Older recs: 1999 and before
The sweet end of '99:
HL Rec'ing Kat Allison's stories is rapidly becoming silly, since if you have any interest in HL, or good writing, you've already bookmarked her page. But because I wouldn't want anyone to miss it, check out September Song. I'm afraid I've categorized it in my head as the official Y2K story of HL fandom, but don't read it for that, but because of language like this: "He could see the war in Duncan's face -- the lure of grief, and the resolve to set grieving aside."
added 12/16, with thanks to Rache!
PM Long, slow, almost luxurious retelling of Obi-wan's maturation, Apprentice to Journey is an already oft-told tale, but told right, with a compelling plot, rich characterization of Obi-wan, and an enormously satisfying resolution. By Susan Smithson.
PM Some of my favorite stories over the years (as far back as Pros, and even Star Trek) involved one partner forced to watch the other partner suffer. In the right hands, this scenario can show how hard it is to consider yourself powerless; and how hard it is to be seen to be powerless. In Rachael Sabotini's new story, Waiting Place, this nakedness is central; they have to learn to face it before they have the strength to face each other.
HL There's a thread on DM right now about people's favorite stories -- and it's made me realized that I've forgotten to rec four of my favorites. The plots could hardly be less similar, but they all have simply gorgeous imagery, and wonderfully satisfying endings.
Masque, by Rachael Sabotini is set so beautifully into the holes of episodes that calling it an a/u seems unfair; I think of it as a story they just forgot to tell us. (Check out Sabotini's House O' Fanfic for her other HL stories -- and other fandoms too.)
Games, by Valentin has lovely dialogue, a non-stupid Duncan (damn rare in D/M, unfortunately) and a vulnerable, but not pathetic Methos (also too damn rare in D/M). The "bad guy from Methos' past" isn't as original as the dialogue, but he's not bad, either. If you like this one, she's got other HL and Herc stories well worth checking out.
A Miracle Every Day by Aristide has a slightly naive Duncan, and a slightly more vulnerable Methos, but I love the momentum of this story as they careen from tentative exploration to passionate conflict.
Found and Lost, by Ladonna King is my favorite version of "What if Fitz had offered Duncan the chance to stay and be with Tessa, or to go back and be with Methos?" Short, but lovely.
XF It's hard to get inside Skinner's head -- after all, he works very hard not to let Mulder (or us) see what's going on in there. So, stories like Hitchhiker, by Olivia are doublely impressive to me: interestingly written *and* well-characterized. (If you like this, and don't mind unfinished stories, go check out A Lonely Place by her in the new Down in the Basement X-Files archive.)
added 11/3, with thanks to Lezlie!
PM You're Tender and You're Tired -- This is going to be listed on everyone's rec page, but so much the better; it's a lovely sad piece for those with strong hearts. Story by Yasmin M, and now I'm going to go see if she's written anything else.
added 10/30, thanks to Rachael
Buffy I'm pretty much a slash fan; I don't read much gen in any fandom. But there's not really a solid slash pair in Buffy, and this story, News of My Death, packs the emotional wallop I'm looking for in fan fiction. The story's by Roxanne Longstreet Conrad. To find it, click on the link, then click on Fan Fiction, and then look for News of My Death in the Buffy section. (Grr...Frame sites that don't allow you to provide direct links--but it's a very pretty site.)
PM In the years after Qui-gon didn't die, Obi-wan's become quite the Jedi; now it's time for him to face a real battle: Qui-gon's affection for Anni. What a wonderful beginning this story has -- I can only imagine how much more I would have liked it if the resolution had not been rushed. Shrift by the Emu.
added 10/29 -- thanks to Destina
Herc I'm a sucker for clever: clever dialog, clever plots, clever characters. This story is clever enough, you may find yourself rooting for the rapist: Yes and No, by Kobra.
added 10/16, and I can't remember who passed it on -- sorry!
TS I've been waiting for her to finish this series, but suddenly that seems silly; each piece of this series has a solid stopping place, and it's *good*. The series name is Time Heals, and it consists of both short missing-scenes, and some long meaty stories -- all interconnected with ongoing growth and chance in Blair and Jim's life. The first set of short stories are on Russett's home Sentinel page; then there's Mosaic, on the Sentinel archive, then a couple more short ones back on Russett's page, then here's A Fragile Peace and Rape, Lies and Videotape, is back at the Sentinel archive as well.
added 10/11. Thanks, Terri for reminding me how much I like it!
