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Happy new year, my friends.

This year for Yuletide I wrote this story:

On the relative importance of hats, horses, and trust among new partners in criminal enterprise (3208 words) by Eccentric_Hat
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Gentlemen of the Road - Michael Chabon
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Amram (Gentlemen of the Road), Zelikman (Gentlemen of the Road)
Additional Tags: Pre-Canon, Bickering, Canon Character of Color, Canon Jewish Character
Summary:

Zelikman has a bad habit of becoming attached to things that can be killed, lost, or stolen.



This was fun, if difficult; I reread the book full of confidence that I would have time to do some research and worldbuilding, and ended up learning almost nothing about Khazaria and filling this story with the things I was already reasonably sure could plausibly exist in the world of the novel, most of which are cited in the title of the story. I also hadn't considered, when I offered this fandom, how much identity and representation politics are connected to the story, the Jewish kingdom of Khazaria being the locus for a bunch of gross anti-Semitism as well as the more positive kind of myth-making Chabon is doing in the book. I didn't really feel up to grappling with any of this, I'm afraid, except by treating the characters with respect. I felt like Amram didn't get the chance for much interiority in the novel, so I told the story from his perspective, and then I realized that meant we were looking *at* Zelikman the whole time, so he still kind of hogs the spotlight. Despite all that, I'm pleased with the funny bits in the story, and I think I did a decent job with the writing style. That's not nothing for a Yuletide project that I wrote while such terrible distractions were going on in the world.
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LOOK at the presents that I got for Yuletide! Two of them, both amazing pastiches of tiny tiny fandoms, featuring owls and thunderbirds!!

I got a treat:

For the Birds (2114 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Gödel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid - Douglas Hofstadter
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Achilles, Mr Tortoise (Gödel Escher Bach), Original Characters
Additional Tags: Mathematics, Ultrafilters, script dialogue, Yuletide Treat, Yuletide 2016
Summary:

When the Tortoise is waylaid by a pair of Cardinals, Achilles discovers the wonders of a Parliament of Owls.

--
The fact that anyone wrote to this prompt, let alone that someone out there voluntarily wrote it as a treat in addition to their assignment, is just amazing to me. And this is so true to the canon, up to and including the part where I have to read it through again to understand the math better, and everyone just whizzes about making bird puns to explain set theory.

And then I got this treasure of a primary gift:

The Very Secret Areas of My Expertise (2526 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Compendium of World Knowledge - John Hodgman
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: John Hodgman, Hobos (Compendium of World Knowledge - John Hodgman), Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags: The Hobo Wars, hobo history
Summary:

"Truth may be stranger than fiction, goes the old saw, but it is never as strange as lies. (Or for that matter, as true.)" John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise

In which John Hodgman discovers that there is more to Hobo history than he had previously realized, and that sometimes truth disguised as lies is the strangest and truest knowledge of all.

--
YOU GUYS, HOBO JO JUNKPAN! HODGMAN'S GIN AND ABSINTHE BATH! AND HIS SECRETLY VERY EARNEST SEEKING AFTER WEIRD TRUTHS!! Everything in this story is such a perfect example of taking the canon one step further, and I just love it so much.

I had a devil of a time finishing my own story this year, but it was worth it to get presents like these in return.
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Hey there author, and thank you for writing in one of these micro-fandoms! Each one has all of TWO fics on AO3 so far. That's criminally little in my opinion, and it means that no matter what you do, I'm gonna be thrilled that someone wrote it.

I don't have any triggers. I'd prefer not to read about rape and murder, though. This year in particular, fandom is kind of my frivolous happy place when the world is making me sad. As you can probably tell from the fandoms I requested, I think it's fun to to play with structure and ideas. I get a kick out of fiction with ideas in it, and fiction that pretends to have ideas in it, and fiction that isn't really set up as fiction, though I also take a lot of pleasure in straightforward storytelling, character studies, adventures, and shenanigans. I'm mostly interested in gen, although if you manage to see some shippy potential in any of these prompts you can certainly have at it.

Oh, also, I celebrate Christmas and can't predict my availability when stories are revealed, but I will definitely be excited to read your story!

Here are my requests--this is the same stuff as I included in my signup.

