I still have SO MANY stories I haven't read yet, including most of the longer stories, so expect post-reveal rec posts. This Yuletide has had a lot of exceptionally good stories and I am looking forward to many more days of reading. But first, my last pre-reveal set of recs:

Don't Need To Know Canon

There were a number of good stories based on these iconic NASA's Mars Wants YOU posters, all of them essentially original science fiction.

Your Shadow at Evening, Rising to Meet You. Beautiful sense-of-wonder sf, starting lightly and building to a perfect conclusion.

The Green Cats of Desolation City. Inspired by a real-life project to figure out how to warn future generations - like, millennia in the future - about nuclear waste when society might have totally moved on and not speak any current language: creepy sculptures? folk songs? GLOWING GREEN CATS? Atmospheric post-apocalyptic sf with a parable-ish feel, very nicely written.

Flintlock Through the Heart, and You're to Blame. Okay, you do need to know canon, but it can be acquired in five minutes via the author's links at the top. It's a "Barrett's Privateer's"/"Hark! A Vagrant" crossover; you actually don't need to read the couple of online comic strips it's based on to get it (but you should) but you do need to listen to "Barrett's Privateers" (which you should anyway.) Pirate nemeses in love; a completely delightful short story, sweet and funny and ridiculous in the very best way.

Canon knowledge good but not essential

a song of their own. Dragonriders of Pern, but all original characters. I think you just need to know that dragons and riders are telepathically bonded for life so they can fight corrosive Thread that falls from the sky. Unusual take on canon - the life story of a dragon and her rider, from the dragon's POV, focusing on the intimacy and interdependency of their bond. Really nicely done, feels like a short novel. It's a life story, so bittersweet (but not at all grim).

However, I should probably warn for something that I didn't find grim/depressing in context (especially since it's a small part of an entire life), but it's usually a no-go for me, so rot13.com for spoilers: Va pnaba, qentbaf naq evqref bsgra pbzzvg fhvpvqr gbtrgure jura gurl srry gung gurl'ir ernpurq gur raq bs gurve yvirf naq jnag gb fxvc gur fybj cnvashy fyvqr qbja. Gur znva punenpgref qb guvf va byq ntr jura gur evqre vf qrirybcvat qrzragvn gb na rkgrag gung vg'f raqnatrevat gurve obaq. Va pbagrkg, vg'f zber ovggrefjrrg guna ubeevslvat - gurl yvirq n tbbq ybat yvsr, naq jrag bhg nf gurl pubfr.

A Tale For A Cold Summer Night. Bujold's Curse of Chalion. (All the Chalion stories are good this Yuletide, I'll rec more later. This one just seemed to be getting less attention than it deserved.) The origin story of the Bastard, one of the five Gods of the world. Beautifully written, with the polished but rhythmic voice of real oral folklore, and some cool extrapolations on what "out of season" might mean.

Need to Know Canon

Chenelo's Treasures. The Goblin Emperor. Absolutely beautiful story in which Maia re-connects with his mother through a box of unexpected mementos of her life, and with the people he loves now through those. The wold building details are marvelous, and it's full of the warmth and kindness and carefulness with other people's feelings that I loved so much in the book.

A Rabbit-Hole of Edwardian Pornography. Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. P

Peter stumbles across some pre-war pornography in the Folly's reading room. He's not entirely sure how he gets from that to Nightingale pontificating about the quality of erotic writing in different languages, conversations about close and not always platonic bonds between wizards and their apprentices, and discovering a whole lot of things Peter hadn't been into before.
And he's been trying so hard not to think about how much he wants to sleep with his boss.

Exactly what it says on the tin, but also above and beyond that, at once a thoughtful exploration of modern and historical attitudes to sexuality, actually funny sex jokes, hot sex scenes, and a poignant look at Nightingale as an exile in time. I don't ship them but I liked this a lot anyway.

This is a link to an example website. Stephen King's The Stand. Flagg and Lloyd on their post-prison road trip to Vegas; nn understatedly unsettling missing scene that fits neatly into canon.

Blood in the Water. Robin McKinley's Chalice. Gorgeous and eerie. I always wondered about the Blood Chalice, who is just mentioned in the book. This short, sharp story is a great glimpse of who she might have been, and why.
The Yuletide archive is open! Browse! Enjoy! Comment! Rec! (There's a way to bookmark recs on AO3 but it's hard to browse; probably the best way is to rec on your own space, then link to your post at [community profile] yuletide.)

Perhaps due to the longer length of time we had to write this year, there seem to be more than usual longer stories, from 5K+ to quite a few at 10, 15, or even 20K+. I have not yet read most of those and cannot wait. The ones I've recced here are all short, mostly around 2-5K; several of the mermaid stories are from the Yuletide Madness collection, which allows shorter works, and are under 1K. They all pack a lot into a short space.

The Minnow and the Dragon. A beautiful, deceptively simple but very well-structured story set in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, capturing her prose and concerns to perfection. It could be an outtake from A Wizard of Earthsea, focusing on two of my favorite characters from that, Ged's friend Vetch and his sister Yarrow, some years later. Like the books, it's at once mythic and earthy, and in fact is about how the mythic is also earthy. Outstanding.

Selected Moments in Introductory Symbology. Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Excellent post-canon story, one of my favorites of all the "What happens next?" fic in this fandom, with a clever structure based on the symbols and meanings of the alethiometer that perfectly echoes the story's plot and theme. If you loved the characters and world in the first book but found later entries too preachy or straying from the aspects you originally liked, this story is for you.

In canon, as the story goes on Lyra loses a lot of what made her such a memorable character early on. In this story, she's back to her spiky, impulsive, curious self, all the way down to the lying tongue and the fierce realness beneath; as she matures, she becomes more herself, not less. (Note to shippers: this Lyra loves Will and always will, but goes on to love others as well rather than pining alone forever.)

The Spirit of St Mary Mead. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Someone made the inspired prompt, "Miss Marple is sometimes associated with Nemesis; what if she literally was an immortal incarnation of justice, maybe a genius loci of St Mary Mead?" I really hoped someone would write this, and not only did someone, but they absolutely did it justice, tracing Miss/Mistress Marple's gently relentless pursuit of truth and the exoneration of the wrongly accused through English history.

It was a particularly ordinary grove, or so the commander of the nearby Roman camp thought, and was at a loss to explain the locals’ belief in it as a sacred place; the site where a genius loci might be found. Aerten, they said she was named, and his men in turn called her Atropos or Nemesis.

hands fall together. Killjoys. This reads so much like canon (a sf show vaguely along the lines of Firefly) that it might work as an entry to it. (So you don't need to know more than that Dutch and Johnny are space bounty hunters.) Dutch and Johnny have an adventure early in their partnership. Dutch knows that trust kills and Johnny has more than is healthy, but sometimes our points of vulnerability are what bind us together in the best of all possible ways. Dead-on dialogue and a neat use of both fairytale and video game motifs.

