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Best Enemies
A Cosmos Without Doctor/Master Scarcely Bears Thinking About
Rec: Wonderwall/Masterplan 
11th-Feb-2011 03:12 pm
Best Enemies
Who is your reviewer this fortnight? I must be Lancelot, because c'est moi! C'est moi! 'TIS I!!

So: let's talk about the power of narrative, baby. Let's talk about you, and me. Let's talk abooooooout narrative!

I was going to have a lot of trouble just rec-ing My Favoritist Stories because

1) I am the sort of person who needs a central organizing concept to think with, and
2) I have read like everything in this pairing/part of fandom.
3) No, seriously, everything.
4) Yeah, even that one where we get the immortal line, 'like [Ace's] mother, the Doctor was-- a slag?!'
5) If that's not immediately ringing all the bells, every bell, seriously don't ask, because you're happier this way.
6) But consequently: I have a LOT of favorites. It would get all Sophie's Choice up in here if I had to defenestrate all but half a dozen of them.

I decided to focus around something I think is really important in fic: the narrative arc. That may sound stupid--stories always have narrative, yeah? But I find a lot of gen-fic, even when really well written, unsatisfying because they're essentially in the mode of vignette--a character study, or a lacunae/missing moment in the existing canon. However well-drawn these studies, they usually don't hit me strongly as a reader because they don't utilize the power of narrative to do something dynamic with the characters and their situation. They might, at their best, reveal something important to me in/via this static moment, but they lack narrative's profound sense of motion--its embedded richness of possibility.

An argument against my position might be that a lot of pairing-stories are essentially the same story--a boring romantic arc, repeated ad nauseum until it's worn smooth and dull. But that's to miss the point of literature, which fanfiction is unarguably a part of. 'Pyramus and Thisbe' is not 'Romeo and Juliet' is not even 'Romeo + Juliet', oh, not exactly. The devil's in the details, but so is god. And while you could say that the plot of 'Amadeus' is that two men's professional rivalry swells and destroys their lives against a backdrop of their shared passion for their art (and their sublimated respect for one another), you could also say that's the plot of 'The Prestige,' and they're strikingly different stories. A fic where the Doctor and the Master get together and have sex can still do anything, be anything, and be a completely different entity from every other example of the breed.

All this is not to say that only stories about Epic Quests have the necessary narrative drive to properly Make Magic Happen-- bagheera_san's fic Mercy is almost entirely a fic about the characters having sex, but I'd say its one of the more compelling narrative fics I know of. And it's also not to say that ONLY narrative is worthwhile. There are different effects to reach for, different things to do--of course we read a compelling gut-punch character-piece or a smolderingly successful PWP again and again and a-- but. This IS just to say not to sell yourselves short because you are only reading and writing some slash fic. You are reading, you are writing, and what you are writing can do everything writing is capable of.

TL, DR: Narrative rocks, y'all. Here are some exemplary stories that use narrative brilliantly, to great effect--here are some stories that moved me in the way the best narrative can.

Title: Wonderwall /Masterplan
Pairing: Five/Ainley and Eight/Jacobi
Length: 6,000 odd/11,000 odd
Author's Summary: "AU for the end of Planet of Fire. The Doctor makes a different decision, but regrets it just as much. It was the easy choice, not the right one."/"The problem with telling your still current husband that he may ask you for anything is that he may well do just that. Continuing in the Planet of Fire AU: At the Doctor's request, the Master helps end the Time War, makes the Doctor a lot of tea and has sex with him repeatedly. It's all very nice, which makes the Master wonder if he's losing."
Warnings: "Spoilers for Planet of Fire (if you haven't seen it, you'll need to watch the final part before you have any idea what's going on, though it's excellent so do watch all of it). Multiple character deaths and angsting, and, conversely, ludicrously high levels of fluff. Don't say you weren't warned."
Author on LJ: aralias
Why this must be read: These are rec'd together because they're a rather inseparable duo and couple into a single story. aralias is a writer whose strength increases with length. That's not true of everyone--I've seen very competent short story writers hoist themselves on their own petards, given ten thousand words, and it's baffling and sad--how did they understand how to write well a story ago, and now this hot mess is happening?

This story is a bit of a classic at this point (perhaps it's a waste of time to rec something so foundational, but then again, perhaps newer people haven't read it), and beautiful. Not just for lines like “Anything I want,” the Doctor breathes in the darkness behind his eyelids., which are in themselves painfully perfect--its whole matter is elegant and well-realized, with lightness and with deftness. It's funny, in surprising little glints. It does the difficult thing and gives us a consummation that feels honestly arrived at and enduring. Things evolve and change over the course of the piece, working towards that point with the reader. Wonderwall is rather close (nearly coy) with its sexuality, but in a way that suits the story and makes what we do get electric with compressed energy, and renders Masterplan the more satisfying.
Excerpt:

“Anything I want,” the Doctor breathes in the darkness behind his eyelids.

“Is yours,” the Master says like a purr. He hooks a finger under one of the white and red braces, runs the captured hand up the Doctor’s chest and pulls slowly. “Oh, my dear Doctor, the things I would give you if you would only ask for them.”

The Doctor leans into him as if drawn by the tug on his braces. “Leave,” he says softly when he can feel the Master’s breath on his face. “Get in your TARDIS and leave.”

“Oh Doctor, you do disappoint me,” the Master chides, but he steps away instantly. “Until next time, then. I trust you will enjoy your shower-”

“No, you don’t understand,” the Doctor says and he opens his eyes, forces himself to smile. “You never do. You never listen.”

Link to the story: Wonderwall /Masterplan
Comments 
11th-Feb-2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's a waste of time to rec great stories like this. These two are definitely essential reading for newbies but they're also great for reminding seasoned slashers why they loved the fandom in the first place. I've been on a self-enforced break from this fandom, now that I'm back I'm using this rec list and it's a wonderful feeling- being able to read some of the best fics again like it was the first time reading them. *off to enjoy*
12th-Feb-2011 01:06 am (UTC)
I totally meant to rec these when I was reccing, and then missed it somehow, but I am thrilled to see you being smarter than I am because Wonderwall and The Masterplan are quite simply as good as it gets where D/M fic is concerned.
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