Older recs: 2000
Just right for a cold winter's afternoon
TS If you have any affection for Jim as one-foot-peeking-out-of-the-closet bisexual (and even if you don't), run, do not walk to Julad's new Everything you need in one convenient location. The plot's nothing more than them walking around a grocery story, but the story's got more insight into Jim's head than ten angsty action-fests, plus a charming, if elusive, Blair worth remembering.
updated 12/12, thanks to Franziska, on Prospect_L
HL I know, I know, a lot of us just don't read gen at all. But trust me, this is the good stuff. Cool exploration of the Highlander universe, and more importantly, stories grounded in the relationships of the characters. Russet McMillan's King for a Day has a cool look at how the quickening might work, and great Duncan and Joe interaction. Risk by Cathy Butterfield, is big, bold, over the top (in a good way), and clearly written by a Callahan's fan. It's a story of Joe facing pain and loss, and how his friends Methos and Duncan try to help, and how finally, each of us has to help ourselves. Next, Mythos by Beck McLaughlin is an ambitious epic tale that still has time for lovely human-sized interaction between Duncan, Methos and Amanda. And it would be wrong not to include one slash story, especially since this one is so beautiful, check out Lamentation by Maygra: A grieving Duncan, a wary Methos, somehow come together and find something like peace. Set after Endgame.
updated 12/12, mostly due to Killa, MacGeorge, and rache
SG Not quite gen, not quite slash, The Box, and its sequel, Steak are charming and light; an exploration of indirection from Kieko Kirin. Or check out her gen story, Commodity. Even in a dark world, there are moments of light.
Let's not always see the same hands...
TS This is the autumn of Anna's triumph. Another wonderful story from her; this one the longest and best yet: Strains May Float. Anna's taken one of my least favorite 3rd season episodes (Girl Next Door), added a unlikely and unpopular take on Blair and Jim's relationship, and made something that should have been tawdry and cheap somehow mysterious and wonderful. These guys aren't perfect by a long shot, but the story is damn close.
XF It's an old one, but I just found it -- Skinner/Krycek, post apocalyptic and dry as ashes, yet shot through with moments of humor and even sweetness. And how could you not love a story where an ironic Skinner taunts Krycek with, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit, if there *were* any people I'm sure they'd like me." Ever After, by Te. Another old but beautiful apocalyptic look, this time at Mulder and Scully, is All the Mulders by Alloway -- one of the best short-shorts in fandom.
TS Nuance: Fabulous. Marvelous. Delightful. As Kass said, "this story's got everything. It's a case story, it's a romance, it's a new twist on the sentinel thing, it's got hot sex, it's got fabulous dialogue." Livia and Resonant may be even better together than they are apart.
updated 11/17, thanks to Prospect_L (and Terri, for the adjectives)
TS Anna's still on a roll. Her newest, First of the Month, has kicked off a nearly month-long thread on Prospect_L. Is this a less flattering, but still totally valid characterization of Blair, or just as a/u as the usual Blair-as-rent-boy fantasies? There are votes on both sides, but Anna's done her homework -- invalidate this Blair, and you may have to invalidate first and second season, too. And not that you'll need more heat after First of the Month, but go read Thought about the Army, by Kass anyway. Hubba, hubba.
Velvet Goldmine I just rewatched the movie, and had to go looking for fic. There's a lot of bad out there, but there are a few pieces of gold in the mine: Don't miss, Curious by Jane St Clair, and Earthbound and Mythology by Keiko Kirin -- Of course, given the authors, they're joys to read, but more importantly, each story catches the era as well as the characters. Jane's story is Curt/Arthur; Keiko's are Curt/Brian, but they're all good.
DS Aristide and Bone are having a blast over in Due South land, and it shows. If I ever come to think of the two Rays with equal affection, it'll be all their fault. This lovely RayK/Fraser story, The Course, is set directly after COTW, and makes me wish we'd gotten just one more episode, written Just Like This.
updated 11/6, thanks to Chinook
QL I freely admit that I'm biased towards length, and interesting plots, and maybe, fandoms I haven't read recently. Last Measure of Devotion by Sue Walker (author of Faith and Hope in Sentinel fandom) isn't perfect, but it's a rich, emotional and cleverly-plotted novel that made me wish there was more good Quantum Leap on the net.
updated 10/18 -- can't remember who found this, but thanks!
