tried to eat the safe banana
15 August 2010 @ 05:00 pm
The One That Makes My Brain Turn in Circles, Trying to Figure out If You Can Fight Destiny or Not. For the Record, I'm Hoping That I Could and Spock and Kirk Can't. Fighting Gravity, by pantswarrior, aka [dreamwidth.org profile] noarrows. Star Trek Reboot, James T. Kirk/Spock.

Okay, I will admit it. I love it when there is a slash dragon or Spock Prime in a canon, saying, "This guy is your DESTINY." I like to imagine it with sparkletext and hearts, in all honesty.

But in college, I had to write a poem about what I would say to my five-years-ago self if I met her. And I was totally stumped, because I knew for a fact that my five-years-ago self would not listen to anything I said. Because there are two things that are very true about me:
  1. I don't take advice well. My father once said to me, "I feel comfortable giving you advice, because I know you won't take it unless you were going to do it anyway." I pointed out that I was more likely to take his advice than any other human being's on earth, and it was just that I didn't like being told what to do at all, and he just laughed. A really long time. I think I maybe made his point for him.
  2. I don't take orders well. In high school, my favorite teacher (the detention teacher, which, um, probably tells you what I was like), a retired Air Force officer, blanched when he heard I was taking the ASVAB, a sort of military prequalification test. "Don't go into the military," he said. "Please. And I'm not telling you. I'm begging you."
I have, in fact, gotten much better since then. So, so much better. I am hardly stubborn at all these days, and I frequently solicit and then take advice. I even sat through the Alien Encounter at Disney World even though a character says, "Thank you for your submission." But I am still not 100% aces at these things. So if someone from my future showed up and said, "I know the future, and I am telling you to hook up with this person. It is your DESTINY," I don't know that I could do it. I would try! I would! Or I might do everything in my power to avoid my DESTINY, because no one tells me what to do. Not even myself.

And in this story - yes, I'm back to the story now - that is exactly what Spock does. And it makes me insanely happy. I mean, admittedly, it doesn't go well for him, but trust me: if you make a practice out of doing exactly what you're not supposed to, things often don't go well for you, and you pretty much get by on the satisfaction of at least getting to tell fate and DESTINY and your parents and the crowd and so on to go fuck themselves. (This is why I don't do this anymore. For the record. There's only so much satisfaction you can get out of this, and I have had it all.) And I just - I love Spock, and I love this version of Spock, who is so grimly stubborn he'd fuck himself over rather than fall into line.

(People who are disturbed by the first few pages, please note: I was, too. It all works out, very quickly.)

And let me just say that I also love Kirk in this, who is sort of midway between TOS Kirk and Reboot Kirk. I love seeing him forced to deal with the one person in the universe more stubborn than he is. And I love Bones. And, you know, basically everyone.

But most of all, I love Stubborn Spock. I just want to pinch his widdle ears. (Although this is nothing new.)

The One That Will Keep Me Eyeing the Skies Warily, Waiting for a Great Metal Dragon with Worrying Taste in Entertainment to Fly By. The Student Prince, by FayJay, aka [dreamwidth.org profile] pandarus. Merlin, Arthur Pendragon/Merlin.

You've seen this recommended everywhere. By everyone. And now I am going to join in the chorus, because, people, this is some serious comfort fic, right here. It's just - it is a supremely satisfying romance story, and I don't have any other way of explaining it.

Or maybe I do. [dreamwidth.org profile] norah told me, long ago - I am sure I have mentioned this all to you many, many times - that once upon a time, she was sick and sad and traveling on a train in another country. And she cheered herself up by telling herself a well-loved epic story. (I, being me, immediately argued with her about her choice of well-loved epic story.) This is the kind of story that could make you feel better if you were sick on a train in a distant country, is what I'm saying. (And now I want to see everyone's top ten Sick on a Train stories. Hmmm.)

And I tell you what, having read this story, I am now deeply sorry that I didn't matriculate at a university founded in 1413. I mean, okay, that would have required me going to a different continent, and also it would have changed my entire life, which would seriously suck, but - but. My university only had, like, two hundred years to build up insane traditions, and it's just not the same. (No one tell me if St. Andrews doesn't really have all these traditions. I prefer to live in a world where they exist, not the least because I will now spend my life looking at famous UK people and wondering if the university they attended had a custom wherein you have to walk around in trousers with the ass cut out for your entire freshman year or whatever. If this story is anything to go by, there is such a school out there. And. Um. UK persons on my friends list, I am now also wondering this about you. Just FYI.)

So, yes, the setting is part of what makes this work for me. But there are so many other things. All of which, tragically, are spoilers. So, please, go read this, or if you've already read it (and, frankly, I have to think that at least 98.9% of you have, because this is a justly famous story), comment here, so I can squee with you about the many events in this story that made me bounce with joy. It is taking all my self-restraint not to do that here and now.

The One That Suggests to Me That If Vala Mal Doran and Captain Jack Sparrow Ever Teamed up, Nowhere in the Multiverse Would Be Rich. Sexier, Sure, but Not Rich. Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. Stargate universe, John Sheppard/Rodney Meredith McKay (plus other pairings).

As it happens, one of the things I like in a story - canon, fan fiction, whatever - is dinged and dented characters. I like people who have that dull patina that trouble leaves behind when you survive it. And Auburn, in this story, has given me a whole dings-and-dents universe. Yeah, sure, most of the main characters go well beyond mere dings and dents, into the broken-and-put-back-together-with-Elmer's-glue-and-a-couple-pieces-from-the-train-set territory, but everyone is less shiny than in canon. And while I would probably not enjoy a story about how everyone got that way, I really love seeing them deal with it, and live with it, and move beyond it, and get better from it. And live happily ever after. (Happily ever after is not optional.)

Plus, there can be no bad when there are space pirates. I firmly believe that every fandom in the world needs a pirate AU (yes, even pirate fandoms), and when you combine pirates with spaceships, I am very likely to need to run around in circles barking joyfully until I have to go lie down for an hour.

It's also nice - I think nice is the word I'm looking for here - when a story confirms my strongly-felt suspicions about a fictional race. (Any story that disses the Ancients, for example, and I am there. Those people - well, let's just say they pioneered new and exciting advances in ethics-free science, medicine, and government, shall we?) I have always been sort of narrow-eyed and tight-lipped about the Tok'ra, even though I've read some incredible stories that have even made me like them. I just, when it comes down to it, do not trust mind-controlling parasites. It's a personal prejudice of mine! Even if they are supposedly choosing not to mind control right then, you have to ask yourself if it's one of those choices like keeping kosher, or if it's more one of those choices like promising yourself this will be the last chip you eat tonight. And there's no way to tell until it's much too late. I just - I cannot get behind that, no matter how many declarations of mutual non-loathing occur between the Tok'ra and the good guys.

So, you know, I feel good about this story, which in addition to punching my dings and dents button, and my space pirates button, and my plot is awesome button, also lets me rest smugly satisfied in the knowledge that I was right all along, and mind-controlling parasites are not to be trusted.