End in Fire. Clever and well-plotted crossover between Stephen King's Firestarter and Daryl Gregory's horror novella "We Are All Completely Fine." (If you only know one canon: the former is about Charlie McGee, a pyrokinetic girl who is captured by and escapes from an evil government agency, The Shop, and the latter is about survivors of various horror scenarios in group therapy, including Greta, who is also pyrokinetic.) Unexpectedly but plausibly characterized, with a memorable grown-up Charlie and a darkly comic and disconcertingly believable depiction of evil yet underfunded shady government agencies a la Men Who Stare At Goats.

Arse-chive of my Own: Pounded in the Butt By the Lack of Tingleverse Fics in Yuletide 2016. Hilariously absurdist Yuletide/Chuck Tingle metafiction crossover. I close my eyes as he shoves inch after inch of fic inside me. I knew how big he was but it feels even more incredible being his recipient. Just when I think he's all the way in, a few more pinch hits slide in at the last minute, increasing his girth even more.

(Does anyone not know Chuck Tingle, maestro of bizarre Amazon metafictional erotica in which hard buckaroos are pounded in the butt by personifications of creamed corn, fighter jets, the state of California, Chuck Tingle's Hugo Award nomination, and their own butts, all to prove that LOVE IS REAL? If not, meet Chuck Tingle: Slammed In The Butt By Domald Tromp's Attempt To Avoid Accusations Of Plagiarism By Removing All Facts Or Concrete Plans From His Republican National Convention Speech; Turned Gay By The Existential Dread That I May Actually Be A Character In A Chuck Tingle Book; Pounded In The Butt By The Sentient Physical Manifestation Of The Year 2016)

A gently bittersweet short story, ostensibly a Victorian paper on collecting mermaid songs but actually a story of lesbian longing, which you can read in full for free here (it's short and lovely, I recommend it), A Ladies' Guide to Collecting Mermaid Love Songs, produced a set of beautifully written short stories this Yuletide. I loved every single one I've read so far. If this is the sort of thing you like, read the original and then enjoy the riffs on it:

A Mermaid's Guide to Collecting Humans

Humans don’t know love, but they believe they do. That is their weakness.

When they hear our songs, they say,
here they sing of hope; here, they sing to lure us; here, they sing of despair.

They categorize and organize, and think it makes them safe. It is their weakness; it is also their blessing.

What they do not always understand is that every song we sing is a song of love.

Dreams in Glass

Last night, I dreamed that my bed was a boat. Its practical, dark sheets and thick blankets billowed out into sails. The mermaid songs surrounded me. Stars in the water. Stars in the sea. Miss Mori came to my bedside [the aft side], and clung to the bed frame, watching me. Her dark, wet hair draped against her shoulders. Her small fingers gripped tight against the wood. Her eyes, sad and searching. Her tail, unseen, unspoken, but beckoning nonetheless.
I ached to jump into the water with her. The ocean was created before man. The ocean will exist long after the last trumpet has sounded. I ached for its ancient embrace almost as much as I ached for Miss Mori's. I wanted a tail. A dark, glittery tail to twine against her silvery scales. We would twist together like the dark and light koi in my great aunt's Oriental etchings.

A Ladies' Guide to Recording Dances of Elves

Type 4, the Couple’s Dance

This final type of dance we encountered only once. It began as a Sway of Longing (Type 3), but unexpectedly, the yearning was answered by a mate. The little companions locked eyes and circled each other, dancing round and round, coming closer before again drifting apart. Sometimes, it seemed as if they had all but forgotten about the other, but as if connected and guided by invisible spider silk, they were gradually pulled closer and closer. And at long last, they clasped each other’s hands and danced and swirled around as one.

A lovely picture that we could only capture in our hearts, since all the photographic plates we had brought were exposed already. Miss Mori described the scene as similar to “blossoms blooming in spring or finding an unexpected letter from someone you adore.”
The Yuletide archive is open! Browse! Enjoy! Comment! Rec! (There's a way to bookmark recs on AO3 but it's hard to browse; probably the best way is to rec on your own space, then link to your post at [community profile] yuletide.)

I got AMAZING gift stories this Yuletide, in all three of the canons I requested! I think you need to know the books they're based on to read, but if you do, they are absolutely not to be missed.

I'm really moved and delighted not only by the quality of the stories, but how closely they were based on my prompts and how much thought went into writing something that I specifically would love.

Bird and Bear and Hare and Fish. Absolutely stunning story based in Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series.

“Roland, aside from giving us the heebie-jeebies about getting eaten by the giant painting we all have to sleep in front of, did that story have a point?

From prose to character to dialogue to themes to references, it's everything I love about the canon and reads just like it, plus some added cool bits that I don't want to spoil. (The story definitely is best read unspoiled.) It's an ensemble adventure in which the ka-tet finds their way blocked by a creepy painting, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Read for yourself and praise the author as they deserve.

Works of Mercy. Fantastic, beautifully plotted and characterized canon AU of Stephen King's The Stand, in which a single different choice spins out in unpredictable ways to create a whole new world. It's under 6K but feels epic. Like the "Dark Tower" story, every bit of it is pitch-perfect to canon, especially the focus on individual choice and the little moments that tell. Though it manages to work in a whole lot of characters for its length (all perfectly characterized), the focus is on Jenny Engstrom, Dayna Jurgens, and Nadine Cross; it's at once a thoughtful and detailed AU, an in-depth and believable character study of Jenny, and the believable sexy, in-character Jenny/Dayna romance I've always wanted.

with our way lit only by stars. From Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, a canon AU set post-Farthest Shore in which things go in a different direction than Tehanu, featuring Ged without powers but not yet done with doing, Tenar deciding to see more of the world than Gont, and a trip to see old friends. It's got a lovely delicate, peaceful atmosphere, lovely details of Earthsea with the exact canon blend of earthy and otherworldly, and shows that middle age doesn't mean the end of adventures or new sources of happiness and wonder. Vetch and Yarrow appear, older but still very much themselves; there's good food, tiny dragons, and joy in all things.
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 30th, 2015 12:47 pm)
No canon knowledge required

the ultimate test of cerebral fitness. As I lay broken and bleeding on the battlefield, I began to wonder about the meaning of it all. I mean, what are we actually fighting for? Are we always destined to lose in some cosmic game? Why do the sides have to be different colors? Why can't the Biskups just be able to hook up for once without the world ending?

Chess from the point of view of a pawn, but it goes way, way beyond what you'd imagine a story with that premise to be. No knowledge of chess required beyond the absolute basics, though I'm sure it is even better if you do have some knowledge. It's bizarre and hilarious and weirdly moving.

Every year someone writes a story that makes me think, "This is the reason Yuletide exists." By that I don't mean that they're the best stories in the archive, but that they're great stories that no one would have ever written if not for Yuletide - they're unique and wonderful and only exist because someone made an unusual prompt. So far and for me, this story and the Prohibition Highwayman are those stories.

Canon knowledge required

A Normal First Date. A satisfying, touching, realistic coda to Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar series, about what happens to the characters when they return to Earth.

