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16 March 2005 @ 01:05 am
Slashy Nominations 112: Like -- But Oh! How Different!  
(For the record, Wordsworth is to blame for the title punctuation. I am innocent. Innocent, I tell you.)

Alternate universes. And I've said this before, but alternate universes come in many flavors, from body-snatch ("Wouldn't it be cool if Xander Harris looked like Justin Timberlake?") to eigenstate ("What if Two-Face's coin had come up heads?") to brand new suit ("What if Casey had stayed in gymnastics? And been really good at it?") to mutant hybrid ("So, if Beecher is Cathy and Keller is Heathcliff..."). I'm not a big fan of the body-snatch AU, but otherwise I'll read whatever is going. What's going today? Mutant hybrid, brand new clothes, and major eigenstate (only one thing happened differently, but it turned out to have a major local effect). In other words, just another ordinary day in fan fiction. FF, how I love thee!

Best FF That Will Give You a New Appreciation for Current European Monarchs. I Mean, You Think Prince Charles Has Funny Ears? Study in Emerald, by Neil Gaiman. Sherlock Holmes x H. P. Lovecraft, and I imagine the author would say it was gen. (It is, actually. But Gaiman does such a good job of recreating - or, well, re-doing - the Holmes canon that slash lurks in every corner and between every line, just waiting for someone to say its name and make it manifest. And then write a sex scene or two.) You need to know at least a smidgen about both fandoms to enjoy this. But if you do? Oh how you will enjoy it. I just can't give you specific reasons, because I can't say much about the story without spoiling it. So instead of persuading you with logic and incisive critique*, I'll have to go the whining, begging, pleading route: Read this! Even though it is not your fandom! (Unless of course SH x HPL is your fandom, in which case I have an anthology you'd like to read.) Even if it is gen! (Or, if you are a gen reader, even if it does have slashy overtones!) Because it is, well, really good! So good that I would even throw a second exclamation point into that last sentence, except that the shame would break me; I'd end up like Dimmesdale. (I.e., in a closet with a scourge. And Hester Prynne.). Or maybe like a Lovecraftian hero after he discovers - too late, too late - that research is the real most dangerous game. (I.e., gibbering in moderately purple prose.) My point is, you need to read this story right now, unless you don't know the canons, in which case you'll want to do some other reading first. (I suggest A Study in Scarlet and The Call of Cthulhu.) I may not be Lovecraft's biggest fan, but, seriously, this story is worth the effort.

Best FF That Will Make You Want to Eat Cake. A Decorated Cake. Or, OK, One Specific Decorated Cake. Or Maybe It's Just Me Who Wants That. Deke, by Rhi Marzano, aka rhiko. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Two authors I love share a dS site (this one, in fact), and of the nine stories there, four are AUs. And these are good AUs, AUs I have long admired. So picking just one was, you know, challenging; I finally went with this because it's got hockey. And we all need more hockey AUs. I mean, OK, yes, dS has more hockey than your average fandom (Although why other fandoms don't have much is an unsolved mystery. Who doesn't want to see Ron Weasley play goalie? Or Bobby Drake as center-forward in what has to be his natural habitat? Or Beecher and Keller suddenly playing for the same team? (Hockey team.) I hear all of you chorusing, "We don't want to see that," but you are wrong. Every fandom needs hockey. Even ones that are, technically, set prior to the invention of the sport.) Also, I'm beginning to think that NHL hockey may survive only in fan fiction AUs, so I'm doing my part to encourage fangirls everywhere to get to know hockey. (And then come explain it to me, because I've never met a team sport I understood.) You say hockey is not enough to convince you? Give up now, kiddo, because I've got lots more reasons you should read this. Like, for example - Fraser is still the canonical Fraser. Blending an AU-type character and a canon(ish) character is not easy, but Rhi does it with great panache. And you like panache, don't you? Plus, I find myself actually liking Smithbauer in this one, which is like a miracle on the ice. Also, there's cake.

