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09 October 2011 @ 11:05 pm
220: The Past Is the Future  
So, Delicious is not exactly tasty, at least not right now. I have a Pinboard. (Although I am, yes, totally the kind of fan who responds to the Fans Are All Right with, "What, are you crazy? KIRK doesn't drill SPOCK. Spock does all the drilling there is to do, my good sir.") And I have hope that Delicious may eventually reach some kind of functionality again.

But in the meantime, I thought I would try to go back to the way we used to do things before Delicious. Recs! Really! We used to make these lists that had links in them, and sometimes we would put notes to explain why we liked them, and it was very - no, really, it worked. Where are you all going?

So I am throwing caution to the winds and recommending stuff. The theme for this set turned out to be Awesome Stories That for Some Reason Made Me Uncomfortable, but It Turned out I Loved Them Anyway. I - will probably not be adding this as an actual tag, on account of the tag system would just laugh in my face. But there's a theme! And a recs set! Today, we are partying like it's 2006, baby.

The One in Which We Ask Ourselves: When Will Villains Finally Learn That Kidnapping Tony Stark Only Leads to Sorrow and Explosions? Kidnap Someone Else, That Is My Advice to the Ambitious Marvel Villain. Tomorrow Belongs to Me, by valtyr. Thor and Captain America and Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Tony Stark.

(WARNING: Animal harm, and animal death. I dealt with this by a) telling myself that they were really extradimensional evil creatures that simply looked like animals, and b) skipping the bad bits. It worked, and I believe it was worth it. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone who shares my squick. If you want to give it a go anyway, though, I will be happy to tell you when to skip.)

I realize I'm perhaps in for a pillorying, but one of the reasons I sometimes want to slash a particular character is that I really cannot believe that any woman, anywhere should have to put up with him. My feeling about this small subset of guys tends to be: This is a dudely problem. Let dudes handle it. And perhaps the foremost example of this kind of character is Tony Stark.

See, I like Tony. But he's an asshole. (This dichotomy is fully explored in the story, let me just note.) He's such an asshole I could never feel entirely good about him ending up with Pepper Pott, who surely did not deserve that level of bullshit in her life. I just knew that sooner or later he'd, like, inadvertently fuck the entire U.S. Supreme Court on public television and then make a fist of triumph and shout, "FUCK YEAH, motion OVERTURNED!" for the cameras, and she'd be left dealing with the aftermath. So after I watched the first movie, the only romantic happy ending I could see in sight was Tony/robot sex machine, and that's not really fan fiction; that's canon. (Which is not to say I wouldn't read it. I would! I have! Happily! But it just isn't the same when it's canon.)

But I am entirely willing to pair Steve Rogers up with Tony Stark, turns out. And not just because it turns out their true love is the key to saving the universe. (No, really, there is actual canon documentation of this.) Steve Rogers is a good guy, sure - basically the archetypal good guy, good in absolutely every single way. And he has had, you know, a hard life - a couple years of WWII followed by being dead for a while, and then waking up and having to deal with Tony Stark. And yet I am happy to see him really dealing with Tony Stark, if you get my drift.

And not just because Steve makes Tony ask himself the hard questions. (Like, "Why is it always my fault? Is there something I'm doing? That I could perhaps not do?" Believe it or not, a lot of people get to middle age without ever once considering this. We call these people politicians, mostly, but I guess maverick billionaire CEOs might also fit the bill.) I also love this story because of Steve, adjusting to the 21st century, and Thor, being - you know, Thor. And General Fury, who is generally the lone adult in charge of the circus. (A circus, I might add, where the acts are, like, Nuclear Knife Juggling and Stampeding Elephant Riding.) There is a lot to love here, is my point. Go love it! Do mind the warnings, though.

The One That I Totally Forgive for Suggesting That Librarians Are Actually Quiet. The Barest Hint of a Thought, by [archiveofourown.org profile] Helens78. X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr.

You know how sometimes there is something you just cannot watch, but you have to or at least you want to, so you watch through your fingers, as though you can somehow, if things go bad, close them fast enough to stop yourself from seeing what made you want to close your fingers?

That's pretty much how I read this story. It's also what this story is about.

I mean, I was actually, seriously horrified through a lot of this story. "See?" I wanted to say to the imaginary band of critics that lives in the back of my head, disagreeing with every word I say. "See? This is what is so evil about telepathy."

