Maybe it's because I couldn't be as much a part of it that Yuletide feels a little different to me this year. There weren't as many stories and fandoms that really sent me, for some reason, and some of even the really good didn't work for me as well as they might have. I know that I'm a bit of an odd duck; in the terminology of John Rogers of LEVERAGE and BLUE BEETLE fame, I tend to like Clever while fandom at large tends to produce more Squee. To me, this somehow seemed a bit like a Squee-heavy year.
I'll do my annual Yuletide stats post later; for now, here are some pre-reveal recs.
FANDOM: THE MALTESE FALCON - Dashiell Hammett
TITLE: "the means at hand"
SUMMARY: "Sam Spade follows the Maltese Falcon to Istanbul. Wilmer Cook tries to follow Sam Spade."
I asked for an AU in which Sam takes Gutman up on the offer to go to Istanbul after the black bird, with "Wilmer being reluctantly drawn to Spade, trying to emulate him, and mostly failing." I've written about Wilmer Cook and THE MALTESE FALCON before; in short, Wilmer keeps trying to gain the admiration and respect of people he admires, but he *just doesn't have the chops.* It makes him a pitiable character.
My author delivered a really excellent exploration of that gimmick. Wilmer admires Spade, is jealous of Spade, lusts for Spade, wants Spade's admiration -- and falls up short at every turn because he can't stop being the little punk he is. The story is tragic, but no more so than poor Wilmer deserves. And that's the saddest part, really. Character voices are spot-on, and the narrative voice is absolutely perfect. It's a painful, well-drawn story, and I'm very happy to have received it. It's *really* good, guys.
FANDOM: Helen Cresswell - Bagthorpes Saga
TITLE: "Bagthorpes v. Zombies"
SUMMARY: When the first representative of the swelling hordes of the living dead arrived at Unicorn House, it received an unsurprisingly inhospitable reception.
This is a story that gives you *exactly* what it says on the tin, and it is so true to the style and tone of the originals that it's downright scary. Every once in a while, a Yuletide story so perfectly nails the original that you could almost think the original author sneaked in to Yuletide, and this year that story is "Bagthorpes v. Zombies." From the character voices to throwaway jokes, the style is dead-on, and the story is loads of fun, to boot.
FANDOM: REAR WINDOW
TITLE: "Look and Listen"
SUMMARY: Jeff called her Mrs. Lonelyhearts, and called him the Songwriter. But they looked out their windows too ...
REAR WINDOW is one of those fandoms *perfect* for turning around; it focuses on some of the characters that the voyeuristic hero of the original spies on, and does a wonderful job of bringing them to life and giving them a narrative of their own. The story is well-written and very nicely characterized, and there are lots of little bits throughout that are effective and delightful.
FANDOM: Mystery Science Theater 3000
TITLE: "Best Brains"
SUMMARY: "Why do all your plans involve costumes?" / "Because I like to look pretty."
My first active fandom was MST3K, so this was just fun. Mike, Joel, the bots, the Mads, zombie temps, what more do you want? A nice little Yuletide romp.
FANDOM: H.P. Lovecraft
TITLE: "The Blood From the Sea"
SUMMARY: [No author summary]
An excellent straight-up Lovecraft story. The best of the Lovecrafts this year, and it way too few hits. Maybe it's because it has no summary, or because it has a weird formatting problem. But if you want a really good Lovecraftian story, this is the fic for you.
FANDOM: Critical Theory RPF, Feminist Ryan Gosling
TITLE: "When Fics Take on a Life of Their Own"
SUMMARY: "A fanfic writer and Feminist Ryan Gosling discuss celebrity culture, gender and theory, and the political perils of Fassavoy fic."
So of course I’m questioning. But I feel like telling myself to just stop thinking about this stuff is the wrong answer. I want to figure out why I feel what I feel. But I also, to be totally honest, kind of really want to write a hot fic with James and Michael.
This fic does a very good job of depicting, if not resolving or offering to resolve, feminist fandom's ongoing internal conflict. I'm neither female nor a feminist, but I've seen similar conversations among other cultural subgroups, from replica propmakers to staunch libertarians. The issues aren't the same, of course, but there are certain points of identification, and you see similar social mechanisms in the discussions and long thoughtful posts of people picking their way through their thoughts, trying to determine what they *should* be feeling, what they *should* want. And as in fandom, when desire and ideology come into conflict, it's *amazing* how often ideology gives way.