A Song For Ruatha. A very satisfying novelette about Menolly post-Dragonsinger, reading just like McCaffrey of that period. Excellent use of original and canon characters, good worldbuilding, and a moving theme - people and places coming into their own after hardship or insecurity or tragedy - that's beautifully integrated into the story.

a brittle straw. I have met very few people who have read a book called Duncton Wood, by William Horwood, It is somewhat like Watership Down in that it is a genuine epic about big themes like war, love, death, and faith, all carried out by small furry creatures. In this case, moles. I think it was a bestseller in England that didn't make its way to America, or possibly anywhere else. It's not as good as Watership Down (and is a lot more overtly religious/mystical) but I do like it a lot. This story beautifully captures the atmosphere and and a key moment in the life of one of the main characters, and additionally engages with one of the book's more interesting themes, which is the unknowability of the past and its transformation into legend.

Every story this Yuletide from The Last Unicorn is great and captures the tone of the book, and I recommend them all whether I've specifically pulled them out for rec lists or not. It was obviously very inspirational for the writers this year. Here's two more beautiful stories from it:

and all ye need to know. An absolutely gorgeous The Last Unicorn story, heartbreaking and funny and wise. It pulls together many themes and characters from the book, but is primarily about the unicorn/Lady Amalthea and Molly Grue.

Cleis. A short, lovely story from The Last Unicorn also about Molly Grue and Lady Amalthea but with a different take on their relationship, one I wouldn't have thought of before.

This has also been a very good Yuletide for stories inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The First Train to Brotherhood, from Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed. A look at the early days of Anarres, with all its struggles of real human beings trying to create an ideal society. I think all you need to know is that a society of anarchists are terraforming a planet. Very realistic politics (in the stage where everything's exciting and nothing's yet gone sour), fascinating ideas, and lovely language. Here's the opening paragraph:

The first train to Brotherhood arrived in the middle of the night, with the moon high and mottled overhead. Brotherhood did not, technically, exist yet, except as the terminus of the line, but the light mobile structures of the work-camp already suggested where the town would one day spring up. This platform would one day be a depot. That pavilion would one day be a dormitory.

I just love that. The rhythm is so elegant, the images so beautiful, and the entire theme of the story is encapsulated in that first paragraph: the fragile beginning of something both down to earth and astonishing.

The Dark Places of Gont. Another Ursula K. Le Guin story, this one from Earthsea. It's a missing piece of the story, of what happens right after The Tombs of Atuan, when Ged takes Tenar to Ogion. Absolutely beautiful, a pitch-perfect echo of Le Guin's prose and themes and details. Perfect beginning, perfect conclusion, great characterization that feels true to both the early and later books in the series, which is quite a feat. It made me cry, but not because it was sad, but because it was moving, and because it felt so absolutely right and true to a book that is very dear to my heart. If the chess story is, in one sense, what Yuletide is for, then this story is what fanfic is for.
rachelmanija: (Anime is serious)
( Dec. 27th, 2015 05:02 pm)
Except for the first, hese all require canon (or historical) knowledge.

Survival is Insufficient is a wonderful sonnet based on Station Eleven, which I have not yet read. I think all you need to know to appreciate the poem is that the book features a post-apocalyptic Shakespearean troupe.

The next two are absolute don't miss if you know the canon, and the canon is a poem (also a song) so it's easy to pick up. They're based on Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman," a tale of romantic doom between a highwayman and Bess, the landlord's daughter. It's possibly best-known nowadays via Loreena McKennitt's gorgeous song. In fact, the Yuletide stories for it are so good that you should definitely listen to the song (or read the poem) so you can appreciate them.

The Bootlegger. This is seriously amazing. It transposes the story into Prohibition, which makes a number of clever, sometimes funny, and often unexpected changes. It is in verse and scans perfectly. I actually sang it, and it is 100% singable. In fact I recommend doing that, if that's the sort of thing you enjoy.

He braked as he neared the business, brought his car to the side of the road.
He leapt to the back of the breezer, and then brought out his load.
He whistled his way through the storefront, and made his way down to the bar,
Where the preacher’s bob-haired daughter,
Bess, the preacher’s daughter,
Daubed her slender wrists with the scent of Shalimar.

Though Hell Should Bar the Way. This takes the point of view of one of the villains, but doesn't go anywhere you'd expect from that premise. It's clever and creepy and original, but maybe what I liked best about it is that even though it's a near-complete reversal of the canon story, it still keeps the lush doomed romanticism that makes the original so memorable.

The next two are really one story in two parts, from Prince of Silk and Thorns, by Cherry Dare.

let your lion heart cleave the waves The first has a lovely, delicate, sensual atmosphere, as a former prince and his commoner lover have an encounter of sex and trust in a cave enchanted by dragons. The second is more down-to-earth and funny, showing the evolution of their relationship partly by means of a pretty hilarious letter in code to Alar's sister, the queen, to whom he recently gave a pet dragon.

Dear Alazne,
I hope you are well, and I hope your new gift hasn't eaten anyone important. Have you been training it?

The next two are from Stephen King books.

Bury Sorrow Out Of Sight, from The Stand. It's a missing scene: Larry Underwood and Lucy Swann's last days together. Great character voices, touching, and just a bit spooky.

Dragon Curve, from Pet Sematary. Ellie Creed, last survivor of a secret tragedy, is just trying to find some answers in a broken-down world and maybe try to put some distance between herself and the nightmares. Moving to Derry, ME, might not have been the best way to accomplish this. This has an absolutely dead-on Stephen King voice. It focuses more on King's black humor and creepy supernatural elements than on the real-life horrors of Pet Sematary; the tone is more like It (which it crosses over with) or The Stand than Pet Sematary, actually, so it's not as triggery as one might expect. It is, however, very spooky. Do not read right before going to bed.

Ars Moriendi. Jupiter Ascending. Five Rejuvenations Kalique Abrasax Took And One She Didn't. I love Five Things and the structure is used beautifully here, as Kalique starts out innocent and gets progressively more knowledgeable, more complicit, more ancient and jaded the more youthful she gets. And then Jupiter appears to change things, with all her most human qualities making her alien to Kalique until suddenly they become all too familiar.

For Him I Sing. Seigfried Sassoon and Wilfrid Owen at Craiglockhart. A beautiful, heartbreaking story. Both Sassoon and Owen come to life so vividly, as soldiers, as men with PTSD, as poets, and finally as their own human selves.

Please do comment if you enjoy something. It's much appreciated.
These are all stories where you either don't need to know the canon, or you can pick up the canon in a few minutes because it's images.

This canon is a few (pretty amazing) paintings by Swedish artist Simon Stalenhag, whom I discovered last Yuletide. They show a slightly old-timey, pastoral Sweden - the closest American equivalent I can think of is Norman Rockwell, but minus the cuteness - with added GIANT CREEPY ROBOTS and SPOOKY FUTURISTIC MACHINES. This story is based on a specific series of those images called We Need To Talk About Annika. They tell a haunting story of a boy and a girl exploring some creepy, possibly abandoned machines… but what story? (Note: one image is gory but not super-graphic.)

Stalenhag captioned the series,
“The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do.“

A Letter to the Wind matches the art to perfection. It's short (440 words) but makes every word count. It's everything you could want in a slow-motion end of the world tale, resignation and loss and creepiness, and people staying themselves and doing the things that people do, right up to the end.

Here's another story based on art. You should check out the art first, a series of beautiful, mysterious photographs of two woman on a beach, walking fully dressed into the water. They don't look like they intend to harm themselves; they seem to be going home. Return to Waves is a lovely, delicate tale of a pair of mermaid lovers exploring a strange new world.

