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30 November 2004 @ 06:04 pm
Slashy Nominations 99: This Could But Have Happened Once, and We Missed It, Lost It Forever  
Fan fiction is, at its core, things that never happened. That may be why basingstoke's fantastic story concept caught on the way it did.

But, really, do we even need an explanation for the popularity of this trope? (Note use of litgeek vocabulary! I can be taught!) No. No, we do not. When something spurs stories this wonderful, we do not analyze or complain or indeed retain higher brain functions of any kind, although those of you who know me will recognize that complaining is pretty much a brain-stem reflex in my case. We simply feel the love. And show the love. For the authors, I mean. And also for the concept, because I just purely love Things That Never Happened stories.

So should you.

Warning: Before you read further, know that Things That Never Happened stories can explore some, um, challenging territory, and by challenging I mean "really fucking depressing or disturbing or just 'oh my god please give me sedative-hypnotics, and give some to the author while you're at it.'" For example, character death is often one of those things that didn't happen, and while the character's continued existence is usually inarguable, imagining it is still fairly grim. When this occurs, I advise going with the coping mechanism suggested by the story title and chanting, "Never happened never happened never happened" while moving briskly to the next entry, but if that isn't going to work for you, or if you are having an especially bad couple of days, maybe you'll be wanting to give most of these a miss for now.

Warning the second: Things That Never Happened stories usually make a lot more sense if you're familiar with the canon. It sort of helps to know what did happen, in other words, before you read about what didn't.

Best FF Whose Cool Life-Event-Related Chapter Headings It Took Me Forever to Notice, for Reasons Best Not Explored in Detail. Five Pictures That Were Never Taken, by Annie-Lee (or just Annie, and Annie, if you read this, feel free to tell me which one you prefer), aka out_there. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. I love this story. I love it because it's the perfect adaptation of the "never happened" concept for this fandom. I love it because it encompasses all the emotional extremes you find in the canon and encapsulates a lot of what I find most appealing about the show. And I love it 'cause of all the stories that are behind these pictures, the stories you know without even needing to be told them, the points you get even though they're never explicitly made. Seriously, this story proves that you don't need to be able to see the picture for it to be worth a thousand words, and I bet you hoped I'd get all the way through this summary without mentioning that aphorism, but you must've known you were doomed from the start. Added bonus: there are several fantastic Sports Night TTNH stories out there, but this is the only one I've found to date that doesn't leave me wanting to ingest massive quantities of psychoactive chemicals. Or maybe radioactive ones. Know of another? I'd love to hear about it.

Best FF That Makes Me Want Snow. No, Need Snow. Which Sucks, Because I Live in Southern California, but Don't Let My Pain Interfere with Your Enjoyment of the Story or Anything. Four Things That Didn't Happen on Christmas Eve, by penknife. X-Men movieverse, assorted pairings and gen. This is all about turnings not taken. For some reason, I find the last segment the most fascinating - and I mean seriously fascinating; the day I read this, I couldn't stop fantasizing about an AU in which Magneto v. Charles Xavier would be totally overshadowed by Caged World Death Match: Telepath v. Telepath. Seriously. I sketched out changes to major canon events and a timeline and everything. Because, see, there's a reason Jean Gray had to become Phoenix, and die an irritating number of times, and, like, get new powers and keep the old, or lose the old, or whatever the fuck happened to her. It's because the good guys don't need two telepaths, and the bad guys can't have even one without unbalancing everything. What difference does it make if people can control storms or fire if there's someone able and willing to control the people themselves? And, see, if Jean went evil, then Xavier would have to say goodbye to all of humanity or start breaking his own code of telepathic ethics, and, see - OK. I'm obsessed, and I admit. But all four segments are good, and I defy anyone with a heart to read the third one without feeling wistful, and it's about to be December. Read, read, read.

Best FF That Made Me Use the Phrase "Pocket Universe" Five Times in the Original Story Summary. But I've Deleted Three of Those, and I Think You'll Be Glad I Did. Family Business: Five Things That Never Happened to Dick Grayson, by Lucy, aka cereta. D. C. Universe, gen. It never ceases to amaze me that people can write TTNH stories for the main comic book universes, because the comic books themselves do a pretty damn fine job of exploring every possible option and most impossible ones and at least 50% of the ones that leave you shrieking obscenities at the writers. But here we have five Dick Graysons that truly never were, at least to my knowledge, and if this story does not make you want to move to a pocket universe ruled by the author, then you have no sense. (Or possibly way too much. Too much to be reading this LJ, anyway.) And though I said you need to know the canon to be able to read TTNH stories, I don't want people to steer away from this one on that account. For some of these, you only need to know who Batman, Robin, and Catwoman are; for one, you'll need more Smallville than DCU canon. And every segment is worth reading on its own account, I swear it. Plus, you know, if you do get sucked into that pocket universe, you'll want to be able to fangirl the supreme ruler effectively.