The imaginary band of critics pointed out that that was insane, of course. Because there's no such thing as telepathy. So instead of using this story to justify my perfectly logical and rational fear of telepaths, I will say: this is why Charles Xavier was a character Marvel should never have made. He's ridiculously overpowered. Ridiculously. He's a god. Except he could do a lot more than fuck Leda in the shape of a swan. Basically, in any universe in which Charles Xavier exists, the only real conflicts are the ones in his own head.

"But he's good!" you say. "He has morals and he chooses not to use his powers for evil and that's why he can work as a character."

Right. Yes. And, I mean, I love Charles, I love Charles/Erik, I have been reading about Charles and Erik since long before I got into fandom, but. Here's the thing. The excuse they use for having Xavier around - Morals! Goodness! - doesn't actually work. And this story explains why - why having someone so ludicrously powerful destroys the framework of the universe whether he's Charles Xavier or Sauron with the One Ring securely on his bony little hand.

I mean, yes, this story is also a fabulous exploration of consent issues, and kink, and all the stuff I've come to expect from [dreamwidth.org profile] helens78, and, yes, it's like a fairy tale for adults only (moral: if you take the shortcut to your goal, you will likely get your head eaten), but I'm in it for the simple question of whether there is any meaning to anything if Charles Xavier exists. (No.) Definitely read the tags and warnings, but if you can possibly stand it, read this story.

And then join me, won't you, in the fight against telepathy? (And the fight against the imaginary critics. I'd like to wipe them out, too.)

The One That Shows Us That Fish, Too, Can Meet Cute. What It Feels Like, by [dreamwidth.org profile] cimorene. Finding Nemo, Gill/Nemo.

FISH SLASH. Between mentor fish and mentored fish, I might add, just in case fish aren't a problem for you, but age differences are. (And, yes, I can think of several people off the top of my head who will look at this all, "YES FINDING NEMO - oh, wait. Big age difference. No." This is #31 on the list of reasons I love fandom, just below "Not the only catboy story I've read today" and just above "Can't really remember the days when I thought snake MPreg was out there.") A measure of my discomfort with this story is that it took me two years to read it. (And during those two years, the earthling went through a Nemo phase. That didn't help. Parents of babies, read this story now, that's my advice.)

So. You know. Fish slash. That happened. And the thing is, it's fucking adorable. Nemo is the same intent, curious, determined fish he was in the movie. Gill is the same badass in fish form. All the voices in this, in fact, are absolutely perfect. And, I mean, I can absolutely believe this ending. (And in fact would greatly prefer to believe this ending over the one the movie gave us, which horrifies me every time I watch it. Nemo is home and happy! Marlin is home and happy! Dory is home and happy! And the fishtank fish are trapped in plastic and about to die. Seriously, Pixar, it's like you're trying to take the coveted Destroyer of Children's Happiness mantle from Disney's clutching hands.) And why shouldn't two boy fishes who love each other very much be happy ever after in a story that earns its explicit rating?

Just. I find myself eyeing the earthling's DVDs with trepidation, now. When awesome and adorable fish slash is already old news, what comes next? Is Bob the Builder going to show us some of the special short films on his computer, which feature uses for his equipment that totally void their warranties? Are the Penguins of Madagascar going to provide a whole new perspective on four-way teamwork with a strict chain of command? Are Eve and Otto going to get caught in a bad romance, leaving Wall-E to find consolation in the arms of Mo? Anything is possible. Anything.

But this story is worth the mental images that will never leave my head, I tell you what. It's just. Cute. Cuter than fish having sex has any right to be.

The One That Shows Exactly How Irritating Arguing with Someone Who Can Apparate Must Be. Getting the Last Word Must Be an Art Form in the Wizarding World. The Death of Narcissa Black: A Potion, by massicot. (That's a deleted and purged journal, unfortunately. Does anyone have a more current link for her?) Harry Potter, gen.

Oh my GOD. This is. Okay. You know how there are stories that you settle into happily, because you know the author and you know the fandom and you know the genre and you just know this is going to hit you square in your comfort zone? This is not that story for me. It is outside my comfort zone in absolutely every way - the artwork, while gorgeous and perfect for the story, is really far from what I can usually parse. The main character is a villain from a fandom I don't read that much in anymore. The storyline is dark and grim. And yet. And yet. This story is also an excellent example of why I'm in love with fandom.

See, this takes a minor villain (or at least I think she is; she may have a more major role in the two books that came after I gave up on the series) and makes her into a real person, a person with some remarkably unfortunate ideals and some remarkably positive traits. And then it carefully, clearly, and beautifully details how those ideals combine with circumstance to wipe out the positive traits, not to mention basically every trace of who Narcissa was.