It's been interesting to watch this conflict between desire and ideology unfold over the past five or six years. The turning point, I think, came somewhere in SMALLVILLE fandom -- at least, that's where I was peripherally aware of it. From where I sit, it seems like for a while there was lots of "slash is triumphantly feminist and ain't we just great!" Then that transitioned to fans confessing their guilt over ignoring women and characters of color to write endlessly about the pretty white boys… before, y'know, *going right back to writing endlessly about the pretty white boys.* That phase, in its turn, has ended, and we're seeing a little more variety, in part because fans of color are speaking up and queer fandom is increasingly asserting itself. Still, fandom is currently in a bit of a self-questioning state that it doesn't seem too eager to resolve. From my perspective as a non-feminist, this is at least partially because the answers presented by much of current feminist and leftist ideology would seem to me to be *answers that fandom does not want to hear.*
Of course, I'm not a slash fan, or a woman, or a feminist, so I'd be inclined to think that way. Anyway, this story is a pretty good showcase of Where Feminist Fandom Is Now.
FANDOM: Batgirl (Comic)
TITLE: "Junkyard Leapfrog and Strawberry Shampoo"
SUMMARY: What if Cass and Steph met on college Take Back the Night patrols and Dick ran a gymnastics club in Manhattan? It's DC meets Make It or Break It, sort of, and Spoiler and Nightwing take on a mystery, the best interests of several children including Steph's, Batgirl's pokey finger and each other.
DCU fandom! Awwww. It takes me back a few years, and Yuletide is great for that. There are some POV shifts that don't quite work for me, but the characterization is cute and the writer does a good job with Cass's dialogue (always a tricky point in DCU fic, and DCU canon for that matter).
FANDOM: Batgirl (Comic)
TITLE: "It's a Family Thing, Not a Bat Thing. Really."
SUMMARY: Now Steph's mom knows she's Batgirl, this isn't really the kind of problem she expected it to cause, and when Damian gets involved, matters get completely out of hand.
A fun little Steph-and-Damian story. I am now officially nostalgic for old-school DCU fandom.
TITLE: "Binary Data"
SUMMARY: For Gary Bell, it's all yes/no, black/white, right/wrong...but something is changing. A snapshot of a morning in Gary's life.
It's portraitfic, rather than an actual story, but it does a good job with an atypical character voice.
FANDOM: Barrett's Privateers (song)
TITLE: "Revenge and Reversal: or, the Further adventures of Jack Rogers, the Last of Barrett's Privateers"
SUMMARY: It's been six years since he sailed away, and he just made Halifax yesterday. Now the last of Barrett's privateers is out for revenge against all those whose greed or negligence wrecked the Antelope, and with it his life. But things are not entirely what he expected. There's a mystery to be solved, a voyage to be taken, and perhaps even a shot at something resembling a happy ending.
This story is good, but what I like even more than the story itself is what it represents: somebody challenged with making a story about "Barrett's Privateers" took up the gauntlet and produced 17,000 words of plot and wrangling. That's Yuletide, folks. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS.
FANDOM: ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY, JR.
TITLE: "The Secret of Peacock Flats"
SUMMARY: Another mission from the government sends Brisco and Bowler to a small town called Peacock Flats. Will they return with their biggest bounty ever?
And that's the OTHER thing that happens at Yuletide: you get Brisco County Jr. fanfic that keeps true to the nature of the show. Yay!
FANDOM: ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)
TITLE: "The Stuff of Legends"
SUMMARY: Bess pretends to be simple, but she's more than what she seems.
It's Bess/Much, the Miller's Son. It's Bess POV. IT GETS THE CHARACTER VOICES SPOT-ON. For the ERROL FLYNN ROBIN HOOD, PEOPLE.
I love Yuletide.
FANDOM: ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984)
TITLE: "Buckaroo Banzai and the Solar Alliance"
SUMMARY: The foundation of the Solar Alliance.
Hey -- *points above* -- you know how I like stuff that gets the original spot-on?
It can be a little tough being on Team Banzai. Not everyone is as perfect as Perfect Tommy, and the boss, well, Buckaroo is a true polymath -- a first rate musician, a first rate medic, and a first rate physicist. So we get some pretty good adventures going -- adventures most people can’t begin to fathom.
Like, the time Buckaroo had us build a landing strip on some land he owned in the high Sierras. There wasn’t enough Promethium on earth to make the guides, it’s as unstable an isotope as you can find -- and only Promethium would be on the right frequency, or that’s what Buckaroo told me. Frequency for what wasn’t clear, so I called in Blue Blaze Irregulars from Cal Tech, MIT, and Virginia Tech (Georgia Tech was too busy partying) and the next thing I know, I’m in a two man ship called the Mule Team with Blue Blaze Irregular Caera Ngai mining enough Promethium and putting it into a stasis hold. I mean, yeah, Buckaroo’s Mom’s work on negative mass propulsion got us out of atmosphere -- and got me home in time to make the Hong Kong Cavaliers’ gig in Denver that night -- but it would have helped if Buckaroo could have let me know why we needed an unstable isotope with an X-ray type of beta decay -- y’know, just as a courtesy.
Yeah, there you go.
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