The One That Proves, Once and for All, That Fashion Is Truly High-Risk. I Know I Won't Be Wearing Scarves for a While. The Scourge of Trion, by [dreamwidth.org profile] ellen_fremedon. Doctor Who universe, Doctor/Vislor Turlough. (No, I had no idea who this was, either. IT DOESN'T MATTER. READ IT ANYWAY.)

I am used to reading outside my canonical knowledge zone, but Doctor Who takes this to a new level. It's just daunting. I mean, Doctor Who has so much canon that the BBC lost some of it. This doesn't happen with your average canon. (Of course, if the average canon is TV aired on Fox, it doesn't happen because there's only 12 episodes of it. Much easier to keep track of.) There's just - this whole fucking fandom is bigger on the inside, you know?

But. If I thought for a minute that there was existing canon that was even a little like this story, I would go out and purchase every damned episode, I tell you what. I would probably even watch some of them. This story is that good.

And, okay, if you are a Who Alumna, a graduate with honors of Who University, with a degree in Companion Studies and a special certificate in TARDIS Interior Design, then this story is totally for you. But if you've seen only some of the new Who, and you always lose at Pin the Companion on the Doctor, and you couldn't, off-hand, name three doctors who wore bowties - this story is still for you. It doesn't matter if you don't know who these people are when you go in; by the time you come out, you will know who they are. And you will want to know even more. (And, if you're me, will be nodding thoughtfully, wondering if certain people on your friends list imprinted on some of these people - Turlough, for example - way back when. It just strikes me that there are certain people I know who would love this guy.)

I mean, I came out of this wanting more Sarah Jane, and more Turlough, and more Martha Jones, and more Jack Harkness. I even wanted more Doctor, and, in all honesty, there's already quite a lot of Doctor in here. (He can double up, see.) Of course, then sanity prevailed - I only have a handful of decades left to me, and I have to assume that Who scholars have to start young and stay dedicated throughout their lives, eschewing all distractions and occasionally making use of limited temporal anomalies to stay on top of their chosen fandom. But my point is: I came out of this story with happiness in every cell of my body. And then I looked around for more, realized there wasn't any (because, okay, I could get more of the characters, but it cannot possibly be this good), and went back to the beginning and started again.

This is - this is everything you could ever want in a story. With whipped cream and a morally dubious schoolboy-businessman on top.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
02 June 2010 @ 11:53 am
Many moons ago, I had a discussion with [personal profile] hradzka about AUs, which of course got me reading and re-reading AUs, which, in the fullness of time (or perhaps even the lateness of time, these days), has led to me recommending AUs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Merlin (the show, although also the guy) lends itself especially well to AUs, I think because there's kind of an "AU goes here" label inserted into the canon itself. (I'm sorry, Malory and White and all the rest of you King Arthur writers, but what are we supposed to think with all the time jiggery-pokery and vague references to Arthur's return and so on? It's like you're begging us to write modern AUs, and future AUs, and also AUs set in Regency England (oh my god someone please tell me there's already Arthur and Merlin in Regency England), and we are just not that good at resisting temptation.) These are classic characters, and they work anywhere, and they definitely work so very well here. (Which is on boats. In case you forgot what I was writing about.)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
05 January 2010 @ 07:15 pm
The One in Which We Learn That You Can't Give the Dead Too Much Artistic License. Especially If the Dead Person's Name Is Bob Fraser. Pornography, by [personal profile] china_shop. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

Benton Fraser has porn. I just want to repeat that, because I think it's a brilliant concept that deserves far more attention than it is currently getting: Benton Fraser has porn. Yes, this story is just as good as it sounds like it must be.

But there is a down side to it, and it is this: after reading it, I could not stop imagining the porn collections of other fannish favorites. Rodney McKay likely has roughly a terabyte of porn, but really only uses three short clips and one still photo. He's just completist. Jim Kirk (Reboot) also has the terabyte of porn, but he's actually working his way through it - he jerks off to something new every time. It's all hot if you look at it the right way, you know? Batman's porn does not bear contemplation and is certainly not something I would ever want to see, so I am pleased and comforted to know that it is hidden somewhere no one will ever find it, and also it is designed to self-destruct if anyone besides Batman touches it. Clark Kent likes the underwear catalogs. He's never been able to bring himself to get turned on by anything more explicit; he's always afraid his mother will walk in. (Lex Luthor's porn, it goes without saying, is his extensive Clark Kent memorabilia collection.) Methos's porn is called his memory. Jack Harkness's porn is called everything in the world, because everything is hot. How can you put a plug in an outlet and not get turned on? And laundry! All those dirty clothes, shirts and pants and trousers all touching, writhing together: clearly the hottest thing ever.

Anyway. Obviously, if Fraser has porn, Kowalski has an interest. (And Thatcher has an issue. Turnbull has an issue, too, but it's with a faulty oven; I'm not entirely sure I want to contemplate Turnbull and porn. It's either going to be men dressed up like the Queen or - you know what, seriously, let's not go there.)

The One in Which We Learn That All Vulcans, Male and Female, Can Breastfeed, Which Is an Innovation I Support So Completely I Am Prepared to Do Illegal Genetic Experimentation to Make It Happen. A Beginner's Guide to Vulcan Sexual Practice, by [personal profile] thingswithwings. Star Trek Reboot, Jim Kirk/Spock.

There's a whole history of how this story came to be, but I'm not going to go into it here, because you don't really need to know it. You just need to know that this story is one of the more awesome explorations of kink I have ever read. The message I take away from it is: there's nothing either kinky or vanilla, but thinking makes it so. And when Jim Kirk (Reboot) is doing the thinking, you know it's going to come out (hee!) kinky, even if he has to oppose millennia of Vulcan culture to do it.

And can I just say that I love the idea of writing endless commentaries on commentaries on a list of Things Good Vulcans Don't Do? That's the concept here, and it made me want to take it to the logical conclusion, and imagine the lecture, um, circles (pits?) on Vulcan, with horrified thirteen-year-olds who are already traumatized from learning about Pon Farr being forced to present papers on and debate about things like the No Breathplay rule.

That's actually probably where the rumor that Vulcans only do it once every seven years comes from. It has nothing to do with Pon Farr, it's just, it takes the first fifty years or so of their mature lives to get over the trauma of having had to learn all the sex rules. (Because I've been watching TOS, and it's obvious to me that Spock has sex more often than One Upon a Pon Farr. He's married to Kirk! Kirk likes the sex! QED! And, no, I won't listen to counterarguments: the crazy shippiness knows no logic.)

The One in Which Morgana Punches Arthur. I Suggest Re-Reading That Part a Lot. It Never Fails to Cheer Me Up. Reciprocation, by [personal profile] astolat. Merlin, Arthur Pendragon/Merlin. (Okay, it just occurred to me - I can think of three major pairings involving a character with a single name: Kirk/Spock, Duncan/Methos, Arthur/Merlin. What's the fourth? It'd make a great recs set.)

