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15 August 2010 @ 05:00 pm
208: A Long and Winding Road  
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.
can't find my drink or pants: arthur golden by inwhatfurnacegeeklite on August 16th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)
Oh man, The Student Prince. I'm pretty sure that boything thought I was more deranged than usual because for days after reading it I'd remember some little thing about the fic and smile widely.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
...That isn't a sign of derangement, is it? Because not only am I doing that - I mean, I'm still quoting stories I read in 2005. So. Um. If Fan Fiction Brain Impingement Syndrome is a sign of insanity...
(no subject) - geeklite on August 16th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on August 16th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
BTW, you are missing Auburn's name linked in the header to your rec.

Previously I have been so up on my fanfic that I had read everything you recced, but at the moment I am lurking so much that I have not read any of these. Yay for new fic! *clicks happily on links*
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Whoops. Thank you for catching that; I have fixed it. (And happy birthday, if I didn't get a chance to say it to you on the day.)

These are all SUPER FANTASTIC stories to keep you company in your lurking time!
Luce: [DW] I've looked in mirrors!lucia_tanaka on August 16th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
a special certificate in TARDIS Interior Design

Totally unrelated (well, at least mostly unrelated), but when you said that, I felt the urge to link you to this heart-wrenchingly gorgeous map of the TARDIS. Then again, it's one of those pieces of fannish work that I wanna force everyone to look at.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
OH GOD I HAVE SEEN THAT. And it is SO FUCKING AMAZING. (And, actually, I had that in mind when I wrote the part about TARDIS Interior Design, as I feel sure the artist of that has actually got such a thing. I give you two thumbs up for thinking the same way as me! Unless that was actually mind-reading. TELEPATHS ARE NOT WELCOME IN MY HEAD.) I think the first time I saw that, I actually lost time; I spent a few minutes looking at it and I looked up and half an hour had gone by.

I love it immoderately.
FayJaypandarus on August 16th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
Dude! DUDE! Here I am gleefully reading your recs (having bounded off to read the Spock/Kirk 'Dirty Dancing' story just yesterday with great delight) AND YOU REC MY FIC!


::does happy startled dance::

Thank you!

(And, fear not, the traditions & all other St Andrews details were 100% factual. Hell, I didn't even address things like the frigid arctic insanity of the May Dip, which is how all the people who aren't Merlin fend off the doom of failing their degree which the ghost of Patrick Hamilton is supposed to bring about for all those foolish enough to walk over his initials in front of the quad, by plunging their pimply flesh into the freezing cold North Sea), or indeed the annual Kate Kennedy March.

Raisin Monday is evidently still going strong; I remember my own 3-legged pub crawl in Freshers' Week (during which my roommate got off with her partner [who became her Academic Dad as a result] in one of the bunkers on the Royal and Ancient Golf Course, and spent the rest of the term trying to get the resulting sand out of her bed). And the beach parties! We have 3 beaches to choose from, so there was no lack of (freezing cold) beach parties - after one that I organised, a policeman showed up on my doorstep and frightened the crap out of me, because apparently someone had dug holes in the golf course, and I frantically assured him that it couldn't have been any of us, and please not to take me to prison. (Or, OMG, the charity hitchhike to Paris, which I did with one of my mates; it took us a whole day to get to 10 miles south of bloody Edinburgh, at which point we found ourselves in a town so fucking small IT ISN'T ON THE MAP, in the dark, with no hope of getting another lift, in the rain, and trudged, in our damp red gowns, to the distant lights of a pub, where we ordered a drink and said: "...where are we?" and they all looked at us in bafflement and said: "Carlops." And then we asked if they had any rooms, and they did, although they were dusty and unheated and clearly never used, and we had to pay for our accommodation using Travellers' Cheques, even though we were still in Scotland, because we didn't have enough money & had anticipated being in France by this point...happily the next day we did much better, and once on French soil we got a lift from a Frenchman who drove with one foot on the accellerator and the other, clad in a snakeskin boot, up on the dashboard. I shit you not. We reached Paris pretty damn fast...)

