Best FF That Proves That Drilling for Emergencies Is Pointless Unless You Include the Penguin-Related Ones. Mating Rituals, by Karen McFadyyon, and is she on LJ? And does anyone know if I'm capitalizing her name correctly? Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. And some penguins. You know how you'll be reading along, and some sentence hits you just right and suddenly you're laughing and laughing and oh god you're never going to be able to breathe again and you really wish you could say something reassuring to the loved one now looking at you with concern but it's just so fucking funny that you can't? This happens to me sometimes. A disproportionate number of times have something to do with animals. While reading Connie Willis's Bellwether, for example, I broke up over a vomiting sheep, to a degree that Best Beloved was threatening to call an ambulance by the midpoint of the laughing fit. And in this one, it was a biting penguin that got me. (OK. Technically, the penguin got Ford, but I was the one who got to laugh when Ford complained about it.) I almost dropped my laptop from joy. And here's the thing - after an experience like that, I don't look for more from FF. The author could've finished this story with a 3,000 word discussion of the avian cloaca and I'd still want to recommend it. But in this case? Not a worry, because fifteen minutes after the Penguins 2, Whole Rest of SGA 0 scene, when I could finally focus again, I discovered that this story brings the funny and the touching in really excellent amounts. Frankly, I'm sort of stunned anyone could sell a story with this one's premise, but Karen McFadyyon does so with style. And then there's the excellent use of points of view, and the rocks, and...just the whole thing. 'S wonderful.
Best FF That Proves That the Essays You Wrote When You Were a Teenager Can Come Back to Haunt You. Probably Be Better for Everyone Not to Write Any, Really. Unaccommodated Man, by kindkit. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rupert Giles/Daniel "Oz" Osborne, and I've had to be corrected on Oz's name every time I've used it, so go ahead and correct me here, too. I'm resigned. I'm even looking forward to it. This story took me by surprise in an entirely different way than "Mating Rituals." I didn't know the author at all, and this is one of those pairings I normally only read when written by people I trust, because when it's done right it's so very right, but when it's wrong it is oh, god, kill me now awful. But I looked at the title, thought, "Lear? Is that you?" and four seconds later I was hooked. This is an AU from the episode "Phases," which I personally have never seen on account of my tragic allergy to the hair + teeth + cheese formula TV makeup artists use to make werewolves. But all you need to know is that Oz almost bit Giles in that one. So what if he had? Well, Giles would be a werewolf, too. What then? Turns out what comes next is wolf-on-wolf action witnessed by Wesley in his original ultraprat incarnation, and that should so be scarring, and it is so not. (Mostly because you never actually see it.) And then the inevitable non-wolfy aftermath. I'm not the biggest fan of long, painful morning-after conversations, but this is perfect and perfectly in character and filled with wonderful bits and just...yeah. Wow. Again. And, hey, "lycanthropy made us do it" is a brand-new excuse applicable to a number of fandoms; authors take note!
Best FF That Demonstrates the Life-Saving Powers of Kink. Acquire a New Kink Today; the Life You Save Could Be Your Own! Elvis Has Left the Building*, by Salieri, aka troyswann. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. So, it's a fair night, and SG-1 are in the great outdoors, gathered around a campfire, to listen to Shakespearean sonnets and Jaffa love poetry, and then retire - Daniel to his slumbers, Teal'c to his appointed rounds, Sam to her quiet solitary giggling, and Jack to his astronomy and boot porn. So very lovely and romantic, no? And then a moose shows up and it all goes to hell. We learn that the Atlantis team may routinely to lose to penguins, yes, but it takes a big moose (though that's probably redundant; in one whole college class, the only useful thing I found to put in my notes was "Moose - big motherfuckers") to defeat SG-1 and the whole SGC. Bonus features include Daniel's mysterious aversion to Swedish, a moose's equally mysterious love for Swedish, and Jack's not at all mysterious love for the moose. Not to mention Hammond's attempts to be dignified even though he's in charge of a top-secret installation that has been brought to its knees (and the edge of its sanity) by a one-moose army. You have to admire that.
Best FF That Proves That All of Life's Most Important Events Really Do Happen at Table. Even if the "Table" Is Actually a Tundra. The Company of Wolves, by viridian5. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sort of. I'm normally uninterested in AUs of this kind - you know, the kind where the two characters meet in past lives - because they tend to veer so far from the actual canon and they're often out of character or improbable. This, though, is seriously in character, and even in canon, in a strange way; I mean, you can't be totally in line with the canon when you turn the two main characters into, you know, wolves. But still. Strangely right. This is, really, a perfect translation (into wolf) of the way Fraser and Kowalski met each other. (But it's condensed, of course, because wolves get things done more quickly. No, really. When was the last time you saw a wolf tooling around in a flaming Buick Riviera?) And also why the two of them need each other. Plus, wolves. This story is strangely comforting to me, one of those ones I read when I'm down. (Or when I've just watched a really grim dS vid. There are happy moments in the canon, people! I've actually seen them. But not, for the most part, in the vids, which tend to fabulous but somewhat grim.) But I do need to warn those of you who are sensitive to animal unhappiness that this is, if not 100% realistic, at least honest about the lives of wolves. I can handle it because that's how they are, and also because I know things will be all better soon, but I thought I'd best warn you just the same.
* Salieri, if you're reading this - the version of this story on your website has a sizable chunk of text missing, starting just after "Major Carter didn't laugh right out loud." That's why I linked to the LJ post.