This American Life episode 141: A Whole New World. (Transcript) is exactly what it says on the tin: a transcript of an episode of the radio show "This American Life," in which a pitch-perfect Ira Glass interviews three people who leave the life they knew to find a new one. They are Steve Rogers, Hermione Granger, and Susan Pevensie.

Fells prompted a story about the Harpy Celaeno from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. She is a force of myth and terror, temporarily imprisoned by a witch who knows that trapping the harpy will eventually doom herself. In a book full of haunting passages, that one has always haunted me the most. Four people wrote stories based on that excellent prompt (three in the main collection, one in Madness), and all of them are good and worth reading. But Where Sleeps the Wind edges in as the one that best captures the terror and beauty of Beagle's harpy. It's also the one that I think stands best without canon knowledge. (Though if you have never read the book, go treat yourself to it immediately. It is genuinely extraordinary. I have never read anything quite like it.)

Once again, please do comment if you enjoy a story. Recs are lovely too. You can post links to your rec post at the yuletide comm.
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 26th, 2015 01:13 pm)
Despite defaulting due to illness, I got FOUR wonderful gifts! And since I have not deteriorated anywhere near as fast as I expected, I also ended up writing three treats. So I had a happy Yuletide after all.

Please comment if you enjoy the stories. Commenting seems to fall off more and more each year, but it is very much appreciated.

Three of my four gifts can be read without knowledge of canon. The canon is Kushiel's Dart, which is alternate universe Renaissance-ish France-ish, where prostitution is consensual, legal, and an art form. There are twelve Houses of the Night Court, each with its own sexual specialty. The canon has tons of BDSM, but I requested none in my stories because I wanted to see the other areas of sexuality which canon didn't explore so much. So if you just want to read some short, sexy, sweet stories in which people have playful or healing sexual encounters… Enjoy!

Joy in Laughter. Delicious femmeslash with original characters at the Orchis House, whose specialty is humor and whose motto is "Joy in Laughter." One rarely sees humor in sex scenes unless the sex is intended to be bad sex, so I especially enjoyed seeing how humor could be used in service of good sex. The story is sweet, funny, and hot, and also unexpectedly moving.

a touch of warmth. Also femmeslash, set at Balm House, whose specialty is healing and whose motto is "Rest and be Soothed." The only time we see Balm in canon, they're doing sexual healing for someone with serious sexual trauma. This story shows the lighter side of their work, in which a young woman with a shoulder strain gets a massage with a happy ending. Very sensual and hot; if you're into the sensation of touch and skin-on-skin (and I know I am), don't miss this one.

Naamah's Gift. Alcuin, a young man being trained as a spy, has his first sexual experience with a woman at Orchis House. In canon, he has a lot of angst, so I enjoyed seeing him have a lighter moment, filled with unexpected pleasure and laughter. (Okay, and also a little angst.)

Partners. I also got a treat in a canon that's very dear to my heart, Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake. It's one of my favorite sf novels, a post-apocalyptic picaresque about Snake, a healer who keeps genetically engineered snakes for their healing venom. The book is about doing good in a troubled world, which is maybe my all-time favorite theme. I don't know how this story will read fi you haven't read the book, but in case you want to try it, what you need to know is that during the book, Snake adopts an abused child, Melissa. The story is set several years post-book, and is a lovely bit of hurt-comfort and exploration of a mother-daughter relationship that changes over the years while still staying strong. It also has some very clever worldbuilding.

I will put up recs for other stories tomorrow or later today. If you make a rec post, please link it at [community profile] yuletide so others can find it! I love seeing recs.
Only the most general knowledge of source needed.

Agave in Illyria, from Euripedes' The Bacchae. I think all you need to know is the general story of The Bacchae; other context is provided in the note at the beginning. A stunning, unsettling piece, poem and prose that begs to be performed as spoken word. I could hear a lot of it in my mind's... er... ear as I read. Fanfic by way of Anne Sexton and Christopher Logue.

The burning girl comes to me in the afternoon.

I am sitting before my mirror in my bedroom waiting for my second wedding.

I see her come up close behind me in the mirror, smiling, burning.

I turn around and she is still there, holding a comb, smiling.

Around her the room is quiet, the high painted walls, the great carved bed, the shady doorways leading deeper into the palace, the place on the floor where they threw the sand. Something moves in the corner of my mind, a vine, growing.

Did I say there was something strange about this girl? I cannot bring it to mouth. She is a fine girl, bringing the comb crackling down through my hair.

And All Things Nice. Peter Pan is a weird, weird story, twee on the surface and creepy underneath. This genderbent version, in which Peter Pan is a perpetual girl and Captain Hook is a woman, addresses the obvious issues but goes much deeper than I had expected. It's not just about concepts of femininity, but about how both childhood and adulthood can be free or stifling, and, ticking away in the background, the relentless passage of time. Very well-written, a bit reminiscent of Kelly Link.

Hook was listening, with the part of herself that was always listening, for the tick of the crocodile: girlhood ticking towards adulthood, adulthood towards death. When the clock runs down, you are eaten.

Need to Know Source

No One May Point a Pistol at You But Me. From the ballad "Sovay," a charming drabble.

I Am Groot (Groot's Story, from Guardians of the Galaxy. Absolutely lovely, clever story. Set your cursor over the sentences to see the hover-text.

Lifelines. From Sarah Waters' Night Watch. A well-written, nicely structured, hopeful coda to a rather depressing novel. Not quite a fix-it in the sense that it doesn't change any of the book's events, but it does imagine that the characters go on to better things afterward.

If this were a book, Kay thought to herself, that ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds right now would be symbolic, and I'd be filled with hope.
I got two lovely stories for Yuletide!

My gift story was Loose Ends. It's based on Megan Lindholm's Ki and Vandien series, but I think it can be read without canon knowledge other than that Ki and Vandien are traders/haulers in a very oddball fantasy world with lots of nonhuman species. This story, which reads exactly like the lighter moments of canon, combines very convincing anthropological worldbuilding with hilarious screwball comedy. I can't do it justice without including a somewhat lengthy excerpt:

"Pardon," a voice lisped behind her.

Ki turned from the waterskin to find a T'cherian, eye stalks held low but focused on her face.

"Yes?" she asked. Having just wondered about the nature of her customer, she now found herself even more startled. She had never known a T'cherian to care overmuch about trees; most preferred caves and the water-smoothed stones that reminded them of their ancestral homes.

"I am searching for a man named Vandien." The T'cherian's mandibles clicked sharply on the name, rendering it almost unrecognizable had Ki not heard the same syllables mangled that way before in T'cherian serving rooms.

"I see," said Ki, no less mystified, though she had a nagging sense she recognized the T'cherian. "What--"

Vandien had already rounded the wagon again and set the feed sack aside to come up and bow to their visitor. "Ah, Web Shell! It is a pleasure to greet you once more."

Ki shot him a narrow glance. She knew that cheerful, slightly frantic tone, and it often came with trouble. But Web Shell seemed, as best as she could tell from a T'cherian, to genuinely share Vandien's claimed pleasure.