Best FF That Proves That Dysfunctional Romance Is the Basic Black Dress of Interpersonal Relationships. Force Draw, by actizera. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Christopher Keller. A good Oz AU is hard to find, man. I don't mean eigenstate AUs; I'm talking about ones that change the setting. Oz is maybe the most setting-dependent canon in existence, and taking the guys out of the cage changes way too much for it to work. I mean, you could write, say, a law firm AU (sadistic senior partner Schillinger, newly-minted sacrificial lawyer Beecher, hotshot trial guy O'Reily, Keller bribing juries and sucking cock to get - well, pretty much anything), but it'd be tough to preserve the characters, let alone the relationships between them. Oz is all about having no choice, all about being penned up with wild animals (and everyone is a wild animal in there; the only choice is predator or prey), and even though many of us would liken attorneys - the ones we don't love, obviously - to wild animals, it's just not the same without the walls and guards and locks. Beecher/Keller is a particularly tough pairing to sell in a changed-setting AU; it's just really hard to buy their relationship outside of prison. Which is, as you may have guessed, why I love this story. These guys are canon Beecher and Keller, and they have the same relationship; they just play pool instead of cards, and they screw in a truck rather than after lights out, but otherwise it's all the same, and it's believable, which is a miracle. You don't even need to know how the characters got to this point; this is a vignette, not an epic, so there's not a lot of background, but that totally works. For one thing, you pretty much know the background after you read this scene. All hail Actizera, who wrote the impossible AU. And who apparently gets Beecher and Keller on a scarily deep level.

Best FF That Supports Gerund Rights. Specifically, Gerund Rights to Appear in Titles. All We Are Saying Is Give Gerunds a Chance. Coming up for Air Series, by Delilah. The Sentinel, gen. First, the caveats: this series is a work in progress, and although each story stands alone fairly well, the last one ends on a cliffhanger. Also, some of the stories need to be beta-read - there's a lot of typo-type errors. But it is definitely worth reading. It's a fascinating extrapolation of the canon; the potential for all of this is present in the series but never explored (or, I suspect, even considered). The minor characters are extrapolated, too; Jim's family is very present, and as much more than just plot devices. Stephen, in particular, is an interesting and complete character here, and Sally gets a lot more time. Bonus: the mystical stuff makes sense. Normally I can only take so much supernatural-shaman-spirit guide blah before I'm ready to move on to something slightly more probable, like why Ron Weasley is really Dumbledore. In fact, I sometimes OD on the whole caboodle in the time it takes to read the words "black jaguar." In this series, though, it makes much more sense and works a lot better than in most stories. And this AU concept just feels right; it's believable in a way the canon sometimes isn't. And for the record, I don't find these stories sad. Oh, didn't I mention that in the warnings? Because, yeah. Everyone I've ever seen mention this series (which is, admittedly, not that many, even though it's a rather famous series) has described it as sad. Disturbing, even. But for once I don't agree, and given that I can tear up over video games and the death of characters who are, technically, cars, that's saying something. (Although I can't tell you whether it's something about the series or about me.) No one dies in this. Nothing that happens is worse or more upsetting than the canon. Jim is different, yes - his senses came fully and permanently on-line when he was six, and that changed him and the course of his life - but I don't see him as even remotely a tragic figure; he is damaged, both by the senses and by some aspects of his family, but that's true of canon Jim, too. To me, this Jim is, if anything, more comfortable and more secure than the one in the canon. But, well, others don't agree with me, so you are hereby warned: this might make you sad. (If it does, please say so in the comments. I'd like to know, and it will serve as a warning to others.)


* I know. Like I ever do, right?
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tried to eat the safe banana: Bookthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 04:03 am (UTC)
And I you, commodorified. But why especially because of "Study in Emerald"? I mean, aside from the fact that it's just amazingly good.

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(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sienamystic on March 17th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
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tried to eat the safe banana: UF indigo girlsthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 04:10 am (UTC)
Really? I take it she loves AUs?

Hmm. I'm doing nothing but asking particularly empty-headed questions in fandom these days, and now I seem to be entirely clueless even about comments *in my own LJ*. I am pathetically out of the loop. (Send help! Send fannish primer!) Perhaps I should spend less time on violent felons and more on fandom. (Also, the dog does not really need training; left to her own devices, she will train herself to do a number of things, and who cares if they're mostly things that will require expensive repairs?)

Clearly, my priorities are all out of whack.

*goes off to construct a new life plan based entirely around porn*

*remembers that she made one of those already*

*goes off to look for life plan based entirely around FF*
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(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
plus one skeleton: Marfil delurkerdelurker on March 16th, 2005 04:48 am (UTC)
How good is A Study in Emerald? Seriously wonderful.
tried to eat the safe banana: Exitthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 08:40 am (UTC)
And, you know, every day in every way I love my LJ friends more. Today, it's because you people have such excellent taste. I may have to change my friends list title to reflect this, in fact.

[Pause to inspect friends list title.]

Yes, I will definitely have to change it, because that is one seriously lame title. And not just because it fails to indicate the erudite nature of the persons there mentioned. I need something like "The Connoisseurs" or "The Cognoscenti." Only with, you know, class.

