shalott is both ahead of the game and at the head of the class. And this one is especially interesting; it's possibly the only threesome in fan fiction successfully carried out when one of the participants is twenty miles away. Or I suppose I could say when one of the participants is divided in two. However you think of it, this is delightfully twisty. The curse of shalott - FF I just can't stop reading - strikes again.

Best FF Featuring Creative Uses for Various Parts of Two Mounties' Dress Uniforms, Including a Clear Example of Why Sometimes One Person Can Need Two Hats: Bonspiel, by Basingstoke. Due South, Turnbull/Fraser/Kowalski. This story completely destroyed my critical faculties; I honestly can't say whether it's good or not, because my brain seized up on me somewhere in the first couple paragraphs. Turns out there are certain things my neurons just refuse to contemplate, and this threesome is at least one of them. But several lines had me giggling uncontrollably, including most of Turnbull's dialog - especially what he says when he comes. And if anyone out there was pining for NC-17 PWP BDSM stories involving this particular trio, handcuffs, Stetsons, and spanking, well, pine no longer. But if your neurons are anything like mine, you might not want to read this on a day when your brain needs to be at peak functioning capacity.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I love animals. In fact, I have a dog staring at me, trying to persuade me to give her peanut butter, as I write this. But animals in fan fiction are risky business. I can handle character death (see previous entry), but I can't handle animals in trouble at all. So you won't be seeing death, sadness, abandonment, or irresponsible ownership (with the exception of some seriously inappropriate feeding patterns, and I can understand that - see also peanut butter, dog and) in these stories. I can't make any promises about glurge, though; my sugar-sensor array goes on the blink when animals are in close proximity to sweetness.

Best FF That Asks You to Believe Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and You'll Want to, Too: About a Dog, by Speranza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. I realize that it looks like I'm breaking my "no animals were harmed in the making of this story" promise with the very first nominee, but Diefenbaker isn't dead. Keep that firmly in mind as you read this. And it's worth reading, too, because it's funny and touching and Speranza just really gets Dief. And, well, this is one of those that I'll spoil if I give too much plot summary, but let's just say that it's nice to see how Fraser copes with suddenly having a six-foot-two Canadian with no concept of personal space sleeping in his bed.

Best FF That Puts an Entirely Different Spin on the Whole Frog Prince Thing: The Familiar, by Resonant. Harry Potter, Harry/Snape. If you're not a Harry/Snape fan, please read this anyway; I'm totally not into that pairing, and I adored this one, even if the beginning is fairly rocky. Resonant does a kick-ass job of getting these two together. For one thing, she actually remembered that they hate each other. This story just shouldn't work, but oh how it does. I even love what Resonant did with Sirius in his cameo here; he's not Sirius-as-I-see-him, but he makes good sense. Resonant isn't afraid of the implications of this pairing.

Best FF Using the Familiar Formula Babbling + Sleep-Deprivation + Wistful Melancholy + Sandwiches = True Love Forever: What We Talk About When We Talk About Wolves, by Penelope Whistle. (Sorry, no link for her.) Due South, Kowalski/Fraser. I refuse to apologize for nominating two DS stories in the same set, because Diefenbaker's a major canon character, after all. Plus, he's a half-wolf, and I like him*, and I like stories about him, and there are some truly excellent stories about him out there, and - right, sorry, I'm babbling. Starting over. This is just a really wonderful story, folks, involving wolves in fact, wolves in cars, and wolves in metaphors. Read it. And then read it again, and think about the various ways you can use "the evidence being that I haven't eaten you yet" in your daily conversation. Your life will be the richer for it, I promise you.

Best FF That Has - Yes! - Magneto Being, Well, Rather Sweet, Yet Still in Character: Foundlings, by the ubiquitous (at least in this blog) C. Elisa. X-Men movies, and this is either gen or Magneto/Xavier. This is another story that so totally should not work, yet it does. Plus it's short and sweet and has an excellent moral at the end; consider it a modern-day fable that just happens to involve mutants and cats. (Actually, now that I think about it, traditional fables also seem to have far more than their share of mutants and cats.) And, hey, you can't convince me you don't want to see Magneto with kittens.

* Although I do wish I knew how to pronounce his name. Dee-fen-bock-er? Dee-fen-bake-er? Die-fen-whatever? True-dough? It's beyond me. As an American, I'm doing exceptionally well to recognize the name of a Canadian Prime Minister; they'd probably take my passport away if I knew how to say it, too.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I just want to say up front that I realize it's wrong to kill off canon characters in fan fiction, and I definitely realize it's wrong to celebrate said stories with snark and kisses. But here's the thing - sometimes canon character death is just gratuitous, but sometimes it's the only way a really great story can come to be. I think these are great stories.

Just don't say I didn't warn you, 'cause I am: these are not happy stories, and my nomination summaries are not cheerful and amusing, and there's a very good chance these fics could upset you. And did I mention that somebody dies? So if this isn't your thing, read no further; the next entry will return to that old familiar beat.

Best FF That Really Brings Home the Eeriness of a Certain Nursery Rhyme Song: Clock Eulogy, by Mia. X-Files, gen. Sing it with me, now: "And the clock stopped/never to go again/when the old man died." The narrator (who is not identified, sorry) never wanted to believe in the paranormal. Fox Mulder made one last attempt to convince her. That time seems to stop when someone dies is hardly a novel observation, but what happens here is a little less common, and frankly, I'm glad.

Best FF Featuring a Sarcastic Argument That's Literally Done Over a Dead Body, Proving That Some People Really Can't Just Get Along: The Virtue of Decision, by Penknife. Harry Potter, gen. What I love about this one is how it makes Hermione a person, a real person, in a way Rowling has just not managed (though I guess we can continue to hope). I actually found myself wanting to give feedback to the character as I read this - I wanted to tell her that when you're 16, you don't have to be a wizard to feel out of place at home or like you're walking into a dangerous situation your parents could never understand. And when you want to give advice to a fictional person, you know you've bought into the story maybe a little too much.

Best FF That Makes You Wonder What Little Secrets You've Got Lying Around Your House: Executor, by Kat Allison. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Come on, admit it. Haven't you worried about what your parents or other loved ones might find if you died suddenly and they had to sort your stuff? I'd like to think this is a common fear. (The alternative, that I am morbid and paranoid, may be equally appealing to Occam, but it definitely doesn't appeal to me.) And then there's the things you might be glad for them to find out, because you do want them to know but you don't want to be around to experience the consequences of their knowledge. So which problem did Fraser and Kowalski have? You decide.

Best FFs That Elucidate the Sadness Inherent in Shampoo and Green and White Curtains: This Is How and the sequel, Ours, by Siarade (sorry, no link for her). X-Men comic books, Cable/Domino. (Links go to character bios, and if you don't know who these people are, please do scan the first part of the linked pages.) See, the problem with entwining your life with another human being's is that eventually one of the strands snaps. And then you really come unraveled. That's what's happening to Cable here. Siarade captures the feeling of loss so perfectly I found myself a little concerned for her mental health; I'm hoping she's just got a lot of empathy and imagination.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For a long time I hated AU stories. I didn't understand why someone would go to all the trouble of writing fan fiction and then change one of the most integral parts. What was the point? What was the challenge?

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

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

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

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

Best FF That Isn't Just One AU, but Many: One of a Thousand Roads, by shalott. Gladiator, Maximus/Commodus. That shalott, she has a way with alternate universes. Especially those involving Russell Crowe, apparently. This story is far better than the movie was, which should not surprise anyone. I can't say much more about it without spoiling it. Go read this. I've seen the movie, but if you haven't, I think you could still enjoy this story.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
No time to read? Hah. You can read these stories in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, get an order of fries from McDonald's, or think about what you're going to make for dinner. Seriously. Some of them you can read in the time it takes to answer the phone. So read them, because in fan fiction, length truly has nothing to do with quality.

Best FF That Uses Sex to Comment on Society, Psychology, and Character, Thus Proving the Author to Be a Superhero Named Multi-Tasking Girl: Only Queers Kiss, by [ profile] miriam_heddy. The Professionals, Bodie/Doyle. This story is why people who don't read PWP are missing out. Because, OK, technically there's nothing here but sex, but, um, are you noticing how good this is? How much it says about the characters and their thoughts and their times and what is happening with them? (And if you've never heard of The Professionals - a cop TV show, is my understanding, from the dark ages of the world - read it anyway. If you've read two pieces of fan fiction in any fandom, you know enough to read this.)

Best FF That Suggests Perhaps the Canon Authors Are Also Reading FF: Unclear, by C. Elisa. X-Men movies, Magneto/Xavier. Note that this story was finished before she saw X2. C. Elisa has recently joined my list of I'll-Read-Anything Authors. A new fandom? Fine. A weird pairing? Absolutely. Original fiction? Believe me, I'll be delighted. I'd read these folks' shopping lists with interest. This story is exactly why. C. Elisa's got Xavier's voice, in my opinion, she's deep into what it means to be a mutant, and almost as an afterthought she's totally revealed the whole relationship between these two characters. So, really, her shopping list? I'm sure it contains the formula for a cure for the common cold and the location of the mates to all my odd socks, somewhere between "gal. milk" and "4 tomatoes if nice" and "harvest bread unsliced." Of course I'm ready to read it. And you should read this.

Best FF That Proves That the Bang and the Whimper at the End of the World Will Probably Be Immediately Preceded by a Misunderstanding: Quiproquo, by V, aka [ profile] deepsix. Harry Potter, Marcus/Oliver. I never even suspected this pairing when I was a naive young innocent FF-free lass reading the early HP books. I had to go back and re-read them so I could remember who Marcus was. But there's this whole rich vein of Marcus/Oliver slash out there, and I've got to put these guys on the Pairings That Elucidate the Horror of Adolescence list, right under "Bobby/St. John." And this story also elucidates the horror of the coming war and betrayal and, well, look. Just read it.

Best FF That Forces Me to Make Not One but Two Real Fiction Recommendations in the Course of a Discussion of It That Is Longer Than the FF Itself Is: Shapes, by [ profile] brancher. Eight Days of Luke, Luke/David, and I am going to say it until you succumb: read Diana Wynne Jones' Eight Days of Luke. It'll take you three hours. And they will be hours well spent, if for no other reason than that you'll now understand some of the best FF out there. (FF, I might add, apparently condoned by the canon author, which is saying something.) Now, this story. Have you ever read "Climax to a Ghost Story?" (Feel free to do so now; it's a .pdf document, so it'll take longer to load than to read.) When you do, you think, wow, I wish he'd written the whole story, because those few lines kick ass - and then you realize those lines are the story. Anything else would be totally superfluous. Same thing with "Shapes." Trust me on this.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The alternate title of today's entry is, obviously, "Why Eudoxia Can't Be Holier-Than-Anyone: How One Previously (at Least Slightly) Principled and (at Least in Theory) Moral Individual Lost All Her Principles and Morals and Most of Her Pride Through the Horror of Fan Fiction." Yes, it's a cautionary entry today, folks, with a single object lesson: run! Get out while you can! It's too late for me. Save yourselves!

Or, if it's also too late for you, read these stories. 'Cause, truly, they are nine kinds of good.

Best Bait-and-Switch FF: Winterlong, by torch. Gundam Wing, and to say any more would spoil this, because it's designed so that you don't have any idea what it's about until it's almost over. (Hence the bait-and-switch thing.) This is a nearly perfect piece, and all the more so because my experience with GW - both canon and fan fiction - has mostly left me expecting, well, a whole lot less than this. A. Whole. Lot. Less. And then this story comes along, and, whoops, I've got a whole new fandom. (And, really, when I get a minute or two, I should do something about the frequency with which that happens to me. Turn off my computer, maybe?)

Best FF That Finally Got Me Reading the Only Pairing That's Even Close to Canon in This Particular Fandom: Sky as Grey as Your Heart, by afrai. Lord of the Rings, Legolas/Gimli. I admit it. I never wanted to read Legolas/Gimli, and there were two reasons for that. The first one was Legolas. In the books, he's either a place-holder with archery skills or Middle Earth's answer to angels, and in the movies, he's Orlando "My Little Pony Elfboy Playset" Bloom. The second reason was Gimli, who, in the books is, well, a dwarf, and in the movies is a dwarf played by John Rhys Davies. I mean, I so completely do not want to picture those two doing anything more intimate than eco-tourism. But this story got rec'd, and rec'd, and rec'd, and eventually I had to read it if I wanted to keep my Obsessive-Compulsive Fan Fiction Tracker's license, and - damn, it is that good. And, whoops, I've got another pairing. (This also happens to me way too often. It's a disease or something, I think.)

Best FF with a Title I Love So Unnaturally That I'm Fighting the Urge to Download the Source of It Even as You Read This: There Goes the Fear, by Zahra. X-Men movies, Pyro/Iceman. Earlier, I chronicled my discomfort with any pairing involving a character named Bobby, but I am totally resigned to it now. I don't even mind the whole Bobby thing. I can read about teen-aged and adult males named Bobby engaging in sexual activity and I don't even flinch, or think of Tonka trucks, or anything of the kind. This, of course, makes me somewhat gloomy - oh, look, there goes another standard, leaving me with, let me see now, two and a half total remaining ones - but, hey, when the FF is this good, I will just damn well cope with my further descent on the slippery slope o' slash. God knows I'm getting good at it.

Best FF That Stripped Me of Any Last Remaining Vestige of Hope That There Was Some Depth to Which I Might Not Sink: The Appointment, by Sheldrake. The Dark Is Rising, Will/Bran. To complete the chronicle of my descent to new and slash-filled depths, here is yet another foray into Dark Is Rising slash. Yes, Dark Is Rising, still one of the most beloved series of my entire life to this point, and now also a fandom where, I foresee with a certain sense of inevitability, I shall be doing a lot of reading in the near future. And I don't even have it in me to be ashamed of succumbing to this fandom; it's clear to me now that if people write good stuff I will not be able to help reading it. In other words, from here on out, I'm blaming the authors for my depravity. Yes. It's their fault. If they stuck to normal fandoms and normal pairings and normal - oh. Did I just hear someone ask, "But if you wanted normal, why did you start reading FF in the first place?" Fair point. So I'll have to get back to you later with the names of those I will be blaming for this in the future. (Suggestions for this role - the President, communists, my dog - gratefully accepted.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Triangles. Threesomes. Need I say more?

Best FF Containing Both a Threesome and a Triangle, Thus Winning the Author an "Overachiever Times Three" Award:The Sword Series, by [ profile] guede_mazaka. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack/James/Will. (Story link will take you to a page with links for all six segments.) This series is not for fans of Elizabeth, since she dies in the prologue. But if there are Elizabeth fans out there, I can't think why they're reading this blog. In any case, Guede removes the pivot of the One True Foursome and takes the remaining three on a hell of a ride.

Best FF That Demonstrates Certain Entirely Off-Label Functions of Wolverine's Claws: All of the Animals, by Jane St. Clair. X-Men movies, Jean/Scott/Logan. I believe I may have already mentioned my sincere love for Jane St. Clair. This is the story that cemented that; she actually found a solution for the damned Jean/Scott/Logan triangle that works. Until I read this, I thought the only reasonable way out would involve four bullets: one for each of the characters and one for whoever thought of the triangle in the first place. And this story does something else amazing, too - it makes Scott, the world's most anal-retentive superhero, into a sympathetic character. The canon writers never managed to do that.

Best X-Men FF Containing a Harry Potter Reference: Sweep the Ashes, by [ profile] penknife. X-Men movies, Magneto/Mystique/Pyro. I'm not sure what it is about the X movieverse that leads to so many multiple pairings, but I'm not complaining. Just the Magneto/Mystique/Whoever Mystique Wants to Be Today FFs could fill a book, and it'd be a good book, too. This one stands out not just because it's a real threesome - Pyro's there in person, as opposed to in Mystique - but also because Erik is so classically Erik; who else would say the last line of this story in just that way?

Best FF That Teaches an Important Life Lesson Via Sex: What Is Me and What Is Mine, by [ profile] weirdnessmagnet. Teen Titans (don't worry if you haven't read or seen or whatever it is you do to this canon, because I read the story without having heard of the fandom before), Kon/Tim/Dick. If you ever meet an adult who doesn't understand the importance of sharing, direct him or her to this FF. It's smut with a moral! (My god, if this keeps up we're going to have educational slash pretty soon. Hmmm. Anyone feels like writing one, I wouldn't at all mind learning about, say, automobile repair via fan fiction.)

Best Undershirtkink FF (and I'm Sorry to Report That I Actually Can Think of Other Undershirtkink Stories): Restitution, by [ profile] helenish. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair/OFC. One of the more involved true triangles out there. This one also gets extra points for having Blair do exactly what every man does when he finds out a girlfriend has slept with a friend of his: ask for a point-by-point comparison. And it wins extra extra points for the whole "Blair is vanilla" line. Didn't you always know Jim would be the kinky one?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I admit it. I love poetry. And I'm a sucker for fan fiction that references poems. I realize there are some people out there that class poemfic with songfic and gag over 'em both, but I truly believe these are worth reading even if you hate poetry. You Philistine, you.

Best FF That Proves the Light at the End of the Tunnel Is the Light of an Oncoming Train: The Art of Losing, by penknife. X-Men movies, Magneto/Xavier. The title comes from Elizabeth Bishop's One Art, and the poem and the story nicely complement each other. You know, Magneto in the comic books and movies never did much for me, but I'm developing a tremendous appreciation for him via fan fiction. Yet another sign, I guess, that FF writers are better than anyone the canon's got these days.

Best FF That Proves That Sometimes Student Loans Can Be Touchingly Romantic: In Thicket, by Martha. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. This story quotes my third-favorite Philip Larkin poem, This Be the Verse. As with most stories set after the canon's last episode, this one is angsty and emotional. I suspect a lot of post-last-episode FF writers were working out their anguish at the way their show ended. Entry #317 on the "Why We Can't Trust the Canon Authors with the Canon" list, I suppose.

Best FF That Leaves You Hoping for a Different Ending Than the One You Know Is Coming: The Chain Series, by [ profile] guede_mazaka. James Bond (GoldenEye), James Bond/Alec Trevelyan. The link takes you to a page with links to all the stories; make sure you read them in order, I to VII. Each of these short slices of the lives of James and Alec was inspired by a different bit of Sylvia Plath's poetry. This set of stories is just one more proof that Alec Trevelyan was the most interesting Bond villain ever. It's also yet more supporting evidence that Sean Bean can bring the slash anywhere, anytime, in any costume whatsoever. The man has, I don't know, slash genes or something. Anyway, these stories are marvelous. Frankly, they're better than the movie they're based on.

Best FF for Insomniacs Who Need to Know It Could Always Be Worse: Civilised, by Sam Vimes, aka [ profile] copperbadge. Harry Potter, gen. I know, I know. Gen. Again. What is this world coming to? But it's good, and better yet, it's Lupin-as-I-see-him. (I find most Potter fans have preferred versions of the characters; I'm not sure if this is indicative of a flaw or a strength in Rowling's writing.) This story could also work as an entry in Chicken Soup for the Fan Fiction Reader's Soul, except that naturally if there was such a thing we'd have to hunt down the compiler and force him to read every single story on That would show him where he could put his damn chicken soup. But, no, really, this story reminds us that we tend not to value what comes naturally. I know that sounds unbelievably dull. Look, just read it, OK?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Let's face it. Some of the characters we read and write about aren't exactly normal. They have optional extras and built-in features, and hey, isn't that why we love them? It is. And if you had shapechanging ability or super-speed or whatever, wouldn't you make use of it during sex? You would. And so would they. Which is why this list is longer than my usual nominations sets; there's just so much mutant sex to celebrate.

Best FF Use of a Really Challenging Version of Hide and Seek: Hide and Seek, by jamjar. Eight Days of Luke, Luke/David. What do you mean you haven't read Eight Days of Luke? Go read it at once. I'll wait here.

All done? Then go read this story, which beautifully conveys the, um, special challenges of a relationship with a god.

Best FF That Proves You Don't Need a Vibrator When You've Got Flash: Face of Total Need, by Weirdness Magnet. Justice League, Superman/Flash. I never wanted to read a Superman slash story, because ew. I certainly never wanted to read a Superman with a sex toy story, because ew ew ew. But Weirdness Magnet wrote one so good I had to read it and like it, and don't think I don't resent it. This story has the perfect use of Flash's powers in a sexual scenario, and it left me giggling helplessly. Hee.

Best FF Featuring Some Serious Violations of Professional Ethics: Iris, by Janete. Alpha Flight, Northstar/Sasquatch. (Note: You can read this one without reading the books - I did - but if you have an urgent need to know more about the characters, click on the links.) I don't know what it is about the unholy combination of Jane St. Clair and Te that produces such excellent mutant sex stories, but I sure am grateful for it. Sasquatch's beast transformation may not be what he wants during sex, but it does make things interesting.

Best FF That Shows Us That Angels, Like Primates, Enjoy Social Grooming: Cumulative Effort, by magpie. Good Omens, Crowley/Aziraphale. See, with angels, it's all about making the effort. And once you get into the habit (no Satanic nun jokes, thank you), well... This one made me snicker. Quite a lot, really, and that's one of the reasons I'm reluctantly growing to love Good Omens FF.

Best FF That Follows the Noble Comic Book Tradition of the Angst-Ridden, Agonized Superhero, Although I Don't Think Even That Would Make Stan Lee Approve of This Story, Thank God: Perseus, Still, by Janete, the Amalgamated Queen of Mutant Sex. X-Men comics, Skin/Chamber. (Because it takes a special, twisted mind to keep up with the X-Men comicverse, links are to character bios.) We got yer mutant angst right here, folks, because these authors know that if there's anything more tormented than a teenager, it's gotta be a mutant teenager. This story has the most use of mutant powers during sex of any of these stories, and though you'd think it'd be vaguely oogy, it's so not.

Best FF Use of Various Orange-Based Beverages, Including Orange Julius, Which I Didn't Think Even Existed Anymore: Palooka, by Pares. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Jim's senses are, obviously, something most FF writers take into consideration when they're writing sex scenes, and frankly I have rarely seen any special ability so uniquely suited to bedroom activities. It's like the series creators said to themselves, gee, what combination of characters and traits could get us the most slash fiction in the least amount of time? And the answer was The Sentinel. But even in a fandom filled with mutant-sex stories, "Palooka" stands out, winning the "Phenomenal Use of Jim's Senses" special Sentinel slash award. (Of course there are special awards. I'll be doing a whole nominations set on them, just as soon as I figure out what the rest of them are.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Let me rephrase that. Fan fiction laws were made so that the common or garden variety writer wouldn't get flamed. But, as I have noted before, the best authors can apparently play fast and loose with any damn rules they please, leaving the rest of us gazing bitterly at their stories and thinking, "You know, I never used to like original characters. What's happened to me?" Today, I salute authors whose law-breaking tendencies have induced in me crises of identity and reading preference.

Best FF That Proves That the Canon Authors Need to Be Banished to an Alternate Universe Immediately, and They Can Take Every Version of Phoenix with Them, Too: Nameless, by C. Elisa. X-Men movies. This is original character fiction, here, folks. And before you gag - this is an original character who is perfectly balanced, perfectly in line with canon, and really and truly original. Not to mention necessary to the storyline. I read this wondering why comic book fans have had to suffer through the One Superhero, Nine Names, Fifteen Costumes problem when there are obviously so many really interesting powers and people still possible in the X-Men universe. I finished this and immediately began forming a radical action group designed to do whatever it takes to get this series out of the hands of the canon authors and into the hands of - well, C. Elisa, for one.

Best FF That the Canon Author Brought on Herself, Frankly: Alive, I and Alive, II, by copperbadge. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Sirius Black. Immediately after finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, nine million people took deep, angry breaths and became fan fiction writers for the first time. And Rowling has no one but herself to blame. This is a fix-it fic for OotP, and that is wrong wrong wrong. You can't fix canon character death. Except, apparently, when you can. And if that's not enough law-breaking for your felonious little heart, try this: it's also a songfic.

Best "What Happens Afterward?" FF, Sentinel Edition: I Still Believe, by Dasha. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. There's a reason the characters are in the setting they're in, right? We don't want to see Harry Potter in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. We don't want to see Boromir alive and well and living in Paris, c. 1890. (No, we really don't.) And since they went to all the trouble of inventing a whole city for Jim and Blair (Cascade: Seattle, only with more psychos), presumably that city is where they belong, yeah? Only not. "I Still Believe" is how things turn out for Jim and Blair, and I, for one, am totally ready to believe it.

Best FF That Has Every English Teacher on the Planet Calling the Hunt and Baying for Blood: Breathless, by Gloria Mundi. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow/James Norrington. I recommended Breathless, Too back in the early days of this blog (as in, like, weeks ago), but somehow failed to mention the other half of the story. And it needs to be in this set, because - come on. Gloria's not breaking just any laws here, she's breaking the laws of writing and grammar, and I defend those with a ferocity even Wolverine would find over-the-top. This is good even so. Be sure to say soothing things to the English language on your way out of this story, because it's probably got some form of PTSD from the cruelty Gloria's inflicted on it in these two stories.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
These aren't icky pairings, or false pairings. They're ones I never even considered, yet that somehow work, at least within the context of one story. Obviously, surprising pairings are far more common in fandoms with lots of characters, so these ones come from Harry Potter and comic books.

Best Strange Pairing FF That Features a Conversation the Canon Author Has Got to Stop Avoiding: If You're Breathing, by Sandy Justine. Harry Potter, Harry/Neville. Sooner or later, Harry and Neville are going to have to talk about the prophecy; Rowling can't put it off forever. And you know what? When they do, I bet it doesn't go anything like this. But I bet at least a part of me will be thinking that it should. And the best part: Neville's a person in this, not just a stuttering cipher, and yet he's still so totally Neville.

Best Strange Pairing FF That Features Something We've All Been Dying to Say Forever: Knight after Night, by Jane St. Clair. (Also check out the sequel, Pulling Your Bat out of the Fire.) The Authority, Jack Hawksmoor/Batman. When Batman shows up in your subconscious to give you lectures, folks, it's well past time you listened. And when those lectures are about repression, it's well past time you got drunk, donned a grass skirt and a top hat, and danced a mambo with a startled librarian on the roof of the county jail. Read these stories even if you've never read The Authority. Read them because Jane St. Clair is a brilliant author. Read them because Batman is so perfectly in character. Read them so you can see Batman say, "Jack, you are the only person left living who thinks my relationship with Robin is platonic."

Best Strange Pairing FF That Features A Painful Lack of Conversation: A Journey in Ten Lies, by switchknife. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Bill Weasley. Yes, you read that right. Bill Weasley. Once the black mists have cleared from your eyes a bit, go read this story, which is not sweet and not nice and so good. This isn't Lupin as I like to imagine him, but the author sure has a handle on grieving and self-delusion.

Best Strange Pairing FF That Features Much Giggle-Inducing Dialog, at Least at the Beginning, Though It's Pretty Much Just Moans by the End: Homecoming, by Janete (Jane St. Clair and Te). X-Men comicverse, Iceman/Beast. This is a double whammy for me, because in my mind neither Iceman nor Beast ever has sex. Iceman because he's - well, because he's not only named Bobby but he's exactly the kind of person you'd expect a grown man named Bobby to be. And Beast because he's, you know, furry and nice and smart and wonderful and I love him and it's worse than thinking of Chewbacca having sex. But these two wonderfully evil authors totally sold me on the pairing, and showed me the Beast I like best at the same time.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
A title can make me predisposed to like a story. A really great title can make me read a story I would normally never read (see below). A fantastic title can keep a story in my mind for longer than almost anything (except a perfect ending or a truly hysterical line). And sometimes the title can practically be a story all by itself, especially when it's longer than some entire fics. Today, I salute the long titles of the fan fiction world.

Best FF Title That Led Me to Expect Something Other Than This Story: Heard Through the Walls of the Victory Motel, by Gemma. L.A. Confidential, Bud White/Ed Exley. See, when I read that title, I thought there'd be eavesdropping in the story. I still kind of expect there to be eavesdropping, but the only thing that really gets heard through the walls is a song. Still, I like the title a lot. And the story's perfect L.A. Confidential FF - it's gritty, powerful, and it fixes the canon ending.

Best Title That Is Also (EEEEK!) a Song Reference: All That You Can't Leave Behind, by Mary Borsellino. Lord of the Rings movieverse, and in my opinion this is gen. Go ahead, ask what U2 has to do with LotR. You'll be missing the point, though. This is a perfect little canon interlude that helps elucidate why some people could survive the ring. And some people couldn't. Warning: this story could really use some proofreading. It has errors in things like basic capitalization. And, you know what? It was good enough that I'd still recommend it, although it'd be even better if someone fixed it.

Best Title That Is Also (YAY!) a Literary Reference: Color of Fire, Color of Ashes. X-Men movieverse, Jean/Scott, Jean/Logan. I know, I know; het infidelity fic involving Jean (gag) Grey. Don't care. It's still good, and it has the added benefit of making Jean seem like a person instead of a, you know, shapely hole in the background. But I would never have read it (Jean! Gag! Grey!) if I hadn't been drawn in, totally against my will, and fighting all the way, by the title.

Best Title That Sucked Me into Reading the FF Even Though I Knew Better, Lord, I Knew Better: Everything's Not Lost. Just Most Things, by Annakovsky. Real Person Slash, Dominic Monaghan/Billy Boyd. I cannot stand that I'm nominating this. I can't even stand that I read this. But it's a good story and it has a great title, albeit one with a period where there should clearly be a comma. I have just one teeny little question: why in the name of all that is still sane and good in the world is this RPS? The story would work just as well, or even better, with original characters. RPS relies on our knowledge of the celebrities or of their public personae. This story totally does not; I think it'd work just as well, maybe better, if the reader didn't even recognize the names. (Or maybe I'm just bitter because I can see the bottom of the slippery slope o' slash from here, and I'm already descending at terminal velocity.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I have never been the kind of person who believes in One True Pairings. If you're prepared to write a story about, say, Maturin/Dillon or Merry/Gandalf, I'm prepared to read it. But some pairings just seem irreparably incorrect to me, like slashing a shower curtain and a non-Euclidean polygon. So I am all the more impressed with these stories, ones that managed to sell me despite the voice in my head screaming "Wrong wrong WRONG."

Best FF That Provides a Total Life Philosophy in Seven Words: Leverage, by Gloria Mundi. Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow/Will Turner. I suppose it would save us all a lot of time if I just nominated Gloria Mundi for some kind of author of the year award, but I prefer to drag these things out. In "Leverage," Gloria shows us a Will Turner who is both in character and in bed. Until the day, I would not have thought it possible. By the way, the life philosophy contained herein is "Who needs leverage when you've got rum?" Words to live by, people.

Best FF Containing an Actual Elf: The Question, by Belinda, Doom's Eyebrow. (Best author name ever, by the way.) Lord of the Rings, Aragorn/Legolas. OK, I admit it. Many of my OFPs contain a character played by Orlando Bloom, possibly because the man has all the sexual magnetism of a My Little Pony playset. It's just impossible for me to picture any of his characters being interested in sex enough to get, you know, dirty and sweaty; to me, they'll always be the types that are far more interested in holding hands and reciting poetry while posing prettily in some exceptionally clean setting. But "The Question" persuaded me, mostly by making Legolas an elf instead of a teen-aged girl, and if I was being mean, I'd point out that that was more than Bloom and Jackson managed to do with any kind of consistency. And I guess I am being mean, but that's OK, because my horoscope says it's a good day for petty-mindedness and squalor.

FF with the Best Damn Magic Ever: Clay, by Kass. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Severus Snape. This story didn't trigger my OFP queasiness because I was so fascinated by the actual story. The kabbalah-based magic used in "Clay" is far more interesting than the actual magic of the HP books. By the time the sex showed up, I wasn't icked out because this was Snape in bed with Harry; I was pissed because all the thrusting was taking space that could've been used for more plot.

Best FF Featuring a Character Named Bobby Having (Ew!) Sex: Overture, by Wax Jism. X-Men movieverse, St. John/Bobby. Before I read this, I didn't want to see more of the annoying movie versions of St. John and Bobby. I didn't even like them in the comic books, to tell the truth. And, just in general, I believe that the name Bobby should be restricted to boys young enough to find trucks and cake frosting more interesting than their own, or anyone else's, genitals. But damn if Wax Jism didn't render me deeply interested in these two. I suspect Wax is actually a superhero herself, with mutant control over smut, fiction, and lumber. I fear she may be using her powers for evil, but I refuse even to try to stop her.


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