melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2014-07-02 10:55 am

(no subject)

I spent basically all of my day off yesterday either sleeping or waking up from sleeping because of headache and sore throat, so that was great, my immune system continues to time things so I'm only sick on days I already don't work. :P (I was considering calling in today, if only so I don't wind up in a paroxysm of anxiety over calling in on the day when I'm really really sick, but I'm somewhat better today and also work has air conditioning unlike home, so I guess I'm going in.)

Anyway, happy Second Half of Year, everyone! July 2nd isn't too early to be planning for Yuletide, right? Here are my current plans for yuletide requests (somebody come talk about these in comments with me....)

Fandom: Young Avengers (2013) (If it makes yuletide quals....)
Characters: America Chavez, Kid!Loki
Requests: I would like a story where America punches Loki in the face a lot and they both enjoy it, please. Sex optional (if sex, f/f America/Loki greatly appreciated), punchings required (kicking also okay.)

Fandom: Number Munchers (the original continuity, I never got into the remakes.)
Characters: Muncher, Troggles
Requests: Something about the Munchers being UTTER SMUG gits to the Troggles, please. Take your inspiration from the great moments in history, only make it personal. And with more maths. (Human AU where they are all genius mathematicians competing to solve an important problem and they all hate muncher dude is also a-ok.)

Fandom: The Asher Novels - Barbara Hambly
Characters: Any
Requests: I would like the story where James and Lydia finally realize that their thing with Simon isn't Simon and Lydia being in love and James being weirdly okay with it, it's Simon being in love with James and Lydia and vice versa, and Simon being "about time you two noticed". (There was even a bit in the Book of the Kindred of Darkness about how when vampires get involved with couples they usually go for both sides of the triangle, idk how Lydia didn't make the connection!)

Alternatively I would like something set during the Great War where James has been called back into intelligence work and is thrown among not just the human war but all the vampires of Europe fighting to survive a war unlike any they have seen before.

Also I would like a story about Simon and Grippen, at any point in their long history together, hunting together in the way vampires hunt together. Alternatively really anything that explores Grippen's feelings about Simon!

Also I would like a story about Lydia's aunts and stepmother finally getting what is coming to them. Say, a story about Grippen deciding to target Lydia's stepmom would be kind of wonderful, wouldn't it?

Basically these stories only have 13 fics on AO3 and that is a crime and a travesty they should have ALL the fanworks.

Let me tell you about Barbara Hambly's vampire novels. Barbara Hambly's vampire novels are set in Europe (and China, and the Ottoman Empire) in the lead-up to WWI, and star James Asher, who is a professor of linguistics and former top-level British intelligence agent, who survived years in the deadliest game by not being the sort of person anyone would suspect of that sort of thing, and then quit because he realized it had turned him into the sort of person who would do that sort of thing; Lydia Asher, his wife, who defied all of her family to get a medical degree, and then became a research pathologist because she's not good enough at all the feelings stuff to deal with patients; and Don Simon Ysidro, who was made vampire when he came to London with the entourage of Mary Tudor's husband, and has whiled away the centuries reading scientific journals, feeding stray cats who hate him, and trying to avoid the stupid power struggles other vampires get into. In the first book Simon threatens Lydia to force James into helping him hunt down a vampire serial killer who is killing all his vampire friends, but they rapidly get far more entangled with each other than any of them expect.

Do not pay attention to the summaries on the book jackets, because they are designed to make these books sound like things they are not, and they are completely misleading.

These books have spoiled me for all other vampire stories, basically. And okay, yes, it's partly James and Lydia, who are the best married couple action heroes ever in all time, just, the way they trust each other completely! The way they understand each other's strengths and rely on them even when they don't understand them! The way pretty much every book has the bit where James is a damsel in distress that Lydia has to rescue! The way James sees everything via historical linguistics and Lydia sees everything via biochemistry! Basically, James and Lydia. Also, James and Lydia and Simon.

But also: okay, most other vampire stories either treat the vampires as creatures of pure evil who must be destroyed, or they let the vampires be people, but also give them a loophole: give them a way to survive without killing. When you give vampires a way to live without killing, you step away from the central horror of the vampire, and they basically just become people with a set of somewhat interesting disabilities: which I can enjoy if it's well done, okay, but it's not what I want in a story about vampires. Hambly's vampires have to kill to live: it's drinking the deaths of their victims, as much as the blood, that sustains them in undeath; if they stop killing, then they are simply taking a bet that the sun will get them before the madness drives them to mindless killing until they can think again.

So Hambly's vampires are people - intelligent, complicated people, with lives and relationships and passions and homes and joys and honor and even something resembling compassion, some kind of love, and many of them easy to fall in love with, even without using their vampire powers; but people who have made the choice to kill other people to live, and they kill over and over, and they have each made their own peace with the fact that they are the sort of person who is willing to kill innocents to survive. And the narrative never lets you, or the human characters, forget that: it keeps the vampires' nightly hunts discreet, as the more civilized vampires prefer, but every time we start to get too comfortable with Simon, or one of his allies, one of the Ashers thinks, as soon as we finish our tea tonight, he is going to go out and find someone, probably poor and sick and friendless, and kill them, and every day I do not seek him in his lair and kill him, I am complicit in that night's deaths. And yet you fall in love with the allied vampires anyway, because they sit up all night with a sick human reading him Shakespeare in the original dialect; because they risk their own lives, over and over, for the people, human and vampire, they care about; because they feed stray cats who flee their undead touch and they fear damnation and even in their power and horror they are always so utterly exquisitely vulnerable.

And they go out every night and they kill innocent strangers to live. And we are never allowed to forget the awful worst-of-both-worlds moral choices that everybody in these books is forced to make every day.

And one of the ways Hambly makes this work is that the central metaphor of her vampires - because a vampire is always, one way or another, a metaphor - is not love or death or desire or disease or fear of the unknown, it's empire. It's James saying, I was a spy, in my ten years in the Service I caused as many deaths as Simon does in a century - and can I swear my reasons were better? It's Lydia saying, he killed that man in the street because he had to be killed and I couldn't do it - but James would have done the same, and would have wasted the death rather than drinking it - so how can I condemn him? It's Simon saying, the empire carries its immortality on many men's consciences, the vampire on one man's. It's Lydia watching a vampire kill a friendless prostitute in the gutters and knowing the vampire needn't worry because it's humans who put her in the gutter, humans who kept her there, and humans who won't care if she dies. It's Simon and James and Lydia having to team up again and again to protect vampires from humans, not because any of them (even, often, Simon) think the vampires are worth saving, but because what will happen if human empires - any human empires - learn how to exploit vampires to their own purposes is unthinkable.

SO basically what I am saying is that you should all read these books and then write me fanfic for them.

Also I want Les Mis crossover fic where in 1830s Paris, Brother Anthony of the Friars Minor haunts the bridges of the Seine, finding the suicides who are not quite dead and drinking their despair so that he can, perhaps, save them from the sin of suicide, and they can speak for him before the Throne of God at the Judgement; and he comes upon Javert, broken but with a last breath in him, and finds in him a rage at the breadth of God's mercy to match his own rage, and in a moment of madness turns him. And then after one short summer night of whispers of danger and damnation, Brother Anthony fades back into the catacombs and Javert is left to wander alone in the cemetaries of Paris, hiding crouched from the sun in whatever shelter he can find, killing criminals when the hunger gets too much; and is rapidly swept up by the Master Vampire of Paris and her little circle of refugees of Versailles, who do not believe for one second his incoherent story of the ancient vampire monk who dwells in the sewers - except Don Simon, who is visiting from London, and isn't sure if he believes or not, but has enough pity to protect a masterless fledgling, and to teach him enough to maybe keep him alive long enough to learn more. And maybe to write to an old friend of his, bleached as white and timeless as he is by the vampire infection, who once was known as Elizabeth the Fair and fed on the dying as a nurse in the plague-houses, and now dwells in the countryside of France, healing the sick when she can, and giving them joyous dreams and a clean death when she can't, hiding from the sun under a wimple and the name Sister Simplice. And Javert is fighting everything but mostly himself, trying to convince himself that feeding on the unjust is serving justice, that killing those who are evil is serving God, that to kill an innocent because he has to is no worse a crime, and maybe a better one, than all the innocents whose deaths he caused when he was serving the King - and spending every night haunting Valjean's dreams, and every day with Valjean haunting his. And Simplice finds him, finally, just as Valjean is on the edge of death, and Javert begs her to turn him - not thinking, really, just hurting, and knowing that if any man deserves immortality it is not him but Valjean. And Simplice agrees to try, knowing that Valjean has never been the sort of man who would make the bargain to kill to live, or make the bargain to give himself into another's power in exchange for power of his own, but she sees him off to God, at least. And then she takes Javert away from Paris with her, to learn the old ways of the vampires of Europe before there were cities there, where the pressure of human minds was less, and they could go a week, a month without killing, where they could sleep away a whole summer without ever growing hungry enough to wake. And one day, maybe fifty years on, maybe a hundred, Javert has been alone with himself, and Death, and God, long enough, that he finds peace enough that he chooses to lay down, one morning, in a tomb that will be all flooded with the Dawn.

I want that story. Somebody write it for me, please?

And now that I've finally finished the Asher novels I can move on to Benjamin January. 1830s New Orleans and more les mis crossovers here we come!

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