<< Back to the Table of Contents
'Tis the Season
What is it about winter holidays that inspires such schlock?
Everybody and their sister starts writing fic about Jews celebrating
Solstice, Pagans celebrating Christmas, and Christians celebrating
Hannukah. And yet, this Grinch admits to getting sentimental about
Christmas herself sometimes....
- My True Love Gave To Me, by
whom I trust without reservation to write good
stuff, even if it is sweet and cuddly and I'm not getting sniffly, okay?
Without even looking at the names scrawled on the black-and-silver
plaid wrapping paper ("Scully Mulder Xmas" it said, rather
inarticulately), she knew from the half-hearted wrap job whose it was.
She shook it once, listening as though for forensic evidence on a
wiretap. Sounded like videotapes, two of them, which didn't bode very
well for anyone.
- Thirteen Christmas Traditions, by
who cheers up a grumpy Jim so realistically that we all cheer up too.
"Here," Jim said, taking the other side, and -- "Damn! What's so heavy
down ... jesus, Sandburg, that pot must weigh forty pounds empty! You
couldn't just cut a tree?"
"Oh, kill a perfectly healthy tree and drag its corpse into the living
room, Jim," Blair panted. "Way to celebrate the festival of rebirth and
"I'm not talking, you know, clubbing to death a cuddly endangered baby
free-range fir tree, Sandburg," Jim grumbled. "I'm talking about going
to a nice clean farm, where trees are raised knowing that their destiny
is to be Christmas trees --"
"It's just the principle, man," Blair said.
- No Son Of His, by M. Fae Glasgow, wherein Ray deals
with his father's ghost amidst the chaos that is Christmas at the
Vecchio's and the calm that is Benton Fraser.
(This story was published in
Priapus VI and is available online only as a
Blankets thrown back--as Teresa ran screaming into his room, leapt on
the bed and nearly had Ray screaming high-falsetto right alongside her.
Fortunately, nearly three years risking his life beside Benton Fraser
had taught Ray a trick or two, and all he got was a bruised thigh and
perforated eardrums as Teresa screamed with joy over the Lego Technics
Deluxe Set he'd given her.
An hour later, he and his favorite neice were still sitting on his bed,
the first engine half-built, when Franny came and dragged them
downstairs for breakfast.
Main Entry: minimalism
1 : a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is
characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity
The Quicker Picker Uppers
These are the cheerful stories that I keep around for when I need that
handful-of-chocolate-espresso-beans feeling. Funny and to the point,
they hit you hard right where you need it.
- Debra Fran Baker,
Jim is gay. I mean, really gay. Jim is a flaming queen.
I like it.
Toss and Turn
An afternoon in the life of Ellison and Sandburg.
An evening in the life of Fraser and Kowalski, with Vecchio.
- Miriam Heddy,
Jim likes 'em. Men, that is.
- Miriam Heddy,
Sandburg shaves his legs. Revelations ensue.
Sandburg convinces Ellison not to be one, for once.
- Mallory Klohn,
Life Lived Like a Mentos Commercial
A long story, but after the first dozen times you can pick it up pretty
much anywhere, read a paragraph, and be pleased and amused.
- Gloria Lancaster,
Jim is a little more panther-like than usual.
And "quack" to you too!
The word for today is "surreality". For when your escapism needs are a little
more urgent than usual.
A short sharp consideration of Jim's skin.
If a voodoun goddess wants to play Mary Sue, then by god (no pun
intended) Jim and Blair are going to end up together or Cascade'll know
the reason why.
Love and Curses
Jim is a lot more panther-like than usual. Yeah, it's the
Kowalski gets in the I-am-Vecchio groove. Ah, the details that the Feds
And when he falls
Good Omens was a terribly funny book, and
it was practically grovelling at people's feet to be slashed. Plus,
this is torch.
Me And A Gun
Not exactly a picker-upper story, unless what's got you down is one too
many wimpy Blairs.