XF More than most fandoms, any first time between Mulder and Skinner involves Skinner choosing to do something he *knows* he'll regret later. Given that, I need a Skinner adult enough to realize that, and swept away enough, needy enough not to care right now, and Te gives me that in Challenges. (I do wonder why people work hard writing good stories, and then let other people just paste them to the web in all of their ugly multi-parted text based glory...)
added 10/8. Thanks, Carol!
PM A little action, a pinch of secrets, a bucketful of hidden desires, threats of the dark side...this could only be a recipe for the Jedi Academy Murders!. analise and Kirby Crow have a great time combining genres and their own writing styles. (Also recommended: their beautifully laid out and maintained archive: the Obi-Wan torture oasis.)
added 10/5. Thanks, Jo!
WG (Well, it's new to the net...) Wiseguy still doesn't have much of a net presence, but some of the better zine stories are finally showing up in web versions. St. Christopher's Lie by Marie Blackpool is one of my favorite Sonny/Vinnie stories -- filled to the brim with emotional ambiguity -- and dialogue that David Burke could have written. (Originally published in McPikus Interruptus, by Manacles Press).
PM Qui-gon and Obi-wan are only together in the movie for 15 minutes, and we get a tiny picture of the council, but for some writers too little information is better than too much -- it allows them to take fascinating leaps of extrapolation. Unlike a challenge's worth of recent bad Sentinel stories, Chastity by Emu (and the Qui-gon only prequel, The First Need) convinced me that an adult and vital Obi-wan might rationally and maturely choose chastity.
added 9/31, Thanks, Jo!
PM I was going to wait until it's finished, but it's already a strong series, even though written a bit out of order (and I fear it shows). Writestuff's got some interesting things to say about power and relationships and hero worship and self esteem. This unnamed series starts with Rightful Owner and ends with Master and Apprentice, but there are a number of important stories in the middle you won't want to miss. The easiest way to find them is probably search for Writestuff's name on Valdemar.
(Hmmm... this is the third rec in a row with a strange or silly pen name. Sandy senses a trend.)
DS For such a wonderfully well-written and (imo) slashy show, online Due South fandom has been slow to develop strong stories. The Fan, by Manna LaDroit is a welcome sign in Fraser/Vecchio land. It's long, and wonderfully plotted, it builds slowly but confidently, and like the show itself, mixes serious drama, light humor and skillful whimsy (and unlike the show, a fair amount of hot sex!). Warning: the sequel, The Cabin, is for unrepentant romantics only.
added 9/29 -- Thanks, Anna!
PM The title doesn't suck, but it's completely misleading; the tone of Walk Softly And Carry A Big Lightsaber by Mercutio, is much more serious than she leads you to expect. One of the first good looks of what it means for Obi-wan to be so much younger than Qui-gon.
added 9/20 -- Thanks, Christine!
HL Maybe it's a conspiracy, but there have been a encouraging number of stories recently that draw both characters as adult men -- strong, flawed and mature. I can't tell you how excited I am, or how much I'm hoping stories like One Thousand are a trend. Other than that, all I can say about this story (by Amand-r, decima) is, it's Duncan/Methos, it's sad and it's beautiful.
added 8/18 -- another one passed on by Rache
Herc More stories I should have rec'd months ago, (but I lost the URLs): a pair of comedic Hercules stories. The first, An Affair to Remember, is the best fannish farce I've read in a long time. It takes a deft hand to pull this sort of story off, and Scarlette Skye and Randi DuMois have it. The other story--Many Deaths by Therienne (a death story that anyone can read) is comedy with heart--my favorite kind.
TS Deirdre is an established Sentinel writer that I can't believe I forgot in the original listing of this page. My favorite of her stories is Paper Cranes, but all of them are good.
added 8/16 -- thank Robin for reminding me
PM Phantom Menace fandom continues to amaze and astound me. More than any recent fandom, it seems determined to prove that Sturgeon was an optimist, but any fandom that can encourage someone like Jane St Clair to turn out a lovely story like Carefully Everywhere Descending needs no defense. (And check out the sequel, Breath.)
added 8/15 -- thanks Rache, for sending it on!