"Ah! You are here, and just in time, just in time."

"Just in time for what?" Vandien asked.

"Why, for the hatching of your children."

I also got a treat story! A Terrible Weakness, based on the Imogen Heap song "Glittering Cloud." I thought it would inspire something cool, and it did. The gonzo worldbuilding, creepy atmosphere, and wisecracking narrator fit beautifully with the weirdness of the song.

Overseer's hands open slowly, like a lizard blink. In the centre of one palm is an eye, looking lazily at Paladin. On the other hand is a ragged scar, like skin pulled too tight over a cavity.

Other Recs: Don't Need to Know Canon

A Nightengale Sings in the Gardens of Cordoba, from George D. MacDonald's fairytale "The Day Boy and the Night Girl." You don't need to be familiar with the original to enjoy this gorgeous, impressive fairytale about what happens after the end of the fairytale; unlike most stories with that premise, it's not at all cynical. The style and themes are very much in tune with the original: beauty of language and image, passion and warmth, but with an intellectual bent.

The sun was behind them, and their shadows on the stone were long and sharp-edged, so that Photogen’s sword stretched forward to the walls of the city and Nycteris’ books weighted their feet.

Other Recs: Do Need to Know Canon

The Mercy of Frith, from Watership Down. A beautifully written, heartbreaking series of drabbles (100-word stories/scenes) about Blackavar, one of my favorite minor characters from the book.

Frost crackles under Blackavar’s paws, clumps of frozen dirt digging into the tender pads. Inlé shines hard and watchful; Blackavar picks at the chilly grass and shivers as the ice scrapes his teeth. It is no weather for silflay, but their Mark was called and so they feed.

“Mother,” he murmurs. “Did ye have Marks at Nutley Copse?”

Mother raises her head. The old scar sits pale at the hollow of her throat. “No. We slept where we chose, silflayed as we pleased.” Chervil sits up, ears pricked, eyes narrowed; Mother ducks down. “Hush, quickly.”

Born in Efrafa, Blackavar obeys.

Five Ways of Looking at a Cherry Tree, from Saiyuki Gaiden. Also beautiful and heartbreaking.

If there were no cherry blossoms in the world,
My mind would be peaceful.
- Fujiwara Norihira

The Use of Negative Space, from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. Ges Vorrutyer and Aral Vorkosigan, in ink and blood, sword and pen. Not explicit at all, but appropriately disturbing, and just stunningly written and structured.

Aral cannot remember the first time he picked up a pen.

He thinks it was before he even knew how to write. His mother composes letters at her desk in the library of Vorkosigan House, her dip pen moving between inkwell and paper. He and his brother sprawl on the carpet behind her, leafing through the folio volume of A History of Arms and Armour. His brother reads out the names of fifty kinds of blades, while Aral stares fascinated at the woodcuts, trying to copy them with his childish scribbles.

There are no sabres or scimitars at hand the night Yuri's death squad bursts into the formal dining hall. All Aral can reach for is a table knife, to flail at the soldier aiming the sonic grenade at his mother.

Aral will never forget the first time he picked up a weapon.

the star to every wandering bark. Also Vorkosigan, but a complete change of pace. Cordelia investigates a less-than-cunning plot; Aral backs her up. Funny and sweet. The Shakespeare references suit the Shakespearean comedy of the story.

“Milady – “ Zajec checked the clock on the wall and sighed. “Milady, do you miss anything about Beta Colony?”

“Of course, many things. Proper access to information, decent environmental policies, sensible architecture...”

“And – personally?” He wasn’t looking at her but sat nearer. “Beta Colony is much more, erm, free.”

“You mean sexually,” she said, fascinated. Zajec was looking away, but nodded.

“Do you have any questions about orientation,” she asked, “or sexual health?”

And Wings Made of Air, from Sherwood Smith's Dobrenica. A lovely post-canon scene from Coronets and Steel, with marital tenderness and ghosts.

While bathing together: She lifted a ballet-trained leg, and with the precision of a duelist twitched her toes on a part of his anatomy that provoked a tidal wave.

It's Bound to Scare You, Boy, from Stephen King's The Stand. Pitch-perfect backstory for Larry Underwood... and a stranger in a bar.

But it was later, at the end of the set, that the man known in Los Angeles as Remy Francouer really got into the music. He sang along, a dark and glittering grin on his face, and as he looked out at the crowd surrounding him, he wondered if any of them felt the way he did that night. Like it was the night before Christmas and you still believed in Santa Claus. The hour before your first real date with that girl who might, maybe, probably let you touch her tits if you were polite enough and charming enough. When you're called in for what you think is a dressing down but you get a raise and a promotion instead. The day before the first day of your senior year, and then the very last day.

What have you all read and enjoyed?
If you enjoy these stories or others, please do comment if you have anything to say. Perhaps because of reading on smartphones, commenting on stories is way, way down this year.

Reccing also seems way down, not to mention hard to find since it was taken off the yuletide com and moved to yuletide-recs. I am still seeing way, way more rec lists on individual LJs that are not crossposted anywhere, which is frustrating because the only way I can then find rec lists is by endlessly trawling through the friends list of the yuletide com. If you feel so moved, rec lists are nice and cross-posting them to yuletide-recs would make me happy.

Here's some more stories I liked a lot:

No Unworthy Aim. J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Hook should, perhaps, have died in England and awoken in Hell. Instead, he died in Neverland and awoke in the trenches of 1916 France.

A grown-up Wendy turns her maternal instincts to nursing, and meets Hook in Craiglockhart. Not actually grimdark, despite the premise. Unlike a lot of revisionist stories, it doesn't trash or eliminate the sweet (or, in this case, twee) elements of the original, but fuses them to the darker aspects imported from reality. It's a great concept, beautifully executed. I was wondering for a while if Peter Pan would make an appearance, but then I realized that he was there already: an entire generation of boys who will never grow up.

Fragile. Onmyouji (the movie.) I think all you need to know about the canon is that it's a fantasy Heian Japan, Abe no Seimei is a magician and the son of a kitsune, and Hiromasa is his perpetually befuddled sidekick with whom he has an extremely slashy relationship. Using a highly appropriate seasonal structure, this story runs them through an entire sequence of hurt-comfort tropes. It's id-tastic, sweet, funny, and generally delicious.

Folly to be Wise. Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" series. You probably need to know the books to appreciate this story, but it's a perfect little casefic of Peter, Lesley, and Nightingale investigating a haunting.

Carrefour. A novellette-length sequel to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, featuring the return of Anaesthesia, the rat-speaker girl. It's very funny, in the style of the book, and has great pace, lots of good character moments, and some cool worldbuilding.

Their Tragedy. Revolutionary Girl Utena. A strange, funny yet dark, metafictional story for a strange, funny yet dark, metafictional anime. It's the story of the shadow girls who function as the chorus. Requires canon knowledge.