The Foot Massage and the Anthropologist
I just like the word that might as well have been avocado.
We all need a hug. Some of us get hugs like this.
Some of the advantages of having sex with men are explained. Plus,
there's a "troth plighting" kiss.
- Barbara J. Webb,
Kowalski learns all there is to know about the man, the myth, the Real
Shock To The System
Sometimes a story is just good, in a way that makes you want to
jump up and down screaming about it, or grab people and shake them until
they understand how wonderful life is for you right then.
Turn off all the lights, grab a teddy bear, and get comfortable. Here
are a few stories that made my skin crawl.
- But That Was Just A Dream, by Cythera
Shivers. Goosebumps. Nightmares. A creepy little story about Fraser
which inspired me to collect this whole section.
Note: This story isn't available on the web yet; it was posted to
list on 2 April 2001, and the author promises to archive it soon.
- Orleans, by
Wishverse -- what more do you need to say? There was something
compelling about the grand tragedy of Wishverse Buffy, and Faith...well,
her life is even more...more everything in this realm of
- We All Fall Down, by
A little story about war, and evil, and childhood, and helplessness.
- Snake Oil, by
Madness does seem to be a recurring theme here, doesn't it? It's not
far to fall, for Jim Ellison.
- Oklahoma, by Amperage and Livengoo
Yes, madness again. We're all mad here. If I ever go mad, I want T.S.
Eliot to be my soundtrack.
Find this in the X-Files Gossamer
archives in eight pieces or get the whole shebang from the
X-Files Novel Archive.
- Bulletins from Bedlam, by
Colonization stories. Mulder and Krycek and the end of the world.
- A Little Lost Fox, by
Take Skinner, Krycek, and Mulder out the the edges of the galaxy and
they get...scary. But then, isn't that the point of this exercise?
- Executor, by
This is not a scary story per se; I've listed it here because
it's a death story. It's not, however, the usual sort of death
story, which is all about endings, and in fact it's not any sort of
thing that I've ever seen before. This story is about something
between two people which is so beautiful and private that it should
never be pried into or even seen by anyone -- not even by us, the
readers of the story -- until it's over. There's a tenderness here, a
protectiveness engendered toward Benton Fraser and Raymond Kowalski,
that would not have the same impact if they were still alive. And
that's what it takes to get me to rec a death story.
There's a formula for action stories; we all know it, that familiar arc
of conflict-complication-climax-denoument-resolution. I'm trained in
all sorts of post-structuralist, post-modernist, deconstructivist theory,
though, and perhaps it's a character flaw but I adore stories
with fancier structures. Circular vignettes are a favorite in my own
writing; triptychs appear a lot. Give me metaphors, give me stories
moving sideways, go ahead and make my head hurt -- I love it.
- Exit Wound, by Brighid
A Sentinel story wound around a poem wound around a gun manual.
- Pomegranates, by Brighid
An Oz story/poem about an older sort of hell, the kind that Beecher
finds is still here with us.
- Mysteries, by Brighid
An Oz poem that sends shivers up my spine every time I read it.
- Slice, by Brighid
A Due South story and a collection of dessert recipes -- appropriate for
a post-Call of the Wild love affair.
- Desert Rain by
Part of the "What It Is I See In You" series, in which Vecchio's
time undercover is addressed as he swings freely through present and
past. Road Trip, the first story in this series, also handles
the disorientation of the Vegas/Chicago distance nicely.
- Twenty-Eight Days by
Moon cycles for Tara, of course. It seems so cliche, but it's not
beaten to death here, just subtly used to shape Tara's sweet, beautiful,
real thoughts about Willow.
- Duet by
And one more Hth story; like Brighid, this is a writer who does crazy
beautiful twists with structural integrity. A stream of Kowalski
consciousness about rules, birthdays, maintaining cover, and getting to
Disclosure by Barbara J. Webb
Notable for the way it spins through first-person Vecchio POV,
third-person Vecchio POV, first-person Kowalski POV, third-person
Kowalski POV, and around again. Crystal clear throughout.
