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, 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:
- For god's sake, know your limits. And live them.
- Kat Allison can turn a phrase that will carve your soul from your body. Admire her! But fear her.
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 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, 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.
This is a short story that packs a painful wallop. And, see, that makes sense. The canon situation that Jim Kirk is in - well, it's a good thing he's basically a happy-go-lucky guy (or, okay, not exactly, but he's not going to be a secret cutter, either; if has some frustrations or angst he needs to get out, by god he'll blow things up). Because, uh, having a memory of an awesome future that won't be yours: this is not a recipe for joy. This is a recipe for lying in a darkened room and listening to whiny music and telling your friends there's no point in doing anything, because you can't live up to yourself. I would not blame Kirk for that.
Not that he's doing that in this story. Instead, he's trying to take what he can. I totally approve. It's just sad, is all. There's a happy ending here for lots of people - for Reboot Spock, and Uhura, and probably Sulu and Chekov and Scotty, too. Even Spock Prime, I would argue.
But not for Jim Kirk, who gets to know he should have had something very wonderful, that he desperately wants. Except that it's never going to happen. (And he can't even wish for it to happen, since it would require, you know, hurting his friends.)
I don't believe that this is how things work for Jim Kirk. But even so, I can totally believe in this story. And I love it for that. Even thought it makes me sad. And that’s pretty much the whole point of this set, isn’t it?