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facetofcathy ([personal profile] facetofcathy) wrote in [community profile] facetsoftext2011-08-15 02:31 pm

SPN J2 Big Bang 2011 Part IX

And so, the Big Bang comes to a close for another year. I confess to massive burnout at the end. If that J2 + Danneel/Genevieve in Spaaaace fic had been at the beginning, or even in the middle, I'd have read it through. But the last week is not the time to post with so very many typos, mistaken words, mangled sentences and other signs of hasty editing. I might come back and have a go at Drvsilla's Western AU, but I can't think of any others that I regret skipping over.

Last year seemed like the year for formatting wonkiness and 25-part, 20,000 word stories, but this year was the year the SPN J2 fans discovered the AO3, so a lot of the reading headaches are gone as authors are making their stories available in single files one way or another.

The year before last was the year of the unedited first draft. I distinctly remember a couple of stories that could not have been spellchecked, far less actually edited. There were also quite a few stories that started out good, but the last third was rough first draft quality. But at the same time, the general level of editing on the better stories was still high.

This year seemed to show a more consistent level of rough quality, poor spag, multiple typos, etc. that looks like a shift in the level of socially accepted or perhaps expected effort required for a Big Bang fic. Some of the better fics from experienced writers looked like they needed another going over for some pretty obvious errors. Is everyone in fandom simply writing too much? Taking on too many fests? There are dozens of big bangs now and heaps of fests that for SPN are mostly packed into the summer hiatus. Or is this the inevitable last gasp of a big fandom where the authors are already involved in one or two others and are overextended that way.

This has been the year that I've been surprised by the Gen fic. I steer clear of Gen in this fandom because I find a lot of the canon absurd and I don't want to read more about the "war in heaven" or any of the other dozen or so plots that got dropped like hot potatoes in season five and six. But there were some good character-driven Gen fics that I'm very glad I read.

One thing that hasn't changed, is that Jensen Ackles has green eyes. I'm not sure there's a single story that didn't make a point of reminding me of that, just in case I've forgotten, which I could never do. I'll remember that fact when I'm ninety.

Reading the anon meme, the only place for fic reviews outside of a few locked journal posts, has been great this year too. I found stories I never would have read, thought about others in completely new ways and was often amused to see comments I could have written myself. The nonnie who calls the get your not-a-misogynist gold star, token female characters who are desexualized and exist only to care deeply about the main m/m pairing the "sassy straight friend" has my especial love.

I had a couple of experiences this year that strongly reinforced the idea that the reader creates the story they read as much as the author. The first one was my reading of fleshflutter's story, which I reviewed in the previous post. The second was a little more light-hearted than that.

I mistakenly clicked on a story, thinking is was Dean/Sam. I read along through it, thinking it read like a slightly tepid gen casefic, and I found the action scenes written in a way I was having trouble visualizing. I couldn't see any Dean/Sam UST at all, but I liked the way they were written as gen characters even if Sam got plot deviced out of the action for a while. I also thought the author had nailed the canon Castiel circa season five/six. He was uncommunicative, creepy and stared at Dean in an unpleasant way for no reason and left Dean a bit bewildered as to what was going on, although he trusted Castiel with the bigger picture stuff. Castiel existed primarily as a clumsy deus ex machina, not a character, just like in the show.

I finally got bored enough to scroll ahead for the ending to the casefic plot and discovered it was actually a Castiel/Dean story. That creepy unpleasant staring and Dean's bewilderment about it all was the UST. I just, I can't even see it when it's in fic! Horses for courses--and courses for horses, as well.

To end this year's reviews, I have two really good stories, one J2 that's all about UST in several ways, and one Dean/Sam. It's fitting to end with the pairing that got me into the fandom in the first place, and a story that came the closest to giving me the post season six Sam and Dean I've been wanting to read.

The Piper by [livejournal.com profile] gretazreta

Dean/Sam - R - 45,000 words.

On LJ in multiple parts, not in site scheme, or in downloadable PDF with embedded art. (I almost never talk about art, but the cutsie rat drawings attached to this fic really, really don't suit the story and are actually kind of disturbing given the context of some of them.)

This is a lovely engrossing read. Dean and Sam are existing in a small town, not hunting and not talking about how they ended up there, or anything else. There's a case right under their noses that they don't see (and this is not very believable and the biggest weakness in the story) because Dean's too busy not talking about all the things Sam doesn't remember and Sam's not talking about the things he does.

The best part of the story is Sam's longing for what he dreams, and his discomfort with his life when it becomes clear his dreams aren't reality. This story, much like tryfanstone's, takes those season six issues of identity and sense of self that canon never wanted to really face up to and deals with them by giving us a Sam who longs for wholeness, who wants all the parts of himself back.

The grossness of the rats and the horror you get from this natural thing that is behaving unnaturally is also really good, as is the small town lifestyle depicted.

I had quite a few moments of saying, "But agriculture doesn't work that way!" and "But home repairs don't work that way!" but none of that is really the point of the story. We also get my pet peeve--Dean the wonder mechanic and Sam the instant librarian, no training or certification required.

The pacing and blend of casefic and relationship plots is generally good, but there's some parts near the resolution of the case where the timing of the front burnering of the relationship stuff is not very plausible.

There's an OC who uses a wheelchair, who is a bit cliché, not badly depicted, but not used in any interesting or new way either. His relatives tend to see him as limited and defined by the disability. There's a very small bit involving him, his sister and his sister's boyfriend that is either the author desexualizing him or a stealth threesome. I pick number two.

Despite all that could have been better, the core story is really good, and the sense of Sam's longing and his growing understanding of Dean's lonliness comes through powerfully.

Too Wise to Woo Peaceably, or, Much Ado About You (32051 words) by faviconScintilla10
Fandom: Supernatural RPF
Rating: Explicit
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jensen Ackles/Jared Padalecki, Genevieve Cortese/Danneel Harris
Characters: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Danneel Harris, Genevieve Cortese, Katie Cassidy, Sandra McCoy, Aldis Hodge, Misha Collins
Summary: Directing a production of Much Ado About Nothing at the prestigious Shakespeare Festival is Jensen's dream come true. But when his lead actor breaks his leg, Jensen has to scramble to find a last-minute replacement. Enter Jared Padalecki, a cult TV star who's trying to avoid being typecast and to prove his acting chops at the same time. The two of them have a history, however, and as opening night draws closer, they have to figure out how to come to terms with their past and each other if they want the play to succeed.

Also on LJ and DW if you want journal-based versions.

This is a delightful story about real adult people. Jared is part Keanu Reeves playing Hamlet in Manitoba and part John Barrowman. Jensen is the guy he left behind a long time ago. Sparks fly all over the place.

Meanwhile Genevieve is the reporter Danneel has an embarrassing crush on. Sparks fly there too, and Danneel really is not the sort of woman to listen to Jensen go on about his relationship, not unless she gets equal time. No sassy straight friends here.

I love the moment where Jared talks about, not his pining for Jensen, but his insecurity about his acting with Genevieve. Their new friendship has some depth to it, as does Jared's rapport with Katie.

Some things I didn't love--the very nearly public sex squicks me a bit, and the cliché misunderstanding that has everyone on edge right before opening night was old in Shakespeare's time, but there's so much else that's really charming and fun about this story, that I can't complain.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch the Branagh/Thompson version of Much Ado.