January 2017

Tourist

There’s been two chapters of Tourist this period, so naturally I’ve commented with my impressions on both: [1], [2]. Tourist is Saf‘s current serial novel about AI and asexuality and depression and it’s great! Not only do I love her writing, I love the themes and the way she explores them. There’s a few scenes which evoke a very particular feeling I’ve experienced, and it’s fascinating that Saf is able to make me remember how that feeling is like just through her words. The writing was perhaps a little hesitant at first, but it’s been getting better and better every chapter. The latest chapter is excellent.

Fanfiction

All in reading order within their sections. Word counts are rounded to nearest 1 or 5k. I explored the Harry Potter fanficdom, all nearly exclusively rated M. Contains lemons. Content warning for sexual assault in at least half the fics.

  • {HP} Prodigy.

    Pretty good. I liked the modern take. A bit too prodigious perhaps, but that’s what the title announced so who’s complaining? Waaay crazy story. Do not read in more than one sitting, because there is SO MUCH SHIT HAPPENING and you’d end up horribly confused. Great stuff. {135k words}

  • {HP} 893.

    Great story, good writing. Unsure how accurate the Japanese/Yakuza details are (but it’s gotta be better than Rowling’s own attempts at representing asian stereotypes characters), and the large amount of Japanese words and phrases embedded in the text make it somewhat tougher to read than usual. {360k words}

  • {HP} Harry Potter and The Acts of Betrayal.

    Short and sweet. Graphic at times. Cathartic ending and skillful munchkin lawyering. The last author note illustrates well the utter ridiculousness and sheer contrarian nature of some of the cretinous parts of fandom. {78k words}

  • {HP/Dresden} The Denarian Trilogy: Renegade, Knight, and Lord.

    Good writing, great humour, manageable gore and satisfying battle scenes. Oh, and let’s not forget the lore and world-building of epic proportions. The finale in Lord was exactly what was needed. There are supposedly continuations, but do yourself a favour and ignore both Variation and Apocalypse. They’re unfinished, apparently abandoned, and reek of Bad Sequel Syndrome. The only worthwhile point of note is that indeed (rot13) Nznaqn Pnecragre unq n puvyq sebz ure rapbhagre jvgu Uneel. Fur’f anzrq Yvyl Pnecragre naq vf nccneragyl cerggl phgr. And with that, the last plot point of the series is concluded. {235k + 190k + 245k words}

  • {HP} The Firebird Trilogy: Son, Song, and Fury.

    Despite claiming, as is usual, that all belongs to Rowling, this fic really only uses the characters and some general elements of plot. The universe is one of the most original I have ever read. It is an utterly different world, and extremely well built and detailed. Not content to be defined over a few departure points, it is rich of several dozen centuries of history with a particular focus, due to the story, around Europe, the British Isles, and the Americas. But this world is dark and cruel and bleak, and that itself is a terrible understatement. Content warnings for sexual and otherwise abuse, exploitation, horror... and yet that feels like too little said. It is a very good work. It surpasses many original, published, novels I have read in the genre. But while it hooked me and wouldn’t let me go as I devoured it, each further installment shook me deeper. Even with an active imagination and few of the ‘moral’ blockers on thought most my peers have, this world and its inhabitants shocked me in their depravity and casual evil, but most importantly, in the way it showed every single cause and character as believing they were in the right, even while performing and perpetuating wickedness, resulting in institutionalised malevolence in every situation and at every level of society. Even the heroes, the protagonists, the good ones, those trying to quite literally save the world from itself, are merely questionably good most of the time. It is a dark, dark work, but it is very, very good. It’ll haunt me for a while. If you at all can, read it. {170k + 150k + 170k words}

  • {Naruto} Life in Konoha’s ANBU.

    Interesting format, with distinct arcs corresponding to Naruto’s missions instead of a single continuity of plot. It makes the whole thing more approachable, and sets clear expectations around the progression of a particular writing stint. Unfinished, but not abandoned; there are long-term plot lines still in suspens (and I’m not talking about the canon plot lurking in the background, rather about the original plot lines that make it all interesting). {370k words at time of writing}

  • {HP} To Be Loved.

