Why am I posting a smut-free set? Well, first, it's part of my ongoing effort to prove to myself that I'm not totally subsumed by perversion. (Results: inconclusive. Try again later.) Second, it's my attempt to praise those authors who realize their stories don't need sex, and then don't force the story to feature sex. They are few, but, I hope, proud. Because I'd rather read one absolutely in character, plot-appropriate, truly hot sex scene than four sex scenes composed entirely of wet cardboard and recycled verbs and pasted into a story that just isn't in the mood.
Best FF Involving the Astronomy Tower and Nighttime and Snape Admitting to Being a Sadist and Still No Sex: A Little Night Air, by penknife. Harry Potter. Severus Snape is one of the most widely fanwanked characters in existence, possibly because J.K. Rowling has, shall we say, left ample room for fan interpretation in the canon view of him. So when I read this, my heart swelled with joy. This is my Snape! Snape as I see him! He's snarky, difficult, brilliant - Snape of the evening, wonderful Snape. If I had a tail, I would wag it every time I read this story. Alas, I do not, so all I can do is rec it. And re-read it. And snicker.
Best FF That Will Give You Vaguely Nervous Feelings Every Time You Look at a Packet of Seeds for the Next Year: Bound, by Mary Borsellino. Lord of the Rings domestic blend. This is an AU in which Frodo took the ring, and it is creepy as are all good the-One-Ring-prevails fics. (I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's nothing as menacing as something small and pretty that should be totally harmless and yet turns out to want your soul.) The movies, in my opinion, really enhance the whole Evil Frodo concept; it's so easy to imagine Elijah Wood's Frodo turning. He'd be small and cute and have big blue eyes and he'd be so evil your heart would melt into your shoes every time you saw him. Or, as in "Bound," (See? I always get back to the story eventually), every time you got a letter from him. I suppose this entry just goes to show that I fear evil most when it comes in small and pretty packages. There's probably some childhood trauma that accounts for that, but lord, I don't want to know what it is.
Best FF That Reminds Us All That Batman Doesn't Play Well with Others and Doesn't Like to Share His Toys: Testimone, by Domenika Marzione. DC Universe. Who doesn't love the deeply dysfunctional Batclan, full as it is of angsty goodness (not to mention angsty moral ambiguity), blue tones, general darkness, and dead parents? Well, sometimes I don't. There are times when I get tired of Batman's unwavering belief that a) he knows what he knows, and that includes what's right for everyone b) he has cornered the world's supply of sorrow and c) by god, it's his way or it's the highway, on foot, in four-inch heels and a hobble skirt. So for me, the real value of "Testimone" is the view it gives us of the Batclan from outside. Because I do not know from the Huntress. For all I know, she could be an Amazon stalking the Gotham streets searching for men to enslave, or the current incarnation of Artemis, or a cyborg programmed to destroy everything with a pulse. But I didn't have to know her to love this story. And neither do you.
Best FF That Drives Me to the Kind of Lame Philosophy That Sounds Really Cool to Stoned College Freshmen Who Have Posters of Kafka on Their Dorm Room Walls: Normal, by penknife, who has an astonishing way with gen. X-Men movies. I love Cyclops FF, because in it he's everything he should be but isn't in the canon. The first time I read a fic about Cyclops, I was just astonished; turns out there's a person behind that visor! This is one of my favorite Cyclops stories, because it shows him doing his anal-retentive thing - planning, thinking, obsessing - so that you really understand why he's like that. And it asks a question we've all had to answer at some point: how much of yourself would you give up to be normal? And how do you even figure out what normal is, when it's a mirage, when it vanishes every time you think you have it in focus?
Whoa. OK, good reason for me not to do too many gen sets; evidently they bring out the third-rate philosopher in me. Luckily, it's hard to get all intense and pseudo-profound about smut; I like the way sex brings out the shallow in me. And I will be returning to glorious, smutty shallowness next entry, I promise you.