XF Gwyneth Rhys has a double-treat for X-Files fans open to more than one pairing: the wonderfully rich Twilight -- an unusually adult look at a Skinner dealing with the combined threat and temptation that is Mulder -- and the tensely crisp x=y -- a quick emotional reprise of the season ender.
SN Sports Night is in summer reruns, but the stories are still coming. In Vaguely Gay, Miriam's Dan is as strong and as determined and as in love as you could ask of any BSO, and her Casey has a few surprises up his non-existent sleeve.
HL I've always loved Kat Allison's writing, but her Methos is usually a lot more angry than mine, and her Duncan a bit...well...thicker. I don't know if she's mellowing, or I'm getting tougher, but in Strata, Methos and Duncan are just as I see them; complex and edgy and miscommunicating like mad, but still inexorably and beautifully connected.
added 7/19 -- thanks to Rache for passing it on.
PM Phantom Menace fandom is fascinating to watch (from a distance...). I've never seen a fandom grow so fast. Thankfully it's getting some strong stories, like Surfacing, a five-part series: At First, At Moments, At Odds, and At Last, and At Home by Yahtzee. Still more to come, but each piece has a resolution to it.
added 7/15 -- thanks to the Bitkahs for the rec
TS Anna's back, and writing in Sentinel! Dystocia shows the boys at their best, fighting, making up, and helping each other learn hard truths, all in the richly layered language Anna is known for.
TS The best writers in fandom are the ones that keep trying new things, the ones that keep surprising me. Merry Lynne's Falling Further In is immediate, and tense and edgy; very different from her usual fare, and I mean that in a *good* way. I'm going to link to her page, too, so you can contrast and compare it with the rest of her wonderful stuff.
PM Not a story, but an entire archive of related stories: if you haven't visited the Sith Academy, you're missing out. Based (lightly) on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, they're a safe and fun read even for those of us who haven't seen the movie. Funny and silly without being stupid, they contain years worth of siggable material. Read the basic ones that establish the "canon", once you've read enough of the stories to get a feel for them, be sure to read the equally funny A Critical Introduction. Don't miss the newest one, Requiem for Mr. Fluffy by Rachael Sabotini.
added 7/2, updated 7/15
XF Isolation by Mouser, is a lyric but not-for-the-faint-of-heart look at Mulder. Maybe the worse thing Krycek can do to him is remind him just how alone he is.
XF Recommending one of torch's stories seems redundant; if you read X-Files at all, you probably read torch. But just in case... let me recommend her Mulder/Skinner story, Subaudition. I love stories with carefully crafted ambiguity. Is Mulder right? Is he confused? Is he lying to himself for his own reasons? We'll never know...
XF It's a good week for Mulder and Skinner. September, by Wombat, is a richly focused look at a Skinner many years hence, and a Mulder who finally decides what's important.
TS When a story's got a lot of things you don't like (lots of Simon, lots of mystical stuff) and you still like it, that's a very good sign. In fact, in a very good way, this story, Strange World, (linked from their main Sentinel page) reminds me of early K/S stories that used Pon Far and the "bond" to explore issues of independence and emotional space. Despite that, it's one of those rare stories (like The Good Student in Highlander) where you really can't tell whether they're a couple or not.
added 6/10 -- thanks to Jo for passing it on
Non-fiction but still fun: The Elements of Phyle. Maybe the best fan-based grammar and punctuation site. You have to love someone who tries to teach using examples like, "The victims' bodies are not with their heads. They're over there."
XF Betrayal, by Xanthe. This is another hard one to recommend. I loved the plot, and completely believed her characters (Mulder and Skinner) would do these things. I loved the lyricism of the language ("You smelled of the ashes of your beloved X files, and you had dark streaks on your cheeks from silently shed tears. You tasted of fire, smoke, and water, of salty tears, and sunflower seeds.") but in dialog, the voices of the characters never rang true to me. I still say, give it a try.
HL It's not art, it's totally implausible, there are some (ahem...) stupid moments and the characterization is bad. Plus it's 1st person POV and has no dialogue. Read it anyway: Compromising Positions.
TS A good friend of mine has been doing the pseud tango, using Aristide for happy stories and Mairead Triste for darker ones. She's apparently integrated her warring halves in the writing of The Dragon; a dark and sexy new story.
XF If you can believe three impossible things in the first page of a story, then I've got an X-File for you -- Skinner gets chivvied into hosting an FBI bachelor party, the FBI's least-wanted gets invited to it, and guess who is the entertainment in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds by Halrloprillalar.
TS A new writer has just appeared out of nowhere with two strong stories in the same week (she's also winner of the best email address of the week: firstname.lastname@example.org). Both stories are clever and multileveled and fun -- and both (imho) need a second pass by an author who's willing to slow down and make sure everything hangs together a little tighter. I'd also love some consistent capitalization, but maybe that's just me... Despite my quibbles, they're great sexy fun: An Unexamined Life and Creatures of Habit
TS In Your Dreams, by Livia is a lovely sexy first time story with loads of clever dialog, and guys that really care about each other. Yum.
Sports Night No laughing now -- this little fandom is turning out some great stories! Cori Lannam has some solid stories in Sentinel and Highlander, but You Get What You Need is definitely her best yet. (The rest of her stories are here...)
XL Good Scully is damn rare; good Scully sex with an OFC...? Rarer than continuity in a Mytharc episode. This one's short, but the language and characterization make it a satisfying read. Catechism, by Jessica. (Her other stories are here.)
TS If you can't rec your own stuff, what's the point of having a rec page? In the Air is my first Sentinel story--a sweet cautionary tale about a boy who's been around (the hospital) too much, and gotten himself a bit of a reputation. Or not.
TS Imagine My Surprise by Brighid
I honestly don't think Jim has this active an inner voice (or maybe life), but other than some mental hyperactivity, I think she caught Jim pretty well--he's smart, funny, and concerned; just the way I like him. Very warm and nice first-timer, set after Sentinel Two, part 2.
HL I finally met Kat Allison at Escapade a few weeks ago, which reminded me of One for the Road. You can (well, *I* can) quibble about her characterization of Methos, but her language is beautiful.
Even older recs:
HL Rachael Sabotini just turned me onto Mourning and Melancholia in Immortals by devo. The title is almost longer than the story, but it's a beautiful little mood piece set after Archangel.
TS Eye of the Beholder: Keyhole, by Francesca
The EotB stories are connected solely by the theme of voyeurism -- intentional and otherwise. This installment is my favorite so far--a compelling, fast-paced and *hot* read. (And, unlike some of her more recent work, it feels fully realized -- not dialogue waiting to be filled in with story later.)
XF Deny Nothing by Rivka
Who knew Rivka was writing slash?! This is a wonderful story, with incredible lines, and a plausible and appropriate X-Files plot. But...if 'normal' M/K is merely incredibly unlikely, this story tops out the "never going to happen, not no how, not no way" meter. Or check here for Rivka's cool and intense gen.
TOS This one's old, but I just found it; Surrender by Killashandra
The beginning is lovely; just enough buildup; but once things get going, Spock becomes all-knowing master
"You want to please me, don't you?" the Vulcan murmured.
"Yes," Kirk breathed. "Anything."
"You want to taste me."
The best of 1998? Here's the list that started this page -- a skimpy and non-definitive list of my favorite this year (doubtless I've forgotten *plenty*)
Sentinel stories this year... (Those without links are available from the Sentinel Archive)
<beads of sweat appear on my forehead>
...gee, and about 20 more. It's been a very good year for Sentinel fandom.
Maybe it'll be easier in another fandom
<moving on before I panic...>
XF stories, by pairing
-- hands down, best of the year, Surrender Dorothy by Gwyneth
-- Ghosts and Lovers by torch
-- Road Trip and Strange Bliss by Keiko Kirin (both stories hosted on Gwyneth Rhys fiction page)
-- Mulder in Brochette by Anna
-- Slash Evidence, X-Files/Homicide series by Saundra Mitchell
-- Broken-Hearted Savior by Gwyneth
I know I'm missing a bunch here. Argh! One more fandom before I completely throw in the towel:
Highlander by category --
-- Interlunation and sequels by Bone
-- Dead Weight & Live Wire by Killashandra
-- Breathing Sorrows by Rachael Sabotini and Megan Kent
-- The Watcher by Alexandra
-- Tall Tale and The Good Student by Sylvia Volk
Sorry that many of these still don't have URLS, but all of these are on the web, and should be easy to find -- (I also have Word .doc versions of any of these for the asking.)
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