HL Maybe I'm also biased towards strange. The Nomad's definitely not for everyone: it's a Kronos a/u Mary Sue, and the slash is offscreen and g'rated. But it's captivatingly offbeat, and reminded me why I love the HL universe, not just Duncan and Methos' pretty immortal bodies. By Das Tier.
updated 10/18, thanks to Carol S.
Harvest time -- and my reading garden is nice and full!
TS Anna's in some crazed prolific state, and we're the beneficiaries. Her new (new!) story, A Night of It, is an unabashed PWP, the sort that makes me wonder how that acronym ever got a bad name for itself. Beware, this could make your eyebrows sweat.
TS Check out Anna's new story, A Long Time Looking; the wealth of detail and the controlled pacing add a feeding of implacable inevitability to it -- Jim's going towards that final question whether he's sure he's ready or not.
OAT Some small fandoms have more good stories (proportionally, at least) than they deserve, and Once a Thief is becoming one of them. Susan Smithson has breathed sharply characterized life into a fannish staple, in Director's Order. It's a great ride, in Victor's head all the way.
TS I'm a sucker for good Carolyn, and trust me, that's an itch that doesn't get scratched very often in this fandom. Blair is wonderful in this, too -- and the guy they're gossiping about gets a insightful and loving treatment, too, in Committed>, by Lemon Drop. I also have a weakness for Jim suddenly having the bottom drop out of his world, and Francesca's new story, Yellow Roses, is probably the best exploration of that I've ever seen. I think there's an abrupt mood change about three-fourths of the way through, but both moods are great: angsty, intense and committed past the point of reason. And finally, a sexy, romantic-but-never-sappy poptart of a story, Curtains, by Anna
QAF Much as I loved the series, I haven't gone looking for QAF fic -- maybe they gave me what I normally need fic for, I don't know. But Mallory Klohn has a lovely snarkily silly story called I Like It Like That, and quel surprise, I like it just like that.
updated 10/08, and dang it, I can't remember who told me about it!
SG-1 I would dearly love to be rec'ing wonderful SG-1 slashfic, but so far, it's pretty thin on the ground. There is some very nice gen out there, though -- and if you like Jack, these are two of the best: The Midas Syndrome, and Roses in December, both by Rheanna. Each story has wonderful relationship details, emotional pain, military plausibility, and cool sciffy alienness: pretty much everything I could want except slash. (sigh.)
stolen without shame from Merry's wonderful rec page, 10/5
HL As I've said before, sometimes a story perfectly summarizes a month of argument about motives and characterization. Perchance to Dream, by elynross, does all of that and is a great story, to boot. While I'm pushing Highlander, go read Sanctuary, Killashandra's discreetly sexy sequel to Endgame. Thank god for fanfiction to tie up the emotional loose ends and give us what we really wanted to see on screen. And last, a still quiet piece from Kat Allison -- gen, short, lovely: The Outside Member.
updated 10/04, with thanks to the wonderful HLWC
When fans are strange
You'll never believe Although I can imagine the comments now: "But Sandy, You'll read *anything*," I don't want to hear them -- strange pairing or no, this story rocks. Imagine Brian Hawkins (Paul Gross in Tales of the City) at 50; imagine Billy (Hard Core Logo) a few months after the movie, trying hard to put his life back together. Take a deep breath, imagine them together, and click here: Shadows Fade, for hours of enjoyment. Story by Kellie Matthews & AuKestrel.
updated 8/28, with enormous thanks to gearbox!
Oh god, is it August already?
