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.
ali_wildgoose: (Default)
Adventure Time

Sunlight Peering Through the Trees
(Finn/Flame Princess)
Flame Princess is certain she's Evil. She's certain she's Good. She not really sure how to be either.
Very sweet and completely adorable.

Princesses All The Way Down
(Marceline/Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, Ice King)
Living forever changes some things more than it does others.
Captures the feel of the show's dialog and cheerfully ominous undercurrents, with all the lovely touches of adult perspective and the time and space to explore Marceline's inner life and history that make me want to seek out AT fanfic in the first place. Funny and domestic and tragic all at once -- awesome stuff.

Allstate Insurance "Mayhem" Commercials

And I'm the Obstacle You Never Expected
"He looked like a washed-up actor who had mugged an accountant on his way to the local bar." Mayhem meets his match...or does he?
Silly, yes, but TOTALLY ADORBS.

Back to the Future

Rewriting the Future
(Marty McFly, Emmett Brown)
It's 2015, and Marty McFly is unemployed with two kids in jail and still bitter about a thirty year old car accident. But this hasn't really happened yet, and if it hasn't happened yet, there's no risk of creating an alternate timeline.
I enjoyed a lot of things about this story, but honestly, it's worth reading for the "1985 Doc Brown navigates 2015 technology" aspect alone. The 2015 it references has been corrected to match more closely with the one a current audience would expect, and there's a bit with an iPod that almost killed me.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Cupboard of the Heart
(Mary Svevo/Howard Mierzwiak, Mary Svevo/Stan Fink, Mary Svevo, Howard Mierzwiak, Stan Fink, Hollis Mierzwiak)
"How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense, and love the offender, yet detest the offence?" — Pope Alexander Alexander Pope
I really enjoyed this window into Mary and her perspective on the whole sad mess she found herself dragged into. This kind of story is what I most look forward to every year when the Yuletide archive goes live -- thoughtful and complicated.

Gargoyles

It's a love story for the new age
(David Xanatos/Fox Xanatos, David Xanatos, Janine "Fox" Xanatos, Owen Burnett)

This is how the story goes:

“Marry me,” he says.

“Are you serious?” she replies.

Oh my god OH MY GOD I loved this fic so much. Such a fantastic take on Fox, her history, her inner life and relationships with Owen and David. My inner teenaged Gargoyles fangirl completely lost her shit.

The Incredibles

The Red Suit
(Edna Mode)
Perhaps Edna was telling the truth when she said she once worked with gods - or, at least, with legends.
Charming and adorable without being saccharine, and hints at a fabulously ancient history for Edna's career.

The Greatest Good
(Helen "Elastigirl" Parr, Bob "Mr. Incredible" Parr, Violet Parr, Dash Parr)
God must have one hell of a sense of humor, her mother says, to give the gift of elasticity to someone so stubborn.
I really enjoyed how this fic addresses the particular joys and frustrations that Helen's family have brought her -- always feeling cornered into being the cautious "bad guy" who discourages her kids' powers out of fear of discovery, always being the one who has to think practically, loving her husband dearly but wanting to strangle him for being selfish or self-indulgent. LOVED IT.

Jurassic Park

Trixie Seven
(Ellie Sattler, Gerry Harding)
Ellie stays behind to get a closer look at Triceratops, and discovers more questions than any actual answers. Live dinosaurs means that paleontology isn't extinct, it just has to evolve.
Lady scientist frustrated that not everyone understand the awesomeness of ferns! Nerdy dinosaur nitpicking! A Jurassic Park fic with a bibliography!

Looper

Einstein's Definition of Insanity
(Joe/Sara)
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The post-canon alternate-ending shippy Looper fanfic I never knew I wanted, but am very glad I found. Does a particularly good job of trying to expand the moderately-apocalyptal-world of the film.

