graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
Note: A good deal of this text has been ported straight from last year’s letter, including a couple of recurring requests.  Things have been kind of hectic around here in recent weeks – and also, I find I actually rather like this particular introductory paragraph.

Greetings, O YuleScrivener, and welcome!  And also, thank you!  Where Yuletide is concerned, I am nothing if not a Requester Of The Seriously Obscure.  Thus I am always amazed when the technomancy of the matching process succeeds in finding a writer who shares my appreciation for said obscurity, and delighted on Christmas morning when a wonderful and wondrous story from that writer's (metaphorical) pen lands in my AO3 gift-folder.  We may just be setting out on this year's journey, but I know there's a happy ending to come, and I am grateful for it already.  Your work is (and will be) appreciated and valued, and I look forward to seeing its fruits.

These letters aren't getting any shorter, so while I've got detailed material farther down, I think it's only fair to give you the list of fandom requests up front.  So, those would be:

* Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham (Arilyn)
* Legend (TV 1995) (Janos Bartok)
* The Ice Ghosts Mystery - Jane Louise Curry (any)
* Oz - L. Frank Baum (any)
* Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (Ivy)
* Young Wizards - Diane Duane (Carmela, Dairine)

General likes and dislikes

Feel free to wander backward through this journal and my fic on AO3 (linked to your left) to get an idea of my interests; what I write is very much also what I like to read -- and has, over time, added up to rather a variety of fandoms. My past Yuletide letters (and those for other exchanges) are tagged "dear santa" herein; see the "Yuletide" tag too, if you like.

To summarize, though: text-driven pluses for me include effective use of wit (aka banter aka snark, etc.), as well as strong characterization & dialogue. I value both respect for and clever use of canon (including well-developed AUs -- the plot-driven kind, not the baristas/highschoolers/alt-species kind). I thrive on UST (heavy on both U and T), and am neutral where gen/het/slash is concerned; if the pairing is well-developed, I'll read with an open mind.

I am also a sucker for the well-executed crossover, whether via oblique allusion or head-on fandom collision. Yuletide being Yuletide and Optional Details Being Optional, I have absolutely no expectations along this line...but if your muse's musings should happen to run in such a direction on their own initiative, feel free to encourage them. Again: the key word here is Optional.

None of my requests call specifically for mature/explicit content.  This doesn't mean I don't appreciate sizzling erotica/smut/porn; it's just that my fanfic-reading interests and my e/s/p-reading interests mostly don't tend to intersect.  That said, if your muse happens to take you into explicit territory in the context of one of these requests, I'm totally willing to follow along for the ride.  I have few outright personal squicks save for noncon, incest, or adult/child kinks so long as a given relationship is age- and canon-appropriate.  [See the requests for canon-specific notes.]

Character matching and prompts

Most often in exchanges, I request single characters.  This is not because I'm opposed to relationship-fic or multi-character stories – far from it. My goal is to give you greater flexibility in introducing additional characters, whether from those nominated or from wider canon. Even where I supply relatively specific prompts in a request, I want you to be able to shape the story; my suggestions are meant as springboards, not outlines.

Where I've requested multiple characters, I've given a specific note in each request as to whether it's an "either/or" request or not (different fandoms, different answers to that question).  As above, you're absolutely encouraged to bring in any additional canon characters (or OCs) you feel should be involved given the demands of your plot.

In a couple of cases here, I've left the character selection blank (there being no "Any" button on the offer side of the signup).  Any is pretty much still Any, though, and I've framed the prompts accordingly.


A note first: in past years, I've added a few additional notes to the text pasted from "Optional Details" in the signup form.  This year, I've gone the other way: all of the Optional Detail notes are included in the signup form proper, and what's here exactly reprises that content.  (It seems safer that way, and ensures that my officially matched writer sees all those notes.)

* Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham (Arilyn)

It’s been some time since I’ve reread these, but they remain among my very favorite Forgotten Realms novels (and I've read fairly widely in that canon).  Even when matters become emotionally or physically challenging, Cunningham imbues these books with a degree of underlying optimism that makes the books fun to read.  (I recently came across the term "noblebright", coined as a counter-category to "grimdark"; I think maybe that's applicable here.)  Along with the wonderfully drawn characters, one of the things I like about this series is the magic: Arilyn’s moonblade, Dan’s eccentric uses for illusion, and so forth.  I’d love to see a tale in which untangling a magical problem or puzzle is the focus.

Two observations here in addition to the commentary from the request proper.  First: While we've matched specifically on Arilyn, I absolutely encourage you to bring in additional characters, nominated and otherwise, to fill out and complement your story.  Although this is Very Optional, since he's not in the tag set, I'd be especially happy to see Khelben Arunsen onstage.  I find I've somehow missed the moment in the larger Realms continuity when his status...changed, and I always found his role in this series enjoyable and provocative.  Second: having made the above comment, I'll note that as much as I like Arilyn and Danilo as a couple, we get enough of that relationship in canon that what I'm hoping for here is a somewhat different focus.  I don't mean to discourage you from bring Dan onstage; I'm just looking for something other than romance in this request.

