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30 June 2004 @ 06:30 pm
Slashy Nominations 60: Slash Both Pure and Good  
Nobody is a bigger fan of the explicitly smutty story than I am. But smut cannot stand alone, my friends; it has to fit in the story, be part of the story's framework, or it's just another boring cookie-cutter sex scene that readers skim through to get back to the plot. So I am also a big fan of those authors that only put smut where it belongs.

I hear you saying "But smut belongs everywhere!" I feel that way myself sometimes. The truth is, however, that some stories just aren't ready to go all the way, and authors who honestly love and care for those stories don't force them. So today I'm taking the time to praise those authors who respect their stories' boundaries even if it means going below the NC-17 horizon.

Best FF Featuring a Totally Anachronistic and Yet Totally Appropriate Song: Barter, by Gloria Mundi, aka viva_gloria. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack/OMC. The easiest way to describe this story is to quote the author's summary: "'Last time the rum runners who used this island as a cache came by, and I was able to barter a passage off.' Barter? Barter what?" I read that and thought, hey, yeah! What did he barter? Glori asked the question and she answered it. This story is sharper and more serious than I usually like in this fandom; after all, the canon doesn't exactly bring the word "gravitas" to mind, so why should the fan fiction? But "Barter" works for me, possibly because if Jack's ever going to be angsty, it's going to be about the Pearl. Hell, the Pearl has to be involved just for Jack to be serious.

Best FF That Teaches Us How Dangerous It Can Be at the Forefront of the Fight for Equality of the Sexes: Gynecology1, by Charlemagne, aka synchronik. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. Danny is made Woman for a Night, and learns some important feminine facts, which include:

1. There's nothing more dangerous than a group of intoxicated women.
2. Sweet, fruit-flavored alcohol is lethal.
3. Two can keep a secret. Unless they work together. Or the secret makes for really good gossip. God help you if both are true.
4. If you don't know what you're going to say, don't open your mouth.

This story, in my opinion, is a perfect example what sports Night FF writers do so well - humor, fantastically snappy dialog, and a touch of drama simmering under the surface, where you can see it or not, just as you prefer.

Best FF That Reminds Us Why Teenagers Are Dangerous Things to Have Around the House. Or Around the Planet, for That Matter.: Seeing Through the Spaces, by pearl_o. X-Men movies, Magneto/Mystique, Pyro. There's been a lot of FF on Pyro turning to the dark side, and much of it is excellent. This story stands out for me, though, because not only do we see St. John as a sullen, somewhat thoughtless teenager, but we also get to see how vulnerable that makes him to Magneto's manipulation. And he's not vulnerable because he's somehow worse or more susceptible than other people his age; he's not. He's just an ordinary teenaged boy, making life-changing decisions without really knowing or even wondering why. Frankly, I think we should all be very grateful that in our world teenagers can't control elemental forces of destruction. Well, except for cars. And certain kinds of music.

Best FF That Manages to Make Contagious Disease and Its Affiliated By-Products Romantic: Wine, Women and Schlong, by Brighid, aka mz_bstone. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. This story could use a little proofreading, but it is so worth reading. It's light and fun and funny, and, as I mentioned in the category title, it actually manages to make mucous romantic, which is clear proof that Brighid is a slash genius. Also, I love Sentinel stories that point out what the writers of the canon apparently missed - namely, that no one on this planet could possibly have believed Jim and Blair weren't lovers. I mean, they live together, work together, get jealously possessive of each other, protect each other, and cuddle after life-threatening situations. They probably do each other's laundry, too. Newborn babies must have looked at them and thought "Gay. Totally gay," never mind the people who actually worked with them. It's nice that FF writers could step in and pick up the slack, here. Of course, that's what FF does for every aspect of the canon. This is why a portion of my personal mantra is, "Thank god for slashers, who return a modicum of sanity to the world of The Sentinel."


1 In all honesty I should note that the author himself considered this an NC-17 story. I've read it several times, and I just don't think it deserves such a high rating. R, maybe, but not NC-17. I'd be glad to hear other people's opinions on this point, though.
guede_mazaka on June 30th, 2004 06:34 pm (UTC)
When I first came across 'Gynecology,' I almost didn't read it because it was late and the formatting made my eyes howl. But I stuck it out, and I was v. glad that I did. That story really, truly reads like Sorkin wrote it himself

[may he never learn what happened to his characters after series cancellation]

Also, I actually would peg it at PG-13, maybe borderline R for innuendo and language and stuff. But I've definitely seen PG-13 movies with more sex-stuff than that.
jamjar: meepjamjar on June 30th, 2004 07:01 pm (UTC)
Charlemagne is a he and currently goes by the name of Synchronik, His journal can be found here and his RPS is here.
tried to eat the safe banana: thefourthvinethefourthvine on June 30th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC)
Whoops. Thanks for the correction on the whole sex thing, and the links. I will now go fix it, and wish once again that English had a neuter singular pronoun.