Godel Escher Bach )


Anathem )

The Areas of My Expertise/Compendium of World Knowledge - John Hodgman )
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Drunk History: Birth of the Imperial Radch (2281 words) by Eccentric_Hat
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie, Drunk History
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Anaander Mianaai, Lieutenant Tisarwat, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq
Summary:

My name is Lieutenant Tisarwat, and today I’m going to tell you about the rise of Anaander Mianaai.




I pinched a bunch of the best lines in this from the very first Drunk History video. If you haven't seen it, you should; I promise there is no vomiting in this one:

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I started a second Yuletide recs post while feeling ambitious, and then I got busy with other things, so here are the three more recs I wrote before getting distracted:

One story about Sesame Street and two about Hamilton! )
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Happy new year, friends!

For Yuletide this year I wrote this story:

Hrimforst (4087 words) by Eccentric_Hat
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Exeter Book
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Wanderer (The Wanderer), Wife (The Wife's Lament)
Summary: On a cold night, at a small house, in an oak grove, two people meet who are far from home.


You don't really need to know the canon to read this. It's based on poems that are somewhat vague about their circumstances, so I made up and filled in the backstory within the narrative. Just assume we're in England sometime between, say, 900 and 1050 CE, and if you're interested, the poems are linked in the endnotes.

I am proud of these aspects of this story:
  • It is narrated by a woman, finally! All the other fic I've written, and most of it that I've podficced, has been about pairs of dudes: Holmes & Watson, Jeeves & Wooster, Strange & Norrell, Cecil & Carlos. I've started fanfic about women before but never finished and posted it. In some cases I have personal reasons for finding those stories harder to write (when I really identify with a character I find it exceedingly difficult to finish and publish a story about her); but with or without those excuses reasons, I always want to see more stories about women in the world. So I'm happy to have spent some time with this feminine cry of grief/anger/resentment/love/??? from a thousand years ago.

  • Nobody in the fic stares at someone else's face and realizes something important about their feelings! This has its place, and I'm not going to feel bad about having Sherlock Holmes do it, but it is a device I sometimes lean on too much.

  • I spent some time with the language, replacing French/Latin words with Anglo-Saxon or Germanic ones where I could. This was actually a lot harder for me than the Susanna Clarke pastiche I did last year. There were plenty of places where I couldn't really find a suitable equivalent for the word I wanted ("regret" is a big one), but I made a bunch of these replacements once I got the hang of it: "unnecessarily" with "needlessly," "stranger" with "unbidden guest," and so on. Just yesterday I found out about The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, which takes this conceit much, much farther than I even tried to do. I'm interested in reading that, and in doing more thinking about language in this way. Usually I use lots of Latinate vocabulary and lots of abstraction, and I like the tone I came up with when I challenged that tendency.

Parts of the story don't actually make a ton of sense if you look at it too closely, but I'm mostly blaming that on the source material. If I were writing a story from scratch about a displaced or exiled wife, I would probably have had her return to her family of origin, not go live alone in a sacred oak grove. But I do respect that thousand-year-old cry (more than I respect the Wanderer, apparently, since I stripped him of half his honor in writing this version of him) and so I stayed in the oak grove and I'm pleased with the result.

Also, my gift was written by [personal profile] fifteendozentimes and beta'd by [personal profile] caminante, whose main gift was ALSO written by [personal profile] fifteendozentimes, so good work to everyone who succeeded in not spilling those beans! I'm very impressed.
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I've been toodling around in the Yuletide archive for a few days now and have come up with some favorites. Maybe there will be more! I hope so, actually, as there are literally thousands of stories; I have been picking the ones I read by following the winds of circumstance and mood and it is not at all methodical. Here are some I think you should read:

Reconaissance (1000 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Gem of Sphene, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq, Kalr Five | Ettan, Translator Zeiat
Summary: There was a plan: to locate the AI cores before the Usurper could, to return to Ship and form a plan to retrieve them. I was to succeed, or I was to die. Bodies are precious, now, but not so precious Ship could not afford to lose one segment, in pursuit of something this important.

