This is a partial list of stories I immediately bookmarked on my first trip through the Yuletide 2008 archive. If there's a common thread among my picks, it's that all these authors have an excellent feel for the style of the individual canon, but aren't afraid to transcend it where appropriate.
Buckaroo Banzai and the Floydada Scuffle (The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension). There are so many great things about this story that I don't even know where to start. It's funny, it's beautifully paced, the dialogue is superb, and there is an asteroid named Bob.
Today's Adventure: Wrigley Versus Wrigley (The Adventures Of Pete And Pete). I loved this TV show a great deal, and I love this story because it reads exactly like an episode of the show. Ellen's idea of 'college prep' being to make herself over as an intellectual! Nona's cast! Driver Sally and Driver Stu!
Their Finest Hour (Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series). Some fandoms (see Tin Man, below) attract writers who have specific reasons for writing fanfic. And some fandoms attract writers who write fanfic because they just can't bear for the story to end. Swallows and Amazons is that kind of fandom. This story is a really good example.
the sandwich story (Calvin and Hobbes). FYI: Likely to induce weeping. This one is being recced all over the place, and it deserves every bit of it. Sad, lyrical, sad, believable, and did I mention sad?
Terminus (Diane Duane's Young Wizards series). I love this one for its Tom/Carl backstory, and for its sweet Kit/Nita relationship, both of which are completely believable. Most of all, I love it because it's clearly written by someone who really loves the wizardry setting Duane took so much trouble to create.
to hell with anything unrefined (Don Marquis' archy and mehitabel stories). The author has the language and style down perfectly.
A Rose By Any Other Name (Ghostbusters, movie version). This was written for me, the very first Yuletide story I've ever received, and it is adorable and immensely satisfying. I asked for Ray-centric plotfic, and my Yuletide author responded handsomely. It's a slight AU, in that it assumes that the Ghostbusters released the green slime ghost they caught at the hotel. Rust ghost! Cranky Winston! Wistful Ray! All kinds of awesome.
Pop Quiz (Ghostbusters, movie version). Gloriously true-to-character look at the kind of stuff the guys got up to in college. I have a particular love for Egon and Ray that makes this story extra-awesome.
Formerly Known As (Gordon Korman's Don't Care High). FYI: Boykissing. This is one of the fandoms I requested. This story wasn't written for me (see above for my gift), but it's exactly what I would have wanted in this fandom. I love that it's long and plotty, I love that it's completely absurd, and I love that Paul and Sheldon suffer from Epic Fail in a way completely true of high school boys everywhere.
Tokens Of Affection (Hot Fuzz). FYI: Sweet slushy romance between two consenting male adults. I especially love how well the author's captured the offhand wackiness of Sandford's police force and how much in stride they all take it. Also, really really sweet Danny and Nicholas characterizations, if that's your cup of tea.
a happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story (L.M. Montgomery's Emily Byrd Starr trilogy). I love this one because it's a happy ending without being a fixit (not that fixits aren't very welcome now and again!). The Emily books are very dark and this story captures the feeling excellently.
Groove Uncanny (Sneakers). FYI: Men pining for each other and being really lame about admitting it. :) The alert reader may be noticing that I love things from the 80s and early 90s. :) This story is a what-happened-after-the-movie, set in the current day (the movie came out in 1992) and deals in the technological updates between then and now. One of the things I love about it is that it doesn't whitewash the character flaws that made the characters so interesting in the first place. Mother's paranoia has become dangerous, Karl still isn't great at seeing the big picture, and Martin has decidedly divided loyalties. Good, good stuff.
Hunting High and Low (Take On Me music video). Most children of the 80s know this iconic music video frame by frame. This story not only fleshes out a plot, but goes delightfully meta. The names of the Brothers put me in mind of the Black Friars in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Nyquil, Succubi, and Other Tall Tales (Tanya Huff's Tony Foster novels, aka Smoke And Other Stuff). This universe has two basic things that separate it from most other urban fantasy: it has an openly gay protagonist whose quest for love is every bit as front-and-center as it is for straight characters in most sf and fantasy, and self-referential meta-snark about sf fandom (specifically, fans of crappy urban fantasy TV shows) is thick on the ground. Huff also has an awesome feel for language and snappy dialogue. The author of this story gets the balance of the three elements exactly right, and still manages to have an actual plot.
Keeper Of Names (Tin Man). Tin Man is one of the few fandoms in which I ignore the fanon because it never, ever addresses the parts of canon that interest me. It was nice to find a story that did. Names are very odd in this movie, way too odd to be chalked up to lazy writing. This story offers an explanation that works for me.
The Woods Today (Tin Man). FYI: References to adult activity between two male adults in a situation where consent from one of the adults is a little dubious. One of the primary genres of Tin Man fanfic is "Cain and Glitch go off alone together to fix something in the Outer Zone". Most of these are not very good, as they're written as displaced wish-fulfillment by authors who fancy one actor or the other. This one is charming and readable.