Than You Know by Beth H.
Ray wakes up four times. The transitions feel a little forced, but only
a little, and I love the device -- and the delicate touch with which the
device is applied.
- Tender by Resonant
Definitions of tender. Definitions of a relationship.
It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This
These are the classics. I'm the sort of person who reads my favorite
books over and over again until I can almost quote the best passages. I
write character-study stories myself, but I love to read the long
novel-length stories that allow for actual development of character and
- Oklahoma by Amperage and Livengoo.
Find this in the X-Files Gossamer
archives in eight pieces or get the whole shebang from the
X-Files Novel Archive. See Mulder. See Mulder be brilliant and
crazy. As an additional plus, you get T.S. Eliot poetry and the like
powering the plot and the atmosphere.
- Francesca's Nature
Series. It's the little perfections that make all the difference:
the way Jim lets himself want things in Nature's Fireworks, the
academic discussions in Nature's Conferences, the obscene phone call and
Marxism over the morning paper in Nature's Boundaries, everything.
Passage duology: Ghosts and Lovers. Desperate, tormented
Krycek-on-the-run wrapped in eerie, breath-taking case stories.
- A. Leigh-Anne Childe's
In a Dark Time:
My introduction to X-Files M/K fandom, as I mention below, but no one's
allowed to leave until I've recommended this story at least twice.
Williams has an unnamed series, twenty-six stories long, of mostly
case stories that build up the partnership, Jim's senses, and the most
solid cast of supporting characters I've ever seen. Just for the
record, #8 Steal was written before Vendetta, and works the
Sentinel-as-safecracker angle believably.
- Snake Oil by Martha
-- scary, scary stuff. A real keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat,
don't-read-this-at-night horror story.
The One That Didn't Get Away
These are my introductions to various fandoms -- not always the first
stories I read, but the first to pull me in and suck my under; not
always the best stories I've read, but the ones I've remembered longest.
- Ah, Highlander, the fandom that first made me realize that such a
thing as 'fandom' actually existed. I can't for the life of me remember
how I fell into Highlander fandom, although I've tried several times to
retrace my steps. I'm fairly certain that I stumbled into the HLX
archive very early on, but one fact on which I'm rock-solid is that it
was Maygra de
Rhema's work which made me a believer. There was just so
much -- long stories, lots of stories, ideas I'd never imagined.
- X-Files was my second fandom, and no, I'm not sure how I got
there either. I had seen plenty of X-Files, I thought I knew what it was
about, and yet I'd never seen a Krycek episode. When I read
In A Dark Time:
by A. Leigh-Anne Childe (or Anna S., as she calls herself now), I'd
never seen the ep "Sleepless". Normally, in these situations, one says
"this story is based on events in this ep"; while that may be causally
accurate, it's still wrong in this case: the ep contains
excerpts from this story. Canon should be so good.
- See, there was this show that came on at 1:35am on Monday mornings,
and I couldn't always get the rabbit ears on my TV pointed right, and
those Canadians were kinda funny but I really grooved on that blond
Vecchio guy.... Due South back in the days, oh yeah. I didn't
even know that the show had a happy ending until I stumbled over
East o' the
Sun, West o' the Moon by Hth and
Angels by Bone and Aristide. Of course, then I wandered
off into the great whirlpool of Sentinel fandom, not to return for many
- Now, Sentinel I remember right from the beginning. There was a
challenge on xslash to broaden one's mind: write if you're not a
writer, learn if you're not familiar with gay culture, find a new fandom
if you've been monogamous. Well, queerness I know from personal
experience, so I tried my hand at this writing thing (I liked it!) and
went browsing around lists of archives...and found Sentinel. A nibble
here, a taste there, and then I found
by Instinct, by Jayd.
Rereading it after all this time is surprising; I've smoothed out the
jerky pacing in my memory and fleshed out the occasional flat scene.
