To quote from her post,
I'm reccing at least five stories in various fandoms. If you see your name on this list, please rec five stories or five authors in your fandom (or a multitude of fandoms, if that's your thing), and let me know about it here in the comments (i.e., leave me a link).
So, without further ado, here are five works that have been waiting patiently on my "Hall of Fame" list, as it were, for special mention. In no particular order...
One in the Star Trek: The Original Series universe:
Novel: Unspoken Truth: The Romulan Commander's Story by Kathleen Dailey
Warning: some violence, non-explicit het sexual content
This novel, originally published in zine form but now available online with its equally brilliant sequel (Any Other Lifetime: Book II of the Romulan Commander's Story), has for nearly a decade symbolized to me the highest quality in fan fiction writing. I cannot overstate its influence on me, or the powerful desire I have to foist it on newcomers to fandom to show them "how it's done." Dailey begins with a simple premise: "What was the fate of the beautiful and enigmatic Romulan commander who was captured in the final moments of 'The Enterprise Incident'?" What she produces is a tour de force that ties together old questions of canon (Why was the Treaty of Algernon signed? Why was the Federation so far behind the Romulan Empire in developing a cloaking device?), offers gentle inside jokes to those in the know (with references to contemporary science fiction and fandom), and most importantly gives the readers vivid, rich, and fascinating glimpses into the behind-the-scenes lives not only of Romulans, but also of the Trek characters we know and love. The Romulan Commander herself is a compelling and complex character, but the series regulars receive substantial development, as well. It's a pleasure to find a carefully researched and plotted work that also gives the spotlight to such characters as Lt. Uhura, Nurse Chapel, and -- my favorite characterization of Dailey's -- Dr. McCoy. Dailey allows the reader to touch, taste, and feel her take on Trek history, and her epic interpretation is not to be missed. Incidentally, I credit this novel with teaching me at last to grok Spock.
Two in the Lord of the Rings universe:
Novel: The Captain and the King by plasticChevy
I tend to be wary of "denial" fiction that simply explains away the death of a major character and then leads the reader into a field of flowers and butterflies. In The Captain and the King, plasticChevy has produced a definitive answer to such works by proposing a different kind of alternate universe, one in which Boromir survives his ordeal with the Orcs only to be crippled, used brutally by Saruman against Aragorn, and eventually returned to a Minas Tirith seething with cloak-and-dagger intrigue and danger. PlasticChevy manipulates a complex set of political situations and personal relationships with admirable clarity and obvious affection, while making Boromir's road to redemption far more difficult than we might first imagine. Nearly every character has his moment, including canonical characters lost to the movieverse, but at its heart the novel is a meditation on honor after shame and tragedy. The reader gets to see what made Boromir a truly great leader of men prior to the quest, and what has made him Aragorn's right arm ever since it, despite resistance from all quarters -- including, in one wrenching sequence, Boromir's own brother Faramir. If you enjoy this novel as I did, I highly recommend buying the zine form of this story, which includes remarkable illustrations and cover art. Also worthy of attention are plasticChevy's other Boromir works, "Where Dreams Take You" and the unfolding and often-updated sequel to The Captain and the King, "The Steward's Tale."
Short Story: "Perfect World" by Juxian Tang
Warning: violence, implied incest, character death
Juxian Tang's take on Boromir's survival is even darker than plasticChevy's. Tang's fiction is much like an Alfred Hitchcock film: powerful for its restraint, compelling for what it does not tell the audience, and deeply disturbing. This story has haunted me and led me to many rereadings. It is based on the premise that Faramir, married with children, discovers after a number of years that Boromir lives as a captive in a last remnant of Mordor. The Boromir rescued by Faramir is at once both deeply scarred and instantly recognizable as Tolkien's-via-Jackson's fallen hero. What follows is a brooding tale that's all the more powerful for being told through the innocent eyes of Faramir's older son. Tang implies much, including a generational link between the shared dreams of Denethor's line and an incestuous relationship between Boromir and Faramir, yet everything is below the surface, left to the reader. Other questions remain unanswered altogether. Had Boromir survived all those years, or was he brought back from the dead? What was the relationship between Boromir's return and Eowyn's death? What do the dreams mean now? I admit my taste for fiction runs dark -- toward sophisticated, psychological darkness as opposed to explicit and gratuitious darkness -- and this story is unrelenting in its satisfying delivery while still managing moments of real hope and true warmth. For more of Juxian Tang's interpretation of Boromir, I suggest these other similarly haunting stories: "Night Talk," "Never Again," and "You Cannot Protect Him," all found in the Lord of the Rings section of Tang's site.
Two in the Harry Potter universe:
Short Story: "Together, Alone" by Thevina
Warning: violence, character death
I have the great fortune of being privy to Thevina's fiction while it is still in progress. This leads me to a difficult quandary, though, because no matter how her last work has moved me, her next one always seems even better. Thus I never quite know what to recommend, because my instinct is to say "But wait until you see x!" Yet this story stands apart, not only from the rest of her work, but also from stories by other authors likewise focusing on the Weasley twins and/or the upcoming war with You-Know-Who. This story sets the pivot point for Thevina's alternate, or parallel, universe works, which take place during and after the final war with Voldemort. This particular piece is also noteworthy because it takes the Weasley twins seriously as three-dimensional characters and delves into what makes each of them half of a whole. The reader realizes that losing one's other self is perhaps the most grievous loss there can be, and thus can never consider "Gred and Forge," or the resolution of those who face the Death Eaters, or even the empathy of fellow students like Padma Patil quite the same way again. The final lines alone are worth reading the story, but the entire piece is of the same quality. Once you have seen this story, check out Thevina's collected works in both the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings universes.
Short Story: "Lost and Found" by Josan
Warning: implied past violence and non-explicit slash
I do not want this story to get lost at the bottom of the pile, because its vision of Snape, its economy of language, and its utter restraint in alluding to true horror make this a memorable piece. Josan has a particular vision of how Snape came to be as he is and how he would break if he were to be broken. Also lurking in the details are lovely glimpses into a post-Voldemort Hogwarts and the ways in which Dumbledore and his staff offer sanctuary and patience to the more brittle survivors of war. The descriptions of Snape's partial recovery and eventual rescue are elegant and precise, almost distant from the action in the same way Snape's soul is distant from his body. The ending provides a nice twist, but it's the journey there that is so well crafted and worthwhile. Snape is one of the characters I seek to read more about, and Josan's Snape is unique and unforgettable and, as the story implies, well worth the wait.