I can tell you what I love about this story in one sentence: Arthur Pendragon is totally clueless. I mean, how could he not be? He is exactly the kind of guy who goes through life assuming that he is Just That Awesome, and yet he's decent enough to be horrified when he realizes there is a small (very small, of course, because he's Arthur Pendragon, who is, by definition, awesome) possibility he is not awesome enough.

(This is a rare intersection - stunned by own awesome x still a reasonably decent human being - and I'm not sure I can think of another character in fandom who lives there. Hell, I can only think of one person I've known in real life who does, although, sadly, I can think of many, many people who lived on just the first street. In my teen years, I slept with basically all of them, so it makes me especially happy to see one getting, you know, schooled, even in fiction.)

And Merlin - he is a reasonably decent human being who gets laid a lot, which is as he should be.

The funny thing, of course, is that Merlin could totally be Arthur times a million, because instead of princeliness, he has magic, and in other fandoms, he'd be all strutting around magicking people into worshipping his cock or whatever. (Deny it. He'd be like Jack Harkness with a magic wand - or, as I am sure Captain Harkness would insist I put it, Jack Harkness with a second magic wand.) ...And now I kind of want to read that AU, BUT. Let me soldier on with this rec.

This story is awesome, and it features these characters pretty much exactly as they are in my head, and also Merlin educating Arthur will never be less than totally appealing. Read now.

The One in Which We Learn That Draco Malfoy Is a Far Better Housekeeper than I Am. I Know. I May Not Recover from the Shame. Theft of Assets, Destruction of Property, by [personal profile] helenish. Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom/Draco Malfoy.

You know all those charts that show the various phases of the menstrual cycle with, like, drawings of the corpus luteum and stuff? That are so traumatizing when you're twelve? They should be labeled like this:
  • Ow, My Side Hurts (part of one day)1
  • Extremely Productive (eight days)
  • Days of Angst and Irritation (three days)
  • ALL THE CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD (roughly four days)
  • For God's Sake, Let's Not Do That Again (one week)
  • Voluntary Total Amnesia about All This Crap (one week)
  • Ow, My Side Hurts (part of one day)
And so on. If they'd only posted that chart in health class, I guarantee you I would have written it in my notes, rather than the song lyrics I chose to immortalize. (I bet they were something about standing in the rain. Because of pain. I was predictable that way.)

Anyway. I try hard to save [personal profile] helenish's stories for my Days of Angst and Irritation, because they so perfectly match what I crave at that point. Things start off badly! There is miscommunication! Hurtful things are said! And then everything gets cleared up and there is True Love Forever! And all of this is wrapped in a layer of awesome so thick you want to eat it with a spoon.

But this story - this story is even better than that, because it features Draco forced to marry Neville for deflowering him, which is one of those concepts that shouldn't work at all (or be a total farce), but here it so, so works, and somehow it is just the crunchy awesome center of the awesome candy. Seriously. Read this. Especially if you're in the Days of Angst and Irritation. (I am not admitting anything in a manner admissible in a court of law here, I am just saying: I read this at exactly the right time, and there might have been tears. Possibly of joy, possibly of profound feeling. Who can say? But if there were tears, they were entirely justified, is my point.)

-Footnote-

1 Yes, I know that traditionally the first day of the cycle is the first day of your period. Of course I know that; how do you think I got the earthling? But I have considered Ow, My Side Hurts to be the start of it all since the day in my high school drama class when Mari announced she was ovulating, and all the guys reacted like she was giving birth to a tiger, and I learned that my mother had not lied: menstruation really was powerful and magical. Just, she failed to mention the magical power in question was to make boys writhe in horror.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
I have been patiently plugging away on my Sweet Charity recommendations set, which happens to feature unhappy endings, so I've also been spending a lot of time - really a lot of time - watching vids that make me happy. And I figured, hey, why not put together a set of those, too? You guys may need the antidote after the unhappy endings set comes out.

And while we're talking about unhappy endings: Best Beloved and I planned to buy life insurance a year ago. And we, um, didn't, largely because it's hideously intimidating. But we've finally accepted that we have to, whether we would rather just have oral surgery or not, and we've also finally realized that possibly there is a person out there who actually knows about life insurance, who can provide us with advice that doesn't come coated in a layer of ooze. (Why YES, we are in fact afraid of life insurance salesmen. Does it show?) So: life insurance advice, anyone?

The One with the Deeply Symbolic Model Spaceship. No, Really. DEEPLY SYMBOLIC. Don't Stop Believing, by arefadedaway. Star Trek.

I love it when a new fandom hits big, because then you get vids like this. I'm sure there's an official term for them that I don't know, but I think of them as zeitgeist vids, and they are fun. They're like all the enthusiasm and sudden-onset glee - that same first flush of fannish love that keeps people up all night reading stories they know will be terrible because they just Need More Spock, or whoever - rendered in vid form.

Zeitgeist vids pretty much always get me into a fandom. I am helpless in their grasp. I, of course, have not seen this source - the last movie I saw in theaters was Iron Man, and probably the next one will be Star Trek 11 - but it doesn't matter. I am prepared to buy what this vid is selling. Kirk! Just a city boy! Spock! A small town girl! They take a midnight train going anywhere! See, I am already giddy with love and joy and fannish enthusiasm.

It used to be that my OTPs were set in stone by the first five stories I read in a fandom; these days, it's the vids I see before I read even one story, more often than not. And by the end of this vid, and the other - um, what are the official initials for this fandom? It's so new I haven't seen a consensus yet! - anyway, after this and the other zeitgeist vids in whatever fandom this happens to be, I am prepared to ship Kirk/Spock. Unless someone can point me to a seriously bouncy Spock/Uhura or Kirk/McCoy or whatever vid. (And let me tell you how proud I am of knowing those names: SO PROUD, because one of the downsides of zeitgeist vids is that they often leave me saying, "I love you! Whoever you are! You are shiny and awesome, and, wow, I guess I'd better hit the IMDb.")

The One with the Cleanest Medieval Peasant Village I Ever Did See. Beverly Hills, by giandujakiss. Merlin.

It's the old, old story: a small town girl, living in a lonely world - no, wait. Wrong vid. This old, old story is about a small town boy who goes to the Big Shiny and uses magic, often totally inappropriately, and saves the world from time to time, and spends most of the rest of his time falling in love. This is a deeply classic narrative - I dare you say otherwise, given the enormous body of Harry Potter fan fiction I can bring to support my case - and I love it.

And so I love this vid. It was one of the very first Merlin vids I saw, and it made me love the fandom. (Why, yes, I am a sucker for vids. It is not my fault; I blame - I don't know. [info] - dreamwidth.orglaurashapiro, actually. She encouraged me.) I deeply approve of young-man-big-city narratives, particularly when the big city has turrets. And, yes, I am in fact talking about Arthur, there, because you can't tell me he doesn't spend a lot of time admiring his turrets, and you also can't tell me Merlin isn't secretly doing the same.

This vid takes fabulous advantage of Merlin's ability to look gormless while simultaneously profoundly judging those around him. I admire it greatly. And the opening makes me smile every single time.