* Legend (TV 1995) (Janos Bartok)

On one hand, much of the fun of this series is watching Our Heroes fence with one another, and I don't want to lose sight of that.  But I think here I'd like to see the Professor spread his own wings a little, purely to prove that he *can*.   There are depths to Janos Bartok that we didn't have time to plumb onscreen; let's explore that here -- though please do keep the tone light enough that we don't lose the roguish charm that makes this series what it is.

For Extremely Optional Bonus Points: one just knows that Bartok and a certain Prof. Wickwire of a certain other alt!Western universe must have or have had a long-standing professional rivalry....

* The Ice Ghosts Mystery - Jane Louise Curry (any)

This book is such an ensemble piece that I've not tried to pick among the available characters.  Just give me a solid "further adventures" story -- whether of foiling another Evil Science Plot, coping with school/academic politics, or simply wreaking cheerful familial havoc on some unsuspecting foreign metropolis.  Romance between Oriole and Gabriel is definitely on the table, too.

For Extremely Optional Bonus Points
: I've always regarded the Birds as a deliberate homage to L'Engle's Austin and O'Keefe families, if in a slightly lighter vein.  What sort of conference and/or diabolical scheme might toss the two sets of characters into one another's orbit?

* Oz - L. Frank Baum (Button Bright, Polychrome)

[NOTE: I will be happy with a story featuring either *or* both of the selected characters.]

While I'm not at all opposed to revisionist or sideways looks at Ozian canon (I am, for instance, a huge admirer of Ryk Spoor's recent
Polychrome), in the present context I think I'm looking for more traditional Oziana.  Keep Baum and the Famous Forty (I've read many but not all of these) in mind and you'll make me a happy reader.  That said, while I wouldn't be opposed to a story in which the above two characters develop into a couple, that's not at *all* why I picked them, and I'd be just as happy with a story where romance is wholly absent.  I'm fascinated on one hand by Button Bright's general disregard for magic (even when he has access to it), and by Polychrome's status as a being of almost pure magic, who seems sometimes a physical being and sometimes a nearly intangible one.   Neither character flusters easily, and I think it would be fun to see them confront a magical challenge together purely as a study in contrasts.

* Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (Ivy)

I've picked Ivy this year not because I'm not fond of Carmen (quite the contrary), but because Carmen takes up so much space in the admittedly small body of fic in this fandom -- and I'd like to see a little more from the ACME side of things in general, as well as from Ivy's perspective in particular.  I've also remarked before that one of my great fascinations with this series is the bond that develops between Carmen and the detectives as the show progresses; at times there's what I'd call a slightly maternal quality to Carmen's interest in Our Heroes, and I'd enjoy seeing that idea considered from Ivy's point of view.  I also can't help thinking that it's interesting that canon gives us essentially no information about Ivy's and Zack's parents...which might be because they're utterly ordinary, but could also have to do with some tragic past event -- or that fact that technically, Ivy and Zack are computer-generated avatars.

OTOH, if deep familial musings aren't your cup of tea, I will also be greatly pleased with rapid-fire casefic (infoscans optional) or a straightforward snark-and-action encounter.  One thing, though: I'd prefer strongly *not* to see a Carmen/Ivy romantic pairing; that one pushes a button for me.

* Young Wizards - Diane Duane (Carmela, Dairine)

[NOTE: I would strongly prefer a story featuring both characters, but a story featuring either one will satisfy this request.]

I chose Carmela and Dairine both because I like them individually and because canon gives us so very little that puts them together with one another -- which I find surprising, even granting the age difference.  I would very much like to see how they interact given an excuse and/or opportunity.  Additional characters welcome; suitably brain-bending crossovers totally welcome but emphatically not required.

With WIZARDS IN PLAY out, we have many of the answers we've wanted relative to Dairine and Roshaun, so I'm no longer deeply worried about excessive angst arising from that quarter.  It does occur to me that Dairine might find it easier to talk to Carmela about Roshaun than to have the same conversations with Nita, perhaps especially now that his situation's been resolved.  (Or you could set such a tete-a-tete earlier in canon, while things are still unsettled....)

Other possible tacks: Dairine getting one up on Nita with Carmela’s help, or the girls and the Alien Study Group having an adventure (I’ve seen a fair bit of fic in this line set in the Crossings, not so much here on Earth).  I would also be very much on board for quality father-daughter bonding -- no matter which father/mentor figure(s) is/are involved.

[Canon notes: I'm equally at home in the original and New Millennium timelines, and have read all the shorter and e-only material up through WHEN WIZARDS PLAY (except for THE BIG MEOW and the latest post-PLAY ebook).]

graycardinal: Anya from "Anastasia"; "What was that title again?" (anya)
A little late (real life has been...entertaining lately, in the may-you-live-in-interesting-times sense), but no less worth mentioning: as it turns out, You Can Do That In Fanfiction was a sufficiently small exchange that (1) my recipient and I were matched with each other in both directions, and (2) the stories we wrote each other were both in the same fandom -- specifically, Power Rangers Time Force.  This is in no way either a complaint or a criticism; it's something that can and will happen naturally, particularly in a smaller multi-fandom exchange wherein the fandoms themselves are small to start with.  If anything, I'm benignly amused by the happenstance and very much satisfied with both stories.

