Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Diary of a fic-reading challenge, part the first

Okay, let's get the disclaimer part out of the way.

In reading the following, certain allowances need to be made. Being a male of a certain race and a certain age, who grew up in a world that might as well have been designed especially for him, I'm very used to entertainments directed at just my sort of brain. That Marvel Cinematic Universe that's ruling the box office is built around comics I've been training my brain on since junior high. It's a ridiculous level of being spoiled.

So pushing myself to read something that wasn't designed for my sort of brain, using Sherlock Holmes as a shoehorn or lubricant (now, now!) to get some different perspectives on life from another person's point of view . . . well, it's going to have some quirks, some odd pickiness on odd details, and just . . . well . . . nobody should take any of the following as a proper critique of anything.

That said, on with my "Three Patch Podcast Challenge," as I attempt to read every single bit of fic in their show notes for their December episode while the month is here.

December 2

First fic, chosen at a whim, At Least There's The Football by steffiesharpe. "Aftermath," the first part of the series, is written in present tense, which fits the initial scene: What was once a possibility, but is now an AU . . . the Moriarty bomb at the pool actually going off. It's a great way to bring Mycroft Holmes and Greg Lestrade together, but might be a little too interested in socks at one point for my taste. I hate character socks, as they're usually those thin sort of socks and not the thick, cotton fluffies I prefer. I will have to revisit the second part of this after I sample something else to get those thin socks out of my head.

Second read, "Seeds" by thesardine. Phew! A short story. A nice little character piece of Sherlock dealing with being alone and case-less in Baker Street, a box of crackers becoming his "client," so to speak, and the endeavors that follow. Its premise borders on the silly, but Sherlock's personality is just quirky enough to make it totally work, and it sticks the landing with its finish. My only complaint: Apparently bad bodily odors coming off my heroes is one of my no-go areas. (Ick! Yuck! Pooey!)

Next up, "The Balance of Probabilty" by IAmJohnLocked4Life. Okay, getting a little more into the hot-and-heavy that fanfic's reputation tends toward, with a coming-of-age short about John Watson discovering he likes boys with a math tutor named James. Had I read the tags at the start of the tale, I'd have known exactly who that older lad was, but no . . . a math tutor named James, what was I supposed to think? When his hair and skin were a little too beach-boy for he-who-shall-not-be-named, I started to realize my mistake. Tales of males getting shivery at a like-gendered touch are going to be the interesting part of this experiment, not being of that persuasion myself . . .  as yet. And the writers surely don't want me slipping "Aphasia the imaginary ghost girl" into my reading of the narrative to turn that key. But on we go.

December 3

Busy night out with friends, hoping to get a short one in tonight, and clicking upon "The Snow Queen 'Verse" by aderyn and faerymorstan (lovely name that) yields a series with a very short opening gambit, "Soft as Petals, Hungry as Thorns." Fairy tale Sherlock is asking Fairy Tale John out on a date. It's brevity gives my tired self an out for checking a box and checking out for tonight, but I'm going to have to return to see where this goes.

December 4

Getting home from work, it seemed like a good time to multi-task, and going the pod-fic route for the first time seemed a good way to add some fic to getting other things done. The first podfic on the list? The oft-mentioned A Cure for Boredom by emmagrant01, as read by finnagain. The reading is good, the narrative itself, however? This is where we start getting to that "not the intended audience" part of this trip. The first half is the two main males discussing and practicing masturbation, and when the other gender is writing your gender, wellllllll . . . there's a bit of a challenge in getting your brain to agree with what is going on as something you can relate to. I mean, it's a bit like . . . no, I don't want to really critique what I can't. I mean, we're talking a story whose design is to stimulate arousal, a.k.a. porn, and like music, that's a very subjective topic.

Sherlock and John seem very easily aroused in this fic, which is kind of necessary in the kind of sex-world AU where pizza delivery boys don't get nearly as many pizzas delivered in an evening shift. And there's very little non-sex story here so far. I'll be curious to see how that goes down the line.

December 5

Before going to bed last night, I pulled up "A Beginner's Guide to Apiology" by VictoryCandesence on my screen for my next read. Today, however, the Red Cross was taking blood at work, and when it turned out they were running late . . . eventually very late . . . I settled in for a read while I waited. But with a new day and a different device, I clicked into A Fold in the Universe by darkest_bird. Up to this point, I had determined to just hit a starting chapter from each of the novel-length fics and move along, so I didn't miss the breadth of the list of fics in the challenge by going deep too soon. But stuck in one place with a novel fic that had some great chapter-to-chapter intrigue going on, I went deep with A Fold in the Universe.

Annnnnnddd, it was Omegaverse. Often seemingly judged as one of the more extreme varieties of fic, so far it has seemed the most comfortable of genres to me. The mildly uncomfortable "that doesn't feel like real male behaviour" that I get from some fics gets swept away in the sci-fi of Omegaverse gender combos. And having started with The Gilded Cage by BeautifulFiction, some time ago, I've been impressed by the world-building that seems to draw some very bright writers to this genre.

darkest_bird works hooks into their fics as well as any pro (for all I know they might be a pro, outside of AO3 and that pseudonym -- such is the world of fic), and I'm halfway through the twenty-six chapters of A Fold in the Universe already, as I am having a very hard time putting it down. Two John Watsons trading universes between an Omegaverse and our traditional 'verse leads to some amazing character bits for all the players, but the John who suddenly finds himself an Omega is one of my favorite Watsons ever. This will definitely be the first novel-length in this challenge that I finish.

(And a side note -- if you need a fic to read during a blood donation, as we're all being typed "A," "AB," "B," or "O," well, a universe where the people are typed "A," "B," and "O" is the one to pick. Omegaverse makes blood donation a wacky online quiz -- "Are you an Alpha, a Beta, or an Omega? Your blood type will tell!")

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