SN Gone, but not forgotten: there are some lovely stories coming out in SportsNight recently. Mona's stories don't usually work for me -- something about the voices -- but the dialog in Redeeming Qualities is so crisp and witty, I was sold. Marking it Real, by Emily Brunson, is almost the antimatter opposite of that story -- the first is clever and g-rated; Marking it Real is deep and angsty, and very, very adult. Last but definitely not least, Charlemagne's Repercussions was very good, but his Gynecology was flat out great.
updated 8/19 while I should have been working -- all thanks to the wonderful SN Archive
PM The bloom is off the rose for me in PM -- but my socks can still be knocked off by the right story. Theory of Flight by Cori Lannam won me over with its tight and clever characterization -- especially of Obi-wan:""I can't believe you said I was stodgy."While I'm on PM, I gotta push Any Port in a Storm by Keelywolfe -- I was way overdue for a fifteen-year-old Obi-wan with both cheekiness and backbone. And last but not least, a bon bon of silliness, Hard to See, the Obvious is, by Kaiburr. Anything I could say would just ruin it.
"You are stodgy." Qui-Gon sounded perfectly calm, the model of everything Obi-Wan had tried to emulate. "But don't take it so hard. Many Jedi are. Indeed, most of the Council--"
"Just stop," Obi-Wan said wearily, and Qui-Gon chuckled again.
updated 8/10 -- thanks to Destina and Carol!
OAT If Once a Thief had aired in the US, instead of only Canada, it would be a huge slash fandom by now -- but it didn't, and good stories are few and far between. Once in a while, though, we get a long meaty adult story or two:
First try Men At Some Time by Sylvia. I especially love Mac's complete confusion -- and the way Vic throws himself wholeheartedly into change. Then, for an unabashedly sexy look at Vic and Mac inching their way into a real relationship, check out the So Inclined series: Straight, Bent, At Odd Angles, and Connected.
updated 8/5 -- thanks, Bitkahs!
Inching into July:
TS I should start by saying that generally I don't get badfic. To me, most intentional badfic reads exactly like most *unintentional* badfic. It's bad. But parody is another thing all together, and I found Loft-i-ness hilarious. By James Walkswithwind and Wolfling with guest lines by Lori , inspired by a thread on Prospect-L. (And if you're a Sentinel fan who likes to talk about fiction -- P-L is the current place to be. Look it up on Yahoogroups.com.)
updated 7/6 -- thanks, Anna!
Still more June:
ST:VOY I don't read a lot of Voyager (though I'd love to be pointed at more of the good stuff), but I would read a story this clever in almost any fandom. Ruth Devero's probably better known for her DS stories, but Random Acts made me a Paris/Chakotay believer.
updated 6/19 -- thanks, Kieko!
ST:TOS Yet another blast from the past -- the first slash story I ever read (16 or 17 years ago...) is now on the web. Shelter is famous for many things, especially for being the first slash "cave" story. Story by Lezlie Fish -- definitely one of the Mothers of Fandom. (And don't miss the sequel, Poses.)
updated 6/18, thanks to the Foresmutter's project
TS Blair learns about his past, and Jim learns about his present in Mexico, a deceptively genial first time story by Lemon Drop. Check out her In Good Company, To Drive Cold Winter Away, or my favorite (over the top, but in a good way) Like Praying.
XF Not just gen, but actual het, Crashing in the Same Car gave me a cool and believable Marita/Krycek backstory, and (*briefly*) made me care about Marita. Quite an accomplishment, let me assure you. Story by Rachel Anton.
updated 6/16 -- rec by Carol S!
SN Recently I've become fascinated by stories on the gen/slash line. Where maybe it's sexual tension, or maybe it's just love and affection and the struggle to be a good friend through life's normal ups and downs. This story rides that line with rare skill. Better yet, although Danny's a hard character to write -- clever, wise and insecure all at once, in A Better Game, Kest nails him.
June, thus far:
H:LOTS Pam Rose has been turning out *great* fiction longer than I've been in fandom (17+ years) and she just keeps getting better -- ever tighter plotting, ever richer characterization, and ever more compelling dialogue. She has a fabulous Homicide series that does the almost undoable...makes me believe in Frank/Tim. The short Opening Night, and the novellas Life on the Side and Shadow Self are sad and adult and wrenching and even sweet -- a mélange of flavors for the brain, and the heart.
updated 6/13 -- thanks so much Laura S. for the other links!
