gogollescent: (crossovers)
[personal profile] gogollescent
Thank you for becoming my secret favorite person for the next two months; at other times of year rankings ambiguity can prove a minor but significant source of stress. Also, thank you for taking the time to make me something awesome! I love all these fandoms and I can't overstate how much I'm looking forward to the fic. Optional details are peak optional; Yuletide letters have somehow become my annual excuse to air a bunch of excitable, contradictory half-opinions at once, which means you're only encouraged to pick, choose, and throw the whole thing out where necessary.

General dos and don'ts: I love hurt/comfort, humor, dramatic friendships, plotty violence, low-key body horror/gore/close-and-unsentimental descriptions of pain--I wouldn't be giving this one so much emphasis, but it's relevant to a couple of fandoms, ish..., uh, big theoretical enterprises undercut by petty human feelings, hypocrisy, dumb slapstick, offbeat emotional arcs--so things like stagnation, backsliding, recurrence rather than recovery; but also compassion in weird places and solidarity where least looked-for. .5% less pretentiously, I like it when people fuck up, and the world doesn't end, and it's still pretty bad. Porn is good! Nonessential, but good. Fluff is lower on my list of likes, but if it's funny and true to character I'm not about to turn my nose up at that, either. I did request some more than usually adorable canons.

SPEAKING OF THE CANONS, and without further ado--

1. Hamilton - Miranda (Any)

Total indecision about which OC I love BEST means you more or less have free rein here; see letter for random possible specifics, but I'm not really looking for any single story. I just want to spend longer in the richly-upholstered death shoebox that is Hamilton, An American Musical! ha ha.

Um... yeah. The cast member I'd love to see bound and struggling in your fic is not an individual character, but rather Lin-Manuel Miranda's language, in all its satiny, polyvocal overflow: I'm not craving historical RPF so much as I am a very particular relationship to history, historiography, and America as an ideal--that is, to the imaginary nation that might or might not hover atop "America, constellation of nerds." For reals: I think there's something hugely compelling to how isolated every character is, how spare the set is, how futile all their immediate hopes for their "children" and "careers" are, and how their faith in an unseen good nevertheless serves to conjure up the ghostly giant. Like with Into the Woods! Just the footsteps are enough. And at the same time, what a private business, with the undertaking that shaped a continent doled out to us in earnest asides; mentioned in the same breath as an affair, and God, and a night on the town. It's great.

...Not all or much of that is going to be appropriate to a fic context, but maybe it'll be relevant to tone triangulation? I don't know. I promised you "specifics" and I will try for at least a few: I'm really invested in Burr and Jefferson's relationships with Hamilton on the political side, and Angelica, Eliza, and Maria Reynolds', on the side that is quasi-romantic. Reading Maria's letters and the Reynolds Pamphlet has left me less sympathetic to the show's rendering of Hamilton's betrayal, as a moment of weakness facilitated by overwork; still, that's the version that's alive in my brain right now, and as such I'm interested in a more involved take on how musical Hamilton, angry and impotent, must have bounced off Maria's weakness, opportunism, and real desperation. Eliza and Hamilton, similarly, I'm not all over as a ship per se, but I love basically everything that Hamilton reveals about Eliza. Her confidence; how sheltered she is, and how little she ever becomes aware of it; her ability to ask for what she wants, despite professed timidity; her inability to cope when what she wants is taken from her. I love that she forgives him and I love that forgiveness isn't a reset: I had the incredible privilege of seeing the show live a few weeks ago, and one of the things Philippa Soo's performance burned into my mind was that Eliza in "Best of Wives and Best of Women" is--in control of herself at 4am and slightly distant; aware of her own generosity and not without some complacency on the subject. For good reason! You'd think losing your son and being publicly humiliated would be enough to keep your husband in your pocket. BUT NO. ALEXANDER HAS A NEW PLAN.

(I like Angelica/Hamilton but I like Angelica/the Hamiltons even better: not in the incest way but in the "you became the permanent satellite of this shambles of a family, and you probably didn't even get any schadenfreude out of it, you poor bastard" ... way. That way. Anything about Angelica picking up the pieces in act 2--or realizing how completely underqualified she is to do so, either before or after Alexander dies--would be adored.)