The One That Conveys the Fundamental Joy of Being Able to Stop Time and Teleport, Which Is a Thing You Would Think People Would Just Know, but It's Amazing How Often They Act Like It's a Big Burden. Sawatte Kawatte, by [info] - dreamwidth.orglaurashapiro. Heroes.

I think of this as the Happy Heroes Vid. No, really. Every Heroes vid I download seems to consist of a) people getting their brains eaten and then lying around dead with no skull on or b) a girl killing herself (or sometimes just mutilating herself) horribly and bloodily. Sometimes it's both. In the vids, if you don't know the fandom, it looks like Heroes is largely about people using their superpowers to cause tons of bloodshed and draw comic books, and the thing is, you don't need superpowers to do those things. Humans manage that just fine without any special abilities at all! A knife and a pen and you're all set!

Which is why I love the characters in this vid, and am sad that in so many vids they are Sirs Not Appearing in This Vid. The one guy has superpowers and actually does things with them, and I mean things that don't in any way involve anyone bleeding and/or dying horribly. (Okay, he does seem to have a sword, but I bet he doesn't go around lopping people's heads off and having their brains out like some mutant zombie Highlander.) He saves people! He does neat tricks! He has fun! It's like he actually understands what superpowers are for. I cannot help but feel, watching this vid, that the main character of it watched the SF movies and read the comic books, and all the other people in the show grew up on an unadulterated diet of horror.

So I like that. It's a Heroes vid that makes me happy. And even more happy-making is the sheer joy of these two guys together. They are two sides of the same coin, to quote almost every other fandom in this set. They neeeeeeed each other. And when they hug, my heart turns handsprings. It is that simple.

The One Featuring the Most Fabulous Group of People You'd Shoot in Preference to Spending Any Time with Them. I'll Be There for You, by dualbunny. Black Books.

I will be perfectly honest: I have no idea if this vid will work for you if you haven't seen an episode of Black Books. (I myself have seen the first one, which puts me in an unusual and, frankly, uncomfortable place of Actual Canon Knowledge.) But give it a try anyway, and if it doesn't make you giggle, watch the first episode of Black Books and then come back. It's worth it.

See, okay. First, this song. It's - now, it's not like I don't like it, but it's a bit goopy, you know? Whenever I hear it, I visualize a lot of hugging. It is obviously talking about the kind relationship wherein party A automatically has tissues before party B has even started to cry. (And they watch the same sad movie almost every Friday night, so that's not such a huge surprise.) I admire that kind of relationship! I do! Just, you can only take so much of hugging and thoughtfulness.

Which is why I find that song used for these people to be awesome, because they're the kind of friends who, if they settled down to watch a tearjerker movie after one of them had had a big breakup, would end up accidentally setting the crying person on fire. And then Bernard would light a cigarette from the flames.

And, actually, I think that comes through very clearly in this vid whether you know the source or not, so I've changed my mind: I do recommend it for the source-unfamiliar. Just keep in mind that there are three main characters in the show: Bastard, Hapless, and In Any Other Group, She'd Be the Crazy Girl, but in This One, She's the Voice of Reason. And enjoy.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
I love alternate universes. Good ones, that is. I just got finished trying to read an original fiction author's hideous, horrible attempt to write an AU of her own (published) work, and it made me appreciate fandom even more than I usually do.

You people have a deft hand with the AU, and I love you for it. It's not just that I could count on virtually every author I love to get a supernormal powers AU (the kind the published author failed failed failed at) exactly right; it's that most of you have already gotten it right, and then graduated to things like random inanimate objects or apocalypses or everyone is one inch high and lives in the walls of a castle AUs.

So here I celebrate two of my very favorite kinds of AUs: the kind where someone is a robot, and the kind where they all have different jobs. Yay AUs! That are written by people who know how to write them!

The One with Baby Robots. Baaaaaaaby Robots. Why Is There Not a Community Dedicated to Pictures of Baaaaaaaby Robots? Muscle and Blood and Skin and Bones, by Leah, one half of leahwoof. Stargate: Atlantis, mostly gen with background John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.

I have a well-documented, possibly unholy fondness for robots. Particularly for turning characters into robots. Not like the Buffybot, though. No. More just like - what if John Sheppard was really a robot? What if Rodney McKay was? (And, huh. I don't think I've seen any Rodney is a robot stories. Am I just forgetting some? He has a brain like a computer! What if it WAS a computer?) So, of course, I've already recommended Male Enhancement (The Soul and the Company Store Remix). And this story is a sequel to that one.

But, oh, it's so much more. Because this is the story of how John and Cameron grew from little bitty boxes with treads to be, you know, Real Boys. I love Lorne in this, I love the background of it, and I just insanely love the Johnbot and the Cambot. I actually re-read this story far more often than I re-read The Soul and the Company Store, because it makes my heart swell with happiness.

And, see, I never really wanted to see John Sheppard or Cameron Mitchell as human babies. But as robot babies, they are so insanely cute that I just cannot even deal with it. (Possibly this says something bad about me, that I find robot babies cuter than human babies. But I would submit, in my defense, that a) that's not true in all cases - I find the earthling indescribably cute - and b) I'm pretty sure John WAS a robot baby, so I'm just going with what nature intended.)

The One Featuring an Uther Pendragon Who Is Clearly Closely Related to Lionel Luthor, and, Wow, Isn't That a Terrifying Crossover Waiting to Happen? We're a Storm in Somebody Else's Teacup, by paperclipbitch. Merlin, Merlin/Arthur Pendragon.

So, I know that all of Merlin fandom was asquee about this story, but I found it totally randomly. I saw the link from the Merlin newsletter while I was looking for stories to Kindle, clicked through, and saw this line:

Merlin meets Morgana Le Fay at a support group for People With Freaky Unnatural Powers.

And I thought, yeah, I'd like to read that.

This turned out to be one of my more fortunate snap decisions, because this is - I don't know how to describe it, even. It's utterly addicting - I read it on my Kindle while the earthling was nursing, and I found myself desperately hoping he would eat for just a few more minutes, because I had to know what happened next. (I think, if I'd been reading this as it was posted, the wait would have killed me.) I was entirely caught up! I cared immensely about these characters and their lives and their decisions and their hair and their coffee table books!

It was a total immersion story experience. I loved it.

This was one of the earliest stories I read in the fandom, and I'm just lucky that it didn't set my expectations so high that I spent the next month reading Merlin stories with an expression of spoiled disappointment on my face.

Anyway. This is a modern Merlin AU. (Side note: why do modern Merlin AUs so frequently feature a Merlin hitting the coffee so hard you expect his eyebrows to zing off his face? Is this canon or something? I mean, they have tomatoes. I guess they could have coffee. Although that's veering perilously close to, like, Post-It notes and Gaius as a first generation hacker with punch cards and - wait. Is there a Merlin hacker AU? If not, why not?) There are powers! There is drama! There are action sequences and love scenes! But that's all beside the point. The fact is, each sentence is laced with undetectable but extremely savory and instantly addictive glee. Read it.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
I love vids. Even more, I love the twisty minds that vidders have. Okay, first, they must watch, like, a lot of source. A lot. Whenever I consider what it takes to be a vidder, the very first thing that stuns me is - holy shit, these people have to watch stuff all the time. I myself do not have the necessary brain power to watch that much, so it's kind of stunning.