(Only in FF would it come as a surprise to anyone that a person named Charlemagne was, in fact, male.)
guede_mazaka on July 1st, 2004 04:06 am (UTC)
Ah. Thank you.
tried to eat the safe banana: thefourthvinethefourthvine on June 30th, 2004 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thank god. When I saw the NC-17 rating, I thought reading so much FF had permanently warped my mind. PG-13 sounds much better.

*considers writing Yet Another Rant on why the ratings system doesn't work for movies, never mind fan fiction*

*decides not to*

*nearly collapses under the gale-force gust of wind induced by heartfelt sighs of relief from all sides*

What did happen to the characters after series cancellation?
guede_mazaka on July 1st, 2004 03:36 am (UTC)
What did happen to the characters after series cancellation?

They went online and were transformed into the playthings of slash-obsessed writers:). Though that was happening even as the show was still on TV, I don't think this fandom really grew until after the cancellation. It seems to take two seasons for a TV fandom to take off, in my experience.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on June 30th, 2004 09:01 pm (UTC)
Two of my very favorite fics in one place, at one time. le sigh.

Isn't SportsNight wonderful? SportsNight is love, and love is SportsNight. So saith the Bhagwan SportsNight, whose arbiter I am.

And Wine, Women and Schlong has always cracked. me. UP.
viva_gloria on July 1st, 2004 01:50 am (UTC)
Oooh, thank you for reccing me yet again! And especially for reccing this story, which seemed to sink without trace -- I'm rather fond of it, and I like writing Jack's serious side; often well-hidden but very definitely there beneath the merriment and sway.

One thing, though -- 'Scarborough Fair' isn't anachronistic; I grant that Jack won't have heard the Simon and Garfunkel version, but it's a traditional English folksong that been around for centuries before they got their grubby mitts on it and left out the 'Trad. arr Simon and Garfunkel' in the attribution.

Actually, I'm grateful for this rec for another reason -- reviewing the fic, I noticed a background detail which is creeping into more and more fic, including a WIP: this is almost certainly where it started.
Anne Lineanneline on July 2nd, 2004 02:45 pm (UTC)
"it's just another boring cookie-cutter sex scene that readers skim through to get back to the plot"

See, plot's usually the part I skim through to get back to the smut. I'm just saying. Actually, thanks for all these great recs. That's the first Pirates fic I've read and it was fabu.

Plus, you're dragging me into this dark Sports Night of the soul fandom or whatever that show is. I've never seen it and know nothing about it, but it produces great fan-fic, funny, well-written, great fan-fic.
tried to eat the safe banana: thefourthvinethefourthvine on July 2nd, 2004 04:56 pm (UTC)
See, plot's usually the part I skim through to get back to the smut. I'm just saying.

Oh, I totally get your point, and I'm right there with you much of the time. But that's pretty much proof of a well-done sex scene, to me. If the fic contains smut and the smut holds your interest, then the sex belongs in the story, and it matters, and the author knows how to write it. And we, as readers, rejoice. But haven't you ever read a story and thought, hey, I just don't care? These guys can get together, not get together, watch paint dry, adopt a Golden Retriever, have a latte - whatever. It doesn't matter.

I have. And I know then - when I could care less whether the story ends with a fight, a fuck, or a half-skim caramel double espresso latte - that the story doesn't hang together.

And then there's the stories I'll read to the end, no matter what - sex, coffee, the Westminster dog show. Those are the brilliant stories. (Because if you can make me care about sex, well, I'm thrilled, obviously. But I'm only human - I'm interested in sex. If you can make me care about coffee when I don't even drink coffee, you are a goddess among writers and I will follow you forever.) That's why I think the unexplicit relationship-based fic is, in some ways, the ultimate test of a writer's mettle, the ultimate challenge. The writer has to sell the relationship without being able to distract the reader with handcuffs and activities that are illegal in Georgia. In other words, the writer has to hold our attention with coffee instead of sex.

(It occurs to me now that I could've chosen a better analogy than coffee. I'm one of the few people I know not interested in coffee. But I will forge ahead.)

So. I'm with you on the yay smutty FF thing. But I also have to say yay smutfree FF.

I guess I'm just a pro-FF kind of girl.

Plus, you're dragging me into this dark Sports Night of the soul fandom or whatever that show is.

Good. Because the FF? Kicks ass. We all need to go bravely into that good Sports Night; we will be the better for it. Sports Night, the mother of all good fan fiction! We walk in beauty with Sports Night, and the shades of Sports Night hatred flee! For Danny/Casey is not some 'ship that passes with Sports Night, but rather one that endures forever.

Um. Yes, best to stop now, while I still have some pretense of sanity left to me. (Sports Night my sanity has burnt out. Send help.)