All the elements I love about Sentinel are still there, though -- the
syncronization which is perfect partnership, the Destiny of The Sentinel
shtick, the reactions of the boss and of the ex, the
out-of-control passion...it's all still there, and it's still why I call
Sentinel my favorite fandom.
- Even a devout Sentinel fan will occasionally have a roving eye, and
there's no better view than from
recommendations; she's never steered me wrong yet. So when she gave a
nod to a Harry Potter story,
A Weather of the
Heart by shalott, I was willing to take a look.
Harry/Draco...it's so wrong, it has to be right, and to top it all off,
they're teenagers, so angst and melodrama are as realistic as it gets.
Fun doesn't even begin to describe it.
Pleasures and Fantasies
Sometimes I want a fanfiction to be about making the characters
real, like the Velveteen Rabbit, scratching their noses and all.
Other times I want those familiar characters to give me a portal into
the fantastical, and that's what these stories are. Most of them are
not about safe, consensual S/M scenes. This is fantasy; fantasy is
safe in an entirely different way.
Rain, the second pair of stories in the Left of Center series.
This story (told twice, once from Duncan's POV and once from Methos')
was the first one to sucker-punch me with its sexuality. Yes, I write
NC-17 slash, but I write it from within a character's mindset, removed
from myself. This story -- this whole series -- got under my
skin. It's a rough-sex-after-quickening story, not particularly rough
as those go, and yet for some reason it punched my buttons.
- Jane Mortimer,
The Hand We Were Dealt.
Proof positive that handcuffs don't restrain people, people restrain
people. Krycek like you only dreamed of him, and Mulder as crazy as he
should be and no better than he ought to be, as the saying goes. A
fuckin' beautiful plot, too.
Okay, I fully admit to being a sick, sick puppy when it comes to
Primal!Jim, especially if it takes Blair to push him over that edge.
Love, one of what appears to be a continuing series by Panther.
This one has realistic S/M. Usually I can't quite get into Master/slave
relationship stories, but this series is different...no, I don't know
how. I just know what I like.
- Resonant, Know-how.
Step right up and get your military fantasies here...you wouldn't think
teaching someone how to give a blow-job would be quite so exciting,
It's All In the
Wrist. Once again with the bondage. Oh yeah. "It's okay,
Fraser-- you're tied up, remember? I've got you. I've got you."
The Ties That
Bind Us. Vecchio freaks, and comes through, and freaks again
afterward. Fraser just gets loose.
Sometimes you just want to grab a cold beer, kick back on the couch, and
make out with your best friend. When you do, Sentinel fanfic
is there for you. This section reads like a Who's Who for most
of my favorite plot-based authors.
- I Love You, by
Blair has the kind of epiphany that defines the theme for this
section of recommendations.
- Everything You Need In One Convenient Location, by
Shopping -- especially grocery shopping -- is a quintessential
domestic activity, so of course Jim and Blair are pushing that
cart down the aisles together right from the start. In this
delightful story they tackle the produce section with the same
playful clash of personalities that they apply to police work
and academic research.
- A Long Time Looking, by
Jim and Blair go to dinner, see a movie, get ice cream, and buy
a couple of books. Jim orders the same kind of ice cream that
he always gets in a pointed resolution of an impeding mid-life
crisis. It's a lovely, slowly-building story.
- Quack, by
This, on the other hand, is a wonderfully silly story about
realizing what you are when you walk like a duck and talk like
- Domesticity I: House Rules, by
Blair moves in, worries about his toothbrush, and gets swatted
like a cat toy.
- Toss and Turn, by
Jim washes Blair's socks. Blair cleans Jim's gun. Domestication
or metaphor? You decide.
- Eating At Home, by
It takes a little while to warm up -- there needs to be the
obligatory get-them-together segment (this is the Conventions
a-go-go Series, and the convention going is 'Jim and Blair
undercover in a gay club') -- but then they start screwing
around. Six weeks later, they notice what they're doing. I'm
not sure I like the title, but I like absolutely everything
else, especially the make-out session on the couch.