Carry Your Men, and Their Dead Too. Justified. Three cops, one of them wounded, have been kidnapped and locked up with nearly nothing but a deck of cards; they start playing poker for very unusual stakes. I feel a little strange reccing this, since I'm not familiar with the canon and I'm sure half of it went over my head, but I started reading this and loved it despite being only vaguely familiar with the TV show via osmosis. If the show is anything like the story, it just jumped to the top of my to-watch list.
This Yuletide there was some debate over whether rec lists should be linked at the [community profile] yuletide com, or at a new com called [profile] yuletide_recs; perhaps due to the confusion, most people seem to be posting recs on their own LJs/DWs and not linking anywhere. You can post links at either com! Please post links! I enjoy reading rec lists (and then reading stories), and this year the only way I've found most rec lists is by laboriously trawling through the "friends of" [community profile] yuletide com.

My gift story was Vocation, from Vonda McIntyre's novel Dreamsnake, about a post-apocalyptic doctor who uses genetically engineered snakes to heal people. Not only was the story moving and filled with intriguing worldbuilding, but it was about the costs and rewards of being a healer. It was amazingly apropos to get right after I began as a trainee trauma therapist, and doubly so because I am pretty sure my writer doesn't know me personally. Note: contains detailed descriptions of dissecting a human cadaver - the heroine is in post-apocalyptic medical school.

Steal My Breath. Like clockwork, every year Yuletide produces at least one excellent story based on that most unlikely of canons, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. This short story (under 1K words, in Madness) has all the wordplay and references and recursiveness and sorrow of the original

The Red-Hot Brawling Sun. Gorgeous, clever, poetic fantasy based on the legend of Stagger Lee.

Zack Don't Surf. From Max Brooks' novel World War Z, an oral history of the zombie apocalypse. The story doesn't require canon knowledge; absolutely in the style of the book, it's an interview with a woman who works a surf patrol hunting zombies. The author's note mentions that it's based on their own home town, and you can tell: the details and setting feel absolutely real, lending the more poignant zombie apocalypse tropes a certain gravitas which goes surprisingly well with a story about surfer zombie slayers.

Damask Roses. Code Name Verity, Julie/Maddie, post-novel and hugely spoilery for the novel. Love and compromises and friendship, things that are ambiguous and things that are not. Sensual and touching. It made me cry.

Khamsin. Ursula Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan The teenage priestess Arha seeks solace with young fellow priestess Penthe. (I always did ship them.) Sensual and beautifully written.

To end on a subtle, elegant, classy note, The Not Entirely Accurate Chronicle of John Polidori, Genius Physician and Brilliant Writer, and His Rather Less Distinguished Companions. That infamous Geneva trip, retold a la "Secret Diaries," with extremely accurate character tags including "Lord Byron's Dog" and "Lord Byron's Penis." I laughed. A lot.

I wrote three stories this Yuletide, which under the circumstances was some sort of Yuletide miracle. Feel free to guess in comments if you think you spotted one.
The Marriage Masquerade. From Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring. One of Heyer’s funniest novels gets a hilarious coda, complete with pratfalls, cross-dressing, and a very expensive flaming carpet. I'm not sure how much context you need for this one, to be honest; if you like Regency romantic comedy, give it a try and see.

the mother of beauty. A character study of Julian, the professor from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, that beautifully captures his dangerous allure.

There were a clutch of Aliens stories; I haven’t read them all. Vasquez, the female space Marine, is the focus of the first two I rec. You may recall her from the exchange in which she’s doing pull-ups.

Male Marine: “Hey, Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?”

Vasquez, not missing a beat: “No. Have you?”

Into the Woods. An early mission for the space Marines, pre-Aliens, told in a convincing staccato narrative by Vasquez. If you want to read a nice long action adventure about space Marines fighting aliens on another planet—and who doesn’t?— this is the story for you. You don’t need to know canon for this one.

Can You Hear Me Now?. A little vignette of camaraderie and badassery from the Madness collection.

Waiting for the Conquered. This retells Aliens from the POV of the alien queen! Very well-done alien POV; creepy.

Nimue. Clever, evocative Madness drabble for The Dark Is Rising.

“Elizabeth,” your mother used to tell you, “there’s nothing in this world that can’t be cured by saltwater-- sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Completely justified second person POV, as this is based on the text-based game “Choice of Broadsides,” a Napoleonic adventure which can be played to create a world in which only women go to sea. The story has several clever devices which riff on the nature of the source. It’s the story of you and Villeneuve, the Gaulish captain you fought and loved, and is befittingly action-packed and sexy. Probably you don’t need to have played the game to enjoy this.

The story, Salt Stained.

The game, Choice of Broadsides.

If you enjoy these or other stories, please consider leaving a comment.
This is a special selection of stories which can be read without knowledge of the source, or at least without more than passing knowledge.

Songs for the Jingwei Bird. A Chinese fantasy consisting of nested stories which cleverly fit together, full of magical details and absolutely gorgeously written: a perfect little gem of a story. There are beautiful images which are integral to the story. It doesn’t require any previous familiarity with the source, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling.

Cum Mortuin In Lingua Mortua. An intense, moving short story in which Siegfried Sassoon encounters the ghost of Wilfred Owen, who may or may not exist only in Sassoon’s own imagination. It’s based on the characters as seen in Pat Barker’s (brilliant, highly recommended) WWI novel Regeneration, but all you really need to know is that Owen and Sassoon were friends and poets who met while recuperating from shell shock during WWI. Owen was killed one week before the war ended.

This Puzzle, the New World. A numinous and quietly funny fantasy set in a vivid Washington, DC. Based on Sean Stewart’s Mockingbird, but you don’t need to have read that to enjoy this. It just takes the premise that magic is slowly seeping back into the world.

Lebenswerk. A novelette based on the film Sunset Boulevard. It tells the history of actress Norma Desmond and director Max von Mayerling in nine films, all illustrated with black and white images of the actors who played them, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim; their stories are based on the true stories of the real actress and director. An impeccably researched, extremely well-written tale of old Hollywood, psychologically acute and often darkly funny. Look for cameos by real and fictional characters.

If you enjoy these or other stories, please consider leaving a comment. There has been very little commenting compared to Yuletides of previous years.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Dec. 25th, 2012 08:57 am)
I got AMAZING stories this year - TWO nice, long, juicy ones. Both are gen adventures, and you can read either with pleasure without knowing the canon. I suggest you do so.

My gift story was Echoes, from Patricia Wrede's little-known but charming fantasy, Caught In Crystal. The novel is about a retired warrior and mom who gets pulled back into adventuring; I asked for a prequel in which she is still a member of her four-girl badass group.

Here the four girls are telling ghost stories:

"Like the one about the Elder Sister in the cursed lichyard, who riddled the bones for a whole night until sunlight could kill the lich-king. Or the sklathran'sy who escaped from Varna on a raft, only to find that their helmsman had died before they ever set out and kept them guided through sheer force of will." Barthelmy's eyes gleamed. "Or the one with the travelers who discover their innkeeper is really a Varnan wizard cannibal!"


"Lich-kings have been disproven," Varevice added.

An absolutely perfect and unexpectedly clever adventure starring four young, badass girls, full of banter and female friendship and understated but excellent worldbuilding.

I think all you really need to know is that the Sisterhood of Stars is a sort of adventuring academy consisting of 4-girl cells: a sorceress, a warrior, a healer, and a demon-friend. The latter work with "demons," known to themselves as "sklathrans'y," to help them break the spells that enslave them.)

