And it really has been a while. But, in my defense, I had a baby. And babies are not so conducive to prolonged sessions of typing, I find. But the earthling is older, and I'm hoping to get back to a more regular recommendations posting schedule. (At this point, once every blue moon, as opposed to every other, would qualify as more regular. But with dedication, I believe I can achieve once every full moon, maybe!)
The One That Made Me Want a Crossover Between Hikaru no Go and SG1. Teal'c v. Touya Meijin! Fine, Fine. I Accept That I Am the Only Person on the Planet Who Wants That. But I Want It Enough for Everyone. Teal'c's Five Favorite Board Games, by paian. Stargate SG-1.
I love the corners of people's personal canon - love it when someone, for example, reveals in a story that she firmly believes that Rodney McKay knows how to knit. (He learned during one long summer month spent in his own personal hell, a cottage by the sea with only a few books and a TV that didn't even get cable; his parents told him to they were all there to relax, but in fact they spent the entire month fighting, and Rodney couldn't sleep with the sea noise and the constant whirring of his understimulated brain, until he finally picked up one of the books - a crafting book from the 1970s with a terrifying picture on the cover - and taught himself to knit. They don't have yarn and needles in Atlantis, and he's always too busy, until the day he gets an eye injury on a mission and is forbidden to read or look at a computer for two weeks. But that's another story.) I love it, basically, when fan fiction writers fill in the details that make people people - the little idiosyncrasies that make them real.
And that's exactly what this story is. The thing is, I never thought of Teal'c in connection with board games until I read this story. And now these five games are a part of my personal Teal'c canon, because they make so much sense and they're so very real and right. And, let's face it, Teal'c isn't necessarily overexplored by the canon writers of SG1, so this really works. I find the Snakes and Ladders one particularly moving, for some reason, but they are all so very perfect.
And there are pictures. Oh my god, do not miss the pictures.
The One That Made Me Want to Send a Letter of Complaint to the Author: "Please Write Less Well. I Need to Sleep. Love and Kisses!" The Kids Aren't All Right, by samdonne. Iron Man.
First and foremost: I love this story for getting the title right. I don't care what The Who thinks, "all right" is two words and ever shall be, and do not speak to me of popular usage. In this case, if everyone is doing it, then everyone is just wrong. (You may be thinking that this is where TFV gets unreasonable, and all I have to say to that is: wait until you hear me talk about the use of "presently.")
Except that's not actually what I love most about this story. (Those of you who don't know me very well are now saying to yourselves, "Oh good, she's sane." Those of you who do know me are staring at the screen in absolute disbelief and saying, "That isn't what she loves best? I...is this the same TFV? Is she feeling okay? Maybe I should call her." You totally should call me, for the record, but I am fine. The story is just so good that it transcends mere considerations of good grammar and correct spelling. And, wow, I feel like a stranger to myself, writing that.) What I love most about it is - well, everything. This is so good that I actually stayed up late to finish it the day it was posted, which seems like faint praise indeed until you consider that I had a two-week-old baby at that point and was so sleep deprived I couldn't consistently remember his name. (This is actually an ongoing problem. For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, we have taken to calling him Squishy, although that is in no way his name. If you ever want to do a comprehensive study of peculiar looks, try calling your new baby Squishy in public.) And yet. I had to finish this.
Why? Well, okay, it's a brilliant example of what might actually happen after the events of the movie, and I'm kind of a sucker for that sort of coming out story, where people don't get to piddle around with secret identities and pretending to be normal and convenient phone booths; I like it when exceptional people have to face the consequences of being exceptional. I am almost faint with love for this story, because it acknowledges that there is likely to be some fallout from, you know, giant mecha duking it out over Los Angeles. (Bad traffic jams, for one. And if you don't think that's a serious consequence meriting a Congressional investigation, you don't live here, that's all.) But this story is also brilliant meta, brilliant commentary on the movie and on our current political climate. And it's done in authentic Vanity Fair style, a classic example of document fan fiction.
I could not love this story more. And I know nearly everyone in fandom has read it, but I'm speaking to the two lone holdouts: read this. Even if you haven't seen the movie. Read it.
The One That Makes Written Sword Fights Compelling. This Is Akin to Making Tax Law Compelling, and Suggests That the Author Can Achieve the Impossible. Gogmagog, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four, by Sylvia Volk, aka sylviavolk2000. Highlander.