I feel extremely lucky to say that this is my gift! It's about Sphene, and it's poignant and careful and feels very true to the series. It's exactly one thousand words long, and somehow I admire this about it; it is one of the most economical Yuletide stories I've ever read, and gives everyone their due through the eyes of a very old, very reserved, very untrusting narrator.


Seven more! Jeeves & Wooster, Northern Exposure, Weekend Update, Grantchester, Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Emily Post's Etiquette, Aubrey-Maturin )
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Hey there, Yuletide writer! I'm super excited to be getting a story from you. This is my second year doing Yuletide, and honestly nothing much about my tastes has changed since I wrote last year's letter, which in retrospect looks a little like overkill. I like character development, history, nature, the history of science (very fond of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hobbyist natural historians collecting shells and cocoons), fairy tales and their retellings, unfashionable Victorian writers like Dickens, and stories about women (this may not be obvious from my character requests this time around, but it's true!). I read literary fiction and genre fiction and poetry and a lot of essays. This year I read a lot of books about the ocean. Sometimes I get mad at Napoleon. I don't have any triggers. I'm not into fiction that is dark for the sake of darkness, but I like and respect stories where actions have consequences (this is part of why I like Rev. so much). And I'll be celebrating on Christmas Day, so I might not read and comment super promptly, but rest assured I'll be looking forward to your story very much.

Here are my requests! I've added some extra rambling about Mr Simonelli, and otherwise these are the same as my prompts on AO3.

Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower - Susanna Clarke )



Rev. )



Drunk History )



Imperial Radch )
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I have been reading a lot of fic! I received Grand Budapest Hotel fic:

The Story History Will Forget (2128 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Agatha/Zero Moustafa
Characters: Agatha (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Zero Moustafa, Gustave H., Original Characters
Additional Tags: AU, Alternate Ending, Canon Divergence, Character Background, Yuletide 2014
Summary: Agatha's story, from her point of view, with an alternate ending.

I love Agatha a lot, and it's a pleasure to see her get the spotlight to herself for once.

Here are some favorites of the other stuff I've read:

Temeraire, Spiders Georg, Sound of Music, Left Hand of Darkness, The Dark is Rising, Master & Commander, Wise Child, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and one more Grand Budapest Hotel )
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I'm really doing it, I'm signing up for Yuletide this year! This is a post about that.

So, dear author:

First of all, thank you for writing for me! I'm so excited to read your story.

Second of all, I'm sorry I'm so mysterious. It's my first Yuletide, although I've been reading Yuletide fic for aaaaages, and this journal is access-locked, which doesn't matter much anyway since it's mostly me nattering on about my life and only occasionally talking about fandom at all. I've gone back and unlocked some of my old recs posts, though. I'm a little more visible over at the AO3, where most of what I've posted is podfic. The stories I choose to record are a fairly good indication of what I like, though they're not the only kinds of things I like. (I tend not to record stories with lots of different character voices, just because I'm not very confident doing those yet, not because I don't like those stories. Et cetera.)

I like thinking about characters. I like reading stories about women, particularly women who move competently through the world and have interesting perceptions of it. I like reading about solitude, and I also like reading about friendship and love and collaboration and the meeting of different kinds of minds. I'm a sucker for atmospheric world-building, fairy tales and their retellings, distinctive character voices, history and characters thinking about history, people trying hard to be and do good, people chafing against deeply ingrained ideas of propriety, northern landscapes, tea, and Victorians in general. That all sounds fairly serious but I also like to laugh! Some of these fandoms are pretty silly (and all of them are at least a little silly) and I'd be very happy to see a story that you had fun writing.

I don't have any triggers. I generally prefer not to read about people getting raped and murdered, which I don't anticipate being an issue with this set of requests. I'm much more interested in fandom as a place to play around with story than in fandom as a space for porn. I don't think I've provided a particularly sexy set of prompts, but you should write the story that you're moved to write! Just please make sure that any sex scenes earn their place in the story as much as the rest of the scenes do.

I'm giving you all this information in the hope that it will help, but of course, of course, don't feel like you *have* to do anything. And thank you again for writing for me! I'm so excited to be getting a story in one of these fandoms. I'm so grateful to you for whatever you are moved to write.

Oh, and I'll be celebrating Christmas Day with my family, so I might not be very quick to read the story when it is posted. I'll be very eager to see it, though!

Requests + some additional thoughts: Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Billy Collins poetry, and The Grand Budapest Hotel )
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I fell down a hole of Pride and Prejudice fanfic recently, especially genderswapped Pride and Prejudice fanfic, after not really reading any fic since Yuletide (and doing a pretty poor job of reading Yuletide stuff too). I told [personal profile] caminante I would post some recs, so without further ado, here they are:

Genderswap

First Impressions by [archiveofourown.org profile] anghraine

A pretty straightforward AU where Elizabeth is a man, Darcy is a woman, and the plot otherwise runs along fairly familiar grounds. Enjoyable mostly because Henry Bennet and Catherine Darcy are both delightful to spend time reading about.
The young Miss Darcy did not deign to associate with anyone beyond a coterie of her own connections, bound together by ties so incomprehensibly convoluted that no outsider could hope to decipher them. Even the Bingley sisters, ambitious and often impudent with it, had not quite aspired to acceptance by the likes of Diana Howard and Catherine Darcy.


A Long Engagement, or the Improvement of Human Reason, as illustrated in the long and tortuous courtship of Edward Bennet, squire, and Philadelphia, Lady Darcy by [archiveofourown.org profile] hele and [archiveofourown.org profile] Tulina

The one where everybody is genderswapped--Elizabeth, Darcy, Bingley, Jane, their parents, their siblings, EVERYONE (except for Kitty and Lydia, who don't exist; the authors figured that if Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had three sons, they would likely not have so many children). As a result, this is very AU, and it takes a while to get into the flow of things (it was especially difficult for me to get my head around the switched Mr. and Mrs. Bennet). But the result was a delightful story, a long luxurious one where the relationship develops much more slowly; in the meantime it is made clear both that P&P is a difficult story to turn happy if all the affection is on the lady's side, and that your Regency England can be rather more expansive if your protagonist is male--both facts that made me a little sad, but were put to good narrative use.
Mrs Bennet was reading in the drawing room when they arrived, but she laid down her book. She was, Edward could tell, curious about their impressions of the newcomers, and seemed particularly eager to know what Mr Bennet had thought.

His enthusiasm knew no bounds. Miss Bingley! Her 20000 pounds! A lady of certain rank! Who was, indeed, a very handsome and young widow, if very proud and above her company; still, it lend the assembly a certain charm. Noble charm, no doubt.


Five Sons Mr and Mrs Bennet Never Had by [archiveofourown.org profile] biichan

What it says on the tin! A very fun little set of vignettes that genderswaps each of the Bennet daughters, one by one.
In fact, Bingley seemed to be quite enthusiastic at the prospect of introducing Darcy to John Bennet, having confided in him that Bennet was, in fact, "the best man I have ever had the experience to know." (He then reassured Darcy that he was a close second.)


Not Every Gentleman by [archiveofourown.org profile] hele

This one is hard to summarize. Longbourn is home to Mr. Bennet, his daughter Jane, and his son Edward, who strikes up a friendship with the new residents at Netherfield. Long and deliberate and careful, and it surprises you. The author warns that it's "problematic gender-wise," and while I found this a frustratingly vague warning to have hanging out there, I don't know how to improve it without spoiling things. It's a fascinating and ambitious piece of work, one that really stuck with me.
Edward shared an amused look with his father before continuing thus--
'Mr Darcy is very tall, very serious and very proud, and I am afraid that he disproves of me for some reason.'

'And, patently, you of him!' Mr Bennet cried. He observed Edward over the fingers of his crossed hands, and appeared to be excessively diverted. 'You have not even granted him half his friend's agreeableness, my son. Is he so very handsome that you begrudge him already the ladies' attention?'

Also, shout-out to this LJ post about a hypothetical different genderswap by [personal profile] lettered, though I don't remember how I found it.

Non-Genderswap
I think the above may in fact be all the genderswapped P&P fic there is to find, but here are a couple everyone-is-the-same-gender ones that I also liked:

In Essentials (much as it ever was) by Vangie (who has apparently gone on to a successful career writing romance novels under the name Tessa Dare)

AU in which everyone has had a slightly different summer before Netherfield is let: Elizabeth has already been to Pemberley, and Georgiana didn't make it to Ramsgate and never tried to elope with Wickham. Fun watching the relationships develop along different lines, while hitting most of the novel's major beats.
"Mr. Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire, allow me to present Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn, and her daughters."