But it's the way they watch stuff that is so especially wonderful. Your average ordinary viewer might watch 45 minutes of a TV show and be like, "Well, the plot was pretty good, but I could have lived forever without that upskirt shot, and I really wish we could have seen more Peregrine and Tucker." (Note: names not from an actual fandom as far as I know.) Whereas I imagine a vidder watching those same 45 minutes and, at about 21:13, sitting bolt upright, groping feverishly for the remote control, and shrieking: "ORGASM FACE ORGASM FACE ORGASM FACE YESSSSSSSS!" Or, "Oh my god, the backgrounds look exactly the same, and the motel beds look exactly the same - I can cut that so they look like they're lying in the SAME BED even though they're in different rooms." Or, "Did she seriously just lean in, smile, and then TURN HER HEAD? The gods smile upon me."

Vidders, in short, must be experts at taking things out of context. It's their gift! (One of many, actually.) And because they also sometimes have, well, ever-so-slightly dirty minds, very often what they do with their out of context shots is - well. As follows. (Note that you don't need to know the fandoms for any of these vids. You just need to know what two hot guys do when they're alone.)

The One That Will Likely Someday Win a Prize for Best Ever Use of Unicorn Horns out of Context. Reach out and Touch Me, by solanyxe. Merlin, Merlin/Arthur Pendragon. (And how.)

Sooooooo. I don't really know how to summarize this one. I mean, I could say, "Here we have Arthur setting his sights on Merlin, hunting him down like an exceptionally hot and tasty unicorn, and then fucking him into the ground." But that would be - hmmm. Accurate, actually.

And yet it all uses footage from a show that airs on regular television. Now, admittedly, it's British regular television, and probably they have mutant British-style rules. (Like, I don't know - maybe "It's totally acceptable to show two guys getting to third base in prime time if they're celebrating their country's victory in the World Cup." Could be anything, is my point. They're wild and crazy over there.) Still. I'm pretty sure that if they had actually shown footage of Merlin and Arthur having sex, someone would have told me. (And if that did happen and no one told me: really, people. I'm hurt.)

This vid, in short, is a masterpiece of taking shots that a number of people - actors, directors, editors, the guy who gets the coffee for any of the above - saw and thought were perfectly clean and PG-rated and suitable for showing to nuns and grandparents, and turning them into something you have to watch twice to be sure there's no actual penetration shown.

The One That Takes the Phrase "In My Pants" to a Whole New Level. One Where You Will Probably Hurt Yourself Laughing. Supernatural (In My Pants), by [info]deirdre_c. Supernatural, Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester (plus assorted inanimate objects and light breezes).

I have to wonder what the creative process was for this vid. I'm guessing it was, "You know, Sam and Dean make a lot of funny faces. I bet I could do something really evil with that." Where "really evil" means "likely to cause neighbors to call the police because of the prolonged hysterical laughter."

Because. Okay. We had to declare a moratorium on all Supernatural vids for about two weeks after Best Beloved and I watched this, because we'd be watching this very deep, moving exploration of Dean's anguish, and the camera would zoom in on his face and he would look tormented and then, inevitably, one of us would mutter, "in my pants." Or just hum a little. And then we'd both collapse into giggles. What I'm saying is, this vid destroyed my ability to take manpain seriously. I'm not sure if this means we should bottle deirdre_c and sell her, or if it means we should lock her up for the good of fandom. Maybe both.

This vid also has one of the best builds I've experienced in recent memory. At first, I was like, "Oh, yeah, Sam/Dean, I get you, but what is with this song choice? I seriously do not get why...okay, I see why, but that doesn't explain - okay, it kind of does, but...[COLLAPSES LAUGHING]." I suspect that will be your experience, too.

The One Where the Cars Are a Metaphor, but Not a Very Subtle One. Mmm Papi, by talitha78/[info]talitha78. Whatever it is that we're calling The Fast and the Furious fandom these days, Brian O'Conner/Dom Toretto/a whole bunch of cars.

I admit it: I haven't seen Fast and Furious. I want to! I do! But I have an eleven-month-old earthling. The idea of getting two hours to watch a movie is far-fetched. The idea of going to a theater without the earthling and spending upwards of three hours there is - well. It's also entirely possible that sometime this month I might win a lottery, despite never buying a ticket. The odds are roughly the same.

But, nonetheless, I heard the squee - and suspiciously ecstatic moaning gasping noises - that shot around fandom when the movie came out. There were a lot of incoherent posts along the lines of, "I - I did not - did they seriously - OH MY GOD BEST MOVIE EVER!" I assume some day I will get to see why.

Except I already kind of have. Because, for one thing, I've seen the first movie, which should have been titled, The Fast and the Furious: It Makes Perfect Sense Provided You Assume They're Fucking. (I'm guessing the fourth one is secretly called Fast and Furious: Now Even We, the Filmmakers, Have to Assume They're Fucking.) For another - well. I've seen this vid.

I admit that Talitha78 didn't have to take things very far out of the context for this one, since 40% of the first movie consists of longing stares between Dom and Brian, and a further 20% consists of very loosely disguised metaphors for sex between Dom and Brian. (I can only hope the fourth one measures up.) But. Still. This vid takes the essence of the movies (Dom and Brian: so in love and so totally doing it) and makes them reality.

Plus, there is a sequence that makes it very clear that the whole thing with the cars is not so much repressed homoeroticism as it is a chance to do some explicit man-on-man action without the MPAA getting all het up.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
06 May 2009 @ 09:37 pm
The One with Elf-on-Elf Combat. Oh, Don't Look at Me Like That. Like You've Never Wanted to See Elves Whale on Each Other.* The Crown of the Summer Court, by astolat/[info]astolat. Merlin, Merlin/Arthur Pendragon.

There was a period of about a week after I read this story that I spent seriously considering that maybe I was just done with Merlin. It seemed like this story had fulfilled my every wish and desire, and I didn't need any more stories in the fandom; I was replete.

I got over that. Of course. I mean, for one thing, I haven't even found an Inappropriate Centaur story in Merlin - I can't possibly be done. (And, also, I'm not done with the characters; there's that, too. It's just - until you've found a few Inappropriate Centaurs, you really don't feel you've come to grips with the fandom. And by "you," I mean me.)

But this story is just that awesome. I have been secretly wanting fairy and elf AUs for quite some time (and this despite the fact that at least 98% of urban fantasy novels make me want to stab the author with a knife inscribed with celtic symbols; as with MPreg and woke-up-animal stories, elves and fairies seem to be one of those things that should really remain in the hands of fans). I'm sorry! It's just this urge I get sometimes. I want someone to put on something sparkly and wave a wand around.

