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11 October 2009 @ 09:20 pm
198: A Touch of Grit  
The OTW is having a fundraising drive! (And this time, there is swag. It is awesome swag. I am just pointing this out.)

I love the OTW - I volunteer for them, in fact - and I love what we do there. But most of all, I love the idea that someday, the works I recommend will be mostly hosted on the Archive of Our Own (soon to enter open beta!), and I won't have to post knowing that in a year or so, half the links will be broken. You have no idea how awesome that would be. Donate to the OTW! Do it on behalf of your fannish recommenders!

The One That Makes Me Feel Guilty That I Wasn't Paying More Attention in 1999.Sixteen Days in September, by [info - dreamwidth.org] tevere. Generation Kill, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick.

This story is amaaaaaazing. It isn't always easy to read - because I am a wimp, there are places I totally had to skip - but it's gritty and so believable it hurts. It's an AU; instead of joining the Marines, Nate joins the Peace Corps. And gets sent to East Timor, on the eve of the independence vote. (And if you're thinking, East Timor? Independence vote?, well, I am not surprised. The only reason I knew anything about East Timor before reading this story was that I looked it up on Wikipedia because [info - dreamwidth.org] tevere lives there. But, fortunately, you don't need to know about the country to read this.)

The great part about this story, though - okay, one of the great parts - is that it's so much like the canon. I don't think I've ever seen an AU achieve such perfect parity with the canon's tone and content. It's astonishing. I'm reading Generation Kill right now, and this story perfectly matches its blend of great characters, moments of human triumph, and screaming fucking incompetence. (My basic reaction to Generation Kill is that human beings are not competent or organized enough for war. When I am the secret ruler of the world, I will require people to prove that everyone in their chain of command has intelligence and common sense. If they can't, sorry! No war. It sucks, but if you can't find your ass with both hands, a GPS unit, and a scale map, you can't have any guns.)

I do need to warn you, though - the independence of East Timor was not pleasantly and easily achieved, and this story reflects that. If you know the Generation Kill canon, well, there will be nothing worse here than you've seen or read there. If you don't, you can still read this story, and I encourage you to - this is one of those things that is worth it - but do pay close attention to the story header.

The One That Makes Me Wish I Had a Shirt with Fake Tits on It. (Although at the Moment I Have All the Boob I Need. Thanks, Breastfeeding!) To Let, by amand_r. Torchwood, Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones.

You know how good this story is? The whole thing is told in second person, which would normally be enough to drive me to stockpile weapons and tack great big maps up in my (non-existent, because we live in California, and believe me, this was a major source of bitterness throughout my childhood) basement, but here, I don't even notice. Seriously. Every time I re-read this story, which I do a lot (because it is wonderful), I am surprised once again that it is in second person.

Telling a story longer than ten words in second person is one of those things where, if you have to ask if you're good enough, you're not. Fortunately, amand_r is, in fact, entirely good enough. She probably has extra talent she has to store in old spaghetti sauce jars because she can't fit it all in her head at one time.

Because, really, this story is just plain awesome. I love the outsider view of Torchwood, and, frankly - and I know this is a major crime for a fan, tantamount to admitting you secretly want your canon to get cancelled - I love the original character, who is interesting. And even canonical characters aren't always interesting. (Sometimes it seems to me that a major function of fan fiction writing is making a two-dimensional character, you know, three-dimensional. So if we can do that, and we can, why do we tell each other we can't write original characters? I get confused about that.)

There's also a coda, linked at the end. I actually like the coda, especially in light of Recent Canonical Events, but, well. If you are, like me, of a sensitive disposition, you might want to pay close attention to the warnings. (Although if you're like me, you'll read it anyway, and you probably will not be sorry.)

The One That Makes Me Wonder Where the Great Chefs Go When They Die. I Mean, It Can't Be Hell, Because Then There'd Be Good Food There, but Most of Them Are Not What Me Might Term Heaven-Qualified. City of Sinners, by kaneko. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Christopher Keller.

So if you know how Oz ended, you know that a post-series happily-ever-after for Beecher and Keller is, shall we say, slightly unlikely. (If you don't, you should still read this - it's that good - but you'll have have to just trust me: not likely.) Which is why I am kind of astonished that Kaneko managed to make one. Oh, it's not the perfect happily-ever-after - there's no ice cream or anything - but then, I think Keller and Beecher had kind of reached a place where they couldn't take that. Some people really can't have nice things, and if you're not that kind of person when you get into prison, I would imagine you are after you've been there a while. Beecher and Keller sure were.