It's so amazing, and so perfect, and so unlike anything else I've read in fandom, that I re-read it on a regular basis even though there are some pages - um, a fair number of pages - that still make me genuinely recoil from the screen. (Really. Please pay attention to the warnings. She is not kidding about any of that.)

So, you know, this is incredible. It's also just about the darkest thing I've ever seen written for a darkfest. (Not that I am inviting further links on that score. Uh, no. Feel free to hand me the white feather on this one; I will wear it with, if not pride, at least total acceptance of my limitations.)

But even if this is normally the kind of thing you would walk a mile in wet shoes to avoid - well. I can't tell you to read it. But I can tell you I read it, despite the warnings, against my better judgment, and I was totally, totally glad. It's the kind of story that makes me want to applaud for fandom. Even as, okay, yes, I am reaching for a safety tab story.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
 
plus one skeletondelurker on October 10th, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
Pinboard! Such a delightful welcome post. :) I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy to see fans suddenly appear.


Re: What It Feels Like - I'm still not sure how anyone managed to a) write explicit fish slash, and also b) do it so well. Fandom! How so skilled? And the art in that last one is incredible.

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
I am still fairly mystified by the explict fish slash myself. It's good! Fans are amazing, is what that proves.
giandujakiss: Kirkgiandujakiss on October 10th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
What, are you crazy? KIRK doesn't drill SPOCK. Spock does all the drilling there is to do, my good sir.

I swear to god, that was my reaction, as well.

Edited at 2011-10-10 08:18 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: ST TOS blue and goldthefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
THANK GOD. I actually quoted the post at , solely because I knew she would react the same way. I DID NOT WANT TO BE ALONE. But I should have had more faith in fandom. Of course I wasn't the only person who knew instinctively that that was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lady Moira: cute minion of evilrosaleendhu on October 10th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'd forgotten just how good you are at getting me to read outside the fandoms I know and love. I know exactly how I am avoiding my graduation project tomorrow.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
I am here to assist you in your procrastinatory endeavors!
X-parrotxparrot on October 10th, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
Heh - I've always loved Xavier because he's always been such a gray, gray, gray shade of morality - I've always seen him as creepy and scary and fascinating for it. Who he is might be a good man; but what he is is so terrifying that really for the good of humanity he ought to have been executed, because no one, no matter how decent, is decent enough to wield that ability - absolute power, etc, etc. But he's still an awesome and compelling character.

I loved the First Class movie for showcasing that scary wrongness while still making him irresistibly charming. And the fic did a brilliant job of it as well (Charles & Erik are so perfectly matched; they deserve each other in all the right and wrong ways...)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly! One of the things that drove me crazy, back when I was reading the comic books, is that they failed to acknowledge that Xavier is, as you say, gray, gray, gray, gray. At least when I was reading, the comic books did not seem to get how frightening Xavier really was. Helens78, on the other hand, totally does.

(I admit I haven't seen the movie, though. I plan to! At some point! Having a small child has seriously affected my movie watching.)
impatient_dream: boom!impatient_dream on October 10th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
*When awesome and adorable fish slash is already old news, what comes next?*

I've found, in fandom, that that's an extremely dangerous question to ask:

http://crimsonclad.livejournal.com/128460.html
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, god, I had forgotten about that! It is WONDERFUL. (The first time I read it required some hasty googling to determine who Grimace and Hamburgler were, followed by horrified recoiling because Ronald McDonald is the most terrifying creature in existence.) So touching! THE TRAGEDY BEHIND THE BURGERS.
Imaginary Researcher: Hoban hannahrorlove on October 10th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
I didn't see The Death of Narcissa Black as all that dark. I've read all the books, so I went into it knowing how it'd turn out in the end, which made it less of a darkfic and more of a classic tragedy - I felt more and more pity and sorrow for her as her life continued to narrow down into its inevitable conclusion.

(And yes, there's Bob the Builder slash out there. I've seen it in the form of a crossover with the Engineer character from the videogame Team Fortress 2. Some days I think a lot of fandom activity is done out of a sense of competition.)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
I pretty much agree with the creator's statement that the obliteration of self is about as dark as it gets. I mean, obviously this is a YMMV situation, but for me OH GOD THE DARKNESS. And not just for Narcissa - Bellatrix's insanity and self-mutilation are dark dark dark for me, too.
Imaginary Researcher: Jude Law - peachzgraphicshannahrorlove on October 10th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's a question of precise terminology. I would agree that it's a story about very dark, bleak subjects, and I think I'm coming from a place where - and this is probably a case where we can blame the media - "dark" is a term I typically see applied to something where there's more action and events. Because this fic was comparatively quiet, by which I mean more of the conflicts and actions came about because of the characters interacting rather than being acted upon by outside forces, it didn't feel very "loud" - so it hit me more as being a tragedy than a darkfic.