SH I'm having a nostalgia moment here: I can remember when A Fine Storm was my favorite fan story of all time. Now, more than a decade and many fandoms later, I still love it. Suzan Lovett is known by most zine fans as an artist, but frankly, I'd be willing to trade all of the zine covers she's ever done for a few more stories like this one -- a marvelous story about love and fear and safety, and how close love-thwarted can come to hate. (And if you like A Fine Storm, try The Goliath -- an incredible gen novel she wrote back in 1986, now on the web as well. It's wonderfully plotted and characterized -- and darn easy to characterize as pre-slash.)
PM This is an unusual story, with a power dynamic very unlike either the classic "I must pretend to hurt you in front of the enemy" story *or* a classic bdsm scenario. Emotionally very clever and a little bloody, Cutwork, by Rachael Sabotini, isn't for everyone, but it's very, *very* good.
TS Sometimes you wander around a website, and you think, "hmm, hmm, interesting, but a little out of the mainstream." I think that about the Rhipodon Society every time I go there, but in a very good way. Their newest story, Vow (with a interlude of Ocean) is well worth scrolling down for on their main page. Read a few more while you're there, but ignore their ratings of stories Smarm/Pre-slash/Slash -- I honestly don't think that (a) they truly understand the usual fannish meanings of those words and (b) that it matters -- all of their stories are ultimately about the close loving relationship between the two guys... sex optional.
added 6/9, thanks Anna some more!
DS The first two thirds of this, I loved to death; the last third took characters I love and warped them out of the space I want them to be: YMMV. Even if you end up agreeing with me, the first two-thirds were worth it: Dead Wrong's plot is clever and well-written, its Vecchio is adorable and its Fraser is, of course, honest and true. By Manna LaDroit.
added 6/5, thanks Anna!
TS This story just made me happy. It's short, and arguably on the sweet side, but Metaphor does something interesting with the elephants in the Sandburg-Ellison residence. By Justine (aka, the other Sandy), who also wrote the lovely Sacred Space, a not so typical first-timer indeed.
added 5/26, while in shock from realizing I'd never rec'd Sacred Space
XF It's shameless hussy time; I'm rec'ing my own stuff again. These two X-Files stories have almost nothing in common -- one is mostly Mulder and Krycek, the other mostly Skinner and Scully; one is NC-17 with warnings up the yingyang (or it would if I did warnings...), the other has all the action off screen -- but they're each about how painful a sudden realization can be: The Grey Twilight and The Best Secrets.
added 5/20, thanks, Laura for bullying me into posting them!
TS It's the end of an era: Merry Lynne finished Heart! More formally known as The Heart Has Its Reasons, this story's been in progress longer than I've been a Sentinel fan. Best of all, it's been worth the wait. It's gen, but they're still the most important thing in each other's lives, and the evolution of their relationship (and cool extrapolation of the universe) is wound through a darkly gripping plot.
added 5/2, thanks, Merry!
DS I like humor as much as the next fan, but I'm happiest when that humor is wrapped around something real. The Truth Will Out, by Manna LaDroit lets us laugh at Fraser and Vecchio's relationship, much as the show did; without forgetting that at the core, these men feel pain...and love. The story reminded me a little of the SNL animation, The Ambiguously Gay Duo, in a very good way.
added 4/27, thanks, Anna
TS Any story with the phrase, ""Weasels! Weasels! The U.N. took my bus tickets!"" is a keeper as far as I'm concerned. Tender is a beautifully structured first-time story by Resonant, and in it, Jim is strong and romantic, Blair is adult and mature, and the sex is hot. Read her other stories here.
added 4/27, thanks to torch
PM It spawned a challenge (which I generally think is a bad thing, though in this case, it brought us Ladonna's Anchor...), it's short (750 words), but it's as long as it needs to be; a perfect piece of very dark chocolate: The Padawan's Duty, by Clarence.
added 4/25, thanks to Rache
TS Usually I find Valentine's Day stories a bit too sappy for me (yeah, and I'm not a big Christmas story fan either), but The St. Valentine's Day Massacre by Sihaya Black rides the line between honest emotion and sap like a purse-winning jockey. This story made me happy -- what more can I say? (And while I'm here, I can't believe I never rec'd Sihaya's Those Who Can, part 1, part 2 and part 3. Long, rich and wonderfully plotted: I wish there were a lot more stories like this on the TS archive.)
added 4/19, thanks to Alta and TLAD!
