And probably the thing that has made me happiest is this key plot element: One of the characters has an enormous penis, and this gives him angst. Yes. This man's main source of anguish is his GIANT COCK. (No, this is in no way attached to other gender issues. He just - has tremendous insecurity, caused entirely by his HUMONGOUS WANG.)
Well. Obviously this is the best thing in the world. Because, first, it has finally given me a TV-Tropes-type name for a fiction phenomenon that has long irritated me, which is when the character has a trait that 99% of people would think is totally great and maybe even pay lots of money for, but which the author pretends is a major problem leading to extreme and possibly insurmountable trauma. I needed that. For the rest of my life, when I encounter a character who is gleamingly perfect except for all the tragedy arising from being, like, too happy or whatever, I will go, "Hello, GIANT COCK ANGST!" and giggle a lot.
But GIANT COCK ANGST did not stop giving there. I'd been thinking of TV Tropes, and from there it was a short step to just plain old tropes, and I realized that GIANT COCK ANGST is a concept that needs further exploring in fiction. I mean, just consider the potential in hockey RPF alone! Sidney Crosby (who was once rumored to have a giant cock) and his GIANT COCK ANGST, caused by the many remarks made in the locker room about his, you know, horsedick. (Obviously, Sidney would be a virgin because of his GIANT COCK ANGST.) And, of course, there should really be like eight stories called The Giant Cock Angst of Patrick Kane, because come on. Patrick Kane totally has GIANT COCK ANGST, despite having a completely normal-sized penis. (And he definitely talks about his GCA all the time, too, which leads to Tazer having a cock-related breakdown. (Quote from this imaginary story: "Baby, there is nothing average about this gorgeous piece of manmeat," Kaner says, sprawling really offensively to display his goods to maximum advantage. Johnny is pretty sure Kaner's practiced this in front of a mirror, just to make him crazy, and it pisses him off how well it's working.))
But the sad news I have for you today is that there I have no actual GIANT COCK ANGST stories to recommend. There's just the one I know of, and obviously I haven't even read it. So I am going to share with you these other stories. (I just want you to be thinking about GIANT COCK ANGST. Forever, basically. I know I will be.)
The One That at Long Last Satisfies My Desire to See a Vampire Get Called an Idiot a Lot. Look, I Read Interview with the Vampire at a Formative Age, Okay? Where the wild things are, by liketheroad. Hockey RPF, Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews.
Midway through this story, I realized I was in pain. My face hurt. After several seconds of careful consideration, I realized I was experiencing muscle pain from smiling too much. And, you know, I smile a lot anyway, but apparently I don't smile for protracted periods of time without at least a small break. My cheek muscles were cramping.
So that's the center of my recommendation: This story made me smile until my face hurt so much I had to keep taking breaks to play Bubble Shooter. Maybe it will make your face hurt, too! Worth a shot.
And, okay, I have never read Twilight, and beyond the sparkling vampire thing, don't really know what goes on it. But if it's all Bella, like, yelling at Edward to get over his issues and stop being so creepy, and trying to force him to be more like an actual functional person, I am so ready to read it. I will borrow my mother's copies right now. (Yes. My mother has read the entire series. I don't want to talk about it.) This story - look, when there's an old immortal doing the Bonding Tango with a high school student, I worry. But that is seriously not a problem in this story, where Kaner is actually the one in charge of the entire pursuit-capture-turning thing, and Tazer's job is to stand around being confused and creepy and occasionally saving Kaner's life. (Kaner is also the more functional human being, which, given that we are talking about Patrick Kane, should tell you something about how vampirism affects Tazer.)
Although I really have to ask those of you who have read Twilight: Does Edward for serious spend his entire immortal life endlessly repeating high school? If so, why? Is he being punished? Because if he is, I salute the vampires for figuring out the perfect way to punish someone you can't really lock up or kill or spank or whatever, but I can only assume Edward did something really and truly awful (...attempted to destroy the planet?), in which case probably they shouldn't let him near Bella. And if he didn't do anything and is just spontaneously choosing to repeat high school endlessly, clearly there is something seriously wrong with him, and, again, he shouldn't be allowed near Bella. (Even if he was okay to start with, eternity in high school would eventually leave him barking, in which case, yes, he shouldn't be allowed near Bella.)
The One That Proves That at the End of the World, You're Going to Want to Be Able to Pickle. And Maybe Also Deal with Your Issues, but I Don't Know If It's Possible to Be Able to Do Both, and This Story Does Not Clear That Up. In Search Of, by toft. Mythbusters RPF, Jamie Hyneman/Adam Savage.
Okay. There are some stories you know you shouldn't read. This is absolutely one of those stories for me. It has animal harm! Child harm! The world ends! Bad stuff happens. And I am not a copes-well-with-bad-stuff person. I am a person who recently had an argument with her sister about who cries more easily. (We were waiting for the crowds to clear after a performance of Billy Elliot. It was topical. The conclusion, by the way: There comes a point where it doesn't matter, and that point is significantly behind both of us.)
So. This is not the story for me. I read it anyway. Partly that's because, hey, toft! She's good in anything! And partly - look. Sometimes I have Bad Story Sieges, where every single thing I attempt to read, no matter how good it looks, no matter how much I love the concept, no matter how sure I am it will be awesome, turns out to be a disaster. (I'm not sure if I hope I'm the only one this happens to, or if I want company in my misery.) In those situations, I will take risks I maybe shouldn't to break the siege. (For the record: If a beta of a story who knows your reading tastes only too well tells you that you absolutely should not read it, do not believe anyone else who tells you that you could. The beta knows it better. The end.) And this story did in fact break that particular streak of fan fiction disasters. You have to love a slumpbuster, even if it's not your usual fare.