Best FF That Teaches Us That, If Someone Offers You a Car, You Should Always Offer Him a Ride. Five Things That Never Happened to Brian O'Conner, by kelly_girl. The Fast and the Furious, slash and gen. And please note, folks, that this may be a temporary link; I think dirty_diana is hosting this, but I don't know for how long. Here, Kelly Girl rewrites five scenes from the movie to change Brian's life. The weird thing about reading this right after I saw the movie is that so many of these TTNH make more sense than the way the canon chose to go. No, really. I totally understand how the first one couldn't happen in the movie - and I'm glad it didn't. And I get that the second one wasn't going to happen, even if I'm convinced it was an unfilmed scene. But the third and fifth ones? Those make so much more sense than the way things turned out in the movie that I found myself briefly wondering if maybe what got filmed was some weird AU FF for the real script. Then I got better. But I still loved the story. And if you've seen this movie (or just read a detailed and highly biased description of it), so will you.
trapped in ambyr: Undineambyr on November 30th, 2004 05:38 pm (UTC)
I missed one of Penknife's stories? How did I miss one of Penknife's stories?

:runs off to rectify:.

I'm surprised Basingstoke's original story didn't make the cut, though -- or did I just miss you reccing that earlier?
tried to eat the safe banana: Drawthefourthvine on November 30th, 2004 06:46 pm (UTC)
I know that feeling, the "clearly I have been remiss in my duties as FF reader, for here is a Penknife story totally unfamiliar to me." The only cure is a thorough inspection of her website. Trust me.

And, yeah. Confession time. Because, see, I've never read Basingstoke's original five things story. Because remember how I said you should know the canon? Well, I'm just barely starting in SV right now; I don't know nearly enough to be able to appreciate a TTNH story. (I'm still sending fanofall pathetic emails like "Lex is MARRIED?" and "WTF is with this hexagon thing?") But one of the things I'm most looking forward to about expanding my SV canon knowledge is being able, at long last, to read that story.

I feel better for having got that off my chest. I really do.

*basks in the confessional quality of LJ*
trapped in ambyr: Oak Leavesambyr on November 30th, 2004 06:57 pm (UTC)
Well, in the spirit of further confession, I confess I had gotten my dates all tangled and was actually wondering why basingstoke's Buffyverse 5 Things story wasn't up there. Err.

Further proof of fanfic rotting one's brain, I think. (As if the mangled Buffy story that ended up being written in my class notes -- completely without consultation between my hand and my brain, which was trying to send instructions to write about the Asian Financial Crisis -- during the depths of sleep deprivation yesterday wasn't enough proof.)
tried to eat the safe banana: UF indigo girlsthefourthvine on November 30th, 2004 07:30 pm (UTC)
I find the Asian Financial Crisis as riveting as the next girl, but I have to say I think your hand made the right call there.

(And fan fiction does not rot your brain. It is the lack of FF that does that, and your whole Asian Financial Debacle is clear proof that you need more FF. I myself would recommend smutty, slashy FF, but you know best; just read more FF, before it is too late. I mean, my god, you don't want to end up writing a Buffy story on your final exam.)
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on November 30th, 2004 08:46 pm (UTC)
(I'm still sending fanofall pathetic emails like "Lex is MARRIED?" and "WTF is with this hexagon thing?")

What? What's that? You're sending me e-mail?

Hmm. Must have gotten lost. I'm sure you're wondering when I will respond then. Because it's been so long since you've heard from me. And so you're concerned. About me, I mean. And rightly so. Because you're so afraid that, say, the Ficus of DOOM has attacke...no, wait, that's you. So you're afraid that the dog has...no, that's still you. You must be afraid that Bean has done something horrible to me and that I'm lying in a corner somewhere waiting for someone to notice my absence. Fear not! I am here! I am fine! You may resume communication!

I kid because I love. I'm just... bored. And wanna chat! And you promised vids!
tried to eat the safe banana: I've been badthefourthvine on December 1st, 2004 10:07 pm (UTC)
*blinks at fanofall*

*blinks at mail reader*

*blinks at taskbar*

Ah. Well, that explains it. I am an idiot. Because apparently I have this deeply-rooted belief that as soon as I type an email to you, you read it, and I don't have to do that whole agonizing, complicated, and highly risky send-button thing.

This would explain, I'm betting, why the whole top line of my taskbar is unsent replies, most of them completed. There are probably quite a number of people who are assuming I'm dead now.

I need an icon that says "idiot." It would see a lot of use.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on December 2nd, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
No, you just need an icon that says "overworked, underpaid, and still fighting the Ficus of DOOM!" Because I'm sure that's what happened. The Ficus of DOOM came in and prevented you from sending e-mail. Right?
the opposite of batmanpearl_o on November 30th, 2004 05:58 pm (UTC)
*snicker* shrift's Sports Night 5 Things story is actually my favorites SN story ever omg, but, yeah. I can see how you might need drugs to cope with it.
tried to eat the safe banana: Swoonthefourthvine on November 30th, 2004 06:38 pm (UTC)
See, it's an amazing story and I totally adore it, but, yeah. By the middle I'm always thinking, "Oh god there's no hope life is wretched KILL ME NOW." And yet I love it so that I'm always compelled to finish it, and then to go back and re-read particularly gut-wrenching lines.