Or I could just go back to mangling Gilbert and Sullivan.
on sateda, i was an accountant: one more mountie in chicagominervacat on March 16th, 2005 04:55 am (UTC)
the first cake scene in deke? remains one of my favorite scenes in all of fanfiction anywhere. i cannot explain why i find it so incomprehensibly funny, but i do. rolling on the floor laughing sort of funny. good choice. *thumbs up*
tried to eat the safe banana: Yaythefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC)
i cannot explain why i find it so incomprehensibly funny, but i do.

Wonder no more, because I can explain that: it's because the scene is that funny. No, really. It's a scientific fact, established in double-blind experiments the world over.
(no subject) - minervacat on March 16th, 2005 09:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhiko on March 16th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - minervacat on March 17th, 2005 05:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
out_there on March 16th, 2005 05:20 am (UTC)
("What if Casey had stayed in gymnastics? And been really good at it?")

Huh. That reminds me of a fic idea I had ages ago for 5 Ways Dan and Casey didn't meet. One of them was set in college, with Casey still being all gymnasticsy. Hmmm... I know I wrote myself notes for that idea somewhere. i should go find them.
tried to eat the safe banana: Love writingthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 09:34 am (UTC)
*pokes with pointy stick*

Go! Find!

(But it's not a very pointy stick, because I STILL owe you a beta. Which you will get, and before we all die of old age, too.)
(no subject) - out_there on March 16th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 09:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - out_there on March 16th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sienamystic: OMG octopus attacksienamystic on March 16th, 2005 06:02 am (UTC)
Oh, man, I love Study in Emerald/ It's one of my favorite short stories ever, so seeing it pop up unexpectedly made me squee. I sometimes feel like getting a tattoo on my ass that says "Go Read A Study In Emerald," and then running around and flashing people. No, really.
tried to eat the safe banana: UF black and whitethefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
I sometimes feel like getting a tattoo on my ass that says "Go Read A Study In Emerald," and then running around and flashing people.

I vote for that. Excellent idea. And yet another demonstration of the superior taste, imagination, and decision-making skills of this batch of LJ friends. "Promoting literacy while noticeably improving local aesthetics" has to be way up there on the list of Excellent Things to Do with Your Ass.

Also? Your icon. I am in love. Admittedly, it's a forbidden love - I'm pretty sure the federal law strictly prohibits love between a woman and a creature whose grandparents were the H.M.S. Surprise, Medusa, Cthulhu, and the mighty kraken - but it's a beautiful one, all the same.

(Note to self: must get sleep. LJ comment blithering nearing critical mass. Soon will cross the event horizon of total incomprehensibility. And then will become - tragedy! - tinhat.)
(no subject) - sienamystic on March 17th, 2005 06:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ozsaurozsaur on March 16th, 2005 06:39 am (UTC)
The Coming Up For Air Series is more hopeful than sad. I think what people find disturbing is how badly damaged Jim is and how he got that way. But Jim is deeply loved by his family and eventually Blair. Really, the whole series is just uplifting. I truly adore Coming Up For Air and I've read it many times, especially when I'm feeling down.
tried to eat the safe banana: Freaksthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 11:25 am (UTC)
I agree with you that it's hopeful. Definitely.

I just - Jim doesn't seem that damaged to me. Not, at any rate, much more than canon Jim, although CUFA Jim is certainly more noticeably damaged. And CUFA Jim seems - well, complete, I guess, or more complete than canon Jim. The senses are harder for him, but maybe because of that he's more accepting of them and of himself.

Hmmm. Or maybe I should allow myself to make AU to canon comparisons only if I actually know the canon. Yeah, that'd probably be for the best. So instead I'll say: CUFA Jim strikes me as unusual, not broken. (I think Blair even says that at some point in the series: he's special, but not in the short bus sense.)
(no subject) - ozsaur on March 16th, 2005 12:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fanofall on April 2nd, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on March 16th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC)
You know, every time I think I could not possibly love you any more, you go and do something like this.

I realize I may be coming late to the party, but I am boggled by the fact that NEIL GAIMAN wrote fanfic. (Note to all of you who are preparing to e-mail me as we speak: Yes, I think Neil Gaiman is unbearably cool. No, I haven't read his stuff.)

I also feel compelled to mention that, with the proliferation of hockey AUs (koffdsudiskoff), I am having a springtime epiphany (not unlike Danny's New York Renaissance, but that's a different fandom).