- Merry Go Round, by
A day in the life -- the bullpen argues about takeout, Benton
obtains a banana and talks a lot, and Ray explains the universal
male demand. Particularly nice is the way that this story lets
the guys be cops without catching them up in any crusading fervor.
And what could be more domestic than kids? Well, a lot of things
in fanfic, actually -- those darling little angels make for truly
wretched stories most of the time. As with everything, there are
exceptions to this rule, and I make them for Ray Kowalski, father
Portrait, by Journey
This one's notable for the way the focus is off the kids and on
the love affair between Ray, a widowed cop raising two children,
and Benton, a lonely gay man married to his job. Katie Kowalski
has occasional Mary Sue moments, but the bonus points for the
scene on the swing talking about Victoria make up for it.
- Ring and Still Ringing, by
All the children in these stories are actually children --
there's not a Mary Sue in sight. Here we find only
cloth diapers, marital bickering, and a solid (if small) gay community.
- With Six You Get Eggroll, by
Six kids -- sure, why not? It's not like Fraser and Kowalski ever do
anything else halfway. The kids are not actually the point of this
story, really, but they intrude constantly, as children often do, until
they're quite inescapable.
Betcha Can't Read Just One
Sometimes you have a favorite story. Sometimes you have a favorite
author, of the sort who makes you read stories you'd never think
To head up the list of "you wrote what? and I read it?", who else but
the author of A Droid, A Gungan, and a Padawan Walk Into a Bar?
Laura JV (as she usually signs herself in Sentinel fandom, where I first
met her) writes intense, realistic stories -- the sort where the
characters walk down a dirt road and you taste the grit in your own
teeth. And I really, really like her Blair.
Are you getting tired of listening to me recommend torch yet? No? I
- Anna S./A. Leigh-Anne
Some recommendations bear repeating. I lost track of many of Anna's
stories when I left X-Files fandom, but some of them -- A Little Lost
Fox, for example, or the "chocolates" from the birthday marathon --
continued to haunt me half-remembered. When she surfaced in Sentinel
fandom I could have wept for joy.
And now we have a chorus of Sentinel fen: "Well duh!" Okay,
yeah. Did you realize she'd written quite so many stories? I hadn't,
until I went to recommend the whole page instead of particulars. Wow.
Speaking of intense, grit-in-the-teeth writers, here we have Helen.
Now, because everyone else seems to feel that comment is necessary on
the subject, allow me to say that I like Helen's grammatical style. I
like it a lot; when you know as much about stylistic conventions as
Helen obviously does, you know how to circumvent expectations to convey
hyper-realistic conversation. Or, to put it another way, come on, it
just sounds right.
- D.L. Witherspoon
This author has a
knack for making me believe in story ideas that on first glance
seemed...unlikely. Even, dare I say, ridiculous. Jim as the heir to an
international scientific mafia! Jim as a heavenly warrior! Laugh now,
because you'll be nodding thoughtfully and agreeing with me later.
I can't believe I didn't add Hth to this must-read section sooner. Go.
Go now. Read everything, or read a little bit every day to prolong the
joy. Brace yourself for having your heart tugged at, or trampled upon,
or ripped still-beating from your chest and shredded, or gently
Speranza hasn't written a whole lot of stories yet, but every single
one of them has been a winner. That's the kind of track record that
should make you sit up and pay attention, because you'll need to drop
everything and read immediately whenever another story is
This is the author with the dubious distinction of being the first writer
ever to make me enthusiastic about Fraser/Vecchio slash, the only one to
squick me with sex scenes (Hard Core Logo slash, naturally), and as far
as I know the only writer anywhere to seriously tackle Star Wars droid
slash. Don't just go for a freakshow, though; all kidding aside,
this is some terrific fiction.
29 March 2000 OLD! The only section of my old reviews that I haven't
expanded, edited, or otherwise annotated.
It's not like I have time to review everything, you know.