Here's the one written for me:

Changing Isn't Easy
Fandom: Power Rangers Time Force
Written by: [personal profile] rivulet027 
Characters: Nadira (Power Rangers), Lucas Kendall, Katie Walker
Rating: T / gen
Additional Tags: Redemption, Friendship
Warnings: none
Words: ~1,100

Nadira's having a difficult time adjusting to life back in the year 3000. Katie and Lucas help.

I like the character work here, and there's a good deal of thoughtful worldbuilding-by-implication lurking in the background.  Nadira is among the most interesting antagonists in the whole Rangerverse, and this story does a very good job of thinking through the characterization we were given.


And here's what I wrote:

Red is the Color
Fandom: Power Rangers Time Force
Written by: [ profile] Gray_Cardinal 
Characters/Relationships: Wesley Collins, Jennifer (Jen) Scotts, Circuit; Wes/Jen
Rating: G • F/M
Additional Tags: Time Travel, Temporal Paradox
Warnings: none
Words: ~2,000

“I’ve been doing some thinking since you guys left," said Wes. "Also, I got Dr. Zaskin at Dad’s lab to run a couple of tests. But I knew what they were going to tell me before the results came back – and so should you, if you think about it.”

The underlying premise of this story occurred to me almost at once after the assignment landed, but I couldn't arm-wrestle the AU that would logically follow from that premise into a story compact enough to be writeable in the time frame I had to work with.  So here it's purely a what-if, but one that still has a critical impact on our two lead Rangers.

graycardinal: Carmen Sandiego (carmen sandiego)
From [ profile] astrogirl2

Mary Russell, Sarah Jane Smith, and Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart are stranded at sea in a tiny lifeboat. Do they easily survive to be rescued, perish horribly at sea, or find themselves resorting to cannibalism by day five?

All three are much too civilized to resort to cannibalism and much too experienced at surviving difficult circumstances to be severely challenged by this one. Also, between Sherlock Holmes, the Doctor, and Sarah Jane’s own various allies, someone will show up to bail them out well before the end of day two.

Why is Sherlock Holmes trying to kill Dairine Callahan, and how likely is he to succeed?


The only way this even begins to be possible is for Holmes to have been really well brainwashed, and that just about has to mean that some incarnation of the Master is involved. Which is actually possible, given that it’s established in canon that the Doctor exists in the Young Wizards universe. Since that appearance involved Five, we can further extrapolate that it’s Anthony Ainley’s Master, who is probably trying to co-opt Dairine’s planet of silicon life forms for his own ends. However, like all of the Master’s plots, this one is doomed to failure – in this case because he really doesn’t quite get the degree to which wizardry is rather more than a weird scientific sub-discipline.

Peggy Carter has become a vampire! Does she angst about it endlessly, or wholeheartedly embrace her creature-of-the-night status?

Peggy only does serious angst if it involves Captain America, and since he obviously wasn’t the one who turned her, there will be no angst at this table. If Howard Stark or the SSR can’t find some way to turn her back (very possible, though not guaranteed), she’ll adapt with no great difficulty, though she may have to get very stern with a few people about how much blood they’re willing to donate to her cause. And eventually Stephen Strange will probably find a way to unvamp her, several generations down the line.

Richard Castle, Victoria “Victory Anna” Cogsworth, and Severus Snape are having a movie night. Who brings the snacks, who loses the remote control, and how hard do they fight over what to watch?


Castle brings the snacks (because he doesn’t trust Torrey’s culinary skills and because snack-bringing isn’t in Snape’s vocabulary). Torrey does not lose the remote, she merely borrows it, and somehow its parts end up scattered among two ray guns, a teleportation device, and a pair of rocket skates. There is actually very little fighting over the movie, Torrey will watch just about anything in the name of learning more about her present dimension, and Snape is there less for the movie than to try and figure out what diabolical scheme has prompted Castle to set up the event. Since Castle is screening the new Nebula-9 feature film (produced after the events of S5 episode “Final Frontier”), both his guests end up more confused than ever....

From [ profile] lost_spook:

Vala and David Xanatos are stuck in a lift! Will they escape, meekly wait till the fire brigade gets there or kill each other?

Knowing Xanatos, he secretly caused the elevator to get stuck in order to plot an ingenious caper of some kind in which Vala will be a key player. Knowing Vala, the odds are dead even as to whether she’ll go along with the scheme whole-heartedly or play along just long enough to (at least attempt to) pull the rug out from under him at the last minute.

Mary Russell has been murdered. Cat Grant is the detective, Xanatos is her faithful sidekick and Victoria Cogsworth is the plodding police ally. Why is Rupert Giles a red herring, and who actually dunnit and why?


