J. Edgar

Jan. 31st, 2014 09:41 am
osprey_archer: (window)
A hypothesis: biopics live or die by their depiction of their central relationship. The relationship doesn’t have to be good or healthy, but it does need to be compelling, and it needs to achieve a higher degree of verisimilitude than the standard movie romance. Which is not to say that biopics always revolve around a romance…

In fact, biopics almost never arrange themselves around a romance, in the sense of a courtship. They tend to revolve around long-term relationships, either work partnerships or marriages. This probably explains their strange hold on me: it’s somewhat rare for movies to focus on marriage rather than courtship, and it fascinates me.

Sometimes the marriage is more metaphorical, as in J. Edgar, wherein J. Edgar Hoover and his second-in-command Clyde Tolson attempt a sort of marriage-by-transitive-property by both wedding themselves to their work at the FBI, and never ever ever actually directly discussing their feelings for each other.

(There is, incidentally, a great fic for this movie, Bitters, Sugar, Whiskey, Orange, which captures their relationship in all its dysfunctional, unable-to-discuss-anything-important-directly (and therefore communicating through tiny gestures) glory.)

That being said, in some ways Hoover and Tolson clearly had an immensely functional partnership: together they formed the FBI as we know it today. Their place in that history make the movie the perfect vehicle to explore questions about ethics and freedom and safety and the modern state, but although the film gestures in that direction, it never really digs in. It’s frustrating, because it’s hard not to feel that making Hoover/Tolson their prime concern, the filmmakers actually chickened out on the truly hard questions.
osprey_archer: (yuletide)
I was going to make a longer recs post, but then I realized that I am not going to make it the rest of the archive, so here we go.

First, a drabble. I must confess, under normal circumstances I am kind of prejudiced against drabbles: it's a lot easier to write a bad drabble than a good one. But this A Little Princess drabble actually manages to put an entire story in one hundred words, and it is so very Sara: Beyond Story's End

Second, a Ghost Soup Infidel Blue fic. I must confess, I am also kind of prejudiced against GSIB because obviously Orange is better and you will never convince me otherwise!, because fic for a fandom that doesn't actually have a canon can be, well, not very good.

But when people use Ghost Soup as a way to examine fandom itself, it can be pretty awesome, as with The Very Secret Diaries of Mary_Suep – Ghost Soup BNF (and grade-A cowbag). This is a beautiful satire of some of fandom's worse behavior patterns: Mary_Suep constantly creates drama, but lacks the self-awareness to realize that she's an instigator, not just the innocent victim of other people's unkindness.

I am in awe of how much work the author put into this. She created a Ghost Soup anonmeme, which is a pitch-perfect recreation of anonmeme style!! She wrote Mary_Suep's Yuletide letter, which is truly a masterpiece of an awful Yuletide letter. (I think my favorite part of the letter is this:

Sherlock RPF

I think Benedict Cumberbatch is HOTT. But I’m not so big on RPF, all things being told. So for this fandom, I would love to see Benedict and Martin transformed into their roles as John and Sherlock. Maybe they’re transported aboard the Ghost Soup ship! Or maybe Captain Luke and his crew crash land in 221B! Go crazy. As long as no real people are involved, I know I’ll love it.

And the fic comments are golden, too, because so many of the commenters reply in character as Ghost Soup fans.

And last, an utterly hilarious fic that draws loosely on Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: Time Traveller's Guide: Important Additional Information.

Therefore, regardless of your feelings that William Pitt the Younger as leader of the Conservative Party might improve the 1980s, or that a 21st Century Lib-Con coalition would be more interesting if headed by Benjamin Disraeli and W E Gladstone, you are required to be nothing more than an observer on your forays back in time. (No one will need reminding of the disaster and near complete destruction of the vortex and the planet itself that followed the attempt to bring Elizabeth I, Henry V, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill together in the 22nd Century.)

It is glorious.
osprey_archer: (yuletide)
At last I have finished my first pass through the Yuletide archive! Which will need to be followed by an almost as extensive second pass through the Yuletide archive, because there are a ton of stories this year. Someone wrote a nearly 40,000 word rewrite of the ending of Mansfield Park. I am kind of excited about this.

In the meantime, I come bearing recommendations!

First, and if you read no other Yuletide stories this year: Re-designation, a WALL-E fic, which is about the meaning of identity and names and, most basically, what happens when EVA and WALL-E meet another WALL-E unit.

A depressed perfectionist WALL-E unit, which is slowly sliding into despair as it realizes it may never clean up its city on its own. [Progress toward task completion: NOT ENOUGH. Estimated time to completion: NEVER.] WALL-E-97-567982 summarized.

Fortunately, WALL-E and EVA are there to help. The author has also somehow managed to make their voices perfectly in character, despite the fact that the robots never actually talk in the movie. It's brilliant.

The Not Entirely Accurate Chronicle of John Polidori, Genius Physician and Brilliant Writer, and His Rather Less Distinguished Companions, a fic about the trip that Byron, the Shelleys, and Polidori took to Lake Geneva. It's in a Very Secret Diary format and everything about it is hilarious.

Note to self: Do not ask Byron any questions regarding his conquests.

2:00 pm

Note to self: Must stop assuming the rumors and gossip surrounding Byron are false. Far easier to assume everything is true.

10:00 pm

Far easier to assume that everything is, in fact, more scandalous than rumored.

And, finally, an adorable Sports Night fic: Once More, With Feeling, a hilarious five times story (with perfectly Sorkin-esque dialogue!) about Jeremy's attempts to ask Natalie to marry him. One of them involves trying to teach all his coworkers a dance routine.

Jeremy addressed the room, all still panting from the latest run-through of the routine before Jeremy pulled the plug on the ordeal. "The fact that I don't want to subject my hopefully future-wife to your chicken-like collective spasms does not a chicken of me make."
osprey_archer: (nature)

Happy Halloween! It’s the end of October, and as such, these are the last of my recs, carefully chosen for maximum Halloween appropriateness.

Title: One Minute, Counting
Author: Kaneko
Fandom: Pushing Daisies
Pairing: None
Rating: PG
Word Count: short
Warnings: character death, but this is Pushing Daisies. Death is a negotiable condition.
Summary: Ned brings Emerson back from the dead.

Excerpt: “Oh hell no,” Emerson said, which wasn’t part of the speech he’d prepared in case this ever happened, but he’d allowed himself a certain latitude. (Improvised preamble. Cussing.)

Ned opened his mouth, no doubt to say something self-evident and time-wasteful, like: “I have some bad news” or “You had a pretty bad fall there, Emerson.”

Emerson held up his hand. “My death. My minute. You can wait for your own.”

Why I loved it: It’s hard to get Pushing Daisies fic to work - I should know; I tried repeatedly - but this one gets not only the voices but the character interactions just right. If Emerson had died on the show, I’m pretty sure that when Ned brought him back it would have gone just like this. Although it might not have managed to be quite this funny.

Title: if this was the cold war (we could keep each other warm)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] oflights
Fandom: The Social Network
Pairing: Mark/Eduardo
Rating: R
Word Count: ~11,400
Warnings: language, serious medical condition, too much Sean Parker?
Summary: Mark is haunting Eduardo, in an annoyingly literal way.

Excerpt:He shuffles into his kitchen the next morning and fumbles blindly into his fridge, aiming for some orange juice that he can knock back a few aspirin with. He pours some into a glass, shuts the refrigerator door, and turns to see Mark sitting at his kitchen table, dressed exactly the same as the night before, typing on the same laptop.

Eduardo drops the glass of orange juice; it spills all over his counter and onto his socks, and he ignores it. “Oh my God, I’m going insane.”

“You spilled your juice,” Mark says without looking up, but when Eduardo simply stares at him some more, mouth slightly open, he glances up and squints. “Aren’t you going to clean it? It’s getting everywhere.” He looks down at where a stream of juice is snaking down by his flip-flop-covered feet, and winces and puts them up on another chair.

Why I loved it: Because it’s by [livejournal.com profile] oflights, who writes all the best TSN fic. Also because it features Mark suffering, which, let’s face it, I think suspect most TSN viewers have a burning desire to see. (And by “most TSN viewers” I of course mean “me.”)

But there’s far more to it than just Mark suffering. [livejournal.com profile] oflights writes such great TSN fic because she has an excellent handle on the characters: how they talk, what makes them tick, and what would make them freak right out. She’s also very good at creating an organic emotional progression, so that when the characters go from hatred or at least intense antipathy to love, the change feels real and not like an authorial manipulation. Death fics in particular have a lot of potential for emotional manipulation, but this story - although it is angsty - never feels like its toying with the readers for the sake of angst.

Spoilers )
osprey_archer: (cheers)

These fics didn’t quite fit in with my other themes, but I love them all and I wanted to share. One Gilmore Girls (more Paris/Rory!), one Les Miserables (focused, naturally, on my darling Eponine), and one for Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a canon that I personally would be rather afraid to take on because the original is so impressive.

Title: Boston Marriage
Author: [livejournal.com profile] jae_w
Fandom: Gilmore Girls
Pairing: Rory/Paris
Rating: G
Word Count: 5437
Warnings: None. Copious Powerpoint presentations?
Summary: Paris would like to make a proposal.

Excerpt: "As I said, I would like to make you a proposal."

"I'm going to be very disappointed if you don't have a PowerPoint presentation."

"Dammit!" Paris said. She blew her hair out of her face with an angry puff. "Dammit, I told Terrence that you'd be expecting it, I said that if one wants to be taken seriously then one must present oneself seriously --"

"Paris --"

"I told him that PowerPoint quantifiably raises the threshold of agreement by six percentage points, any idiot knows that, but no, he said, don't do it, he said, ordinary people find PowerPoint cold and off-putting in interpersonal relationships, he said, and like a fool I listened. I listened to what a man who wears a poncho and puka shells has to say about interpersonal relationships. When will I learn?"

Why I loved it: Because Paris considered making a Powerpoint presentation before proposing to Rory! What more could you possibly want from a fic? That is the most Paris thing to do ever, and Rory is extremely Rory, which is very impressive given that Alexis Bledel always seems slightly wooden to me in the role.

Um, there is also an exciting library research sequence where Rory looks up Boston marriages, which is a nineteenth-century phrase for two women who, let me quote Rory, “live together, and, and support each other, and are each other's primary emotional person, and devote themselves to each other - ”

Now, you may be wondering, “Why can’t Paris just ask Rory out like a normal person?” But I think the answer here is obvious: Paris? Behave like a normal person? Don’t be ridiculous!

Les Mis and Rebecca )
osprey_archer: (cheers)

I don’t usually read long fics. Actually, let me rephrase this, I rarely read any fics over 10,000 words long, which I’m pretty sure isn’t even long yet. But The Social Network fic is the exception. Mark and Eduardo’s friendship is so thoroughly busted by the end of the movie, fic really needs to be thousands of words long to put it back together believably.

Title: Mulligan
Author: [livejournal.com profile] oflights
Fandom: The Social Network
Pairing: Mark/Eduardo. Mark and Eduardo with various others, but that’s not very important.
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: ~11,000
Warnings: None
Summary: Eduardo discovers he's kind of an asshole, breaks his own heart a few times, breaks Mark's heart, and then has to fix it.

Excerpt: He calls Chris, who is not on this coast this week, who he wishes dearly he could go to right now and maybe cry with his head in his lap for a little while. “Chris,” Eduardo says hoarsely. “I am Sean Parker.”

“Oh Jesus,” Chris says. “Hold on a sec, let me put the iron down for this.”

Why I loved it: I really enjoy watching Mark Zuckerberg suffer. Wait, that wasn’t what I meant to say. But it is one of the pleasures of this fic: it’s one of the few stories where Eduardo manages to screw Mark over in a way that feels at all commensurate to Mark’s betrayal of him.

Almost all TSN fics make Mark and Eduardo’s reconciliation way too easy; I find it hard to believe hat they might achieve any relationship closer than “chilly civility when they are forced in proximity.” But this fic sold me on the idea that they wouldn’t just become friends again, but that they could actually build up enough trust to make a romantic relationship work.

Title: Drive All Night
Author: fairy_tale_echo on AO3
Fandom: The Social Network
Pairing: Mark/Eduardo
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~10,000
Warnings: No archive warnings apply
Summary: Of course Dustin has probably the only car in the world that reads you your Facebook newsfeed. Of course he does. (and when Mark and Eduardo get stuck in it together, they end up saying a lot without ever speaking a word.)

Excerpt: There is still total silence in the car. Though he has let go of the steering wheel and resorted to pushing buttons on Dustin's overly elaborate console (Mark thinks he's trying to turn the heat up, but he could be trying to get some AM weather radio reception.) Wardo still refuses to meet Mark's eyes or even acknowledge his presence.

Well, fine.

If only there was some form of self-selected, instant communication and connection with the outside world that was there for you to get easily lost in so you could avoid awkward, lonely moments just like this.

Oh, wait. There
was. It was called Facebook and Mark invented it. So there.

Why I loved it: Mark totally tells off Sean Parker. HA, it is beautiful! And the author did excellent work with the device of the car that reads you your Facebook newsfeed: Mark and Eduardo have what feels like a private conversation (because they’re in a car together) without having to actually speak - and without being able to control who else sees it, which leads to complications. Like Sean Parker getting a smackdown.

Plus, having them together and communicating without actually speaking it a great way to ratchet up the tension. When they finally speak to each other in their own voices, there’s a sense as if you’ve been holding your breath, and can finally let it out.
osprey_archer: (cheers)

Have I told you guys about Raffles the Amateur Cracksman yet? As the canon is rather obscure - it was written around the same time as Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law, in fact - I figure I should explain it before reccing a fic.

Raffles is a series of short stories about Raffles, a gentleman jewel thief, and his assistant Bunny - yes, Bunny; it’s his school nickname. Bunny has a gigantic crush on Raffles. I would say the stories are loaded with subtext...but really, it’s entirely text. This is an actual quote from the actual stories:

It was Raffles I loved. It was not the dark life we led together, still less its base rewards; it was the man himself, his gayety, his humour, his dazzling audacity, his incomparable courage and resource. And a very horror of turning to him again in mere need of greed set the seal on my first angry resolution. But the anger was soon gone out of me, and when at length Raffles bridged the gap by coming to me, I rose to greet him almost with a shout.

It’s never entirely clear if Raffles likes Bunny back, or if he’s just using Bunny’s devotion to secure himself a partner (and, just as important, admiring audience) for his crimes. Fic being fic, people tend to take the first approach, but I think there’s something to be said for keeping it ambiguous...

Which, admittedly, this story does not do. (Unless you assume Raffles is lying to Bunny to keep him on the hook, which he totally could be doing, although it seems unlikely.) But I love it because it captures their dynamic perfectly, and in lovely Victorian pastiche, too.

Title: The Due Reward of Our Deeds
Author: Mercy on AO3
Fandom: Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman - E. W. Hornung
Pairing: Raffles/Bunny
Rating: R
Word Count: 2885
Warnings: No archive warnings apply
Summary: "I've been thinking what rot it is to go doing things by halves!" Takes place at the end of "Wilful Murder," after Bunny's two days of waiting for Raffles to return.

Excerpt:I think the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians has been recited in every wedding sermon in history, but that morning it had been preached in a church I'd had the temerity to enter in a moment of folly. I should likely have been better served to sit home and await Raffles with some secular verse, if I needs must be spoken to of love. Mine had indeed been patient and kind; I had bitten down jealousy when his eye turned to a pretty girl, I had written off his wrongs and hung on for the truth, and above all been faithful and hopeful. But this silent waiting was yet more of this doing things by halves. I would rot doing things by halves. I would waste away on purple diamond crumbs of hope and starve on nonchalant grasps that always took, never gave.
osprey_archer: (cheers)

Title: Precious Little Space Dumplings of Love
Author: [livejournal.com profile] shaggydogstales
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: Doctor/Master
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: longish?
Warnings: Psychic orgasms, dirty talk. Miscellaneous silliness.
Summary: ‘If I’m going to pose as your overly-demonstrative homosexual love-bunny, I ought to get something out of it myself.’ Post Last of the Time Lords AU.

Excerpt:There are several things wrong with having an evil scheme foiled, being taken prisoner, and kept captive on the TARDIS. The lack of supreme power, with all its attendant capacity for spreading awe and terror, and commanding hot and cold running minions, is a bit of a blow. The indignity of all it – being beaten by a girl, again, rankles pretty hard as well. Putting up with the Doctor’s unnatural levels of sanctimony would drive a lesser Time Lord to distraction. But that’s not the worst of it.

The worst part is that he’s so bloody

Why I loved it: This is full of banter and increasingly hilarious pet names as the Doctor and the Master try to convince the court that their psychic bond is a result of the fact that they’re totally in love, not the Doctor's way of keeping the Master from trying to take over the universe again. You know, like you do.

It’s clear that the author is having a blast with the world-building details - all of [livejournal.com profile] shaggydogstales Doctor Who fic is brilliant for this - and the psychic sex is super hot.
osprey_archer: (nature)

Glee fics! Remember when I used to watch Glee? Yeah, that was a long time ago. I probably should have recced these fics back then before they were completely out of date. But they’re still awesome.

Title: Taking This One to the Grave
Author: [livejournal.com profile] tamakito
Fandom: Glee
Pairing: None
Rating: R
Word Count: 4,749
Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, sexual assault, mentions suicide attempt.
Summary: Some people have diaries; Kurt has Azimio, his French partner for the last year and change. Confident that Azimio doesn’t understand a word he’s saying, he’s been telling Azimio everything – including what Karofsky’s done to him. And Azimio, who just doesn’t want to have to talk to Kurt, is actually a genius at French.

Excerpt:So, on the downside, he knows way more about Hummel than he ever wanted to. He’s pretty sure he was the first one to know for actual certain-sure that the dude’s queer and not just metro, because:

Madame Mitchell makes them talk to each other for at least ten minutes every lesson, and in their third week Hummel, who had plainly already studied this crap, said in French, “I go to the restaurant every day at four. You do not understand a word I say, do you?”

“I go to the lamp day at two past three,” said Azimio charitably.

Hummel’s expression didn’t change. He said, “I am gay.”

Yeah, no kidding. “When do you go to the lamp?” Azimio asked.

“My god. I have never told anyone.”

Why I loved it: This fic is written in pitch-perfect bro, and one of the reasons I’m reccing it is that I’m just so, so impressed that [livejournal.com profile] tamakito could go so deep into the headspace of someone who is not characterized much on the show, but what little characterization he gets - which [livejournal.com profile] tamakito expands - is that of an incredibly misguided homophobic bully. He’s absolutely believable and well-portrayed here. He feels like a real person, never a caricature.

But even though he is so awful, Azimio’s not totally irredeemable, which is the thing that makes this fic so fascinating and painful. Azimio is doing the best he can to look out for his best friend Karofsky, and it’s painful to watch because we know that the way he’s doing it will only make things worse.

If the show Glee had ever been this good, I would still be watching it.

So that was super-angsty. Here, have a couple of porntastic AUs to make you feel better!

One Glee, and one Glee/Doctor Who fic )
osprey_archer: (cheers)
I’ve just stumbled on the most adorable little comic! On the Importance of Space Travel, which kicks off when young Jeannie tells her classmates during Show and Tell that she’s a Princess of Pluto.

Is she a Princess of Pluto? The evidence is such that you could decide either way. But it’s a lovely story. I particularly love Jeannie’s verve and enthusiasm, and the kindness of her father. Plus the comic illustrations are cute, and it’s a really quick read.

Soul fics

Oct. 13th, 2013 12:04 am
osprey_archer: (window)

I happen to have two fics to rec that have the word soul in the title, so I thought, hey, I should rec them together! Never mind they are not even slightly alike!

Title: Whatever our souls are made of
Author: [livejournal.com profile] dollsome
Fandom: Gilmore Girls
Pairing: unrequited (so far) Paris/Rory
Rating: G
Word Count: 3571
Warnings: None
Summary: Edward Cullen tries to woo Rory. Paris does not approve.

Excerpt: “Exactly,” Rory agrees. “When I first read Wuthering Heights when I was nine—”

“Of course you were nine,” Paris grumbles, and suddenly feels like an eleven year old failure.

“—my mom pitched it as the greatest horror story ever told. And that Kate Bush song definitely helped to back up her stance.”

Paris considers her. “You’re suspiciously un-delusional for someone raised in Avonlea.”

“You’re suspiciously good at off-the-cuff Anne of Green Gables references,” Rory counters, “considering you’re, you know, evil.”

Why I loved it: In the days of yore when I watched Gilmore Girls, I was all about Rory/Jess, but fic has totally sold me on Rory/Paris. Both brilliant, both driven, one hiding it (Rory) behind her sweetness and the other (Paris) an intense steamroller with no social skills? Sign me up.

And this fic has perfect Paris voice, and perfect Rory-and-Paris repartee - it was so hard choosing just one excerpt for you! The whole thing is hilarious! “THIS IS THE SKIN OF A KILLER, RORY,” Edward shouts - ugh, it is just so perfect, go read it!

Title: A Digression on Selling Souls
Author: athousandwinds on AO3
Fandom: Les Miserables/Fallen London: Echo Bazaar, but I’m not familiar with the second and I still got the fic.
Pairing: It’s a little bit Enjolras/Grantaire, but not very much.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2537
Warnings: None
Summary: Lost in the winding streets of Fallen Paris, Grantaire considers selling his soul. Enjolras objects, verbosely.

Excerpt: Grantaire laughed too loudly, but he couldn't help himself. "What is there that you of all people expect me to understand? I am no Keats; my art has always been devoted to eliding that which is true in pursuit of that which is beautiful."

Why I loved it: Fic with philosophical argument, you guys! This should totally be more common. The philosophical flights and verbal agility are really impressive, and this is one of the few fics that managed to sell on on Enjolras/Grantaire as a semi-healthy relationship while keeping them in character.
osprey_archer: (cheers)

Sometimes, you just need some adorable in your life. And I am here to help with that! I come bearing not one, but two flufftastic fics with amazing adorable illustrations.

Title: The Markly Duckling
Author: [livejournal.com profile] aredblush
Fandom: The Social Network
Rating: G
Word Count: short, with lots of pictures
Summary: Once upon a Spring Break Mark squawked, Chris was otherwise occupied, Wardo came to the rescue, and Dustin was right all along.

Why I loved it: I’ve copied the author’s summary above, but the gist of this fic is: Mark turns into a duckling. Why? Who knows! Who cares! It is an excuse to draw adorable sulky duckling pictures!

I think my favorite picture is the one where duckling!Mark confronts a rubber ducky. He is totally unimpressed.

Author: [livejournal.com profile] reseda_ptah
Fandom: Fake News (Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert)
Rating: G
Word Count: Also short.
Warnings: No one turns into an animal in this one, so it is not quite as adorable as the above.
Summary: Jon and “Stephen” react to the 2008 election. (Yes, this fic is an oldie. But a goodie!)

Why I loved it: Normally I feel doubtful about first-person fics for a canon that isn’t in first person, but [livejournal.com profile] reseda_ptah’s work is so excellent that I would read it if she wrote a zombie apocalypse. She has such a good handle on “Stephen” (that is, the character Stephen Colbert plays on The Colbert Report) that even her first-person version of him is spot-on.

Plus, this one comes with pictures! “Stephen,” true to the fic title, is telling Jon Stewart to comfort him about the election results.

Excerpt: "I'm distraught," I growled. This was maybe not the manliest of emotions, but right now, with that big stupid map all splattered with blue, I had an excuse!

"I couldn't tell," said Jon.

Jon is a bit of an idiot sometimes. He's all right, though. You just have to tell him, in clear, firm tones, what to do.

So I said: "COMFORT ME."

(It helps if you're loud.)
osprey_archer: (cheers)
A few days ago, [livejournal.com profile] motetus linked to a month-long fic recommendation challenge, Rectober.


And so of course I had to do recs.

So here is my first rec!

Title:The Grim Gray Hills
Author: [livejournal.com profile] zodiacal_light
Fandom: Song of the Lioness - Tamora Pierce
Rating: R
Word Count: 2437
Warnings: It’s kind of harrowing.
Summary: All hillmen are traitors, and you always knew this.

Excerpt: This is what it means, to be a noble in the Hill Country: you are a traitor to your people.

Your father or your grandfather was some opportunistic turncoat, who flocked to the Old King's side when he rolled through the region and was hastily ennobled, charged with pacifying their fellow hillmen. Something about rewarding loyalty and local lords knowing their people. The first is a sick northern lie; the second is a tragedy.

Why I loved it: If you pick just one fic to read this month, it should be this one. It’s an exploration of Alex of Tirragen, one of the heroine’s many antagonists, most of whom never get very satisfactory motives in the original. This fic gives Alex motives (and with him, another antagonist, Delia), in a manner so satisfactory and so much deeper than the original as to be instant headcanon.

Alex and Delia come from a recently conquered region, and this fic explores the rage and pain and despair that they feel, and with it, of the imperialist themes in the Tortall books. These are so deeply embedded in the premise that until you start to look for them, you barely see them - but then they’re everywhere.
osprey_archer: (fic corner)
[livejournal.com profile] fic_corner stories! I have found time to read, and now I must share my glee in my stories!

First, my main gift, The Very Long Letter Bran Left on His Desk. An epistolary fic! Well, a single epistle, which Bran forgets to send his poor sister, oh Bran. (Maybe I should add “epistolary fic” to my list of things I like for Yuletide.)

The fic covers Bran’s months at Athanarel just after Galdran’s deposition, and I love how it captures the atmosphere of court - the leftover anxiety from Galdran’s reign (we get a few details about Galdran’s court that are quietly hair-raising), slowly fading away as uncertainty about the new court gives way to the sense that things will be better.

The fic also offers an interesting interpretation of Tamara: that her flighty fickleness as at least in part a front that she put on for Galdran, and that court mask has perhaps grown attached to her face and she doesn't know how to (or perhaps doesn't want to) take it off. It’s a thought-provoking take.

And a treat! i give thee the ocean, stormy or tranquil, which is about Tamara and Savona’s relationship - a stormy ocean if there ever was one. Crown Duel being in Mel’s perspective, we don’t get to see Tamara and Savona’s wranglings, and I was left very curious at the end just what they saw in each other: Tamara, after all, is not a very nice person.

This story also offers an interesting exploration of Tamara. She’s still not a very nice person, in fact works at seeming even less kind than she actually is:

It rankles to think that he might dole out his love as a reward for her good deeds, or worse, that he or anyone else might suppose that it’s only his faithful adoration that carved a half-decent human being from the virago of Chamadis.

She’s turned back against herself. But Savona sees the vulnerability that she hides - because he hides his vulnerability in much the same way.

And a couple of recs:

First, Worldbuilding, Chronicles of Narnia, about Polly and Digory discussing what it would be like the build Narnia. Pitch-perfect voices, slyly funny, and interesting speculation.

And second, Mountain Ash, The Dark is Rising Sequence, a little bit Jane/Bran but not much. The focus of the story is on Will, and on the effects of the forgetting on them all - the gaps it has created in their lives.

They never could stick together, having forgotten the core of what had first united them. But apart, they were never wholly contented.

It's taken Will decades to realize what damage the series' end has done to them. There's a sense of quiet melancholy to it, and hope as well.
osprey_archer: (cheers)
And the opening of [livejournal.com profile] sutcliff_swap is upon us! ALL THE NEW SUTCLIFF STORIES YAY YAY YAY.

First, the stories for meeeeeee! There are two of them!

First, [livejournal.com profile] riventhorn’s The Disciple, which is about Lucius (<3 <3 <3) and in a wonderful Lucius voice, slow and measured and thoughtful. And his friendship with Hilarion! Hilarion is pretty much Lucius’s opposite (and he does an appropriate amount of snarky lounging in this story), and yet despite this they are still good friends.

(I also think it is pretty entertaining that [livejournal.com profile] riventhorn and I basically wrote each other Lucius stories. Go us! Let us bring the light of Lucius to the fandom!)

And second, but quite as well beloved! No Battle’s Won in Bed, which is a Blood Feud story about Thormod’s unfortunate and unrequited crush on Anders, which he doesn’t quite notice is unrequited until he totally does, and...ow. Thormod comes across as bluff and hearty and determinedly uncomplicated in the book, so it’s interesting to see that there are feelings seething beneath his Viking facade.

Also, a recommendation: melannen’s Shining Company story, For My Song’s Sake, is just beautiful and packs a huge amount of feeling and setting and everything into a wonderfully compact story. This line, for instance, about Prosper and Cynan’s new home among a company in Byzantium: But the other men of the Excubitores were not so different from us, after all. The name might have meant, rather than tireless sentinels who kept watch the night, 'men who cannot sleep for nightmares'.


And finally, the stories that I wrote! Both Frontier Wolf, because apparently I am all about Frontier Wolf ideas. Clearly I need to go ahead and write that Frontier Wolf review that I have been planning.

First, my main story, for [livejournal.com profile] isiscolo.

Title: In Deep Waters
Fandom: Frontier Wolf - Rosemary Sutcliff
Pairing: Alexios/Cunorix
Rating: PG
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] sineala
Summary: The longing was strong in Cunorix to take that outstretched hand, slim and strong, and follow Alexios wherever he would go. That was the soulbond speaking: it pulled at him, like the current of a river, and if Cunorix had looked into Alexios’s eyes, perhaps it would have drowned him.

There is no such thing as too much soulbond angst, am I right?

And a pinch hit for [livejournal.com profile] riventhorn!

Title: Pax
Fandom: Frontier Wolf - Rosemary Sutcliff
Pairing: Lucius/Hilarion a little bit, though Lucius would be surprised to hear it
Rating: G
Betas: [livejournal.com profile] carmarthen and [livejournal.com profile] sineala
Summary: Soon after Lucius arrives at Castellum, he and Hilarion are trapped away from the fort by a fog. They take the opportunity to take each other's measure.
Or: how Lucius got his wolfskin.
osprey_archer: (Les Miz)
First week of French class: successfully completed! Here, let me share with you a poem we translated in class. (Yes, we are already translating poems. No wasting time here!)

Chanson d'automne
Paul Verlaine (1866)

The long sobs
of the violins
of the autumn
wound my heart
with a dull

All suffocating
and pale, when
the hour sounds
I remember
the old days
and I weep.

And I depart
on the ill wind
which carries me
hither, thither
like a
dead leaf.

Ah, nineteenth century poetry, how I love you and your wallowing in emotion. I want to name a story after this poem now. Technically it is too late for a Les Mis story, but eh, minor difficulties.

It occurs to me that, though moderns tend to criticize people of the 19th century (although perhaps not so much the 19th century French) for being repressed - the main criticism of this sort of Romantic poem is that it's too much, too over-the-top, too unrestrained.


We've also started reading excerpts from Le Comte de Monte Cristo. I think they must be simplified, but I'm not sure...Does Monte Cristo have ridiculously short chapters?

And what is it with nineteenth century French authors and prisons, you guys? Is there any other literary tradition quite this obsessed with prisons?


Have not progressed on Les Mis since we last spoke. However, I do come bearing a pair of Eponine & Cosette stories (which might also be read as Eponine/Cosette, although I kind of think they're tagged that way because pairing stories get more readers. Certainly if I can possibly tag a story as a pairing story, I always do.)

Recs recs )
osprey_archer: (books)
I’ve been reading Emily Climbs, the sequel to L. M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon, which is her second most famous series after, of course, Anne of Green Gables. And I can see why: Anne has a splendid romance, while I don’t like any of Emily’s romantic choices. I think she’s going to end up with Teddy, who is the least objectionable of the lot. But so dull!

On the other hand, Emily’s best friend Ilse is a thousand times more interesting than Anne’s best friend Diana, who is nearly as dull as Teddy. I always felt that Anne was in a sense projecting kindred spiritship onto Diana - not that Diana didn’t like Anne a lot, because she clearly did, but the poetic depth of the relationship was all Anne’s.

It works out all right, because Anne is a fictional character, but in real life attempting to believe someone into being a kindred spirit is pretty much destined to end in disillusionment.

Ilse, on the other hand, clearly has true kindred spirit potential: I love her wickedness. She flies into rages and curses, she wears clothes that are too grown up and goes around with too many boys, she doubts the existence of God, and she and Emily had adventures: they go skinny-dipping together (Emily protests: we kept our petticoats on!) and sleep out all night on a haystack.

Also, the Emily books introduce a word that I think ought to be dragged into the lexicon. Speaking of a cousin, Emily says, “She and I are friendish...we are more than mere acquaintances but not really friendly. We will always be friendish and never more than friendish. We don’t talk the same language.” (261)

ALSO because it is Yuletide week, I come bearing an Emily of New Moon Yuletide rec. A modern day version where Emily blogs, with a dash of Anne for good measure: Work in Progress. (The author lists the pairing as Emily Byrd Starr/Writing. I am in favor of this.)

Anne rolls her eyes. "Is your aunt really going to know if you cheat on your nonfiction with some hot prose on the side?"

"It's the principle of the thing. I've got my pride," Emily says.

"Ah, yes, Murray pride," Anne says, warming to the topic. "Also known as, your family is so ridiculously stubborn that whenever I think about them I thank God I'm an orphan."

"I'm an orphan, too," Emily points out.

"I thank God I'm adopted," Anne says.
osprey_archer: (friends)
You know, I was worried that the Lizzie Bennet Diaries might get stale after a while. Sure, a modern vlog of Pride and Prejudice is a fun idea, but could they keep the gimmick fresh?

But the videos just keep getting better and better! And the vlog format doesn’t feel like a gimmick anymore: it’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, sure, but it’s also become its own thing, and nowhere is that more obvious than the increased attention the Dairies give to Lydia.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie’s dislike of her youngest sister is presented as, if not admirable, certainly not problematic. But the Lizzie Bennet Diaries really delve into that - their fight in the most recent episodes didn’t hurt quite as sharply as Lydia’s fight with Mary, but it still ached, and I think the pain is going to hang around a lot longer this time. Recovering their relationship from this fight will be much harder than mending Lydia’s fight with Mary, or Lizzie’s rift with Charlotte - not least because neither Lizzie nor Lydia will want to meet the other halfway.

Lydia had let Lizzie’s criticisms just roll of her back, and all of a sudden she realized that Lizzie really meant them - and there’s no way Lizzie can really apologize for that, because she’s not going to (and should not) believe that Lydia’s reckless class-skipping, hard-partying ways are A-okay just because Lydia wants her to.

What I love about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is that the fights are about real things: issues that cut to the heart of the girls’ relationships with each other. And the narrative gives them the weight they deserve: they feel hard and painful and real. It’s not only rare for a story to focus this intensely on female friendship and/or sisters - it’s rarer still for those relationships to be allowed to be this loving but at the same time so difficult and complicated.

Finally, another Yuletide rec, because it has just perfect Lydia voice, and is simultaneously an excellent character study of Lizzie. Reasons Why Lizzie Bennet is Perpetually Single: A Helpful List Compiled by her Awesomer, Sexier, Totes Adorbs and Amazing Younger Sister. An awesome, adorable, and insightful fic.
osprey_archer: (yuletide)
Yuletide recs! Yuletide recs! I’ve been going through the archive up from the Zs, because I figure those fics will be slow to get some love.

First, a Yuletide story about – Yuletide! The Bears and the Bees starts out with a delicious description of Yuletide’s imaginary office – of course it has a scuffed wooden floor and a big fireplace and a desk full of cubbyholes! – and continues through the day’s correspondence. The bears wish to register their protest at their continued defamation throughout the Yuletide season. So funny!

Second, You Belong With Her, about Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me,” the song that sounds like Taylor is into the cheerleading captain if you just listen to the chorus. (The music video destroys this interpretation with a vengeance. Oh well.)

HOW DID I MISS THIS WAS A PROMPT? But whatevs, this author did a totally better job than I would have. I love her take on the cheerleading captain: Her eyes communicate quite clearly that she’d happily roast marshmallows on Taylor if she was on fire and yet her mouth is still set into a perfect, practiced smile. She remains absolutely the snotty, stereotypical cheerleading captain from the video, but with anger and fire and attitude.

I love the friendship that grows up between the cheerleading captain and Taylor (the song character, not the singer; the singer would be so meta), and the glimmering hints that it may grow into something more. It makes total sense to me that it will take a while, given the horrible history they have to put behind them.

Another fic about friendship! You Are My Fifth Avenue, a Whip It fic, about Bliss and Pash and best friendship. I love the realness of this fic: the strength of their friendship, and the fact that it isn’t perfect, the way they rag on each other and push each other to be more than they are, the way friendships change when they become long distance.

Fourth, an eerie fic for on Lois Lowry’s The Giver: Lily Remembering, showing the way that Jonas’s community reacts to his disappearance through the lens of his little sister, Lily. In some ways it has a more believable sense of dystopia to it than Lowry’s book, which starts off as an idyll. There’s a sense, here, of Lily straining against the mores of the community: she knows somehow that things are off, but she can’t articulate – she is literally not allowed to articulate – what she’s feeling. The way they simply do not speak of Jonas’s disappearance becomes creepy.

But it’s not a painful fic to read. There’s a sense of fragile hope to it.

And finally, as a lagniappe: a Producers fic, The Retirees: Bialystock and Bloom put on one last show, Brokeback Castro, in their retirement home. It perfectly captures the madcap hilarity of the movie.
osprey_archer: (yuletide)
You guys you guys, it is YULETIDE and I got TWO STORIES, both of which are AMAZINGLY AMAZING. Best Yuletide ever!

First, The Surly Bonds of Earth, a Code Name Verity/Ballet Shoes crossover from a TOTALLY MYSTERIOUS PERSON who is a TOTAL MYSTERY to me. Hearts times a thousand! Maddie meets Petrova Fossil when they're both ATA pilots. I love the delicacy of their beginning friendship here.

And also, I got the Ashley/Claudia BSC fic I have yearned for since I was twelve! And it's set in NEW YORK CITY! Escapades Out on the D Train. I love everything about this fic, but especially Ashley: "text-based communication is, after all, the cause of our generation’s emotional disconnect with our peers." Oh Ashley ILU, please never change.

(There's another Ashley/Claudia story, which is technically for someone else, but it's like a story for me: With Gentle Curves and Tender Feelings, which is made of joy and delicious Claudia voice: Temptation, whose name was Ashley Wyeth. And excellent Ashley, as always!)


Also, my parents gave me a copy of Blood Feud, and Taylor Swift's Red (someday I will title a fic after one of her songs. This WILL happen!), and enough chocolate to keep me going for, theoretically, the next three months, although given the rate at which I eat chocolate, probably the next two weeks.

And my brother gave me chocolate covered McVities digestive biscuits! And we are having trifle for dessert! Best Christmas ever!


osprey_archer: (Default)

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