What I didn't expect was to find surprising differences among people about what they see as gen. Betty recommended the NC-17 slashfest "All the Stars Look Down," which I am never going to stop poking gentle fun of her for (and some quite good ones that were gen, but I didn't know the fandoms and the one that I thought best worked was the MENTALIST one), and watersword recommended Life in the Twenty-First Century," which doesn't come off as gen at all to me because it's so much about a character puzzling out his sexual identity. It's interesting to see these differences of opinion. I think it's a reflection of fandom getting slashier and more sexual (and more ideological, as well); a surprising amount of stuff that doesn't focus on details of characters getting laid goes into how characters *feel* about sex.
Some other recs are gen to me, but not the stuff that sets me alight. resolute recommended the Vorkosigan story Domestic Affairs, which is a fine example of a gen story that includes a romantic relationship, but it's not the thing I crave. By contrast, the Chalion story A Clear Glass Window, At a Sea Dawn is pretty borderline; it has a sex scene but the focus is clearly on one person's reaction to it rather than a relationship developing from it. So it's an interesting tightly-focused bit of genslash, or slashy gen. The stuff I tend to go nuts over is stories like Swamp-Adder's rec of The Bloody Revenge of Jefferson Hope, by qikiqtarjuaq, which is basically *exactly* the kind of thing I was looking for. I'll keep going through the recs and reading various things.
Curious note: the I SPY fic that was recced there is quite good. It's only the second in that fandom I've run across, and I liked the other as well. Hmmm.
Going back to the ideological fanfic: it's becoming much more common of late, and it's interesting to see that the flaws are changing. I recall occasional ideological fics in years gone by, and when they fell short it was usually because they were didactic and preachy, like bad STAR TREK episodes. You still get some of those, but what I find more interesting these days are the folks who use their stories to try to unpack the proverbial invisible knapsack, or create a characters-of-color-heavy universe, and err on the side of identifying their characters with the authors' and the presumed audience's own progressive views. "The Third Student," a very well-done classic Holmes story, is a great example of this; it takes up a Holmes adventure from the perspective of a marginalized minority character, an Indian student, but then it goes past this by making the student a keen and sympathetic observer of the tortured English homosexuals around him. I think I would have found the story more convincing if the main character had *not* been so enlightened. (N.K. Jemisin does something similar in her wonderful original story "The Effluent Engine," which is a great caper in which 19th-century Haiti has not only advanced steampunk technology, but widespread gay marriage.)
Another question: from what I've seen, the vast majority of RPF appears to be slash. RPF fans: is there gen? What is it like? What kind of fandoms is it in? Actors, athletes, musicians, what?
The categories I've seen in the discussion so far that I think really are common tropes are casefic, character study, fix-it fic, inverse, curtainfic, AU, and toy-breaking. Do these pop up in RPF gen?
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