This one is so full of improbables that one hardly knows where to start. David Xanatos is so definitionally a mastermind (if not precisely an evil one) that he’s difficult to envision as a sidekick. Victory Anna? Absolutely Does Not “Plod”; she may not be quite the loose cannon she often appears, but she is a woman of action and intuition. And of course, despite the title of her latest adventure being The Murder of Mary Russell (how’s that for a scary coincidence) it’s difficult to contemplate one of the world’s premier sleuths (alongside her more famous husband) actually getting herself killed.

Which leads me to believe that the whole thing must be part of a party game set up by someone with really good superpowers in order to generate this particular guest list. On this list, that looks like Dairine, though it could also be Xanatos’ aide Owen Burnett in his alternate Puckish persona, or just possibly one of the most recent Doctors. That being the case, Giles is a red herring because that’s the game-card he drew, and in all probability the in-game mastermind will turn out to be (ta-da!) Sherlock Holmes himself, who will reveal in the climax that of course Mary Russell has not actually been murdered after all.

Will Riker and Severus Snape are going camping in the woods! Fun holiday or complete disaster?

On the one hand, Riker’s woodcraft skills are impeccable (and he’s known to be an avid fisherman). On the other, a situation in which Riker would invite Snape on a camping trip – and Snape would accept – is difficult to conceive, unless perhaps Snape needs to go out in search of potion components in the wild and someone in authority has insisted that he needs not to go by himself per the relevant wilderness-safety regulations. (Where and how he comes up with Riker as a campmate is left as an exercise for the student of improbable time travel.) My guess is that the trip would start out reasonably enough, but that by two or three days in, the two men would rapidly figure out that they’re catastrophically incompatible, mostly because Riker would be having fun and Snape is, if not constitutionally incapable of experiencing fun for its own sake, at best deeply uncomfortable with the concept.

graycardinal: Alexis Castle, smiling (Alexis (smiling))
There will be a Part I and a Part II. Herewith the first section:

The List

#1 Mary Russell (“Holmes/Russell” novels, Laurie R. King)
#2 Vala Mal Doran (Stargate SG-1)
#3 Richard Castle (Castle)
#4 Will Riker (Star Trek: TNG)
#5 Cat Grant (Supergirl)
#6 Natasha “Black Widow” Romanov (MCU)
#7 Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
#8 Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor Who)
#9 Sherlock Holmes (ACD canon*)
#10 Victoria Cogsworth aka “Victory Anna” (Velveteen vs. series, Seanan McGuire)
#11 Dairine Callahan (“Young Wizards” series, Diane Duane)
#12 Severus Snape (“Harry Potter” series, J. K. Rowling)
#13 David Xanatos (Gargoyles)
#14 Brigadier Alasdair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Doctor Who)
#15 Peggy Carter (MCU)

First set of answers: )

From [personal profile] malkingrey (via a prior unfinished round):

Richard Castle and Cat Grant go into business together. What do they sell/what service do they provide, and which # is their first customer?
Cat hires Rick to ghostwrite a series of Supergirl adventure novels (her third choice, after J. K. Rowling and Lois McMaster Bujold turned her down; she figures that the Nikki Heat series was a good warmup for the job). Rick makes a noble try at it, but after one too many arguments with Cat-the-editor he hands the job off to his daughter Alexis...who is both mightily amused and wildly successful, not least because Alexis manages to coax a blurb for the first one out of the Black Widow.

Vala Mal Doran, Dairine Callahan, and David Xanatos are all on the same train from New York to Chicago. Which one is actually a fugitive on the run (and why); which one is secretly tailing them; and which one is the unsuspecting third party who accidentally gets involved? And what happens when the train reaches Union Station?

In this trio, anyone could be the fugitive...but on this occasion, it happens to be Xanatos, who is trying to deal himself into the interstellar black market in high-tech weapons, Dairine having recently foiled a previous attempt in that direction. At present, he’s hoping he can finagle in Chicago what he’s been prevented from doing in Manhattan; Dairine, who saw this coming, has followed him onto the train (in magical disguise) so as to head him off at the pass have a word with the cats managing the worldgates in Chicago. Meanwhile, Vala had been on an actual vacation in New York, and is heading back west by train because it’s way more comfortable than flying (and easier to bring back souvenirs). But she overhears just enough of a conversation Dairine is having with Spot-the-magic-laptop to figure out that aliens and worldgates are involved, (not unreasonably) assumes that Dairine has stumbled onto the Stargate program, and promptly calls ahead to alert Jack O’Neill and the team to have people waiting at Union Station. Fortunately, since Sam Carter is also a wizard, this does not in fact lead to a Keystone Kops comedy chase scene, and Xanatos – for once – finds himself pretty much outmaneuvered.

From [ profile] tanyareed:

How do Cat Grant and Victoria “Victory Anna” Cogsworth get along?

At a great distance from one another. The first time Torrey saw Cat on television, she drew a very large ray gun from a very small pocket and melted the TV. All parties have since agreed that it would be a Very Bad Idea for the two women to come closer than, say, 300 miles from one another.