Ithaka, or the Moons of Jupiter.

They were a fearsome sight, the miners: seven or eight feet tall and muscular, with thick, hard skin that would make even a Martian drylander’s seem soft, their long hair and their beards a profusion of wiry curls the colour of cooling lava, the heavy tramp of their feet as they marched in line like muted thunder.

You guys, I got a 12,746-word Yuletide Treat in C. L. Moore's Northwest Smith! (The other Smith requester got a shorter story, which I shall read shortly. Truly an embarrassment of riches-- that brings the world's total amount of C. L. Moore fic up to three stories, so far as I'm aware, counting the Jirel story I wrote for last year's Yuletide.) Smith and Yarol the Venusian are sent all over the moons of Jupiter in this incredibly atmospheric riff on Gilgamesh and the Odyssey. The worldbuilding is stunning. If you like pulp sf and sense of wonder, this is the story for you.

More recs forthcoming. I have not yet had a chance to read anything else yet, and I only read these because I stayed up in the hope that the archive would open at midnight. (The witching hour, when animals speak and Yuletide begins.)

I have three stories in the archive. Enjoy trying to figure out which they are, and if you have a guess, let me know! ;)
These are all stories (plus two poems!) that I enjoyed, but which I have not seen recced all over. (And no, I don't mean "stories based on poems," I mean actual poems.)

Click for recs. )
A quick set of recs before I drive off to spend the rest of the day socializing with my family. I look forward to reading much more when I return! These are all short stories, as I didn't have time to read any of the longer ones.

I got dragons for Yuletide! My inner thirteen-year-old is thrilled to pieces. My gift stories were:

Partners, in which Mirrim fights Thread, reflects on her life, and gets some bonding time in with her dragon Path and her best friend Menolly.

Beginnings, a sweet story about how shy young Brekke is transported from her small but familiar world to a completely new one, filled with dragons.

While browsing the archive, I found:

Friday Morning at Nine O'Clock She Is Far Away. Based on the Richard Thompson song "Vincent Black Lightning," it tells a new story that both grows out of and sheds new light on the original. All the characters seem very real, even in this snapshot of their lives. Also, love the sneaky stealth crossover.

Rationalizing Animals. From Lauren Beukes' Zoo City. The premise is that when someone is responsible for or possibly just feels guilty over another person's death, they get a companion animal and a psychic talent. If their animal is killed, they are swept to their death into an Undertow of nothingness. The novel had a bunch of excerpts from newspaper articles, movie reviews, etc, dealing with this phenomenon, and this story is a collection of the same sort of thing. Really, really clever and well-done.

Journey to the Southwest. Monkey meets Br'er Rabbit. This is the sort of high concept that's either going to be great or a disaster; I thought it was great.
Note to non-Yuletide people: Regular programming will return after the New Year. Mostly.

By the way, if anyone wants to try to guess what I wrote, I wrote five stories this year for Yuletide - the perks of being trapped in bed for a week. They're all in the main archive. One is in a fandom I’ve written before and the rest are not. One has been getting a lot of attention, three have gotten a moderate amount, and one has been very well-appreciated indeed by its recipient and the handful of others who managed to stumble across it.

There were three (three!) marvelous stories about Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon this year, and I recommend them all. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be On the Moonlit Road of Dreams, in which they team up to, in an in-character and period-appropriate manner… fight crime.

I was sitting and watching the fireflies on the garden pond with a group of court ladies when the news came that the Empress had been poisoned and was in grave danger of losing her life. The Second Chamberlain's daughter burst at once into tears, sniveling and wiping her eyes. There is something so hateful about a lady with reddened eyes, I think. Rather than show my emotions so crassly, I picked up my pen and quickly wrote a poem:

In the dusk
The cuckoo's cry falls.
So too my heart.

It was not perhaps the most elegant poem, but when reacting to sudden news, whether good or bad, speed is more essential than splendor.

So We’ll No More Go A-Roving. From Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, a story that takes the themes and structure of the original and plays a marvelous little variation on them. Lovely and clever and heartbreaking – it reminded me of Thomasina and Septimus’s discussion of the Library of Alexandria, and their waltz that simultaneously can never come again and is always happening, forever.

Poor grieving Septimus Hodge went mad trying to calculate the great heat death of the universe so that he could prevent it, so that he could reverse its course and bring the beautiful girl with the flowing hair back to him. After all, the equation must exist, if only one might attain it. But Thomasina simply loved the formulas for themselves, for the knowing. For the proving.

In a now-fading lesson book, she once tried to render the world in four dimensions, as only she was able to see it. Innumerable possibilities, unimaginable angles, the patterns repeating and shifting and echoing one another across history and geometric space, looping in endlessly upon themselves, infinite and beautiful.

A Piece of the Continent, a sequel to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, in which Genly Ai is sent on another assignment to a completely different planet and culture, but, since he’s still in many ways the same person, encounters many of the same problems he had on Winter.

I could read an entire book of this – I love anthropological sf, and this is an excellent example of it.* The precise details of the language and the culture are the best sort of worldbuilding, and the revelations are beautifully orchestrated. I love the delicacy of the emotional moments. You could almost read it just knowing that bad stuff happened on his last assignment, but the climax probably depends on more specific knowledge.

*Except for the reproductive rate – if not all women have children, and each woman can only have one child in her lifetime, won’t the species eventually die out? I will assume Genly Ai misunderstood that part.

I didn't know what I could say. I don't know the word for "beautiful," if there even is one.

I said, on impulse, "It's right." A phrase that someone had used, with great warmth, when Connac finally fixed the radio the other night; and again one afternoon, when a school of fish, startled by something too deep to see, veered and flashed across the underside of a wave, lacing the blue with gold.

The Opposite of Swarb. Based on Connie Willis’s Bellwether, but accessible without knowledge of the source: I had no trouble following it even though I read the book when it first came out, then instantly forgot about it. A woman studies internet phenomena while her boyfriend studies a colony of baby vampire bats, and finds that everything is interconnected.

Of the many fannish in-jokey Yuletide stories, this is the one I thought was the funniest and best-constructed. Like Willis’s own comedies, this story is elegantly structured, with every little detail and joke bouncing off each other and returning unexpectedly, in an effortless-seeming pattern.

am_i_swarb_or_not (2004-2008) LiveJournal community fad, in which members voted on whether to reject applicants for being 'swarb' or allow them to join and rate others in their turn. Died out after four years because no one was able to tell whether anyone else was being ironic. Contemporaneous with the fad for the website ratemyducttape.com.

Sweet William. A prequel to Naomi Novik’s Temeraire which you can probably read without any knowledge of the source. The Spanish Armada is about to descend upon England, and her greatest hope is a captainless dragon hatchling. This story assembles a cast of likable humans and dragons and weaves them into history and folklore in a very satisfying manner, even if the romance is a bit sudden. I can’t provide an excerpt without ruining one of a whole set of reveals which aren’t exactly shocking, but are fun to come upon at one’s own pace.

Inscribed on Glass Plaques, a perfectly meta Princess Tutu story. (You need to know the canon to make any sense of this.) A set of plaques for objects in a museum, revealing and concealing new stories, old stories, new versions of old stories, stories within stories within stories.
ETA: If you're getting a lot of crash messages from these links, try the static archive. Click on fandoms and search from there. That's crashing a lot less.