(It is not good reading during PMS, though. I've learned that one the hard way.)

Plus, that was the first SN story I read when I was considering acquiring the fandom after my initial exposure to the SN Cult. (This was before I keyed into the whole "should probably know the canon before you read TTNH" thing, which sounds simple but was for a very long time entirely beyond my limited mental capacity.) So I thought for a while that it was representative of the fandom, and miriam_heddy's story was the anomaly. And fanofall was sending me all these messages: you'll love SN! Funny! Sweet! Funny! OMG so cute! And I'm going, yeah, right, and I bet you attend child funerals for pleasure, too.

But I got over it.

So, to sum: yes, it is a great story and I will rec it someday. But Annie's story is also great, and I can read it during PMS-related depression and still find the courage to go on, so...
d*dirty_diana on November 30th, 2004 08:28 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten that that story was even up there, making the odds of my ever remembering to take it down not that high.
tried to eat the safe banana: I sleep with computers.thefourthvine on December 1st, 2004 10:04 pm (UTC)
Well, speaking only for myself - YAY! (Unless me recommending has made you remember and want to take it down.) Because, well, I don't do mailing lists in fandom - I've tried and it just doesn't work out, somehow - so your hosting is the only reason I've read certain TFATF stories.

For which I thank you. And beg you not to take them down.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on November 30th, 2004 08:48 pm (UTC)
You did not post the Aubrey/Maturin Five Things whose address I will have to find later. They were excellent, and I was so certain you would have included them in this list. Unless you've already recommended them, and I have completely forgotten that you're the one I got them from in the first place, in which case, sorry!
tried to eat the safe banana: The world is my fandomthefourthvine on November 30th, 2004 09:37 pm (UTC)
I actually have recommended most of the Aubrey/Maturin 5 Things ones; they're so long and detailed. I consider them individual stories in a series.

And they're brilliant. Scary - in some cases seriously so - but brilliant.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on November 30th, 2004 11:47 pm (UTC)
I figured I must have gotten those from you.

(Anonymous) on December 1st, 2004 10:12 am (UTC)
out_there on December 1st, 2004 05:48 am (UTC)
(or just Annie, and Annie, if you read this, feel free to tell me which one you prefer),

It's a little complicated. Generally, on LJ certainly, I go by Annie. But when I got into SV fandom, there was already an Annie so I had to extend the Annie name (which was a bad choice and I'm still in the process of changing names over to Annie-Lee, which is a little more anonymous than my old psuedonym).

(And, huh, you know what else I need to do? Show off Celli's cover for that fic on that page. Must fix that sometime.)

Um, yes. Long story short, either Annie or Annie-Lee work fine. Fic tends to be listed under Annie-Lee but Annie appears on LJ. I answer (and squee over) both.

And I love it 'cause of all the stories that are behind these pictures, the stories you know without even needing to be told them, the points you get even though they're never explicitly made.

*beams widely* And you know who else does that wonderfully? Pearl-o. She remixed that fic this year, and it's great.

And you wouldn't believe how long it took me to find that link! If you get time, check out Who Writes Letters Anymore? (Reality Check Remix) which is a remix of To Casey, On His Thirty-Fifth Birthday. Wonderful remix of a fic that I didn't think could get better.
tried to eat the safe banana: UF greenthefourthvine on December 1st, 2004 10:02 pm (UTC)
How the hell did I miss those two brilliant remix stories? No, really, how?

So thank you thank you thank you for pointing those out. I've been wondering what I'd do for crack_van this month, since laylee decimated my tentative list - I mean, I was thrilled, but also every so slighlty horrified - and now I have two more recs than I did before.

out_there on December 2nd, 2004 03:02 am (UTC)
I was going to rec you the other SN remix, but I'm pretty sure I already have. (Dan/Sally. Seriously, I don't think there's one person in SN fandom I haven't rec'ed that fic to. *laughs*)

Meanwhile, I remain shockingly amused that all of the West Wing remixes were het (even, shock'n'horror, mine *g*) while all the SN remixes (even the het one) was all about the Casey/Dan slash.

It's rather undeniable. *snickers*
Lucy: wannabecereta on December 1st, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
You just completely made my day. Thank you!
tried to eat the safe banana: Books glancethefourthvine on December 1st, 2004 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: *Beams*
I should be thanking you. For "Family Business," which basically sealed my fate in re: DCU fannishness (I came to comic book FF way late, even though I was at least marginally familiar - and for me, marginal is way above the meanh - with the popular canons), and especially for the Fanfic Symposium, which was - let's just say pivotal in my entry into FF as a whole.

And I cannot believe I just now noticed that there's a LJ community for FFS updates.
merelyn on December 10th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC)
Hi, long-time reader, first-time poster.

Just wanted to know if you ever read Five Things That Never Happened (to Dan Rydell) by shrift. Because yeah, some of them are depressing, but they're awesome, and I think the last one qualifies as warm and fuzzy, you know, comparatively. :)