Would Mary Russell and Dairine Callahan have an affair, fall in love, tolerate each other, or hate each other?

“Tolerate” is probably safest. For a variety of reasons, a romance between the two is unlikely in the extreme, and both are too dedicated to their respective pursuit of justice to be likely to hate one another. That said, prolonged contact between them would probably try both their patiences severely.

How would Natasha Romanov and Rupert Giles handle the zombie apocalypse?

With both Giles and the Black Widow on board, the situation would stop being apocalyptic in fairly short order.

If Vala were in Sherlock Holmes’ world, how would he or she fit?

The rivalry would be epic, and immensely entertaining – Vala as master thief, Holmes as master sleuth. (Somebody please write this series....)

If Richard Castle and Rupert Giles were to play a game together, what would they play?

Castle would almost certainly try to talk Giles into laser tag. Giles would propose chess. Castle counters with “live chess” using actual people for playing pieces. Giles offers Scrabble played in Latin. They end up in an all-night poker session in which both of them get their clocks cleaned by everyone else in the game.

Out of Victory Anna and Severus Snape, who would save whom?

Heh. Victory Anna would save Snape, mostly because Torrey would be wildly unlikely to get herself into a situation precarious enough to require Snape-level intervention. Snape, being Snape, would be tremendously annoyed at having been rescued when he obviously could have saved himself (and also because he’d find Victory Anna’s brand of surreal steampunk science totally baffling).

What would Vala make Will Riker for supper?

Vala and Will wouldn’t get to supper. That date would progress right past supper to nightcap-and-subsequent-breakfast-in-bed without dinner bothering to intervene.

Snape and Cat Grant are in a fight. Who wins?

On one hand, this is an Irresistible Force/Immovable Object conflict. On the other, Snape has a magic wand and knows how to use it. Round to Snape.

If Vala were setting Castle up on a blind date, which of the others would she set him up with?

Interesting question, mostly because Vala herself is probably the most likely match. If she’s indulging her mischievous side, probably Natasha Romanov. If she’s thinking in practical terms, very likely Sarah Jane Smith. (Not even Vala would match Castle with Cat Grant in a romantic context; with that pair on a date, there’d very possibly be murder by morning.)

What would be the perfect date for Mary Russell and Peggy Carter?

Afternoon high tea in any of London, San Francisco, or Victoria BC, preferably with a sedate and genteel side of intrigue. They could talk shop and trade stories for hours on end (and plot ways to have Peggy replace the Russell-verse version of Mycroft).
graycardinal: Rufus (from Kim Possible) (Rufus)
Because yes, I have stories in progress for two exchanges...

OTOH, I just had one of these pop up on the LJ side of this journal (and followed it over to another iteration), and have been reminded of how much I like playing the Wacky Crossover Theater game.  So why not?

I've made a list of fifteen (15) characters from a variety of fandoms.  Your job is to ask questions about various combinations of these characters (examples: What secret past do #8 and #14 share?  What if #2, #6, and #9 went on a road trip?  If #5 and #10 were having dinner, who invited who?), which I'll do my best to answer.

Once we've accumulated sufficient questions, I'll compile the results and make a new post incorporating all the Qs and As -- this way, the Dreamwidth and LiveJournal readerships both get to see all the collective wackiness.

Different practitioners of this meme make different sorts of lists.  My approach tends to involve recruiting from as many different sources as I can possibly manage (in this instance, 12.5 unique fandoms are represented -- we'll talk about the .5 later).  Thus, queries are extremely likely to produce Improbable Crossover Theater for various -- and sometimes really weird -- values of "improbable".  Management will do its best to respond to all queries posed, but reserves the right to designate some results Just Too Bizarre To Contemplate.
graycardinal: Alexis Castle, smiling (Alexis (smiling))
As a confirmed crossover geek, this is rapidly becoming my favorite annual exchange, even if it is the most complicated. And as always, I am even more than usually grateful and impressed with whatever crossover ends up coming my way as a result. I remain in awe of the folk running this particular venture, because I suspect the matching -- even with AO3's automated engine in play -- is more than usually interesting. Thank you very much for volunteering for this madness, and specifically for your willingness to indulge my particular cross-fannish sensibilities.

Anyhow. Per the usual form of these things, here's a cut, because this is going to be even longer than usual.
And here we go.... )

graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
And here's the story I wrote for the round -- also a Mycroft-POV story, though with a quite different slant and tone, this one set in (mostly) traditional Conan Doyle canon territory.  There have been a considerable number of attempts to "explain" the events of "The Final Problem"; this one is mine.

Broken Silence

Written for: meredydd
Characters/Pairings: Mycroft Holmes, John Watson
Rating: G
Warnings: none

I shook my head slightly, levered myself to my feet – and, for the first and only time since the founding of the Diogenes, broke the club’s most cardinal rule. “Come,” I said to Dr. Watson, “and we shall discuss the matter.”

