Saturday, April 20, 2013

My ultimate rec list: In which I nerd out.

Song of the day: 'Death Eater Tango' by the Butterbeer Experience.

So I read fanfic. A lot.

And that means that I also see Sturgeon's law in action. A lot.

And it is true. About 90% of fanfic is... Not very good, or at least not fantastic, to say the least.

But, and bear with me, this also means that the remaining 10%... Are worth dying for.

So, those of you that have grown cynical by endless reading of substandard fanfiction I say to you, do not lose hope. For these fics are not only one of the few best fics I have ever read, but also among the best pieces of fiction, period, that I have ever read.

So, in no particular order, we have:

-The epic masterpiece (this being the original definition of 'masterpiece') that is Observations.
It takes place in the Star Trek 2009 reboot verse and gives a detailed account of life aboard the Enterprise from the point of view of First Officer Spock, and eventually becomes Kirk/Spock (the best I've ever read.)
It, for some considerable time after reading, left me disappointed in the general quality of fanfiction everywhere. That is, that I would have to lower my standards waaaaay down if I was to enjoy fanfiction again, because other fics just didn't measure up to this one. It gives such a deep and detailed analysis and observation (see what I did thar) of not just Spock but every single other character through his interaction and growth through knowing them, and vice versa. It may, literally, change your perception of fiction.

-The second one would be the magnum opus Truthfully.
Takes place in the the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and shares most continua except for Avengers). Long story short, Loki ends up on Earth after the events of Thor, and gets a therapist. Hilarity ensues.
Except, no. That doesn't cover it at all. This fic succeeds where so many have failed before; to take a broken character that could have been turned away from darkness if it had been tried in time, and develop him from that point on while staying faithful to his ground-work personality all the way through. No I haven't been reading too much purple prose. Why do you ask?

It is completely gen and no shipping involved whatsoever. However, it contains bucketloads of ho-yay and a reader would feel justified in shipping just about anything they felt like. Also contains one of the few amazing OC's I have had the pleasure to meet. Oh, and it is absolutely rib-crackingly hilarious. Like, seriously, I could only lie on my back when I slept for days after reading this fic in almost one sitting.

-Which would make the third one my great friend, Diplomacy.
This fic takes place in the Warcraft verse, somewhere around the beginning (end?) of Cataclysm, if I remember correctly. It can be considered a 'what if' story. Leaders from the two factions, Thrall an Jaina Proudmoore decide that war happening again between their people is out of the question, and go for the age-old trick of marriage between two mayor political figures. Namely, themselves. It also helps that they are most certainly in love with each other. Also contains some masterful usage of lore knowledge and associated tacklements. And knowledge of human (and other humanoid) nature.

This fics deals with the political and social and ramifications and advantages (and such interesting politics! Who knew such a thing existed?) of such an act and realistically portrays how everything would play out. It also has a sneaky sense of humor and theatrics. T-rated at most. There is also the incredible portrayal of interaction between characters (and some lovely OC's that have their own backgrounds and backstories in the author's other works). It is also notable as a story with love as a major sub-plot, that no-one ever actually uses the words 'I love you,' and yet it is abundantly clear that they very much do.

-And then there is Memoirs of a Master.
While this fic can no longer be considered cannon after Kung Fu Panda 2, that absolutely does not mean it has been made redundant. It follows the supposed backstory of Master Shifu from the beginning of his training at the Jade Palace at age four right up to and after the events of Kung Fu Panda. It has a whole gallery of amazing, incredible OCs that I could in no way do justice. There is a bit of m/m OC character shipping, but even if you don't slash, with a story this good, missing out on reading it for something like that would be a great loss. The author's use of Chinese cultural knowledge, lore and myths is beautiful and a delight for anyone who loves a good story.

It does get pretty dark at several points, so I'm not sure if the rating can be consistently any one thing, since it seems to range all the way from K up to M (not for naughty stuff, just lots of bloody fight scenes and a few deaths.) 

Oh, and just a fair warning; it's going to make you cry. Hard. I didn't expect it when I read it first, but OH MAN, it just rips your heart out and stomps all over it. But it's worth it in the end. Trust me on this.

-And at last there is The Toymaker and the Widow.
This is a love story, in the best sense of the word. Please note that I tend to shy away from stories that have romance as a main plot since I tend to think that is a very difficult thing to hinge a whole plot on successfully on top of not being what you would call a traditionally romantic person.

That said, this isn't a story about romance, since love and romance are, remarkably, not the same thing.
It is set in the Hobbit verse, and I know what some of you (including myself) would think. There is no romance whatsoever in the original novel and therefore I always have a hard time shipping anything because I tend to be a dreadful stickler for cannon. That said it is between Bofur and an OC - please don't run away! Come back, it's actually amazingly good!

Thank you. Now, the OFC is just so amazingly human - er, dwarf, every facet of her character making her a real person and not just some front for a self insert or suedom. She is flawed, stubborn, strong, knows her own mind... There really isn't much I can say to do her justice, except I almost wish she existed just so that I could shake her by the hand. Her daughter is also wonderful and so much like an actual kid in a way that kids often aren't in fiction. 

Bofur also gets so much more characterization that could ever be possible in either the novel or the film(s). So much in fact that this fic has quite by accident become my official headcannon for him. It establishes these characters before the quest for Erebor and then may possibly (it's a work in progress) delve into if the existence of these OCs may affect how the story turns out. All said and done, this fic just makes me want to huggle the characters for being so incredibly... Human. While being, you know, dwarves. And now I feel like a specist.  Just... Go read it. Read all of them, if you can. I may actually make your life just a touch more fantastic.

One day I may actually give these fics the pages-long posts they deserve, but that's for another day.

And, yes, I am aware that as I am sporfling over other people's wonderful and amazing works of art, I should be working on making a dent in my word count, since I am unfortunately behind because of a brief bout of nasty sickness. Wish me luck.

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