TS They're hardly ever together...it's probably (technically <g>) *gen* ferchristsake, but God, I loved Ministers of Grace by Lanning Cook. Sometimes an entire list conversation (or argument...or even screaming match) can be summarized in fiction. This story encapsulates all of the "is Naomi a bad mom? What about Jim's Dad...and hey, Jim's Mom had to be a complete bitch not to come running when the kids needed her, right?" conversations with possible answers that are so grounded in the show and hang together so well, that I think I'll always have to fight thinking, "well, *that*'s why Jim's Mom..."
added 4/7, thanks to Rosa!
SN The first part of Semaphore feels like it's in a big hurry to get to "the good parts" (which aren't what you might think, frankly); but once Casey and Danny are solidly in emotional pain, the story settles in and gives all the rich satisfaction I'm looking for. Heleninhell is hard to beat for hurting the characters, while still giving readers no option but to laugh out loud. Also see Unspoken by her -- it's short but not slight, and sadly beautiful.
added 4/5; thanks so much, Terri
ST:TOS Okay, I'm not a Original Trek fan. I haven't been a TOS Trek fan since...geez, 1991, when I found The Professionals. But Still Amok and the sequel, Coals of Fire, both by Jane (aka jat_sapphire) are warmly charming reminders of why I got into slash in the first place.
added 4/2; thanks, Sigrid
HL If you ever need proof that there's no such thing as a cliche'd story idea -- only cliche'd story execution, read Brothers and Other Strangers by Valentin. Sometime after Revelation 6:8, Methos gets amnesia...and through that, both Duncan and Methos finally learn how important they are to each other. Beautiful story charmingly intermingled with pertinent episodes, awesome characterization; need I say more? Yum.
added 3/27, thanks to Rache and the D/M list
U.N.C.L.E. Yet another favorite zine shows up on the web: Sex, Lies and Uncle, by Anne Higgins. It's easy to quibble with this story -- the occasionally prudish language ("bottom passage"), the parched dryness of the emotional tone -- but it's a page turner: fast moving and wonderfully plotted. A real standout in MUNCLE fandom.
added 3/26, thanks to B3v for letting me know it's on the net
Lots of lovely new lolly!
XF Another of my favorite zine stories makes it to the web! Immergence, by Gwyneth Rhys was the first Mulder/Skinner stories I read that really made me believe -- even after the story was over -- that yes, these two guys had a connection deeper than their jobs, or their shared hated for the Cigarette Smoking Man. More than that, I loved the sadness in Skinner, the tension between what he feels he should be able to do for the X-Files, and what he's able to do. Sad, filled with yearning, and yet romantic -- the story is set after Paper Hearts, adding richness to an already wonderful episode.
OZ You don't have to look very far to notice suddenly there's a lot of weird genderbending shit out there in the big fannish world. (The worst of them include male pregnancy and childbirth: Ick!) Most of those stories, honestly, creep me out. Let men be men, eh? But this story -- Gentler, by Gemma and Nicole S. -- works for me in a big way. Instead of just throwing a bunch of non-canonical feminine attributes at our guys, they took a long look at the *essential* attributes of these characters, and put them into female (not feminine) bodies -- the better to see who, at the core, they really are. Thoughtful stuff, with a emotional kick -- a treat for the head and the gut.
XF Another zine novel on the net! Cody Nelson's The Best Lies was written many seasons ago, back when X-Files almost made sense. Reading it now, when Krycek has done so much more, makes it seem a bit more Skippy-ish than it did when it was first written, but it still holds up.
Pros Finally more and more of the best old zines stories are making their way to the web. In Et In Italia Ego Sebastian chooses an unlikely setting for the boys, but as ever, she makes it work. I'm a huge fan of her clear-eyed and unsentimental yet loving take on Bodie and Doyle, and this is one of my favorites. Warning -- the story was originally published in the zine, Chiaroscuro, and the web version is in PDF, perfect for printing out. While you're there, read the rest of the zine -- there wasn't a bad story in the bunch.
added 3/8, thanks to Rosa.