Note: The following narrative appears to be taken from the private papers of Mycroft Holmes, but its true provenance is likely to be the subject of considerable debate among Holmesian scholars.

graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Written for me in the just-concluded summer round of Holmestice: an elegant and wholly convincing coda to (IMHO) one of the best 20th-century Sherlock Holmes films we have (starring Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Holmes and Watson).  Viewers may recall that Mycroft doesn't actually show up in Murder By Decree at all -- so it's entirely appropriate that this Mycroft is extrapolated as much from the Conan Doyle canon as from the events of the film...and that in this story, we see a Mycroft who's both utterly true to what we see of him in Doyle, and very different in some ways from many of the character's more modern renderings.

Art in the Blood
Author: rachelindeed
Characters/Pairings: Gen; Mycroft Holmes, John Watson, Sherlock Holmes
Fandom: Murder By Decree (1979 film)
Rating: G
Warnings: Major spoilers for the movie (the fic gives away the film’s ending)
Length: ~4,700 words

After the events of Murder By Decree, Mycroft Holmes leaves the British government and tries to decide what to do with the rest of his life.
graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Yes, You Can Do That In Fanfiction, and here's the Dear Scripter letter to prove it.

First, and always most important: thank you -- for taking the plunge into a new fic exchange, for offering to write at least one fandom that's in both our wheelhouses, and for the care and effort that I know always goes into these challenge/exchange stories. I never cease to be delighted at the superb quality of the stories I receive, and I appreciate the thought that goes into producing a story arising out of my often-rambling prompt-letters.

So: first, you want to know what I like.

Pluses for me include strong characterization, well-written dialogue, wit/banter/snark, clever use of canon, well-developed AUs, UST (heavy on both the U and the T), and more. I'm neutral when it comes to matters of gen, slash, and the like -- if the pairing is well-developed, I'll read with an open mind. I'm not into noncon, incest, or adult/child kinks, but have few other outright squicks as long as the relationship is age- and canon-appropriate; OTOH, I mostly don't read fanfic for sexual content (though in a couple of these fandoms, I do enjoy romance plots; see the specific prompts for details).

I will note in particular that I am a sucker for the clever and well-executed crossover -- not because I expect one (Optional Details Being Optional, and such things being well beyond the call of either duty or necessity), but because in more than one of these cases, the potential amusement and/or entertainment value would be particularly high if your writerly imagination should happen to wander in that direction.

Fandom-specific notes below the cut:

Read more... )

graycardinal: Alexis Castle, thoughtful (Alexis (thoughtful))
News comes tonight that co-star Stana Katic "hasn't been asked back" for the prospective 9th season of Castle, though the current showrunners seem hopeful that said 9th season is still a possibility.  A secondary character, Tamala Jones' Lanie Parish, is also being written out.

I've been mostly pretty forgiving of the writing choices on Castle for the last couple of seasons, and have kept watching despite the current showrunners' insistence on pursuing plotlines that highlight the weakest aspects of the series' writing.  But this just boggles the mind; from day one, Castle has been built around the character partnership of Rick Castle and Kate Beckett, and I really don't see how the series can be realistically continued without both characters on board.  One can only hope that ABC will put the fans out of their misery and choose not to renew the show.

For my own part, though, I actually don't think the mythology kerfuffles are as much of a disaster as the huge disservice the writing has done to both Alexis and Martha in the past couple of seasons.  Martha has entirely lost her engaging con-artist's edge, and Alexis' original maturity and independence has been wholly forgotten in favor of turning her into "Alexis Castle, PI" (a role that exploits none of the academic, artistic, or personal interests she was shown to have while in high school and college).  Indeed, the two characters have pretty much stepped into each other's original narrative functions -- Martha is now the mature, wise mentor, while Alexis is Castle's wish-fulfillment enabler and comic sidekick.  It's pure good fortune that Susan Sullivan and Molly Quinn are sufficiently capable performers to sell their new roles, but it's a particular shame that we've not seen the truly brilliant young woman that Alexis should have become.


Ah, well.  I foresee a hell of a lot of fixit fic emerging over the summer.  And if anyone is still actually writing canon-compliant fic at this point, I rather suspect most of it will go AU after this season's finale.

graycardinal: Alexis Castle, smiling (Alexis (smiling))
What it says on the headline. Here's the link:

Facing the Music (podfic) -- podfic by blackglass (aka [personal profile] xdiorix) story by Gray Cardinal

"No, worlds music, with an S."

This was originally a crossover-intensive Buffyverse drabble-sequence written for [ profile] tthdrabbles; the podfic adds the actual songs referenced in the chapter-titles and thereby creates a really nifty short radio adventure in a way that I totally failed to anticipate when I wrote the initial work. I am utterly delighted and charmed.

So thanks to [ profile] jedibuttercup all over again for hosting the [profile] tthdrabbles comm, and to blackglass for a fantastic translation-to-audio of a story I had a lot of fun writing.

graycardinal: Alexis Castle, thoughtful (Alexis (thoughtful))
This is probably not the post you were looking for from me after the last couple of months (it's been an Adventure on this end, but things are in fact more or less under control at present, if likely to involve a fair amount of metaphorical tap dancing for the foreseeable future).

However, I find myself a trifle confuzzled, and I know I have a fellow theater geek or two in the gallery.  So here goes:

By more or less random happenstance, this past Thursday evening found me at a local high school musical -- specifically, a production of Legally Blonde.  It was an enjoyable evening -- packed house (for opening night, no less), lots of enthusiasm, and pretty good production values.  I need to note here that I am spoiled when it comes to both high school and college theater, having had the unusual good fortune to land in schools which had -- at the time -- both academically excellent drama departments and seriously talented student performers.

The result: I have to work a bit to avoid being hyper-critical of what I'm watching when I see a student production these days (this being the first in much, much too long).  Some issues are easy for me to set aside; there were a significant number of glitches with miking and sound tech all through the performance, but I have a feeling a good bit of that may have been hardware-related and thus not really anyone's fault as such.  And I can't expect the casts I watch to have the same astonishing polish and presence of certain of my classmates of old (some of whom now list Broadway credits on their resumes).   On one hand, I don't know that I saw any incipient Broadway stars onstage this time out -- but the young lady playing Elle Wood and the young man playing Mike-the-UPS-Guy were both particularly good, and all the performances were entirely respectable.  In point of fact, I think the student performers were uniformly better than the material they were given.  Speaking as one who hasn't seen the Reese Witherspoon films or read the original book, I found the music lively but not memorable (not even up to, say, the Galavant standard) and the script lacking both in focus and consistency. 

And then there was the exercise-video number.

Perhaps it's just me (speaking now as a middle-aged bachelor), but if I were a high school drama teacher, I am not sure I would costume six or eight of my most well-endowed female students in sports bras and sweatpants, give them jump ropes, and arrange them in the front rows of a troupe performing directly facing the audience.  The bouncing effect was, inevitable, enthusiastically vigorous, and struck me as entirely gratuitous in the Not-In-A-Good-Way sense.  And have I mentioned that this was happening at a Catholic high school?

Understand, I emphatically do not object to high school theater programs tackling mature subject matter, or even musicals with mature content (I have see three or four different high school productions of Pippin over the years, some pretty much unedited and some significantly massaged, all very good).  But Legally Blonde?  Just doesn't strike me as a strong enough show to merit wading into that briar patch in the first place.

Now if I could just nudge one of the local high schools into reviving Finian's Rainbow....

graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Here's what I wrote for the current round of Holmestice.  I am amused and gratified at the pleased responses it's gotten -- I was initially nervous as to whether I'd done right by the characters here, but the consensus seems to be that of course the story's central assumption must be accurate.

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Written for: [ profile] mundungus42 
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mycroft Holmes
Type/Rating: G • gen
Additional Tags: Australian Aboriginal Mythology, Case Fic, Minor Original Characters, Stealth Crossover
Warnings: none
Words: ~7900

The case of the vanishing boomerang appeared at first to be a trivial matter. But it revealed an aspect of Sherlock Holmes’ past that shed new light on his character – and only many years later did its true impact begin to come to light.

graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Next, written for me in the current round of Holmestice:

to cradle the world in his hands
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century
Written by: language_escapes
Characters: Tennyson, Wiggins, Deidre, Sherlock Holmes
Type/Rating: G • gen
Additional Tags: Ableism, British Sign Language, Canon Disabled Character, Character Study, Disability, Languages, Origin Story
Warnings: none
Words: ~7900

He does not feel limited.
A Tennyson origin story.

This story, like its protagonist, is enormously intelligent and immensely likeable, even as it tackles a complicated and prickly set of issues with deft and sensitive wisdom -- and reveals that even Sherlock Holmes is occasionally challenged.  Clearly I've won the story lottery this holiday season....
graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)
I am behind by several acknowledgment posts (and indeed, one whole exchange), so don't be surprised if the order of the next few posts is a little odd as I attempt to catch up.

First up is the Yuletide story written for me:

This Soft World

Fandom: Tomorrowland (2015)
Written by: ???
Characters: Athena, Frank Walker, David Nix
Relationships: Athena & Frank Walker, Athena & David Nix
Rating: T / gen
Additional Tags: Friendship, Loyalty, Androids, Developing Autonomy
Warnings: none
Words: ~22,000 (!)

Athena has always been clear about her purpose in life and no amount of reprogramming will change that. It's what Frank likes most about her.

I am pretty much gobsmacked.  This is brilliantly-worked-out AI spec-fic, beautifully executed relationship fic, and a deep and intricate extrapolation of both movie canon and material from the prequel novel Before Tomorrowland (though you do not have to read the latter book to appreciate what's here).  I count Tomorrowland as the most underappreciated movie of the past year, and I think my mystery author must agree with me; this story is flat-out amazing.
graycardinal: snowy gateway: Yuletide, Enter Here (Yuletide)

Note: A good deal of this text has been ported straight from last year’s letter, including two out of the current six requests.  Things have been kind of hectic around here in recent weeks – and also, I find I actually rather like last year’s introductory paragraph.

