Compiled by the Espresso Addict

Espresso Recommendations

Innovative and stylish fanfiction, showcasing the very best across multiple sf, fantasy & literature fandoms. Good writing in all its forms can be found here, including gen, het, slash, OCs, AUs, crossovers, future fics, humour & pastiche

Contents: 1010 recs in 235 fandoms; 65 links

Lois McMaster Bujold

Chalion series | Sharing Knife series | Vorkosigan series

Chalion series

all the words that ever were or ever will be by Tequila Mockingbird

'He had the makings of a saint, carved into the hollowness of him, and that was no mean thing. She had been precious low on saints, in the last century or so, and although his poetry was very bad, he had written some poetry.' A Daughter's eye view on Curse of Chalion which does a good job of pulling off the god's viewpoint, and uses deft touches of humour to lighten the melodrama. The ending is perfect

[Added 23/12/2017; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

A clear glass window, at a sea dawn by Lionpyh

'It is a perpetual irritation to divines of the Bastard that it is not possible to blaspheme against him. He has already thought of all the rude things one might instruct him to do. He would cheerfully do them. He minces one's oaths before one has got to them. He reduces one to the depths of decency.' Luscious prose & deliciously detailed world-building characterise this satisfying Umegat-centric novelette. Lovely!

[Added 10/01/2014; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

Communion of Saints by Rthstewart

'There were the usual disdainful looks at her rustic table manners but Clara was too hungry to pretend to be ascetic and she wolfed down several hard biscuits softened with goat cheese and honey.' In this triptych, Rthstewart creates rounded & engaging characters from minors & OCs to illustrate the travails & joys of being a saint

[Added 13/08/2015; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

First Choices by Rsadelle

'Annual Pride parades heavily feature celebrants dressed in the Bastard's white and signs with slogans referencing the Bastard's favor. "The Bastard Loves You" is a favorite slogan of Pride t-shirts.' Clever fusion, pastiching a New Yorker article, that explores how Quintarian & Quadrene religions might play out in modern America -- complete with statistics from the Pew Research Center. Funny & moving by turns

[Added 23/12/2017; Drama; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

Life, stripped of all luxuries by Keerawa

'Moved by some obscure impulse, Cazaril rummaged through his saddle bags and pulled out the volume of classic Brajarn verse he'd carried with him for the past two decades. Its well-thumbed pages held many fond memories. And the potential for scores of fire arrows.' The careful structure of this vignette counterpoints the increasing chaos of life during the siege of Gotorget, and Keerawa's affection for the characters helps to keep the grimness at bay

[Added 06/08/2015; Character Piece; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

The Saint, the Scholar, and the Whale by Neotoma

'Learned Bavo was pacing in a side courtyard, with his Islander guards like lazy cats around him. They were enormously tall, as if tree trunks had decided to put on clothes and walk like men, and their bushy beards made them even more like moving shrubbery.' This enjoyable & inventive tale, set in Jokona, succeeds in melding not just Penric–Desdemona canon but also The Hallowed Hunt with the Chalion sequence. The thoughtful world-building is supported by strong OCs

[Added 23/12/2017; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Chalion series]

Sharing Knife series

Terminus by Castiron

'To eyes, though, the Accretion was strangely beautiful, almost as beautiful as Aruvem had been when she hoisted a shimmersail and rode laughing across the lake.' I've always found the barely there history the most intriguing aspect of the Wide Green World. Castiron weaves together the little that Bujold provides to give us a key scene in the First Malice War, deepened by hints of all the Lakewalker civilisation has lost. The ending is perfectly judged

[Added 13/08/2015; Drama; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Sharing Knife series]

Vorkosigan series

Aletheia by Elvaron

'Glass, Illyan thought, and his chip helpfully pulled up a list of fifty-six ways in which a glass building could be compromised using tools that you could obtain from your nearest D.I.Y. store.' Simon encounters another person with a memory chip. A beautifully characterised story with a well-drawn OC that feels like a missing prequel to Memory

[Added 09/01/2014; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Captain Vorpatril's Plotbunnies (I) by Bracketyjack

'It was serendipity that her garden abutted an area of sulphides and oxides whose dull but determined colours she found pleasing, and chance that a cowbane spore could blow so far west and take root just where its lustrous ochre should so complement the oxide. But it was also beautiful, a conjunction only South Continent could produce...' Bracketyjack creates a strong voice for the unnamed mosaic maker in this tale of how Miles 'practically kidnapped' her. The strongest of four missing scenes from Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