    Interesting prompt, and although the latter plots were a bit simplistic, I liked the politics, as well as the occasional insight into Dumbledore’s thinking. {95k words}

  • {HP} The Bonds of Blood.

    I really like Darth Marrs’ writing. The emotions and complexity of every character are well-rendered, the plots are well-rounded, and the suspens is heart-wrenching. Yes, I have shed some tears and my heart has hurt. It’s not the best fic on this list, and it was a short fun read, despite all the feels, but it was pretty good. {190k words}

  • {HP} The Forgotten Contract.

    Yeah, yeah, yet another marriage contract story. What can I say? I like romance, and this is one of the most popular and least sappy romance genre in this fandom. I found the basis for the story interesting, and the resolution swift if perhaps a bit anti-climatic. But then again, the defeat of Voldemort was never the focus of the plot. The fic brushed on some thoughts I had while reading, namely on the influence Harry’s near worship for a decade, without having a real person to mellow it, would have had on society, particularly regarding standards of appearance and, to a lesser extent, behaviour. There was a strange consistent corruption to the spelling of some words, almost as if the text had been OCR’d: notably, various ‘I’ or ‘i’ letters had been replaced with ‘1’, but not all of them. {165k words}

  • {HP} To Fight The Coming Darkness.

    Jbern rarely disappoints. This was a fun story, but not a Humour story. Typical plot of Individual!Harry going against Dumbledore, but various atypical plot elements, mostly around making typically-always-good characters have questionable morals and make less-than-Light decisions, and making typically-always-evil characters be borderline good but forced in a bad situation. It adds an interesting realism. Few bad points, but one in particular (rot13): va gung lrf, gurer vf n cybg-rkphfr sbe ebznapr gb tb snfgre bapr Uneel naq Fhfna ner vaibyirq, ohg orsber gurer’f abg. Fb gung cneg bs gur fgbel srryf n ovg gbb snfg sbe gung ernfba. Good discussions and reasoning in dialogue, it changes from both naïve or overcomplex-in-hopes-of-sounding-smart plans and narration simply omitting planning and showing only the results. Including planning that actually feels intelligent is a great addition to any story. {340k words}

  • {HP} Pride of Time.

    This was really really good. I love Hermione time travel stories. I love when all the characters have their own flame, their own passions and thoughts and reasons and defects. I also really love stories that were planned out before they were written, and written before they were published, as they are invariably of better quality, simply due to having been revised and cross-written. Contains graphic sex, but gentle and hot and furious and real. Some scenes reminded me of sex I’ve had, see, that’s how good and real it was. Also contains instances of graphic violence, but not gore, and not deeply disturbing. It covers war (both of them) and terror and torture, but it’s not meant to shock and disgust. If you read nothing else on this list, I do recommend this one. {555k words}

  • {HP} Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path.

    This list is getting way too long, but fortunately we’re two days before this update goes out and the next few fics I have queued are crackfics or small-length fics, so they should all make it into the short format list below. Well-written, and with a delightful amount of lesbian, gay, and bi characters, all presented positively, little prejudice in this regard all around. Also remarkably good with letting everyone be happy with their various religions, while calling out cultural misappropriation. No trans or enbies that I could find, but we’re getting there. I’ve noticed several possible references to HPMoR; generally I chalk those up to coincidence because the fics are HPMoR-antecedent, but this one is mid-to-late 2016, so it fits, and the references are multiple and fairly clear. Happy-ending fic, even more so than the other happy-ending fics I’ve read recently; this is positively Disney-esque in its epilogue. Although it’s certainly not Disney-esque in its contents, with sex à gogo, lots of innuendo, etc. There’s also violence and abuse present, this isn’t an all-rainbows fest. One persistent bad point: the cavalier way horrific fates are dished onto some antagonists. Sure, it might seem like karmic retribution, but cheerfully finishing off Malfoy by having him be taken by human traffickers intent on forcing him into prostitution still leaves a bad taste in. {520k words}

Also enjoyed, but no lengthy comment: