radondoran: Donald Duck in a winter coat and hat, looking at some papers (yuletide)
radondoran ([personal profile] radondoran) wrote2013-10-06 10:41 pm
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DYW 2013

Dear Yuletide Writer,

Hi there! Thank you for writing a story for me! It's so cool that you are also interested in one of these tiny fandoms. I am writing this letter in case you want to look for more ideas, and also because I enjoy this chance to ramble on about my favorite canons, but feel free to totally ignore it if you're not interested. Mostly I hope you have a good time writing a fic that you like--whatever you come up with, I will be pleased as punch to read a fic about the characters I requested.

In general, I like a lot of different stuff! I'm a big fan of fanfic that really draws on canon, imitating the style of the source or expanding on details from canon. I like a story with a plot, sure, but I also often really enjoy fic that isn't very plotty--I like short pieces, vignettes, missing scenes, whatever. I like stories that are basically just characters talking about stuff. (Which might explain why I've got two Asimov requests this year, heh.) I like to find out interesting details about even the most apparently boring and mundane topics. I like adventure, exposition, humor, hurt/comfort, language, mysteries, science, slice-of-life, UST, wordplay, worldbuilding, &c.

I'm not really interested in reading explicit sex. I'm not a big fan of character death, characters having children, or transplant AUs: basically, I tend to prefer fic where the status quo remains more or less intact.

If you're a writer who likes to read up on their recipient, my main online presence these days is on tumblr, where I am reasonably active and mainly post fandom-related stuff. There's also my account on the AO3.

My requests, and accompanying fandom-specific rambling:

Gravity Falls, Stan Pines
Lucky Starr - Isaac Asimov, John Bigman Jones
Robot series - Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin/Peter Bogert
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - Hermey/Yukon Cornelius

Gravity Falls, Stan Pines
I'd love to find out more about Grunkle Stan. I'm curious about the Pines family relationships: Stan's dynamics with his brother and nephew, Mabel and Dipper's grandfather and father. What made Stan the choice of relative to ship the kids off to? It'd also be really cool to see something about Stan's backstory: a story about one of his many wacky/illegal adventures, or something about when and why he ended up living in Gravity Falls. Or, what about the Mystery Shack? It'd be fun to read more about the mundane business aspects of how Stan operates his little tourist trap, and/or how his shysterism interplays with the truly paranormal. Anything about Grunkle Stan would be great.

I've really enjoyed watching Gravity Falls these past couple years! I like the offbeat humor, the paranormal/weirdness/eerieness aspects, the quirky setting... And I especially like the characters and the relationships. I love how the main characters are approached from a sympathetic and friendly perspective; the joke is seldom on anyone, you know? The characters are funny and eccentric in their own ways, but it works for them. And the relationships are super charming. I love how Dipper and Mabel's affection for one another is ever-present in the little aspects of their interaction; and I love their developing family relationship with Grunkle Stan. Some of my favorite moments in the show are the little ones that just show the three of them being comfortable together, like when a scene opens on them watching TV or something.

And I really like Grunkle Stan, both in the context of those relationships and on his own. Stan is such a great character. For starters, he's hilarious--he's got so many great lines. And a good deal of the time, his humor comes from him being, well, kind of a bad person. Stealing, counterfeiting, engaging in transparent and ludicrous frauds, maintaining a fierce rivalry with a child… Stan's really funny when he's tactless, and when he goes around insulting people or creating conflict.

But I think it's also true that some of the best pathos on the show comes from Stan. I love the bit in "Gideon Rises" where we hear his end of the phone conversation with Dipper and Mabel's parents: "Sure, we've got... plenty to eat. Look, if I thought I couldn't take care of these kids I'd send them home right away." I like how understated Stan is here compared to his usual over-the-top manner; it really drives home his conflict between wanting the kids' company at this dark hour, and wanting to do what's best for them.

And, like, it's a really interesting balance that the show gives us between these two aspects of Stan's personality. Because it's not that Stan secretly has a heart of gold, and just acts like a jerk: he really is a big jerk! He's greedy, selfish, and rude; he openly laughs at other people's misfortune. But at the same time, he genuinely does care for Dipper and Mabel. Occasionally we get bits where he's a goofy jerk and a loving guardian in the same breath. I sometimes get the impression that Stan doesn't really know how to care about people--that he finds himself out of his depth in this new family situation. I love those glimpses of uncertainty that we sometimes get from him: he's a comic character, but he has his own feelings and motivations and he's often sympathetic.

I requested fic about Stan because, as I said, I like him, but also because there's a lot to explore about him. We don't get a lot in the show of Stan as protagonist, we don't necessarily get a lot of his point of view. So it'd be interesting to see a fic that got inside his head a little more. (I mean, uh, not literally… again.) And we get a sense that there are a lot of untold stories from Stan's long life. Like that time he went to jail in Colombia, that kind of thing. We've seen glimpses of Stan as a younger man a few times, but we don't really know a lot about the course of his life.

And closely tied in with that, we don't really know a lot about the Pines family other than Dipper, Mabel, and Stan. Since Stan is their great-uncle and shares their surname, he must be their paternal grandfather's brother. So what was that relationship like? What about the relationship between Stan and the twins' father? Why did it seem like a good idea to send Dipper and Mabel to stay with Stan?

I know that considering the season finale, this is kind of a weird time to be writing fic about Stan, since the show itself is probably going to solve some of his mysteries here soon. I'm not asking you to try and predict what will happen; if you want to basically ignore the whole arc plot with the journals and the dimensional portal or whatever, that'd be fine by me! I bet there's tons of other unanswered questions in Stan's life. So I'd love to read anything about Stan--his family, his backstory, his day-to-day life, his role in the community (or lack thereof), his relationship with the paranormal, why he wears a fez… Or whatever else catches your interest about Stan--anything focusing on him would be great.

Lucky Starr - Isaac Asimov, John Bigman Jones
I'd like to see a story with Bigman as the hero--whether he's dramatically saving the day, or just doing something he's good at. Show me Bigman teaching Lucky something for a change, like he does in DAVID STARR, SPACE RANGER. Or show me a way in which Bigman is important to his and Lucky's partnership. Or, if you like, it'd also be interesting to find out more about life in Wingrad City and on the Martian farms before Lucky came into the picture. Anything focusing on Bigman would be great.
(If you are interested in reading the Lucky Starr series, or want to refresh your canon knowledge, here are all six books as an html page and as a .mobi ebook. They're a pretty easy read; each book is about 40,000 words and usually takes me about an hour.)

So, I love this series to bits. I love the adventure, the politics, the mystery/puzzle aspects, the highly detailed and often outdated science, and the delightfully corny future slang. (You will make me very happy if you do not ignore the way Asimov's characters talk.)

But at the same time, it is a kids' series from the 50s, and it's not exactly Asimov's best work. And there are elements of it that bother me a little. For one thing, John Bigman Jones. Bigman is my favorite character, but I think maybe he has the potential to be a better character than he often actually is.

There's so much that I love about Bigman. I actually really love his devotion to Lucky. I like how in David Starr, Space Ranger he keeps an eye out for "Williams" even before he tumbles to his true identity, and I like the way he impulsively and wholeheartedly attaches himself to David: "I figure this is my business because I'm going to stay with you from here on." One of my favorite bits in the entire series is in Oceans of Venus, when the V-frogs try to psychically work Bigman up to resent Lucky, and he immediately rejects it outright, because he knows those aren't his thoughts--all his feelings of respect and loyalty to Lucky are genuine and unadulterated. I love that.

I like Bigman's casual, confident manner and his colorful speech. I don't mind his quick temper--sometimes his emotional approach and skilled use of force might be more effective than Lucky's passivity. And he is sometimes very clever, in his own way. Some of his best moments come when he seems to fly off the handle, but in a calculated manner that advances some plan--like his manipulation of the crowd to rig that fight in Moons of Jupiter, or his deliberately reckless escape attempt in Rings of Saturn.

Also, I find Bigman's Martian-ness really interesting! I really like him in Space Ranger, when he's teaching David stuff that is really obvious to him but unfamiliar to the Earthman; and I love how Big Sun of Mercury especially really focuses on how Bigman's Martian background gives him advantages in low gravity and vacuum. I like the cultural differences, and the differences in perception and perspective, that come up in Space Ranger and are occasionally touched on throughout the series. It's also interesting to think about Bigman as a rural, working-class person from what seems to be a less well-respected planet, and how that affects how he's perceived by people from other parts of the Solar System.

So, anyway, I love all these things about Bigman. What bothers me is how he's sometimes portrayed as not having half a brain. I know he's the sidekick character who exists so that Lucky has somebody to explain astronomy to, and I don't expect him to be a scientific genius or anything. But I find it really embarrassing when he gets ahead of himself and accuses people who aren't guilty, or runs off and nearly gets himself killed for no reason. (Which is a big part of why Moons of Jupiter is my least favorite of the series.) I wish the narrative--and worse, Lucky--would stop treating Bigman like a child; it's troubling that, although the message is that the other characters shouldn't judge Bigman by his appearance, the books themselves sort of do.

So I'd love to see a Bigman-centric fic that focuses on his strengths and maybe plays down the more embarrassing aspects of his character. I'm not asking you to depart from or critique canon--like I said, I really do love these books! I'd just like to see one of Bigman's better moments. Show me a time he solved a mystery, or a time when he understood something Lucky didn't. Or really, just show me Bigman being Bigman, in whatever situation. On an adventure? On vacation? What was his childhood like? How did he master the needle-gun? What does he do for fun? Where does he shop for boots? Or whatever catches your interest about Bigman--I'd love to read anything about him.

Also, I didn't request it specifically, but if you want to write Lucky/Bigman slash, I am fine with that.

Robots - Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin/Peter Bogert
Remember that bit in "Little Lost Robot" where Susan Calvin and Peter Bogert have an intimate conversation in Bogert's room in the wee hours of the morning, and then the narrator goes out of his way to point out that they have totally dismissed each other as romantic possibilities? I always fixate on those lines, because to me they suggest that over the years Calvin and Bogert might have at least given some passing thought to possibly considering thinking of each other romantically. So I'd be interested in a fic that explores that. But really I'd love anything that explores Calvin and Bogert's working relationship, their conflicts, the grudging respect they must sometimes have for each other. I'd love to read a fic where their disparate approaches to robotics clash--or, on the other hand, what about a fic where they save the day with their combined powers of psychology and mathematics? Anything with Calvin and Bogert would be great.

The US Robots stories have been some of my favorite pieces of literature since I was a little kid. I think part of what I like about them is that they are science-fiction stories where the main characters are scientists doing science. (As improbable as that science may be.) I like the cerebral aspect of them, I like how talky they are, the way they often deal with permutations of ideas more than with physical action, and I like how the resolution is usually just a clever little spin on some technicality.

And I don't know if it's a widely used term, but I always think of the robot stories that take place in the 21st century as "the US Robots stories", rather than "the Susan Calvin stories". Part of that is that it allows me to bring in Powell and Donovan too, love those guys. But I think it's also that I like these stories as ensemble pieces, you know? Of course Dr. Calvin is the hero and all, but I like the supporting characters too, and I like to see how they all interact and play off one another. That's why I asked for Calvin and Bogert, rather than just Dr. Calvin--because I'm interested in reading about her in the context of the US Robots dynamic. I like reading the conversations and arguments among Calvin, Lanning, and Bogert; I like reading about how the senior members of US Robots work together as a(n often strained and reluctant) team.

And I am especially interested in Dr. Calvin's relationship with Peter Bogert. Like I said in my request, that bit in "Little Lost Robot" always catches my eye:
Bogert saw her politely to the door and grimaced eloquently when she left. He saw no reason to change his perennial opinion of her as a sour and fidgety frustration.

Susan Calvin's train of thought did not include Bogert in the least. She had dismissed him years ago as a smooth and pretentious sleekness.

It just sort of seems like the narrator protests too much. And I'm intrigued by the idea that Calvin has "dismissed" Bogert--did she used to think he might be worthwhile? So I'm sort of interested in… in reading about the possibilities of the Calvin/Bogert ship, if that makes sense. It's not that I ship them, exactly (in fact, I don't really ship either of 'em with anybody; I don't even ship Calvin/Byerley, even though I kind of get the impression I'm supposed to)--it's more that I find those lines interesting, and I'm interested in whether Calvin and Bogert's relationship ever could have had a romantic component, even if just under the surface, or if it went badly, or whatever.

Now, of course I love Susan Calvin, she's the best. I've always been drawn to her intelligence, and I love how cold and logical and no-nonsense she is. It's great how she's willing to be a quiet, unprepossessing lady much of the time, but also ready to stand up and make herself heard when necessary.

As for Peter Bogert, I know he's not a particularly likable character. He's smarmy and bland and uncaring and dismissive of Dr. Calvin… But there is at least one point in canon at which I am inclined to like Bogert: the bit in "Escape!" when he gets a sudden flash of insight about the problem with the Brain, runs off to do the calculations, and then comes back talking eagerly about his conclusions. I like the idea that Bogert might actually be passionate about mathematics, as well as skilled at it.

So it might be neat to read something that put a little more focus on Bogert than we usually get in canon. And, you know, on Susan Calvin and him together--what I really want is something that focuses on the dynamics between characters, rather than on any one character in particular. I'd love to read any kind of US Robots fic that involves Calvin and Bogert (and whoever else, if you like) interacting. How about something where they solve a robot mystery together? Or where they have wildly different approaches to robots? Something about day-to-day life at US Robots between crises? Or what about their lives outside of robotics (does either of them even have one)? Anything involving Calvin and Bogert would be great.

(Also, just throwing this out there, if you wanted to write about the wild US Robots company holiday party that nobody ever talked about again, I would be 100% okay with that.)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Hermey/Yukon Cornelius
I ship it, and I'd like to see some Hermey/Yukon slashfic. But I also like the characters and their interactions in canon, and I'd enjoy just seeing more of them together. They apparently spent months traveling together looking for Rudolph--what kind of adventures did they have? It'd be way cool to see something focusing in on dentistry and/or prospecting, if that interests you. A lighthearted fic would be fun in this fandom--or an incongruously earnest one could be neat too. Anything with Hermey and Yukon Cornelius would be great.
So, at my house we've watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer every year for as far back as I can remember. There must have been a time in which I watched it without irony, but at some point it became family tradition to watch it and laugh at it. But it's not that I don't like it--quite the contrary! It's fun, it's delightfully corny, and it's a Christmas tradition that I enjoy. I mean, it's not a canon that I would call good, for many reasons, but I approach it from an affectionate and lighthearted perspective, so I'm not really interested in reading deconstruction or critique-type fic, you know?

Hermey was always my favorite character when I was a kid--I think he was probably a lot of kids' favorite. I could identify with Hermey as a nerd--somebody who's consumed by his own esoteric academic interests and just isn't on the same wavelength as his peers at all. I also think Hermey's pretty darn cute! I like how he's got that soft, meek-sounding voice, but he can also be pretty spirited at times.

And Yukon Cornelius! I love this guy. He might be my favorite character nowadays. I love how he's this total loud, confident, badass wilderness-survival prospector guy--or at least, he thinks he is. It's endearing how the persona sometimes falls short, as with his inability to control his own sled dogs; but then again, sometimes his goofiness is what triumphs, as with his knowledge of Bumbles and his taste-test treasure-hunting. Another thing I find interesting about Yukon Cornelius is his position as an outsider to Christmastown. I like how he doesn't mind, or even really seem to properly grasp, Rudolph and Hermey's being misfits--it's like living outside of society has allowed him to disregard some societal norms and prejudices.

So, these two guys are pretty much my favorite thing about the special. And, yeah, I ship them--mostly because of that one moment at the end, when Yukon Cornelius proclaims, "What I've been searching for all along! I've got me a peppermint mine!", and Hermey rolls his eyes and falls back into the snowbank and smiles fondly, all, like, oh, you.

But like I said, I'd also be more than happy to read friendship fic about them--I like their interaction in canon, what there is of it, and I'd love to see more. They're obviously a good team, as shown in their rescue of the reindeer, but we also see some conflict between them, like the famous "peanut butter"/"pea soup" exchange. Hermey seems a little skeptical of Yukon, in his mild-mannered way--he respects and listens to him, yes, but I kind of get the impression that unlike Rudolph, Hermey doesn't always quiiite buy all of Yukon's bluster.

So I'd love to read a story about Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. That gap in their narrative after Rudolph leaves them is wide open for fic, and it'd be cool to read about some of their adventures from that time: What was it like going from a trio to a duo, and deciding to go after Rudolph? How did they eventually track him to the Bumble's lair? What kind of stuff happened to them in the meantime? Or, how about something set during their journey as a trio--or later on when everybody's preparing for Christmas after Yukon's return? Or post-canon--does Yukon Cornelius settle down in Christmastown? How does Hermey's dental practice work out? Anything with these two would be wonderful.


So, uh, anyhoo. As always, optional details are optional. Most of all I hope you have fun writing a story that you like--and I'm sure I'll love it too! Whatever you come up with, it will be so great to read a story in any of these fandoms. Thanks again, and happy Yuletide!