Okay, I need to say something right up front: if you know anything about archeology (and certainly if you spent a semester painstakingly digging up eensy teeny fragments of shells from a trashheap, and when I say "painstakingly," I mean that you can still feel it in your lower back when the wind blows from the southwest), you will scream during the first part of this story. Be strong. Power through it. The rest of the story is worth it. (And some day I am doing a poll about this, about the things we know that make it harder for us to read stories or watch shows or whatever. Like, Best Beloved will shriek and flail and pause a lot during any scene involving bad management - you could seriously run an entire management class just by having the students gather round her while she watched season one of SGA. Although they would have to be froth-resistant students. And people who know me flinch any time a psychiatrist shows up on screen, because - well. You'd think, with all the time they apparently spend in therapy, that writers could write an ethical therapist occasionally. (Yes, I do have a mental list of Good Therapists in Fiction. It is short but detailed.) And I just think it's fascinating, the lenses through which we consume our entertainment, and the knowledge we can't suspend even during happy fun playtime.)
So. That was a tangent. My point is: this story is like settling down with a novel. It's long, it's involving, and you don't need to know the characters or the world in advance, or at least not beyond what you'd get from the back of a book. And, in fact, this story is one of the ones that inspired me to watch Highlander, and also kind of ruined me for it; I was like, "But I want the long, plotty, multilayered, well-researched stories! Oh...right. You can't do that on television." So, if you've got, you know, a vacation or anything coming up, I totally recommend taking this, printing it out, and bringing it along. You could put it between the covers of Ethan Fromme if you don't want anyone to know you're reading fan fiction; no one has ever voluntarily opened that novel. (Except Best Beloved, but she's learned the error of her ways.)
And even if you don't have a vacation coming up, read this. It's fun.
The One That Makes Me Want to Find the "What Is the Shape of Your Left Foot?" Quiz. And Take It. Truly, This Story Is a Dangerous Weapon of Mass Distraction. I Friend You, You Friend Him, by roga. Hercules.
So true it hurts, that's all I have to say about this story.
I sincerely hope you're laughing at that sentence, because of course I have several thousand more words of analysis. (I will attempt to spare you most of them, but it's always a close-run thing.) But the essential message here is that this is in fact so true it hurts, and the specific pain it inflicts is in your abdominal and face muscles, because you have to laugh and laugh and laugh.
And you may be saying to yourself, "But I don't know anything about this fandom!" Fine, whatever. I don't care. You know who Hercules is, yes? (Demigod. All burly and shiny and stuff. Rights wrongs. Fights injustice. Cleans stables.) Well, he has a friend named Iolaus, and together they fight crime, where "crime" usually means gods acting up and monsters getting out of line. There. You have a full education in everything you need to know to read this story.
Or, okay, you need to know one other thing to read this, but, well. If you're reading this, you already know about social networking, and that's what this story is really about. Anyone with a LiveJournal (or Facebook, or MySpace, or, hell, an account on a knitting-based social networking site) needs to read this. It's an important cautionary tale! That will make you laugh until you are flailing weakly in front of the computer and seriously considering calling for emergency rescue. ("9-1-1, what is your emergency?" "Dead. From. Funny.") And if you happen to be relatively new to the social networking scene, this can teach you valuable lessons. Probably the most important one is "stay away from social networking unless you want to destroy your village," but, well, it's too late for most of us on that one. (And if it isn't too late for you, may I interest you in a LiveJournal account? You'll have lots of fun while you're village is falling apart, I promise!")
Bonus: The Art That Will Show You Who the Real Heroes of Pegasus Are. SGA-1? Pfffft. Final Images, by astridv. Stargate: Atlantis.
Poor, poor MALPs. They lead a hard life. And, going by this art, I suspect they also lead rather short lives. John Sheppard? Ronon Dex? Hah. Their so-called "heroism" is built on the backs of the oppressed, and by "the oppressed", I mean MALPs. MALPs are the ones who actually boldly go where no one has gone before! And do they ever get thanked? No. They don't even get any screen time. But astridv has managed to correct that. People, please go inspect these heart-rending final images sent back by five brave, doomed MALPs. And then won't you join the Campaign for MALP Rights? Together, we can fight the injustice inflicted on our MALPy friends across two galaxies.