And Merlin - well, come on. It's halfway there already - I mean, sharpen a few ears, add some magic competence, you've got it. But - the magic! The tests! ARTHUR QUEEN OF THE FAIRIES OMG! I just cannot even express my love for this story enough in words. (Where is the Squee Font? That, like, contains only hearts and flowers and sparkles and exclamation points? It would make my recs sets so much easier to write. Harder to read, possibly, and likely to give people Twilight flashbacks, but easier. When will font-makers meet my needs?)

-Footnote-

* I should perhaps explain that I spent a lot of time playing AD&D in my youth. The Cult of Elf got incredibly annoying. Ninety percent of new players wanted to play an elf. If they wanted to play a high elf, you knew they'd maybe eventually grow into real actual roleplayers if you could resist hitting them with a Player's Handbook. If they wanted to be a dark elf, you knew you were going to be trying to get the chaotic neutral character to kill their characters by the third game.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
22 February 2009 @ 07:09 pm
The intoxication set from last time got me thinking about secrets and lies. (And, yes, intoxication is totally linked to telling uncomfortable truths - I think that's alcohol's primary purpose to the human race, and certainly to fan fiction - but that's not what brought it to mind.) For one thing, a lot of the stories I considered for that set would fit in this one, too. Maybe intoxication and secrets and lies are the primary themes of fan fiction? Hard to say.

In any case. Onwards to the recs! (And, hey, for me, this month has been a crazy whirl of recommending. I think I've done three whole sets. I'm setting the world on fire!)

The One Featuring the Cutest Victim of Lies I Think I Have Ever Read About. Most Unpronounceable, Too. Is It Wrong That I Want One? They Grip the Ground, by giddygeek. Torchwood, and you know, if there's not actual cocks waving around, I consider all Torchwood stories gen, since, hey, that's about like canon. (And even with cocks, it could reasonably be an outtake. You can't tell me there aren't cocks all over the place on that set. I won't even believe you.) There's some flirting in this, which is really a pretty redundant thing to say. I mean, I already told you it was Torchwood.

So. Secrets and lies, my friends, and in this case the Torchwood staffers (I think "staffers" is a better term than "orgy participants," but you can make your own call, of course) are lying to a poor, innocent woodland creature. Well, assuming the woodland is from some other planet, and also assuming "poor and innocent" is a term you can apply to something large, irritable, and smelly. But it's the kind of lies I love in this: lies as a weapon! Lies that become truths! In some cases.

And more than that, I love the cheerful, frolicking nature of this story. I've been on something of a Torchwood kick these days, and disturbing themes are emerging. I don't know if it's just the stories I've been reading or what, but they tend to be rather, um, gloomy. These stories give me the feeling that there's a lot of fog in Cardiff. And rain. And people walk in that rain, and it mixes with their tears. And I am all for gloom, but I am also very much a proponent of joy, and this story is pure, shiny joy. Rhinoceroses! That aren't, exactly! Various lies! Frolicking (fully dressed, bizarrely enough)! A happy and g-rated adventure for the Torchwood crew.

Frankly, judging by some of the other things I've read lately, they need it.

The One Featuring John Sheppard's Worst Nightmare. No, Really; It's This and Killing His Own Team. And Maybe Clowns. Everyone Fears Clowns. Or Something Like It, by semivowel. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

I think we can all agree that some secrets and lies are necessary for a happy, functional life. But even more, they're necessary for our characters; some of them construct their entire lives around their secrets. (And then we give them additional extra secrets in fan fiction. Often these secrets involve blowjobs, which at least is a good kind of secret to have.) So the question becomes: what happens when you take the secrets away?

Terrifying things, obviously. And, more to the point, things that would trigger my embarrassment squick. So let me say, right up front: this story does not hit my squick. (And I have an embarrassment squick so exquisitely sensitive that I am currently writhing in horror over the Michael Jackson auction, not just because of the super-creepy (and oddly gilded) nature of the items, but because people are seeing this. He is showing people his creepy, slimy id! OMG ACK. The joke, of course, being that we all already knew about his creepy, slimy id, but still: I am embarrassed for him.) This story is more about - oh, teams, and the things they will do for you, and also how secrets and lies really are very integral to John's existence.

Which isn't to say that the truth serum isn't key. (And, oh, the way this story must look from John's PoV. I will tell you a secret: I actually wrote part of that out. I do that. Really more often than I should.) It's just an awesome use of truth serum, and an awesome, sweet story.

It kind of makes me want to see other truth serum stories, though. Clark on truth serum! LEX on truth serum! Benton Fraser on truth serum, which would give new and horrible meaning to "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," so help us god! Everyone in the entire court of Camelot on truth serum (hide the swords, the axes, and all means of making fire)!

But most of all, I just love and want and cuddle this story. John. Truth serum. No embarrassment. I could not ask for more.

The One That Will Be a Comfort to You the Next Time You Have to Eat with a Serial Killer or a Mother-in-Law or Whatever. It Could Be Worse. You Could Be Dining with the Luthors. Marble, by julad. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.

Last time, I talked about how there are certain tags that define a fandom. Secrets and lies, it turns out, defines several fandoms, but Smallville is perhaps supreme among all of them. It's basically secrets wrapped in lies in a delicious betrayal sauce. So I had to look really thoughtfully at basically all my to-rec Smallville stories to pick one.

Except I didn't, actually, have to look that hard. This story was the obvious choice. And not just because it's what amounts to Smallville wish fulfillment for me. See, I know Clark and Lex are destined to end up enemies: plots to take over the world, doomsday machines, lots of paternalistic lectures. Superhero, supervillain - it's right there in the names. But what I really want is a future in which Clark and Lex team up and change everything. Clark has the body and also the unnatural array of superpowers! Lex has the intelligence and the actual sense and also a fairly decent body himself! They were meant to be. And this story gives us a glimpse of what they could do if they didn't let themselves get all distracted by ruling the world. (Or by Lana Lang, god help them both.)

No, the real reason this is the perfect story for this set is that Clark, the king of Truth Issues, talks about his desire to end the secrets and lies. (Superhero, heal thyself.)

(And a side reason for picking this is that it contains one of my top-ten alien coming out scenes in all of Smallville fan fiction. Awesome.)

The One That Proves That You Don't Want a Magician for an Interior Decorator. Caterer, Though? Maybe. Maybe. Onfindan, by astolat. Merlin, Arthur Pendragon/Merlin.

You may have gathered from the previous story that I have a certain yen for two people taking on the world. This is absolutely true. And if, instead, they choose to take on a series of assorted monsters? That is perfectly fine with me.

Merlin is another fandom that is defined by secrets and lies. It was, you know, kind of set up that way, what with Merlin's famous sorcerousness and Uther's nifty way with an executioner. But in this story, wonderfully and marvelously, the Merlin-coming-out-to-Arthur scene takes place before the story starts. We don't get to hear about it! Instead, the secrets and lies belong to Merlin and Arthur both. Because once you have a magical manservant, it's really hard not to use him. (I think we've all been there. Bertie Wooster, especially, totally understands.)

And once that magical manservant has inadvertently turbo-charged himself (again, these things happen - I accidentally turbo-charged myself way back in seventh grade), keeping the secret becomes really, really challenging. Fortunately, Arthur Pendragon (who I keep desperately wanting to say, "Arthur, King of the Britons," even though I know that would be wrong) is up to the task. And I think I do mean up. Yes.

Magic! Adventure! Sex! Merlin and Arthur, becoming all they can be! This is just like I hope the canon is. (Somebody tell me the canon is just like this. No, really. Lie to me. This is the right set for it.)
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
Normally, I celebrate Valentine's Day by recommending gen. Yes, I am ever the devil. But this year, I couldn't get a set together in time for the 14th, so instead I am going to commemorate something more appropriate for the day after the Big Love Day: intoxication and addiction stories!

Look, it makes sense in my head, okay?

The One That Features the Perversion of a Fine Old Tradition for the Purposes of Getting Two Guys to, Um, "Fulfill Their Destiny." And Isn't That What Fan Fiction Is All About? Misrule, by thehoyden. Merlin, Arthur Pendragon/Merlin. (Does Merlin have a last name? Is Merlin his last name, and his first name is, like, Egbert or Rupert or Meredith or Victoria or something? Egbert Merlin would be a lovely name for anyone, I think.)

I thought I'd start off with the most customary form of intoxication: alcohol! Ingested orally! They were nothing if not traditionalists in not-really-medieval-England. (Visit not-really-medieval England on your next trip to Las Vegas! It's like medieval England, but cleaner and prettier and everyone has nice teeth and tomatoes. No, really: Merlin (the show) is exactly how Las Vegas would recreate King Arthur's court. Which, actually, they probably already have, complete with a Merlin the Magician magic show and a Dancing Sorceresses All-Girl Revue; I have a carefully-nurtured mental block about Las Vegas.)

And, as is equally traditional, they really enjoyed dressing men up in women's clothes back in not-really-medieval England. Totally understandable, especially when the man in question is Merlin (and there are a couple of women around who apparently regret not having Barbie dolls when they were growing up). And need I tell you what happens when you get people drunk and cross-dressing? Sex, of course. It's elementary.

Really, this story is a microcosm of everything that a traditional intoxication story is and should be. Including extensive awesomeness.

The One That Shows Us That Ari Gold’s Kryptonite Is Angry Lesbians. As Well It Should Be, Ari. As Well It Should. We Have Secret Powers. If We Were Anybody and Get It Together, by fourteencandles. Entourage, Eric Murphy/Vince Chase.

There are certain themes that pretty much define a fandom. Like, I know that I'll be able to tag any Smallville story that's over 250 words "secrets and lies," because, well, if I told you to write a plot summary of Smallville without using any terms like "superhero" or "Superman" or "powers" or "so doing it," you'd probably end up saying, "It's. You know. There are secrets, and lies. And stuff."

For Entourage, the tag that will fit every story in the fandom is intoxication. Which, I mean, totally understandable, because in Entourage, there are four main food groups: drugs, blowjobs, power, and money. (No, of course they don't consume any actual food. This is Hollywood. You're only allowed to eat if it costs more than $15/calorie.)

But even for Entourage, Vince manages truly spectacular levels of consumption in this story (in the second part, but then, if you're a fan of happy endings, you'll definitely want to read these together as one story). Which means he gets to experience one of the oldest Hollywood traditions, right behind punching reporters: rehab. And I don't know about you, but I have always wanted to see Vincent Chase (which I keep mistyping as Vincent Chaste, a ha ha) in rehab.

And this is a nice, long, meaty story, one you can read even if you have no idea who these people are. (Hint: Vince is a movie star. Eric is his manager. They loooooooove each other. No, really, this is canon. They may not be fucking, but the marriage is already in place.)

The One That Demonstrates That in the Pegasus Galaxy, Masturbation Really Can Make You Crazy. I Can't Say I'm Surprised. Fix, by crysothemis. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

This story does not contain your more traditional drugs - alcohol, cocaine, magical fruit powder - but it does contain the ultimate drug of the Pegasus galaxy: Ancient technology. Addictive Ancient technology. Addictive Ancient sex technology. I know, you're already sold.

And well you should be. In addition to featuring addictive Ancient sex technology, a phrase that I am sure could cause Rodney McKay to achieve orgasm if uttered with sufficient conviction, this story is also choose-your-own-point-of-view, a concept that I love almost as much as McKay loves Ancient tech. (No, really. I love screwing around with point of view. And. I mean. I love fandom's tight focus points of view, but often I will, for my own enjoyment, write versions of stories or scenes from the point of view of some other character. I have been doing that to fiction since I was in second grade, and now I do it to fan fiction, too. I just cannot help myself.) I suggest reading either the John version or the Rodney version, and then reading the other one. (You can also do the combined one, but definitely do that one last, okay?)

Anyway. If you still aren't sold, despite addictive Ancient sex technology and choice of point of view, then - well, okay, I am sad for you, because I don't think there's anything I can say to sway you. But I will add that this story also is very satisfying to me, because I have long been convinced that the Ancients were incredibly skeevy bastards that you wouldn't want floating around your universe as disembodied all-powerful beings, and I believe this story supports that point of view most heartily. (Have we had an "oh, those skeevy Ancients" challenge at sga_flashfic? Because if not, I think I need to lobby for it. I want to spread my Ancient phobia as much as possible, thank you.)

The One Featuring That Time-Honored Slash Trope: Seduction by Peer-Reviewed Research. And If That's Not a Time-Honored Slash Trope, I Submit That It Totally Should Be. Let's Not Talk About It and Say We Did, by miriam_heddy, ReGenesis, Bob Melnikov/David Sanstrom.

I will be up front: I have no idea what this fandom is about. I'm guessing science comes into it somewhere, but for all I know, these people could be ninjas. (And, hey, possibly they are science ninjas, which I think we can all agree would be such an awesome television concept that Fox would probably cancel it halfway through the pilot.)

But, basically, it doesn't matter what these people are at work - accountants, modern dance choreographers, telemarketers, science ninjas for hire - because what they do at this uncomfortable dinner gathering is: have too much to drink and some uncomfortable conversation, followed by one of those hookups that you just know will be discussed in office gossip in mingled tones of horror and hope: "Either they'll kill each other and we'll all die in the resultant nuclear winter, or this will solve all our problems!" And I love that in a pairing.

Most of all, though, I love these characters. They're such - such people. And I have no idea if they're like that in the canon, or if this is part of what we might term the value-added aspect of fan fiction, but I love them. They have flaws! Many of them! And I just read this whole story hoping that their flaws will properly align and they'll end up together.

If you're still like, "Huh, slash for a television show I've never heard of that TFV knows nothing about - I think maybe I can pass this one up," let me add a special note for SGA fans. People, this is almost exactly like if you hooked up two alternate universe Rodney McKays. Seriously. Read it and I think you'll see what I mean.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
25 January 2009 @ 09:33 pm
My brain continues to spin violently under the influence of a truly massive fan fiction overdose - the fannish holidays should come with a warning label, seriously; I am still trying to catch up. Not that it's not fun! It's just like drinking from a really fun firehose, is all. So, while I wait for approximately four thousand awesome new stories to settle in my head, I'm going to rec some more non-story fanworks. This time, vids! Vids that make me happy! Vids that will make you happy! Possibly so happy you'll burst something with some of these. I am in no way responsible for joy-induced injuries, though; blame the vidders, not me.