[Added 04/08/2016; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

The Councils of Despair by Parhelion

'Real leaders don't stop being leaders just because they've resigned, just because they're now drunks.' Despite the extracanonical pairing, this piece feels like a missing chapter from Shards of Honor, with believable characterisations and a strong portrayal of the darker, seamier side of Barrayar

[Added 06/08/2008; Character Piece; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Cynthia's Choice by Sglottalk

'Cynthia had to admit that the idea of foisting 'women's work' on a bunch of misogynists had a certain appeal.' A sadly rare piece of backstory for Ethan of Athos, which examines Cynthia Baruch's decision to facilitate the Athosian's rejection of women by constructing their ovarian cultures

[Added 15/10/2017; Character Piece; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Do You Remember The Last Time? by Gair

'Forty years of pure data, processed by a man with forty years' experience. Gone. Eaten by a little bug. And he was what was left on the edge of its plate, a man who couldn't beat Alys Vorpatril in six rounds of Star-tarot One-up.' Stylish writing with a spot-on voice for Illyan, but Gair's insights into the differences between eidetic & somatic memory are what really make this piece

[Added 21/05/2009; Character Piece; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Finding Absolution by Lia

'He looked in the mirror at the orange and mahagony zig zag across his face and frowned. It was time for the pearl, which tomorrow would be red.' Interesting Cetagandan worldbuilding in this unusual Benin vignette

[Added 08/02/2011; Character Piece; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Frequently Suggested Sexual Practices: An Aid to Communication by Dira Sudis

'Each night Aral changed out of his uniform in the knowledge the gesture was futile. He could as soon set aside his own skin for the night.' A wonderful blend of melancholy & humour marks this surprisingly delicate study of Aral & Cordelia, and Barrayar, masquerading as kink

[Added 15/07/2012; Romance/Erotica; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series; Adult]

From the Old to the New by Avanti 90

'A thousand things set you apart: the pallor of your skin, the inflection of your voice, the principle ingrained in your mind that all men and women are born free and equal; these things and many more will forever distinguish you, and so you can never and will never be one of them.' An intelligent AU that casts Galen(i) as Gandhi and goes on to unpick many of Bujold's – and her readers' – assumptions about the Barrayaran Empire. The documentfic approach works perfectly, and a surprising array of characters, from Fletchir Giaja to Enrique Borgos, get to play their parts

[Added 21/05/2015; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Guerrilla by Glishara

'Galeni started to speak, then caught himself. He took a long moment, examining Ivan. "No," he said at last, his voice even. "I want an Emperor. I will accept a figurehead, if that's all you will offer."' This slow-building novel follows the resistance movement in an AU to Diplomatic Immunity where Miles fails & Cetaganda invades Barrayar. It's a wonderful premise, and Glishara successfully juggles a large cast including believable OCs

[Added 14/02/2011; Drama; >50,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

The Honour of House Vorkosigan by Philomytha

'After Yuri and the Cetagandans, Vorbarr Sultana politics had been supremely dull for Piotr.' Wonderful dissection of politics & family loyalties in this piece of Shards backstory. One of those works that goes straight into my personal canon

[Added 07/02/2011; Drama; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Kindred Instruments by Ollipop

'They know just as much about Lotus as she knows about herself. They know her aptitudes, her weaknesses. They have tweaked the neurochemical bath on her copies, for maximum effect. They are her, improved. She is them, unedited. She hates them.' A chilling piece that unpacks Lotus's defection to House Bharaputra, and broadens to explore the ethics of Jackson's Whole in a more nuanced fashion than canon

[Added 09/01/2014; Character Piece; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

King of the Mutants by Elfwreck

'He rode out of the blighted lands of Vorkosigan Vashnoi, surrounded by warrior guardians. He was tiny and bent and crippled, with a large head that wobbled on his misshapen body, and he wore the robes of a king so that everyone knew that to challenge him was death.' A creepy vignette based on 'Mountains of Mourning' that rehearses Ma Mattulich's side of the story

[Added 15/10/2017; Character Piece; <1000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Lilies of the Field by Raven

'"What sort of scale of problem did you have in mind? The problem of why three of the Residence wait staff have taken their annual holiday at the same time, causing, I am informed, no end of trouble for the kitchens? Or the problem of why the Komarran soletta array has possibly, we're not sure, been sabotaged?"' A quiet piece in which Cordelia does women's work, with a little help from Alys. Reads like a missing fragment from the lighter parts of canon, with believable OCs. Delightful

[Added 04/08/2016; Drama; 6000-20,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Loyalty by A T Rain

'Rish is four when the loyalty treatments begin. Her sisters say it won't hurt, and it doesn't.' Suitably Jacksonian coming-of-age story for Rish