And, was there a leeeetle tiny shout-out to me in the Oz rec? If so, YAY! And if not, sorry for being self-absorbed...

And then we have Blair and Jim. And an AU that I absolutely love. It's like you're in my head!
nestra on March 16th, 2005 08:30 am (UTC)
He also wrote Matrix fic. It's equally brilliant.

But A Study in Emerald...man. That's such a fantastic story for Holmes geeks.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 11:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Hildyhildyj on March 16th, 2005 09:06 am (UTC)
(For the record, Wordsworth is to blame for the title punctuation. I am innocent. Innocent, I tell you.)

Honey, anyone who is reading/quoting/using WW is not innocent. But you get points for trying!

Love your recs.
tried to eat the safe banana: Bookthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
Honey, anyone who is reading/quoting/using WW is not innocent.

Hmmm. Fair point.

But do I get bonus points if I mangle Wordsworth? And I think I should get some kind of exemption on the reading WW thing, because an English teacher started it, so really my sins of quotation should be laid at her feet.

Love your recs.

Thank you!
rustler on March 16th, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)
Mmmm. I have an unholy love for Force Draw. Ya know, actizera's got other stuff in that universe just sitting on her hard drive. She needs to be harrassed to finish more of it. ::nods righteously::
tried to eat the safe banana: I've been badthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I suggest we implement a program of harrassment, public protests, and - if she drives us to it - maybe a late-night raid on her hard drive. I'm thinking we'll need some slogans, maybe some signs reading "Finish NOW" and "Porn Needs to Be Free" and "Let Your Pool Porn Go." What do you say?
(no subject) - rustler on March 16th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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tried to eat the safe banana: I sleep with computers.thefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
Yay! I have provided a public service today. Surely this will reduce my time in Purgatory by several years, assuming my Catholic father is right after all.

*does dance of pointy joy*

And isn't it kind of thrilling when you discover that there's something you haven't read by an author you adore? It's almost as good as getting money from the IRS, and without all the paperwork, too.
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tried to eat the safe banana: Everybody wants a rockthefourthvine on March 16th, 2005 05:56 pm (UTC)
Oh. Oh my GOD. You evil, evil woman, because now I so desperately want to read the Oz transportation AU. Because...I mean...Oz. But actually in Australia, even if it wasn't called that then. Prisoners! Marines! Arthur Philip! My god, it's a natural. And now that you've mentioned it, I will never be happy again.

*whines pathetically*

(I've often wondered if Oz could be successfully converted to a POW type situation. Sort of a Stalag-17 x Oz kind of thing. Because the guards and locks and cruelty and so on are kind of necessary, but I'm not sure the criminal nature of the prisoners is. I tend to reflect on this every time I read one of those exoneration Oz AUs, where Toby and Chris aren't criminals - Beecher is, say, governor of Massachusetts and Chris is maybe a major league baseball player* - and they're happy and healthy and in love and they get married and nothing bad ever happens to them ever ever ever. I understand why a person might be tempted to write those, but they never work. But I think it might be possible to make them not criminals, to exonerte them in that sense, as long as the prison remained.)

*whines some more, making vague, helpless hand gestures*

* Note: I deliberately chose these examples because I've never seen them used. Obviously, if they have been, I haven't read the story. I'm not trying to insult anyone.
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(no subject) - fanofall on March 16th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - fanofall on March 16th, 2005 10:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
a.k.a. Katie: dreamssoupytwist on March 17th, 2005 12:00 am (UTC)
I adore Neil Gaiman more than is probably healthy, but I had completely forgotten that I meant to read A Study In Emerald, and now I have. So thankyou, seriously, because HOLY FREAKING SHIT. There are no words.

Also, while I actually don't like the Coming Up For Air series much - it's certainly interesting, but the editing issues drive me batty and for some reason it occasionally feels voyeuristic-in-a-bad-way to me - the world definitely needs more hockey-based fanfic. Damn right.
out_there on March 24th, 2005 04:58 am (UTC)
This is me gently poking you about the Homophobic beta.
Teeny Gozerteenygozer on June 10th, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC)
Someone on my f'list recced your recs... so I'm workin' my way through them. These are great stories, thanks for finding them for us!

You are spot-on that A Study in Emerald is FF. I think one of the reasons we all adore Neil so is that so much of his work *is* FF. He is a great, big fanboy, after all. I thought you might be interested to know that A Study in Emerald won the Hugo Award at the last World Con, so I'd say it's got quite a pedigree and a lot of people agree with you.