In short: St Andrews is even more awesome than it appears in the story. And I &hearts it VERY MUCH.

(NB - fwiw, I have mentally cast the first two gentlemen inside Sallies quad in the 'You Get What You Give' vid as Gawain and Kay, respectively.)

::scurries off to read your recs::

(eta - God, SORRY this is so long!)

Edited at 2010-08-16 01:51 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC)
Hi hi hi!

And, oh. Thank you for the bonus footnotes! Part of me is like, "Oh, St. Andrews, how are you so awesome?" And part of me is like, "But - but - I WANT TO READ THE DELETED SCENES WITH THE POLAR BEAR GHOST DIVE." Although it makes me happy to imagine that there is More to This Story, involving further traditions of concentrated - awesomeness. Let's call it awesomeness.

Now I am off to watch many YouTube videos of St. Andrews displaying its awesomeness. With hearts in my eyes, totally.
(no subject) - silver_cuplet on August 29th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
Admission to the Burning Ruins — 10¢: Dr Who - One PWNSlaughingacademy on August 16th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Omigod, "The Student Prince" is SO AWESOME. I particularly love how it turns out the Dragon might be perfectly adapted for life in cyberspace -- "I understand there are trolls? And I can flame them?"

If you're curious about oldskool Who, I recommend copperbadge's ongoing series "Three Things about Classic Who." He decided, God knows why, to watch the entire series (including official and fan recreations of lost episodes) in order. It's a very breezy overview, with occasional looks into what was happening behind the scenes, discussions of how the show treats gender (often surprisingly well) and race (...er), helpful links, and hilarious screencaps.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
OMG. I must check that out, and also show it to my sister. (My sister and her older son are the true Who fans in the family.)

...I think I would prefer to be elsewhere in the internets when the Great Dragon shows up. Um. He might be a little too well adapted, is what I'm saying; could turn out a dragon in the machine is what worse than a ghost.
blah blah blah: Eve and John huggingunusualdemoness on August 16th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
The Scourge of Trion! I got halfway through it months ago and then got distracted by something else and lost the link. Thank you for redirecting me to it. :D
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
OMG go read it! It is purely amazing from beginning to end!
cranberryink: merlin: pretty boyscranberryink on August 16th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Yay, fic recs! And I have totally not read (nor have I seen rec'd) that Merlin one, so I am in the 1.1% who needed to see that. Thanks! :)
lynnmonsterlynnmonster on August 16th, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)
Oh, you are in for a treat!
(no subject) - thefourthvine on August 16th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lynnmonsterlynnmonster on August 16th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Hey, I had NO IDEA that one of the Star Trek novels (of which I have read exactly none) had to be de-slashified until perfectbinding pointed me to this post. WOW.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on August 17th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
I knew! But, yeah, only because someone on my friends list got hold of the un-deslashified version and read it. AMAZING.
kbkkbk on August 16th, 2010 06:49 am (UTC)
I hadn't realised I remembered it, but I reached the date 1413 and physically recoiled, because I went to St Andrews, and had a shitty time - by which I mean to say, it is in many ways as other places, with the added bonus of being a fairly small town and thus tremendously claustrophobic to a city-girl sans car. (Also, LGBT community = small and somewhat incestuous.) (Nearest elevator = Dundee!) But it is beautiful and I do miss the sea.

Maybe I'll read that fic despite my fear, since you recced it. But not today.

ETA: Totally with you on the advice thing. Totally.

Edited at 2010-08-16 06:53 am (UTC)
alien_alicealien_alice on August 16th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
I think I'm liking St Andrews quite a bit better than you did, but still, this was pretty much my exact reaction :(

Or probably it was more like, 'I don't know if I can read fic about wacky hijinks and Grand Old St Andrews Traditions when my own experience of Grand Old St Andrews Traditions involves either 1) not getting it, and feeling lonely or 2) not getting it, feeling lonely, and being covered in shaving foam oh God why.'