Elizabeth could not retrieve the gasp of "Pemberley!" that escaped her lips, and she curtsied deeply in an attempt to hide both her blunder and her resulting blush. Unfortunately, even had Mr. Darcy himself been inclined to overlook her exclamation, Sir William was determined to pursue the topic.


Season of Courtship by [archiveofourown.org profile] anghraine

The only one of these which is entirely canon-compliant! It's set immediately post-canon and covers the span of Elizabeth and Darcy's engagement. There's not much plot but it's remarkably perceptive character-wise, and it gets more mileage and sensuality out of a Teen & Up rating than I've seen in some time. Also, it does a really good job of thinking about what marriage meant in that period (e.g. that the wife would give up her legal identity and seldom see her family) and portraying characters who have always known that's what marriage is and are lucky to have found a partner they trust. And it sketches in more of the Bennets' neighbors in Meryton. Quite a fair set of accomplishments for something billed as fluff.
“He may be a good master,” decreed Mrs Long, “but that doesn’t mean he will be a good husband. Say what you like about Eliza Bennet, but I pity her.”

The other ladies were fully prepared to follow her lead, but soon found themselves in a peculiar sort of quandary. It was difficult to pity someone who had no idea of her own misfortune. On the contrary - she seemed quite delighted with her situation in general, and with her betrothed in particular. She was absorbed in him almost to the point of incivility, talking to him when he was near, and inattentive when he was not. Her eyes often followed him wherever he went, with a peculiar intent expression that Mrs Long in particular found almost indecent.
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Yesterday I saw Black Swan and then went into a store where they sell straight razors. Then I walked around for a while going "AAAAH." Today was filled, once I finally finished the pre-job-training stuff I had to get through, with safe things like taking pictures of the snow, knitting, and listening to LPs just because I could.

I'm sure everyone who's even vaguely interested in Yuletide has been having a fabulous time over there already, but I feel the need to point out that someone has written a "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" story. I feel a certain kinship with this person for, uh...reasons that need not be discussed here.

Here it is: One of Many Circles. It's quite lovely, and appropriately pensive and wintry.

Oh, and this: No Reservations: Narnia. I've seen like twelve minutes of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show, and I only ever made it halfway through the Narnia books, but I love this story. It's vivid and joyful, both fulfilling the premise and somehow transcending it. It also makes me hungry.

(This reminds me that a little while back, I found what may be the only Anthony Powell fan fiction on these here internets. It entertains me about 5,000% as much as it is likely to entertain most of the Internet-frequenting population.)
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I tend to get embarrassed by talking about things I like. I'm good at talking about things I believe or find interesting, but it is a little difficult for me to admit in public that something has, say, filled me with glee to the extent that I clapped my hands about it in my empty apartment.

However, [livejournal.com profile] darkest_light said she would be interested, and I think it is possible other people would be too, so I'm going to tell you about some of those Jeeves & Wooster fanfics.

Under here! )

Rec

Dec. 27th, 2009 06:54 pm
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Long post forthcoming on the China blog, but meanwhile, I wanted to drop off a link for you. I'm not much of a fanfic person, but I'm always tickled by the things you can find at [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, and today over there I discovered the most tone-perfect bit of fan fiction conceivable: "The Account Book," by a still-anonymous author, based on Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. The book is rather a favorite of mine, and its ending is melancholy and exquisite, and somehow this writer gave it another ending after that one without hitting a single wrong note. Warning: it is long, and I'm not sure how much sense it makes if you haven't read the novel, but it is really quite amazingly flawlessly good.
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...Actually, I don't have anything else to say just now. I just wanted to use that subject line.
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This entry is for the sole purpose of stating that having friends is good.
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Okay. Call it excessive, call it paranoia, or call it a need for something like privacy, but this journal is going friends only. I'm not trying to shut anyone out; I just want to feel like I have a handle on who knows all about my life. So, friends, better log in to hear from me from now on.
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