Back to politics, which I secretly don't distinguish from romance: Burr is my favorite character in the show! I don't want to talk about it. It's very bad. Jefferson however is worse to just LIKE, so I'll deal with him in a bit more detail. Daveed Diggs holding merciless eye contact with the audience through every flounce of What'd I Miss is probably my, um, single top special-effect to pop out of the ""colorblind"" casting; it lends extra push to the casual malice Jefferson exudes. I... would read all the Jefferson POV stuff dealing with that carelessness that isn't. (In a weird way, Diggs' conscious, OTT inhabitation of the role makes Jefferson's calm self-righteousness much more lifelike, even as Diggs and the writing together set TJ's pedestal on fire. If--if you punch the fourth wall twice it just becomes good character acting? I don't know how that works. But it's hot!) I also have a weakness for his moments of pity for Hamilton, grounded as they are in such profoundly self-absorbed disregard; I keep wondering what Jefferson's take on the escalating Burr-Hamilton tensions in Hamilton's last months would look like, and if there's even a possibility for a sort of squeamishness there, on his part. Also it cracks me up that he basically casts Hamilton as the honeytrap-in-desperate-straits, Maria Reynolds figure at the start of "The Room Where It Happens": in distress and disarray, huh? So yeah, all shades of Jefferson's weird condescension-tempered antipathy... will charm, if you want to go there. Plus his nonrelationship with Burr is great too. Circling back to Burr, I--something about Burr, Burr and Hamilton, Burr creeping on Hamilton, Burr and either Theodosia--it'll go straight to vein. I have had his diary open in a tab for four days. Spare me from myself.

There are (by some miracle) a couple of characters I've left out here, primarily Laurens and George Washington; you'd be right to guess that I'm a little less interested in Hamilton's most nearly-wholesome slash options, ALTHOUGH if you want to give Laurens-centric fic a spin, by all means, be my guest. Particularly stuff that focuses on his intelligence work and the period leading up to his death: that's not to exclude "times when he and Hamilton were in a fucking room together," or in a room fucking, but one thing I do find appealing about that relationship is the insuperable distance between them at critical points, and what it did or didn't do to their affections.

But so: I picked "Any" and I really, really meant it. I think all my suggestions here have been "character --> Hamilton," too, and that's not reflective of the scope of my interests: if you want to write about Angelica and Jefferson's lively epistolary flirtation (wtf), Angelica and Burr's BODYSWAP IN PARIS, Eliza and Washington's hologram... Hamilton is my newest obsession and it looks set to go deep; I want more of this nearby universe and I want it in my mouth. I know I already gave the ODAO disclaimer, and it was very sincere the first time, but I just. Would like to reiterate. That all these pushy details are only here because right now, with Hamilton, I cannot shut up.

2. Alliance-Union - C.J. Cherryh (Justin Warrick, Ariane Emory II)

These two have one of my favorite platonic relationships in literature, further distinguished by the fact that it's not much of one. Fear and curiosity: never staples of the bff genre, but they create a lot of intensity where they intersect, and I'd love anything that deals with Justin and Ari as they work out the terms on which their alliance can subsist.

Cyteen! Cyteen. Six months later and I'm still sort of appalled that someone went ahead wrote a book about parenthood as the natural halfway point between pathological narcissism and a crushing fear of death, and like, also there are clones? And sensual mindslavery? And erratic spates of fucked-up social engineering to go with the overmanaged cultivation of designer individuals? But the title wasn't tattooed on my wrist at birth?

Really I guess the inadvertent theme for this year's requests is--the very edge of what's possible, intellectually and spiritually. Except for Sorcerer to the Crown, which is, thank God, a fun Regency romp, these are narratives about people blindly putting together the future: something they can reason through but not touch, except at its outer limits. Whether that future is psychogenesis, the American experiment, or Darwinism, it makes for a pretty visceral mesh of glimpsed sensation and nauseating absence that I love because I, too, find thinking about things really hard. Abstract concepts? GET OUT OF HERE.

Pertains to wtf I want in fic how: idk, as you can see I am really easy to woo with limp pseudoscience, so there's that. But also I'm reluctantly into the ways in which Justin and Ari II are both seduced by Ari I's vision! I want more about him "teaching" her, and taking her ideas back to the basement to bounce off Grant (I didn't request Grant because I'm not headhunting Grant-centric fic, or Grant/Justin on its own; but I do find him and his successful attempts to be a humanish shield unbelievably charming, so feel free to write about the three-legged footrace if you're motivated.) If you're at all into AUs, I talked about one a little in this post--I'd love to see what would happen if Justin had disappeared after the attack in Novgorod, with a stupid logistical fuckup flying smack in the face of all those elaborate, conditional schemes, for him and Reseune and humanity; and I'd love to see Ari and Grant's joint panic attacks. Not that they'd look like anything of the kind, of course. If you'd rather not go the canon divergence route, I'd be quite as happy with anything filling in pieces of their relationship from when she was younger, or after the attempted assassination; I haven't read Regenesis, but I've been loosely spoiled for it, and if you want to play around with that timeline or just do your own take on the fallout, I am all ears. Or eyes. Appreciation, certainly.