But even if this story hadn't broken my siege, I think I would still have loved it. Yes, even though I reacted badly to certain sections. I love it enough to put up with the pain. Because, let's face it, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are near the top of your Real People I Want to Team up with if the World Ends list. (Don't even tell me if you don't have that list, because I will just fret. Proper preparation prevents poor performance, people!) Because this story is something to bring to mind the next time you're stuck in traffic and wishing everyone would just disappear. Because Adam and Jamie adopt a baby and they name her Leia. I just: Adam. Jamie. Apocalypse. Baby. That right there is a winning recipe.
...If you can handle animal harm. For real don't read this if you can't.
The Series That Proves That Dira Can't Resist Having Babies of Some Species in Her Stories. Or, in Other Words: PUPPIES! (I Approve.) Every Marine a Wolfbrother, by dira. Generation Kill, Brad Colbert/Ray Person, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick, Brad Colbert/Awesome.
Okay, I think every single person who is willing to read a series featuring US Marines psychically bonded to wolves has already read this, but my philosophy about that is that I don't care, I'm recommending it anyway. If I worry about things like timeliness and so on, I will never get anything posted. (This is why I don't instarec. If I did, it would read like, "OMG you guys totally go check out Dorothy Sayers! And this Murasaki lady is pretty darned awesome as well!")
And I would actually have recommended it earlier except I kept debating about which of the stories in the series to recommend. I finally realized that this was a sign I should just go with the whole series. (Yes, I did already recommend the first story in this series. So good I recommended it twice!) Because this is amazing. I've mentioned before that I have never and will never read A Companion to Wolves, but this series does such an incredible job of updating it, bringing it into a modern context, and making it make sense. Which is. You know. Amazing. I mean, this is Dira, so you sort of expect amazing, but still. This series is basically the equivalent, in terms of challenge level and so on, of writing a Tolkien barista AU and making it work. (Oh, man, I bet Rivendell is the name of a massively snooty coffee shop (although people in the know call it Imladris), where all the employees are seriously gorgeous but will not give you the time of day. They have Dead Language Open Mic Nights and Crystal Instrument Musicale Tuesdays. Arwen is the daughter of the owner; she gets harassed a lot for wanting to marry this dude who is totally scruffy and, like, mainstream. No, wait, I am stopping this right now.)
Given that Dira makes this central concept work, it's almost beside the point to mention that she makes so many other things work. I mean. I can't quite call to mind any other story I've read recently in which the main pairing gets bored in the middle of sex and talks about surfing (no, Dom and Brian, talking about cars doesn't count, especially since for you that is sex), but that happens in one of these, and it works. Probably the key miracle in this series is that Dira switches pairings between the stories, which. Uh. I have a very sensitive OTP Detector, and generally I can read only one pairing per fandom. Multiple pairings in a single series is tough. Multiple pairings involving the same dude - that's basically impossible. (Although not hugely surprisingly in this case, since a side theme of the series, as with every Generation Kill story I have ever read, is "Wow, Brad Colbert is really awesome. I mean. Wow. I just. SO GREAT, people. SO GREAT. I think he's made entirely of sparkledust and swear words!") But Dira made me read it, buy it, and like it. I think she wins the Impossible Feat of the Year Award, hands-down.
Unless someone really does write that Tolkien barista AU, I guess. (Suggested name for a new AO3 collection: Tolkien AUs Are Fucking Hardcore.)
The One That Leaves Me Wondering if Anyone Ever Buys a Robot Who Totally 100% Means to Buy a Robot, or if in the Future All Robot Purchases Will Occur While Drunk, Upset, Concussed, Confused, or Whatever. (And Yes, I Do Wonder How That Will Affect Marketing Strategies.) The Chinese Room, by tyrannicides. Football RPF, Iker Casillas/Cesc Fabregas.
Okay, so this is a robot AU. Stop rolling your eyes at me, youngun. I do not recommend every single robot AU that comes down the pike. Just the awesome ones. It is not my fault if the trope tends to lead to awesome stories.
And this one is sincerely awesome. Unfortunately, it's incredibly hard to write about without spoiling it. (Although I will say this: if you read it and like it, read it twice. I liked this on first reading - lovely writing, gorgeous story, solid characterization given that I have basically no clue who these people are, etc. And then I re-read it and picked up so much more of what the author was doing. First time good, second time better!)
But this does leave me in a quandary. For reasons that do not require spoiling at this juncture, I can't talk about the story, beyond, you know, the basics (There's a writer with agoraphobia! He buys an android!). And since I don't know the characters basically at all, I can't talk about them. (They play for - football teams. In Spain. Beyond that, all I can tell you is that my conclusion is that Iker maybe has some issues, and might also be a trifle uptight. And Cesc is a puppy. Probably this one.) So what do I talk about in this rec?
I mean, I could tell you about the world building in this story. (Remarkable, especially given that we're talking about one character who basically does not leave his house and another character who has no understanding of what the world actually is.) I could tell you that this story really made me think about all the things you can do with a robot AU. (I guess there's nothing that lets you get to the heart of humanity like writing about someone who is not technically human and doesn't actually have a heart?) I could tell you about the writing. (It's lovely.) I could tell you how compelling this story is. (Very.) I could tell you this story legit made me tear up in several places. (Granted, this is not all that challenging, but still.) Or I could go the rec-unrelated-to-the-story route, always a favorite of mine, and, say, tell you about how I recently discovered that my son's first preschool teacher maaaaaaybe has been able to hear my wife and I having sex for the last three years. (Whoops.)
Or I could just tell you to go read the story. Yeah, let's go with that option. (Go read it! It's good!)
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.