Rise of the Guardians

The Center Cannot Hold… But It Can Change
(Jack Frost, Pitch Black)
Jack was the one to eventually break the silence. He said softly, "I see it. What you're saying. My center… it's the same. We both laughed just now, right? But did you laugh because the children were having fun playing in the water… or because it was funny as hell when the girl pushed the boy in?"
I was sad to see only one fic turn up for this fandom, but if you enjoyed the film -- and if you felt like Pitch wasn't really given a fair shake -- this is worth checking out! (Fair warning: there's a lot of background "sad hungry kids in Africa" othering here, so if you're not in the mood you might want to give this a pass.)

*

All right, enough of that for now -- back in Brooklyn, back to work!
ali_wildgoose: (Default)
So one nice thing about being out of town for Christmas and away from all my productivity machines is that I had more than the usual ammount of time to read Yuletide stories! I have a long way to go, still, but here are some of my very favorites so far, organized by fandom!

The Good Wife

Chasing Names
(Alicia Florrick, Kalinda Sharma, Diane Lockhart, Elsbeth Tascioni)
Not all cases are meant to be won.
My gift this year, and I have to say -- the character voices are SPOT. ON.

The Left Hand of Darkness

Cast No Shadow
(Genly Ai/Therem HarthGenly Ai Therem Harth rem ir Estraven)
“A lack of feeling is a symptom of freeze,” he said, still grimacing. “Perhaps... well.” It was not like him to mince words, and I slowly began to worry. Perhaps this was some attempt at shifgrethor, or another incomprehensible Gethenian ritual which he assumed I knew and at which I could only balk. “To know anything of the intensity of it, I'll have to unfreeze it. To keep it from dying, if it hasn't. I've wasted enough time already; lie down.”
An excellent and thoughtful take on a tricky subject, which made me want to re-read this book SOMETHING FIERCE.

Looper

Old Things in Need of Repair
(Summer Qing/Joe Simmons)
Summer Qing learned early to love old things. She also learned early to love dangerous things.
Offers some much needed history and inner-life to one of Looper's most interesting and most neglected characters.

Planetes

Pericronus
(Werner Locksmith, Tanabe Ai, Fee Carmichael, Yuri Mihairokov, Edelgard Rivera, Hoshino Hachirota, Sally Silverstone, Kyutaro Hachirota)
Following an explosion aboard their spacecraft, it seems all but certain that astronauts Hachirota Hoshino and Sally Silverstone are dead or dying. Ai Hoshino (née Tanabe) believes otherwise, but she'll have to convince the most calculating man in space exploration of her theory, and Werner Locksmith did not get to where he is in life by doubting his own intellect.
A criminally underappreciated fic for a criminally underappreciated canon. This is a fabulous short SF story, and a great device for pitting Ai and Locksmith against eachother in a sort of Feelings Standoff that I really enoyed.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Perdendosi
(Miki Sayaka/Sakura Kyouko, Kamijou Kyousuke/Miki Sayaka, Miki Sayaka/Tomoe Mami, Miki Sayaka, Kamijou Kyousuke, Tomoe Mami, Sakura Kyouko)
Or: Three people Sayaka loved and one she never managed to
I read this on a lark, as the description and pairings weren't really doing anything for me...but MAN. This fic had some really interesting things to say, and it said them well. My series rewatch has been bumped up accordingly!

The City of Witches
(Akemi Homura/Kaname Madoka, Akemi Homura, Kaname Madoka, Tomoe Mami, Sakura Kyouko, Charlotte the Dessert Witch)
Every street in the city of witches leads to despair, but Homura Akemi will never lose her way.
I almost didn't finish reading this, as a device in the early scenes wasn't working for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Very smart, very evocative, and some fantastic post-canon scenes.

Unsounded

A Sealed Heart
(Duane Adelier/Sette Frummagem)
Someone has found Duane's organs, and is using them in a pymaric ritual to summon and bind him. Sette is not going to let that happen, though. After all, Duane is *her* attack zombie.
This turned out to be a gripping, well-paced and often kind of touching adventure story, and I really enjoyed it, but MAN! TAKE THE WARNINGS SERIOUSLY! It is for a ship with an underage character, and it is really really violent!

*

That's it for now -- MORE SOON I HOPE!

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December 2015

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