But! I am going to read it, because if I don't I'll keep wondering. Also the author's outpouring of glee a few comments up is making me grin in spite of myself.
(no subject) - kbk on August 16th, 2010 07:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pandarus on August 16th, 2010 07:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pandarus on August 16th, 2010 07:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kbk on August 16th, 2010 07:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - alien_alice on August 16th, 2010 07:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pandarus on August 17th, 2010 08:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kbk on August 16th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on August 17th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cadencecascadecadencecascade on August 16th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
I adore your recs even when the story that they lead me to isn't perhaps exactly to my liking. You speak in the language of my brain. I appreciate it.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on August 17th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Yay! Although I am sort of worried to discover there is another person who speaks my language. What if we attain critical mass? We could end up a rambling black hole!
lexstar29 on August 16th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
I was lucky enough to beta parts of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and my joy and love for that story knows no bounds! I am gleefully off to read the other stories you have recced here!
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on August 18th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
It is an AMAZING story. Auburn is always really good, but there are some stories where I just sit back with my mouth open, all, "How does she DO this?"
sunsetmog on August 16th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone else who went to St Andrews, IT IS EXACTLY LIKE THAT. :D
FayJaypandarus on August 17th, 2010 08:17 am (UTC)

(no subject) - thefourthvine on August 18th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Blue: STXI :: Spock :: Readyblue_meridian on August 17th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
(People who are disturbed by the first few pages, please note: I was, too. It all works out, very quickly.)

Okay, I've been hesitating reading it because of the summary. That comment, however, is reassuring, so I'll give it a go.
tried to eat the safe banana: STR Life long and prosper hostilethefourthvine on August 18th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, the first part was so hard for me I almost just didn't read it, but, really, it's over FAST, much faster than I feared. And then there is awesomeness!
FayJaypandarus on August 17th, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)
Holy SHIT! Okay, 'Fighting Gravity' was great, but 'Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves' was OMFG!!!!WinWinWinWinWin!!!! I stayed up until 5.30am reading it, ffs! It was THE BEST STARGATE THING I HAVE EVER READ!!

I &hearts the whole PotC-in-space vibe BIGTIME, and the care and depth and integrity of her world-building and characterisation, and the fact that this is a fabulous, plotty, exciting alternative version of SGA Season 1 which is BRIMMING with a wide range of very different but brilliantly-rendered women and LGBT characters and characters of varied races and species! It is SO MUCH BETTER than the shows!

&hearts &hearts &hearts &hearts &hearts
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on August 18th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
I know. Auburn is AMAZING. I mean, if you've never read her before, be warned that about every third story of hers will gut you and leave your body on the beach to be eaten by seagulls, but she is INCREDIBLE. She also writes so quickly that sometimes I wish I could hate her, but there is just no way to hate someone so awesome. (If you want pointers on her back catalog, I am here for you. Particularly if you're worried about the seagull stories.)

And if Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves knocked your socks off, be sure to try Scourge of Trion, too. Ellen pulls off something very similar in the sense of LIKE SF TV ONLY SO MUCH BETTER.
Red Fiona: 11redfiona99 on August 18th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Re: the open backed trousers - it would not surprise me if some of the Oxbridge colleges did that. It would explain a lot about them.

Turlough totally is an archetype. I got bored one summer and worked my way through the Dr. Who books in the local library, and sadly, to this day have only seen one serial with him in and I am in deep love with the awkward, obnoxious one. Unfortunately, my friend with the DVDs hates him and we end up having arguments that start with 'he's like a ginger Owen Harper' as both an accusation and a defense.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on August 18th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
We could ask the Oxbridge graduates lurking about. Unless, of course, it's one of those sworn to secrecy things. I don't think I have any dirt on any of them good enough to get them to violate sacred collegiate oaths.

Turlough totally is an archetype.

He is, he so is. I keep reading him and thinking, "I wonder if daegaer knows about Turlough?" To name just a single, obvious example.