3. The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge (Faith Sunderly, Paul Clay)

Cutest horrible children! I'm sorry! It's true! I literally came out of "The Lie Tree" wanting, not another book, but a Yuletide fic: God's intended medium for all Faith and Paul's post-pubescent adventures. I mean not that it has to be post-pubescent. Pubescent is fine too. Figuring out life on the mainland? Figuring out their adult careers as 1) a mad scientist and 2) the only photographer capable of immortalizing her biological chimerae in motion? Figuring out how to braid hair and exchange friendship ... fossils? PLEASE. Sate me.


The Lie Tree wasn't my favorite Hardinge book but it was embarrassingly tailor-made for me; I love Faith--perhaps Hardinge's most out-and-out disagreeable heroine despite advanced competition in the form of Mosca and Hathin--and I love the Victorian nightmare that is a purposeless universe, which perpetuates itself only because it can. Children's books that feature the protagonist stopping and thinking that the entire world is MEAT and TEETH: my jam? I guess. I guess that's my jam. I mean, out of context it sounds so dumb and grimdark, too, but... the great thing about Hardinge is that the writing is sweet and funny, and--I want to say low-stakes, but it's more that she has a settled awareness that murder and blackmail should be catastrophic intrusions on the world, and never taken for granted. "Meat and teeth" is serious and catastrophic also. It's not plot-relevant, or comfortable, but she makes space for that revelation, because it's both 1) a characteristic hazard of an alien era and 2) the kind of thing that happens to children like Faith. 

But like, it's possible that all that existential rummaging kind of stressed me out. And now instead my heart cries out for shenanigans. Faith and Paul's campaign of one-upmanship is so bitter and committed, and neither of them is even very imaginative; it's darling, unfortunately, and I can just imagine how weird it would be for them to ease into a slightly gentler friends-and-neighbors mode, once Reverend Clay gets her father's living and then (potentially) her mother's hand. I admit I also totally ship the kids in a future capacity, although I'm sure that would be super tricky for both of them, especially if they ended up as stepsiblings; feel free to mess around with that awkwardness to whatever degree you're interested. Mostly, though: continued adventures. In the face of very serious real-life difficulties! ...continued adventures.

4. Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho (Zacharias Wythe, Prunella Gentleman, Stephen Wythe)

Soooo Sorcerer to the Crown had me passionately interested in two things: Zacharias's loyalty to Stephen, and Prunella's loyalty to Zacharias, both formed against considerable odds and in spite of some very personal disincentives. Anything about Prunella comforting-slash-interrogating Zacharias after the events of the novel would be great; so would Zacharias's perspective on his life's previous keystone, the Wythes, vs. its highly importunate new pole star.

I spent the first two-thirds or so of this book wondering why Prunella wasn't the protagonist; not as a slur on Zacharias, who hit all my patient, stoic, genuine mediator buttons, but because Prunella was doing most of the changing and growing, and didn't seem to benefit particularly from being crammed into alternate chapters/played for humor in Zacharias's POV. I still sort of wonder that, but I also have to admit there's something magnetic about the balance of information that goes into that denouement--particularly, I think, because Zacharias's secret from without would have been an obvious, stopped-clock setpiece, but from inside his head becomes a different animal entirely. pun semi-intended. His repression is so complete! And matter-of-fact. And daunting, in the context of his upbringing and everything he's given up. In the hands of a less thoughtful author I might have ended up breezily shipping him and Stephen, to be honest; here I was mainly stuck on how damning his loyalty is. The definitive expression of his feelings--respect, reserve, and quiet affection, for the most part--is to let himself be eaten alive. Yeah. It's a great authorial statement about how far the constructive power of that relationship goes, and where it stops.

Looking ahead to the rest of the trilogy, I'm interested in how and whether Zacharias will defend himself against other kinds of incursion. Including Prunella! who is wonderful, and they have fantastic chemistry together, aaaand she's basically a hostile takeover on legs. Except insofar as she's also pretty smart--pretty self-aware when cornered--and selectively considerate. So yeah, a fic that deals with them figuring out boundaries... talking over their childhoods without admitting anything they're not capable of admitting... performing dangerous magical experiments... that's about the size of my wildest fantasies. Alternatively, if you want to pick at some missing scenes from their developing-rapport within the novel, or do backstory fic for one or the other, or both in Meaningful Parallel--I'd eat that up to extend my lifespan.

quoted you in a blog post

Date: 2015-10-29 12:30 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
Hi -- via Dear Author letter snooping I saw your point about how Zacharias literally lets himself be eaten alive, and quoted it in a blog post about Sorcerer to the Crown. I hope that is all right; please let me know if it's not. Thank you and best wishes for Yuletide!

Re: quoted you in a blog post

Date: 2015-10-29 07:17 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane

Thank you - I'm glad you like the post! Please feel free to comment on it or in the other book club posts! And I hope you get and write super fun stories for Yuletide.

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