The One That Shows Clark Being Absolutely Terrified of Boobs, Thus Proving That He Really Does Come from Comic Books. I Kissed a Girl, by bop_radar. Smallville.

This vid is brilliant for three reasons:
  1. It takes the rather irritating concept of exhibition lesbianism and transforms it into the entirely awesome concept of exhibition heterosexuality. Frankly, I am behind this with all my force and will and might.

  2. And if there's anyone whose heterosexuality is for display purposes only, that person would be: Clark. I have not seen a man so clearly frightened of women since, I don't know. Hercules? West Hollywood? Maybe Hercules in West Hollywood. (Note to everyone: this is not a made-for-TV movie we need to see. Oh my god no.) This vid so perfectly and joyfully collects all the shots of Clark looking like he would rather eat kryptonite than kiss a girl, and frankly, I can laugh at that all day long. (Clark, tiny hint: if kissing scares you that much, you're DOING IT WRONG. Just go back to the boys. You're happier there. And you are not fooling anyone, sugar.)

  3. It totally reclaims this song. Once, I hated it. No more. I will never, never hear it again without thinking of Clark's petrified OMG girlflesh RUN! face. (And, oh oh oh, Clark in that wet t-shirt when she's blithering on about how girls are all soft and shit. Clark will SHOW you magical skin, honey pie. He is very proud of his magical skin. He moisturizes.)
(And, as a total and complete bonus, this vid makes possibly the best use I have ever since of Lex's pissy face. Oh, god. Lex, jealousy is your look. Lavender and green green jealousy: Lex's colors this season. Every season since he hit Clark with his car, really.)

The One That Proves That Arthur Knows Only One Sword Maneuver, but He Works It. Keep Right on Working Your Sword, Arthur Honey. A Night at the Opera, by such_heights. Merlin.

This vid single-handedly drew me into this fandom. I watched it and said, basically, Okay, yup. I'm in. I was searching for fan fiction before the vid was entirely over. This vid brought me such joy - the ending, oh god, the perfect perfect ending! - that I cannot think of this fandom without smiling a little.

But that is not why I'm recommending it. No, I'm recommending it because norah recently disclosed to me that she has not seen it. This cannot continue. norah, this is a vid you MUST SEE. Not just because it's Merlin. Not just because it's awesome. Not just because it's funny. No. It's the song choice.

For everyone else, a little background: norah once attempted to watch Highlander (the movie). Now, I watched that movie a lot in the days when my sister and I rented videos together, and experimentation since that time has proven that while my sister was watching the actual movie, I was just making stuff up in my head. It was before I knew how to watch movies, and they didn't make much sense to me. (This was the era when I watched Blade Runner and came to the conclusion that it was a light romantic comedy type movie, to give you some idea.) So I had kind of...my own story of this movie, and I, in all innocence, encouraged norah to watch it. "It's pretty good!" I said. "From what I remember!"

Afterwards, she was shaken, not stirred. And the particular line that summed up her whole dislike of the movie was: "It's a kind of magic." I agree with her that this is not the ideal line for Highlander.

But I think you will agree with me that is a perfect line for Merlin. And it's here. norah, watch this vid. It won't just make you happy. It will reclaim Queen's entire oeuvre for you.

And even people who have no issues with Queen should watch this. Isn't being made happy - deliriously happy, particularly in the bit with the dragon, oh dear god, the bit with the dragon - enough for you?

The One about the True, Doomed Love of a Puddlejumper and a Cactus. It's Like Shakespeare. 2 Atoms in a Molecule, by zoetrope. Stargate: Atlantis.

I have one thing to say about this vid, and one thing only: John's manpain is SO ADORABLE.

I mean, I think we've all encountered this guy. If we haven't dated him, we've been friends with him. He's all, "Oh, love is so hard and I always get hurt and I suffer much and I have no choice but to go stand in the rain wearing all black and not even try. I'll lead people on, but I won't commit, because of my TREMENDOUS PAIN." In real life, my response to this is, "No, it's because you're a tremendous tool."

Somehow, this vid makes that cute. Not just cute, but funny. I find myself wanting to squeeze John's little woeful cheeks and say, "Oh my god, you are so adorable when you're all emo and pathetic. I'm going to buy you a beret!"

(John would look awesome in a beret, I tell you what. I bet he's worn one, too. I bet there was a five-week period when he was, like, sixteen, and he'd just had his heart broken for the first time. He thought he was going to go to Paris and starve in a garret on the West Bank and write really moving poetry (and sleep with lots of cute boys). And he wore a beret and tried hard to take up smoking and bought some turtlenecks. And then he realized that a) his father was really really rich and it'd be more Common People than the Lost Generation b) he'd need a really rich father to live in Paris, because it wasn't 1920 anymore and c) that he sucked at berets, smoking, and especially poetry. Still. I bet there's photographic evidence. I bet Ronon stole it when they went to John's father's funeral.)

My point is: this vid is John's emo woe made into effervescent joy. I can't think of anyone who doesn't need that.

The One That Shows Us That the Doctor's Travel Agency Is Maybe One You Don't Want to Sign up with, Unless You Just Like Hot Sexin' Adventures for Some Reason. OMG!, by obsessive24. Doctor Who.

Here is a true fact: this vid has possibly the best and funniest use of music in the whole history of ever. It sets a mark so high that I am not sure it can ever be equaled.

Here is another true fact: I would probably love if it even if it had used a different version of this song. (Although this version makes it, oh my god, seriously. "I'm just talking over this to prevent bootleggers": AWESOME.) The more I explore Doctor Who - which for me means Doctor Who fanworks, since I continue to ride on the success of having seen the whole first season of New Who (minus one episode) - the more I realize that for me, this is a show about the people around the Doctor. Oh, yes, I love the Doctor, but he's sort of ineffable and unknowable. I don't even want to know him; that would pretty much ruin it. He's a 900 year old superpowerful space alien with a big blue flying box: he's supposed to be distant and weird and kinda twitchy. You would be, too, if the last time you lost your cravat you inadvertently wiped out a galaxy.

But his companions (in which set I include the TARDIS, who is obviously his first and best and truest and shiniest companion) - those folks are. Well. More human, for starters. (Yes, even the TARDIS is more human than the Doctor; that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Look, if you want a rec that makes sense, write your own.) Makes it easier to relate to them, you know? Plus, with every new companion, you get to experience the wonder all over again: holy shit, time travel! Holy shit, infinite variety! Holy shit, this Doctor guy is fun, but kinda crazy!

So I love this vid, because: companions.

And then there's the shiny. And the music. And - well, obsessive24 has been impressing me with her vids since I first watched her Hikaru no Go ones, lo these many years ago, and she just continues to amaze me. This vid is no exception. There is brilliance here. And awesomeness. And talking over this to prevent bootleggers. <3!