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
06 June 2010 @ 03:01 pm
This entry is dedicated to Best Beloved, who has dragged me back to my old system for organizing stories to rec. It's very inspiring, and I'm not sure why I've been putting it off for, um, three years or so. (Let this be a lesson to those of you who are likely to engage in a battle of wills with Best Beloved: she is implacable when determined. It is better just to give in now.)

Anyway, there may be some crazy amounts of recommending as we work through the new (old) system. If it reaches spammination levels, that would be Best Beloved's fault. (If you like it, of course, that's totally to her credit.)

Today: gen!

The One with the Best Damn Trial Scene in the History of Creation. Almost No One Makes It Out, by [personal profile] atrata. Iron Man.

When I was going through that phase of role-playing gaming where you have to try every system ever devised, I created several characters using someone or other's superhero system, where you rolled percentile dice (which, for you non-gamers out there, gives you a result from 1 - 100, or rather, from 01 - 00) on a chart to determine your Super Special Powers (mutant or otherwise - things like being really, really smart were on there, too). If you got 00, you got TWO powers.

I love this story, first and foremost, because it makes it very, very clear that Tony Stark rolled 00 on that table. He is not just a mechanical genius; he is also rich. Richness is a superpower all in itself. And if you take that superpower away from him, as [personal profile] atrata does in this story, you end up with a very different person. Richness insulates him from a lot of things: the consequences of his actions, the real world, his inability to deal with people. Richness also gets him lots of things: equipment, security, people to solve his problems, special privileges, and attention. And I just cannot get over how amazing it is that [personal profile] atrata took that away from him and still kept him the Tony Stark we all know and, um, probably feel vaguely conflicted about loving quite so much, because he is, in all honesty, a total asshole.

And I also love Pepper in this story. I simultaneously long for Iron Man fan fiction and avoid reading most of it, and at least half the reason is that I fear for what will happen to Pepper. It's deeply important to me that she remain independent of Tony even as she's managing him, and that she stay competent and smart, and I worry worry worry that in Tony/Pepper stories she will be reduced to helpless weeping. Plus, okay, I admit it; my actual ideal pairing for Tony Stark is some kind of complicated sex machine that he builds himself:

"Pepper! I've perfected my greatest invention, and now I don't need women!"

"Oh, really. Does that include me?"

"Don't be ridiculous. Hey, watch this."

"Oh my god no. I'll be upstairs. If you need me to dial 911, tell Jarvis." And then she calls Rhodey and they bond for a while over the Impossibility of Tony Stark, and I think it is now obvious to everyone that one of the reasons I don't read much Iron Man fan fiction is that I am already writing it in my head.

(And now that I've totally fallen in love with this story, I - well. You all know how Dark Agenda is having the Racebending Revenge Ficathon, right? Where people make a white character not white? I want someone to make Tony Stark's skin much, much darker and see what happens. I cannot even tell you how much I want that.)

The One That Can Double as a Portland Guidebook, If You Ever Find Yourself in Oregon and Wondering What Jim Kirk Would Do. Graduate Vulcan for Fun and Profit, by lazulisong. Star Trek Reboot.

Someone on my friends list (sorry, I can no longer remember who, but if it was you, fess up - it was [profile] brown_betty!) was talking a while back about her Secret Smarts kink, about how she loves stories where a character who is, you know, kiiiiiiind of a doof in the canon is revealed to have believable hidden skills or competence or brains. And I agree with her. It's a rare thing to see it done well, but when it is - oh my god I love it so. And this story is the exemplar of the genre.

For one thing, it is obvious to me that Reboot Kirk must have Secret Smarts. And not because of Pike's whole "genius-level" comment (many is the character I've been told was a genius, and usually I have a hard time believing it), but because I have seen TOS, and I tell you what, Original Kirk is no one's fool. (Okay, he's Spock's, if Spock needs one, because he is whatever Spock needs, but otherwise, no.) So it works for me that Reboot Kirk, in the process of becoming all tarnished and bruised, learned to hide his intelligence.

And I love the background lazulisong gives him here; it adds some complications and depth back to the Misunderstood Hero deal that Abrams went with. I mean, I love a Misunderstood Hero as much as the next girl - which is good, because otherwise I would have to move to a small island without electricity or any kind of communication with the outside world and read nothing but cruise ship brochures - but I love it most when the Misunderstood Hero has some other stuff going on. I like to add a few adjectives to his archetype, is what I guess I'm saying. And this story so perfectly does that, without in any way making him less perfectly Reboot Kirk.

As if all that wasn't enough to make me love this story, there is also an incredible OC in it. He's - he is everything I want in a Vulcan: he's smart, he's tricky, he's so stubborn that redwoods everywhere just give up and move on when faced with him, and he's just barely emotional, just enough to remind us all that Vulcans could be the masters of melodrama if they wanted to be but they choose not to be. (I tell you what, the Federation is lucky there isn't an inhibition-loosening drug that Vulcans use a lot, because it'd be fucking scary: 90% of the time, they're the living definitions of flat affect, but the other 10% of the time, humans everywhere are saying, "Dude, just - just calm down. And please, please, please - stop singing.")

The One That Proves, Once and for All, That John Sheppard Will Not Thank You for Doing Him Any Favors. Earth 2, by Martha Wilson. Stargate: Atlantis.

If there is one thing that we all learned from Gateverse canon (or, okay, that you all learned from the actual canon, and I learned from reading your ep summaries and meta), it's that Pangloss was right, after all: this is the best of all possible worlds. Which, okay, gives me some pause, because - seriously? Especially when you throw in the Goa'uld and all? These are the ideal initial conditions? But apparently there is no change that could possibly improve things. It's all downhill from here. (I am pretty sure that the Gateverse folks did not realize how inherently depressing this is. Try not to think about it, that's my advice.)

In this story, we get to see John Sheppard learn that very thing; he gets to travel to one of those other, less wonderful universes. But not just any of them. (I'm going to try to talk about this without any spoilers, but, seriously, you should just go read the story right now.) And not just any John Sheppard - it's the original, pre-Atlantis John Sheppard, and here is how we know how fucked up John is: Atlantis was actually therapeutic for him. As in, he got more emotionally healthy in an environment of constant stress, danger, and insanity. (I suspect Kate Heightmeyer had an unfinished paper on this very subject, talking about how John and Rodney, pretty much alone in the expedition, somehow got better from it.) As it happens, I have a sneaking fondness for early John Sheppard, so I love this story.

And this story also hits my competence (and smartness!) kink - here we get to see John (plus a couple of other people, naming no names) being surprisingly good at things, given that he is utterly clueless. (Something John should be used to, of course. Good But Clueless is pretty much his middle name.) And also there is a plot, which notice how I am determinedly not spoiling it.

...Actually, I had better shut up about this story right now, while that's still more or less true.