Greetings, O YuleScrivener, and welcome!  And also, thank you!  Where Yuletide is concerned, I am nothing if not a Requester Of The Seriously Obscure.  Thus I am always amazed when the technomancy of the matching process succeeds in finding a writer who shares my appreciation for said obscurity, and delighted on Christmas morning when a wonderful and wondrous story from that writer's (metaphorical) pen lands in my AO3 gift-folder.  We may just be setting out on this year's journey, but I know there's a happy ending to come, and I am grateful for it already.  Your work is (and will be) appreciated and valued, and I look forward to seeing its fruits.

These letters aren't getting any shorter, so while I've got detailed material farther down, I think it's only fair to give you the list of fandom requests up front.  So, those would be:

Birds of Prey (TV) (Alfred, Barbara, Helena)
Forgotten Realms: Songs & Swords – Elaine Cunningham
(Arilyn, Danilo, Khelben)
Jacqueline Kirby - Elizabeth Peters
(Jacqueline Kirby)
Young Wizards - Diane Duane
(Carmela, Dairine)




graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
Somehow we have arrived at the runup to Yuletide nominations -- and rather than the grand isolation in which I usually operate, I've found myself drawn into nomination horse-trading this year.  Which I might not ordinarily mention in this space, except that one of the fandoms that's popped up for consideration -- mentioned, I note, by someone other than me -- is one that might be familiar to certain of my eleven regular readers, namely the Circle of Magic series (no, not the one by Tamora Pierce, that other one by some folks named Doyle and Macdonald). 

Which is in equal parts a happy thing and a an eyebrow-raising thing, because a modicum of Googling establishes that Wikipedia remains under the delusion that that series is eight books long, and Goodreads seems to think that the entire series (including the notorious rogue books #7 and #8) have been translated into Japanese.

OTOH, the legitimate books are still readily findable online, and, there's clearly a good chance that the series will find its way into the tag set this year....

graycardinal: NW Coast Orca (Orca)
And this was my Fic Corner story.  This one surprised me a little, not so much in terms of where it went but of how it got there.  As it turned out, the story I wrote more or less answered one of my own requests as well as my recipient's.

Ten Grinches Plus Two
Fandom: Austin / Murry-O'Keefe Families - Madeleine L'Engle
Written For: katayla
Characters: Zachary Gray, Kali Cutter, Canon Tallis
Words: ~4000
Warnings: none
Rating: Teen (for intimacy, albeit non-sexual)

Notes: This story takes place during the summer following the events of An Acceptable Time, which I *think* should put both these characters in their early twenties. Like L’Engle herself, I have avoided tying the world in which these characters live to any specific date, although – also like L’Engle – I have silently adapted the level of background technology to align with slightly better-than-current versions of what’s commonly in use today.

“Not much use, is it? I mean, what kind of a lighthouse doesn’t have somewhere to leap dramatically off of and end it all?”

The young woman – probably, Zachary thought, about his own age – looked at him sharply. “That wasn’t--"

He wagged a finger at her. “It isn’t now, maybe. But you were thinking about it before you got here. I’ve been there.”
graycardinal: Alexis Castle, smiling (Alexis (smiling))
Out of a good many possible combinations, my story for Crossovering this year ended up being an MCU-meets-NCIS yarn -- more specifically, a hypothetical out-take from Ant-Man, which I think I'll count my second-favorite of this summer's movies after Tomorrowland.  I will observe in my own defense that this is, in fact, a case where the words popped out of the character's mouth before either he or I realized what he was about to say.

Say It With Me
Fandoms: Ant-Man, MCU, NCIS
Written For: sian1359
Characters: Hank Pym, Ducky Mallard
Words: ~1750
Warnings: none (but presumes you've seen Ant-Man)
Rating: G
Notes: This story constitutes a “missing scene” from Ant-Man, taking place following the implosion of PymTech headquarters but before Scott and Hope turn up in Hank’s hospital room. (I am assuming that at least a day passes between those two events.)
Hank Pym's visitor shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. After what happened in Sokovia, no one – well, almost no one – is likely to make much of your little kerfuffle. There are perhaps a dozen people on the planet who could look at that film and see what I did.”

“True, but at least three of them hate my guts.”
graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
And for Fic Corner, I have a really remarkable crossover piece featuring my favorite Tom Swift universe very neatly integrated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including a lot of highly entertaining cameos) and featuring an answer to the question Madeleine L'Engle fans have been asking about Charles Wallace for simply ages.

Sandra Swift, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
by hhertzof

Fandoms: Tom Swift IV, MCU, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Austin/Murry-O'Keefe families - Madeleine L'Engle
Characters/Pairings: (F/M) Sandra Swift, Charles Wallace Murry, Tom Swift, Rick Cantwell
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Words: ~ 1500


Sandra's path after high school isn't one she expected.


This is a fanfic journal. I'm interested in a wide variety of fandoms as well as in meta- and theoretical discussions; see my interests list for specific fandom categories. Comments, critiques, recs, reviews, and the like are always welcome.
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October 2016


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