So this is their kind of happily-ever-after. Which is, okay, in hell. But! It’s not a bad hell, as hells go, and, really, they wouldn't fit in in heaven. (Plus, they'd probably have to be quarantined; otherwise, they'd have a terrible effect on the angels.)

Plus, I just love the world-building (Can I use that term in this case? Do I mean plane-building?) here. This is totally a hell I can believe in. If I, you know, believed in hell. Anyway. My point is: this is a wholly awesome story.

And I would think that this kind of went without saying - I mean, if you have a story that's set in the afterlife, certain warnings are just not necessary - but, okay, yeah. There's some character death in this.

The One That Makes Me Very, Very Glad I Am Not a Vulcan. Fever, by penknife. Star Trek, Amanda/Sarek. (Does Amanda have a last name? I'm not even going to get into it with Sarek - I've learned that with Vulcans, it's better to just take the information they give you and be happy - but Amanda comes from earth. Surely she's got a last name.)

Soooo. Pon farr is one of those things that seems to have been made for fan fiction writers. Slashers, particularly. It's like the writer of that episode - holy shit, Wikipedia says Theodore Sturgeon, and frankly I would not in any way be surprised to hear that this is exactly what he did - sat down and said to himself, "How can I make sure that Star Trek is a fandom for the ages? And maybe get Spock a little more love from the ladies? Although, frankly, if the lady fans loved him any more, there could be riots. But then, I like a good riot." And then he thought of pon farr.

And if that was his plan, it worked. I am brand-new to the Star Trek fandom, compared to its overall tenure on this planet, and I have already read, I would estimate, thirteen thousand pon farr stories. It's like catnip to the fan writer's hindbrain.

The thing is, though - I've enjoyed pretty much all the pon farr stories that didn't spell Spock Spuck. But. Well. I never really thought about what pon farr would be like - for Joe Vulcan, for his mate (the lovely Jane Vulcan, or the equally lovely Jack Vulcan if Vulcans swing that way, or, in this case, the awesome Amanda Probably Has a Last Name but I Don't Know It).

This story is short, but it packs a hell of a wallop. And, really, I guess all pon farr stories should carry a dubcon warning - pon farr is the sex pollen you carry along with you! - but this one plays with that edge a little more than most.
 
 
 
scrollgirl: trek spock/uhurascrollgirl on October 12th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Amanda Grayson, I believe.
tried to eat the safe banana: Batvinethefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
You mean...like Dick Grayson?

Okay, now I'm going to have DCU x Star Trek crossovers in my head forever. The only thing that makes this better is the knowledge that, these fandoms being what they are, that particular crossover has surely already been written hundreds of times.

I wonder where I can find the stories.

(And thank you! Amanda Grayson. *makes a note of it*)
Carbohydrates! Now in people shapes!: (fan) kirkjuniper200 on October 12th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
Amanda's last name is Grayson.
tried to eat the safe banana: Batvinethefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
And now I'm trying to figure out who came first: Amanda Grayson or Dick Grayson. I mean, obviously, in canon chronology, Dick came first. But who was actually written first, with that last name?

This is going to keep me up tonight. But thank you! My world is the better for knowing that Amanda is Dick's great-whatever granddaughter. No wonder she pulled a Vulcan.
the cold geniusangevin2 on October 12th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
Dick was also written first -- his first appearance in comics was in 1940, while Star Trek debuted in 1966 (Amanda's first appearance was in 1967, and I'm not sure where her surname was established).
sisabetsisabet on October 12th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
Amanda's last name is Grayson. I have no idea how I know this and part of me thinks maybe I am just mixing up fandoms and maybe I had a dream about Dick Grayson and Spock, but I feel in my heart her last name is Grayson. I suppose I could wiki this.
sisabetsisabet on October 12th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
and, yeah, also I should hit refresh before I spam you with info you already *have*.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
If you had a dream about Dick Grayson and Spock, I absolutely demand that you share the details. It is only right and just. (And I'm glad I'm not the only one to immediately say, "Wait. Like Dick Grayson?" There is no such thing as a fannish coincidence!)
Korey: spirk marriagedancinguniverse on October 12th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
Yes, to confirm, it is Grayson, and the reason I know that is from the novelizations. There's one called Ishmael where they reference Amanda, but more importantly, Diane Duane's Spock's World is sort of THE book about Vulcan and Spock's background in particular.

So it's that iffy canon angle, but I find that most fanfic writers tend to take Diane Duane's word as good.
Stasiastasia on October 12th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
That is my favorite fanfic of all time - I seriously love that book and what she did with the canon there.

*sigh*

I should buy a copy of my own. I lost my copy in my divorce.

Stasia
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
I read Spock's World and I totally forgot that her name is in there! (But then, I read Spock's World like fan fiction, which is...different.) I feel exceptionally silly.

(The funny thing to me - Spock's World is THE book about Vulcan and Spock's background, but it's actually a McCoy story.)

Stasiastasia on October 12th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
Oh wow - that last story is a killer. Thanks for the rec!

Stasia
tried to eat the safe banana: ST OMGthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Isn't it amazing? *admires it*
keerawakeerawa on October 12th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
And once again, regardless of how many of these stories I actually read, the text of your recs is a source of laughter and joy in my life.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
*beams* Thank you!
A hilarium of fangirls and boys: ST:command decisionj_s_cavalcante on October 12th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC)
I have already read, I would estimate, thirteen thousand pon farr stories. It's like catnip to the fan writer's hindbrain.

Heeeeee!

So true.

I believe D.C. Fontana gave Amanda Grayson her name, but it could have been Roddenberry. I would check Roddenberry and Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek for you, but I have just been on my feet at the easel painting for, like, a zillion hours, and at this point I can't even see straight. Anyway, I love your post. I love your insights about the Total Crack that is Star Trek. The good crack! :)

Edited at 2009-10-12 07:02 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
Star Trek is, indeed, total, total crack. I have to say, I am increasingly unsurprised that it gave rise to our kind of fandom. Something had to give.

*offers you a cool cloth for your eyes and a comfy chair to sit in*
Alethia: GK Brad Too Deepalethialia on October 12th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC)
Sixteen Days in September

Gritty, indeed. What's so brilliant is how very accessible it is. You need not know a whit about GK to read it and yet you'll still be moved. It's a tremendous story and wholly worth the read.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Truly. *nods nods* No prior knowledge of GK or East Timor required! Tevere is awesome.
Tam.my. Ma.chine.: Ju // no then?comeoutcomeout on October 12th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
Thank-you from the tiny dark corner of the Intertubes that is GK fandom! I haven't finished reading ~tevere's story yet, but it is a great rec and I'm glad it might get some wider love. Actually like a lot of small fandoms, GK is blessed with being pretty quality :)

I am reading Nate Fick's book One Bullet Away at the moment. It's a humbling read that I recommend. The personal insight into the complex combination of pride, regret and hatred Fick feels about what they did in Iraq...he suggests it's quite universal for soldiers and I think it's quite an alien concept to those of us outside the military, trying to understand and judge. Anyway, it's an interesting complement to GK, to get the story told again from the flipside perspective.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
I'm reading One Bullet Away, too! (I figured I might as well read them both at the same time, since I have this horrible inability to stick to just one book at a time - it's providing an interesting parallax view of the story, as you say.)

And I do hope that Sixteen Days gets love from all over. It most definitely deserves it.
Ineketevere on October 13th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
You're reading OBA? You are joining our fandom! Mwahaha. (Although I do feel compelled to warn of the slippery slope-- before you know it, you'll be earnestly reading every single Iraq war memoir in existence and wondering whether you should pay a visit to Baghdad for fic-writing research. Or maybe that's just me?)

I really like OBA-- it's one of the few books I've re-read repeatedly, because I feel like the more I delve into it, the more complexities it contains. TV!Nate is a very different character from real!Nate. I'm sure all the GK characters are fictionalised to some degree, but it stands out for Nate because we know so much about the real version-- and also because he has one of the clearest character development arcs in the show itself. Real!Nate is much tougher and more pragmatic than woobie TV!Nate. It was interesting coming up with his character for Sixteen Days-- half of one, half of the other. One of the crucial incidents in OBA (in terms of Nate's characterisation) that isn't in the show is the platoon's visit to the Baghdad fairground-- I won't spoil you, but I thought about it a lot when writing Nate at the end of Sixteen Days.

It continues to terrify me that the story of East Timor's independence is one of the success stories of modern peacekeeping.

Are you watching the show? It's tough going -- there are parts I had to fast-forward -- but the Brad/Nate eyefucking is a thing of wonder.

PS:

So if you know how Oz ended, you know that a post-series happily-ever-after for Beecher and Keller is, shall we say, slightly unlikely.

