ali_wildgoose: (scar)
I’ve dedicated a great deal of my free time since Christmas Eve to working through the 2015 Yuletide archive — here are some of my favorites so far!

(Note that some of the notes and summaries may contain spoilers!)

Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

You’ll Be Mine & I’ll Be Yours
But the time that I feel belonging – the time when I feel safe, and grounded, and all that other stuff my psychologist likes me to find – that’s pretty much whenever I look into Baz’s eyes and see how he looks at me. I know. My life, which was supposed to be the greatest heroic epic saga ever penned, is now a pop ballad as told by Taylor Swift. But maybe that’s OK?
This fic just charmed the hell out of me from start to finish. It really captured the tone of Simon's voice, and was populated with so many clever funny details about Simon's life and his world and Magic and Penny and everything else. It let me spend a little more time with these great people and that's exactly what I'd hoped for when I wrote my request. It also respected Simon's traumas and difficulties — his strange catch-as-catch-can childhood and what happened in the White Chapel, as well as the aftermath of both that he's currently muddling his way through. I love that this is a story about Figuring Shit Out at his own pace, in his own way.
Note: this was written for me! How very lucky I am!

Old Dog, New Tricks
Agatha, San Diego, one year later.
A very sweet, deftly written glimpse into the new life which Agatha is building for herself. Featuring an OC for which I have genuine affection and a load of grin-inducing little details. I love that this is about Agatha setting boundaries, and making careful compromises with her own knee-jerk reactions, and just generally figuring out how to be the kind of person she wants to be, interacting with the Normal and Magic worlds on terms that work for her.

Ex Machina

Chrysalis
She watches, silently. She waits, silently. When they meet again, she is not silent.
YES YES YES to robot ladies having each others' backs. I loved this exploration of Kyoko's inner life, her grim understanding of her own circumstance and her perspective on what transpired. I guess I’m just a sucker for short stories of staccato scenelettes!

Gargoyles

Heritage
Twenty years after Oberon's first Gathering, Alexander decides to bring the fight to the Lord of Avalon -- with some help from his friends, family, and adopted Clan. And Puck. With the mind of a Xanatos, the magic of Puck, and the courage of the Gargoyles, what could go wrong?
Someone wrote a 25,000 word Gargoyles fic for Yuletide this year and it is ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD????? This reads like one of the show’s better multipart series, hewing quite closely to the show’s tone and spirit as well as featuring the sort of mystery and twists and cleverness which makes the best episodes of Gargoyles so much fun. Like really, at the heart of things, that’s what I liked so much about this story: it’s FUN, and about kindness and created families, and absolutely dripping with sincere affection for every one of these characters. (FYI: if the wordcount is intimidating you a little, note that the main body of the story is actually only 16000 words long. The rest is made of up a series of related vignettes, many of which are charming but all of which are optional.)

The Goblin Emperor

(NOTE: I have so far only read a handful of the many GE stories written for YT this year.)

Heart’s Ease
Csethiro presents a gift to her granddaughter; master chef Ebremis recruits Csevet into an unconventional birthday scheme.
This is both a story AND a cookbook, so obviously I was 100% on board for this from the start. One of the things I love most about TGE is that, in many ways, it's a narrative of small kindnesses -- people trying to be decent to one another as they make the best of difficult situations. This story does an excellent job of preserving and expanding upon that feeling.

Further Extracts from A Handbook for Travelers in the Elflands
Published by the Press of the Crooked Stair for the Royal Merchants Guild of Porcharn
Remember that handy appendix at the back of the book, with all the in-universe explanations for naming conventions and forms of address and pronunciation? This fic expands upon it with sections on Cuisine, Clothing and Fashion, Art and Craft, Music and Theater, Literature, Religion, Courting, Sport, and Places of Interest. A seamless blend of canon and invention, and lots of fun.

Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie

A Life in Service
Of the three tenets of Radchaai civilization, Ettan had always clung most dearly to propriety, and she would do what was asked of her. It had not escaped her notice that this obedient streak might have something to do with her assignment.
The author describes this as “Scenes from the life of Kalr Five, pre-canon through the beginning of Ancillary Mercy,” but while accurate that doesn’t quite do this story justice. Like most of my favorite YT stories, this is a flawless expansion of one small corner of canon, and just…seriously, a DELIGHT to read. (In case you’re as bad with names as I am: Kalr Five is the member of Breq’s decade who’s moderately obsessed with tea sets.)

Reconnaissance
There was a plan: to locate the AI cores before the Usurper could, to return to Ship and form a plan to retrieve them. I was to succeed, or I was to die. Bodies are precious, now, but not so precious Ship could not afford to lose one segment, in pursuit of something this important.
A really excellent character study of Sphene, told in small bites. This story clocks in at exactly 1000 words but DAMN does it pack a lot of punch for its length.

Dark Watch
Something broke in her a thousand years ago, or maybe it broke when she came out of stasis. Maybe it was always broken and she just didn't know.
Another small character study. I’ve always found Seivarden a little impenetrable, and this helped me tease out a better understanding of where she’s coming from. Most of this story is a conversation between her and Mercy of Kalr, and I came out of it feeling flush with affection for them both.

Monument Valley

Ida, Walking
Do you remember the stars that we saw from the ground and we knew, if we looked at them from a different angle, we could draw a line to a fixed star?
A quiet prose poem of a story, which fits the canon quite well.

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Go make some new disaster.

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