The One in Which We Learn That One of the Major Risks of Time Travel Is That You Might End up Being Schooled by Yourself. Klein Bottle, by basingstoke. Torchwood.

For most fandoms - television fandoms, anyway, and any fandom that has a lot of fan fiction in it - I find, sooner or later, that I've divided the fan fiction into eras, based not on when the story was posted, but when the story is set in the canon. And usually somewhere in there, there's the Nostalgia Point, the setting I miss most once canon (and therefore most stories) has moved past it. I re-read stories in the Nostalgia Point a lot, especially if the canon progresses to the point where I don't want to read new stories in it very much at all.

This story is set squarely in my Torchwood Nostalgia Point. I'm not sure when it is in actual Torchwood canon, since I've never seen any of it and have only a vague sense of the progression of events, but I know what I need the story to be set after. And, definitely definitely, set before. This is a twisty and blissful little story; it's filled with the complications of being Jack Harkness, his emo and his majesty, but it's also in the relatively innocent period of Torchwood, and I love that.

But that is not why I love this story. I love it because it's a time travel story, and time travel has always been one of my biggest narrative kinks, and here it is so very perfectly done. And basingstoke handles one of the difficulties of writing about time travel - if there are multiple versions of character X in the room, but they are from different times and therefore are different people, how do you deal with that? - as well as I've ever seen it done, here. And there has never been a better reason to use second person. (Plus, second person is the only way it's really possible for me to believe what I'm told about Jack's thoughts, because he's so shifty I firmly believe he could lie to an omniscient narrator if he wanted to.)

So: great story, great writing, great nostalgia. I really do not see what you could possibly be waiting for, here.

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
22 May 2010 @ 09:45 pm
Best Beloved recently pointed out to me that it had been approximately seventeen years since I had recommended anything, which had of course triggered the inevitable thing where I am reluctant to write up a recommendations post because it's been so long since I've done one. You all know how this goes. She suggested I ease myself into it with vids. Happy vids.

She was, as always, right. Here are some happy vids, and pretty soon I might even remember how recommending works! I think - I think there is cake involved?

I might be wrong about the cake, actually.

The One That I Always Remember as Being NC-17, and Then I Rewatch It and Realize That It Is Merely Suggestive. Very, Very Suggestive. Let's Misbehave, by trelkez. White Collar.

Okay. I have read stories in this fandom - not, you know, all of them or anything, but some. Many, even! And this vid is, like, 45% of them. This is a vid with plot, and the plot goes like this:

Neal: I am exceptionally pretty.
Peter: Yes, you are. I might wish you weren't, but it's a fact and I'm prepared to put it on any number of affadavits.
Neal: Also, cute.
Peter: Yeah, but I've got to point out that it's the kind of cute where sometimes I want to smack you.
Neal: That's all just part of my charm.
Peter: The hell of it is that that's true.
Neal: And did I mention that I'm talented?
Peter: I already knew that, actually.
Neal: Face it, you can't resist me.
Peter: Let me just remind you about my wife.
Neal: You're in luck! I'm good with other people's wives.

Neal: So. Hi. Peter loves you, you know.
Elizabeth: And I love him, so that's something you and I have in common.
Neal: Did I mention that I am exceptionally pretty?
Elizabeth: You didn't need to. I have eyes.
Neal: But I would never want to come between the two of you.
Elizabeth: Well that's a pity.
Neal: Oooo. I think you're about to make me an offer I won't refuse.
Elizabeth: No, I'm going to make that offer to Peter.
Neal: Great! But, uh, if you're caught, I will disavow all knowledge.
Elizabeth: Like hell you will.

[And then they all have sex.]

So compelling is the force of this vid that even I think Neal is pretty for the duration of it. (I'm sorry, but under normal, non-this-vid circumstances, Neal looks like a not-especially-attractive ferret to me. I mean, okay, fine, a kind of cute ferret, but definitely the sort of creature you want to a) pat on the head and b) keep in a cage. Yes, fine, the line to cut me dead starts over there.) And that makes me notice that Elizabeth (who is absolutely not only pretty but hot) and Neal look a lot alike. And they have some similar body language. Hmmmm. Perhaps Peter has a type? IT MIGHT BE. WE SHOULD LOOK INTO THIS. (Hint: start by watching this vid.)

The One That Answers the Age-Old Question: Where Do Good Past Incarnations Go? The Tenth Doctor Musical, by di_br. Doctor Who.

Okay, I am guessing by the fact that this thing has almost 500 comments on LJ and more than 50k hits on YouTube that everyone has already seen it. I do not care. There might be someone out there who hasn't. That alone is reason enough to rec this.

Because, oh my god, this is just - just - well. I don't want to spoil it or anything, but there was a point, right before Nine rolled his eyes (and I was right there with him, of course), that I had a laughter-induced hallucination. (And here it is, for the people who have seen the movie of Bridget Jones's Diary: I saw the tenth Doctor in his pajamas, using a hairbrush as a microphone, singing All By Myself until he broke down weeping helplessly on the TARDIS's control panel. And here's the thing: I am absolutely, completely convinced that he's done this. We just need to get the footage out of the TARDIS somehow. Anyone have an in with her?)

I love this vid. I love every single thing about it. I love the idea that there's a Home for Old Doctors where they can watch the latest incarnation's exploits ("I tell you what, I would never have done that. In my day we knew the value of a blooping tube of blue goop.") and brood all moodily and be harassed by babies and have a cup of tea. I love the bonus track at the end, which, seriously, I have no idea what's going on there, but it is fucking scary, even so. I love the bits with Jack and the Master. I love Martha's theme song, which is so obviously her theme song I don't know why I never realized it before.

I even love being rickrolled. Pretty much.

The One That Makes Me Say, Every Time, "They - Had a Wizard of Oz Episode? Or a Costume Party Episode? Seriously, What the Fuck?" High School Never Ends, by Gab, aka milena_d. Gateverse.

It took me a lot of rewatching to figure out just why this vid works so well for me - because it does, it so totally does, and yet usually this kind of concept doesn't. But I persisted in my viewings - it wasn't actually a hardship - until I realized that actually, this vid is a celebration of the somewhat doofy but always entertaining physical acting (if, um, that's the term I want) of the many people of the Gateverse. And that is - it's just wonderful. It's physical comedy! In vid form!

But it's so much more than that. It's also filled with sly meta commentary on the shows and their fandoms, and, even more than that, a lot of love for the Gateverse and everyone in it. One of the things that I love about vidding is that for me, it's the fanwork type that can most easily just be a giant explosion of love for the fandom. There are vids that are, totally obviously and clearly, OMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE <3 <3 <3 set to music. And how can you not love that? How can you not love it when someone not only draws metaphorical hearts with her name and the fandom's name in it, but does it while hitting the beat?

(I am guessing that if you're better with faces and people than I am, fanart probably accomplishes the same thing. But - okay, this is a totally honest example of the way my brain sometimes fails with fanart. There is a very famous series of drawings in an older fandom, and someone linked to them on my friends list a while back, so I looked at them. And then I went to get Best Beloved, because when I'm that kind of lost, usually the problem is that my brain is malfunctioning. And we had a conversation that went, in part:

Me, showing her one of the drawings: ...And I just don't get it, I guess. I mean. How is this fannish?
BB: What do you see?
Me: A tiger.
BB: Do you see the guys in front of the tiger?
Me, trying to fake it: Um. Maybe?
BB: Do you see the one guy's penis, and how the other guy is sort of going for it?
Me, stunned: There's a penis?
BB: HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THE PENIS?
Me: It's a really confusing picture!
BB: There's two guys and a penis and a tiger! IT'S PRETTY BASIC.
Me, muttering: Not to me it isn't.
BB: I can't believe you brought me in here to look at a penis you didn't even know was there.)

The One That Makes the Best Use of Lens Flare I Have Yet Seen in a Vid. The Test, by [personal profile] heresluck.

Probably you have already heard about how awesome this vid is. Well, you heard right: it is in fact profoundly awesome. It so profoundly awesome, in fact, that I feel comfortable recommending it, even though right now I have to question my judgment in anything Trek-related. I am still in that unfortunate phase of fandom where I sort of lack - you know, taste. And rational thought. Basically, my flowchart for determining whether or not I love something has a new branch in it, very early on, which looks like this (except of course the actual flowchart is nifty and cool-looking, because my brain does not run in ASCII):

Trek? The kind that has a Spock? ---Yes ---> OKAY I ALREADY LOVE IT

I am - a little obsessed. Just a little. But trust me when I tell you that my obsession is not why I love this vid. There are, in fact, so many moments that I love in it that if I made a greatest bits collection of it, it would be about four minutes long. (If I was allowed commentary in addition to actual clips, it would probably be about three hours long. This is why I don't ever try to do a frame-by-frame analysis of a vid; two years in and I'd still be at 0:45 and I'd already have said, "But it's, you know, SO INCREDIBLE, because" seven million times.)

I will say this, though: I was absolutely, completely sold on this vid in the first 35 seconds. AND THEN IT GOT BETTER. And then it got better again! It was like a matryoshka doll set, except made entirely of joy; I kept thinking I'd found the pure brilliance at the center, but no! There was always more joy still to come.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
08 February 2010 @ 09:57 pm
The One That Will Give You Flashbacks to the 1980s, Even If You Didn't Live Through Them. Kings of the Air, by fabularasa. Top Gun, Iceman/Maverick.

Okay. So. Two years ago, for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture, I re-watched Top Gun. I had not seen that movie in a long, long time. It, um, looked a lot different the second time around. (This resulted, by the way, in a never-posted Top Gun recap that would probably have broken the LJ post character limit, and 30% of those characters were along the lines of "RANDOM GAY VOLLEYBALL PORN OH MY GOD ARE THEY FUCKING KIDDING?")

Anyway. My point is: this is the story for that movie. This is what they were working towards the whole movie, even if they didn't know it (although, Jesus - how could they NOT know, given all that random gay porn?). This is the only story you need to read for this fandom. Although I myself would not mind several thousand more stories exploring the really gay, not really subtext of Top Gun, but my point is: if we never get them, that's fine; we can still file this fandom in the box marked "done," thanks to this story alone.

This is also a story you can totally read if you've never seen the movie. I will provide you with a summary, in case you need it. Spoilers, obviously.

Maverick: Hi, I am a Navy pilot, and I am just totally awesome. People cannot even get over how awesome I am. I sure can't get over it, because I am such hot shit my ass routinely catches on fire. Hey, would you like my autograph? Yeah, that'll be fifty bucks.
Goose: I am Maverick's gunner or wingman or something, and he's, yeah, fairly awesome. I am a nice guy who has a lovely wife and adorable small children. This is usually a terminal condition in an action movie. Just, you know. FYI.
Iceman: I am also a pilot. And, Maverick, sometimes when your ass is on fire, it's because someone is beating it. That person would be me.
Charlie: I am the token girl. I have a Ph.D. and a desire to fuck one of my students! And, mmmm, I love the taste of arrogance in the morning. Now, who shall I pick?

[Painful singing interlude.]

Charlie: I choose you, Pikachu! I mean, Maverick!
Maverick: Yay. And yet - Iceman - I must - um, engage in conflict with him. Yes. Conflict.
Iceman: You're not hot enough or good enough to engage with me, boyo. Just stand there and let me stare at you.

[Random gay volleyball porn.]

Iceman: Maverick, you piss me off so much that I need to punch you just so I can feel my skin against yours.
Maverick: YES, BABY, YES. Fuck - I mean punch - me harder.
Goose: *dies*

[WOE.]

Iceman: I win the competition we were having to be the best Navy pilot in all the land!
Maverick: PUNCH ME HARDER. I mean. Um. Yeah, you win. But I have Become a Man! In all senses of the word! Oh, god, YES.
Charlie: ...Wasn't I supposed to be the love interest?
Goose: *remains dead*

The One That Teaches Us That Brain Parasites Can Be an Effective Therapy. (Don't Try This in the Real World, Though.) Tongues of Men and Angels, by mad_maudlin. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.

Okay. I have - a thing. The Goa'uld make me want to CLAW MY SKIN OFF. Just, you know, preemptively. In case they turn out to be real. And yet. This story, for me, is alllll about a relationship, and it's not the McKay/Sheppard one. (Not that I am not bang alongside the McKay/Sheppard one, of course. I enjoy it! I am pleased it is here! But it is not the centerpiece of the story for me.)

Because this is a non-Atlantis AU, and there are Tok'ra in it, and this, for me, is about what being a Tok'ra is like. It's about the relationship between Tok'ra and host, and it's the first story I've ever read that made me believe the Tok'ra might be more than just Goa'uld with slightly (slightly!) better press. I actually like the Tok'ra, as they are portrayed here. Okay. A few of them. But that is a huge thing for someone who is as mind-controlling-parasite averse as I am!

But this story is 60k words of gateversey goodness, so it is also a fantastic action piece, and it has great hurt/comfort, and some very nice bits for SG1, and engineering, and sarcasm, and, just, everything I want from an SGA story (except Go-playing ghosts and John and Rodney turned into seahorses who are disturbed to discover that MPreg is their new canon, because no SGA story can be absolutely everything). In fact, this story probably also makes perfect toast and can bring rain to parched lands. It's that good, people.

And it's amazing to me, because it's a happy ending for John and Rodney that doesn't involve Atlantis, and the thing is - I always kind of assumed that there wasn't a happy ending for them that didn't involve Atlantis, largely because, well, it seemed like they had had that relationship conversation with earth. You know, the one that goes, "It's not you, it's me. It's just - we don't feel the same way, and we want different things, and - yeah. I mean. I care. I do. But it's not working out." (In Rodney's case, he'd be the one saying this. In John's case, it'd be earth.) So I am frankly stunned that mad_maudlin could use the guys as, you know, roughly the same people (and not seahorses or circus performers or satellites or whatever) and find them a happy ending that does not involve a certain imaginary flying city.

Anyway. Read this. It's awesome.

The One with the Most Nearly-Literal Slave Collar I've Yet Seen That Is Canonical. Did the Canon Writers Notice This? Were They Paying Attention? Figure It Out, by lightgetsin. White Collar, Elizabeth Burke/Peter Burke/Neal Caffrey.

Okay. I do not know from White Collar. I'm at that stage where I have to check IMDb to find out what the full names of the characters are. Usually, at this stage, I have about a one-sentence summary of the fandom in my head, but in this case, I don't. Instead, I have a picture. Which I am unfortunately unable to show you, because I can't get into LJ Scrapbook for some reason Which I can totally show you, thanks to tzikeh. (It shows Neal handcuffed to Peter, who is kissing Elizabeth.) And, really, that says it all. Or at least all the parts I'm interested in.

Anyway. Like I said, I don't know from White Collar, but based on this story, if the DVDs were available, I would totally have Best Beloved watching it already. I might even be watching an episode myself (although that is unlikely, what with my current Kirk and Spock issues - but the very fact that I, deep in this weird TOSian fever, am willing to consider watching something else is significant). Because the characters are awesome, the concept is deeply appealing, and the dialog is first rate. In the story, I mean. My primary concern, if I had Best Beloved watch this, would be that the canon might not measure up to the fan fiction. This has happened before.

But, oh, it would almost be worth it, to know these three people better. Plus, you know, other people. I am sure there are other people in the show worth knowing. Probably.

So, this story - well. It is about Neal (conman!) and Peter (conman-catcher!) and Elizabeth (person who catches the conman-catcher!) and their really pure true love. But what I mostly love about it are the central questions it seems to ask, which is - how do you trust someone whose whole life has been built around making people trust him even though he's not, you know, actually trustworthy? How do you love someone whose job it is to make people love him? (And I would just like to note that it is awesome that for once the person whose job it is to make people love him is not a prostitute.) And exactly what happens when what is holding you together goes away?

(SECRET HINT: Sex! And PURE TRUE LOVE. And, knowing these three, someone (Neal) getting tied to something. But that's just my guess.)

The One Where We Learn That Even Logic Crumbles in the Face of a Really Short Skirt. Listening to Hear Where You Are, by frostfire_17. Star Trek Reboot, Jim Kirk/Spock/Nyota Uhura.

Sooooo. As some of you may be aware, I have recently had my brain taken over by Star Trek: TOS. And Reboot. Anything with a Spock, basically. (This is a painful process, but I am told that eventually I may regain the ability to speak in complete sentences, so I am trying to be strong. And you should all give Best Beloved massive, massive love for standing by me through it.) And, see, my TOS obsession makes this story even better (although I'm going to be honest here and say a) it did not need to be made even better and b) Frostfire may be liable for various damages to readers' brains for the stunning level of betterness in this story even without TOS as a point of reference), because now I have seen the women's uniforms that are the centerpiece of this, and, well.

Look at some of the images Frost linked to in her notes.

Okay. Now picture that outfit on Reboot Kirk. (In a fetching shade of gold, naturally). Yeah, I thought that would get your attention. Because, let's be honest here - Kirk was born to wear that dress. And Spock and Uhura were born to fuck him senseless in it.

Seriously, this is like 8k words of fantastic threesome porn, which is all by itself a reason to love the story, but what I really love, here, is how in character everyone is. This is an awesome Uhura, an awesome Spock, and a Jim Kirk in a dress. (Which is, obviously, the definition of awesome.)

And it's also an awesome use of a costume that actually made my jaw drop the first time I saw it in action, because holy shit that is a short dress. (Usually the argument against skirts on people in space is that if there's an artificial gravity failure, the wearer will end up with a skirt in the face. Let's just say that is not a problem here, since in the event of a gravity failure, this skirt will look exactly the same.) This story made me love the uniform a lot more than I previously did.

Also, did I mention the threesome porn?

The One to Read to Remind Yourself It Could Always Be Worse: You Could Be Spending the Holiday of Your Choice with the U.S. Congress. Die Hard 4.5: I'll Be Hard for Christmas, by Aja, aka bookshop (thanks to multiple people!). Live Free or Die Hard, Matt Farrell/John McClane.

I'm going to just pause for a minute so you can let the awesomeness of the title wash over you. Pause - pause - pause. Are you ready? Let's move on.

So, I think the title alone is sufficient reason to convince anyone, including people who haven't seen the movie (me!) and people who sometimes fantasize about punching Bruce Willis in the teeth (hardly me at all, anymore), to read this story, but I have more reasons even than that.

Like, okay, obviously I haven't seen the movie, but I always think the aftermath of action movies would be so much more interesting than the part where our hero blows something up and our villain meets his graphic end, often more than once. What happens when our hero stands up in the wreckage of a major American city, tosses aside his rebar, and goes back to work the next day? (Or, okay, six to eight weeks later, to allow for healing.) And that's what this story is about.

I also have to note that this story has the most wonderful original character ever. (At least, I'm assuming he's original. If he's a stealth crossover from somewhere, please god tell me where.) I don't know when I last met a character who could pack so much world-weary, cynical snark into a single sentence. Every bit of this story that he's in is awesome, and I would totally read a large number of stories in the Amit Sasses Washington fandom, or whatever it would be called.

Plus, you know, there's a whole thing where Matt and John find love in the midst of briefings and Congressional meetings, which has to be a first. (At least, it's a first in that no one was prosecuted or lost a major election afterwards.)

And there's a fivethirtyeight.com reference. Seriously, there's something here for every fan, except possibly those who hate happiness and good sex.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
19 November 2009 @ 02:42 pm
Dear People Out There,

I am hoping you can help me with something.

See, our beloved Philips plays-anything DVD player experienced serious trauma in the move. (Well, we all did.) Now it just sits there with its power light blinking red, and nothing we can do will make it open or play. We've given it time to heal, largely because I hate hate hate replacing things, but it hasn't gotten better, so - what is the current fannish DVD player? The one that plays the most formats, and so on? What do you folks have and love? (That can currently be purchased, I mean.)

Now, onto the recs. Once again, it's long stories. (Parenthood and breastfeeding have really changed the way I'm reading; since I only managed to read fan fiction on the Kindle, and I tend to Kindle mostly longer things, that's what I end up reading. Someday, presumably, there will be more variety here, but you'll have to take that up with the earthling.)

The One with Extra Vulcan Goodness. So Wise We Grow, by captanddeastar. Star Trek Reboot, Jim T. Kirk/Spock.

Okay, I will admit it. I am unabashed lover of epic kidfic. But my standards for kidfic went way, way up during pregnancy. (True fact: at one point, in around my eighth month, I snarled at the screen, "That is NOT how it happens, and that is NOT medically accurate, and also -" and then I realized I was criticizing the medical realism of MPREG. People who tell you pregnancy makes you crazy probably aren't thinking of this moment, but they should be.) And then they skyrocketed again after I was living my own version of kidfic, complete with earthling. So I now approach kidfic with joy and trepidation, because either it's going to make me happy all day long or it's going to make me write yet another lengthy mental post entitled Pregnancy and Childrearing: Actual Facts, Because You Seem Not to Have Any Even Though the Internet Is Totally Full of Them.

This one fell squarely into the "happy all day long" category. And in a rather unusual way, too. See, okay - most kidfic starts from one of two places: either a new baby, via MPreg or alien/divine/future/magical intervention, or a (gasp!) woman, whatever, or a kid still firmly in what I think of as the Era of Cuteness. This story starts out with a kid in the Era of Snottiness, and I just love that. (Partly this is because I have a nephew who has just embarked on the Era of Snottiness, and I have so much enjoyed seeing him discover sarcasm and obstructive literalism and eye-rolling and various gestures behind my sister's back. I imagine I will love this age much less when the earthling gets there, but for right now, it's comedy gold.)

And I also love (we're back to the story again) Jim and Spock, getting it backwards as usual. (First comes baby, then comes marriage, then comes love: I am pretty sure that is not how it usually goes, guys! But then, being captain of the whole fucking ship doesn't usually come at the start of one's career, either, so I am guessing they're used to inverting these things. They'd probably be all shocked if they actually did something like other people for once.) And I love how they fuck up, and also get things right, and how they get it all figured out in the end.

Most of all, I just really, really love seeing Jim Kirk dealing with TWO snotty Vulcans. I cannot think of anything better than that.

The One Where Ray Totally Calls Fraser on His Bullshit. More People Need to Do That! A Moment of Insight, by cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

Did I really not recommend this before? That hardly seems possible, and yet LJ Archive insists that it is so. In which case, I really have to wonder what the hell was wrong with me. Because this story is so very marvelous, and I re-read it regularly, and yet somehow I failed to mention that fact to you. Maybe I assumed you all knew about it, but if so, I am sure I assumed wrong. (If I've learned one thing on the internet - besides "never click without first seeing where the link goes, especially if the link text is something like HA HA HA" - it's that there is always someone who hasn't seen it, someone staring at the screen thinking, but what's a LOLcat? Often that person is me. Although I do know what LOLcats are, thank god.)

I can't take the risk that there is someone out there who is looking for a good, long story, or a good dS story, or just a story involving hotel rooms in middle America (and if you think there isn't someone looking for that last one, watch a few storyfinders communities - there is always someone looking for a story involving, like, eye infections, or learning to stand on your head, or French-Canadian pastries, things like that.)

So. What we have here is:
  1. Ray and Fraser. (A good way to start! Years of happiness started that way for me.)
  2. Trapped in a hotel room. (I think we can all agree that this is a fundamentally excellent plot development in virtually all fandoms, and before you argue, consider: Buffy and Ethan Rayne, trapped in a hotel room! Hercules and Iolaus, trapped in a hotel room! Reboot Kirk and Methos, trapped in a hotel room!)
  3. Engaged in sex and case-solving, and, really, what could be better? (Fan fiction has changed my definition of "awesome procedural crime story" to the point where I always find myself vaguely disappointed in published if the heroes just catch the bad guys, and don't actually fuck or flirt or have a moment of relationship-defining staring or whatever. This is funny because I love gen fan fiction and almost never have that problem there, but then, fan fiction writers actually know when they're writing slash, most of the time; pro writers often don't.)
Basically, this story is everything I love about dS.

The One Where We Learn About the Persistence of Pizza. In the Memory, I Mean. Forget Me Not, by maisierita. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.

I love amnesia. I just - I really do. (When it happens to fictional people, I mean.) Someone on my friends list was talking about her incredible folly of starting a story with everyone with amnesia and lost in the dark, and I was like: that is an awesome idea. I would love to read that! What's wrong with starting out with everyone amnesiac and lost in the dark?

(Answer: hard to write. Apparently. Whatever.)

I'm not sure what I love more about amnesia - that you get to see everyone without their internal history (who I am, where I hurt, what I've learned) or that you get to see folks interacting without their interpersonal history (who you are, what we fight about, why I like you). Fortunately, in this story, I don't have to choose. Because, okay, Rodney and John may not be lost in the dark, but they definitely both have amnesia. And they're in an unfamiliar world. And not only do they stay that way a good long time, but John gets extra amnesia, which is, obviously, extra awesome. (Also just like him - always taking the largest share of the pie, as long as the pie is made of pain, suffering, time on his knees, or emotional maladjustment!)

I love watching them renegotiate their relationships when they're missing most of the pieces of the puzzle, and figure out what the hell is going on, and deal with the circumstances of their capture. And, equally, I love watching them manage the little stuff - like, they have to reinvent pizza and ice cream and coffee. I think we can all agree that would be a major priority for anyone stuck on an unfamiliar world. (I'm only surprised they didn't reinvent Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Seems like every American who goes to a distant land sends back pathetic pleas for suitcases full of Kraft. Even when they did not eat it at all in the US.)

Basically, this story takes two classic fan fiction tropes (Imprisonment! Amnesia!) and does them up right, in an intensely satisfying story that I re-read at least four times a year.

(Note for readers who happen to be best_beloved: Yes, maisierita also wrote that one really sad story. This one is not sad. Authors are allowed to have many facets. READ THIS. You will like it, I swear.)

The One That Will Cause Anyone Who Routinely Drives in Los Angeles to Spend a Lot of Time Imagining the Commute and Sigalerts on This Day. Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, by Annie D., aka [info - dreamwidth.org] scaramouche. Die Hard 4 x Speed, John McClane/Matt Farrell.

No, I am not recommending this one just because I spend a suspiciously large part of my life singing this song. That is just a bonus. (Although I am kind of sad that there won't be a sequel, because that so obviously would be titled Row Row Row Your Boat.)

Here's the thing: I have never seen Die Hard 4, although I am fairly sure I can fill in many of the blanks. (John McClane is manly and kicks some bad guy ass, for example.) And I actually have seen Speed, but I realized, while reading this story, that I don't really remember it. What I remember is, like, the movie trailer version of it. I remember the central plot device - the bus thing, of course - and a few snippets of dialog and some of the characters. (I think my brain has even set this memory to stirring instrumental music, and prefaced it with a ratings screen.) And I very clearly remember thinking at one point, wow, this movie really needed to end about 20 minutes ago. But I don't actually remember, like, who the bad guy was, or, um, the plot - things like that.

I do not regret this at all, because I am just going to pretend, for the rest of my life, that both Speed and Die Hard 4 went exactly like this story. It has everything I want from an action movie - ass-kicking! Wise-cracking! Manliness! Injuries! Inexplicably well-equipped bad guys who, in reality, would just make several billion dollars looting hedge funds and then buy a tropical island, which would in any case be easier than their nefarious plans! Kissing!

But this story is better than most action movies I can remember, and certainly better than all the ones I can't.

Also, the kissing is between the two main dudes, and I don't think I'm going to be seeing that in a big-budget action movie any time soon. Thank you, Annie D, for giving me everything I want in an action movie. Without even requiring me to hire a babysitter.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
09 October 2009 @ 10:44 am
Things have been kind of rough for the House of TFV lately. But one major good thing has been that we have finally gotten my desk and computer all set up. Which means I can retreat to one of my fannish happy places: vids. And these vids are happy indeed.

The One That Made Me Wonder What Kind of Gum Uhura Likes. Apple Candy, by talitha78. Star Trek Reboot.

First off, I think I should just issue a blanket recommendation of every single thing talitha78 does, because, wow, she has made so very many vids that make me so very, very happy; I had this set all assembled and then realized, whoops - two of the vids were by her. So I had to pick just one of them, and I will have you know that it was not easy.

This one won, of course. It's like it was made for me. Although - okay. My associations with this song have been documented before, but - am I the only one who, having watched this vid, now also wants a Kirk/Uhura/Spock vid to Jessie's Girl? Come ON. "I've been funny, I've been cool with the lines" - that could, if you're willing to posit the existence of a time machine, have been written about Reboot Kirk! Don't tell me you aren't now seeing the vid in your head in all its glory. (If you aren't, there's a download at that link. I'm just saying.)

But. As glorious as the Jessie's Girl vid would be - and, oh, I think we can all agree it would be the kind of thing that makes the angels, if not sing, at least giggle - this vid is even better. I'm not going to tell you why - I went off on that whole tangent in part just to avoid telling you why - but I am going to say that I went into this vid expecting to love it (Apple Candy and Kirk/Uhura/Spock, by a vidder of known awesomeness: the download might as well have come with little sparkly hearts on it), got most of the way through, and realized I was going to love it even more than that. It is just that wonderful.

The One That Actually Made Me Tear up from Sheer Love the First Time I Saw It. One Night Fandoms, by [info - dreamwidth.org] thingswithwings and eruthros. Multifandom. Very nearly panfandom, in fact.

yuletide is coming 'round again, people! It is truly my favorite time of the year. (No, you are not allowed to remind me about this in two months, when I'm quietly weeping over my keyboard and occasionally moaning "why did I volunteer to write this?" in IM. Yes, there's some pain involved. Pain is part of the fun. Really.) And, in anticipation, I have started re-watching this vid, which made me so happy last year that I was afraid my ears might fall off.

This is Yuletide. If you've never done it: this is what it's like! It's all the things you love even though no one else does, things most people have never even heard of. Things you keep wistfully telling your friends that, no, really, they should try it, they'd love it, it's awesome, and you will TOTALLY loan it to them or even buy it, and you know they never will try it, and you don't know why, because, seriously, so wonderful. Things, in short, you definitely never expected to see in a real fanwork. And they're all in this vid. Just like they're all in Yuletide.

True fact: the first few times I watched this vid, I was just looking hopefully for my past Yuletide sources - the ones I've written, the ones I've requested. It took me several rotations to be able to set that aside and admire the beauty of the way this vid is put together - and it is beautiful, no doubt.

But most of all, it's Yuletide. Watch it. And then start planning out your signup sheet.

The One That Is a Tribute to the Thespian Skills of Momoa and Flanigan. Is She Really Going Out With Him?, by [info - dreamwidth.org] sherrold and [info - dreamwidth.org] wickedwords. Stargate: Atlantis.

I just. I can't even tell you how wonderful this is. It caused me to guffaw openly, because - okay. I haven't seen any SGA canon since the first season, and even then I didn't watch very much of it. I'm just not a visual media girl, is the thing, and frankly, if you're going to give me a choice between watching some people galumph around space and bonk into things or reading about those same people galumphing around space, bonking into things, and fucking, well. I am going to go with the latter. (And it's not the fucking that makes the difference, actually; it's the reading, although I'm not going to say the fucking doesn't help. I do love the subtext, but - what's the opposite of subtext? Domtext? Anyway. I love that, too.)

But my point is, I haven't seen any of the later SGA canon, and so my first reaction to this vid was to say, "They SHOWED that? Like, on the air? Did they forget about the part where the subtext is supposed to be sub?"

And then I realized this is probably all skillful editing, and the makers of Stargate didn't actually undergo some kind of bizarre brainswap. But, since I haven't seen the canon, I can pretend they did. This will always be canon to me.

(And it totally makes me want the accompanying fan fiction, where Ronon and John have to go on a mission by themselves, because Teyla's with Kanaan or however you spell his name, and Rodney's with Keller - because she's really going out with him, WTF? - and they're the two pathetic team members who never get laid and always have time to do extra work. They end up at a skuzzy bar getting totally wasted and weeping into their beverages - Ronon drinks a Pegrithian spirit called Skaar, and John starts with Skaar but gets sidetracked into this sweet liqueur that they mix with bright red berry juice and serve with chunks of fruit and a whipped topping and a little carving of a big-eyed animal that looks suspiciously like Hello Kitty. And the natives feel sorry for them, what with all the weeping and pathos, and they come back with an incredible trade agreement and terrible hangovers and a piece of paper with the name and Gate address of a guy who is supposed to be good at solving problems. They don't know if he's a therapist or an assassin. Or both. Neither of them goes to see him, but they do take out the paper and look at it from time to time.)

The One That Proves That Some Songs Compel Even the Planet Earth to Do a Little Dance. Mothership, by laurashapiro. Doctor Who.

If you don't chairdance while watching this vid, your butt has no rhythm and no soul. Sorry, that's just how it is. Because this is a shiny, happy, gleaming vid that just insists that you get your wiggle on.

But you should know that Best Beloved and I had a slight difference of opinion while watching it. We were getting down, grooving, enjoying the astonishing way the clips and the motion work with the music here - seriously, it's amazing - and just the general wonderfulness of it all. (The earthling was sitting in my lap, bouncing to the music. The boy knows when it's time to get down.) And then the vid ended, and we had this conversation:

BB: Aw, that was great. A tribute to all things -
Me, delightedly: TARDIS!
BB, giving me a Look: - Doctor.

And right there you have the essence of our difference of opinion about Doctor Who. Best Beloved seems to believe it's about this guy. Whereas I know in my heart it's about the tech. (Could you have all the things that happen in these clips without the TARDIS? No. No, you could not. The TARDIS is far more essential than the Doctor, obviously.) But, whatever you happen to believe - I understand there are even some people who believe this show is about the companions, which, whatever: I love you even if you're strange - you will adore this vid. If for no other reason than you can get your groove on. (With the TARDIS!)

(When you're done getting your groove on, marvel that this song is apparently a cappella. I don't even know what to do with that. I mean, I knew the human mouth was a marvel, but, wow.)
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
31 July 2009 @ 11:27 pm
The other day, a blogger I read intermittently said she really loved packing and moving. I had to leave the computer for fifteen minutes to avoid leaving a comment that a) called her a psycho lying liar pants b) advised her to seek therapy IMMEDIATELY for the sake of her children and c) begged her to come take care of our move, since she likes it so very much.

It's at this point that I need to make it clear that I am not in my right mind. And I have good reason to be crazy. Back in college, I knew every semester would end in tears. And not because of the finals, or the yay-finals-are-over relief - because I had to pack up my shit. I would happily have taken finals forever to avoid that.

And that was when a) I was a college student, so my major possessions consisted of a stereo system (this was back when we had stereo systems), three pots, and inflatable furniture and b) I moved every semester, so you'd think I'd've had it down to a science.

Now - well. We've lived in this house for ten years. We've been moving for four months. I hate this so much I can't begin to tell you. And that's actually the good part of this week. Other highlights include Assorted whining behind cut. Key concept: I won"t be going to Vividcon this year.Collapse )So, really, life is sucking a fairish amount right now. (Did I mention that the earthling is on a new medication that makes him tired and cranky? No? Yet another fun factor in all this!)

Obviously, it's time to rec something. But this time, I am hoping to make it interactive! See, I will rec three stories that have alleviated quite a lot of misery for me, and then maybe you can recommend a fourth one to me!

Because, wow, I need the escapism right now.

The One That Proves That the Difference Between Marines and High School Boys Is - Something. Probably. I Will Figure It out Eventually. Get Some, by hackthis. Generation Kill, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick.

If you don't know what Generation Kill is, you don't entirely need to - the joy of an AU this long is that it's basically self-contained - but I hear there are weird purists out there who like to know what the characters look like and stuff. If so, there's a primer here. (Warning to people like me: this is a show about Recon Marines. Which means they spend all their time in camouflage and big-ass hat things that make them look like khaki Q-tips. Which means, of course, that to me they are all identical. So if you're like me, skip the photos and just read the summaries. Or, hey, just read the story.)

I read this story like five times the week it was posted. And here's the kicker: I don't like high school AUs. College AUs? Absolutely. But my feeling about high school is that I did that, sort of, even though I ditched four days out of five and spent most of one year in detention and skipped the last year altogether and - you're probably starting to see why I don't read high school AUs.

But I read this one. I love this one. hackthis has a knack for making me love characters I normally wouldn't - I'm thinking of sending her a letter about this, but the thing is, I can't figure out if it would be thanks or threats - and she succeeds in spades here. I mean, I was already reading Generation Kill because she made me (I am pretty sure I recall that gunpoint was involved, but I could be remembering wrong), but this story took it to another level. A frankly embarrassing level, in that I was silently beaming messages to the earthling: Be hungry. Ask to nurse. I need to finish my story.

This AU satisfied a need in my soul. I don't know what that need was, but you know that feeling you get when something is exactly perfect and shaped just right for you? I got that from this. I am betting a lot of you will, too.

Bonus: walks down memory lane for people who remember 1994!

The One with the (Fake) Giant Well-Hung Golden Bull. Perhaps I Should See If I Can Get One of These for Our New House. Operator, by troyswann. Stargate: SG-1 x The Matrix, Daniel Jackson/Jack O'Neill.

My love for the Matrix series has been well documented in these pages, and of course by "love" I mean "oh my god what what what did they seriously just spend three-quarters of my life DANCING, and also what the fuck was that with the electric crucifixion thing?"

So I am not exactly panting for Matrix crossovers. But I read this, because frankly I would read anything she wrote, up to and including a crossover between SG1 and Regency England, and I was not at all sorry. This, my friends - this is the awesomeness that I was promised with the Matrix movies. (Seriously. People kept saying, "You love science fiction! You'll love this SO MUCH! You have to seeeeeeeeee it." I finally saw it, and I loved the first, like, 20 minutes, nad then I spent the entire rest of the time hissing things like, "Entropy doesn't WORK THAT WAY" to Best Beloved. Normally I am better behaved in movies. I was better the second time through the first movie, and then I saw the second and third ones, and it allllll went south again. Like, Antarctic-south. I think I sustained permanent damage from all the eye rolling.)

I love this story. I love Jack as the captain of one of those ship thingies (what are they called?), Sam stuck inside the matrix (Sam is so awesome here), Daniel the operator, Vala the reluctant fighter for good (I mean, she's not reluctant to fight, you just get the feeling she wishes there was more moral ambiguity involved), and, of course, Teal'c. Teal'c is awesome.

This isn't necessarily a story I could crawl into, but, oh, it's escapism at its very finest.

The One That Shows Us That True Love Is Killing Spiders. (Really True Love Would Be Killing Cockroaches, and I Mean All the Cockroaches in the World. Why Don't Mad Scientists Ever Get on This? Mad Science, You Have Failed Me.) Junk Cheap, by devildoll. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.

I have read this AU several thousand, thousand times since it was posted. I don't know why I haven't recommended it before. It's one of those inexplicable oversights. (Except maybe not, because this story always makes me want to make lasagna, and I went through enough of that in TS fandom. There are only so many lasagnas a woman can make, fandom! I am perilously close to my lifetime limit, and will soon have to pay an extra Surplus Lasagna Fee for each one.) But I am remedying that now.

The key concept here is: John owns a junk shop, and Rodney does not want him. Not at all. No siree. Who wants to sleep with a junk shop owner? Not Rodney, that's who! Even if he's, you know. Kind of hot.

This seems, perhaps, overly simple. I assure you it is not. There is action! There is the other kind of action! There are leaky showers! (I assure you leaky showers are extremely compelling within this context.) And did I mention that there is lasagna, and also baked goods of various kinds? (You don't get to eat them.)

But the real joy of this, and the reason I come back to it again and again, is that it is absolutely the kind of story I can crawl into and pull over my head when things get bad. There's true love, and comical old people, and a junk shop, and just enough conflict to keep it interesting without raising my blood pressure unhealthily, and it is just adorable and fun in the same way that old movies starring Audrey Hepburn are. I love it. And, right now, I need it.

So. Now it's your turn! Rec me something? Something fun and escapist? (Vulcans are appreciated, but in no way necessary.) I suppose the ideal story would be an AU where there are no real estate agents or car salesmen, but I will gladly settle for any kind of happiness. Really.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
For the very last Sweet Charity, I put my recommending up on the block, and got won by the deeply awesome [info - dreamwidth.org]dorothy1901. Her first request, sadly, I could not fulfill, for I just don't know enough about Iron Man/Captain America. (I do know, though, that every single person ever anywhere at all should go read this, by jwaneeta, which is AWESOME and INCREDIBLE and looks exactly like a comic book - I actually had to check several times to make sure this wasn’t a scan from Slash World. Incidentally, if this set depresses you, that will be an excellent antidote.)

But she very kindly offered me a choice. And I chose Unhappy Endings, which is the kind of thing I keep meaning to recommend - there are so many brilliant sad-ending stories that I truly want to tell you all about, but when it comes down to it, I don’t. Mostly because I’d have to re-read them, and then there would be pain and suffering. Which is totally the point, and yet - I read fan fiction pretty much only on my Kindle these days, while I’m nursing the earthling, and he does not like it when I cry while he’s eating. (Seriously. He pulls off and gives me this look. “Mama,” the look says. “Do you MIND? I am kind of busy, here, and you’re getting me WET.”)

So thank you, [info - dreamwidth.org]dorothy1901, both for giving to charity and for giving me a good reason to do this.

(People, I am assuming I don’t need to tell you this, but just in case: these stories are NOT HAPPY. There is death involved in some of them, and lots of the kind of thing that leaves your heart all sore. If you read any of these stories, I advise you to have some safety-tab stories at the ready.)

The One That Guaranteed I Could Never Read Anything About Arctic Survival Without Sniffling a Lot. The End of the Road, by katallison. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

Once upon a time, a young and innocent fangirl was getting into dS. She loved the fandom so much that she was not as wary as she could have been. Should have been. Would one day be. So she saw the warnings on this story and thought, hey, I can totally deal with less than cheery! Particularly in exchange for something so well-written, so good!

And so she read The End of the Road. And it destroyed her.

Now, here's the thing: I could say, "And that fangirl was me." She totally was me. But I'm not the only one who loved Kat's work, thought she'd take any of it that she could get, and then realized, way too late to save herself, that there was only so much reality she could take. This story taught a lot of dS fans of my generation two things:
  1. For god's sake, know your limits. And live them.
  2. Kat Allison can turn a phrase that will carve your soul from your body. Admire her! But fear her.
And I have both admired and feared Kat ever since. (I've also learned that, while The End of the Road is perhaps the ultimate example of her essential Kat-ness, she's written this theme and concept in a number of fandoms. I handle every one of those stories better than I handled this one, because Fraser. And Ray. IN MY HEART THEY ARE HAPPY TOGETHER FOREVER. No, really. Even after they die, they are still together. Probably haunting some poor young relative who cringes every time he opens a closet because he knows there's a fifty-fifty chance he'll walk in on his crazy dead great-uncles fucking on a desk.)

This story is brilliant. And it's heart-breaking, and that's largely because it's so believable, so real. Kat never writes angst. She only writes pain. And this story has brought glorious, glorious pain to many a dS fan. If you love unhappy endings, you'll love it. It doesn’t matter if you read in this fandom. This one's for you.

The One That Would Have Enhanced My Phobia of Telepathy, Except Such a Thing Is Not Actually Possible. Down with Telepathy! Flinch, by maisierita. Stargate: Atlantis. John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. Sort of.

One of my favorite kinds of stories is the kind where the person takes a fan fiction cliché and subverts it, makes it new and awesome. Or, in this case, new and real. This story packs a surprising wallop for something so short, and I think it's because of how well it builds on what I might call, in a different setting, the existing body of literature. And then undercuts it.

Because that's the thing: we know how this story goes! There is embarrassment and worry followed by confessions of true love (unless you just cut straight to the hot hot sex). Yay! Except - well, it doesn't go that way this time. You might say this story perfectly highlights the difference between fan fiction and real life, because this is how that would really go. This is how it would be if telepathy was real. (This is why I fear telepathy, people. No good can come of it, no matter how much joyous happy fucking and forever love comes from it in fan fiction. In the real world, knowing what people think can only destroy you.)

I remember reading this story two years ago, when it first came out, and being surprised and impressed and thinking maisierita would be one to watch, because she manages to pack a lot of pain into this, subtly and without force or angst or melodrama, and anyone who can do that can write. And I was right! She's fabulous. I just think it's kind of funny that, despite all the great stuff she's written that I've read, this story will always be what I associate with her name.

The One That Shows Us That There Are Some Things You Just Can't Share, No Matter How Much You Might Want To. (And Totally Improves by Approximately a Million Times on an Episode of SGA.) The Standard of Comparison, by agentotter. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson.

The thing is, SG1 has a lot of stories I could have picked for this set. I was totally spoiled for choice. (Partly this is because I can handle sadder stories in SG1 than I can in other fandoms. Partly this is just because the world ends an awful lot in this fandom, and any story in which the human race is extinct at the end is probably going to fit in an unhappy endings set. At least if you’re human, and I tend to assume, perhaps unfairly, that most people reading this LJ are.) I mean, I thought of this story right off the bat, as soon as I'd read [info - personal]dorothy1901's request, but I decided to do Important Research. So I re-read approximately 5 million SG1 stories, sniffling many times over each, and finally decided to go with my first instinct.

What can I say? It's another one that has stayed with me. And I love the way the unhappiness just unspools from the ending. It's not just that it ends unhappily, it's that things are definitely going to get worse. Jack and Daniel are stuck in a bad place, and the only solution to the problem is worse than the bad place. But they can't just choose to stay there, either.

Because I am that kind of person, I usually spend a few minutes writing a sort of mental fan fiction for any story I read that I really liked. (I've doing this since I was a kid. I wanted to know what happened to every single person in a book from the ending until forever. And then I wanted to know about their kids. It drove me nuts that the authors just left the characters there, when clearly there were unresolved questions! Like what they had for dinner the next day, and what happened when they grew up, and if they got a dog and what they named that dog. I think I was a fan fiction reader born, not made.)

But I can't do that with this one. It hurts too much. I'd rather leave Jack and Daniel in limbo forever than imagine what has to come next for Daniel. And for someone who was deeply, sincerely resentful of Charles Dickens for not going into sufficient detail, that's saying something.

The One That Teaches Us the True Meaning of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Inextricable, by lunabee34. Star Trek Reboot, Jim Kirk/S'chn T'gai Spock (Apparently that is his real full name - thanks, [info - dreamwidth.org]bluemeridian. And thus we see that even Spock could not escape the Alien Apostrophe Law. Apparently being half-human doesn't help. Also, does anyone but me wonder how he can have a name unpronounceable by humans if his mother was human?)

So. This whole story is basically one huge movie spoiler. I'm cutting here for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet and wants to, even though I think I am the last such person in existence. (People on MARS have seen this movie by now.) I am also cutting, while I'm at it, for spoilers for the story.

Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!Collapse )
 
 
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.