[Added 15/10/2015; Character Piece; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

The Offer by Beatrice Otter

'If Ezar had spared her life a decade ago, he would not kill her now for anything short of outright treason. She could say what she liked. That was the greatest freedom she could never have imagined, twelve years ago when she made her vows in the circle of groats.' A fascinating AU premise – it's Aral's sister who survives the massacre not Aral – thoughtfully carried through. I'd love to read more of this scenario

[Added 15/10/2015; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

On a Cold Planet by A T Rain

'Byerly Vorrutyer was heartily sick of lichen. / It grew on the south sides of buildings on Jackson’s Whole. It crept in at the window frames, coated the door hinges, covered the roofs and choked the gutters. It became slick and slimy at the slightest touch, smearing clothing, ruining paint jobs.' A satisfying novella that unpacks the meagre information the CVA epilogue provides on House Cordonah's re-establishment, with strong world building about Jackson Whole and its denizens' values

[Added 04/08/2016; Drama; 20,000-50,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

One Thing by Sineala

'His honor was at stake. He was Marcus Voraquila, and if he did not watch this everyone would know that he hadn't, and they would never, never stop.' This is the kind of story that makes fandom such a joy: not only is Sineala responding to Philomytha's powerful Vorkosigan's Day, but it's also a fusion with Eagle of the Ninth, casting Marcus as the son of Aral's political officer. I think the piece would stand with the narrator as an OC, but it gains extra resonances from the parallels between Rome & Barrayar. And, on its own terms, it's perfectly characterised & profoundly moving

[Added 15/01/2019; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series; Crossover]

Passing by Ollipop

'Thornton Isobel is not looking for a good time. It is not a conduit of galactic peace. It does not represent the harmony or enlightenment of our modern age. It is merely a kid with acne in its stubble and a raging case of PMS.' Bel's a fascinating character who gets all too little fannish attention. This perceptive origin story really gets into its head, and presents a plausible reason for its devotion to Miles

[Added 21/05/2015; Character Piece; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Playing Yenaro in Vorbarr Sultana by Minutia R

'RenÉ was a pleasure to watch as well as to hear, length of arm and finger, movements of the wrist that seemed almost accidental, as if he were being moved by the current of the music instead of producing it.' An unusual & powerful vignette, which gives insight into both Cetagandan & Barrayaran cultures

[Added 09/01/2014; Drama; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Riva; Yuell. 'Energy generation via five-space oscillation: Evidence and implications'. New Journal of Five-Space Physics. by Hollimichele

'She watched a small boy of no more than three run in wobbling elliptical loops around his patient older sister, who had tied a length of ribbon to his overall strap as a preventative measure, and considered orbital mechanics.' Dr Riva on Sergyar. A delicate sequel to Komarr, focusing on one of my favourite minor characters, with bonus speculation on Sergyar's future

[Added 30/10/2017; Character Piece; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Service by Minutia R

'When they played Escobar War, Yegor wanted to be Prince Serg. But Georgos had the dark good looks, familiar from all the vids.' Well-structured OCs story that wraps neatly around canon to reflect how far the Barrayaran empire has come

[Added 15/10/2015; Drama; 1000-2500; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Tour Guide by Philomytha

'Her accent was the highest of high Vor, a level sharper and crisper even than Ivan's. The immediate resonance for Duv was with the cruel Vor ladies from the subversive holodramas his father had given him to watch as a boy, the wicked witches of his childhood...' Duv gets a history lesson from Aral in this thoughtful one off. Like many of Philomytha's stories, it feels like a missing corner from canon

[Added 15/10/2017; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Twenty-Year Man by Ellen Fremedon

'He ran his gloved fingers under Ivan's collar, very slowly and lightly--Ivan shivered--and came up with a tiny slip of clear plastic, all that was left of a pharmaceutical patch. "Punch," By said. He slipped it into a sealed pouch and secreted it in a pocket. "Or to you and me--fast-penta."' This future novella starts out with a bit of a clichÉ, but matures into a complex & twisty plot resembling the political machinations thread of A Civil Campaign. Ivan takes centre stage, but there's a large cast including a well-drawn OC

[Added 20/01/2012; Drama; 20,000-50,000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]

Vorkosigan's Day by Philomytha

'"My father...had all the pictures from the Massacre, flat, holo and vid footage, up on display in his study. So that he would never forget, so that we all would never forget. I saw them every day since I was four."' An intense gapfiller, both intelligent & moving, displaying Philomytha's excellent understanding of what makes the Vorkosiganverse characters tick

[Added 07/02/2011; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series]