That it covered a long time frame had a lot to do with my seeing it as a tragedy, too - a gradual dimming of the lights instead of everything being snuffed out at once.

So we're talking about the same things and using slightly different words for them, I guess.
tried to eat the safe banana: Black umbrellathefourthvine on October 11th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
This makes perfect sense to me. "Dark" is, fannishly speaking, a somewhat nebulous term. Which is a good thing, I think; it means that a darkfest can yield something like this.

But now I'm curious - what is an example of a story you'd describe as dark? Or what kind of content or plot would lead you to label it dark?
Imaginary Researcher: Gregory House - hungerboundhannahrorlove on October 11th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
For something to be dark, it'd involve a general bleakness in tone and subject, regarding a situation in which there is little chance for escape. It could apply to anything from aliens to zombies, to suburbia or degenerative diseases, although to make the aliens and zombies dark would require more effort than to just say "ZOMBIE ATTACK". I haven't read World War Z and don't plan to - that book seems too dark for me, as it involves the destruction of worldwide civilization. (On the flip side, Shaun of the Dead doesn't come across as all that dark, since there's clearly a good chance of getting out alive.)

I'd describe "darkfic" as something where there's no hope to begin with, or the most the characters can hope for is to end the story relatively intact. The first example which comes to mind is someone's homage to I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: the story starts out bleak, and only gets worse from there.
Lauratavella on October 10th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
The valtyr fic is _so good_. I feel guilty because I haven't left a comment yet, because I feel like I need to go into elaborate detail about how awesome it is.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on October 10th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
It really is fantastic. I just left kudos; I am never able to convey the awesomeness in actually commenty words.
pslasherpslasher on October 11th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
I have two responses to this post:

1. I LOVE your Rec posts, don't ever stop them!

2. But I would also really love to subscribeto your pinboard. Do you mind giving out your URL?
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on October 11th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
I don't mind - I'm thefourthvine there, as everywhere. But it won't do you much good; because I use the notes sections for, you know, notes, I generally make my bookmarks private. I also bookmark large masses of things of no interest whatsoever to others (recipes and such). So mostly what you'll see if you go to my pinboard is bookmarks imported from Delicious from back when I was trying to be a good social networking citizen and actually make stuff public. Current stuff won't be visible there, except the occasional thing. Sorry! I am just not cut out for social networking, apparently. But you are welcome to check it out and see if the occasional thing is of interest to you!
pslasherpslasher on October 12th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
No worries, I don't care if they are old bookmarks or not. If they are good, I want them. :)
suchthefangirlsuchthefangirl on October 11th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
My day is always made when I get online and see a rec post from you. Thank you!

Now to see how many of these I'll be able to read (I so understand the hand in front of the face metaphor).
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on October 11th, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
Yay! Thank you. And, um, good luck with the reading of the stories. They are all really great, I swear! But local tolerances may vary.
misspamelamisspamela on October 11th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
And, yes, I can think of several people off the top of my head who will look at this all, "YES FINDING NEMO - oh, wait. Big age difference. No."

Excuse me while I go die laughing because that was my EXACT reaction.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV umbrellathefourthvine on October 11th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Mine, too. The thing is, the actual story didn't bother me at all, but I was like - I, but, NEMO. He's a little guy! He's a BABY FISH! And Gill is a big bad mentor! But I am glad I broke down and read it eventually. Even with the age difference, it was worth it (for me; obviously YMMV).
Stasiastasia on October 11th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
I read that Finding Nemo story a while ago and found myself teetering on the edge of age-difference-squick, but then I had to hide my eyes until the actual sex was over... because bestiality is one of my hard-core squicks.

I'm afraid of the other stories you recced, though!

Stasia
Insane_duckfishinsane_duckfish on October 15th, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
Aaaaaah I am so happy to see you reccing XMEN: FC fics, because I remember you talking about how creepy you find telepathy, and I wanted to hear your thoughts on Charles. Because ok, Charles is my favourite, but exactly for that reason - he thinks he's so good and moral, but his lines aren't as solid as he wants people to believe (and even more interestingly, I think, aren't as solid as he believes). And I just. He's such an interesting character because he's so complicated, and TELEPATHY IS SCARY OK. I mean, I personally love telepathy, but IT IS SCARY.

Sorry I, uh. Have lots of thoughts about Charles. I'll be going now. (To read that fic, which for some reason I haven't gotten around to yet, what is wrong with me?)