DS In the original pairing, Due South had a hard time establishing itself on the web. Two of my all time favorite DS stories also appeared in the zine Chiaroscuro: No Son of Mine by M. Fae Glasgow , is a beautifully sad but tough-minded story of Ray accepting his past and moving on, and Handling It, by Mona Moore, is a wonderfully sly tale of Ray accepting his present. Both stories delve into the richness of Fraser's character; both stories are sharply written--I couldn't be happier that they're finally on the net.
added 3/7, thanks to Carol S.
PM In some ways, this is a very similar story as Apprentice to Journeyman, from Qui-gon's POV instead of Obi-wan's, and in a much shorter form. Shorter, but not superficial, Who Will Not See by Ladonna King combines touching sadness with lovely prose.
added 3/6, thanks to Carol S.
HL After pages of angst (see above), may I offer you a palate cleanser? Try, The Apology by Rachael Sabotini and if it doesn't seem funny to you, you haven't read enough bad apology fic. (For a great essay on the concept of apology fic, try her essay, You Big Bully).
added 3/6, thanks to the gang on the D/M list.
Action Hmm...here's a weird one. I definitely disliked this story on first read -- Peter's mental voice was so much meaner than I wanted it to be. But the story stuck in my mind. Finally a friend told me to reread it with the thought "unreliable narrator" in my head -- ah ha! It's the difference between what he says he's thinking and what he does, that makes Fire and Ice so cool. Story by Valeria. I hope I haven't given too much away...
added 2/16, thanks to Melissa
Buffy As I said last time I made a Buffy rec <g> I'm pretty much a slash fan; but good Buffy fic can make gen/slash considerations seem completely irrelevant. Read Acid Test, by Yahtzee and tell me if you agree.
added 2/11, thanks to Jessica
PM Fan writers with distinctive styles are rare I think, but Russet MacMillan is definitely one of them. She's apparently taken a break from Sentinel (with her series unfinished! <sob>) and written The Best Medicine, a chronicle of a roundabout route Qui-gon and Obi-wan take to understanding each other.
If you needs a silliness chaser after that, can I recommend, Technical Difficulties, by Kathye? It'll expand your mind.
added 2/11, thanks to Rosa, best of comrades, and Carol S.
When you're strange:If you've ever wished for a story so long you could just drown in it; if you've got a love for strange crossovers; or you've ever wanted to see Mulder in 18th century garb, this might be the story for you. La Princesa Guerrera is a Sharpe's Rifles, Xena, X-Files crossover (and I never thought I'd ever type *that* sentence), but (with the exception of Mulder's characterization) largely, it works. Warning -- the story is currently on part 9, with no end in sight, and the cliffhangers have been doozies.
added 2/10, with thanks to Sky Winder, and brickbats to Jo
SN Another SN story! Merry has an ability to write gen that I love -- gen with all the emotional connection that I want, without the feeling of "beware: smarmy, non-male behavior ahead" that I fear. The story is Kickoff, and it's witty, rich with clever characterization, and a wonderful extrapolation back in time to how they might have met, showing why these two guys have spent the last ten years as best friends. (Note: it may be the beginning of a series, but it stands on its own.)
added 1/24, with thanks to the gang at FCA-L
New recs for the new year:
SN Hmm, I didn't love this story. And frankly, I strongly deplore the tendency among SportsNight authors to write stories that are 90%-95%...even 100% dialog, with no descriptions, no reactions...no *color*. Nevertheless, there are passages in this story that made me laugh out loud at work, and that's a very good thing. Call of the Wild, by Helen.
added 1/21, with thanks to TDO
PM Here's a deeply self-indulgent story out of PM -- a well-written guilty pleasure, one might say: The Padawan's Whore, by Emma Woodhouse , has a terrible title, and a Qui-gon with seriously low self-esteem, but it's an incredibly enjoyable wallow.
PM Here's a trio of very silly stories out of PM -- a fandom that I agree is ripe with parodiable passages and plots: the charmingly petulant Obi-wan stars in No, Master, by Mona R, the charmingly apprehensive Qui-gon stars in The Mood Swing by DBKate, and all three hunky PM guys star in older, but still funny Jedi At the Gate. Not all of the humor in this fandom is found in the Sith Academy...
added 1/3, updated 1/14, with thanks to Carol and Jillz!
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