SPORFLE. BEST UNDERSTATEMENT EVAR.
Ineke: facepalmtevere on October 13th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
It belatedly occurs to me that of course you're not watching the show, and nor should you. You would HATE it. (Death AND child death AND animal death-- isn't that, like, every single one of your squicks?) We will have to send you carefully edited vids, stat. (Once someone actually makes them *cries piteously*)
Kaneko: Brad in the sunkaneko on October 12th, 2009 08:30 am (UTC)
Thank you for the rec!! And yayyy so happy you recced tevere's Sixteen Days! What an amazing story.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the story! And ohhhhh, Sixteen Days so needed to be recced. I'm just glad I finally got to read it - moving meant I had to wait WEEKS, and I knew it would be good, and waiting was haaaaaard.
Amysuch_heights on October 12th, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
I love To Let so, so much. I'd totally forgotten it was all second person until you mentioned it - genius, absolute genius.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
I know! It's so awesome. And how is it even possible to forget something is in second person? It reminds me of certain movies that I'm constantly surprised are in black and white. I remember them in color!
Rachel aka RaginCajun67: Mischa Red Glovesmadgebettany on October 12th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
"Sixteen Days" is incredible, one of the most cinematic fics I've read. Thanks for the great list.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
It really is amazing. A gut-punch, but a great one. (Sort of like GK itself.)
a particularly troubled Romulan: cityspock lurksillariy on October 12th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
Telling a story longer than ten words in second person is one of those things where, if you have to ask if you're good enough, you're not. Fortunately, [info]amand_r is, in fact, entirely good enough. She probably has extra talent she has to store in old spaghetti sauce jars because she can't fit it all in her head at one time.

Hilarious image. *giggle* And that is why I love your recs.

I see that you're very thoroughly informed about Amanda's last name now but I still wanted to give a little more trivia from the books: Spock's human family, the Graysons, are also mentioned in "Strangers from the Sky" by Margaret Wander Bonanno, which deals with the first Vulcans on Earth (unrelated to either ENT or the ST:VIII aka First Contact with the TNG crew). In Strangers from the Sky, Spock accidentally travels in time and ends up spending some time with his great-great(??)grandfather Jeremy Grayson, who was a peace activist on post-WWIII Earth. [memory beta] But that's of course not canon, just book fanon. ;-)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
Hilarious image. *giggle* And that is why I love your recs.

Thank you! (The real question now is, can we get someone to sneak into her house and steal her old spaghetti sauce jars? We could distribute her excess talent to writers who really need it, and all fandom would rejoice, and also she would not have all those jars cluttering up the area under the sink. Everyone wins!)

Is Strangers from the Sky a good book? I'm trying to get into ST novels - it seems insane that there's all this fan fiction just hanging around waiting for me - but I'm having some problems. I can always use recs of good ones!
Beck: ST - Kirk Spock McCoy by distress_callbeck_liz on October 12th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
I always loved SftS myself, but part of that is my being a big old history geek, even a fake history geek. A significant portion of that book is taken up with people who are not Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc., so a lot of people aren't as fond of it as I am. But it's the "true" history of Earth's First Contact with aliens. Which has since been completely jossed, of course, but it was years before the jossing occurred and it became my own personal canon for awhile.
a particularly troubled Romulan: st:xispocklookingupillariy on October 12th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Seconded. I liked how the aliens on Earth theme was handled and grew quite fond of the characters but at times, the different time lines (as in, ST movie era, post-WWIII, early TOS era) were a little confusing to me. YMMV.
Imaginary Researcher: Dubious but intrigued - oollahhannahrorlove on October 12th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
Swag? Where? The page you linked to doesn't mention it. And I'm a sucker for swag.
tried to eat the safe banana: Fandom is my fandomthefourthvine on October 12th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
You're right. It doesn't. Oops. But! You can see the fine and shiny swag here.
That's Lay-day Snackpants to you, buster.amand_r on October 13th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
Oh. Oh, ♥

I needed this today.

How did you know?
The Mortal Zip Disc of Perth: GRR!stokley02 on October 13th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)
love it when you recommended Generation Kill. As a full time post-grad i rarely have time to search for fic's, little lone read livejouranl. But when i do get a chance i always make sure i come past your journal and check out what you've been up to.

Earthling and Fic's galore!!
bluevsgreybluevsgrey on October 13th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
OMG that GK fic! I started reading it at 9:15 last night and didn't stop until I was done. *hearts in my eyes*
plus one skeletondelurker on October 18th, 2009 09:05 am (UTC)
Sixteen days in September is totally awesome!
epona34epona34 on October 21st, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think I'm coming here from a post on quarter_mile.
I just wanted to tell you I love your recs and your rants.
Thanks you so much for sharing.

I hope you don't mind but I'm friending you. I don't want to miss your next entries.
09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0laura47 on October 24th, 2009 08:57 am (UTC)
I watched the first couple of seasons of "Oz" obsessively, then went off to college and wandered away. i tried to go back once, but I found the level of violence to much to deal with.

So I see your comment, and I went and read about the end of Beecher/Keller, and... I am in a very sad place now! Wow. I think I might have to read the fic now? I mean, I always knew that a happy ending was unlikely, but... damn it Keller! I liked you!

wow.