Bakcheios. A retelling of Euripedes’ The Bacchae, with a few other Greek myths thrown in, from the point of view of Pentheus. You probably don’t have to be familiar with either the myths or the play to read this, though it’ll add a lot if you are.

One of the stand-out stories I’ve read so far, a spooky, relentless, compelling story of the cruelty of Gods, the pull of madness, and the terrors of childhood come home to roost. Unsettling, erotic, intense, and very, very well-written. Dionysus is terrifying, as well he should be for this source.

“It’s a little difficult to make a dog go mad,” he told me conversationally. “They’re nothing but food and pack and chase and love. All you can really do is pick one and turn it up until they forget the rest. But I promised the Huntress I’d do it, and it’s better to stay on Artemis’ good side on full moon nights. It’ll have to be chase.” Charis closed her eyes in ecstasy after he left off scratching her. He smiled at me. “You, on the other hand, I could send mad quite easily,” he said. “One day I will. For now, though, I recommend you climb a tree.”

“What?” I said.

“Climb a tree,” he repeated. “If you know what’s good for you. Don’t let the hounds get your scent. Today is not a good day to smell like prey on Mount Cithaeron.”

Last Call. A very short Blade Runner story about Rachael post-film. It's a perfect little sketch, displaying the themes of the movie in miniature, as every decision becomes a test of humanity.

So you're waiting for a shuttle off-planet. There's ten minutes before you have to board and your lover hasn't arrived. What do you do?

The Ghost of Orrimy, a tale of Earthsea from the time when Ged was Archmage at Roke. A beautifully written story very much in the style of early Le Guin, with structural echoes of old folktales from our own world.

The Doorkeeper said, “The Archmage is not walking the halls of this school,” and meant he is a tree bending over the edge of the cliff, learning the names the waves call the shore.

Stories Told to a Travelling Mushishi. From Mushishi, a short piece that beautifully evokes the atmosphere of the show, with its mix of taxonomy and folklore, and the way beautiful and terrifying things are always briefly appearing, then vanishing into the depths of mist and memory.

There is a mushi which moves in swarms, eating light after the sun sets: dimming candles, lamps, fires. Once, Ginko wondered how it lived before it encountered humans.

Mother-Tongue. A lost excerpt from Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf! Truly the sort of thing Yuletide was made for – and the second lost fragment to turn up in its archives, if I recall correctly. This one parallels the mothers of Beowulf and Grendel.

Ecgtheow’s wife, moon-full with child,
heard the troll-dam’s cries in her sleep.
She rose from her restless bed,
commanding the hall-defenders post
a double-watch, summoning retainers
to alert the people, bidding her maidens check again
the precious food-stock and mead stored against need.

And while I’m reccing Beowulf fanfic, I have to throw in this one. It’s a one-joke story – The Old Spice Guy in alliterative verse – but it’s a pretty funny one. Gamol-leac.

Then the warrior / Raised a shell
An oyster shell / a forearm's breadth
And out he poured / upon the Geatlings
The musk of manhood / the Gamol-léac.

Though I didn’t request it, apparently what I really wanted for Yuletide was Hunger Games fic. I must still be seething over Mockingjay.

Out of the Night: An Interview with a Mockingjay . Here’s the Mockingjay fix-it fic that does what the epilogue failed to do: construct a canon-compliant ending for Katniss and Peeta that’s both plausible and happy. In the form of an article written about them both twenty years later, the little details are wonderfully believable (and sometimes, wonderfully appalling.)

"It got confusing," Everdeen says. "What was real and not real." I look at Mellark to see what he thinks of this. Infamously, he was hijacked during the war. Hijacking has been the subject of many a psychological horror film and, of course, the comedy Hijacked!, which more or less killed off the genre, with its scenes of a zombielike President Snow wandering round being nice to people.

Achilles Heel. Another long, absorbing story about Finnick Odair’s Hunger Game. Unlike Fish in a Barrel, which borrowed its characterization from the Finnick in Catching Fire who used his image to his own ends, the Finnick here is more like the one in Mockingjay, more of a victim of forces far beyond his control. Well-done, though I personally find the Catching Fire characterization more interesting. Warning for non-explicit but non-consensual sex involving a teenage boy.

My name is Finnick Odair. I am fourteen years old. I am a citizen of District 4 in Panem, but I wasn’t born in any country. I was born at sea.

That’s what they’re telling me to say for the cameras.
My Father’s House Has Many Rooms. The Sarah Connor Chronicles. James Ellison before and after the apocalypse, building community and keeping the faith. Good dialogue, good characterization, thoughtful.

”Jesus is saying that to be a good person, you should help anyone who needs it, no matter how different they are from you."

"Everyone is different from me," said John Henry, placid as always.

The Sun Shone On Venus. From Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer In A Day,” the one about the kid who gets locked in a broom closet for the one hour that the sun shines on Venus. This is exactly the sort of thing fanfic does best - taking a short, iconic story built around a single, powerful, emotional moment, giving the sketched-in characters and setting complexity and depth, and then bringing it all back home to that single, powerful, emotional moment.

Margot did like the sun lamps they brought her, one after another, until she had a great heap of them in the corner of her room. There were far too many to light all at once, but Margot put five of them on top of her dresser. If she squinted her eyes, she could imagine the five golden bulbs were one great big, yellow one. A miniature sun all her own.

Fish in a Barrel. Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games. Long, engrossing, action-packed account of Finnick’s Game. Very much in the spirit of the first book, brutal and violent and landing a few punches that the first book pulled. I could have read an entire book of this, and enjoyed it much more than I did Mockingjay.

When you wake, you make a small fire in the shadow of a rocky outcropping, where the smoke will gather. There, you begin smoking your fish so that they will keep as you travel; your clothes are still damp enough to chafe, so you peel off the stained tunic and leggings and let them dry by the fire.

Almost at once, a rain of parcels falls at the mouth of your cave: a little mesh bag of oranges, new batteries for your cold stocking, replacements for your missing knives, a bundle of oven-fresh bread. You can't help breaking into a grin at the shower of presents, and you tear into the bread first, while it's still hot. "I'll have to take off my clothes more often," you tell the air, laughing, and you can almost hear the people at the Capitol laughing along with you.

21st Century Girls. Based on Naoki Urasawa’s intricate, mind-bending manga 20th Century Boys (Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Vol. 1: Friends). I read this because I was tipped off that it doesn’t spoil the manga, except in general terms for what happens to the world and Friend in the future, as it almost entirely involves original characters. Here the boys of canon, who bond and form a secret society based on their shared love of Western rock music, are paralleled by a group of girls who bond over shoujo manga – the sparklier the better – grow up, and try to save the real world, or at least their friends, with the power of love and gel glitter pens.

Megumi made a fist, aiming the ring on her finger at the enemy. "Ha! You may have tried to subvert Gemini Senshi, but my Emerald Star Crystal has lifted your evil spell with the power of love and justice!"

Finally, I have to link to a link to a story based on the movie “Sharktopus,” mostly for the clip of Sharktopus doing what Sharktopus does best.


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags